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Life and times of a celebrity stalker

IF you're having difficulty recognising the woman in the picture on top of this column, you're probably not alone.

She's Tiffany, the one-hit wonder American pop star whose flat, faintly irritating nasal whine hasn't troubled the charts since 1987, when her cover version of I Think We're Alone Now went to number one in several countries.

For Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick, however, Tiffany is the centre of their strange universe. Jeff and Kelly have been labelled stalkers, and I suppose they are. But as director Sean Donnelly's observational documentary, also called I Think We're Alone Now, showed, they're sad, pitiable human beings as well.

Jeff is 50, from Santa Cruz, California, and has been diagnosed with Asberger's. Kelly, from Denver, Colorado, is 35, intersex -- or hermaphrodite, if you prefer -- and has recurring drug problems. The only thing they have in common is Tiffany.

At the very beginning of the film, Jeff proudly read out a newspaper report about how he stalked Tiffany for 11 years, resulting in her taking out a restraining order against him. People will tend to do that when you turn up as they're leaving a courtroom, waving a samurai sword and five white chrysanthemums in their face, as Jeff did to Tiffany in 1998.

Jeff insists he was simply trying to present Tiffany with a gift, and you'd be inclined to believe him. He smiles all the time and is extremely polite, in an intense, in-your-face kind of way that's both overwhelming and slightly intimidating.

But he doesn't appear to be dangerous, just dangerously deluded about the world around him. He loves Tiffany, he says, and has actually asked her to marry him (presumably, this was before the sword and flowers incident); she politely declined, telling him she was going to marry an English guy called Ben George.

One of Jeff's proudest possessions is a picture of himself alongside Tiffany and Ben. "Look at the jealousy in his eyes!" chuckled Jeff, holding up the photo for the camera. The look in Ben's eyes seemed to be one of boredom mixed with irritation.

Jeff is convinced Tiffany will marry him some day. They're "best friends". He knows this because he communicates with her "spiritually", using a "psychotropic machine" he built himself.

Kelly claims to have known Tiffany when she was a teenager. He/she (how do you describe a hermaphrodite, anyway?) also had a vision of Tiffany while in a coma, following a cycling accident.

"I've never had a girlfriend before," said Kelly, leaning back, eyes closed, against a tattered poster of Tiffany on the bedroom wall. Kelly also believes Tiffany holds the only key to personal happiness.

The chronology of I Think We're Alone Now was confusing. We saw Jeff attending several Tiffany performances, as well as talking to her at a convention. She didn't run away screaming, but was politely, if coldly and tentatively, indulgent. Was this before or after the restraining order?

At any rate, in the final quarter of the film, Jeff and Kelly hooked up so both of them could meet Tiffany together. "I'll expect the worst and hope for the best," said Kelly before they left their shared motel room. "I'm almost sure Tiffany won't remember me."

Whether she remembered either of them or not, she kissed them on the cheek and posed for photos and autographs. Kelly went away happy. "Maybe Tiffany is not going home to Denver with me tomorrow night, but I've got something more important: her everlasting friendship."

Jeff, meanwhile, seems to have lost a little interest in Tiffany and has turned his attention to Alyssa Milano, an actress and singer who starred in the TV series Charmed. She took a restraining order out against him last year. This was a strange and disturbing film about obsession, but also about loneliness and isolation.


I think we're alone now ****