Brian Howell’sFame Us: Celebrity Impersonators and the Cult(ure) of Fame
is a great coffee table book. I know, because it’s been sitting on mine for a week, and every visitor I’ve had has been unable to resist flipping through the entire thing.
The cover grabs you straight off – it’s a photo of two Mick Jaggers, and everyone’s first impulse is to pick it up and get a closer look, trying to determine which is the real deal. The answer: a shocking “neither.” Both Micks are dead-on doppelgangers of the rocker.
The book starts with a meditation on “The Celebrity Image” that’s interesting enough, but of course the real meat of the book is the photos themselves. There’s an amazing Angelina, a must-see Madonna, a perfect Paris, and a Bono that is, simply Bono. (Isn’t it? Has to be…)
It’s fun to read what they have to say, too. The Johnny Depp look-alike points out that while the star’s a recluse, he’s not, which has interesting consequences. “We [impersonators] actually experience fame on a lot more levels than they do. Sometimes I want to be left alone. But you don’t want to represent your star as a jerk, so there is some responsibility in a weird kind of way.”
Conan O’Brien’s impersonator might need to get over himself a little. He created a character, Clonan, that was featured on TV and in magazines, but alas, the famous life was too much for him. “I have retired…I don’t want to be famous anymore. I am/was the world’s most famous celebrity look-alike…I hate looking like someone famous…I would do anything to have my life of anonymity back.” The ironic part is, while it’s easy to imagine Johnny Depp’s impersonator getting mistaken for the star, Conan’s doesn’t look much like him.
But enough rambling. This book must be seen to be believed -- especially the photo of a fake Hulk Hogan hanging with a fake Bill Clinton. Priceless! – Cathy Matusow
Fame Us: Celebrity Impersonators and the Cult(ure) of Fame, by Brian Howell, Arsenal Pulp Press, $18.95
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