What 5 Internet Celebrities Did After They Got Famous
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 ...
Ted 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.
Antoine 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.
The "Star Wars Kid" Was Bullied and Became Severely Depressed
The story of the "Star Wars Kid" -- whose real name is Ghyslain Raza -- doesn't take the same upswing in success and financial gain as the stories of Dodson and Williams. It's a steady stream of sad followed by an ellipsis and then a question mark.
Before YouTube was even a thing, the "Star Wars Kid" video was a hit. On the surface, it's a heavy-set kid waving a stick around like he's Darth Maul. In reality ... well, that's pretty much what it is. I remember at the time there were rumors he was mentally challenged, because only mentally challenged people have ever pretended a stick was a lightsaber.
But there was a reason he was practicing his sweet dual-bladed lightsaber moves. Raza was 15 at the time and was a member of his high school's TV club. He was rehearsing his lightsaber skills for a Star Wars parody video, kind of like every single person to have ever filmed a Star Wars parody, ever. He filmed himself messing around with a golf ball retriever and left the tape in the school's production studio. Someone found it and passed the tape around school. Eventually, someone digitally transferred the tape onto a computer and it started spreading from there.
Keep in mind this was almost 15 years ago, which means the upload would have taken
a fortnight. That's how big of a dick that person was.
After the Fame
Instead of world-wide acclaim and approval, and instead of celebrity and a massive financial windfall, Raza was mercilessly bullied. Classmates made his life such a living hell that he was pulled out of school and privately tutored for the rest of his high school career. Today, we all know the Internet is a shitty place where shitty people write shitty comments about anyone doing anything. Raza learned it firsthand when he -- just a high school kid who wanted to make a funny parody video -- was being told to kill himself by faceless Internet dipshits. He was deeply depressed and was checked into a psychiatric hospital. Here's what he had to say about his depression:
No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn't help but feel worthless, like my life wasn't worth living.
He and his parents sued the families of the three kids responsible for spreading the video. The case was settled out of court. To this day, the legend of "Star Wars Kid" lives on. Raza's sweet lightsaber moves have been parodied in shows like Arrested Development, The Venture Bros., and American Dad. It's an Easter egg in Tony Hawk's Underground 2.
Raza eventually graduated college with a law degree and is the president of a preservation society that aims to protect the cultural and historical heritage of his hometown.
"Bad Luck Brian" Builds Churches and Sounds Like a Cool Guy
If you've spent any amount of time on Reddit you know the "Bad Luck Brian" image-macro meme is inescapable. It's the go-to for anyone who wants to share a moment in their lives when a mundane act somehow turned into a disaster like it was a boring Twilight Zone twist ending. A guy from Ohio named Kyle Craven woke up to find he had a voice message on his phone from his friend Ian Davies. Davies was calling to say had used Craven's goofy yearbook photo as an image macro on Reddit, and it was getting popular. This was the first "Bad Luck Brian" ever:
That famous yearbook photo wasn't actually what Craven looked like in high school. He was a well-known class clown and purposely took the worst picture he could. That ugly sweater-vest? He bought it specifically for the picture. That red face? He rubbed his face before the picture was taken. That crazy under-bite? He pushed out his jaw as far as he could. The school principal's bullshit detector went bonkers when the pictures came out. She made Craven retake the picture, but not before he and Davies scanned it for posterity.
Years later, the picture showed up on Reddit, and an Internet meme was born. That silly picture turned into a minor source of profit for Craven. He's approved the use of the image for merchandising deals with Walmart and Hot Topic, and for advertising campaigns for Volkswagen and a Bavarian beer brewery.
After the Fame
Thank the gods this story doesn't have a depressing Requiem for a Dream-style ending. It's actually rather pleasant. Craven tried his hand at being a YouTube personality for a while. He's filmed short sketches in which he brings the more embarrassing "Bad Luck Brian" stories to life. He still makes them, but rarely. Mostly, he's just a regular guy who seems to enjoy and respect his slice of fame.
He's married, has a dog, and he works as a project manager for his father's construction company. He builds churches. Bad Luck Brian builds churches. Can't get more pleasant that.
Chris "Leave Britney Alone" Crocker Does Gay Porn
Back in 2007, Britney Spears was in full-on celebrity-meltdown mode. That was the year she shaved her head and attacked the car of a paparazzo with an umbrella and probably did other things that never truly mattered to anyone, with the exception of one man who recorded his emotional response to the media's treatment of Spears from his state-of-the-art production studio that doubled as a blanket. You might know him better as the "Leave Britney Alone!" guy:
The video is a melodramatic spectacle. It isn't often we get to see an effeminate man crying hysterically under a blanket in defense of a spiraling pop star. The video was a massive viral hit. It was analyzed or referenced or parodied in damn near every movie and show for the next couple of years. All the cable news networks, all the late-night talk shows, all the morning talk shows had something to say about it. It was referenced on South Park and featured in the critically acclaimed film Meet the Spartans.
Crocker seized on his fame by recording songs ...
And Being in a Weezer video ...
With one emotional fanboy outburst, he became a celebrity. You've probably noticed a pattern with most of these entries, so you can guess what comes next ...
After the Fame
One of the subheadings on Crocker's Wikipedia page is "Prolonging Fame."Just take a second to bask in how appropriate that title is. Appropriate not just for him, not just for Internet celebrities overall, but for any public figure that refuses to fade away after their 15 minutes are up.
After some attempts to break into acting (limited to failed reality shows), Crocker stretched his fame so thin he reached the inevitable end of the fame life cycle: porn. Like Octomom and Chyna before him, his moment in the sun led to being filmed fucking someone, in this case his then-boyfriend, in a video titled Chris Crocker's Raw Love.
Luis is currently trying to hit it big so he can eventually hit rock bottom and achieve his true dream: being a sexual meat-puppet on especially seedy porn sites. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more from Luis, check out 5 Classic Shows You Had No Idea Had (Terrible) Sequels and The 5 Most Pathetic Video Game Acting Performances.
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