Celebrity Image: More complex today than ever before


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
Image is often on the mind of the public, particularly where celebrities are concerned. It can entail persona, activities, or clothing and attire. Fans fascination with stars goes back to the beginning of theater and certainly reached new heights in the silent film era with the likes of Rudolph Valentino. Then it entered an even more ballistic mode with Frank Sinatra and his bobby soxers. Since then and with the advent of mobile viewing and social media, a performer's image is considered hundreds, maybe thousands of times daily.

Some personalities might be thankful for their costume image. Judge Judy Sheindlin has stated that people don't tend to recognize her because viewers know her mostly from her TV show where she is always wearing the black judicial robe. In street clothes, she often goes unnoticed. Pictures of Lady Gaga surface from time to time that show her in fairly traditional clothing allowing her to blend in with the crowd a bit as well.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bobby Sherman was the teen idol of note. Having starred on Shindig earlier in the sixties, the actor/singer hit it big on Here Come the Brides where he played shaggy-haired Jeremy Bolt. In real life, his personal, TV, and concert appearances had him wearing neck chokers and bell bottoms, a far cry from the volunteer paramedic and police uniforms he has worn since retiring from acting.

Fashion style is as much who is wearing what as it is preference. Anne Hathaway's recent flack over her last minute dress choice for the Oscars that was due to having been told another person would be wearing a gown similar to her original choice is proof of that. TV shows like Project Runway and The Face center around clothes and the image projected on the catwalk.

Jewelry is part of the fashion scene as well. British singing and acting sensation Alfie Boe often wears what he has playfully described as his "rock crap" on stage for concerts and various TV and personal appearances. For him that can mean one or two bold bracelets, perhaps a third smaller one, and maybe a ring on his right hand. Once the event is over, it comes off. It is far from what he wears around his house and in his neighborhood. Casually inclined, he'd rather be in his old, comfortable ragged denim shirt (and trust me, it's seen better days), a T-shirt, and jeans than anything else. Throw on his reliable black leather jacket and shoes of choice and he's ready for a ride on his beloved motorcycle. It's all far from the pristine world of opera where he first made a name for himself before enticing the world to board his train and venture into a world of all genres of music which he now performs worldwide.

The persona can be difficult to gauge sometimes. Sherman once guest starred on The Partridge Family that featured David Cassidy. Cassidy was newer on the teen block and eventually overtook his contemporaries as king of the teen world. Yet, he was forced to present a rather mild image due to the nature of the comedy show he was appearing in. That also included his music. He was made to sing bubblegum music far more than he ever wanted to. It took him a long to embrace songs like his hit "I Think I Love You" again.

Imagery extends to how fans perceive a performer and at the heart of many fandoms is the age old issue of sex appeal. What various celebrities desire or achieve can be widespread. If there is that sex symbol status, the world and its temptations can be strong and then there can be a strong conflict between persona and image.

Elvis Presley was the king and considered an extremely polite, considerate, generous, and sincere man. Yet he clearly had his issues with substance abuse. It is also quite well known that he slept with every one of his co-stars except for Mary Tyler Moore with who he starred in Change of Habit.

In their youthful heyday, even the squeaky clean Osmond Brothers have said they were often approached by eager females wanting more than to hear them sing. Faithful and true to their Mormon beliefs, they apparently dealt with the advances as well as any star ever has.

Welsh superstar Tom Jones certainly has excited women over the decades. Like Elvis, all manner of garb have been tossed in his direction. That was the image Jones projected, even while being happily married.

Alfie Boe has certainly had his fun in the sun (just read his memoir entitled My Story) but today, he is a devoted married man to Sarah, an American actress and dancer. Fans, not to mention radio and TV presenters interviewing him, continually tell him how sexy he is. Boe can flirt with the best of them, but his heart remains with his wife and children. Still, while touring America in October 2012, he experimented a bit more with that sexy image. In many venues, his shirt was unbuttoned more than his previous normal. Fans noticed. He began to do a little shimmy during his version of Midnight Rider eliciting screams from the audience, and his dance moves grew in their precision and sexiness (probably due to some coaching from his wife).

The interesting connection between Tom Jones and Alfie Boe happened in October. In interviews over the years, Boe often spoke of his fans and how devoted they were and he had said that they never threw knickers on stage. For Americans, that's underwear and intimates. He liked it that way. It's respectful. Leave it to America to give the singer his first taste of knicker throwing when several members of the Chicago audience tossed a handful onto the stage one night. Stunned, he wasn't really sure what to do, though his band quickly picked up pieces to place on their guitars. Later, Boe said he tried to act cool and wasn't really sure how to react.

Interestingly, in subsequent interviews when talking about fans, he has a couple of times started to say the same thing as before, that his respectful fans don't throw knickers on the stage. Then he laughs and has to explain that, well, they did once in Chicago. Perhaps appropriately, he lovingly calls his American fans "crazy."

It does present an issue, not just for Boe, but for others. Where does the line between image and respect come into play? In addition, how does it tie in with stars' families?

The late Patrick Swayze was highly sought after and a sexy man. He had women after him all the time, but he was devoted to his high school sweetheart who he married, Lisa Niemi. Niemi enjoyed her husband's love scenes. In fact, she helped choreograph the famous Roadhouse moment between Swayze and co-star Kelly Lynch. She also never minded how females fussed over her man because, as she so often said, he always came home with her.

There is that line, though. Swayze once talked about an enthusiastic fan who took things a bit far, pinching and squeezing his butt in front of his wife. He objected to that instantly as being inappropriate.

Boe's wife is reportedly the similar to Niemi-Swayze. She's had fans thank her for sharing her husband with them and she tends to chuckle in response. Trust is huge in a marriage like theirs that is full of separation and adoring fans, and it's pretty clear Boe has dealt with more than most probably know. In one radio shot, a DJ/presenter mentioned how it was probably a good time to be single instead of married with children. Boe began to say "I suppose" but broke out into a round of laughter before saying he had some lovely supporters and then teasing that he wasn't going to say another word about it. He has said that the attention he receives is flattering, but that he's a one-woman man.

While Mrs. Boe is apparently a-okay with women throwing underwear at her loving hubby, is that really what he wants? When he returned to the United States for a tour that took place in January and February of this year, the sex symbol image was toned down a bit. The three-unbuttoned poppers on his shirts were back to two or he wore more a different type of shirt. The shimmy was essentially gone, though he shook his booty here and there to the pleasing roar of the crowds. He was still rockin' and rollin', but it was a different, even simpler presentation. In fact, he rarely wore the jewelry at all. The image in how he was styled shifted a tad.

There is one caveat to this observation in that the tour began in Albany and Boe had a terrible cold that lingered a bit over the first half of the tour dates. How much his feeling a bit under the weather may have contributed to the shift is unknown.

There was a smaller display of the knickers to which he looked down and stared, eventually picking up one, but it didn't seem to have the spark of the infamous Chicago concert. Again, one has to wonder if that is what he wants. He's said this year that his four-year-old daughter now accompanies him to concerts sometimes, even when his wife and son remain home. He loves seeing her dancing in the wings while he's singing and carrying on onstage. Most fans don't know she's there, but he does, of course. At her young age, does he really want to have to explain to her why women, who are not her mommy, are throwing intimate apparel at him?

Image. It's a small word for something that is comprised of so much and can affect celebrities and their followers in so many ways. Sometimes it can surprise. Rick Nelson was wholesome in his youth but many may have been surprised to read of his drug usage after his death. Sometimes, viewers never really know. Persona, actions, attire: image. It's a complex thing.

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