Everybody wants to be a celebrity these days. I’m sure there must be some fancy schmancy psychological term for this inordinate hunger for fame, but I just call it “star dumb.”
In the old days thespians and so-called entertainers were pretty much the dregs of society. They were the ones curious country people viewed about the same way they watched snakes devour mice, frogs eat bugs or moths commit suicide on light bulbs.
Those so-called entertainers traveled the country, and people welcomed them because, besides being strange and bizarre, they brought news from the next town maybe 50 miles away. Those people had exotic “show names” like Macy the Magnificent Magician or Lucy the Lively Snake Charmer, but nobody knew their real names.
Then came radio and movies followed by television, and we learned those entertainers’ real names. I remember coming home after the Saturday matinee and practicing squinting my eyes because Roy Rogers had squinty eyes, and that was cool.
Lately, the celebrity admiration has morphed into everybody wanting to actually be a celebrity. These celebrity wannabes broadcast intimate personal details about themselves in places like YouTube, and willingly allow cameras to follow them into the most private parts of their lives. Why? So they can be on television?
Andy Warhol famously said everyone will receive 15 minutes of fame, but are the sordid details of misbehaviors worthy of fame?
Years ago a wannabe movie star said it didn’t matter what the press said as long as they spelled the name right.
My squinty eyes were the only time I mimicked a famous person, and I’ve been guilty of bragging that none of that stuff affected me. I am a musician in my other life, though, and I must admit I really like the applause after I play and sing. Another musician once told me, “You feed on that admiration. It’s a high no drug can match.”
I also must confess one other slip. Once we were at a Western music festival. One of my all-time favorite singers, Johnny Rodriguez was there. He didn’t bring a band of his own; he sang with the famous headline group on stage, then disappeared into the crowd.
My husband knew I admired Johnny Rodriguez’s talent, and he actually agreed with me. He went to get us some coffee while I saved our seats.
After quite a long time he returned, a huge grin spread across his face. As he handed me my coffee he said, “The coffee urn was almost empty. Guess who tipped it up for me so I could get our coffee?” Without waiting for an answer and unable to hide his glee he said, “Johnny Rodriguez.”
It turned out they even visited a bit, and the report I got was, “He’s really a nice guy.” I was ruined. Does that mean I’ve become one of the “Star Dumbs?”
All I know is that from now on, I’m going to be the one getting the coffee.
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her: