Free for All

Eric Saperston certainly isn't the first person to ever climb into a vintage VW bus with his dog to follow the Grateful Dead on tour. But the upshot of his travels, which began in 1993 and continued for seven amazing years, turned out to be a different story altogether -- not to mention the subject of a homemade feature film that's garnered national attention.

For Saperston and three friends who joined him along the way, that odyssey took on a whole new look when the freewheeling Deadhead came up with a plan to contact famous people and offer to buy them a cup of coffee in exchange for some worldly advice on the secrets of success. ("If they wanted anything more than a cup of coffee, I had to tell them they were on their own," adds Saperston, who initially financed his quest by selling grilled-cheese sandwiches along the side of the road.) It was, he says, an exercise in moxie, riding a fine line between persistence and downright obnoxiousness on his part. Still, some said yes.

Saperston met his interviewees with a video camera and an open mind: Included among the 150-plus big names he spoke with are former president Jimmy Carter, former Texas governor Ann Richards, FBI director William Sessions, Coca-Cola magnate Donald Keough, Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, horse-whisperer Monty Roberts, authors Ken Kesey and Maya Angelou, and actors Henry Winkler and Billy Crystal. Many of them appear in Saperston's culminating film memoir, The Journey. And now he's taking a different sort of trip, traveling to college campuses to give screenings and coinciding inspirational talks based on what he learned at the feet of the famous -- a tour that brings him to the Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria campus at 1 p.m. November 7, for a free, short-version screening and lecture. For a quick preview of what to expect, go to . Saperston's bottom line? A resounding "Do your own thing!"

"It all boils down to this: Each and every one of us has a calling, a small, quiet but assured voice telling us what path we're supposed to follow. But very few have the courage to follow that voice," Saperston says. "I met a lot of people who did." He's just here to pass it along.