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The Depressing World of the Professional Autograph Signer

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Collecting autographs from your favorite stars is good fun when you're a kid, but it gets kind of depressing—if not downright creepy—when full-grown adults start doing it. Slate confirms as much with their video about the sad, sad goings-on at a professional autograph convention at a Marriott in Burbank, California.

It's hard to tell who to feel worse for: the autograph seekers (says one: "You feel like you know these people, which makes it strange walking up to 'em cause they've never seen you before") or the erstwhile "celebrities" they are there to see. (A sampling: Ami Dolenz, daughter of the Monkees member Micky Dolenz and star of such films as Pumpkin Head II: Blood Wings; "The Incredible Hulk's Lou Ferrigno; Brad Kesten, best known as the guy who voiced of Charlie Brown in the 80s cartoon.) Probably the celebs: for $20-$30 bucks an autograph/photo op, they have to endure being asked the same painful questions, over and over and over, just to keep their public personas alive long enough for the off chance that they'll ever land real gigs again. "I really wanna get back in the business," says Kesten. His pain is clearly evident in the clip, above.

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