5 Unhinged Labors of Love By Determined Fanboys
Becoming famous seems like a pretty good gig. It’s not all expensive gift bags and hot tubs, however. There are notable downsides to becoming a famous figure, such as having to star in god-awful Verizon commercials. There’s also the oft-realized fear of one of your fans making the unsettling transition from regular stan to deeply unsettling stan and possible restraining order recipient.
After all, to be famous requires having supporters dotted all across the globe, and when one of them decides to do something to get your attention, they usually have to go for broke. Some people are happy with maybe a liked Instagram comment or two, but others are headed into a weird little workshop to cook up something that demands a stronger response.
Here are five fanboys who engaged in some eyebrow-raising tributes to their favorite fame-havers…
Collecting Beethoven’s Hair for Science
Beethoven existed long before the days of TMZ or blind items, and probably has quite a few less ride-or-die fans than, say, BTS, but you can’t pretend he’s not a massive figure in music. Not only is Beethoven famously musically talented, but also famously dead, and a couple of scientists decided to try to figure out why. To do so, they relied on a classic tool of the creeper: collecting a bunch of locks of his hair.
Once they’d procured as much of his hair as they could, they engaged in what feels like halfway between science and voodoo-doll creation, cleaning and cutting the hair to attempt to decode Beethoven’s genome. They ended up using over 10 feet of the composer’s hair, more than enough to clog any old-timey drain, to determine what caused his deafness, among other health issues. Unfortunately, they didn’t get a final answer on his useless ears, but they did probably create some very interesting smells.
Serving Extra Prison Time for Larry Bird
Boston sports fans are pretty serious about their teams and their heroes. Many a Shaun has been brought to tears through the power of Brady or Bird or the Boston Red Sox. Bird especially holds a dear place in the hearts of Boston basketball fans of a certain age, through being one of the greatest players of all time, as well as being something else people in Boston love: white.
So when one fan had an opportunity to pay tribute to the Hick from French Lick, he jumped on it. Where and when the opportunity presented itself was the unusual part. A man named Eric James Torpy was facing conviction for shooting with intent to kill and robbery, and was offered a plea deal of 30 years in prison. He made the unusual counter-offer to add a couple more years to make it 33, telling the judge, “If he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird’s jersey.”
Moving Continents for the Green Bay Packers
If you’re a sports fan, you might be lucky enough to live in the area of your favorite team, making it easy to attend games, whether that’s a couple here and there or as a diehard season ticket holder. If your team comes from your hometown, or a past stop in your life, it’s a whole lot harder and more expensive to make the trek solely for a couple hours of overpriced beers and nachos. I’m absolutely sure that sports team fandom has had some effect on people’s decisions on where to live or whether to move, but I’d argue we’re approaching a level of fandom that’s a little hard to sign off on for most people.
Add the variable of that move being literally across the entire globe and you’ve got a very concerning level of devotion. Still, that’s what an Australian man named Wayne Scullino did, moving from Sydney, Australia, to Green Bay, Wisconsin, in order to attend all the games of his beloved Packers. Scullino was a salesman, which maybe explains how the hell he was able to sell this plan to his wife and two children, which included selling their house to fund it. After the football season, he just moved back to Australia, minus one house. I can’t even decide what would be worse — staying or going back.
Danny DeVito Shrine
We don’t have a specific fanboy to thank for the bizarre, semi-religious site of tribute here, but their work definitely made a mark. In a bathroom on the SUNY Purchase campus, there was a paper-towel dispenser that was less-than-securely fastened, and moving it opened a hole in the wall. On the other side of this wall wasn’t strange, mutated representations of our deepest guilt like Silent Hill would have you believe, but a weird little shrine to actor Danny DeVito.
Whether the paper-towel dispenser was installed haphazardly to begin with, and this was a strangely-capitalized on opportunity, or whether a DeVito head went at the grout with a dining hall spoon to make it all happen, we don’t know. What we do know is that, until it was closed off for “safety reasons,” if you were on campus with an offering to make to the It's Always Sunny… star, there was a designated spot to do so, as long as you didn’t mind the smell of undergrad piss.
The goofy toiling of a bunch of medium-to-large weirdos is fun to laugh about, but when you’ve got a bunch of crazed fans, you’re walking a knife’s edge between big fan and big problem. Stalkers are a terrifying problem, and a subset of fandom that has a real-life body count. Maybe one of the most famous fanboys turned violent is John Hinckley Jr., who almost changed the entire course of world history with his attempt to get Jodie Foster to notice him.
The method of drawing Foster’s gaze Hinckley settled on was to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. The reasoning being, I guess, that if you do something that everybody on earth is going to hear about, it must mean Jodie Foster would also hear about it. Reagan survived and Hinckley was sent to a mental hospital, where he remained until recently.