The nature of fame -- the sort of minor fame represented by a comic book with a circulation of thirty-odd thousand -- has been much on my mind of late. I am going through one of my anti-fame periods right now -- the sheer absurdity of spending an afternoon explaining to a reporter why I am famous outweighing any possible benefit an article could have for my "career". Quite simply, I am not famous. If you have to explain to people who you are, then, in my book, you are not famous. Everyday, on a news program or radio show, in a newspaper, newsmagazine or entertainment supplement, I read about people like me who, for that moment, are plugged into the star-maker machinery. All that is needed is an esoteric achievement, some minor success in an environment people have heard of (Time Magazine, CBS, Entertainment Tonight, National Review, PeeWee's Playhouse) and an "expert" to declare your worth in extravagant language (the greatest free-style glass- blower of his generation, a unicyclist of such unorthodox and innovative style and grace, the ceramic candle-stick maker who re-wrote the book on ceramic candle-stick making). Never once in reading about these people have I thought "Wow. That person is famous". I have thought "What a perfectly odd thing to do for a living." If you asked me five minutes after reading, watching or listening to an item what the chap's name was, I wouldn't have a clue. Nor have I ever felt compelled to buy someone's book on the history of glass-blowing, scalped tickets for the next World Invitational Indoor Unicyclist Competition, or invested in a pricey set of antique ceramic candle-stick holders.
Ger and I were labouring away on the pages one day when a particularly snotty and insistent reporter from Maclean's was trying to get me to do an interview for an article about "adult comics" (with threats that she would quote me as refusing to be interviewed and that she would "rather talk to Bill Marks anyway"), (I declined) and a phrase popped into my head.
"It was much-admired among people who like that sort of thing."
I couldn't draw. I was laughing so hard, tears were coming out of my eyes. I'd just get myself under control and I'd be off again. Giggling for an hour or so.
I have to go and read my copy of The Unicycle Journal. There's an interview with Horst Pimsley (easily one of the top five unicyclists working today), and I hope to get him to autograph it at the big Unicycle Con that's held every year in Baltimore.
It's just a matter of time before unicycling takes it's place as the most popular recreational activity in North America, surpassing golf and gardening.
After all, 60 Minutes is doing a piece on unicycling. Horst Pimsley and Fred Zelobowski were on Entertainment Tonight. Horst was featured in a three-page article in Newsweek and there was a picture of Hulk Hogan riding a unicycle in Wrestling Madness #28.
I believe, fellow unicyclists, our time has come.
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