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The New Four Letter Word “Ebay”
So, I am an autograph collector and have been for the better part of 20 years. I am also starting to work on a documentary film on “in-person” autograph collecting. Everyone always talks about, “When I was kid it was so easy to get an autograph” or “back in the day an athlete would never CHARGE for his autograph”. The most derogatory, offensive word I keep hearing, especially from celebrities is “EBAY”. I go out for autographs maybe 3 or 4 nights a week maybe up to 20-30 celebrities a month and I would say maybe 50% of the time the word “EBAY” comes out of the mouth of said celebrity. Sting gave me a quizzical, “This isn’t going on Ebay is it?” When I said, “No Sir, you can sign it to me.” He then approvingly nodded and gave me one of the best Sting autographs I have ever seen, like he was signing an autograph for the President. I even witnessed President Clinton, after he noticed that some people were going through his autograph line more than once, and requesting specialized inscriptions like “God Bless America” saying, “why does it matter? It’s just going on Ebay” After hearing the “E-word” as much as I do, I began to think about it even more.
We have all bought items on Ebay I’m sure. Some of us I am sure have sold items on Ebay including autographs. In my opinion Ebay devalues autographs and the business in general (remember I did say I have bought autographs from Ebay). So many fakes out there, I am so hesitant to buy an autograph off of Ebay who is anyone more than a B celebrity.
Just recently one of my favorite directors, John Waters was in town. He is a super nice, down to earth guy. He said to my friend and I, “So, you guys a team?” “Ya, I guess” I said. “Ok, so who is the biggest dick you’ve met, like who was the biggest jerk”, he really wanted to know; he was funny in his curiosity. “Fred Schneider, from The B-52’s”, I said. He was surprised and asked me how and why etc. I said how Fred kept yelling about Ebay and that I wasn’t a fan and had to see a ticket etc. I didn’t have time to tell Ol’ Fred that, I like The B-52’s a lot, but I also have a job, a wife, a rent and a dog. I can’t go to every $30.00 concert I desire. Damn Ebay, lesson learned.
I am not here to judge or say what is right or wrong or what is ethical or unethical. I recently got the Gallagher Brothers from Oasis on a Rolling Stone magazine, one I will keep and cherish, that being said, if we do the math and let’s say it took me 6 hours to get those autographs, between doing research, driving, waiting around etc. Now, let’s say if I decided to sell it and get 80.00 bucks for it, that means I made right around 13.00 dollars an hour for that “job” not bad I guess, especially, if it is your goal to make CASH and you’re armed with 5 Rolling Stone magazines, 2 drumheads, a pickguard and 3 LP’s. You get the point.
If I were a celebrity, or if you were, your reading this, how would you feel about somebody selling your signature? I am a collector, I can be bias, sometimes I think, “Oh man I would sign for EVERYBODY”, in the vein of great signers like Kris Kristofferson or Todd Rundgren. On the other hand, let’s say you are a Paul McCartney or Eric Clapton or some other super famous dude and EVERY room you are EVER in, you are the most famous and most gawked at person, would your view change? When I see celebrities who are on the OTHER end of the spectrum from a McCartney or Clapton mention Ebay, I can’t help but think, “won’t Ebay and people selling your signature actually HELP you?” If people want to buy your signature, doesn’t that mean people are still thinking of you?
Anyways, thanks for reading my ramblings and I will start a Facebook soon for the flick, hope I’ll have the pleasure of showing it to some of you.
Celebrities breathe the same air as us. Many went to the same schools as us, and the bottom line is they have clearly been far more lucky in life than the average. Yes, I said it, LUCK. Don't get me wrong, many are skilled but it takes more than skill in almost every level of stardom to achieve true celebrity status. Now, let's pretend we keep life in perspective and you actually understand and comprehend the luck of where celebrity status lies, and that you are now in that lucky fortunate few. You live in a house, probably several houses, houses that all rival any of your friends and families homes that you grew up with, with several cars, toys, having more than you'd ever dreamed possible and on top of that, all restaurants, venues, airlines, etc. all cater to your every need including giving you free gifts and unparalleled attention and treatment. All of a sudden you are now blessed with a magic wand that every time you wave that wand to no matter who it is, 10 year old kids to 50 year old vagrants, that wand turns whatever it touches into $50. Would you really care who asked? It's not like people are lining up for miles to beg for the wand to be waved. It's normally only requested at promotional tours, or normal fan gathering locations. An autograph signed by a celebrity in my opinion is the equivalent to a magic wand. They wave their magic wand and it turns items virtually into cash. Granted, there are also sentimental attachments to each wave of the wand for many as well, but the end result is simple, it takes them mere seconds to create this magical wave. Again, I ask you, would you really care? I mean, living a life that less than 1% in the world get to live, blessed with a magic wand, would you care when/where/how they used that $50?
Great read Mike. I agree that celebrities should sign for fans, sort of like DJeter does (only for kids but if you are an adult he tells you to buy one). Celebrities should really think though, if someone is going all out his or her way for MY autograph, then I should sign regardless just for the effort made by the person. But I do agree with celebrities perspective, that people shouldn't be making a living off the sale of autographs. With this, how would people get autographs then if no one can supply them? This debate will never have an definitive answer but it's curious to see both perspectives, like this post shows.
ya its all pretty interesting really. Thanks for reading