Cameo, a cool app and website that allows celebrities to give you a quick video message for a nominal fee, has risen in popularity over the past year. During the coronavirus pandemic, many celebrities headed to Cameo to raise money for various charities, or to even help make a quick buck during a downturn in the economy. Poker pros have popped up on Cameo including Phil Hellmuth, Joe Hachem, Antonio Esfandiari, Jonathan Little, Jeff Gross, and Mike 'The Mouth' Matusow.
We live in a celebrity-obsessed culture, so it makes total sense that a startup like Cameo would totally crush it after the video messaging app entered the scene a couple years ago. It seemed like a half-baked joke about trying to hire a celebrity to wish your friend a happy birthday came to a reality.
Thanks to the ease of the app and advances in technology, celebrities could engage with everyday fans with a quick video. Welcome to the gig lifestyle hustler, when everyone's just shilling something. In Cameo's case, it's celebrities selling a little bit of their time to record a quick message for a fee of course.
Some celebrities donate their Cameo funds to worthy causes. Many others use it as a way to raise awareness for a specific charity (Busy Philipps, Debbie Gibson, Terrell Owens are the charitable celebs on Cameo come to mind that stepped up at the start of the pandemic).
Some celebs are straight up narcissists that love being loved... especially for money. Other celebs are just cool folks that would not blink twice to say happy birthday to your mum for free. But if you gonna pay me $35, that's great too.
Seriously, a buck is a buck. There's no shame in getting paid in this gig economy, especially during the pandemic. Actor Michael Rapaport said he was able to pay for his daughter's school tuition for doing funny shoutouts to fans and he didn't even have to leave his own house or put on pants.
Then again, there's no shortage over-the-hill celebrities, fringe famous, Z-listers, and ex-athletes who fell on hard times and could use the cash and exposure.
In the end, sometimes a birthday shoutout from a celeb is just a quirky present. It's a cool way to make a good impression. It's something different and way more personal than a generic card. And if they're a super fan of a specific TV show or sports team, getting a shout out could make someone year. It's even funnier if a random celeb utters a random inside joke or catch phrase that's only funny to you and your friends and family.
In the case of the dude from Sugar Ray, someone hired him to break up with their boyfriend. It sounded like a joke, but it legit happened.
Of course, it was only a matter of time before members of the poker world entered the Cameo world. I was shocked to not see Daniel Negreanu among those in the mix. I guess Kid Poker is too famous and gregarious and he'd be holed up in his Vegas mansion giving birthday greetings and cheering up down and out gamblers with a tinge of Canadian sincerity and a lot of Negreanu schtick.
On the plus side, there's the Poker Brat and Mike the Mouth! Yes, you can hire Phil Hellmuth or Mike Matusow to give birthday shoutouts, bar mitzvah congrats, or other random poker rants. I wonder if Hellmuth gives Matusow guff because the Poker Brat's time is worth more ($200 per Cameo) than the Mouth (at $25 per Cameo)?
You can also find Norman Chad for $60. Yes, the funny-man commentator from the WSOP on ESPN will provide his services for any sort of greeting. I hear he does vasectomies and bris' too. Former WSOP Main Event champion and Australian pro, Joe Hachem, can give you the Aussie chant for $40.
Antonio Esfandiari will give your loved ones a special Cameo for $250. I dunno if magic tricks are included.
Chad Power went deep in the Main Event a couple years ago and the DC pro and cash game specialist most known as the guy who got stuck some cash staking Cate Hall before she decided to quit after serious burnout. Power cost $1,000 for his premier Cameo services.
Jeff Gross, a well-known pro and stream, cost only $20. Jonathan Little, who penned one of my favorite poker books, can be hired for a modest price.
Model Danielle Ruiz, and WPT host, is one of the few women that you can find in the limited poker section. Mimi Rodgers is poker adjacent and listed in the "poker" section on Cameo. The actress, who was once married to Tom Cruise, played a lot of poker back in the early days of celebrity poker.