Web Links, Blogs Create New Kind of Fame

"Maybe you don't understand," the indignant young male socialite told the doorman trying to turn him away. "I'm MySpace royalty."

Oh no.

I think we understand completely. It's a story that Jossip.com editor and publisher David Hauslaib likes to tell — and come on, who wouldn't — as a perfect illustration of The New Fame Index.

That would be the many, many outlets for notoriety — from MySpace "royalty" to viral YouTube superstardom to holding your breath for seven minutes — now available for striving and established people trying to carve out a niche for themselves on the Map of Proving That You Really Exist.

"We look for those people that are desperate for fame or notoriety and we will make fun of them, and in turn we will give them that fame and notoriety," Hauslaib says. "The person who introduces himself as MySpace royalty? Those are two words that should never be paired together."

Unlike the old days, when people had to walk to school and big, heavy books like "Who's Who" served as definitive tomes of legacy, success and consensus, today's "fame" landscape is not so easily measured.

Like that famous clip of David Bowie and Bing Crosby awkwardly singing "Little Drummer Boy" together, today's world of who's who is one where the established pop brand of, say, Carmen Electra is going head-to-head with a sassy young thing with a relentless pursuit of the "add."

Because with 77 million users total and 280,000 people joining every day, MySpace has propelled individuals — often of the ample-bosomed, female photogenic variety — to new levels of fame.

And, um. Prestige.

"I've gotten a lot of great opportunities," says 24-year-old temptress Christine Dolce, who has 874,889 friends, was in the last issue of Stuff magazine and just shot for Playboy.

It's not really something she can talk about but if you go to her Web site, it's all there.

"My favorite comment is when people say that I'm their idol," she said. "That girls look up to me. That's really awesome."

She also makes jeans.

Brilliantly parodying the MySpace phenomenon as a trendspotter correspondent on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" is comic Demetri Martin, who wrote a song with the lyrics, "I got 9,000 friends yeah on MySpace/ and I cannot keep up with all these friends/oh no not face to face."

Right after the segment appeared this year, the 32-year-old New Yorker who just returned from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival said he saw his "buddy requests" explode up to 39,000 over the course of several months.

"I got all these friend requests so quickly, my hand started to hurt," he says. "It's kind of a pathetic injury. You're just sitting there, clicking 'approve' over and over again and thinking, 'OK, I guess this is a good use of my time. I'm pretty sure it is. I could be outside, but OK. Sure.'"

What percentage of the people does he not recognize out of his multitude of "buddies"?

"There's probably about 10," he deadpans. "Out of the 39,000."

Blowing Martin and most other comedians out of the water in terms of sheer friend magnitude is the voluptuous 24-year-old Tila Tequila, who has 1,027,770 friends as of press time and gets let into a lot of clubs and free clothes, too.

Still, she says, it's hard.

"Now everyone is copying me," confides the electro-popstar who just thought of the term gangsta pop — and now her friends are telling her to copyright it.

"I even notice profiles where girls try to copy my personality, which is funny. Like the whole persona of 'I don't give a s—- kind of attitude, like f—- off attitude," she relates. "They'll start off like this girl-next-door cheerleader type, like f—- you haters, like stuff that I would do. I've been on there for so long that I keep up with everyone else."

Tequila, who has a Maxim spread coming out this summer, says, "There's a lot of TVs and movies coming up, but I can't talk about that."

Another level of The New Fame that Martin and Tequila have achieved but Dolce, alas, has not is being a Wikipedia entry.

[Editor's note: As of Wednesday afternoon, May 11, 2006, a Wikipedia entry had been created for Christine Dolce, but had already been marked for deletion.]

Started in January 2001, the go-to open-source encyclopedia (although Britannica is still the go-to source for everything about leaf-eating dinosaurs) is also a new marker of status and prestige.

Although theoretically anyone can create an entry, the thousands of contributing editors are pretty quick to detect non-worthy entries.

Almost reality-show style in its elimination procedure, to survive being "marked for deletion" on Wikipedia is to come out stronger and perhaps more worthy of note.

"There is an old Japanese curse," says Wikipedia contributor Wayne Saewyc, 42. "'You cast no shadow.' The sun doesn't think you are important to cast a shadow. The equivalent of that on Wikipedia is 'not notable.' You're just not important enough at this point. It's not really rude. It's just a straight statement of fact."

Sometimes it gets particularly harsh.

"This one gentleman posted the story of his father who had just died, and it was like, 'Oh.' We had to say, 'No, I'm sorry he's really not important enough.' It's like, 'Oh. That's so sad.'"

The most savage part about being put up for debate as a legitimate Wikipedia entry is the knowledge that all of the discussion about whether you are worthy is in the archive — forever.

With 1,125,013 entries total and 6,000 entries added daily, keep in mind that daily 2,000 to 4,000 entries are thrown away because they are deemed not important.

A recent entry to survive being marked for deletion (you only need more than 50 percent of people to vote in your favor) is the Orlando-based funk metal band Gargamel! Please note: Gargamel! is always spelled with an exclamation point.

"Here's kind of a sad one," says Saewyc, browsing through the AFDs ("articles for deletion," hello). "Eliza Osgood Vanderbilt. She was famous primarily because she was the daughter of and a wife of a Vanderbilt. Someone wrote, 'Notable only for her relatives.'"

In the world of socialite fabulosity, however, your relatives can and will get you everywhere.

Veteran photographer Patrick McMullan enjoys about 5 million hits to his Web site a week, where he features a who's who of famous of-the-moment people and famous forever-and-ever beautiful people.

There's even a second chance at being notable. You can log on to clarify your existence if you are relegated with a oh-no-he-didn't-know-you question mark.

"I will take pictures of people who I don't know," he concedes, "if they seem like attractive or solid or pleasant people who are overeager. I'll shoot them, but they sometimes annoy me. It's not in a bad way. Some people are just overeager."

Perhaps Tequila sums it up best.

"I can get a free case of Red Bull whenever," she reflects. "I can get it like five times a day if I want."

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