Maynard's Wine Signing in Boca, Going Through the Motions as a Fan

"What if he doesn't show? Are there enough fans for a riot?" asks a 20-something guy waiting in line at a Boca Whole Foods for Tool frontman turned winemaker Maynard James Keenan. He's in town on a promotional tour, signing bottles from his winery, Caduceus Cellars, and vineyard Merkin Vineyards. It's 1 p.m., and a line of about 40 fans snakes around the outdoor herb and pottery section directly in front of the store.

"It's too hot for a riot," responds David Chase, a 31-year-old who's smartly clad in a neutral off-white shirt and shorts. Without a cloud in the sky, the sun beats down on those in all-black, and makeup drips off in that unfortunate Crow/Joker kind of way. Although it's June, the "event requirements" say no "long coats." Who the hell would wear a trench coat in Florida in June?

I look around. No one is. But there are beanies, sweaters, black

velvet skirts, and the requisite goth-renaissance garb. The few people

to get in line at some ungodly hour in the morning are enjoying the

shade of a concrete overhang. But considering you must be 21 to

participate in the signing, the whole scene is just sort of pathetic

(someone underaged could have brought his or her legal guardian, but

there didn't seem to be too many, with the exception of a couple of kids

no older than 8 whose parents are fans).

At 15, I would've

walked ten miles in the heat to get this close to the elusive figure who

never shows his face on stage. When I was 19, I drove 14 hours to see A

Perfect Circle in New Orleans. A few days earlier, I had waited five

hours at Mizner to make sure I was front row at APC. And the shows paid

off. But now, I'd rather order the wine from my air-conditioned

bedroom. I'm 25, sweaty, and people are starting to smell. One guy

approaches me and Chase in an attempt to sell some hemp necklaces and

gather enough money to buy a bottle of wine to meet Keenan. "I'm asking

for a donation of love," he says. Although the guy is at least three feet

away from me, his smell is overwhelmingly awful. If it didn't make me

dizzy, I would have been steady enough to throw him a buck to help him

out. At this point, I'm ambivalent about this whole event. Here are fans

sweating to death to meet Keenan. Then again, he has to meet them,

smell them, and probably answer a million asinine questions about


I finally get my ticket. I'm number 31. By 3 p.m.

the crowd is doubling every 20 minutes. We stand up, we sit down, up,

down, just to get the blood flowing after hours of sitting on concrete.

An hour later, the first 20 people are allowed in, but only to buy

their bottles. Then numbers 21 to 40. The 13-year-old fan inside me

wonders if I have anything in my teeth as some manager/promoter guy

shouts, "Everyone must buy one bottle." He makes clear that if you're a

mother who took off work and had to bring your 3-year-old, your kid

better have a bottle also. If your teenager asked you to accompany him

or her, you have to buy a bottle for each of you.

My ticket

lists seven options for wine. I grab the Merkin Chupacabra, partly

because it's cheap, partly because of the name, partly because its

description reads "Stare and the Chupacabra, who dwells in your heart

and not in your head, will vanish." The bottle's label looks like an

old leathery scroll complete with Da

Vinci's Vitruvian Man, whose nether regions are covered by a cluster of

purple grapes. (Fun fact: A merkin is a wig originally worn by

prostitutes after shaving their vaginal area to get rid of lice. To

avoid the stigma of a shaved vagina or to cover signs of syphilis,

they would wear merkins to cover the area.)


four people at a time enter a nondescript room. A black curtain

separates the fans from the man. Walk around the curtain, someone grabs

your bottle, and faster than you can say Chupacabra, you're out. I

wasn't expecting much, but I didn't even see Keenan, who's a lot better-looking than I thought (beautiful eyes), sign the bottle. I asked a

question, but his partner Eric answered for the most part. It's not that

Keenan was rude; it's that the whole thing was as uneventful as bad

sex, where you work at it and work at it and then there's no payoff.

Now imagine you paid for that sex.

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