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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hoaxer Mike McGrady

It has been said that in most parts of the world, people have sex, but that Americans commit it. The nation's preoccupation with this naughty topic was the cause of a marvelous 1966 hoax in which a group of friends and co-workers wrote a steamy, sleazy novel--by committee.

The success of sexy novels by such authors as Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins and the failure of far better manuscripts to find a publisher caused Newsday columnist Mike McGrady and roughly 20 of his Newsday colleagues and other pals to tackle the writing of a purposely bad, sex-obsessed novel. One writer did the first chapter, the next person did chapter two, etc. The only stipulation was that their work had to be as devoid as possible of quality and social value.

The book was titled Naked Came the Stranger, and its author, purportedly, was Peneploe Ashe." The part of Ashe was played by McGrady's sister-in-law. The book's plot involved an unfaithful husband whose wife gets her revenge by sleeping around at a dizzying rate.

Naturally, the book was a huge success in terms of copies sold--even before the literary hoax was revealed.

Awful as it is to have to admit it, this hoax proved an adage: "No one ever lost any money by underestimating the taste of the American public."

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