How to Be Fake Famous

Want to feel famous without the daily grind of actually being a celebrity? No problem! Just hire some fake paparazzi, fake security, fake fans, even some fake sycophantic friends. That’s what Jon Ronson did, and the only thing real (besides, uh, that one little accident) was his puffed-up ego:

"Can we have a safe word in case it all gets too much?" I said.

"We have a safe word!" Adam called out. "If he says watermelon, walk away from him. Ignore him."

"What’s our cover story?" I asked.

"Royalty?" said Adam.

"He’s a king," one of the extras alerted the others. "A European king."

"Good idea," someone called back. "Nobody knows what they look like."

Half the actors were dispatched to mingle among the tourists near the theater where they host the Oscars, about a quarter of a mile away. Their job was to spot us in stages. Then Adam yelled, “Let’s go!” and we surged forward onto Hollywood Boulevard.

For a few seconds, all is quiet, like when you’ve been horrifically injured and for a hopeful moment you feel no pain. But then the shrieking begins.

"NO TOUCHING!" shouts my fake personal assistant, LoriLee, at a passerby. The woman looks baffled, because she evidently has no intention of touching me. "Oh my God oh my God it’s him!" yells a fake fan. "It’s King Jon of Wales!"

"Hey, I’m Fauxmous!"

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s … Some Dude?

GQ’s Jon Ronson spends a few hilarious nights patrolling the streets with a team of real-life superheroes:

The crew briefs Phoenix on a group of crack addicts and dealers loitering at a nearby bus stop. A plan is formed. They’ll just walk slowly past them to show who’s boss. No confrontation. Just an intimidating walk-by.

We spot them right away. There are ten of them, clustered in a tight group, looking old and wired, talking animatedly. When they see us, they fall silent and shoot us wary glances, probably wondering what the superheroes are talking about.

This is what the superheroes are talking about:

Knight Owl: I’ve discovered a maskmaker who does these really awesome owl masks. They’re made out of old gas masks.
Phoenix: Like what Urban Avenger’s got?
Knight Owl: Sort of, but owl-themed. I’m going to ask her if she’ll put my logo on it in brass.
Phoenix: That’s awesome. By the way, I really like your color scheme.
Knight Owl: Thank you. I think the yellow really pops.

[Photograph by Peter Yang]