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Identity/Imposters
In the past few days the 'Piano Man' has been getting a lot of attention. He's a guy who was found "wandering on a windswept road on the Isle of Sheppey". He was dripping wet and very confused. The authorities took him to a hospital where the staff discovered that although the guy refuses to say a word, and they have no idea of his identity, he is an accomplished piano player. He's now been at the hospital for a couple of weeks, during which time he hasn't said a word, but he loves to play the piano. All of this seems very similar to the case of the pianist David Helfgott, who was depicted in the 1996 film Shine starring Geoffrey Rush. The cases seem so similar that some people are suspecting it's some kind of hoax or prank. I really doubt it's a hoax. It sounds like he's been at the hospital long enough that the staff would have seen through it by now if the guy were just putting on an act. (thanks to KJ for forwarding some links about this)
Update: My wife pointed this out to me. Could the Piano Man be a modern-day Princess Caraboo?
Update 2: A Polish mime claims that he knows the Piano Man and says that he's a French street musician named Steven Villa Masson. This has yet to be confirmed.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Psychology
Posted by Alex on Wed May 18, 2005
Comments (28)
Interesting letter in today's Dear Abby:

DEAR ABBY: I am a 10-year-old girl who has been playing after school on a Web site for pet lovers. I like to talk to kids older than me — 14- or- 15-year-olds. A lot of the boys I've talked to have asked for my picture, so I went to Google and found a picture of a pretty blond girl around 15 years old. I have been sending this picture to all the people who have asked me for one.

So this is what the future holds for us. A whole generation of Kaycee Nicole Swensons in training.
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 07, 2005
Comments (33)
The latest possible faux-blog gaining attention is nyhotties.com, the online diary of a twenty-something New Yorker named Alexa who quit her job as an editor's assistant at a fashion magazine a few years ago and became an escort (her blog is somewhat safe for work, R-rated language, but relatively tame images). This immediately invites comparison to Belle de Jour the supposed London call girl who kept a blog. Belle managed to secure a book deal from her true-confessions blog (her book arrives in stores in just two weeks). Like Belle, Alexa doesn't offer any proof to back up her claim that she's a call girl. You just have to take her word for it. Also like Belle, Alexa is quite well educated, "Majoring in English and Philosophy in a good New England liberal arts college," and seems to have literary ambitions.

In one of her recent posts Alexa addresses the issue of people doubting whether she really is an escort, noting that "One reader went so far as to suggest that I'm actually a 300lb man in some office in Nebraska." Alexa claims to be "genuinely perplexed" about people's doubts, not seeming to realize that if she makes an extraordinary (or even somewhat unusual) claim, then the burden of proof should be on her to prove her claim. It shouldn't be on all of us to prove that she isn't real. If she's not willing to offer such proof, then we shouldn't be willing to believe her. After all, there's an obvious motive for her to lie: to get attention and possibly land a book deal. Sure, read her blog if you find it amusing. But why take the extra step of actively believing her? Unfortunately most people don't maintain this skeptical distance because the human impulse to believe is very, very strong, which is exactly why con artists stay in business.

Alexa pleads that we have to take her word for it, because there's no way for her to prove that she does what she says she does. It doesn't occur to her to invite a trusted third-party person, such as a reporter, to verify her story. But then, that option never seems to occur to the Rances and Belle de Jours of this world.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance, Websites
Posted by Alex on Sun Jan 02, 2005
Comments (28)
Here's yet another possible faux celebrity blog. This time it's the blog of Nick Nolte. It's probably becoming a sign of status in Hollywood to have a faux blog... it shows that someone out there cares enough about you to want to pretend to be you. Imagine all the forgotten stars waiting desperately for someone to create a fake blog about them. Maybe they eventually break down and pay someone to pretend to be them... which would make it a faux faux celebrity blog. Lost in Technophilia argues that the reason to believe the Nick Nolte blog isn't real is because the domain name is registered to someone called "Christian Newton" living at 501 Privacy Lane, Santa Monica, CA 90402. Obviously a fake address. Or maybe Nick Nolte just didn't want to give out his real address.
Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 14, 2004
Comments (4)
Fake Maoists are running amok in Nepal, robbing people and extorting money from shopkeepers and businessmen. What's next? Fake Marxists holding up banks? Phony Socialists looting liquor stores? Meanwhile, the Real Maoists are fighting back against the Fake Maoists who, so they claim, are trying to ruin their reputation. For some reason this reminds me of the fake eunuchs at large in India.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Law/Police/Crime
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 07, 2004
Comments (0)
image Aylar's career as a finalist for Miss Norway was about to come to a crashing end when her secret past in the adult film industry was revealed. The rules of the Miss Norway competition clearly forbid contestants from having posed nude for money. But luckily Aylar had an explanation ready at hand. That woman doing all those things in those movies wasn't her, even though it looked exactly like her. It was her twin sister. (Wasn't there an episode of Friends where this happened to Phoebe?). Unfortunately for Aylar, a quick investigation revealed that she had no twin sister. She's now the ex- an ex-finalist for Miss Norway.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 19, 2004
Comments (7)
image The Korea Times has an article about the new weblog of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (known to his people as 'Dear Leader'). It appeared on Cyworld (which I'm guessing is like the Korean equivalent of LiveJournal) a few days ago, and already is getting a lot of attention. On the blog Dear Leader shows off his tanks and other stuff. Of course, it's a fake blog. I can't actually find the blog itself, but here's a screenshot of it. Of course, Kim Jong-Il once had a LiveJournal blog, but it looks like that hasn't been updated in almost a year.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Politics
Posted by Alex on Fri Aug 13, 2004
Comments (2)
I haven't visited the Rance blog in ages (in case you missed out on the Rance thing, he's an anonymous blogger who claims to be an a-list Hollywood celebrity). Now it looks like Rance has decided to call it quits, but he wants his blog to live on. So he's accepting applications for Rance 2. I guess he must be from Hollywood if he's that committed to producing a sequel. But as is always the case, you just know that the sequel is going to be worse than the original.

Categories: Identity/Imposters, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 03, 2004
Comments (0)
image I like Halle Berry, but I don't have any plans to see Catwoman (it just doesn't look that interesting). And anyway, turns out it isn't even Halle in that costume. It's some guy called Nito Larioza wearing red lipstick. Maybe Nito is also Mr. Six! You never know.
Categories: Entertainment, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 20, 2004
Comments (1)
Fake blogs are a growing trend on the web. Just recently we saw Plain Layne exposed as Odin Soli. But now, with the advent of an online role-playing game called Be A Celeb, the fake-blog phenomenon seems to be rising to a whole new level. The goal of Be A Celeb is to create a convincing fake celebrity blog. You can choose to be whatever celebrity you like, as long as someone else hasn't already taken the celebrity. Celebrities already in play include Clay Aiken, Jessica Biel, and Kirsten Dunst. Once you've created your fake celebrity, you can then make them interact with other fake celebrities... kind of like a strange alternative reality Hollywood, or LiveJournal Celebrity Sims.
An article about this game has been posted on morons.org. I'm wondering if they'd let me play either Plain Layne or Kaycee Nicole Swenson as a character... though they'd probably say they don't qualify as 'celebrities.'... or what would happen if a real celebrity began playing themselves as a fake celebrity? The mind boggles.
Categories: Celebrities, Identity/Imposters, Websites
Posted by Alex on Fri Jul 16, 2004
Comments (5)
Apparently there's a tradition in India that a eunuch can show up at a house after a birth or marriage and ask for money. But nowadays more and more fake eunuchs are elbowing in on this lucrative market... much to the annoyment of the real eunuchs. The fake eunuchs are also involved in a lot of other even more criminal activities: "From extorting money to robbing shopkeepers and passengers in trains, these fake eunuchs are running a parallel network." Honestly, I never knew there was such a thing as a eunuch crime network, let alone a parallel fake eunuch crime network. For some reason this sounds like something out of a Monty Python skit.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Wed Jul 07, 2004
Comments (8)
This isn't going to mean much to anyone, but when I heard the news I was dumbfounded. Plain Layne is Odin Soli. I haven't seen Odin in years, but I know him quite well. We went to grad school together at UC San Diego, though he left before I did. I've also read a novel he wrote. It was a detective story and pretty good. We TA'ed for the same class, plus we had quite a few beers together in the campus pub. Well, this makes the entire Plain Layne saga much more up close and personal for me. Strange how people in your past can suddenly pop up again like that. I'm going to have to see if I can contact Odin to see what he's been up to (besides pretending to be Plain Layne).
Categories: Identity/Imposters
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 28, 2004
Comments (4)
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