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, July 13, 2009

Misc.: Ralph Ginzburg

In the early 1060s, publisher Ralph Ginzburg, whose publications all dealt heavily in sex, became briefly a celebrity of the shady sort, especially when he was taken to court and charged with violating the Comstock Law.

Ginzburg, a former journalism student and Korean War vet, had worked for Esquire, Reader's Digest, Colliers and Look magazines before striking out on his own as a publisher.

He observed the success of Hugh Hefner's Playboy magazine, which appealed mainly to younger men, and decided to produce periodicals and other printed matter to appeal mainly to older Americans.

His hardbound quarterly, Eros, lasted for only four issues, interrupted by his court action. It, his newsletter, Liaison, and the remarkably titled Housewife's Guide to Selective Promiscuity got Ginzburg charged with sending obscene matter through the mail.

When the U.S. Supreme Court examined his case, their conclusion in 1966 was that the material itself was not legally obscene, but that he was guilty of "the sordid business of pandering," in other words, promoting his products in a sleazy way to appeal to people's prurient interest.

What had casued the court's hackles to rise was that Ginzburg had attempted to have his products mailed out of Intercourse or Blueball, PA, but had settled for mailing out of Middlesex, NJ.

Pandering had never been a criterion in earlier pornography/obscenity actions. Its creation showed a Supreme Court fast on its feet.

Ginzburg was fined and sentenced to five years, of which he served only eight months, thereby proving the truth of the pre-revolutionary Russian proverb: "Be righteous before God; be wealthy before a judge."

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