Saturday, September 26, 2015

Just About Famous at the Sunburst Convention

I went to the Welcome Party at the Sunburst Convention For Professional Celebrity Impersonators, Tribute Artists and Look Alikes at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center (1500 Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL). The hotel was right in the Florida Mall so it took me some time to locate the place. I asked the concierge where I could find the Celebrity Convention and he said, "All the celebrities are down the hall to the right. There was a large empty room and I was about to look around some more to search other rooms. Paula Dean walked in and asked where everyone was. Just then we both heard laughter from behind a door. Inside people were watching a documentary titled "Just About Famous" about celebrity look alikes. "When fans cannot get close to the real thing, these professionals step in to fill the void. As the old adage goes, 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.' From a celebrity impersonator convention to their lives across the country, JUST ABOUT FAMOUS chronicles the few who have had the fortune, or curse, of looking like the most recognizable people on the planet." 

This wasn't a great sketch opportunity, but I began to realize that I as surrounded by celebrity look alikes. Right next to me was Gene Simmons, a band member from Kiss. What do you do when you discover you are sitting next to Gene Simmons? You sketch him of course. Also in the room was Johnny Depp, Barack Obama, and George Bush. Only a few were in full costume, but it was fun trying to figure out which celebrities I might be sketching. The film turned out to be much longer than expected so I had plenty of time to sketch.  I was pleased to see that a local pink haired actress who I only know as Barbie Rhinestone, had a prominent role in the film which is now on Netflix. It turns out she can become Marilyn Monroe and Katy Perry. She probably had the funniest moment in the film when she demonstrated a voice warm up exercise in which she screeched and flexed her fingers like cat talons. She made a cupcake bra for her Katie Perry persona that is hilarious. In the film she pointed out that she sort of hoped people would be impersonating her, but this was the next best thing.

Celebrity impersonators discussed how people react when they think they are in the presence of a celebrity. For some reason people feel the need to reach out and touch. One celebrity Look alike at the conference had a stalker. The guy drove four hours to cause trouble. Greg, one of the organizers of the event asked the trouble maker to step outside and the guy was escorted out of the hotel for trespassing. This is a community of people who look after each other. It also became clear from the documentary that this was a fun group of people to be around. The convention runs through Sunday September 27th.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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