You can't be faulted if you're star-struck in front of celebrities, especially if they're all dolled up and nonchalant at a gala or at the boutique. There's a point when you have to cross the line between putting celebrities at a pedestal and approaching them like a normal guy on the street, though. Chances are, celebrities are cordoned off by a team of muscled men at big events, and your best chance of engaging them is when you see them doing their day-to-day routines, just like you would.

You've seen paparazzi shots of celebrities at the grocery checkout counter or waiting in line at the cinemas; if you want your appeal for an autographed picture or a snapshot to be seriously entertained, then you should get your act together and muster the courage to approach. Celebrities will either pity you or ignore you if you approach them like deer in front of headlights. Try to think of them as casual acquaintances (as hard it may seem), but don't fail to recognize their status and act like they're really just the same people you see on the street. Start the conversation with 'here-and-now' topics. Saw Brad Pitt at the dentist's clinic? Ask him if a dental crown is better than an implant. He may not know anything about dental procedures, but you're fishing for a connection and you have to roll with the punches.

The best opportunities for connection involve places where you're forced to mingle and socialize, no matter how shallow and brief the conversation gets. Like an elevator or (gasp) a taxi cab. You can ask to split the fare with the guy if he's willing, and you can pull off your well-rehearsed ice breakers as you hop between floors. You'll be surprised how accommodating celebrities become when you're talking about daily life, instead of their Oscar-winning performance at last season's hit. Celebrities are most vulnerable when they're not dolled up for the limelight, and you can offer them help with the groceries or give a stalled car a push.

Of course, you can always stalk the places where your favorite celebrity hangs out, and then find an opportunity to connect. You'll look more like a person of interest rather than just a familiar face in the crowd, though. Celebrities have acquired a keen eye on the creepy types, and they'll know if a chance acquaintance ever becomes a stalk. If you're going to strike up a nonchalant conversation, make sure your information isn't backed by things you read at rag magazines or heard from last night's news. You won't court their favor that way, so keep it light and impersonal. If your only intent is a photo op or an autograph, keep the interaction quick and discreet, unless the celebrity has lots of time to spare and kill.

Don't obsess on the photos if you don't want to blow your idol's image out of proportion. Of course, it doesn't hurt to be curious about your favorite celebrity's latest exploits. You'll find more hot celeb photos online, if you're not satisfied with the glamour shots on glossy magazine pages. It's the next-best thing to a personal encounter, but it pays to know what to do if fate gives you a heads up; you just might see Chris Hemsworth sulking behind you at the airport boarding gate.

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