Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mission Debrief - "Make Our Own Celebrity"
Concept: get our amateur cameras into a mission without being out-of-place

Plan: a little-known celebrity is spotted walking the streets of San Francisco, and a small group of fans proceed to fawn over her
Challenges: "selling" the celebrity status

Execution: Agent Shannou assumed the character of Ms. Pia Haraldsen, a little known (in the U.S.) Norwegian celebrity. Agent TheBeast would bolster celebrity credibility by acting as a bodyguard. While the Agents walked around the high-end SF shopping district, a group of bystanders would notice the celebrity in their midsts and pursue Pia requesting photos and autographs.

Mission Report from Agent Shannou

Andy Warhol once said "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." I feel lucky since this last weekend, I got to be famous for a whole 30 minutes. SFShenanigans, the Improv Everywhere-inspired group, had their second antic, called "Make Our Own Celebrity". And I got to be the celebrity. So I was the French-speaking Norwegian Pia Haraldsen, who was supposedly rumored to have something going with U2's Bono, and who was followed around by a group of very-exuberant fans.

As Pia, I walked down the street, accompanied by my bodyguard who walked behind me and who wouldn't let any of the plebian masses get too close while I did a little shopping. And this wasn't any normal shopping. I walked into the most fancy stores around Union Square, such as BCBG, Prada, Emporio Armani and Bulgari. Usually I would hesitate to go into these because I'd be afraid that the people who worked there would turn up their noses at me, but being dressed nicely and being accompanied by my suit-and-sunglass-wearing burly bodyguard made me fearless. I felt like I was right at home casually looking at jewelry that probably cost more than my yearly salary, and saying nonchalantly to those who asked if they could help me that I was "just looking."

My favorite part was when I went into Bulgari to look around, and a few of the fans rushed in to try to follow me and take pictures. A couple of the Bulgari security guards jumped forward to usher them out, telling them that "they couldn't do that in here" and that they had to leave.

It was hilarious and awesome to see them move into action to protect me. They locked the stores doors behind me so that the fans were stuck outside, and told me that I could stay there as long as I needed. They could see that I was worried about the fans that were following me, and wanted to make me feel comfortable that I was safe in that elitist place where the special classes could be separated from the lower ones. I couldn't believe I was being guarded by f'in Bulgari security, as well as my own bodyguard who was stationed at the door, ready for my command.

I told them in my French accent that I would look around a bit more, and then when finally I was ready to leave and the fans had moved on, a guard unloced the door and said "Au Revoir" politely to me.

When I was out of the stores on the street, I was almost constantly followed by a group that kept asking for my picture, an autograph, or just screamed, "We love you, Pia!" One of the fans even asked me for a date, saying, "What does Bono have that I don't?" I occasionally turned around and gave a quick autograph, or a demure smile for the camera, but then there were a few times that I blocked the camera from seeing my face or asked my bodyguard in French why these crazy Americans wouldn't leave me alone.

It sounds like the group of fans got a lot of people curious about whom I was. Everyone wants to be able to tell a story to their friends about having got to see a celebrity up close. Some tourists around Union Square who weren't part of SFShenanigans even took pictures of me, and some even pretended that they'd heard of me when the group explained who I was. It was great fun to be part of an antic that caused such curiosity and excitement. I can definitely see both the attraction to being loved and followed everywhere, and how it would get to be a bit of an annoyance if it couldn't be escaped.

Mission Report from Agent TheBeast

Playing the part of "The Bodyguard", it was my job to really drive home the fact that our Pia was someone.

One of the things that really helped me play my part was my appearance. I am a big burly guy, but dress me up in a dark suit and dark sunglasses, and I am a ready-made bouncer-type. (It's probably the only time in YEARS that I was looking forward to 'dressing up'.)

Another thing that helped me to cement Pia's international allure was the fact that both Agent Shannou and I spoke French. (Agent Shannou's French is much better than mine. For example, I knew how to say "go left" and "go right" in French, but forgot how to say "go straight ahead". Consequently, whenever Pia asked me which way we were going, it was ALWAYS to the left or right, and never once did I offer the option of 'straight ahead'.)

I could not believe how well my presence broadcast Pia's social ranking in the different stores. I would hold the door for her as we entered a store, and as she made her way in I kind of stood back near the front door in a military-esque "at ease" stance. At this point, the employees would practically trip over themselves (while simultaneously keeping a veneer of calm) to offer Pia some assistance. One store offered to escort us to what sounded like a very exclusive "second floor", and the Bulgari security people jumped into action when we had 'a little incident' with some overly-zeaulous fans.

All in all, this mission was great fun!

Mission Report from Agent O.Range

Overall Rating: 8.75

Let me tell ya. With this one, I sweat! It ain't no easy thing trying to get the photo/autograph/admiration of a fake celebrity... 'speshlee with a scary bodyguard on her heels.

Myself and 3 other operatives (Agent, Agent Me.Ow, and Agent Luna) stalked Agent Shannou for ~13 blocks in Union Square at the height of the tourist time. Within a half hour we:
  • had bystanders offer to take our photo
  • got someone to dig through their car to find us a pen for autographs
  • answered a 100 or so questions about the famous person we were chasing
  • and (dun.dun.DUN) got seriously ushered out of the store called Bulgari.(YES!)

Not only was the mere act worth it all, but $2.95 Irish coffee at The Gold Dust was a hell of an incentive! It was also excellent to meet Agent Hozexy and (visiting) Agent Wit, our new and lovely operatives!!!

SFShenanigans ONWARD!

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