Chuck Norris fixes his camera and stares straight ahead. “One time, Chris Fox tried to punch me,” drawls the action movie legend, in his trademark baritone. “It felt like a cool breeze on a summer’s day. Your kids wanted to tell you you’re a great dad… Happy Father’s Day!”
Norris’s film work dried up a decade ago and his most lucrative commercial deal nowadays is with a gun manufacturer. But there is one place he finds a consistent audience – Cameo, a website that enables the public to pay for personalised messages from the great and good. And so, for £337, the star of Lone Wolf McQuade and Missing In Action will toast a loved one’s birthday or commiserate a friend who’s lost their job.
Founded in 2017, Cameo has captured the zeitgeist during coronavirus as consumers, starved of real-world experiences, seek out a piece of virtual celebrity stardust. There are more than 30,000 famous faces on the platform; by mid-2020, they had recorded one million messages ranging from cheery 10-second greetings to heartfelt vocal performances.