MAD DOG: So You Wanna Be a Star ...

Everyone wants to be a celebrity. We read about them, we dream about them, we watch every awards show that comes down the pike wondering what it would be like to climb out of a limousine and be swarmed by fans, cameras, and TV reporters who are bigger celebrities than we are.But being realistic people, we know it's not all the great big joyride it appears to be. Like anything else, it has its problems. Like trying to decide which designer will have the privilege of loaning you a $250,000 one-of-a-kind outfit and not say a word when you return it with caviar stains on the butt from where you fell into the 55-gallon Waterford tureen. Or trying to remember whether the rule of thumb is to double the size of your entourage in the evening, or is that only for formal occasions? Or whether you should wear pearls or diamonds when taking out the trash, diamonds having the edge since they reflect the camera flashes of the paparazzi, temporarily blinding them, which will earn extra points at the weekly celebrity luncheon at Morton's. Just kidding. Actually celebrities don't take their trash out. Hell, celebrities don't even have trash.There are two basic types of celebrities: deliberate and accidental. The deliberate ones are those seeking celebritydom, like Richard Seed with his proposed human cloning, the Spice Girls for their inhumane cloying, and of course the ultimate -- Angelyne of Hollywood billboard fame just for being. Accidental celebrities, on the other hand, include people like Bobbi McCaughey (for having seven kids at once), Monica Lewinsky (for having one President seven times), and Pauley Shore (for having seven fans, but not all at once)."But what about Timothy McVeigh?" you're probably asking. This is confusing, because Timothy McVeigh is both a deliberate and an accidental celebrity. How can this be? Easy. There are two current Timothy McVeigh celebrities. One is a threat to national security because he blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City. The other is considered to be a security threat by the Navy because he used the word gay in his AOL user profile. You decide which is which.There are many ways to tell a celebrity from a non-celebrity. One is instant recognition. Another is if you get within ten feet of them and revert to kindergarten speech skills. But since we're in the Age of Guilty Until Proven Innocent, we need a more reliable, verifiable way to tell. That's why we have the Q Score.The Q Score is a qualitative rating devised by a company in Manhasset, NY called Marketing Evaluations/TvQ. By combining scientific marketing surveys with focus groups, Santeria, and a dart board, they come up with a ranking of the most popular performers, TV shows, athletes, cartoons, and products. Sometimes these categories overlap, as in the case of the Dennis Rodman, who combines athletics and cartoons.But since you and I don't have access to the Q Scores, we need other ways to judge celebrity ranking. That's why you should be grateful for tribute albums. Seeing who's featured on them tells a lot about the honoree's relative celebrity status. Princess Diana's tribute album boasts a Who's Who of musicians, including U2, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, REM, and Michael Jackson. Mother Teresa's ,on the other hand, has songs by such luminaries as Jose Feliciano, Shelli Mandeville, Emmaus, Keith Brown, and Gabriel's Harp. Don't feel bad, no one else has heard of them either. Except Jose, of course, but he hasn't lit any fires in years.Celebrity certainly has its privilege. Being a celebrity means getting a good table at your favorite restaurant thanks to a simple phone call from your assistant. It means you get to work closely with cute young interns in the White House. And in the case of Fidel Castro, it means you can give a nationally televised speech that lasts almost six hours like he did when the Pope was in town, not wrapping it up until 3 am, by which time most of his audience was thinking they'd rather be listening to an All-Hanson-All-The-Time radio format. You know, basic American Top-40 radio.Perhaps the best celebrity perk is how the courts treat you. Sure, Robert Downey, Jr. and Christian Slater were thrown in jail, but they're not exactly doing hard time. Of course their crimes weren't the worst either. Take Alicia Machado, the Venezuelan winner of the Miss Universe contest who made headlines a couple of years ago when she blimped out. She was recently arrested for driving the getaway car for her boyfriend when he shot his brother-in-law in the head. Now there's a crime. In South America the bad girls make our bad boys look like, well, boys.If you still think being a celebrity is the greatest thing since the ghost-written autobiography, think about Monica Lewinsky, who was holed up for a week without going out in public. Or Elizabeth Taylor, who can't open a window without a paparazzi taking an ugly photo that will appear on the front page of the Enquirer. But perhaps the best argument against joining the club of celebrity came from one himself, when Groucho Marx said, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." Of course it was too late for him, he was already a member. Why do you think anyone heard him say it?


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