Don’t Fear The Black Ball

“It’s part of my job. It doesn’t bother me too bad, though. Sometimes I’ll be at a surf contest and want to surf right away, but I’ll have to do a signing. That kind of sucks because all I want to do is go surfing. It’s hard sometimes.”¿Damien Hobgood when asked what he thinks about having to do autograph-signing sessions

You’d have a hard time finding someone who doesn’t want to be famous. Even the most modest, unobtrusive humans on Earth have secret fantasies in which they throw the winning pitch in the World Series, serenade 100,000 fans in a sold-out Wembley Stadium, unveil a mathematic postulate never before conceived of, or pull into the tube that wins the Pipe Masters. Imagine receiving 10,000 letters a day telling you how wonderful and attractive you are. And along with the sea container of attention comes the material aspect of fame¿money, cars, comped rounds of golf, loose women, and yellow Italian cars that go 380 kilometer per hour. They say by the end of their first year in office, most Presidents of the United States have stopped carrying a wallet.What the huddled masses who will always have to carry a wallet fail to realize is that fame comes at a price. Obsessive fans, lecherous agents, paparazzi hiding under your bed, the tabloids printing every rumor they can possibly invent to slander you¿you pay for fame with your privacy. Marlo Thomas, a television and movie star from the 1960s, once said, “Fame lost its appeal for me when I went into a public restroom and an autograph seeker handed me a pen and paper under the stall door.”If she thought that w

as bad, Mark David Chapman killed John Lennon in an attempt to usurp some of his enormous fame. Chapman told the press he just wanted “to be loved.”Though his famousness doesn’t even scratch the surface of the type experienced by supericons like Michael Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Britney Spears, or Brad Pitt, Damien Hobgood is famous. He’s the centerpiece of international marketing campaigns for companies that gross tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Posters and point-of-purchase displays bearing his image litter the walls and checkout counters of surf shops around the world. He makes more money in a year than most Harvard graduates, and when girls meet him they get all giggly and happy.Ironically, though, Damien isn’t in it for the fame. He could do without the life-size cardboard cutouts of himself throwing shakas for capitalism, and it seems like the money is little more to him than an added bonus. Damien wants to surf. He tolerates the frequent three-hour autograph sessions, he doesn’t freak out when some desperate sponsor runs a sub-par photo of him in its ad, he grins and bears it when he has to surf a two-week contest in horrible conditions, and he suffers through the politics and assorted nonsense of life under the surf-media magnifying glass. He embraces the downside, because he knows that if he jumps through all the flaming hoops of fame, at some point he’ll get to paddle out at perfect Pipe with only one other person in the water.¿Joel