In the program for a 1968 exhibition, Andy Warhol allegedly wrote, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." That weird dead guy had no idea how right he would turn out to be. The modern world churns out new 15-minute stars every week. Some random person who was interviewed on a newscast, or took a funny-looking picture 10 years ago that was found by an acquaintance, or posted a video of themselves online, can become a world-wide celebrity for doing nothing other than making us smile for a few seconds as an Internet meme or viral video.
Eventually, their 15 minutes run dry and these people have to live in a world where they are famous for what amounts to nearly nothing. So what do they do when the fame has died down? What kind of people are they? What can they possibly be doing with their lives after their image was blasted across the globe for anyone with an Internet connection to see? Let's find out ...
5Ted Williams, the Homeless Man With the Incredible Voice, Got a Job, Got Paid, Got a House ... Then Lost It
Back in 2011, we all pretended we had something in our eye after hearing the story of Ted Williams, the homeless guy with a superb radio voice living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio.
He struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism for decades, and he had been arrested several times. He has a vocal talent that could have landed him a job anywhere in America, but he squandered it ... until a videographer for the Columbus Dispatch named Doral Chenoweth found Williams pan-handling on the side of a road, holding a cardboard sign that claimed he had "a God-given gift of voice." Chenoweth recorded Williams showing off his golden voice and posted it to the Dispatch's website and eventually to YouTube. Suddenly, Williams was the most famous man in America.
He was on The Today Show, Dr. Phil, The Early Show, Jimmy Fallon. Job offers were thrown at him, one after another. The Cleveland Cavaliers offered him a house and a job. Random people inspired by his talent made him offers including cash donations and fully paid mortgages on houses. Kraft Foods made him their official voiceover artist. Here's one of those commercials:
Yup, things were looking up for Williams. After so many years of self-imposed misery, he was cleaning up his act and back in the working world. But then ...
After the Fame
In October 2014, Chenoweth caught up with Williams to find out how his life had changed since Internet fame turned him into a quintessential viral video rags-to-riches story. Turns out, his life is more of a rags-to-riches-to-slightly-nicer-rags story. Williams is broke again and was homeless (again) for a short time. He attributes his financial losses to some contracts he "shouldn't have signed" and some shitty managers. He was given a $375,000 advance to write an autobiography detailing his hardships and eventual triumph. That money is gone. He has a steady job at an Ohio radio station but can't afford a car to drive himself to the station. He has to be driven to work by his manager. In his own words: "I own nothing."
His post-viral-fame life isn't entirely depressing. He does a lot of charity work with the homeless, and, even better, he's been clean and sober since August 2011. To top it all off, he found someone to love and got married in 2014. We can all rest easy knowing she's not in it for the money.
4Antoine Dodson Became Heterosexual and Boxed "The Intruder"
Antoine Dodson is maybe the only person on Earth who can claim to have had his career launched by an attempted rape. It all started when Dodson was interviewed by a local news station about how he scared off a man who had broken into his home and crawled into his sister's bed.
As of right now, the video has over 59 million views. Sounds like a lot until you compare it with the nearly 125 million views of the Gregory Brothers' autotune remix of Dodson's impassioned warning to intruders who wish to rape everybody.
Within three days, Dodson went from being a nobody to being the victim of a home invasion to being a viral video Internet sensation to being an Internet megastar. Three days. The "Bed Intruder Song" was the most-viewed YouTube video of 2010. The song reached 89th on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The digital single, based on his interview about the attempted rape of his sister, has since gone platinum. He made enough money to move his family to a neighborhood where the chances of rapes turning into lucrative hit singles are less likely.
After the Fame
After the initial excitement of the song died down, Dodson's life got weird. He endorsed an app that tracks sex offenders, and he filmed a pilot for a reality show about his and his family's move from Huntsville, Alabama, to Los Angeles.
In 2013, he took to Facebook to make an announcement: he was no longer "into" homosexuality, a claim refuted by the picture on the main page of his website ...
He even had a baby, with a woman and everything, because he's willing to go pretty far to prove a point. Most bizarre of all, Dodson fought in a boxing match against the alleged home invader responsible for all of his success at a Los Angeles-area street festival. The fight was a real barnburner, too. Dodson got rocked in the face seconds after the opening bell, then "The Intruder" twisted his ankle walking backwards, and the match ended.
The classy affair was hosted by Kato Kaelin and featured an appearance by someone called the L.A. Beast, who ate 24 hard-boiled eggs and drank a gallon of milk (which of course made him puke). What a night!
So after you get Internet famous, if you're lucky one day you too will be able to headline an event alongside a man who can vomit a breakfast.