“Just Ok?” That time Richard Simmons invited me into his kitchen for a pep talk

Alden Olmsted
8 min readApr 21, 2024

And how I learned answering honestly is everything

The Simmons’ residence circa 2013

“Do you like the baby Jesus?” Richard asked me.

“Uh.. sure…” I answered as hesitantly as I imagine you would have answered.

“I just love the baby Jesus,” said Mr. Simmons as we walked up and into his living room, revealing a staggering number of — you guessed it — baby Jesus ceramic statuettes and sculptures.

From all around the world.

As I native Californian I was thinking more of earthquakes — looking around at all these breakables — less of creepiness. Although in a Louisiana-Anne-Rice kinda way there definitely was some of that too.

“New Orleans,” he said when I asked the question I always ask when a person looks like they *might* be from somewhere else.

“Of course,” I answered approvingly.

It made so much sense.

The columns, the colors, the gaudiness. Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t Tammy Faye gaudiness, but it also wasn’t the California-Spanish or modernist villa I’d expect somewhere above Sunset Blvd.

Which was where I’d found myself on that fateful spring day in 2013.



Alden Olmsted

I was born in a small town in Northern California just another latch-key kid obsessed with BMX and Tom Petty. Now I make films and travel and write when I can.