Finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award in the Photography category
In this stunning book, photographer Brian Howell takes us into the world of celebrity impersonators--the faux famous people who make a living at pretending to be someone else. Taken at various impersonator conventions and stage shows throughout North America, the photographs are both startling and poignant--for all of the frivolity and double takes ("Isn't that Paris Hilton?") there is also a sense of the real person beneath the makeup and the artifice. Accompanying the portraits are first-person narratives by many of the subjects, many of whom feel personally close to those they are impersonating, even if they have never met them. In addition, in two essays, cultural critic Norbert Ruebsaat looks at the history of celebrity culture, and Geist magazine editor Stephen Osborne delves into the nature of photographing impersonators. As such, the book investigates the nature of fame in this era of celebrity blogs, stalkerazzi, and reality television--and how our obsession with famous people says as much about us as it does about them.
Subjects include impersonators of: Bono Mike Myers (as Austin Powers) George W. BushMike Myers (as Dr. Evil) Hilary Clinton Jack Nicholson Johnny Depp Ozzy Osbourne Paris Hilton Colin Powell Saddam Hussein Elvis Presley Angelina Jolie Anna Nicole Smith Marilyn Manson Donald Trump Liza Minnelli Oprah Winfrey
It's as bizarre a wedding as you'll ever see. At the altar of The Imperial Palace wedding chapel stand Arnold Schwarzenegger and Shania Twain, hand-in-hand, exchanging vows. Next to them are the best man, Jack Nicholson, the maid of honour, Tina Turner. An event like this would be splashed across the front page of tabloids from coast to coast, except for one thing: while the wedding is legit, the participants are not.... The black-and-white photograph is one of dozens collected in Fame Us, a new book by Vancouver photojournalist Brian Howell. His work explores the cult of celebrity in candid images of those who make their living working as impersonators.
The book gives us a fun glimpse into the world of impersonators, but also explores the nature of fame and society's obsession with celebrity.
One of the eeriest photography books of 2007.
-New York Times
No matter what your stance is on our celebrity-obsessed culture, Fame Us is a worthwhile read. It will amaze and perhaps even shock.
-Scene (London, ON)
A gallery of grab shots of the faux-famous, found at stage shows and impersonator conventions. But its serious intent comes across in the commentary by Norbert Ruebsaat and Geist magazine publisher Stephen Osborne.
Brian Howell has captured a surreal and surprising world in raw portraits depicting lookalikes of the world's most famous celebrities.
-The West Ender (Vancouver)
Brian Howell's Fame Us: Celebrity Impersonators and the Cult(ure) of Fame is a great coffee table book. I know, because it's been sitting on mine for a week, and every visitor I've had has been unable to resist flipping through the entire thing.... This book must be seen to be believed, especially the photo of a fake Hulk Hogan hanging with a fake Bill Clinton. Priceless!
Norbert Ruebsaat opens the book with an excellent essay on the Celebrity Image; a second essay follows by Stephen Osborne, publisher of Geist. Their insights make the impersonators' comments that much more poignant.
-North Shore News (North Vancouver, BC)
Howell captures comments from most of the impersonators depicted; these comments are essential to Howell's book, and complement his sharp photos, from head shots to grup shots, without overwhelming them.