Wednesday, July 5, 2017


No one does idol worship as the Brits do it. I remember going to the Kings Road during one of my first visits to London, back when London was exhilarating and gaudy and spectacular, when it was rock and roll made flesh, and going into successive boutiques in which Marilyn Monroe and James Dean seemed to be employed, though both were long deceased. They were a couple of local kids, you see, and wondrous to behold. Their impersonations were richly detailed. They couldn’t have looked more like their respective idols if the makeup, hair, and wardrobe departments of lavishly funded movies had spent hours on them.

Nowadays, the colour is gone from London. One doesn’t find himself sat next to on the Tube by someone who looks exactly like his or her favourite member of The Thompson Twins or Hayzee Fantayzee or Culture Club. The thrill is gone.

But the tradition isn’t without its die-hard defenders, and a friend of my spouse, recently escaped from a soured marriage, is in love with one of them, a guy who works as a kitchen porter in a school cafeteria by day, and by night does his best not just to look like Brian Eno as he did in the early days of Roxy Music, with the very high forehead, the Edward Scissorshands-anticipating jacket, and the immoderate makeup.  He apparently makes a bit of money doing this, though I, an American, find it difficult to imagine many people thinking that an Eno impersonator will be just what their party needs.  A lookalike agency gets him work. When he attends meetings of the Eno Adoration Society, he is greeted with rapturous delight. The fact of his being a 56-year-old man impersonating the 25-year-old version of his idol apparently troubles no one at all.

I have never met him, but he will presumably be attending Dame Zelda’s forthcoming birthday party, and I have devised a wonderful plan for meeting him. I will say, “You know, you remind me so much of someone, but I can’t for the life of me pinpoint whom.”
“Sure you can,” I can envision him responding, perhaps a little desperately.

I will furrow my brow and walk around him, considering him from all angles. At last my face will light up, as I say, “Kramer from Seinfeld, right?”

I suppose I should explain.

It used to be that I couldn’t walk through an airport without somebody stopping me and saying, “You are somebody, aincha?” There have been those who believed me to resemble Paul Stanley, and later Prince, of all people, though he was 4-9 and I’m 6-1. One young woman on whom I lowered the boom in a supermarket in the San Fernando Valley in 1980 believed me, without pharmacological help, to be the bass player of The Cars, like whom I couldn’t have looked less. In the first months of this century, three perfect strangers, over the course of around six months, felt I might be delighted to hear how much like Kramer they thought I looked. I was not delighted.

And then it got even worse. On the evening of my recent birthday, a young hip hop type in Brighton felt called upon to inform me that I looked just like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future.

I was very much happier with the guy from The Cars.

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