Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Wannabe a Cyberstar

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I Wannabe a Cyberstar

Article excerpt

Byline: ALIX SHARKEY

SHE'S 18, blonde and built like a supermodel, and Fergie's new favourite friend. She's also a wannabe popstar who has caught the attention of thousands of men across the world, including, it is said by her minders, a Hollywood producer.

But what marks out this young woman as different is that she doesn't exist. Not beyond the computer screen, at any rate. Meet t-babe, the first of a new generation of cyberstars: virtual pop acts that some industry experts are claiming will be the superstars of tomorrow.

Fergie certainly seemed impressed when she agreed to be questioned by t-babe in a TV interview to promote the Teenage Cancer Trust, of which she is patron. It is believed to be the friendliest encounter between a Royal and a virtual star. If not the only one.

Perhaps the cheerleaders are right: the future of pop lies with the virtual global megastars. They never tire of touring; they don't do cocaine; they can be in all places at all times; and they can speak to their fans in any language.

"T-babe is already a star, thanks to the web," says Tessa Hartmann, co-creator of t-babe and MD of the cyberstar's music label, Glasgow Records.

"We loaded a 40-second sample of her first single on to our website to give the public a taster.

Now we're getting hundreds of emails from around the world asking when the full track is out."

Hartmann and her husband, Sasha, launched their virtual diva after months of meticulous market research among Scottish teens, eventually giving their creation a slew of human imperfections and personality quirks.

"T-babe has a real personality, with emotional weight," says Hartmann.

"Like a human, she changes. She puts on weight, she dyes her hair, she gets spots and has bad-hair days. She even has certain controversial views, which will emerge over time."

Since its quiet launch a year ago, the t-babe website has had more than half a million visitors. Italian Vogue has featured t-babe on its fashion pages.

And, claims Hartmann, when the Hollywood Reporter ran a news item and picture of t-babe last month, calls started coming in from studio producers and writers, eager to find another Lara Croft - the sexy cyberbabe heroine of the Tomb Raider computer game, currently being filmed with Angelina Jolie in the starring role. …

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