Greeting life on his own terms

Self-proclaimed new greeter of Laguna Beach has endless stories about crashing concerts, Hollywood parties.

October 20, 2011|By Joanna Clay
  • Self-proclaimed Laguna Beach greeter Michael Minutoli with statue of Laguna's original greeter, Eiler Larsen, at the corner of Coast Highway and Forest Avenue.
Self-proclaimed Laguna Beach greeter Michael Minutoli… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

On a recent weekday morning, Michael Minutoli rolled up to the Main Beach boardwalk on his bike, Starbucks cup in hand, and said "hello" to people sitting on the benches.

Those who didn't know Minutoli, wearing an "I Love LB" sweatshirt and pink bandanna, simply responded politely. But those who recognized the familiar face were ready to jump into conversation.

Minutoli, 51, said he decided back in May that he would become the new "greeter" of Laguna Beach.

"I had the greatest summer in Laguna Beach, and I've been hanging out here for 30 years," he said.

Minutoli said friends had suggested he become the greeter, but he knew some locals didn't want him stepping on Eiler Larsen's sacred ground.

He offered up alternatives. They can call me the host of the city, he said.

Minutoli said although there are some critics, he's had a mostly positive reaction while standing in his usual greeter position at the corner of Forest Avenue and Coast Highway.


"My first day of greeting, a family came up to me and said, 'Excuse me, sir, I don't know who you, are but you made my day,'" he recalled.

Besides being the so-called greeter in town, there's another reason people might know Minutoli's name.

For the last 21 years, Minutoli has been crashing concerts, awards shows and Hollywood parties, taking pictures with the likes of Bruce Willis, Britney Spears andMichael Jackson.

It started with a love for music, and he saved up money to go to concerts when he lived in Massachusetts. When he moved to California in 1980, he would scour the Los Angeles Times' Calendar section, his mind boggled by the amount of venues and musicians in L.A.

The party-crashing started with a Madonna concert in 1989. Minutoli didn't pay much for the tickets and managed to get his 4-year-old son in for free.

He said he didn't realize he was in the VIP line until he noticed actor Warren Beatty, Madonna's co-star in "Dick Tracy," was in line with him. Before he knew it, he was backstage.

Minutoli said he has never crashed a party the same way twice.

A few years ago, Minutoli attended a Beach Boys benefit concert at the Palladium in Hollywood. Backstage with the band, Minutoli managed to end up on stage and an upright keyboard was pushed in front of him.

Not a pianist, Minutoli said he "improvised" and sang along to "Fun, Fun, Fun" as if he was one of them.

"Three months later a DVD comes out, and there I am with Brian Wilson," he said, smiling.

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