About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hoaxer Anna Ayala

Note: Many a person has come to public attention by way of a hoax. Some of these hoaxes draw national attention; others become only local or regional stories.

The best hoaxes are those that are completely innocent in that they test public credulity or deflate the pompous but don't try to profit financially nor do they injure another person or organization. Some hoaxes have considerable fallout, leaving angry people in their wake. Others delight and appeal to our enjoyment in having been fooled, so long as we are finally let in on the gag.

Hoaxes in America have been many. Ben Franklin pulled off his Polly Baker hoax, Richard Locke his Moon hoax, Edgar Allan Poe his balloon hoax, H.L Mencken his bathtub hoax, and Orson Welles his radio drama War of the Worlds, which wasn't intended as a hoax but functioned like one all the same.

The sample of hoaxers whose efforts are presented here all have done their pranks since the end of World War II. There are, of course, many other such pranksters and rascals who could be added to this sample.

In March 2005, Anna Ayala of Las Vegas claimed that while eating a bowl of chili at a San Jose, CA, Wendy's restaurant, she bit into a human finger. She indicated that she might sue and appeared on ABC's Good Morning America show.

The finger had actually belonged to a friend of Ayala's husband. It had been severed in an accident at an asphalt plant. The Ayalas had apparently cooked the digit before slipping it into the bowl of chili.

It soon came to light that Anna had been involved in a whole series of scam legal claims dating back to 1998. She pled guilty in the Wendy's case and received a nine-year prison sentence. Her husband got 12 years.

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