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USA - People

So just who was Angelyne ?

Angelyne - the celeb who was famous for... being famous

Angelyne - © copyright Linguapress
        If you have ever been to Los Angeles, you may have seen her: probably not in the flesh – she does not spend all her time on Hollywood Boulevard – but at least you may have seen her image, looking down at you from some billboard or mural. And you maybe wondered who she is, or who she was. The answer is often written on the billboard or the mural; she is "Angelyne".

             But who, you may have asked, is or was Angelyne? Who is this ravishing blonde in the pink pants or the pink skirt? Is she or was she a filmstar or a rock singer, a real-life Barbie-doll, or what? The answer to all of these questions is “no"; Angelyne, in short, is just Angelyne. As her name implies, she is the ultimate Angeleno, a symbol of the great city city where dreams are made, a woman who is famous for no other reason than for being famous. A celeb.

      To all intents and purposes, she is a pure creation of the advertizing culture - not to say the self-advertizing culture, for which the Californian metropolis is so famous. Many Angelenos say that Angelyne is not a real person at all. Perhaps they are right; it probably depends a lot on Angelenos’ varying perceptions of “reality". Yet someone answering to the name of Angelyne certainly exists, or existed; whether this someone is one person, a collection of people, or just a fictitious creation of a clever celebrity-manager is a matter for speculation .
       Although she has been called Los Angeles’ equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster, Angelyne does or did exist; someone calling herself Angelyne (no surname indicated) acted - or at least took a very minor part - in three relatively obscure movies between 1988 and 1989, Earth Girls are Easy, Homer and Eddie and Dangerous Love. The Internet Movie Database notes that this actress’s profession is “model" and her birthdate “1958"; but the IMD “biography" page for Angelyne is strangely blank. It is perhaps worth noting that the three movie roles actually came five years after her image had first begun to grace billboards and murals around L.A..
          So the real question about Angelyne is this. Which came first ? The image on the billboards, or the person who claims to be Angelyne? Is the image based on the person called Angelyne? Of is the person who calls herself Angelyne just someone who looks like the image?

       The person who claims to be Angelyne says that she is younger than the age attributed to her by the IMD; in a 1996 interview (conducted by telephone, not face-to-face) with New York Times journalist Carey Goldberg, Angelyne maintained that she was just 19 years old when the first Angelyne billboards went up in L.A., in 1984. That would make her 56 today, in 2021... still pretty young by Hollywood star standards.

           Angelyne’s youth has been hotly contested by many of those who claim to have seen her in the flesh. Needless to say, there are now several Internet sites, including an official Facebook page, devoted to this elusive female, including one which invites surfers to report any sightings they may have made of Angelyne. “She was no spring chicken ", noted Scott Stanley, who claims to have met her in a Hollywood grocery store. “Fairly geriatric," said another. “It was humorous as I looked and noted how hard she was trying to maintain her youth, which is obviously non-existent," wrote a surfer called Mario.

        In the end, the question “How old is Angelyne?" could easily become the L.A. equivalent of the old “How long is a piece of string?" Alternatively, you could adapt a famous quip once made about Richard Nixon; “She was 33 when she was born."

   In her New York Times interview, Angelyne claimed to have been born in Idaho, and to have come to Los Angeles as a teenager to seek her fortune. She said she began life as a singer in a punk-rock band, before becoming a “model". As for the question that many people have wanted to ask Angelyne, “What do you really do in life?", Angelyne’s answer is simple. “I don’t do; I am."

   That of course is not true. Angelyne may not do much, but she does do some things. For instance, she will show up at celebrity parties and other functions - only celebrity events; but then given the price she charges, $8,228 per day, it is unlikely that anyone other than a celebrity would want to invite her along! Her image has also been used in several advertizing campaigns; and though many of these have been local, Angelyne has looked down from advertizing billboards as far away as Germany.
  In 1998, she featured all over LA in advertisements promoting a new Chevrolet Corvette. Of all her advertizing campaigns, this is doubtless the classic example. For many years now, the image of Angelyne has been associated with Chevrolet’s classic sports car, and indeed in a city full of wannabee Marilyn Monroes and Jayne Mansfield lookalikes, it is the pink Corvette that has become the distinguishing feature of the “real life" Angelyne. It is the single common denominator that runs through the majority of claimed sightings of the elusive lady reported on the Internet site; to the disbelieving (and that includes a large number of Angelenos), it might be enough to convince you that all you need to tranform Angelyne from myth into reality is a shapely blonde and a pink Corvette.  As hype goes, it is a brilliant concept; and one has to take one's hat off to her "manager", Scott Hennig, who has done what no other celebrity manager has done, namely to create a legendary star out of little more than nothing! To make a person of dubious identity famous simply for being famous!

   Where else could it happen but in L.A.?

billboard: big sign, advertizement - mural : picture painted on a wall - ravishing: very beautiful - Angelino : inhabitant of Los Angeles -  to all intents and purposes: generally speaking - a matter for speculation : somthing about which we can only speculate or make suggestions - surname: family name - to grace: to appear on - needless to say: evidently - elusive : difficult to find - no spring chicken: not young - quip: short humorous statement - wannabee: potential (want to be) - feature: mark - common denominator: common element, common quality -  hype: promotional exaggeration -

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Grammar and Exercises:

Select the nearest equivalent to the following words as used in the article, from among the alternatives suggested:

  1. obscure: old, dark, not well known
  2. blank: empty, white, informative.
  3. actually: now, soon, in fact.
  4. in the flesh: with no clothes on, in a theater,  in real life.
  5. seek: look for, spend, invest.
  6. for instance: very quickly, for example, for now.
  7. geriatric : young, old, pretty
  8. unlikely: unpleasant, dissimilar, improbable.
  9. single: one, easy, first.
  10. namely : with a name ,  easily,  which is

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Advanced level English resource

Readability - Advanced.

Flesch-Kincaid grading:
Grade level: 9
Reading ease level:  62
CEF level: B2
IELTS Level  5 - 6

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Online English grammar
Nouns in English
Word order in English
Reported questions in English
Language and style 
Themed crosswords for EFL
The short story of English

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Originally published in Spectrum magazine.

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