Spend a few mornings in Laguna Beach these days, and you’ll inevitably encounter Michael Minutoli. He’s the extraordinarily happy guy on the corner of Coast Highway and Brooks Street who’s waving hello to the drivers whizzing past, dancing around to whatever music is playing in his earbuds, and adorned in a variety of eye-grabbing outfits. Minutoli is the latest in a line of similar Laguna Beach greeters stretching back to the 19th century.
“If I can make people happy when tye’re heading to work, given them just a little spark of happiness, then that makes my day,” Minutoli says in a heavy accent befitting his New England upbringing. “It’s fun to see their reactions. I’m going to do this until the day or as long as I can wave.”
Nobody else had carried on the greeting-complete-strangers-just-for-the-hell-of-it tradition for a while, so three years ago, Minutoli thought he may as well do it himself. But before Minutoli took up full-time greeting, he had made another name for himself. Since 1990, he has managed to crash a variety of celebrity-heavy awards shows and parties and get his photo snapped with pretty much every A-lister you can think of.
Ask Minutoli for proof, and he’ll gladly show you a scratched-up book filled with definitely un-Photoshopped selfies: Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, Bono, Tom Hanks, Prince Charles . . . The shots – and the names – seem endless. As are the stories. He’s been kissed by Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor. He jumped onstage at the end of a Billy Joel and Elton John concert and somehow didn’t get his ass kicked by security.