Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Brush With Fame

Anyone who is a regular at press conferences or celebrity soirees in Sydney is used to the sight of Richard Simpkin.

He and an odd collection of fans of fame gather at entrances to parties to get autographs or photos. The assembled paparazzi usually swear to murder them when they momentarily stop the progress of the star du jour for a signature.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the concept of autograph hunting. These fans like everyone and no-one.
Sometimes catching snippets of their conversation can be illuminating. They never discuss what Cate Blanchett or Lady Ga Ga was wearing or their work - just how easy or difficult it was to get their signature. The Shuttle has questioned some of them at times and often they don't even know what the star's latest offering is. They heard they will be in town or at some event and they religiously turn up.

At the Australian premiere of Puss In Boots on Sunday with Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek there was the lady who always gets a sleb to sign her Teddy Bear for 'charity'. She never seems to be able to tell us what charity but she almost busts a piston with excitement when she scores.

Another stopped appearing about 4 years ago when his supply of Polaroid film dried up. Sadly his collection of celebrity autographed snaps of stars done on his Polaroid camera over 30 years has begun to fade just as he was getting into his stride.

And missing on Sunday was Richard Simpkin and it took a perusal of the UK Guardian newspaper to remember what he told us as we went into a party a few months ago-a gallery was having an exhibition of his photographs of he and various celebrities. In Liverpool in the UK of all places.

Simpkin published  a book of these photos Richard & Famous about 5 years ago and it's difficult to contemplate who would actually want a book of a stranger with a variety of famous people (most champing at the bit to flee from him). He admitted there were still boxes of them under his bed. He's bound to have carted a few to the UK.

Is it art, an obsession, an illness, creepy, weird ?. Who knows? The comments section following the newspaper's article says all these things.
Now the Guardian is getting in on the act and is requesting their readers to send in their own 'brush with fame' snaps (they'll be sorry !) with a prize of-wait for it- a ticket to the 'VIP' opening night of Richard's Liverpool exhibition in January (bus fare included).

All photographs by Richard Simpkin (and assorted passersby)