Your Own Personal Paparazzi

17 02 2008


Your Own Personal Paparazzi
Time: LINK

What would I do with my own paparazzi? crotch shot. no. my own personal gerald ford assassination reenactment.

Struan Vaz and Paige Hill emerged from a performance of the Nutcracker by Ballet Austin last month and were assaulted by photographers and reporters who pursued them for several blocks, snapping shots and asking personal questions. Amid the blinding flashbulbs and rapid-fire interrogation, the pair held their composure, but the attention overwhelmed them a little. “A couple of times, Paige tried to run away,” says Tania Cowher, one of the paparazzi on the scene that night in the Texas capital, “so we ran along with her.” They chased the couple all the way to the nightclub Qua, where Vaz and Hill were met by a crowd of adoring fans.
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All the hoopla on the street and at the bar confused passersby, some of whom took pics of the action with their camera phones, while others asked the couple, both 30, who they were. “We were like, ‘We’re nobody,'” Vaz says. Actually, Vaz is a high-tech entrepreneur, and Hill works on a city councilwoman’s re-election campaign, but in terms of celebrity status, even locally, they are indeed “nobody.” Vaz, as a surprise for his fiancé, had hired Celeb 4 A Day, which provides personal paparazzi to private individuals who want to experience some of the trappings of fame. (Friends played the fans for free.)

Even as real celebrities battle those pesky cameramen on the streets and in courts for intruding on their lives and trading on their images, some regular folks, from parents hosting teen birthday parties to Gen Xers out on the town, have decided that the attention could be fun–and worth paying up to $1,500 for. Cowher launched Celeb 4 A Day in Austin in November and is expanding to Los Angeles this month and San Francisco in February. There are similar companies, like Private Paparazzi in San Diego and Personal Paparazzi in Britain, and wannabe big shots in other places have taken matters into their own hands, hiring freelance photographers to trail them.

The trend is driven by the twin obsessions with chronicling one’s life and experiencing fame. “We live in a culture where if it’s not documented, it doesn’t exist,” says Josh Gamson, a University of San Francisco professor of sociology who studies culture and mass media. “And if you don’t have people asking who you are, you’re nobody.” University of Pennsylvania sociologist David Grazian, who wrote On the Make: The Hustle of Urban Nightlife, calls personal paparazzi reality marketers, who make the act of being photographed more meaningful than the actual photos. “The goal isn’t to produce a product,” he says. “It’s to heighten the experience of the event. In that sense, there doesn’t even need to be any film in the camera.”

Phillip Barker agrees that a photographer is a powerful status symbol, even if it’s also an indulgence in narcissism. Barker, 29, posted an ad on Craigslist for a paparazzo to accompany him and 14 male friends during a bar-hopping birthday party in Chicago last November. Many of the responses were hostile (“You vain vain [expletive],” one read), but a woman, Mandy Johnston, took the job–delivering to the guys afterward an elaborate package of digital photos and prints and, during the evening, unexpected VIP stature: the crew skipped to the front of the line at several clubs. “We got in faster because of Mandy. People thought, These guys are important people,” Barker says. He’s considering hiring her again, perhaps for his upcoming 30th-birthday weekend in Key West, Fla. “Celebrities are always whining about people following them around,” he says. “We’re like, Are you kidding? That’s our dream!”

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9 03 2008
“Britney’s Law” (LAWL) « The Unheard

[…] You can have your own Stalkerazzi, for a price (no witty sidenote […]

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