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The price of celebrity obsession

There are people who stand outside Christina Aguilera's hotel all day, hoping to get a glimpse of her, and there are people who have never heard of Orlando Bloom. Somewhere in the middle are the rest of us -- average people who can admire celebrities without getting arrested. But for a moment, let's embrace voyeurism and turn the camera on the obsessed fans.

Just how much does it cost to be a true fanatic? A quick spin around the Internet reveals that the sky is the limit (and that Bloom's face can be printed on your underwear).

Ben's fans, other than Matt Damon
Ben Affleck's official Web site has been under construction at least since last winter. But fans who want to know how his career is going can check Affleck's Project Green Light or the unofficial fan site BenAffleck.com. But don't expect an unbiased view. This site may gloss over a few of Affleck's current career realities (like the "Gigli" reviews that say watching the film is less preferable to gouging your eyes out). The best part about these Web sites is that they are free to view.

But what's a fan to do when not in front of a computer, denied Affleck related Web graphics? Why, plaster your walls with Affleck posters, of course. Those cost from $16 to $19. Or, for a steeper price, you can adorn your walls with a signed photo ($30 to $50). Are you in need of a more mobile Affleck? His "Daredevil" DVD was recently released. You can buy it for about $20. And just so you don't go for withdrawal on the subway, take a little light reading with you -- "Ben Affleck" of the Galaxy of Superstars series sells for $20.75

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Jenny's block of stuff
Of course, Affleck's biggest fan doesn't have to buy any of his memorabilia -- she's got the real thing. And Jennifer Lopez has fans of her own. If those fans want to drop some cash on their favorite celebrity, J. Lo is more than happy to accommodate them. At Lopez's Web site, fans can purchase her latest CD ($15.98), a poster ($7.95), her signature perfume Glow (3.4 ounces for $50) and clothing from Lopez's line. Dresses run $79 to $98 -- and none are quite as revealing as her getup for the 2000 Grammys. The Web site also has a sign-up for the upcoming J. Lo fan club -- no mention yet if there will be a fee for joining.

Lord of the merchandise
Unlike Lopez, you can't buy anything on Bloom's Web site, but that doesn't mean there's not plenty of Bloom-related merchandise to buy. The "Lord of the Rings" movie spawned its own cult following, and of the fellowship, none has inspired more devotion than Legolas the elf -- played by Bloom. Why is his character so popular? Bloom, currently staring in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," has a theory.

"There's absolutely nothing sexually threatening about an elf," he told Newsweek magazine. That would explain his hoard of preteen female followers. Those who are feeling particularly unthreatened have a plethora of ways to blow cash worshiping Bloom.

While his Web site doesn't sell anything -- it has plenty of free stuff -- mostly tons of pictures to download for free. There's also a free elf test so that you can answer that age-old question, "What kind of elf am I?" And should you want to buy any Bloom products, his site has links to all sorts of Bloom paraphernalia. Posters are $9 to $20, Bloom DVDs are about $18 each and calendars are about $12.

For the slightly odd collectible (or collectors), a Legolas pillowcase is about $13, 12-inch figurines are about $28, a life-sized cardboard Legolas standup is $30 and a silver necklace with a Legolas hologram pendant is $35. And the die-hard fan can keep Orlando close to her, um, heart, with the aforementioned underwear, available on eBay for $12.

Achin' for Aiken
Speaking of die-hard teenage fans, the most-crap-for-sale award goes to teen heartthrob and runner-up American Idol, Clay Aiken. The Web is a playground of Aiken purchases. There's the Achin'4Aiken T-shirt ($18), the glow-in-the-dark T-shirt ($22) which comes with a free, red glow stick (because hey, free glow stick), the Claynadian tote bag ($17), the I Love Clay tile coaster ($7.50) and -- oh, yeah, he's a singer -- a CD of Clay's single "Bridge Over Troubled Water" ($4.49).

Xposed for $X

Moving up the pop-music ladder is a different kind of American idol: Aguilera. Her Web site is as purchase-friendly as Aiken's. Fans can buy CDs ($14), posters ($9) and concert tickets ($42.50 to $65). Hardcore fans will want to join Aguilera's "Xposed" fan club to get a wristband, key chain and preferred seating for concerts ($35).

Keeping in touch
To save money for figurines and posters, the Hollywood obsessed should subscribe to at least one of the Hollywood-scene magazines. There's Movieline ($11.95 for 12 issues), Entertainment Weekly ($38.95 for 56 issues), and US Weekly ($52 for 52 issues). Really devoted fans can track their celebrity's moves across the Atlantic by subscribing to the British magazine Hello! -- but at $241 for 50 issues, they wouldn't really be saving money.

If you want to spend cash on your favorite star but the idea of shucking out hundreds of dollars for tabloid magazines and plastic figurines makes you feel a little fall-of-the-Roman-empire-esque, why not support their favorite charity? Sure, it's not as tangible as a Claymate baseball cap ($16), but you'll be giving your money to someone who actually needs it.

-- Updated: Aug. 5, 2003
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