In a packed room, leaning against the wall, standing next to David Letterman, dressed head to toe in New York City black, hands in pocket, lip-curled, doo-whip in full effect, the new Johnny Paparazzi doesn’t even flinch. In fact, he plays it like he doesn’t even recognize Letterman. And instead he tries to look as chill as possible so that when all the looky-loos start rubbernecking for a glance of the late night king of comedy, they see him too. Letterman appreciates this more than Johnny Paparazzi knows. He shows it by ignoring him right back. Imitation is the best form of flattery DL. Thanks for the reciprocity.
And when the new Johnny Paparazzi was out on a date and had to take the bull by the horns to make sure he and his date got to their seats at the theater before the show started and the crowd of fur-wearing painted blue hairs and puttering old tuxedos were shuffling in place like clueless zombies in the lobby, he reached back and grabbed her hand and just did it. Was it coincidence, then, when he approached this short, batty-looking, dyed-hair man moving at less than glacial speed and said “Excuse me, sir” as he bumped him and rushed past and the old man responded with such humility, honesty and kindness (“Why, of course, let me get out of the way.”) that he had to turn and look back? The old Johnny Paparazzi would have stopped to take a photo when it turned out he had just bowled over the Jerry Stiller of Seinfeld fame! The new one had to suck it up real quick and quash his excitement and keep moving, only to turn back to his date and say, “Did you see who that was? Jerry Stiller.” And he never brought it up again. (OK, that is a lie, but this was Jerry Stiller and he ended up sitting near us too. You still get the point.)
But the new Johnny Paparazzi wasn’t born overnight. He was born of indifference, really. He evolved through a disconcerting string of non-cool, b-list celebrity sightings.
The old Johnny Paparazzi tried to get jacked up when he stumbled upon an intimate outdoor performance by Josh Groban, but he couldn’t even muster up a cell-phone pic worth saving. (It meant deleting a pinball high score picture.) Lesson learned: When you are surrounded by a swarm of swooning, suburban soccer moms, celebrity, in and of itself, is not that cool.
Same goes for when Julia Stiles was walking down the opposite side of the street from him. As much as JP loves Miss Stiles, she looked absolutely like hundreds of the beautiful women he sees every day, so why get worked up, he thought. She just happens to have a job that puts her face in front of millions. It’s not as far-fetched as it once seemed. Lesson learned: If I ever run into Hilary Swank at a bar, the new Johnny Paparazzi will pull out all the stops. She is just a woman. And I am a man.
Jerome Bettis. Jerry Lee Lewis. Ana Gasteyer. Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. You get the picture.
The line of celebrity is getting thinner and thinner. With reality TV and the internet creating a whole new string of amateur celebrities as well, Johnny Paparazzi is evolving and operating under a new philosophy. Or an old philosophy if you are familiar with the movie “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.”
Be excellent to each other.