Flip through Jordan McAuley's Contact Any Celebrity and you will see its pages virtually replicate what you would find in any city phonebook -- with one significant exception. All listings in this directory are for public figures and celebrities. According to its publishers, this book is a critical tool for anyone looking to contact celebrities in search of fan club information, autographed photographs and memorabilia, items for charity auctions, and book endorsements.
Other than the address entries, the written text is limited to a one page advertisement that directs you to the company’s website (contactanycelebrity.com). The website includes testimonials from satisfied customers who have utilized the directory and received favorable results. The site also offers other paid services, such as a fully searchable database with a money-back guarantee for any inaccurate or outdated contact information.
At first glance, I felt a bit hesitant about contacting public figures at their homes. Although these celebrities are in the public eye, there is something unsettling about sending letters to complete strangers at their homes. However, upon further scrutiny, I noticed that quite a few of the addresses are those of the more well established New York and Los Angeles talent agencies. The company’s website further eased my discomfort with its confirmation that the many of the directory listings were for talent agents, business managers, or designated representatives and, more importantly, that home addresses were only included with the consent of the public figure.
Since the book’s publishers make numerous claims, I decided to put the directory to the test. First, I asked ten friends and colleagues to select the name of a celebrity or public figure. The directory delivered: it included contact addresses for ten out of the ten people my colleagues selected. (One colleague even selected Saddam Hussein and, after discovering that there was, in fact, a contact list provided, decided to opt for a different public figure).
From there, I wrote ten simple notes. In each, I explained I was a big fan of the work of each public figure and requested an autographed picture to be used in an upcoming charity auction (my intent was to donate anything I received to charity). With letters addressed to John Cusack, Reese Witherspoon, Anna Nicole-Smith, Florence Henderson, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Lynda Carter, Gloria Gaynor, Carrot Top, Keri Strug, and Matt LeBlanc, I headed to the post office. Its been more than ten weeks since I mailed my requests -- the publishers do insist that letter writers be patient -- and I have obtained autographed pictures of Cuba Gooding, Jr., Florence Henderson, and the entire Brady family. My letter to Keri Strug was returned to me, indicating that the address was invalid.
Although a twenty percent rate of return did not seem like a particularly favorable result, I learned that in the realm of charitable contribution requests, this is not necessarily a bad record. The book also provided some entertainment value in addition to the two favorable responses I received. On numerous occasions, my colleagues and I would peruse the directory, talking about the times when certain people were famous and, in many cases, the actions they undertook to achieve such fame. It certainly provided for some interesting conversations, and, if the autographed photographs (or any items I eventually receive) do raise some money for charity, then it’s certainly worth the investment.