In today’s instant gratification, news and gossip at our fingertips – it seems everyone wants their 15-minutes of fame. Their moment in the sun and their piece of the pie. These clichés can be used to sum up today’s society. And anyone with a webcam, iPhone, video recorder or any recording device, and access to a computer, can become an Internet sensation.
Over the years we’ve seen many Internet celebrities come and go. Here are a few of my favorites:
Evolution of Dance Guy – Whose real name is Judson Laipply, although I didn’t know his name, because he IS and will always be the ‘Evolution of Dance’ guy to me. With over 127 million views it is the most popular video on the Internet of all time. In 2006 Judson put together a 30-song 6-minute video with popular songs spanning 50 years infamously known as ‘Evolution of Dance’. Judson got the idea of Evolution of Dance from a mentor who told him to find his own unique way, his “calling card” so to speak.
I had already begun to explore the understanding that life is change. I felt that this was a first step to creating the life you want by understanding the simple idea that life is change. So I wanted to do something to make sure that message stuck in the minds of my audience. I milled this over in my head for about 6-9 months when I was finally hit with the idea of how much dancing had changed. I began to think about how funny it would be to visually see all of the dances and thus the idea was born. I quickly wrote down the first several that came to mind, 12 to be exact – and listed them out. I still have that piece of paper to this day.
Boy did his idea stick in the minds of his audience – and then some.
Where is Evolution of Dance Guy now? Judson has his own website, an active Twitter user and is still a motivational speaker. Since the video went viral, Judson has written a book, with 35 % of the proceeds going to charity. Recently he made an appearance with Steve Spangler from Steve Spangler Science (who’s also on this list), where Judson dances while Steve does some cool science tricks with an explosion and disappearance by Judson. His 15-minutes of fame aren’t up… he’s an Internet star in my book.
The Dancing Baby – aaaah that creepy yet… somehow, cute dancing baby. I remember in 1996 receiving an email with the ‘Dancing Baby and thinking it was one of the neatest things I’d ever seen. I forwarded him to everyone in my address book. I just wanted to share this phenomenon with everyone. I also received the Dancing Baby many times over the next year. Sometimes it would dance to different songs. Then the Dancing Baby hit the big time and made appearances on Ally McBeal as Ally’s hallucination. The baby represented her ticking biological clock.
Where is Dancing Baby now? A generation of people that may not remember the Dancing Baby will get a chance to watch him on Ally McBeal: The Complete Series as the DVD released just yesterday, October 6th from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. There has been many dancing babies… recently a video of a cute baby dancing to Beyonce’s Single Ladies has been making its rounds on the Internet. But in Kanye’s words: “Look dancing baby, I’m really happy for you and Imma let you finish. But the dancing baby from Ally McBeal is the best dancing baby of all time.”
I Kiss You Guy – is Mahir Cagri, who became an Internet celebrity in 1999 with his website ikissyou.org. It was his personal homepage filled with pictures and broken English. He wanted to ‘invitate’ women to Turkey where they could stay at his home. Many women (and men) sent pictures holding signs saying they “we kiss you” on them. Cagri claims he was the main inspiration for British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat character.
Where is I Kiss You Guy now? An American producer is filming a documentary about Mahir Cagri now and he also has a book coming out this fall. It is an autobiography-fiction called The Mystic Kiss of Mahir Cagri. So maybe the I Kiss You Guy’s 15 minutes may have a resurgence.
Chris Crocker - his claim to Internet fame is his tearful plea for everyone to please ‘Leave Britney Alone’. The video went viral with over 4 million views in two days and spawned hundreds of parodies and criticism for Crocker. A self-proclaimed Britney Spears fan, Crocker was upset with the media and public response to Britney’s drab MTV comeback, when he made his tearful plea. It is the second most discussed video of all time on the site (in all categories), with over 420,000 comments. WARNING! Some explicit language:
Where is Crocker now? Chris recently announced on Twitter that he would be releasing his single Here and There. On July 9, 2009 Crocker appeared on the Comedy Central show Tosh.0. He continues adding his monologue type videos on his website.
Numa Numa Guy - better known as Gary Brolsma, became an Internet celebrity after posting onto the Internet, near the end of 2004, a webcam video of himself lip-syncing to the song “Dragostea din tei” by Moldovan pop band O-Zone. Numa is repeated in the chorus of the song, thus the nickname, Numa Numa. It was his dancing and facial expressions, not to mention a pretty good job of lip-syncing, that made him an overnight sensation.
Where is the Numa Numa Guy now? - Gary appeared in a Geigo commercial in 2009 lip-syncing the Mysto & Pizzi version of “Somebody’s Watching Me”. He appeared in the video for the Weezer single “Pork and Beans”, singing along with the band while doing the Numa Numa dance. And it has been rumored he may be in the first consumer generated Super Bowl commercial, known as MySuperAd. So be on the lookout this next Super Bowl.
Obama Girl – better known as Amber Lee Ettinger, became an Internet sensation with her I Got a Crush… on Obama video. Posted on YouTube in 2007 it was a sexy video of Amber singing about her admiration of then Senator, now President of the U.S., Barack Obama.
Where is Obama Girl now? There has been several parody videos done, like I Got a Crush… on Hillary. In 2008 Amber made an appearance as Obama Girl on Saturday Night Live. It appears that her 15-minutes of fame has passed.
Jennicam – in 1996 Jennifer Ringley hooked up a webcam in her dorm room and recorded her every movement onto the web. She pioneered the first voyeur website. She let anyone on the Internet into the most private and intimate moments of her life. People would log onto Jennicam 24 hours a day to watch her do the most domestic of things to her having sex. She said that it was never intended to be pornography… it was about human life, unedited and raw. After almost 8 years PayPal the service many used to frequent the site, issued new anti-porn rules, so for this and other personal reasons she pulled the plug.
Where is Jennifer now? After living her life for everyone to see, she now lives her life in privacy as a computer programmer in Sacramento. She says she enjoys her privacy now – not even having a Myspace or Facebook page.
The Scene Stealing Squirrel – while Melissa Brandts and her husband were hiking in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada this summer, they decided to take a self-portrait. They set up the camera and went back to pose, and Melissa’s husband held the remote shutter release. As the camera clicked a ground squirrel became curious of the sound and made an appearance just as a picture was snapped. She sent the photo to National Geographic magazine’s Your Shot and once it was determined the photo was not photo-shopped and the real thing… the squirrel became an overnight success.
Where is that squirrel now? The picture has been used by the Banff tourism board, and visitation to the park increased as a result. A media promotion with the squirrel led to an estimated 82 million views of the cheeky ground squirrel. The squirrel image has since been used satirically in many other photos, apparently crashing many other photo ops, including weddings and diplomatic gatherings. There has even been a site – “The Squirrelizer” – that allows the picture crasher to be added to your own photos. Not bad for an average woodland animal that knows how to steal the spotlight.
Randy Constan – became quite popular in 2001 as he presented his Peter Pan character in an attempt to find a girlfriend. The site soon became an internet meme, and Randy was able to reach a wide audience. His site, pixyland.org, was so successful that it won a Webby Award later that same year.
Where is Randy now? Randy went on to appear in a music video for WeAreTheWeb.org along wiht other famous internet stars in 2006. But his original goal of finding a girlfriend was apparently met when , in 2007, he became engaged to none other than Tinkerbell. The couple married April 29, 2006, proving that the internet may indeed be a way to find your true love after all.
TRON Guy – better known as Jay Maynard, burst onto the internet scene in 2004 as the living and breathing character from the movie Tron. His homemade suit and natural charm made him popular as a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show. Slashdot and Fark also took an interest in Jay’s alter ego, and soon the internet was abuzz with the mild mannered TRON Guy.
Where is TRON Guy now? Jay has continued to keep the Tron Guy alive, but he did keep his day job as the maintainer of the Hercules software (an IBM Mainframe emulator). Jay also does computer consulting, and he recently even bought his own plane, an AMD Zodiac Xli. He was able to get the plane decked out in his TRON outfit colors, and Jay even took the keys in complete TRON gear. So, in case you were wondering, the TRON guy can indeed fly.
Tay Zonday – real name Adam Nyerere Bahner, became an instant sensation in 2007 when his video and original composition, ‘Chocolate Rain’, took YouTube and the internet in general by storm. Zonday went from a mere grad student to superstar in a very short amount of time. Within three months of the video release, Zonday was singing his hit on many national TV shows. He made it to the front page of the Sunday Los Angeles Times, appeared in several other publications including People. Zonday was even interviewed on both CNN and Fox News.
Where is Tay Zonday now? Since 2007 Zonday’s video has went on to receive over 42 million views, and Zonday himself has stayed busy. He was an MC for YouTube Live, appeared on BBC Three, and was even spoofed on the show South Park. The drummer for Green Day even recorded a cover of “Chocolate Rain”, and Zonday’s own video has been spoofed and remixed on YouTube many times over. Zonday even appeared in the Weezer “Pork and Beans” music video. Zonday presently resides in Los Angeles, CA.
The Back Dorm Boys – became an internet sensation in 2000 as they lip-synced to songs by the Backstreet Boys and others. The boys, known only as Wei Wei (on the right) and Huang Yi Xin (on the left), were known to be very expressive in their performances, entertaining viewers as their videos spread. A third member, Xiao Jung, is usually shown in the dormitory room background playing counterstrike. An appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show helped to make the duo popular in the United States as well as in their native China.
Where are The Back Dorm Boys now? They went on to be signed as spokespeople for Motorola Cellphones in China, even hosting their online lip sync contest. They are currently in a five year contract with the Beijing media company Taihe Rye, and can often be found on TV and appearing in commercials.
Star Wars Kid – Perhaps it could serve as a cautionary tale in today’s world, but the story of the Star Wars Kid is not altogether a happy one. When a fourteen year old student Ghyslain Raza recorded himself on a old basketball tape playing Darth Maul with a golf ball retriever at his high school studio, he no doubt did not expect it to be one of the most popular videos on the internet in 2003. But once it was found by classmates and made its way online, it exploded across the web. The video had been downloaded several million times within a few weeks, and with some dubbing it was the most popular viral video on the internet. The video spawned many spoofs on animated shows and he even made an appearance in the Weird Al Video, “White and Nerdy”.
Where is Star Wars Kid now? Unfortunately the fame did not bring good things to the now christened Str Wars Kid. The initial sharing was done as a prank, and a lawsuit was filed against the families of the four students originally sharing the video. The lawsuit stated that the subject “will be under psychiatric care for an indefinite amount of time.” The legal case was eventually settled out of court days before it was scheduled to begin.
The Coke and Mentos Guy – Steve Spangler was already famous in 2005, appearing in over 240 television shows as an authority of hands on learning and even earning an Emmy Award in 1997. But when he posted a video to YouTube demonstrating the explosive results of mixing Coke and Mentos, a viral star was born. The geyser spouting video showed everyday people conducting the experiment, and apparently the ease of operation convinced others to try it as well – at last count there were over 12,000 coke-mentos videos on YouTube.
Where are The Coke and Mentos Guy now? Steve has stayed active in Science and the web, and in 2009 he won the MCM award for the Website of the Year. On top of that, in 2009 Spangler had an entry into the Guinness World Records for the World’s Largest Physics Lesson. It is probably safe to say that you may hear more from Steve Spangler Science soon.
Fred – Known to most by simply the first name, Fred is a fictional 6 year old character portrayed by Lucas Cruikshank (born 1993) and introduced in 2005. Featuring a digitally altered voice to sound like the character, Fred is portrayed to have many small adventures that are blown out of proportion by the mind of a a 6 year old boy. The comical videos were a hit on the internet, and the YouTube Fred channel has had over 1 million subscribers at the same time. The Fred videos have seen over 380 million views, making it one of the most popular channels in the history of YouTube. The simple premise, along with a range of recurring characters voice by Lucas, has allowed the video channel to continue over four seasons.
Where is Fred now? Since launching Fred, Lucas has appeared in many TV shows both in and out of character, including the popular iCarly show. His appearance on Hanna Montana has been confirmed, and there are talks of a Fred movie in the not too distant future with filming starting in November 2009.
Susan Boyle – was a contestant on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent on April 11, 2009. The very next day her YouTube video was the most popular story on Digg. The most popular YouTube video submission of her audition garnered nearly 2.5 million views in the first 72 hours. Susan became an overnight sensation because she was a forty-something, never been kissed Plain Jane, who opened up her mouth and sang like an angel. Her performance of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Misérables.
Where is Susan Boyle now? Susan’s new album I Dreamed a Dream will be released in November 2009. We haven’t heard the last of Susan. I’m certain her 15 minutes aren’t even close to being up.
Prison Thriller Dancers – What do you get when you have 1,500 inmates filmed doing the Thriller dance? Why, an internet sensation , of course. The video, shot in Cebu south of Manila, Philippines, was originally an exercise routine created by choreographer Vince Rosales. But on YouTube the video received over 24 million views, making it a viral hit.
Where are the Prison Thriller Dancers now? Since the explosion, the inmates have performed the routine for the public on the last Saturday of every month. However, when the news of the untimely demise of Michael Jackson hit the prison, they quickly (within 10 hours) did a tribute to the King of Pop. A new video was released on June 27, 2009, and it has received over 3 million views since.
Everyday Photos Guy – Kalina began taking pictures of himself January 11, 2000 at the ripe age of 19. Since then, he has been taking a picture every day. In August, 2006, Kalina uploaded the video to YouTube in a project he named, “Everyday”. The video, which featured his self portrait with the same expression, was soon a major internet hit, with the video eventually getting over 13 million hits. The video itself could be considered a study in aging and life as we see Kalina age in front of our eyes for 2356 days. The video led Kalina to be featured at a VH1 awards show, and was even parodied in a The Simpsons episode.
Where is Everyday Photos Guy now? Nowadays you can find Noah Kalina at his website, still taking pictures and posting them. The site by default loads the most current six months of photos, and you can select what range you wish to view. He has also been making appearances with celebrities at photography events. Personally I can’t wait until 2012, when we might get the next installment of “Everyday – a work in progress”.
One Red Paperclip Guy – Kyle MacDonald became famous for proving that the barter system is alive and well in today’s economy. He started in 2005 with one ordinary red paperclip, and through his blog was able to conduct a series of trades that netted him a two story farm house one year later. The trades began with exchanging the paperclip for a questionably stylish fish shaped pen, and ended with trading a movie role for the farmhouse. The blog drew international fame, and MacDonald was even featured on BBC news.
Where is One Red Paperclip Guy now? MacDonald has since travelled to over 30 countries, having many adventures along the way. He has delivered pizza by scooter in Australia, spent time squid jigging in Newfoundland, and delivered post cards to the Galapagos Islands, among others. Being the trader at heart, MacDonald has even moved the Yellowknife, Northwest Territories for three days just to get a polar bear shaped license plate. MacDonald has also turned his paper clip adventure into a book, One Red Paperclip: How a Small Piece of Stationery Turned into a Great Big Adventure.
AOL Call Guy – real name Vincent Ferrari. Sometimes Internet Fame seems to find you more than you find it, and so it was the case with Ferrari. On June 13, 2006, he posted an audio file of his rather comical attempts to cancel his ongoing AOL account. The AOL representative was determined to not let Ferrari cancel his account (are these guys paid on commission or something?), and repeated requests for cancellation apparently fell on deaf ears. The rep went so far as to force detailed reasons for canceling the account and requesting to speak to Ferrari’s father – even though Ferrari was 30 years old at the time. The AOL Representative became quite confrontational as the call proceeded, and despite the painful nature of the call the audio file spread like wildfire across the web. CNBC even picked up the story, and mimicking Ferrari’s experience they proved it difficult to cancel an AOL account on the air, taking 45 minutes and repeated calls to make it happen.
Where is AOL Guy now? In time AOL fired the representative in Ferrari’s call and issued an apology. Since then Ferrari has joined with a blogger buddy and they run Second Rate Hosting and ISPN Media, a podcast network. Ferrari is also the Executive Editor and Founder of Apple Thoughts, an Apple enthusiast website. However, we would venture a guess that Ferrari does not currently use AOL.
These 20 Internet celebrities are my favorites. Nothing personal Fred, but you are on this list because of my son. So who is your favorite Internet celebrity?
And just remember, you never know when YOU may be the next Internet phenomenon.