We all have those celebrities or notable figures we’d like to sit down with for a conversation. It would be nice, for instance, to be able to ask a talented musician about their creative process. Or, to find out directly from the source what actually happened in a defining cultural moment. (Petition to Let This Gizmodo Writer Interview Grimes, 2022).
But for those other, more base urges — say when wish you could get a direct play-by-play on a piece of Real Housewives drama — there’s now Cameo Live.
Cameo, the app that already lets you pay celebrities (often D-list), corrupt politicians, athletes, and others(?) to record personalised video messages, is expanding to 10-minute, live video calls. Users won’t just get a pre-recorded message. Instead, they’ll be able to interact with their chosen victim in real-time.
This isn’t the first time that Cameo has introduced the possibility of users talking directly with celebs. There’s already a direct messaging feature (with no guarantee of a response). And last year the company started Cameo Calls, which work on a similar premise, but have a much shorter time limit.
‘Live’ is a big upgrade though. Instead of two minutes face-to-face, you’ll have ten. And users can request calls around their own schedule limitations.
From the platform’s statement on the new feature:
Our newest fan experience – Cameo Live – comes from direct fan and talent feedback for longer video calls, the option to include friends and family, and more flexible scheduling. With the new format, you will now:
● Book the 10-minute live video call with one of the thousands of athletes, actors, musicians, comedians, creators, reality stars and other pop culture personalities available
● Opt for a one-on-one conversation, invite up to nine friends and family members to join you, or gift the call to a loved one
● Propose three date/time options that work best for you, giving you more schedule control than ever before
Gizmodo would be remiss if we didn’t point out that Cameo Live could be ripe for abuse on all sides. It’s hard to imagine a world where this doesn’t lead to targeted harassment of certain celebrities. And, users should be well aware that their privacy is no guarantee.
Cameo spokesperson, Brandon Kazimer, did tell Gizmodo over email that “talent” can decline a Cameo Live call for any reason, leave an ongoing call at anytime, and selectively block users on the platform. Kazimer also claimed that “Cameo uses technology to auto moderate the chat function of Cameo Live to protect against things like profanity and hate speech.” Further, unlike with pre-recorded celeb messages, Live videos won’t be posted to the Cameo website, and screen recording is prohibited and blocked.
But concerns aside, admittedly, it also sounds like fun. (My first reaction to the feature announcement was to ponder aloud to my editors if I could expense a 10 minute, Cameo-based celebrity interview.)
And surprisingly, lots of public figures seem to be on board with Live calls already. There’s hundreds of options listed on the platform’s site, though many of them are…obscure, to put it lightly. But the heavy hitters that are there include Sean Astin, of Samwise Gamgee, Goonies, and Stranger Things fame; Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny in the Harry Potter movies; as well as actors from The Office and Star Trek. There’s also, uh, Tomi Lahren and Chris D’Elia if you wanna ask some tough questions.
Generally, the more likely you are to want to talk to the person, the more expensive setting up a live call will be. (Lookin’ at you, $US750 ($1,041) Tony Hawk meet-and-greet and $US2,000 ($2,776) Leslie David Baker chat.) But, on a quick scan, most calls seem to run a $US100 ($139)-$US400 ($555). Kazimer told Gizmodo that pricing is up to each person making themselves available on the platform, but that Live videos will typically be priced higher than standard shout-outs.
Notably, Cameo enacted widescale lay-offs earlier this year, cutting a quarter of its staff. Cameo Live seems to be the company’s first big move since — and is part of the platform’s effort to reinvent itself. “Cameo Live is just one component of what we’re calling Cameo 2.0 – the next chapter in our mission to create a full-service technology platform enabling the most personalised and authentic fan experiences on earth,” wrote the company in their statement.
So, fingers crossed it works, and Cameo sticks around long enough for me to save up $1,200 to blow on a call with Paul F. Tompkins.
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