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Boulder, CO - By now you have probably read about Don Wrege in the Denver Post and Boulder Daily Camera. He’s director of operations at Internet technology consulting firm NewGuard, but that is not why he got press coverage. The important story is that he is an Ozzy Osbourne lookalike.

EMileHigh could have scooped those print publications, but we wanted to let the story unfold a bit more before running with it. It had the makings of a grand adventure. We like surreal road trips even if Rolling Stone will no longer give Hunter S. Thompson the space to write about them anymore.

Here’s Wrege’s story in his own words.

“It started about a year and a half ago when I went to a Rockies game. I let my hair down and wore sunglasses.

“I’m in the cheap seats and someone came up and said, ‘You’re Ozzy Osbourne.’ Of course, why would I be in the cheap seats if I was?

“Once the ‘Osbournes’ started on MTV, I was mistaken for Ozzy all the time.

“It came to a head at the Kentucky Derby. My task for NewGuard, which does KentuckyDerby.com, was to spend the Friday before and Derby Day on Millionaires’ Row -- five floors of extremely rich and famous people who have the good seats. I was to wander around there with my all-area-access pass, ask them who they were betting on, videotape their responses, and put them up on the site.

“Since I was among a bunch of stars, I guess people just assumed I was Ozzy with a penchant for home video. I was called Ozzy enough that I said to myself, ‘What the heck? It’s time to take some pictures.’

“When I got back into town, I talked to my old friend, Povy Atchison, and proposed that I trade her one of my eggplant parmesan casseroles for a photo shoot at a reduced price. She said ‘Sure,’ so I assembled some stupid jewelry down at the Ritz, put on a black T-shirt, wrote Ozzy on my hand, put some black nail polish on, felt like an idiot, went over there, took a few shots, and had a nice dinner.

“When she brought me the transparencies, I thought one of them looked pretty good. I did a quick scan of it, put a web page together, registered Ozzylookalike.com, and within twenty-four hours I had that up.

“I thought, ‘Well, now what do I do? Still feeling pretty much like an idiot, I did a search on celebrity lookalikes. The first four agencies that came up, I simply sent them the URL.

“I got called by a lady named Elyse Del Francia. She runs a lookalike agency out of Palm Springs and it just happened that within a few weeks there was going to be the second annual celebrity impostors convention in Las Vegas. Of course, I had never heard of anything like that, but I started looking into it further. It was at the Imperial Palace. For 20 years they have had a celebrity lookalike show called ‘Legends of Entertainment.’ They have fourteen different shows around the country, including six on cruise ships.

“It looked like a fun couple of days and Dean (Rizzuto, founder of NewGuard) was very patient. I asked him if I could take off two vacation days and fly out and he said, ‘Sure.’

“I had the time of my life. I was hanging with people who looked just like Robert DeNiro, Queen Elizabeth, Elizabeth Tailor, Cyndi Lauper. “Unfortunately I didn’t find a Sandra Bullock. That was a bitter disappointment, but I am still looking. That would be my ultimate fantasy.

“Originally I was thinking maybe I’ll write something about this experience. But within a few hours of walking around the casino dressed as Ozzy and having tourists asking me for pictures and getting all that attention, I realized I couldn’t be outside the experience and observe it like I had wanted. I decided to be inside of it instead. It took off from there.

“The convention kind of shoehorned me in. The entertainment portion had already been planned. But Elyse said that Ozzy was so hot and nobody was doing him that they found a place for me opening the show.

“I wandered out, yelled and screamed, ‘Let me hear you! F...ing crazy!’ Then I mumbled a little bit about how my ears had been ringing, but then realized I was in the casino, and how I was seeing double, but then realized I was backstage with three Kenny Rogers.

“I did a little two minute thing, then watched the show. It was a lot of fun. At the end of the evening, I was all pumped. It was about midnight and I couldn’t waste the adrenaline, so I got into a cab and said, ‘Take me to Hard Rock.’

“It was a Sunday night and the main room was dark. But a couple of girls -- a gorgeous brunette and a gorgeous blonde --came out of the bathroom and yelled ‘Hey Ozzy.’ They said, ‘Come with us. We’ll take you to the House of Blues.’

“I was kidnapped by these two beautiful women who were laughing and saying, ‘Let us do the talking and watch what happens.’

“We walk up to the VIP door and they are waving their hands and I am about ten feet behind them and they are pointing at me. The guys are looking at me and finally they waved us through and I kind of shuffled past them.

“Inside the House of Blues it was DJ night so they had a guy on stage playing discs and a bunch of girls up there dancing.

“The place was loud, had very confusing lighting, and people started asking me for pictures. I’m wandering around and people are yelling for Ozzy. Then a bouncer comes up and I think, ‘Oh my God, I am going to get thrown out. They have figured me out.’

The bouncer said, ‘Sir, the manager would like you to step on stage if you don’t mind and say hello to everybody.’ So I said ‘Sure.’ Actually I mumbled and waddled toward the door.

“He stops the two girls, who up to that point had been my bodyguards, and puts me on stage. So I did the first half of what I did at the Imperial Palace a few hours earlier. They bought it. The whole place screams, so I am going to quit while I’m ahead and shuffle off stage.

“And they said, ‘Oh no, no, no. Here sit.’ House of Blues has a chill area right off stage with couches, so I sat and watched the girls dance and they brought me drinks.

“I began to get this bizarre feeling that I was this tiny little operator in a huge strip-mining crane. I felt very small within something else. I felt like I had hijacked something.

“By that time it was 2:20 AM, I was drunk, and I was looking like someone else. It was a confusing situation.

“At that point the two girls got up on stage and said they were going to get drugs and be right back. That’s when I decided to go back to the hotel. I had a 9:30 AM makeup class. I had to find out more about how to deal with the black eyeliner. I didn’t know how to get it off. I didn’t know about eye make remover until someone suggested it to me.

“The rest of the convention was great. While I was there, I was invited up to a bridal suite by photographers from MTV. The Britney Spears lookalike was also invited up.

“So it is Britney Spears and Ozzy Osbourne frolicking on the bed and on the floor. MTV had four photographers and two videographers taking pictures of this whole session. They were burning a lot of expensive film and their equipment was top notch.

“I said, ‘What is this for?’

“Not that I cared. Britney Spears was in this little ‘I Dream of Genie’ outfit and it was a close as I have been to sex in years.

“The photographers said the photos would be in the printed program given to the audience at the next MTV music awards. Their office is right next to the Osbournes’ office in Beverly Hills, so it seemed legitimate. We will find out. They will send me one of the books in September.

“Right before I left for Las Vegas, a friend of mine down in Texas -- Ed Toutant, who is a big Regis fan because he won $1.86 million on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’ -- told me that every year ‘Regis and Kelly’ have a lookalike week and I had 48 hours left to send them a photo.

“I stuck a couple of pictures in the mail and forgot about it.

“I came back from Vegas and was telling Dean about how it went when the phone rang and it was ABC saying they wanted to fly me out to New York and could I come July 1 or 2. (The show was broadcast July 3.)

“As I was leaving for airport, I saw that I made the front page of the Daily Camera, which I thought was pretty funny.

“ABC put me in a lovely hotel and everyone at ABC was really nice and professional, but New York was hot, and New Yorkers are really tough compared to Las Vegas revelers. I had to get up at what was 3:30 AM Boulder time to do it and I had been out the night before with friends. I was glad to get back to Boulder.

“I also got a call from the Fox Theater. Ozzy is coming to Denver and when he does Louis and Floorwax want to put me in a limo, take me around to pet stores, and tape the clerks’ reactions to me buying doves whose heads I am going to bite off. (Instead of that, I’d rather see if we can get backstage of the Pepsi Center.)

“So this is all within a six week time period. It started as a joke and it has ended up to be kind of a joke on me, I guess. It’s not like I’ve made any money on it and it has cost me money for makeup and stupid clothes and accessories.

“But it is fun because I am an attention junkie. They don’t call me media whore for nothing. I own mediawhore.com.

“And on my resume page, it says ‘Celebrating 30 years of Shameless Self-Promotion.’ But I was being conservative. It’s more like 33.

“I’ve never been afraid to promote myself. My mom taught me that.”

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