The news that my friend Scott Linden had scored an interview with famous actor and RV fanatic Matthew McConaughey for this week’s RV Travel Podcast brought back some memories.
When I was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc., I’d often receive “Matthew Sightings” from KOA owners and managers in the field. It would usually start with a breathless phone call or an expletive-laced email, telling me of McConaughey’s sudden and unexpected arrival.
I’d always ask the yellow-shirted campground owner what McConaughey was like. There’d be a pause before they’d said, “Well, he seems pretty nice. Just a regular guy.”
You’ve got to remember that celebrity visits to campgrounds usually involved weeks of pre-arrival prep work by an entourage of the celebrity’s staff. There’d be requests for the best views, pleas to keep the other campers away, and requirements to have our staff on hand to help the rich and famous hook up their sewer hose. One even demanded that we leave four sites empty on either side of the 40-foot Prevost the star would inevitably be riding in (almost all had their own RV drivers).
Maybe that’s why McConaughey’s easy-going nature stood out so much. He’s an “every man” who just loves to camp. Sure, he owns four Airstreams because, well, he can. But I can assure you that those RVs are all well-used. He’s based himself out of an RV for years at a time as he crisscrossed the U.S. running his production company.
My favorite “Matthew Sighting” came from a KOA owner somewhere in the West (I forget exactly where). She was on her way to give the bathhouse an early morning once-over. As she reached for the door handle to the men’s room with mop in hand, the door burst open and there stood McConaughey with dripping hair, clad only in a towel. The owner had known he was in the park. He was hard to miss since he had wrapped his Airstream with a red overlay promoting his latest film, “Sahara.” (He didn’t win an Oscar for that one.)
The owner was struck dumb. She just stared at People Magazine’s 2005 Sexiest Man Alive, wrapped in nothing but a towel outside her bath house. He flashed her that famous crooked smile and Texas drawled “Good morning!” as he stepped by her and scooted to his trailer. A bit later he stopped to visit with fellow campers, rolled up the hoses and waved as he left the park.
I know that this guy could probably steal our wives if he wanted to, but it’s hard not to like a celebrity who can handle dumping his own black water.