I took a picture of this Andy Warhol inspired painting at that free party at the De Young museum on Friday night.
Back in the 90s, before twitter, facebook, wordpress, and all of the electronic social networking that exists today, Frank Chu was making a name for himself as being one of the more eccentric people in this city. When I was working in the Finical District I would see Frank march downtown several times a week. The guy also never misses a photo opt. If there’s ever any kind of interesting free outdoor event going on in the Bay Area chances are Frank will be there, just walking the earth like Kane in Kung-Fu.
San Francisco has always had a soft spot for eccentric crazy types. San Francisco took care of Emperor Norton and it takes care of Frank Chu. San Francisco gives Frank free food, named one of her short-lived bars after him, and made a bitching wikipedia page for him. Ultimately though it’s also turned Frank into the most recognizable local Internet celebrity. By far.
That’s what strikes me as the oddest thing about Frank Chu, the idea of self-fulfilling prophecies. Frank’s original beef was that he believed that he was secretly being filmed as part of a reality TV show that was being broadcast in the 12 Galaxies. He wasn’t upset so much about being filmed, but was pissed that then President Clinton was conspiring with the 12 Galaxies to withhold his royalty paychecks. Frank Chu wants to get paid.
But now, after some 19 years of protesting, Frank Chu has become a celebrity, probably the biggest and most photographed non-elected Bay Area resident on the web. People dress up as Frank for Halloween or Bay to Breakers , politicans pay to advertise on the back of his signs, and some raver made a Frank Chu float at Love Fest last year and made Frank Chu the Grand Marshall!
Hell, someone just made a Frank Chu Sign generator page a few days ago.
Whether intentional or not, he’s created this persona and brand identity that, thanks to the Internet, has taken off like wildfire.
So who is the crazy person in this scenario?
The guy walking around claiming that he is an intergalactic reality TV star or all of us that turned that guy into the biggest Bay Area Internet celebrity of the 21st century?
It’s something to think about…