Almost famous! Student hired own bodyguards, paparazzi and entourage and pranked New York into believing he was a world-famous celebrityStudent Brett Cohen”s 15-minutes of fame was intending to be a social experiment into the public”s fascination with celebritySpent three hours in New York”s Times Square taking three hundred pictures with members of the public who believed that he was a famous actor or singerNever once told people he was famous – only relied on his team to keep saying his nameIronically the New York student is now experiencing slight fame because of his stunt
One average, normal guy conjured instant celebrity for himself in New York”s Times Square by hiring fake bodyguards, paparazzi and an entourage to follow him round the streets of the Big Apple.
Fooling the notoriously savvy natives into believing that he was indeed famous, 21-year-old student Brett Cohen caused a 300 person pile up at “The Cross Roads of The World” as he posed for photographs with groups of giggling girls.
The slightly disturbing prank was conducted to expose the public”s fascination with celebrity and members of the public tripped over themselves to get a peek and a picture with the man at the centre of attention for all the flashing paparazzi”s cameras.
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Creating a buzz: Brett Cohen is just about to exit the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center and begin his social experiment
Beginning outside NBC”s studios at the Rockefeller Center on July 27th, SUNY New Paltz student Brett Cohen left the famous “30 Rock” building accompanied by two bodyguards he had hired on Craigslist, three cameramen and four photographers.
According to the plan, which was cooked up by Cohen and his friend, Edward Strum, 23, the photographers and members of the entourage would start talking about “Brett Cohen” being inside NBC”s studios, to create a buzz among passers-by.
Exiting the venerable studios to the strobing of photographers flashes, Cohen stands outside as the crowd of people begins to grow.
He then begins to make his way across the city towards the jumbotrons and neon lights of Times Square.
As Brett Cohen (visible centre) appears outside, his hired paparazzi begin to take photographs which attract the attention of a large crowd
All smiles: Brett Cohen with his two fake bodyguards is followed up Manhattan as he makes his way to the iconic Times Square
“It was a social experiment,” said Cohen to ABC News.
“It confirms the theory of how our culture is so obsessed with celebrity and fame.”
As he makes his way through the centre of Manhattan, Cohen is stopped by screaming girls all wondering who he is, but more importantly not caring as they cosy-up for pictures with the “celebrity”.
When asked if he knows Brett Cohen, one man claims to have heard his new single which he thinks is quite good.
Another man is convinced that Cohen is going to be the “next bog thing”.
“I think he”s excellent, I think he”s gonna be awesome, I think he”s got a great future in the movie business,” said the enthusiastic man.
“I just took a picture with him, I feel special.”
As soon as Cohen and his entourage reach Times Square girls flock to him – attracted by the attention lavished on him by the paparazzi and his assumed celebrity
The pressures of fame: A girl in Times Square beams as she has her picture taken with Brett Cohen (left) while another fan poses with the student (right)
What film were you in again Another group of girls requests a picture with Cohen
However, it is the adulation that Cohen receives from girls that really catches the eye as he parades around Times Square.
A gaggle of giggling teenagers are asked what they think of him: “Amazing, I love him,” said one girl, while another openly screams out “Can I just say that he”s beautiful.”
The video opens with Cohen walking around Times Square in just a T-shirt and shorts looking every inch a normal person.
“My whole life, I”ve always wondered what it would be like to be famous,” explains Cohen in a voiceover.
One man (left) feels special to have seen the “movie star” Cohen – while another (right) believes that he has heard the student”s latest single
The adulation begins to overwhelm Cohen as his bodyguards take charge of the situation
With his team of 15 hired hands, Cohen experienced first hand the adulation and attention that Lady GaGa and Justin Bieber deal with on a daily basis.
“I had photographers follow me around and act as paparazzi,” said Cohen.
“There were 15 people in total that were actually in on it. No planted fans or anything like that. Everything you see in the video is completely real.
“I had to pretend like all of this was normal. That was one of the hardest parts.
“And plus smiling for all those pictures, I took around 300 pictures.
“Some people kept coming up to me again and again. My face really hurt by the end of it. I thought my face was going to freeze in that smile.”
Spending three hours in Times Square, Cohen became nervous that the large crowd of people who had gathered to see the commotion would attract the attention of the NYPD.
Eventually after three hours, Cohen ends his experiment – leaving behind his entourage and team to become just another average person
“We were nervous police would get involved because why would a celebrity just walk through Times Square like that” said Cohen.
“Two cops walked up to me and I was so nervous, but they just asked if they could take a picture.”
Eventually though, Cohen decided that his social experiment had gone far enough.
Despite not one person in his team actually saying that he was famous, Cohen felt it was time to give them the slip.
“It was really hard to end the shoot. How the hell do you stop when there’s so many people following you” said Cohen.
“We actually had to walk away from Times Square and into a small hotel.
Earlier in the day, Cohen had scouted out Times Square to see how his prank might play out
“One of my bouncers blocked off the door to the bar to keep the public from going in.
“It was the only way we were able to stop it.”
And now ironically, Cohen is himself a little famous because of his stunt, but was modest when asked about the hordes of women who lavished him with attention that night.
“No, I have a girlfriend. I am very loyal,” said Cohen.