It turns out that celebrities love the spotlight almost as much as they love acting like they're trying to avoid the spotlight. Otherwise everyone in the videos below would have just said, "You know what? I can clean pools as well as the next guy," and walked away from what a normal person would see as soul degradation.
But whether it was for drug money or sandwich money, the following celebrities just couldn't turn down the chance to whore themselves out for ridiculous instructional videos that, deep down, they knew would help no one except future comedy writers.
#5. Vin Diesel in a Break Dancing Video
You know how Generation X has a reputation for being cynical and ironic? What no one tells you is that members of Generation X are forced to act that way because every single one of them lives with the knowledge that somewhere out there is footage of them attempting to break dance in the 1980s. Fortunately, for most of us that footage exists in the form of a video cassette tape that no one has the equipment or willpower to play. Unless you're famous, in which case all the VCRs in the world will conspire to make sure that shit gets seen. Just ask Vin Diesel:
The non-USA version is basically the same thing, but with cheap knockoffs of our name-brand outfits.
Before Vin Diesel became the chrome-domed action star that we know today, he was Mark Vincent, tracksuit wearer and break dancer. And he starred in an instructional video in 1984 called Breakin' in the USA, alongside luminaries like Fresh Jome and Mr. Fantastik.
Break dancing: The bastard origin of duck face.
The future Vin Diesel was only 17, sporting an afro and a lot less muscle mass. A while back, we revealed that Mr. Diesel is one of the world's most hardcore Dungeons & Dragons geeks, and after seeing what he used to look like, that somehow doesn't seem so surprising.
You can watch the video all you want, but you'll never have an explanation for why anyone ever believed that dance moves like "walk like you have a dump in your pants" ...
... and "crotch watch" ...
This one is called the "I may poop directly onto your forehead -- you just never know."
... would get you anywhere but a knee to the neck. Then again, it was the '80s. To understand the times, you really had to be there, and on cocaine. Today, all we know is that Vin really didn't seem to be all that good at break dancing, and that it was probably irresponsible to put him in a position where he would be seen as an authority on the subject.
"I dunno, man -- just sort of bend your elbow or something. People won't know the difference."
Then again, this video does impart one incredibly important and inspirational message: No matter how big of a dork you are in your teens, with enough access to free weights and a razor, you can eventually turn yourself into Vin Diesel.
Now the world knows: D&D is one of the least nerdy things about Vin Diesel.
#4. Leonard Nimoy and a Talking Rock Demonstrate Laserdiscs
Before the days of DVDs, Blu-rays and illegal downloads, cinephiles had to spend between $50 and $150 to own a digital copy of their favorite movie. The big digital format was laserdisc, and movies were released on discs the size of record albums, because back then no one trusted any technology that was smaller than your dinner plate.
One of the earliest models of this format was the Magnavox Magnavision VH-8000 Laser Videodisc Player, or MMVH8000LVDP for short. In 1981, the company produced a demo disc for the player and spared no expense at finding a special celebrity host: Leonard Nimoy.
In any truly ethical society, that mustache would be a felony.
Nimoy describes Magnavision as "a record player for your TV," and to demonstrate what cutting edge technology this is, he plays an ABBA video in not just one, but two tracks of stereo sound. Sadly, he does not use "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" as his demo. He also assures us that there's virtually no wear-out factor as long as nothing touches the disc's surface ... and says this while making love to the surface of the disc with his greasy Nimoy hands.
"And definitely don't lick it. Like this ..."
Now, if this were just a video of Leonard Nimoy endorsing outdated technology, it would be amusing, but not a trainwreck. However, Magnavox decided to go for broke by providing Nimoy with a co-host: a talking rock.
Or rather, a trash bag with a blinking light underneath it.
At the beginning of the video, this glowing rock materializes out of nowhere and starts making beeping noises, which leads to this classic exchange:
*beep* *beep* *beep*
"Yes, I can understand you. I'm Leonard Nimoy."
So, yeah, it apparently wasn't enough to have a major celebrity describing the player's features. Instead, Magnavox wanted to turn their demo disc into a stoner's paradise, with endless scenes of the glowing rock beeping out instructions while Nimoy translates.
"The fuck did you just call me, you oversized chunk of crack?"
You can watch the whole video here, but if you're not inclined, here's a transcript of one of their more trippy exchanges:
"Are discs such as this one available now?"
*beep* *beep* *beep*
"Really? A complete library of programming?"
*beep* *beep* *beep*
"Like The Art of Swimming, Hitting a Golf Ball or Learning to Play Better Tennis?"
Oh man, if you're able to watch Hitting a Golf Ball in digital format, who wouldn't want to own a laserdisc player? It's amusing to think that Leonard Nimoy did Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan soon after this and was initially pretty intent on killing off Spock for good. We'd like to think that his decision to resurrect Spock was driven by the fear of playing second fiddle to a talking rock again.
#3. Russell Crowe in a College Recruitment Video
Imagine you're watching a video that starts off with a shot like this:
And soon follows it up with this exchange:
"Well, it's a strong desire. It's an urging. It's a prompting. It's an urging to ... go out and try it."
"You mean like a temptation?"
"Yes, sort of. Only it's a temptation to do right, not a temptation to do wrong."
And it takes place between these two guys:
"The urge to go out and do things. Ass things."
Yeah, we know exactly what you're thinking. This is so obviously a ... recruitment video for a Christian college? That's right: This video, entitled A Very Special Person, was produced to entice young folks to sign up for the theology program at Avondale College in Australia, a school that happens to be affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. To represent the type of young man they were hoping to recruit, the college enlisted the services of an unknown 18-year-old actor who was just starting out his career: none other than future Academy Award winner Russell Crowe.
"Man, even I thought this was porn."
The guy in the short jorts is Crowe's former teacher, who tries to convince the youngster to follow the call of the spirit and study to become a pastor at Avondale. At first, the video almost feels cultlike in the ways it tries to recruit him. When we first meet young Russell, he's a leather-vest-wearing, motorcycle-riding sinner who has no direction in life, but after attending a theology class at Avondale, he suddenly morphs into this clean-cut dork:
Apparently, God had no strong opinions about his disastrous proto-mullet.
Near the end, he asks his teacher what the prospects are for finding a job after college. The teacher tells him not to worry about it:
"We're always seeking bright young men and women to serve in the ministry, especially right now. This church is a worldwide organization, and it's getting bigger all the time. There will always be a constant demand for workers."
"You think that girl at Avondale College was a theology student?"
So yeah, in spite of all the preaching about doing the Lord's work, it seems the only real reason Crowe wants to attend this college is to get laid.