The universe finally acquiesced to Heather Hofmeister’s desire to see her famous neighbor: Prince.
The corporate communications exec lives around the cornerish from Paisley Park. “I always joke that when you live in Chanhassen, it’s kind of like a rite of passage” to see Prince pedaling or driving around, said Hofmeister.
The Saturday before Prince died, Hofmeister was complaining to her husband, Leo Hofmeister, senior director of the “Fox 9 Morning News” and the “Jason Show,” that a friend had seen the rock icon pedaling around on his bike in the Caribou parking lot.
“I was there at the same parking lot an hour before,” she told me. “I told Leo, ‘This is not fair! I have lived here for 14 years and never run into Prince! … One time, before we had kids, I got to see him at Paisley Park and we were there until 6 a.m., and that was really fun.’ I was teasing Leo, saying ‘The universe hates me!’ — and then Monday it happened.”
Around 3:30 p.m., she saw Prince on the bike path that goes under Hwy 5. It’s near the designated “Memorial Parking” where many fans paid their respects at Paisley a few days later.
When Hofmeister saw Prince leisurely pedaling, “I called Leo and he said, No way! Heather, turn around and get a picture. I got my iPhone and took a couple of pictures.”
Prince did not react to his photo being taken because she was so far away.
Many friends have told Hofmeister about seeing him on his bike and how he would ask them not to take a photo or to delete one they’d already taken. One reported taking a photo of Prince on his bike wearing “flowy clothing and high heels.”
Media beat a path to the Hofmeisters’ residence on Saturday. “Yes,” she said, “it was early enough that I was in my pjs, had no makeup on and was like, ‘Oh, my God,’ and my kids were like, What is happening?”
Everybody wanted to buy the photo.
“I kept saying no,” said Hofmeister. “One person from Splash media was kind of pushy and said, I’m so surprised you’re not interested in money. I said, ‘I am not interested in profiting off someone’s death, especially someone I have admired my entire life. I just can’t do it.’ ”
I asked Hofmeister, who has kids to put through college, how much money was being offered. “She [the Splash staffer] said, thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, and I just said, ‘Nah. I’m sorry,’ and she was like, I’m so surprised.
“Leo and I have had talks about this every day since, and the number of people [who have told us they] would have sold it is shocking. That’s actually pretty sad. TMZ asked if they could use it after they offered to buy it and I said no, and they said they could just give me the photo credit. I didn’t know what that meant for my life. Because of them, Saturday my life was crazy, a hundred people calling my house. One person from ABC News I decided I’d talk to because she was legitimate news, a journalist, not a gossipy magazine like OK or Splash.”
So Hofmeister was interviewed on ABC by Eva Pilgrim.
“You know me well enough to know that I am not doing this for notoriety. If I had realized my name was going to get out, I would have given you the picture anonymously. I just posted it on Facebook because Prince looked so happy and free, wind blowing through his hair. My comment on Facebook is that I was so happy he was feeling better. What happened later was just crazy.”
Wearing a helmet would have provided Prince with more anonymity.
“True,” said Hofmeister. “I think he probably didn’t think this through. A funny comment from the ABC News reporter — I really liked her — who asked: So what did he wear? I explained, and she said, Oh, he wasn’t wearing workout clothes? and I just started laughing and said, ‘Nooo. Prince wouldn’t dare wear workout clothes riding his bike. He wore whatever he was wearing that day.’ ”
Name him Prince?
It doesn’t look as if KARE 11 weekend anchor Camille Williams is open to her colleague and husband Cory Hepola’s suggestion to name one of their twins Prince.
“Been pushing @CamilleKARE11 to name our son Prince. prob not happening,” tweeted Hepola, who anchors mornings.
“Um, no,” Williams told her husband, with whom she already has one child.
Via Twitter, Williams told me she is “so ready” to deliver. She looked ready a month ago; but she keeps working.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Jason Show” and “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.