From giving Obama and his family water after his speech, to modelling the runway for Chanel in Paris, people who had '15 seconds of fame' share what it was like.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
No more worrying about dying in their sleep
“When I was a kid, we lived on the corner of a main road. Cars kept crashing into our house until my mum had to go on a news show on TV to get a barrier put in place because the council either wasn’t listening to her or didn’t care. The film crew filmed me riding my bike around the back yard and my mum making me a sandwich for lunch, along with her explaining the situation, etc. We got the barrier shortly after and were able to stop worrying about dying in our sleep.”
Reunited with cat after fire
“Last year, my apartment building was hit by lightning and the two upstairs units caught fire. Our apartment was below them and filled with smoke. I arrived home from work as this all was happening and freaked out because my cat was inside. I immediately told the nearest firefighter who heroically went in and saved my cat. When she came out and handed the cat over to me I was very emotional and caught in the moment and didn’t realize a local news station was filming it. They ran the clip that night with the text on the screen ‘man reunited with cat after apartment fire.’ Super scary experience, but a pretty cool turnout and my kitty is fine.”
The one-time poet
“I had a poem published at the community college I attended. My English teacher noticed it and asked me to sign her copy of the LitMag (literary magazine). Because she asked me to sign it, some other students in the class asked me to sign their copy too.”
The most entertaining scene for rollercoaster riders
“Waiting in line for the Aerosmith-themed rollercoaster at Hollywood Studios, the speakers mounted in the building play, of course, Aerosmith songs. It started to play ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,’ to which I started to sing and act out a little bit just for fun. After a few seconds and some giggles from my group, I quit, but one of them spoke up and said, ‘Keep going, you’re being watched.’ We were farther in line and had taken some steps up onto a terrace kind of walkway, and I was being watched by everyone below me in the beginning of the line. I finished the song, lip-synching and waving my arms with theatrics, including a slow-mo ‘swooning death’ behind the wall of the balcony as the song faded out, and got some applause at the end.
Makes it better that I was a pimple-ridden, braces-bearing 13-year-old at the time.”
A petty rebellion against school director
“After graduating high school, my friends and I wrote a play about our teachers and acted as them, making silly jokes about them. We asked before and they were okay with it. However, the director wasn’t and forbade showing it in the school building. So I rented a club and charged a small price for entry. Most of the school showed up (we made enough to pay the club and drink our brains out that night) including the teachers. As a final act of the petty rebellion against our director, I acted as her role, miniskirt, heels and all (I am male). It was well received and I’m still remembered there to this day.”
That ONE kid who is desperate for screen time
“Our elementary school was elected a ‘National School to Watch,’ so we had a massive assembly where the principal tried to explain to a bunch of nine year olds why this was significant. What we were really interested in was the news crew walking around the gym. Everyone wanted a chance to get on TV. At one point, the camera went right up in front of me, and I waved harder than I had ever waved in my life. I think I was going to break my wrist. I was just so damn excited.
That night, I went to the local news station, and waited excitedly to see if I made the cut.
And now, we have (elementary school), which was just elected as a ‘National School to Watch.’
It then cut to the footage of the waving kids, as the cameraman walked down the aisle. Lo and behold, there I was, waving my little heart out. I was so happy. I did it, I was famous.
But then my world collapsed.
This one kid, desperate for more screen time, jumped in front of me, blocking me from the camera completely. This kid was a friend of mine too. The betrayal I felt in that moment was more than any I have ever felt. It was devastating. Poor little nine year old me was heartbroken.”
A kiss from a cheerleader
“Ten minutes before the Atlanta Falcons kicked off, my now deceased buddy and I were drinking beers waiting for the game to start in our end zone seats. Having just graduated from college, I actually knew one of the cheerleaders. Out she comes with her squad looking great. They did their initial dance and settled in the end zone to wait for the Falcons to come out. The music cut for a few moments. Being rather deep in my cups, I hollered her name. She saw me and started jogging all flirty toward me. Nobody in the Georgia dome had anything else to look at, I guess. She pulled me down and kissed my cheek. Drink in hand, I stood back up to the cheers of 50,000 people. It’s been downhill ever since.”
We’re all human, after all
“I worked backstage at the 2004 Democratic Convention, interning in the script department. We had a small room right by the entrance to the stairs that led to the stage. I was the odd man out on our team who had to wait backstage in case there were issues while the others went to the floor to watch Obama’s keynote address which would vault him to popularity and eventually the White House. At that point, he was an Illinois State Senator.
I watched the speech on a TV in the backstage hallway and was surprised more people weren’t back there with me, but most were likely out on the floor watching the speech. After it was over, Obama came down the stairs toward me. I can’t remember if his wife and daughters were on stage or were backstage with me. What I can remember is the total anxiety Obama had when he came out into the hallway after having made the biggest speech of his life to that point. I’m talking almost hyperventilating. Michelle Obama saw me and asked if I had any water and I brought her, Obama and their daughters into our holding room where they sat and Obama could catch his breath. I got him a bottle of water from our refrigerator and left to give them privacy. Michelle thanked me but Obama was so overwhelmed, he never acknowledged me. Until that point, I’m not sure if he had ever spoken to a group of 1000, let alone millions.”
A hero for one day
“Earlier this summer I saved a much younger girl (17? And I’m 26) from being attacked by 3 dogs. She was screaming for her life and scared to death so that’s what alarmed me to run out of my house to see what was going on. She was walking her dog and then was attacked. There was blood on her legs but apparently that was from her own dog bleeding. I scared off the dogs and went to pick up her flip flops and phone that she dropped. It was nice to save someone from harm. Something I never have experienced before and I bet most won’t in their life. That’s my 15 seconds of fame and I shared it with one girl. It was nice to be the hero for once.”
Forever in archives
“When I was in college I made the front page of the newspaper by flipping off the camera guy at this concert. When I came back from class my friends had covered the entire door of my room with it, which was pretty awesome.
Even though that is long forgotten there, my college has an archive of every issue going back to the start of the newspaper, so there is a copy being preserved for some future generation to possibly stumble upon.”
From the spotlight back to ordinary life
“In the early ’80’s I was a ‘house’ model for Chanel in Paris. They only booked ‘stars’ for their press show so I was not expecting to walk the runway for them. I was new and unknown and as a full-time model working for Karl Lagerfeld who designed for them at the time, I was expected to be at the show as an ‘extra’. If something happened and a model didn’t show up, I would replace her in the show. In my mind this would never happen: what model would not show up for the press show for Chanel in Paris?!
Well, as fate would have it, one did. The famous model Janis Dickenson had been out partying too hard the night before and was a ‘no show’. My fifteen (or a few more) minutes of fame was replacing her in the show. I kind of hoped it would help launch my modeling career, making me an instant ‘star’ of sorts, but it didn’t. As soon as I stepped out of the borrowed spotlight I returned to my own ordinary-ness.
But that’s okay.”
Awkward walk down the foyer in costume
“My old school had a costume competition for a celebration, and I was ‘nominated’ by my classmates to be our class’ entrant (i.e. wear the costume in front of the crowd).
I wasn’t happy about that, because I’m deathly afraid of presentations/performances in front of people. I stated my own condition: either the costume masks my face, or I walk, consequences be damned.
Surprisingly, they agreed. A couple of our class’ more artistically-inclined students crafted a space soldier suit from a video game out of cardboard for me to wear on game day.
I was shaking in my boots initially when I started the walk down the foyer. Then the nervousness slowly faded as I soaked in the cheers, still feeling too awkward to strike poses and only giving awkward thumbs-ups to familiar faces in the crowd.
Our class won 1st prize. But all my classmates mobbed the prize hamper (of snacks and tidbits) that my colleagues and I won for them like a school of piranhas, leaving me with nothing.
I still consider it a pleasant memory though.”
I was one of, if not the first person to receive a copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. I was a competitive smasher and community organizer from 2011-2017, and Nintendo of Canada wanted to send out copies to 10 or so people in the competitive community as sort of a way of recognizing our work. They mailed copies to me and a bunch of my friends 2 and a half weeks before release. I received mine right as I was on my way out the door to go to a tournament across the border, so I took a selfie with it to brag to my friends and gave it to my roommate (also a smasher) and left.
My picture ended up on a few news sites which is unfortunate because the water was broken in my house and I hadn’t showered. Everyone forgot about it once the game dropped.
The best reaction to an applause
When I was on holiday with some friends we were chilling on a downward ramp next to a river.
I wanted to get something to eat there so I had to go up and pass a store. I decided to “wall-run” up instead of taking the ramp like a normal human being. For some odd reason, when I ran up successfully, two small groups of people were so impressed that they gave me an applause. I was rather confused but I ended up doing a short bow because that was the best reaction I could think of.
When I came back with food my friends were like, “what was all that about?”
Lucky to be alive!
When I was in High School, aged 14, I got hit by a car at 40mph on my bike whilst with my friends. Long story short, I was lucky but ended up with locked knees and couldn’t walk for 2 weeks.
I went back to school on a Tuesday, half way into the 2nd class of the day which was French. I remember it well.
I opened the door and walked in casually, the whole class stood up and started cheering and clapping. When you get hit by a car at 40mph, you are 90% likely to die. I got off with a scratch and locked knees. I beat the statistics. I beat death.
I walked around for the rest of the semester with the nickname ‘Dead Man’ (Dead Man Walking).
It was great. I felt famous. Now I have a cool story to tell everyone. That, alongside the story of how I almost had my arm amputated, have been great on first dates.
Hide away from the film crew
I was on national television, in the background of a news item that aired during prime time.
I was hanging over a balcony in a mall, mammaries half falling out of my top, slack-jawed, watching a crappy musical act while absent-mindedly shoving McDonalds into my mouth from a paper bag.
I was away for college at the time, and should have been in class during the event the news was filming. I was also away from home for the first time, so my parents were not pleased.
To make matters worse, I had been cultivating an “artistic,” moody, edgy persona, and there I was caught on camera acting super trashy.
When I saw it, I was horrified. I prayed no one would recognize me because I was in the background, but it felt like everyone saw it. People kept teasing me for weeks, even people I hardly knew.
Some people in my hometown were even mentioning it to my parents like they were suspicious that I hadn’t really gone to college at all.
The weird thing was, when it happened, I didn’t know I was being filmed. I was just watching the scene, like the naive small-town girl I was. I saw the reporter and camera and stuff, but they felt reasonably far away and were down a flight of stairs, so I didn’t know I would be in the picture.
Ever since then, if I see anyone filming anything, I keep away.
Knitwear models for a short time
Me and my sister were playing outside as kids and a woman approached my mom who was raking leaves to ask if her kids wanted to model her knitwear for her magazine! She ended up being our neighbor and was super lovely. So my sister and I modeled for her and ended up in a large portion of the magazines. One of the photos was a full page head shot of us in some really awesome knit hats. My school had thought it was great and hung the photo up in the front office, But my ‘best friend’ who was extremely popular at school decided she was having none of this and told everyone it wasn’t us. Even though the photos were literally of us… So in the end everyone took her side and I went back to life. Pretty cool while it lasted though.
When mind goes blank in front of the camera
When I was 10 or 11, so around 1980, there was a class outing to a British TV show organised by one of the pupil’s father who worked at the BBC.
So the whole class traipsed into the studio to be in the audience for a recording of Record Breakers.
Then was the “highlight,” a segment where the audience of children would ask Norris McWhirter, one of the founders of the Guinness Book of Records, questions on records to try to beat his memory. There was the camera panning across the audience with kids putting their hands in the air wanting to ask their question and my mind goes completely blank. All I did was smile nervously at the camera when it panned across to a kid behind me who asked his question.
The recording was a bit odd as they recorded a few segments but they were shows in different episodes. I got the impression that Norris McWhirter was a bit of a pompous jerk but Roy Castle seemed genuine and nice and his trumpet playing was so loud it hurt my ears.
Ensuring a good year by this paper ball shot
It was High School. The first day back after winter break and therefore the first day our class was all back together in the New Year. I made an announcement holding a balled up piece of paper in my hand, that this trash can shot determines how the new year will go for all of us. The class fell silent, even the teacher was watching. I took the shot, and sitting on the opposite side of the room from where the trash can was, it was an impressive shot. It went in. Then, the class erupted in joyful exclamation, we were all so happy that I just ensured a good year.
Cruise ship fame!
I became the most famous person on a cruise ship. It was fun.
I was on a Spring Break Caribbean cruise, and there was a week-long ongoing Blackjack tournament, with the leaderboard posted at the front of the ship’s casino. They gave you $1,000 of fake money to play 7 hands with. When I sat down to play in the tournament on the first day of the cruise, the top scores on the leaderboard were around $2,800 – $2,000. Most people played as though the money was real. I played like it wasn’t… because it wasn’t. I finished my 7 hands with $18,000.
So the leaderboard was pretty lopsided for the entire cruise. Anyone entering the casino would see my name at the top, with almost 10x the score of everyone else. And I have a unique-sounding, very memorable name.
So everywhere we went, for the entire cruise, if I ever gave my name, the immediate reaction was always, “Oh, you’re (name)!” My friends thought it was cooler than I did. They would draw attention to me, “Hey! This is (name)!” And people would go, “OH! really??”
Honestly it was fun, for what it was.