HOLLYWOOD—Jimi Hendrix Mk. IV isn't talking to the media anymore.
Seven years after he emerged from his biomold, the 28-year-old artist is tired of having his purpose in life endlessly debated by critics, managers, record-company executives, lawyers, and even fellow musicians. He knows what he was born to do: play left-handed synth guitar like a man possessed and bring the cold, artificial grooves of his trademark synth-funk to audiences the world over.
But Warner-Geffen executives disagree. They say they know his purpose in life; they commissioned him, after all. Jimi was created at great expense at Celebirth Genetic Engineering, where his genetic material was pulled from the same 1965-1990 archives responsible for both sets of Dean triplets, the all-Buddy Holly band, and the recent rash of Elvises. Hendrix Mk. IV was born, Warner-Geffen says, to fulfill the studio-recording potential of the first Hendrix, who died after releasing only three albums.
Executives say they wish that Jimi IV would contact them. They haven't heard from him in months.
Jimi IV says he's got his own life to live. Warner-Geffen says they've got a contract. So who's right?
One thing seems clear: If vat-grown celebrities continue to follow their own muses, it may spell the end of the entertainment industry's latest and most expensive case of sequel-itis.
"Many in the recording industry are beginning to believe that vat-grown artists are no longer worth the expense of revivification," said David Miner-323, a talent-relations specialist at Murdoch-Merck-Viacom. "The public's desire to find out whether a streak of talent was successfully reproduced in a vat-grown celebrity used to be enough to turn a profit—but not today."
According to Miner-323, public curiosity is why Kenny Rogers 2.0 was nominated for a Tony. It's why Re-Streisand still sells some of her poetry chapbooks. And it's why Hendrix II, III, and IV found some success at the beginning of their careers, despite their fascinations with ambient noise and meandering instrumental breaks.
But the curiosity factor is quickly wearing off, Miner-323 said. And each subsequent generation of Jimi has become more unpredictable, perhaps indicating a breakdown in their genetic material.
"It looks like the ancient curse of entertainment—the infamous 'mind of their own' problem—might keep everyone from taking a chance on bringing back anyone else," Miner-323 said.
The thousands of vat-grown entertainment-industry executives (including Miners 282-420) appear to be performing their duties with all the energy and creativity of their models, but there's only scant evidence that the practice works with celebrities.
While the 36 Andy Warhols take obvious joy in their own reproduction, it seems that many artists are resistant to the idea of being a copy.
"I guess I just don't feel like acting," said Sharon Stone Version 3.3, working in her Norfolk, VA glassblowing shop. "Or modeling, either! At my weight, can you imagine? I mean, I'm glad Sony Pictures decided to make me. But the truth is, I couldn't act my way out of a paper bag."