The Sideshow

Where are they now? Catching up with four Internet stars

The Sideshow

Fame has always been fleeting. But in the age of the Internet, a person's 15 minutes never really ends. It just gets cached. Yahoo News caught up with four Web celebs from times past to see what they're up to and how their sudden burst of fame changed their lives.

Michelle Jenneke

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Michelle Jenneke (photo courtesy of Michelle Jenneke)

Perhaps no Web celeb's star rose more quickly than Michelle Jenneke's. The Australian hurdler's warmup routine turned her into a viral sensation in 2012. Jenneke, who is currently studying mechatronic engineering at the University of Sydney, told Yahoo News that she was on holiday in Europe when she heard the clip had gone viral.

"The video had about 60,000 hits at that stage and I just thought, 'Wow that's a lot, that could fill a stadium,'" she told Yahoo News by email. The clip now has more than 24 million views.

She said she was surprised the clip became so popular.

"I actually found it quite funny. ... I have had been doing a similar 'warm-up dance' since nationals in 2009 so it wasn't something new, which made it suddenly going viral more amusing to me."

Jenneke said reaction to the video has been both positive and negative.

"I am actually quite a private person, so I am not a big fan of being a 'celebrity.' But on the other hand I enjoy the opportunities it has given me and I enjoy making people smile, so as long as it doesn't encroach on my private life, I am happy to play along," she said.

Despite saying she's not seeking fame, Jenneke did pose in the 2013 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. She is hoping to compete in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow next year.

Here's the video that started it all...

Bear Vasquez

Then there's Bear Vasquez, whose video of the "so intense" double rainbow went viral in 2010. Vasquez told Yahoo News that, jokes aside, his rainbow-viewing experience was truly sacred.

"I'm understanding that I'm in the presence of God. That's what the video is," he explained.

He'd filmed hundreds of videos before, but he knew the double rainbow was going to be big.

"I've been making videos since the '80s; it's my art," Vasquez, who lives in California near Yosemite National Park, told Yahoo News. "When the double rainbow went viral, I had 200 videos on YouTube. When I shot it, I instantly knew that that was what was going to happen. And I uploaded it that day, and I said to everyone I know, 'Send this to everyone you know, this is going to be a viral video.'"

Vasquez was right. A few months later, Jimmy Kimmel called out the clip on his show, and Vasquez was suddenly famous. He said he was asked to put ads at the beginning of the video, but he refused.

Still, the video and fame it brought Vasquez did lead to opportunities, including an advertisement for Microsoft. "I fixed my teeth. I fixed my car. I put money into my land. I don't like to travel. The only time I go anywhere is when I'm hosted by someone who wants me there. So any money that I get goes into my land so that more people can enjoy it," he told Yahoo News.

Elyse Porterfield

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Elyse Porterfield (photo courtesy Elyse Porterfield)

For a few days in 2010, everybody wanted to know about "Jenny," the woman who quit her job via whiteboard. The Chive hosted a series of selfies of Porterfield supposedly telling her Farmville-addicted boss to take this job and shove it.

It was good entertainment, but Porterfield's epic exit from the workplace was all a hoax. These days, the model and actress lives and works in Colorado.

"I auditioned for the white board thing. I went in for and got the part," she told Yahoo News. "I wasn't even sure what it was for. They just had me hold up a white board with my name on it, because they were being all secretive about it. And when I got it, they called me and told me what it was and I was pretty excited."

Porterfield said she's still recognized in public and at auditions. "I'll still get new Facebook friends or Twitter followers who say, 'Oh my gosh I saw this, that's so cool.' This has really opened up a lot of doors and a lot opportunities for me professionally and personally."

Porterfield said she was able to snag a commercial for Secret deodorant and American Family Insurance because of the video.

"Whenever I'm emailing somebody new, like when I was looking for an agent, to have that to my name and say, 'Hey Google my name and check this out.' So then for them to see that, they get that 'she's got talent, she's marketable, people know who she is.'"

Kung Fu Grandpa

Finally, there's Tom Bell, better known as Kung Fu Grandpa. A few years back, Bell was practicing with his nunchaku in an almost empty parking lot in Richmond, Va., close to where he lives.

Unknown to Bell, Aamon R. Miller, a reverend with a wicked sense of humor, was recording his martial arts moves and issuing commentary along the way. The clip hit the Web, and things took off.

Bell's world has definitely changed. "It's been pretty strange," he told Yahoo News. "I got me a bunch of Kung Fu Grandpa shirts, so I wear them a lot. I take pictures with everybody, all the kids and everything. They love it. I just take a lot of pictures and try to do whatever I can with children's hospitals and things like that."

 

Bell explained that he'd studied karate when he was younger, but a bad car accident in his 20s forced him to quit. Decades later, his interest in martial arts was renewed when he found an old pair of wooden nunchaku in his mother's home. He began practicing but every time he would toss them, he said, he'd end up with a knot on his head.

"My fiancee bought me some padded ones. Once I picked 'em up I never put 'em down. They really occupied my time. I find myself playing with them 15 hours a day almost," he told Yahoo News.

Bell is set to tie the knot on Valentine's Day. He and his fiancee will honeymoon in Jamaica.

And yes, he is a real-life grandpa.

"I got a little grandson. He just turned 3. He tells everybody, 'My granddad is Kung Fu Grandpa.' So that's pretty neat."

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter at @mikekrumboltz.

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