News Article

Cyber Celebrities

Meat Loaf, Fabio, and others are present on the internet — at least their impersonators are

Like nearly everyone else in America, celebrities are plugging into computer services. The result? Fans are scrambling to find the electronic mail addresses and favorite bulletin boards of the stars. Witness these recent electronic brushes with greatness:

*Rush Limbaugh's new bride met the king of right-wing radio on CompuServe.

*Meat Loaf wrote to a fan on a bulletin board to say the song ''Life Is a Lemon'' deserved a second listen. Later, the singer sent the surprised man backstage passes.

*Courtney Love On America Online, the lead singer of Hole has been lambasting, among others, authors writing quickie books on her late husband, Kurt Cobain.

But cyberspace has more impersonators than Las Vegas. On America Online, for instance, no fewer than seven members claim to be Howard Stern, listing such hobbies as ''spanking nude strippers.'' ''It's tricky,'' says Seth Godin, author of E-Mail Addresses of the Rich & Famous. ''We know there are people out there who pretend to be famous just to get a lot of mail.'' Dave Barry — the real one — says he is often asked if he is actually the syndicated humorist. ''I've been asked this so many times that I'm beginning to wonder if I am,'' he writes over E-mail.

To avoid such nuisances, many celebs use secret names. Stories circulated that supermodel Fabio made special arrangements with GEnie so he could play a fantasy war game in peace. And at one point, Winona Ryder, according to cyberspace sources, used her real last name — Horowitz — for her computer account. At least that was the rumor. In cyberspace, it's hard to know for sure.

Originally posted Aug 12, 1994 Published in issue #235 Aug 12, 1994 Order article reprints