Autograph Hunting

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 26th June 2012.

As a pop culture fanatic, I love to collect memorabilia, in particular, signed items. I’m not really interested in trying to make money by hanging onto these autographs until they appreciate in value and then sell them off. I’d rather put them on my wall as a reminder of an encounter with an artist whose work I admire.

Of course, it is not always easy to get an autographed item. Famous actors don’t tend to wander the streets very often. Most of my prized possessions are photos signed at pop culture conventions, such as Supanova, which was held in Sydney last weekend. The celebrities that attend these events tend to be stars from cult TV shows or movies, and most charge $30 or so for an autographed photo.

There’s plenty of signed collectibles available on eBay, but you never truly know if the autograph is legitimate. In the US, it is estimated that 90% of autographed items sold on eBay are forged.

So how can you obtain authentic signed items without travelling around the world stalking your favourite artist? The good news is that some great signed collectibles are available directly from musicians and actors websites, and not all of it will cost you a fortune.

I’ve previously written about my admiration for The Beach Boys. To celebrate their 50th Anniversary Tour, you can purchase an uncut proof sheet of their new CD artwork signed by all 5 surviving members of the band, including Brian Wilson, for only $500, directly from their website. If you fancy a limited edition signed surfboard, it’s a bargain at $6000, and there are only five out of ten left.

One of my favourite albums ever is Paul Simon’s Graceland, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Currently available from Simon’s online shop is a deluxe bundle which includes the Graceland boxset, the album on vinyl and a limited edition poster personally signed by the master songwriter. This bundle is only $250 and great value for cashed up Paul Simon fans.

Geeks rejoice. Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, sells an array of signed items on his website. My choice would be The Shat’s latest album, Seeking Major Tom, which will only set you back $95 for an autographed copy. I’d also recommend that you admire your signed CD and not actually listen to it.

Holy superannuation fund Batman! Everyone’s favourite Batman, Adam West, is still making a living from his iconic role from the sixties. Direct from the Adam West Store, you can grab a signed vintage art movie poster from the 1966 Batman film for $35.

If musicians float your boat and your budget is tight, then why not add a exclusive lithograph signed by Nelly Furtado to your wall? It will only set you back $25 directly from the artist herself. If you prefer your music and politics to the left, English singer songwriter Billy Bragg will put his pen to a copy of his Mermaid Avenue Complete Session CD boxset for $35. For the eighties tragics, pop queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany will sell you a genuine signed photo for only $20 and $15, respectively.

Proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to collect an autographed item, the cost of a cup of coffee is all it takes to get Guy Sabastian’s John Hancock. A signed copy of his latest single is available via JBHifi’s website for $4.

Whether it cost you a couple of bucks or a small fortune, or even a few hours hiding in the bushes in the Hollywood Hills, the true price of a signed collectible is its sentimental value to a fan.


Eighties pop stars acting badly

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Where do eighties teen pop stars go to die? The answer at the moment seems to be the video store. After twenty years or so in the wilderness, US one hit wonder Tiffany, has reappeared in, not one, but three low budget films. I guess she’s finally been allowed out of the shopping mall. Unfortunately, she’s still stuck in retail.

Tiffany Renee Darwish, known to her fans as Tiffany, first came to prominence with her single I Think We’re Alone Now which made a minor dent in the Australian charts, peaking at 46 in 1987. The video for the song famously depicts a sixteen year old Tiffany entertaining an over enthusiastic crowd at a shopping mall. It was actually extensive shopping mall tours that formed the basis of Tiffany’s marketing and promotions in the early stages of her career.

A cover of The Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There, with the “her” replaced with a “him” fared better in the Australian charts, making it to number 10 in 1988. The music video featured Tiffany performing in front of a screaming live crowd.

Following a turn voicing Judy Jetson in the epic historical drama Jetsons: The Movie (1990), Tiffany disappeared from the Australian pop culture consciousness, perhaps forever.

Tiffany returned to the shopping mall when her career stalled. Sadly, it was as a cleaner. Only kidding, after being dropped by her record label, she continued to record albums as an independent artist and make plans for a comeback. Unfortunately, the plans consisted of rerecording her hits for a disco album, participating in reality shows featuring other eighties has-beens, attempting a career as a country singer and posing nude for Playboy. None of which worked.

After rival eighties teen queen Debbie Gibson successfully appeared in the direct to video adaption of Jane Austen’s Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, Tiffany was approached to make her feature film debut in the psychological thriller Blood Snow (2009). With a cast of relative unknowns, Tiffany stars opposite James Kyson Lee (Heroes) as a woman trapped in a cabin with friends during a blizzard. The DVD cover for this masterpiece is quite hilarious.  Whilst all of her co-stars have their film credits listed next to their names, poor Tiffany has the words, “I Think We’re Alone Now.”

Next for Tiffany was a “mockbuster” from The Asylum. I’ve written a column about this low budget production company. They make direct to video movies that are similarly titled to major cinema releases, such as The Transmorphers, Snakes on a Train and Sunday School Musical.

Mega Piranha (2010), a mockbuster of Piranha 3D, stars Tiffany alongside Barry Williams (Greg from The Brady Bunch). She plays a Professor (I’m not sure of what, perhaps shopping malls) who must stop a school of genetically modified piranha from attacking Florida. In the climax of the film, Professor Tiffany destroys the mega piranha by making them eat each other, presumably by forcing them to listen to her music.

Tiffany and Debbie Gibson will finally come head to head on the small screen this year, co-starring in Mega Python Versus Gatoroid, another monster disaster film from The Asylum. After battling it out in the charts during the eighties, both stars fight each other in a hair pulling, cake throwing melee that has to be seen to be believed. This scene is available online as a sneak peek.

Although Tiffany may not be a threat to the cinema box office or the music charts again, it is nice to know that she’s found herself a niche, even if it is the “gigantic steroid enhanced reptiles fighting each other” movie niche.

Blood Snow and Mega Piranha are available to rent now, and are well worth a chuckle on cheap Tuesday.

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 07:25  Leave a Comment  
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