When I was in high school, I felt sorry for Paula Abdul. She hadn’t had a hit in years. Head Over Heels (possibly her greatest artistic achievement) was a flop and I wondered if the world would ever hear from her again. Obviously we all know how this story ends: Paula boards the American Idol money train and laughs at me all the way to the bank (assuming she knows where she is at the time).
Still, I felt that twinge of pity when I went to PaulaAbdul.com after hearing that Paula has a new album in the works. I wondered what possessed Paula to keep milking American Idol for all it’s worth in such shameless ways—particularly after the country showed little interest in “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow.”
I wasn’t surprised to find Paula hawking fan club memberships for $34.99 on her homepage, but I was a little dismayed that the membership provided a bag of swag that looked like it was assembled from random crap Paula found in her garage: a signed photo, a “personal” letter from Paula, and a tote bag? (For an extra $10, you can get a star-shaped ring that looks like it was purchased with skeeball tickets from the prize counter of a Chuck-E-Cheese.) Then there’s all the crap she’s shilling on the Home Shopping Network, like this blanket with giant buttons and this woodland creature neck brace. Just as I started to sigh and wonder why Paula keeps humiliating herself and selling her soul in $34.99 increments, I thought, “I can work my entire life doing the most lucrative thing I know how to do and I will never be as rich as Paula Abdul.”
But it gets worse. You see, Paula sets the bar far too high. The truth is, despite the fact that I make a respectable salary at my white-collar job, despite my employer’s generous 401K matching, and despite my best efforts to invest wisely, I will probably work for several decades and still not amass the amount of money Melissa Joan Heart was paid for two seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Hell, I probably won’t make as much money this year as Kathy Najimy was paid for her supporting role in Hocus Pocus. I can’t even remember the name of the actress who played Topenga on Boy Meets World, but I can almost guarantee you she has made more money in her lifetime than I have.
It’s easy to make peace with the fact that I’ll never be Olsen-twins rich. Obviously their level of success is one-in-a-billion and I can tell myself that a certain level of fame and fortune comes with many strings attached. However, it’s a little harder to accept that my current net worth might be less than that of the girl who played Kimmy Gibler on Full House.
Maybe it’s just me. Perhaps everyone else is fine with the knowledge that while they’re ordering water to keep their Applebee’s check under control, Mayim Bialik is buying another vacation house with her Blossom royalties. However, I, for one, will not shed another tear for celebs who’ve passed their prime. From this day forward, I won’t worry whether or not Toni Braxton is going to be able to make her mortgage payments. I won’t lose sleep wondering if Gates McFadden has had trouble getting work since Star Trek: The Next Generation went off the air. And I certainly won’t ask God to send Paula Abdul some dignity and a new hit single. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go stuff some tote bags in preparation for the launch of my Frugal Fag Goody Bag collection. They come complete with a letter thanking you for buying the bag, an autographed photo, and a plastic kazoo or equivalent Dollar-Store party favor, e.g., a troll-doll pencil topper or spooky spider ring.