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Nina In New York: Fame Is Closer Than You Think

(credit: YouTube Screen Shot)

(credit: YouTube Screen Shot)

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A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
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By Nina Pajak

File this one under: sick, sad world.

The New York Daily News reported on a local apple-cheeked SUNY New Paltz student and aspiring something-or-other who pulled off a rather elaborate prank on the hoards of silly tourists who clog Times Square and Rockefeller Center summer evenings. Fascinated by the thought of what it would be like to be famous, Brett Cohen of Long Island created a video proving just how easy it can be.

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First, he hired some bodyguards off of Craigslist and gathered a fake entourage, plus some planted paparazzi. Then he got himself a tan and spiffed himself up in some choice duds from the clearance rack at Express, hair gel, and a pair of cheap sunglasses. The perfect outfit for hanging out at the mall food court or spending a day fooling a whole lot of bozos. His crew stirred up some non-specific excitement outside of 30 Rock, so that when Cohen emerged, pandemonium ensued. He was immediately flocked by teenagers and adults alike, all of whom were clamoring for photos and autographs. Cohen played the role beautifully, saying little and smiling graciously for each and every fan.

His friend followed behind him, recording mostly inaudible interviews to the effect of, “who do you think that guy is?” Girls shrieked and professed their love. A cop posed for a snapshot. Some thought he was in Spiderman, though it’s possible those people did not see Spiderman, considering Cohen’s profound lack of resemblance to Andrew Garfield. Some were sure they’d just heard his most recent single, “Imaginary Song You Think You Know but Will Now Be Embarrassed to Realize Doesn’t Exist.” It’s catchy. You’ve heard it, right?

Perhaps, as some have pointed out, Cohen is not the first to attempt a stunt like this. But he did it well, and he did it without cruelty towards those unsuspecting doofuses who will do anything to get near the nebulous concept of celebrity.

His little YouTube video proves that, just as I could stand in Central Park and point at the sky and get untold dozens to mindlessly do the same, any old shmoe can put on a pair of sunglasses and turn into Brad Pitt for the day.

Heck, just ask any member of the Kardashian family.

For his next trick, I’d like Cohen to see how far he can take his fakeout. There’s no telling what might have fallen into his lap if he’d kept it up. How long before some MTV camera crew got a hold of him or a club promoter gave him $1000 to guest DJ at Tonic East? Or before a Hell’s Kitchen diner owner took a picture and posted it behind the cash register?

That’s when you know you’ve really made it.

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Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

 Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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