The wide world of Wrestling was always kind of a bizarre shadow that lurked between the end of Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the beginning of American Gladiators, perched curiously between the worlds of live action children’s entertainment and live action pseudo-adult entertainment, a kind of segue of mentalities that never coalesced properly. If you can call running around in giant hamster balls and fighting with enormous q-tips, and I’m not talking about the Pee Wee segment of the morning here, ‘pseudo-adult themed entertainment’. I remember The Undertaker closing The Ultimate Warrior into a thematically-appropriate casket, and feeling my first few pangs of sympathetic claustrophobia.
The Ultimate Warrior survived the ordeal, because it was scripted that way. Having actually survived a stint where he was called ‘The Dingo Warrior’ probably prepared him for anything that life might have thrown at him, like kids named ‘Enos’. He’d hold the Intercontinental Championship title for a while, legally change his name to ‘Warrior’, write his own wrestling storylines (which apparently involved a magic smoke that only he and Hulk Hogan were immune to, as well as mirrors that only Hulk could see), be presumed dead-and-replaced, wear a singlet with muscles painted onto it, become a right wing mini-pundit, and finally, sell himself on eBay.
Well, not HIMSELF, but signed action figures of himself at ridiculously inflated prices, attracting the ridicule of many a wrestling fan and eBay seller alike. I’d been reading about these auctions on various nerd-boards across the Internet, but it didn’t really attract my attention until I saw his most recent auction offering: a motivational phone call, for an additional 200 dollars over the original auction price. I mean, after all, he’s quoted as saying that “The family that I live for only breathes the air that smells of combat… with or without the facepaint I am the Ultimate Warrior!” Clearly 200 dollars is a bargain if we’re going to get more such gems.
Recent discussions of celebrity collectibles have proven the psychological validity of wanting to own an item close to your favorite celebrity in some way, even if it might occasionally step into creepy territory. Where exactly does the creepometer fall when the celebrity is marketing odd shreds of themselves to anonymous bidders? We’re not talking about the book signing at your local Barnes and Noble anymore; we’re talking about a personal phone call from an ex-celebrity.
Perhaps this couldn’t get any creepier than Corey Haim’s wacky eBay adventures during which he tried selling his rotten teeth and hair to his “fans”. Sure, the poor guy was one of the statistical child stars that succumbed to a fast, hard life and lost control, but somewhere in the midst of this, he made a conscious decision to sell his teeth and hair on eBay, neatly shaved from regions unknown and sealed in convenient cases for your collecting pleasure. While in itself disgusting, the auctions have become something of a legendary Pillar of Ridiculousness. I love the screen work of Steve Carrell, but I don’t want his toenail clippings.
Alas, these aren’t the only cases of desperate celebrity types declaring themselves ‘collectible’. You might expect as much from a wrestler who wore a cape with an idealized painting of himself on said cape, but Vincent Gallo, another controversial personality, saw himself as far more than collectible, and for one million dollars, he’ll gladly provide the genetic material to any woman who wanted to actually create another one of him. His website also sold his childhood bedspread, and a book of his that he happened to read that has nothing to do with him creatively in any way, but is signed by him. One day, I hope to also be famous enough to sign any given tomato at the grocery store and have it double in value. Triple, even.
Also, like the Ultimate Warrior, I hope to change my name. I think I’ll change it to “Awesome Rocketlord”. If Prince can change him name to an unpronounceable symbol, I conjecture that I can change my name to the physical action of giving me a dollar. I’d be rich by sundown if I had any friends.
Celebrities, in the truest sense of the word, have no need to sell themselves. Even the most forgotten ex-celebrity can find a safe place in a VH1 reality show. Those things sold by ex-celebrities are another category of celebrity collectibles entirely; items of scary desperation instead of iconic symbols of glory. Do we do a good deed by helping them eat for another day, or does placating them just encourage them into more irredeemable depths of arrogance and delusion?
When Mark Hamill starts selling his old toothbrushes, I’m going to stage an intervention.