Sunday, May 29, 2016

Van Dammage: Day of Days II

As you should have gathered by now, it's been a long few weeks and months with my office project finally being completed but there's still lots to do. Many days I didn't feel like I could get ahead and just this week I to pop in at 11:00 PM and be back at 5:00 AM. An end of day meeting invite turned out to be a ruse as I walked into a room and there he was, again, the one and only JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME. With him was long time assistant Kathy and a man I recognized instantly as Kamel Krifa, a childhood friend of JCVD turned actor, trainer and choreographer who popped up as the bartender in Double Impact ("just the way you like it boss, very hot") among many other flicks as well as a young fit, tattooed covered gentleman who handles the social media. I was totally surprised, thinking I'd walked into and interrupted a meeting but it was all planned in a wonderfully thoughtful gesture after some very long weeks.

Mr. Van Damme rose to his feet to shake my hand, at first looking a little tired and mentioning the photos we took the last time we met. We chatted about his recently wrapped Amazon show from Ridley Scott and Peter Atencio, how he had just flown in and was dead tired at the Hollywood Keanu premiere and how they wanted him to play a passive trainer in the Kickboxer remake which he said he couldn't so they added some unique fight scenes. A September release is in the works but JCVD is not involved with the currently shooting part III. By now Van Damme is coming to life, animated, smiling and joking around as he playfully pulled my sleeve up, complimenting my chest and biceps. For a guy who is world famous, arguably the most well known person from an entire country, inspired millions to follow their dreams and hit the gym, Van Damme is very funny, humble and makes you feel at ease nearly immediately.

Now it's time for some photos and knowing JCVD's talent as an artist, I suggest he sign the social wall which leads to a doodle of a muscular man performing a jump kick. We joke about Stallone and Seagal, Van Damme does a hilarious impression of Stallone, and then strips off his sweater and tells me we have to roll our sleeves up to flex. But holy cow are his arms ripped and I did not want to try and compete so I played up the "whaaaa" factor instead. We take lots of photos messing around, in the karate "on guard" position then bring in the rest of the team to take some funny group shots. A giant teddy bear had caught Van Damme's eye and he ran over to take some more hilarious photos.

People in the office are drifting over wondering what the heck is going on because we were having a little party. I chatted with Kamel a bit who was super cool as we talked Double Impact, my screenings with Sheldon Lettich, him knowing Jean-Claude since they were teens, how he ended up in Los Angeles, popping up in Under Siege and working choreography with Seagal and his death scene in Maximum Risk. I look forward to doing a full interview with him in the future.

I had now had my second once in a lifetime encounter with the second most influential man in my life behind my father, several dozen photos and a beaming smile that would last until the next day. It was a firm reminder to keep pushing, keep training, keep smiling and of course, keep it #MEGAPOSITIVE.

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