Last week, a viral video made the rounds online in which Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, hired via the website Cameo, delivers a message to a young man named Bradyn. “This is Mark McGrath from the band Sugar Ray—off the charts but always in your hearts,” the self-aware front man says, before explaining the purpose of his video message, contracted via a website that allows users to pay stars a fee in exchange for a short personal video. “This Cameo was booked by Cheyenne, and she wants you to know a few things. This is a little difficult for me to say, because it’s the first one of these I’ve done. But she wants you to know that you mean a lot to her—you mean the world to her—but she’s having difficulty staying in this long-distance relationship.” Over the next 90 seconds, McGrath waxes on about the challenges of long-distance relationships and the future prospects that exist for Bradyn outside of his romance with Cheyenne.
The video went viral for a few reasons: McGrath is a good sport, his tone is jovial but warm, and, most important, who hires a former nineties pop star to break up with somebody? Of course, it was specifically intended to do that. The internet later learned that Bradyn and Cheyenne weren’t a real couple, but rather part of a stunt from Twitter user @SeanAppalled. (He also hired short-lived Trump staffer Anthony Scaramucci to do a follow-up video, proving there’s no joke that can’t be ruined by letting it go on too long.)
— hunter malik shabazz (@SeanAppalled) November 16, 2019
Thanks for reading Texas Monthly
Still, if the whole thing was a way to let people know that Cameo exists, it worked. And looking over the list of celebrities who offer their message-delivery services via the app, one thing struck us: there’s a lotta Texans on there. To give you a starting place in hiring a famous Texan to deliver a message for you, we’ve created this guide to the ten types of celebrities you meet on Cameo.
Genuine Stars Who We’re Not Sure Why They’re Doing This
Example: Troy Aikman
Rate: $500 (all rates per message)
Why You’d Pay For It: Troy Aikman is an icon. Basically, 100 percent of Dallas Cowboys fans know who he is and love him like he is a member of their own family.
Previous Cameos: Most of the Cowboys legend’s videos are like the others on Cameo (which allows anybody to watch the videos its users pay for)—a brief birthday wish, usually for a birthday that ends in a 0 or a 5.
Recommended Message: At $500 a pop, a quick greeting from the QB and broadcaster is definitely a “what do you get the person who has everything?” sort of gift. If you’ve got the cash to value Troy Aikman’s time at $30,000 an hour, then sure, go nuts with it. Aikman’s a nice enough guy to visit a 100-year-old woman on her birthday, but even if meemaw isn’t celebrating that kind of milestone, you still can hire him to pop in and, in a calm and stentorian voice, lend some star power to the day from a beloved figure.
Celebrities Who Know Their Appeal Is Mostly Ironic
Example: Riff Raff
Why You’d Pay For It: When Riff Raff’s debut studio album, Neon Icon, debuted at number 22 on the Billboard charts in 2014, genuine superstars like Childish Gambino and Katy Perry sought out the Houston rapper as a collaborator. Five years ago was a wild time! Since then, his star has fallen quite a bit (in no small part because of legal troubles, including a sexual assault charge). His third and fourth albums, both released this year, failed to chart, and his television and film career has slowed to a crawl, as well. All of which is to say that if you wanted a rapping verse from Riff Raff five years ago, you’d better be prepared to pay handsomely for it, but if you want one now, it’s $100.
Previous Messages: Um, it’s hard to say? Mostly if you hire Riff Raff for a Cameo, he will ramble for a minute over a beat, saying your name and talking about nothing much in particular with the occasional rhyme thrown in.
Recommended Message: Are you a frat dude who graduated five years ago, are planning a reunion with your bros, and want them to be like, “Oh yeah, that guy!” when they see Riff Raff refer to himself as “Dale Dan Tony” while he raps an invite? This is your opportunity.
Former Stars Who Could Use the Cash
Example: Mike Jones
Why You’d Pay For It: There weren’t many rappers more important to the mid-aughts hip-hop landscape than Mike Jones, but financial issues with his former label forced him out of the game for an extended stretch. (His last studio album, The Voice, was released in 2009, and its follow-up, Where Is Mike Jones?, has been promised for more than half a decade.) But “Still Tippin'” is eternal.
Previous Messages: Reading between the lines, it seems like things might be a little tight for Mike Jones these days, as he’s willing to make videos for many disparate causes—in addition to the usual birthday greetings, Jones will spread a message of good cheer to celebrate childbirths and weddings.
Recommended Message: As one enterprising Cameo user figured out, Jones’s video services extend to advertising. Need an endorsement for your auto detailing shop? Mike Jones will be happy to give you one for a hundred bucks.
Rising Up-and-Comers Who Seem to Really Like Making These
Example: Todrick Hall
Why You’d Pay For It: Plainview native Todrick Hall is a rising success story—going from YouTube to reality TV to Broadway and the Billboard charts—and he’s still on his ascent. However, if you want a few minutes of his time, it comes cheap at $50.
Previous Messages: Hall’s videos are very short—less than thirty seconds, most of the time—and, as befits his persona as a human ray of sunshine, most folks seem to hire him to send brief messages of encouragement to friends and family members.
Recommended Message: There’s no shortage of things a person might need some encouragement about, and Hall would be a great voice for any of them! Got a big track meet coming up? Taking your first ballroom dance class? Getting ready to put a carburetor in that 1973 Mustang you’ve been tinkering with? We can only assume that Todrick Hall would be absolutely delighted to tell you that you’re going to do great at whatever you’re preparing for.
Niche Figures Who Can Make a Little Extra Money Selling Videos to Their Most Passionate Fans
Example: Barbara Dunkelman
Why You’d Pay For It: Dunkelman, a voice actor and personality who works mostly with Austin-based studio Rooster Teeth, isn’t the kind of celebrity who goes to the supermarket and is stopped for autographs every fifteen feet. But Rooster Teeth has a passionate fan base, and those fans can get a little attention from her for a pretty reasonable thirty bucks.
Previous Messages: A bunch of the messages Dunkelman has been hired for seem to come from the person being greeted, who decided to spend $30 on a little pick-me-up message from the same person who voices the character of Yang on the animated series RWBY.
Recommended Message: Why mess with what works? If you’d like to have someone pleasantly thank you for being a fan of their work, and you’re one of the 16,000,000 Rooster Teeth fans out there, Dunkelman’s available.
Niche Figures Who Can Make a Lot of Extra Money Selling Videos to Their Most Passionate Fans
Example: Alyssa Edwards
Why You’d Pay For It: Alyssa Edwards, from Mesquite, is one of the bigger stars to emerge from the empire that is RuPaul‘s Drag Race, competing on both the show’s fifth season and the second season of the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars spinoff. While Edwards isn’t quite a household name (either under her drag queen nom de stage or her given name, Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson), she’s enough of a star in the drag community that she can charge $150 for a 30-second video.
Previous Messages: Most messages from Edwards are either birthday greetings or messages Edwards sends to fans in cities where she’s currently on tour.
Recommended Message: Given that Edwards’s messages do run on the expensive side (which is fair, given the amount of time and effort it takes a drag queen to get camera-ready!), it might be a good idea to make sure you’re amplifying the star’s flair for the dramatic. Getting married? Having a baby? Why not ask Edwards to deliver a video save-the-date or birth announcement with a flourish?
Porn Stars Who Don’t Want to Leave the House Today
Example: Alexis Texas
Why You’d Pay For It: Adult film actress Alexis Texas isn’t just a Texan in name. The woman whose posterior has been honored in eight (8) different industry awards is also a Castroville native.
Previous Messages: Texas greets those who contract her services on Cameo with a note that “it’s your favorite big booty” before offering them whatever well-wishes have been asked of her—someone hired her to cheer on the Texas State football team in their August matchup against Texas A&M (the Bobcats lost 41-7).
Recommended Message: There’s probably a robust market for hiring Alexis Texas to announce a bachelor party or something, but why stop there? In addition to being a performer, she’s also a director, which suggests that she’s capable of gravity when required. Hire her to read your will or something.
Active Pro Athletes Who Aren’t Quite Stars Yet
Example: Keke Coutee
Why You’d Pay For It: Keke Coutee is a promising young player for the Houston Texans (and a former Red Raider) who clearly believes in his own value—the one video he’s done for the site thus far is a brief sixteen-second note.
Previous Messages: In that one message, he greets a fan on his thirtieth birthday.
Recommended Message: While Coutee hasn’t found a role on the Texans’ offense in 2019, his NFL debut was a stunning 11-reception, 109-yard performance. If he recovers that form late in the season, and you have him on your fantasy team, it’d be a legendary example of trash talk to hire his services to get him to send a “sorry for destroying your team” message to a vanquished fantasy football rival.
Retired Legends Who Don’t Quite Know Their Worth on the Personal Video Market
Example: Pudge Rodriguez
Why You’d Pay For It: The legendary Texas Rangers catcher is an iconic Hall of Fame player, yet he charges a fraction of what other athletes in his position ask for a brief message: the likes of Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mariano Rivera, and Brian Urlacher all start at $500 and go up from there. Rodriguez, though, asks for just $150 for his time—that’s “disgraced former star” or “washed up pro wrestler” money, not somebody with 1,300 RBIs and 311 home runs.
Previous Messages: He’s done a bunch, but the best use of his time was probably exemplified by the young man’s parents who hired him to reassure their son that the new Rangers ballpark in Arlington was going to be really nice. The steady presence he offered behind the plate shines through in his videos—in another one, a law student’s classmates hired Rodriguez to wish him luck on a test. “Everything’s going to be fine,” Rodriguez tells him. “There’s nothing to be nervous about. Everything is going to be great.”
Recommended Message: Rodriguez seems to enjoy doing these, and it’s hard to think of a situation that wouldn’t be improved after a few words of encouragement from the Hall of Famer. Expecting a kid? “You’re going to be a great mom,” we can imagine Rodriguez saying. Going under the knife for surgery? “This is just a routine procedure,” he’d probably say, “You have the best doctors in the world looking after you.” Honestly, we feel better just thinking about it.
Example: Aaron Watson
Why You’d Pay For It: Amarillo native and Abilene Christian alum Aaron Watson took the long route to success in country music, which culminated in the 2015 release of his thirteenth album, The Underdog, reaching number one on the Billboard country chart, and his following in Texas is strong as ever.
Previous Messages: You don’t get the kind of longevity Watson has enjoyed without knowing how to make a buck when things are lean, which is probably why Watson offers endorsements via Cameo, filming ads for commercial products (“Hey everybody, Aaron Watson here, and I want to give a shout-out to Cody Watson and his bow-hunting company”) and community organizations alike (“Huntsville, Texas, and surrounding communities, Aaron Watson here, and I just wanted to invite all of you to Huntsville Church of Christ for Christmas”), reciting slogans and website URLs as though they’re stamped onto his heart.
Recommended Message: Do you have a product to sell? Is your “celebrity endorsement” budget set at just under $50? Watson is your guy.