native can have an Ozzy good time
If you can't be
somebody, you can at least look like somebody.
Don Wrege, who lives in Boulder, Colo., has found
a bit of fame by impersonating MTV reality show host Ozzy
Photo by MARTY
The real Ozzy Osbourne performed at a pop concert
in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London in June.
This is the faux Ozzy (Wrege) with a faux
President Bush and a faux Snoop Dogg.
Photo by MARTY
Every time the White House discards its occupant, a whole slew of
men from Maine to Mauna Loa suddenly find work impersonating the new
Commander-in-Chief. Go to a drag show, meanwhile, and you can't
throw a martini glass without hitting an ersatz Diana Ross or
In other words, if the counter-feits, you might as well wear it.
When the world keeps mistaking you for Ozzy Osbourne, there's
really only one thing you can do. You must embrace your inner-Ozzy.
You must seek out black eyeliner and blue-tinted glasses. You must
don adidas sweatpants and a gold crucifix. You must adopt a
shuffling gait and a British-tinged stammer. You must go to Ozzfest
and moon 500 people.
That last part is probably overkill, but it's the kind of thing
that happens when Don Wrege let's the Ozzy in him take over.
"I'VE NEVER mooned anyone in my life," said 48-year-old
Wrege, a Web site designer by trade. "But there I was, sticking my
bare ass out the window. And what's strange is that I didn't feel
any sense of embarrassment at all."
That's because it wasn't Don Wrege sticking his assets out there
for the world to see. It was Ozzy or, at least, a reasonable
The world, on the other hand, has no idea who Don Wrege is. For
most of his life, being Don Wrege was the best gig he could muster.
That was until the Louisville native returned to his hometown in May
to attend the Kentucky Derby.
Wrege was at the race shooting video for his employer, an
Internet firm that runs the Churchill Downs Web site, when he kept
hearing the same thing over and over.
"People kept yelling at me, `Hey, Ozzy!' " Wrege said. "I
hadn't dressed up like him or anything. I had my hair pulled back
and I was wearing the same round glasses that I always wear. But
they kept doing this all day."
It's a pure fluke of timing, for Wrege, with his long, straight
hair and wide face, has always looked like the self-proclaimed
Prince of Darkness. But Ozzy Osbourne is hot these days white hot
so the resemblance actually means something now.
GULLED BY the idea that this actually could be useful to
him, Wrege returned to his Boulder, Colo., home and got ahold of a
friend in the photography business. It didn't take much to transform
him; he simply applied some eyeliner and had his old glasses tinted
blue. (It cost him only $15.)
"I went to my friend's house and had a giggle," said Wrege, who
has worn his hair down past his shoulders since his hippie days at
Waggener High School in the early '70s. "I put the pictures up on a
Web site for my friends to see, just for a few laughs."
With any doubt that he could pass for Ozzy Osbourne now removed,
Wrege began searching the Web for information on celebrity
look-alikes. He found plenty, which isn't surprising. America loves
celebrities, exhibiting an obsession that is well beyond healthy. We
all want to be celebrities ourselves and, if that doesn't work, we
want to be as close to them as possible. And if that doesn't
work, we will settle for someone who looks and acts like our
IT WAS A WORLD Wrege scarcely knew existed, but the more
he heard about it, the more he sort of liked it. For he is your
classic frustrated musician, a dedicated soul who has spent years
writing and playing his own songs for tiny crowds and little money.
Since he was never going to taste the limelight as Don Wrege, he
might as well taste it as someone else.
"I'm an attention junkie," he admitted. After the pictures were
on the Web for a while, an agent who specializes in celebrity
doppelgangers called Wrege and urged him to come to Las Vegas for a
look-alikes convention. It sounds preposterous, but everyone needs
to network, so Wrege wrangled a few days off and headed to Sin City.
"It was so much fun, I couldn't believe it," Wrege said. "When I
first came out of my room with my garb on and all that black crap on
my eyes, I felt like a complete idiot. But people were really
convinced that I was Ozzy."
Fueled by the success of "The Osbournes," the MTV reality show
starring Ozzy Osbourne and his profane but oddly lovable family,
Wrege was a hit at the convention. Women demanded to be photographed
with him, and his fellow impersonators quickly accepted him into the
"At night, George Bush, Snoop Dogg, two Kenny Rogerses, Neil
Diamond, Rodney Dangerfield, Austin Powers in full velvet and I
hit the bars," Wrege said.
SINCE THEN, Wrege has taken his Ozzy schtick to "Live with
Regis and Kelly" and appeared on "Jenny Jones" twice. When he gets a
chance, he watches "The Osbournes" to fine-tune his Ozzy-speak,
which consists mainly of swear words mixed in with a lot of
"There is so much look-alike stuff going on that had escaped my
attention," Wrege said. "To this day, I don't know why Jenny Jones
had me on that first time. They were supposedly having an Eminem
look-alike thing, and I guess they ran out of Eminems."
The crowd described to Wrege as a mob of "angry, unemployed
people" by the producers fell in love with the faux Ozzy, leading
to the encore appearance several weeks later. But the most surreal
turn came when MTV enlisted Wrege to pose with a Britney Spears
look-alike for a bunch of gag shots used in the program for the 2002
Video Music Awards.
"There I was, frolicking in the honeymoon suite with
`Britney,' " said Wrege, for whom "frolick" means "having
Britney Spears ride you around like a horse."
"It was the most bizarre day of my life," he said.
The infamous mooning incident occurred this past summer, when a
Denver radio station hired Wrege to ride around town in an obscenely
large white limo impersonating Ozzy. The gig coincided with the
Denver tour stop of Ozzfest, the Osbourne family's traveling
heavy-metal bacchanalia, which meant more than a few people were
taken in by Wrege.
"The gag we came up with was `Ozzy needs to take a leak.' I'd go
into a restaurant bathroom, and after about 30 seconds, I'd shout,
`There's no toilet paper,' '' said Wrege, affecting Ozzy's
trademark slur. "We got thrown out of a lot of restaurants that
THEY ENDED UP in the parking lot at Ozzfest, where a crowd
of fans gathered around the limo and started demanding some
appropriately Ozzy-like gesture. Wrege did not disappoint.
"I mooned them," he said. "I can pretty much do anything as Ozzy
and get away with it."
That, in the end (pardon the pun), could be what's driving all
this. For Wrege, it's Halloween any time he wants. You can do a lot
of crazy things as long as no one knows that's you behind the
eyeliner and dark glasses.
The reaction from friends and loved ones has been mixed. Wrege
said his 77-year-old mother, Patricia, watched one episode of "The
Osbournes" and was "horribly embarrassed."
"She said to me, `Don, why can't you look like somebody
else?' " Wrege said. "I said, `Isn't that your fault?' "
Still others have taken it in stride. Wrege recalled how he tried
to fool his friend, musician Jackson Browne, with the Ozzy getup
when Browne came to Colorado for a concert recently. The backstage
exchange went something like this:
Don: (mumbling) 'Allo, Jackson! Snumble snarf blast it!
Don: How'd you know it was me?
Jackson: You've always looked like this.
WREGE IS QUICK to point out that he has yet to make any
money from any of this. Although he gets offers to appear at
conventions, trade shows and parties, he doesn't want to take time
off from his job to do them. Which is too bad, because he figures
the clock is ticking on Ozzy's current hot streak.
"He's probably reached his peak, and is on his way down," Wrege
said. "This was just an accidental thing. For the cost of some
makeup and some fake gold chains, it was a lot of fun. I'd love to
do more national television appearances while this lasts, but I
honestly don't believe this current mania will last another year."
Wrege is entertaining any and all offers his Web site,
www.Ozzy Lookalike.com has all the details because you just
never know what can happen.
"I'm really all about building Web sites. That's what I do, and I
love doing it," he said. "But there is something about having
hundreds of people screaming for you."
Even if it's not really you they're screaming for.
Nord can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
or at (502) 582-4628.
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