5 Categories of Stuff I Refuse To Collect: A Rant

Music ‘Let’s Talk About Me’ by The Alan Parsons Project

I’m on a tear so bear with me or read something else.

Here are five catergories in which I refuse to collect stuff.

1) Gossip magazines: Who needs these other than a ‘fangurl’ with zero imagination? Their info is usually inaccurate, if VDO gives them an interview, they usually twist it to suit their purposes and they are obsessed with D’Onofrio’s two divorces, the most recent of which is over two years old as well as D’Onofrio’s children, which is predatory and creepy. Yawn. They’re not even reporting news anymore, the things they keep mentioning. They do create a market for paparazzi photos (see #3) below) but ‘fangurls’ can now go straight to the source thanks to online auctions and skip the blather. Or they could try to save some money by buying…

2) Magazine & newspaper clippings: Take a pair of scissors to #1) above and you get these. On the theoretical plus side they eliminate ‘irrelevant’ information (i.e. everything that does not mention VDO) and are cheaper to mail. But they are essentially financially worthless, even if put into a nice scrapbook (or scanned into a computer).

A case in point: On an episode of the US ‘Antiques Roadshow’ filmed in Tampa, Florida, an appraiser valued a scrapbook full of clippings on Joe DiMaggio from the 1940s at a few thousand dollars but it was more because the woman who had created the scrapbook sent the whole book off to Joe to get it autographed (and it was in fact signed by Joe in the early 1940s, and signatures of his from that time period are uncommon and highly sought after) plus she had pasted a few vintage press photos of Joltin’ Joe in her scrapbook – if you took out the press photos and the autograph though, the value of all those newspaper clippings would have been around $20-$50 tops (even though there were a lot of informative news articles and the scrapbook’s creator kept meticulous records of DiMaggio’s stats). So there’s my precedent for avoiding the first 2 types of ‘collectibles’. Moving on to…

3) Candid/Paparazzi Photos: I know ‘fangurls’ really like to get their hands on pictures of VDO but this is one of those areas that’s just a little too voyeuristic for me. No personal offense to VDO meant here but often in the more candid and paparazzi pictures of him (taken at places like film festivals or movie premieres or charity events or in some airport or by some fan/celebrity hunter who runs into VDO in NYC or LA and whips out the instamatic/cell phone camera), he often doesn’t look that great. I suppose that’s because he’s out and about, completely out of character and more or less being himself, a normal human being without a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a wardrobe consultant, etc, in tow and no one to carefully compose the image.

When I see these sorts of photos, I know they go along with the territory of having worked in the business and attained VDO’s level of success. But I feel that out of character images ought to be out of bounds for my own collection. Besides I never really learn anything from the shots other than VDO’s human like the rest of us and perhaps all the rest of us would look ‘great’ if we had an army of talent behind us, getting us ready for and staging us in pretty pictures.

One of these images stands out in my mind — it was shown to me by someone I know who is an amateur autograph and candid photo hunter. He ran into VDO in L.A., and VDO was there to do a press junket for LOCI. They were both staying at the Chateau Marmont hotel and my friend asked VDO to pose with him in a picture. VDO obliged.

I saw that picture (along with many others my friend took of other stars at after-parties for the Golden Globes that year, etc) and thought to myself: “wow, poor VDO really looks tired, especially around the eyes (as if he hadn’t been sleeping well) and a bit ill at ease”.

If ‘Vincent’ at DASH was to be beileved, VDO had just come back to the USA from a winter vacation in Australia with family, was in LA to do the 2003 NBC winter press tour after having shot a few LOCI episodes in NYC and was jetlagged, overscheduled and tired. My friend said that VDO was very gracious and not in the least upset about the photo request. But I didn’t feel right about accepting a gift of a copy of the photo, even though my friend had me in mind when he asked VDO to stop and pose for it. It just seemed to be too intrusive to me and so I declined it. I sleep better nights for turning down that picture and I stay away from all such pictures like it.

In fact I don’t even like looking at most of the magazine article photos where VDO has the benefit of a makeup artist, the hair stylist, the wardrobe consultant, etc. There are some out there from articles that have appeared in magazines like Premiere and Esquire. The Esquire ones from the summer 2003 really bother me partially because VDO seems like he’s trying to fit someone’s image of what he, VDO, the successful actor is supposed to be like and partially because the article accompanying those photos acknowledged some of the ‘fangurl’ comments out there written about VDO at the message board on what is currently a suspended webpage [vincentdonofriofans.net].

The Esquire journalist reprinting the ‘fangurls’ comments was obviously getting some amusement at their expense, but worse, when the ‘fangurls’ got their hands on that article, the catfights between them at their board were ugly (not to mention dumb).

I skimmed a copy of that issue of Esquire at my local supermarket and couldn’t put it back on the shelf fast enough when I read how insipid the comments chosen for publication were, but it was even more pathetic to see a thread online discussing the Esquire article in which the ‘fangurls’ attacked each other over who was or was not quoted and why, and who was misquoted and who *really* was the most loyal fan…another descent into ‘fangurl’ hell that I doubt the typical Esquire reader gave even a second’s thought other than to chuckle at their expense.

So due to the unpleasantness I associate with these pictures, I avoid them.

4) ‘Homemade’ VDO Stuff: The creators and sellers of this stuff flood online auctions with their homemade Tshirts, nightshirts, sweatshirts, pillowcases, teddy bears in tiny T-shirts, key chains, checkbook covers, calendars, planners, coffee mugs, mousepads, screen savers, photo CDs, etc. Sometimes they take an image showing VDO from a studio or network authorized source, and sometimes they take the image from a magazine article, a candid shot, or a paparazzi shot. In a few cases they show off some skills with digital photograph editing, but there are also incredibly lazy sellers who can insert any famous person’s name into a hokey saying on an item such as a T-shirt and that’s the extent of it’s relevance to the famous person such as VDO.

Unfortunately there is no limit to the types of made-up stuff they can create with their computers and offer for sale. Frankly they really don’t care whose name or image they put on the item so long as they get paid.

I’m sure that people like VDO have not given permission to create tchotkes with their names and likenesses all over them, just as I am sure no studio, TV network, magazine publisher or wire service blesses the commercialization of their intellectual property. None of the appropriate sources are getting paid so it’s like collecting stuff of questionable legal status.

I have no firsthand experience with the quality of these ‘collectibles’ but from their pictures online, they sure look poorly made.

5) VDO’s Autograph: Now autograph collecting has long been an area in which outright frauds are common. In the music world, I know of more than one book documenting the signatures of each of the Beatles (and copies of signatures done by people who are not John Paul George or Ringo) and how both legitimate signatures and signatures ‘forged’ by their entourage have evolved over many years.

Australia’s foremost seller of Australian movie memorabilia, John Reid has written an excellent article on how the autograph industry works (which I’ll post in another entry here) and how unless you meet the signer in person yourself and watch him or her sign the item, you cannot establish the authenticity of the autograph. This of course will impact it’s future monetary value.

But this is a place where part of the fun of the autograph is the story of its aquisition. For the life of me, I don’t get why someone would want to buy just the signature and not have the pleasure of meeting the signer and participating in that story. 

Do I think there are a lot of fake VDO signatures out there? I doubt it, at least not yet because VDO has not reached the level of popularity where he is overwhelmed by autograph requests and has to hire staff to take care of them all. I do think that VDO’s signature may have changed over time but I’ll save commentary about the evidence for a signature change for another blog entry :-)

Would I want VDO’s autograph? If the circumstances were right and I had a certain item of my collection with me, yes, I would make that request of him just once. But that would mean that both he and I would have to meet face to face and since I’m not one who ventures far out of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to places like NYC and L.A., my opportunities to get something signed are going to be limited. Also the piece I have in mind to be signed, I wouldn’t want to entrust to anyone else. The piece has far too much personal importance to me and if it were to be lost, it would be very upsetting. So if I can’t hand it to VDO myself and have him sign it and personalize the signature with an inscription, it just won’t get signed. And that’s okay. So no autograph buying for me, thanks.

What that piece I would want signed is, I’ll get into later… 


2 thoughts on “5 Categories of Stuff I Refuse To Collect: A Rant

  1. I actually am working on getting something that I would like VDO to sign, and like you, I would not trust anyone to get it for me. It would be something that I would get signed personally. Would I go to a CI set to get it signed? If I could, yes. But I live in Texas, and I don’t think I will be visiting NYC any time soon.

    I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to want someone’s autograph. Fifty autographs from the same person — problem.


  2. SPS

    I think autograph collecting could be a great hobby if you could assure that you really were getting the genuine signature on the signed article. The problem is it’s really hard to trust another person to do it for you, especially a person who is charging you for the privilege. This problem predates online auctions and really came to prominence with sports memorabilia in the 1990s. It has been going on in the entertainment world for some time too, but until the FBI got in and started busting the sports memorabilia dealers and their fake autographed items, it was sort of a ‘dirty little secret’ of the industry.

    Having dealt with music memorabilia dealers for many years, I learned about which artists have their signatures faked a lot (the Beatles and Elvis), which artists are hard to get to sign items (Madonna) and which artists are pretty nice when it comes to accommodating fans (one of my friends who deals in concert photographs he takes himself has only kind things to say about Debbie Harry of Blondie and Elton John — Elton signed one copy of every LP record album he had recorded up until LPs could no longer be bought in the USA for this friend just because he was very discreet and carefully timed when he made the request).

    One way to approach the problem of getting your item signed is to be in NYC (near a location shoot for LOCI for example) or LA (VDO sometimes goes there for press tours as my friend’s candid photo op revealed) or be in or near a location for a film shoot (if you had been around Austin either when ‘The Whole Wide World’ or ‘The Newton Boys’ were filming, you would have had a golden opportunity…if only we knew then what we know now…). Maybe if that Western VDO wants to make gets made in Texas, you’ll get lucky.

    Your comment reminds me that I need to post on how I think there are actually 2 different but genuine ways VDO has signed items — one before LOCI was created and one now that LOCI has become the big phenomenon it is and he gets signifcant numbers of requests for autographs. I’ll work on those example pictures as well as pics of my prized item that I ought to get signed.

    The only way you could justify having 50 autographs from the same person is if he or she changed signatures 50 times — I know that Beatle fans can date a Paul McCartney autograph because he changed his signature over time (probably not 50 times though )

    Thanks for the comment!
    VDO Vault

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