Is Cameo the happiest place on the internet? Where else can you can pay a ‘90s hitmaker to read your best friend’s astrological chart, or Fiona the Hippo to cheer up pandemic-bound schoolkids? Cameos, in which celebrities (and “celebrities”) set individual rates to record personalized video greetings for fans, are like pop culture Edible Arrangements: You can purchase them on short notice, and while occasionally there might be a bit too much honeydew (phoned-in patter), the chocolate covered pineapple (chaotic minor-celeb energy) will make up for it.

I have received only one Cameo in my life but wow, it was good. A friend paid $30 to hire David and Annie from 90 Day Fiancé after I had a bad day at work. Hours later, I got a video from the couple. “Fuck them!” said Annie. I was so happy, I cried. Everybody needs a champion in their life like Annie. 

What follows are the stories of six Cameos, sent and received, beloved and … weird. Come for the pranks, stay for the gifts of true friendship. 

NAME Jax Taylor
CLAIM TO FAME Vanderpump Rules
RECOMMENDED BY Sarah, 26, reality TV obsessive 

My boyfriend and his roommate sent me a Cameo from Jax Taylor (aka the villain of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules) as my joint birthday gift.

They told Jax it was my birthday and that I needed advice about moving to LA (which isn’t true, but they wanted to give him an easy prompt LOL). It wound being a 4 minute video of Jax ranting about 1) happy birthday messages 2) how he’s not actually the bad guy from Vanderpump 3) why I should NOT move to LA and how awful it is 4) that I should reach out to him if I needed help when I got to LA 5) and then, he talked about how people are struggling these days with anxiety so I should reach out to call centers (which was thoughtful but strange? LOL).

I LOVED the Cameo, partly because the three of us are huge Vanderpump fans and Jax is the most polarizing cast member they know and as a character on the show I HATE him. But then I loved the Cameo because I wasn’t expecting him to be kind of sweet and thoughtful. It was a great gift.  

NAME Kato Kaelin
CLAIM TO FAME Actor and television personality; witness at OJ Simpson’s murder trial
RECOMMENDED BY Tom, 38, prankster

I sent a Cameo of Kato Kaelin to a friend who had been bragging to me about getting top 5 in a Peloton ride, which is an extremely stupid thing to brag about. So I paid Kato 60 bucks and told him I want to celebrate my friend’s top five ride and asked him to encourage my friend to stick to his strict diet of chicken and broccoli.

Kato wound up going into a grocery store and did this wild monologue as he shopped for chicken and broccoli.

It was easily worth double what I paid.

NAME Perez Hilton
CLAIM TO FAME Celebrity Blogger 
RECOMMENDED BY Kate, 28, internet culture aficionado 

My friend and I had been talking a lot about “cancel culture” so we bought a Cameo from Perez Hilton to tell our mutual friend that he’d been cancelled (it was an ouroborous of cancellation “humor”). At the time Perez cost like $70 so it was easy to split.   

I don’t know if he took issue with the prompt but he was VERY sassy and he included his child in it (???!!!), which we had NOT asked him to do. 

NAME Mark McGrath
CLAIM TO FAME Singer for the band Sugar Ray
RECOMMENDED BY Meredith, 35, supportive friend

My friend and I got a Cameo of Mark McGrath for our friend S. who’d been having a really tough year. It cost $94.50 but we decided she really needed the pump up. So we sent Mark a note saying, “Stacey has had a ROUGH Christmas, even by 2020 standards. She’s a one in a million friend, a great writer, and the kind of person that, in the year 2021 deserves a puppy and a piece of jewelry from her partner.” 

Mark delivered 4+ minutes of epic kindness and positivity, and at one point slotted her name into the chorus of “Fly.” It was also legitimately magical, she had no idea what was happening, McGrath threw himself into it with the zeal of someone who gets a ton of breakup requests, and now we have a legit great friend memory. 

NAME Maxwell Caulfield 
CLAIM TO FAME Actor from the ‘80s 
RECOMMENDED BY Rachel, 40, nostalgic birthday girl

My birthday was in December and my boyfriend Ron got me a Cameo from Maxwell Caulfield—except it wound up being a few days late because Maxwell was delayed, so Ron and Maxwell ended up going back and forth a lot on the messaging side of Cameo. By the time I got my Cameo they were buds. And to apologize for being late, Maxwell sent me a signed photo of him and Michelle Pfeiffer from Grease 2. It was a great gift, and a lovely Cameo! Very sweet and charming. I loved it.

Cut to: Ron's birthday in February. When I was trying to think of a fun thing to get him I realized that I should also get him a Cameo... from Maxwell Caulfield. And the video was hilarious because Maxwell was like, "Ron! Best friend! Happy birthday, buddy!" Because they basically know each other now. 

NAMES Alexis Bellino, Katie Rost, Christy Carlson Romano
CLAIM TO FAME Real Housewives, Child Star
PRICE PER CAMEO $50, $45, and not currently available
RECOMMENDED BY Christian, 25, and Taylor, 26, “Cameo superfans”

We are basically Cameo superfans. We’ve gotten them for each other, for other friends, and have ordered them for ourselves when we felt down. 

Taylor: I think my favorite was this one from ex-RHOC star Alexis Bellino. I told her that Christian was my husband and asked her to sing “Happy Birthday” to him. She filmed it while she was walking her dog and just absolutely refused to sing. Iconic all around. 

Christian: The Alexis Bellino one from Taylor is my favorite I’ve ever received. But I recently gave one to my friend JD from Katie Rost (Real Housewife of Potomac) that was a seven-minute long video of her reading his astrological chart because my prompt was “can you look at his astrological chart and give him some sage wisdom” and apparently she said “he should host more dinner parties and masturbate more.” 

Taylor and Christian: I don’t think either of us would pay more than $50 and we almost always go with reality stars because you just get more bang for your buck. The more expensive and professional ones feel rigid and transactional. And obviously it’s transactional but it doesn’t feel exploitative or insincere, to the degree that you are paying a Real Housewife to pretend to care it’s your birthday.

Christian: I did buy one for myself once from Christy Carlson Romano, the older sister on Even Stevens. I was really sad and asked her to sing me We Went to the Moon in 1969 and that was amazing.