Julia Allison is not dead. But you could be forgiven for thinking so, since everyone talks about her in the past tense.
“Julia represented the industrialization of self-promotion,” said Jason Tanz, who profiled Ms. Allison for the cover of Wired’s August 2008 issue. “People were going to start using the Internet as a personal branding platform, and Julia was one of the first to get there.”
“I mean I met her like twice?” said Choire Sicha, editor at Gawker as Ms. Allison emerged as a favorite subject on the gossip blog.
And writing about Ms. Allison’s new reality series, Miss Advised, for the Atlantic Wire, a former Gawker writer noted the nascent TV star “disappeared to the West Coast and has not been heard from since.”
Ms. Allison, the former relationship columnist for Time Out New York, Gawker hobbyhorse, TV talking head, and leader of her would-be business, NonSociety, was once the poster girl for New York bloggers pursuing fame or infamy. She sat—or rather whirled like a dervish—at the nexus of tech-world geekery (as she was nominally a “founder”), good old-fashioned media-baiting (she rose to her sort of fame after wearing a bustier made of condoms to a Gawker party full of journalists), and New York’s fizzy hangover from a decade of Carrie Bradshaw
“I remember the first piece Gawker wrote about me. They criticized me for being ‘too nice,’” Ms. Allison told The Observer. “But that’s who I was! That was the beginning of my tenure in New York. The way I knew I needed to leave was that I wasn’t like that anymore. I was cynical. I was bitter. I saw a couple holding hands and I thought ‘just wait. That won’t last.’”
Nor did her New York celebutante life: her fame, emblematic of the period, had an expiration date.
“The internet felt smaller,” said former Gawker editor Jessica Coen, now at Jezebel. “The social guide of that internet scene in New York was a lot smaller, intimate. There were certainly less blogs then and less prominent blogs then, it felt smaller, individuals who were kind of out there stood out a lot more.”
The post-mortem tone is understandable: one of the pitfalls of constructing your entire existence around being famous is that once you are a nobody, you might as well be dead.
So, Ms. Allison must now undertake a resurrection, in the form of a reality TV show. (Surprise!)
“I tried being microfamous, she explained to us recently. “That stuff is super empty. It would be really nice to try it in a different way.” Call it macrofamous.