Which famous person has the worst autograph?

The waitress brings two small bottles of still water and stands a little longer than necessary next to the table, outside the café at the Isartor. At the table are a photographer, a man with a recording device and a petite blond woman. The waitress looks from one to the other. When someone is photographed and interviewed, it is like being asked for an autograph in the pedestrian zone. A process that sends a signal to all passers-by: someone here is famous. And who starts a guessing game: Who is that? The photographer takes photos. The waitress stands and listens to the interview. A siren is ringing from somewhere. The waitress listens more intensely while the woman lights a cigarette, Gitanes Blondes. And if she looked closely now, the pack of cigarettes could provide the decisive clue to the solution of the riddle. Who is this?

The silhouette of a dancer is shown on the box.

Silvia Seidel was blonde and petite like she is today when she played a dancer 16 years ago. A ballet girl named Anna, heroine of the Christmas multipart on ZDF, broadcast between the years. Between the years, that was back in 1987, an even more boring time than it is today. Most of the pubs were closed, you ate empty your brightly colored plate, watched the Four Hills Tournament and the Christmas series on television. Nothing more happened.

Anna had 13 million viewers per episode, and the postman soon needed an assistant to deliver the bags full of letters, not addressed to Silvia Seidel, but simply to Anna. "Or there was a photo of Anna stuck to the envelope, next to it was: 'Dear postman, you probably know where she lives'. It all went well." When are you famous? When you get letters in which a picture, cut out of the program guide, replaces the address. If you go to the bakery "and everyone looks and runs after you, whole school classes run after you". When you eat at an Italian restaurant, "and everyone stares at you spaghetti from the fork".

Silvia Seidel says it's amazing how quickly it can be done.

Actually, she slipped into this film by accident. She hadn't sought to be famous. It found her. One day a person from the television production had come to her ballet group and invited her to the casting. So she went there, insecure, nervous, but then she got the role, found herself terrible when she saw the recordings, her legs too short, but the audience thought the legs were just right. And the children on the street wanted to be like Anna, but Silvia Seidel wasn't like Anna at all. That was too abstract for the children. "They came and said you're Anna. Then I said, I'm not Anna, I'm Silvia. I couldn't hear it anymore, Anna, Anna." The children looked sad, and Silvia Seidel is now sorry that she was so bitchy back then.

Why is everyone running into these casting shows on television at the moment: Germany is looking for the superstar, Starsearch, The German Voice 2003, Fame Academy, pop stars. Because the programs have the best concept there is, says Silvia Seidel, a big promise: We'll make you famous. Maybe it's not about being famous, maybe the desire behind it - and with it the promise - is much greater. Anyone who is famous is happy, they must have thought that for a few moments, Zlatko, Alexander, Daniel Küblböck and the others who made television stars. In this story, the cabaret artist Emil Steinberger, who hid in New York for years to have a break from being famous, will tell that happiness has little to do with fame; the author Walter Moers, who shows his face to nobody, as a precaution against being famous. And Silvia Seidel, who had to do a lot to stop being so famous. More than just getting famous, anyway.

Actually, you have to invent a new term for this story: to become un-famous. She did a pretty good job of that. Outside, people are running towards the Isartor with shopping bags. Silvia Seidel smokes, Gitanes Blondes. She looks at the street, but nobody looks at her. It's like a test. At some point she says: "I can really count it in a month whether someone has turned around or spoken to me. That is wonderful, wonderful."

Only the waitress is still uneasy. Once she looks from the inside, from the café, to the table, but then she only sees the blonde woman from behind, that doesn't help her either.

The art of becoming ignorant: Silvia Seidel no longer took part in dance films, although she was offered many, hardly gave interviews, instead learned the profession of actress properly, plays on small stages, tabloids, theater in front of the city. She has given up a lot of money, above all she had to make herself immune to the prejudices of the public, that is, of the public and the media. Sometimes people talk about a career turnaround. Career kink. As if a heavy weight had fallen on her life and had bent something. That’s a development; something she wanted so much. But many outside do not understand that.

She won a lot of prizes in her Anna time, Bambi, Golden Camera, all awards "that you get because you move the masses, because you are known". She calls them commercial prices. Last year she was nominated for the Merkur Theater Prize for a role in the comedy Staatsaffären, along with actors such as Rolf Boysen, Jens Harzer and Dagmar Manzel. The crowd doesn't know the price, but they were happier about it than about the Bambi, she says. Although she didn't win in the end.

Emil Steinberger, the cabaret artist Emil Steinberger, perhaps the most famous Swiss there is, is sitting in the Steigenberger Hotel in Zurich, not in the breakfast room, where the other hotel guests drink their coffee at this time, but rather hidden in the reading corner on the first floor . His wife is with him. Cleaning ladies rush past with vacuum cleaners, and while Steinberger walks through the hallways to find a more suitable place for the interview, he shouts, and it almost sounds like a headline suggestion for this story -: "It's damn difficult to find a quiet place in life to find."

Emil Steinberger also worked as a copywriter, and a copywriter has to be able to do it, summarize everything in one sentence. When he has found a quiet place in the hotel conference room at the back left, he defines the longing of people to become famous, the desire to show things, the greed of others. To do this, he needs a sentence: "It's a disease." He always thinks a lot about people, looks at them - this is where the character Emil emerged, whom he played for years. Emil, a philistine, composed of observations, formulations, oddities that he collects when he sits in a quiet corner somewhere and looks at people.

Emil Steinberger, who has just turned seventy, still has a boyish face, but what he says sounds like a hundred years of experience with media and people. And it sounds pretty depressing. He believes that people no longer listen to each other, no longer talk to each other, "when you have a party, you used to get a letter from the guests to thank you, today you only get a text message: Have a nice party, thank you." He says most of them don't even know each other properly within the family; no one there to say to the other: you are important to me. "And then it breaks out somewhere. And then there is the possibility that you can go on TV if you fulfill this and that and can become important for everyone." His diagnosis may be a bit simple, but it doesn't have to be wrong. If it is an illness or an addiction, then it is triggered by the media, says Emil Steinberger, "they capitalize on it, they need their human sacrifices". And it might get worse. "In Japan the shows go so far that you have to put a razor to your neck." He makes a movement with the flat of his hand, once from right to left along the neck.

There is something disturbing about a clown when he's serious.

Emil Steinberger says that when he sees the casting stars, he always has to think about the pressure they have to endure. How huge it must be when everything goes so quickly, when someone becomes famous practically overnight - or at least believes it. His career grew over years and decades. Small stages, bigger ones, then always in big theaters with his Emil, never an empty seat. His fame grew over time, it didn't overtake him. He could adjust to the pressure, but at some point it was too great even for him. Wherever he was, people ran after him, "you take refuge in a telephone booth, and people stand in front of it and wave others over and shout: Emil is on the phone, come, look!" Everyone wanted him to be Emil, always Emil, then he stopped playing Emil. Got away at some point, a couple of years to New York. Reading, being alone, going for a walk. It worked well in the beginning, but then, he says, the newspapers sent their reporters and they finally found him. So he came home to Switzerland, somehow he wanted to work again anyway, with the German language, but no more than Emil. He wrote a book, the publisher said, then you have to give readings too. So he reads.

He was better than Emil, and critics sometimes write who do not like his readings. That doesn't bother him. He is now seventy and has grown into an elephant skin. "Maybe that's the sign that you are famous, that over time you have thick skin." Plus, he says, bad reviews aren't the worst that can happen to you.

Such a famous person can be constantly injured by the crowd, as just happened to Daniel Küblböck at the award of a music prize in Cologne. The playback wasn't working properly and suddenly the audience was like a forest after weeks of drought, when a spark is enough to start a fire. One of them began to whistle, that was the spark, and then everyone, 15,000 drooling people, shouted this boy in front of them; in clothes that no longer looked funky, just ridiculous. Or, someone can be injured by an individual, that was the case with Silvia Seidel. A reporter, eleven years ago, had read in the police report that a Hannelore S. had killed herself. He asked everywhere, the reporter, he sensed the story of his life, and then it was out and was in the newspaper, and the next day everyone knew that this Ms. S. was Silvia Seidel's mother.

Silvia Seidel tells of her mother's death. She had depression, consuming depressions, at 18 she had already tried to commit suicide for the first time. When the daughter became "Anna", the mother was rarely there, and when the daughter was asked about her, she said, oh, the mother doesn't like flying. "I didn't want the tabloids to debate an illness that nobody understands anyway." When her mother killed herself and the newspapers with the stories appeared, she hated it, her fame: Now it was no longer just annoying and freedom-robbing. Now it threatened to destroy them. The stories followed a pattern: There is a famous actress who has all the light to herself - and in her shadow her mother goes to the dogs. The media had pushed it up, that was good for the circulation. Now it should look as if she and her father had had a good time, at the mother's expense, that's how these stories, which were made up, could be read - but also good for the edition. Newspaper people rang the doorbell for three hours, although the shutters were down and the Seidel family was crawling on the floor of the apartment: the absurd attempt to hide.

She gets pretty loud when she says about that time: "You want to run into the street and scream, that's not true, please don't believe what's in the newspaper. Everything was very different. And you're so powerless, so impotent, powerless, there is nothing you can do. " To the funeral service at the secret location, they drove in a car with darkened windows that was driven by a friend of the family. She and her father were on the floor in the car, under blankets, and the friend had to go through the red lights three times to hang out reporters.

The relationship with the press, she says, has been broken since then. But, it has cleared up at the same time. "I have no respect for these people, I no longer have any respect, nothing at all. They do a very disgusting, cheap job." She now takes a close look beforehand to see who she's talking to, and prefers to say nothing to the media people.

Obviously, being famous doesn't make you happy, it makes you sore and desperate if you are not careful, and certainly nobody takes care of yourself like Walter Moers. His story takes place in New York, the author and draftsman Walter Moers, while he ponders his fame, looks "to the top of the Chrysler Building, the most beautiful skyscraper in the world". At least that's what he writes. He doesn't talk to the press, just communicates by e-mail. You have to call Piper, his publisher, and they will forward it. If he feels like it and has time, he will contact you.

Walter Moers is the most successful German author and illustrator of the past ten years. He invented Captain Bluebear for children and his fantasy novels for adults; also for the critical people in the features section. He created the little asshole for the freaks. He's a star in the literary world, a lot bigger than most of the writers who sit on talk shows all the time. He has reached the masses. But she doesn't know him. Nobody knows what he looks like. He cannot be photographed, has never given a reading. He does not want it. "Of course the publishers always complain that they would sell a lot more of my books if I took my skin to the market," he writes. "I like to argue that when other authors are on talk shows or signing autographs, I prefer to write new books. That usually works. In reality, of course, I just sit at home and smoke opium."

But wouldn't that be an intimate, almost erotic moment when he was in a reading. The cigarette was smoking in the ashtray. He would have a red wine glass in front of him, the light would refract in it. And everyone, everyone listened to him?

Moers writes: "Red wine, tobacco smoke - I have to compulsively imagine Günter Grass reading. That is as far removed from my ideas of eroticism as marching music."

He eludes himself, even through the jokes into which many of his answers flow. You can't get to it, the computer is in between. That's fine with him. "I like doing e-mail interviews because it is the fairest form of interview: you have just as much time for the answers as the interviewer for the questions," writes Moers. He can control everything, that is to say, nothing slips out. Walter Moers is the most cautious interviewee you can imagine. All quotations, which he calmly typed into the computer, have to be authorized again calmly before the story is printed - this is important to him.

Maybe Walter Moers is like the characters he drew on his novel covers. On one is Captain Blaubär, on another Rumo, Wolpertinger. Both stand on a kind of stage, but the huge curtain has fallen, it flows over the entire cover of the book, and you can see Rumo and the captain at the bottom, at the edge of the book, as they are half hidden in the folds of the curtain.

Standing on the stage but not being seen.

Somehow a fitting picture, also for Silvia Seidel. She wants to go on stage, "I fell in love with my job, but not with the trappings," she says. She decided that her stage should be smaller, much smaller than television, at least television for the masses. Silvia Seidel says she feels comfortable on small stages. She is currently learning the lyrics for the "Romantic Comedy", the premiere is in Aschheim in November. Small stage, theater lovers in the audience, local press. At another play there were spectators who still knew her as Anna. "They said afterwards that it was you! We didn't even know what they could play, that's great." She was pleased.

She says goodbye, her apartment is a few blocks away. The waitress settled the accounts for two mineral waters and one latte. It almost bursts out of her when she gives her change. "Do you have to know them?" ask her. "Well, you always talked about being famous." She listened well.

That was Silvia Seidel. She is an actress.

"Oh, actress," says the waitress, looking outside, and for a moment it looks like she's about to get an autograph on her accounting pad.

But then Silvia Seidel has already disappeared.