Have you heard of Cameo? Services like Cameo have become popular during Covid, when we can’t just reach out and hug each other. I have used it twice this year (more on that below) when I couldn’t be with my family directly.
Cameo is a website where celebrities will record a brief personal message for a fee. My first reaction was, “As if celebrities need more money,” but some of the fees are quite reasonable. Gary Holt from Exodus is only asking $25 for a personal video greeting. That’s a steal, considering the video is yours forever. Mike Portnoy? Only $50. Bruce Kulick is $100. Work your way up to Caitlyn Jenner and you’ll be dropping $2500. The range for your budget is huge, and you can choose form thousands of people in sports, movies, music, wrestling, and TV (reality and otherwise).
Each celebrity has a time frame during which they will make your video. If you forgot your dad’s birthday today, it is too late to get Chevy Chase ($250) to record a video for him. But if it’s not until next week, Danny Trejo ($100) can have a video to you in five days.
I struggled with a way to treat my mom right on Mother’s Day. I happened to be scrolling Facebook when I noticed a friend had received a Cameo video as a birthday gift. It was Michael Rapaport ($175) and I thought it was a cool idea in a time when we couldn’t just give somebody a gift. I started searching and came upon Jann Arden. My mom loves Jann Arden. She’s seen her live at least twice (only once for me). Jann was asking only $65 with a three day turnaround. I was just in time so I booked her. Best of all, 100% of her proceeds went to various animal charities. No celebrity greed there!
In two days (one less than expected!) I received a personal video from Jann Arden to my mom. Jann sang “Good Mother” and I think my mom must have just about fallen out of her chair! It was everything I hoped for and more.
Two weeks later I had another quandary. My dad’s birthday. He hates it when I spend money on him, but I don’t pay any attention to that! I decided that I would do another Cameo. But who? My dad knows so very few celebrities. It’s not like John Wayne is around to make videos. Then I thought, “Star Trek”! Who’s available? A small number of people. Marina Sirtis (The Next Generation), Garrett Wang (Voyager), Mary Chieffo (Discovery) and Evan Evagora (Picard) were some of the notable names, but I needed someone really special to him personally. Then I found him: Number One! Jonathan Frakes! Riker himself. My dad is a huge fan of Captain William Riker. Within three days, and $200 later, my dad received a personal message from Number One.
Dad was over the moon. He still thinks I shouldn’t have spent the money, but who cares? I think it’s the best birthday gift I’ve ever given him. And I’ve given him a Lego Sopwith Camel. (Added bonus: Frakes was wearing a Picard Season 2 jacket, confirming his involvement in the second season.)
The only drawback to Cameo is that you only have 250 characters to communicate what you want from the celebrity. It’s enough to tell them who it’s for, who it’s from, and a little bit about the occasion. Not much else. Celebrities don’t need to read an essay, but what harm could another 100 characters do?
Whether Cameo still remains popular when the world returns to a semblance of normal, I cannot say. Most of these actors, sportsmen and musicians will be back at work. I’ll be able to go and gift my dad a real Father’s Day gift. And some of these people are asking way, way, way too much money for a short video. Is Tommy Lee worth $400 when you can get Mike Portnoy for $50? I’d go with Portnoy, on Cameo or in a drum battle.
Consider a Cameo for your next socially distant gift.
Cameo 4/5 stars
Jonathan Frakes 5/5 stars
Jann Arden 5/5 stars