I guess I’m a fan who has always had an interest in meeting celebrities and trying to get my photo next to someone who is going to be remembered in history.

There was a hotel in Sydney call the Sebel Townhouse Hotel and from the 70s all the celebrities stayed there. In the late 80s I met many people there like Elton John and Cyndi Lauper.

In 1989, I bought a camera and from there on my career started. I’ve got at least 30 or 40 pictures with Kylie Minogue throughout the years. She has always been really good to her fans.

In 1990, I waited at a recording studio called the Rhinos studio, which INXS happened to own. I spent my whole school holidays waiting for the lead singer Michael Hutchence, who just happened to be dating Kylie at the time. She told me stories about going out with him, travelling around the world and her love for Oxford St.

The studio just happened to be in Surry Hills, which opened my eyes to the gay community. I also was really good friends with the photographer at Sydney Star Observer all those years ago.

We used to go to the Albury and I love drag shows. My girlfriend and I have always had a love for gay clubbing. I have an understanding of the community plus the clubs are so much funnier than the straight ones.

I started to go to LA to take my career to the next level. America is so different compared to Australia. There are even professional autograph collectors who wait for celebrities all day.

When I was there in 2004, my friend said that Pamela Anderson goes to Starbucks every morning before dropping her kids off to school. I drove to Malibu at 7am and waited for her. Half an hour later, out she popped with no make-up on and wearing ugg boots. I had a Playboy magazine and she signed it for me. She left the keys in the ignition and the kids were like 15 metres away. I thought it was funny.

Anna Nicole Smith was fantastic when she came in 2006 for the MTV awards and she is a big gay icon now. She was staying at the Four Seasons and came back really drunk. Everyone had DVDs to get signed. She signed them all and had photos taken with everyone. She always had time to talk to all her fans.

When you invest time and you spend 10 hours waiting for someone and at the end of the day they ignore you, it’s hard.

Celebrities have changed as now a lot of them use private jets and loading docks at the hotels so you can’t see them. I’ve met over 1,000 celebrities but meeting Beyoncé Knowles was quite disappointing. I went with my friend’s sister and she didn’t even acknowledge her. Her boyfriend Jay Z said that the girl just wanted to sell the autograph on eBay.

Life is changing and I’ve been with the same girl for 15 years. I want to start a family, settle down and take my pop art to the world stage.

I’ve got over 1,000 photos but I had to reinvent myself as an artist and I started to manipulate them with Photoshop – it all sprang from there. I’m having an exhibition in January and there will be large photos of celebrities from the likes of Kylie to Mischa Barton but with a touch of difference.

Simpkin is also the author of Richard and Famous. His exhibition opens on Monday 28 January at the Depot Gallery in Waterloo and will continue until Saturday 9 February. For more information, check out www.richardsimpkin.com.au.

As told to Sunny Burns

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