FAME What’s Your Name What’s Your Name What’s Your Name

My publicist sent out this 8-by-10 glossy to all the major media outlets in the hopes of boosting my fleeting fame.
Someone asked me if I was “famous.”

Well. Maybe. It depends on how you want to parse it. If you took all the REALLY famous people — like Muhammad Ali and the Beatles and Charles Manson and Adolf Hitler and George Washington and Jesus Christ and Alex Trebeck and all the TRULY famous people that EVERYBODY knows. And you rated them on a scale of 1 to 100. All the truly famous people would be ones. And I’d be like a one hundred . . .  But I’d probably be in there somewhere. If just barely. Ha ha.

I once came across this gossip magazine from the 1940s. And it had articles about all the famous celebrities of the day. Aside from one or two people, I didn’t recognize any of them. I guess fame is pretty fleeting.

I wonder if when famous people get together they’re constantly ranking each other in their minds, like a pecking order. Like: “I’m much more famous than HIM. But HE’S much more famous than me. But that other guy is pretty much on the same level of fame as me. I feel competitive towards HIM!”

I’ve heard that famous people are the most impressed by other famous people. I read about John Lennon being at this party in LA that was full of all these Hollywood celebrities. And he was just thrilled to see all these famous people. He’d be gawking at them like: “WOW!! There’s Elizabeth Taylor over there!!” . . . Even though he was the most famous person in the room.

Andy Warhol — who was as obsessed with fame as anybody — said that every really famous person has at least one fan who is obsessed with them and thinks about them all the time. I remember reading about this guy who was obsessed with Johnny Carson. He kept a diary every day, but it wasn’t about HIS life, it was about Johnny Carson’s life: “May 14: Johnny seemed a little depressed tonight. I wonder if he’s having marital problems again . ..” And then there’s the guy in the papers who’s obsessed with the singer Taylor Swift. Follows her everywhere she goes. And even broke into her house several times. Poor Taylor is so freaked out by the guy, she’s had to hire a full-time bodyguard for protection. When they asked the Swift fan why he does what he does, he simply said: “I just want to get to know her better.” Ha ha.

When Andy Warhol was a young man in New York, he was obsessed with the famous author Truman Capote. He used to hang out all the time on the sidewalk by the apartment building where Capote lived with his mother, in the hopes of getting a glimpse of Capote. After awhile, Capote’s mother felt so sorry for the guy, standing out there in the cold, that she’d sometimes invite him up to the apartment for coffee. So Warhol eventually got to know Capote a little bit. Capote just assumed Warhol was one more of those losers that was “interested in arts” and would never amount to anything. Ha ha. I’ll bet Capote was pissed when Warhol’s mega-fame eventually eclipsed his own.

When Warhol was just starting out on his painting career, his big obsession wasn’t “I MUST create my masterpiece!” but “Do you think Picasso has heard of me?” As always, fame was the barometer for which Andy Warhol measured success. And he certainly got more than his 15-minutes worth of it.

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