Guy Adams: The crazy world of donor look-alikes

LA Notebook
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The Independent Online

Celebrity handbag designers were bad enough. Perfume named after Britney and sunglasses by Paris seemed worse. And when people began turning themselves into human tattoos, a la David Beckham and Angelina Jolie, I thought star-mimicry was reaching its ugly zenith. But I was wrong.

This month, a new product hit the market: celebrity genes. Not jeans; genes. Those bits of DNA that make people who they are. Thanks to a Los Angeles fertility clinic, would-be parents can now purchase test tubes full of semen from a donor it claims looks like someone famous.

California Cryobank, the frozen sperm retailer behind this innovation, calls it the "Donor look-a-likes" service. It costs roughly $500 [£302] a pop, and is intended for "intrauterine insemination," presumably administered via the medical equivalent of a turkey baster.

For their money, customers name a celebrity they'd like their kid's biological father to resemble. The clinic then finds "matches." Look-alikes of Ben Affleck and American footballer Brett Favre are apparently in high demand, along (bafflingly) with those of former boy-band member Lance Bass.

All of which puts us in muddy ethical waters. Aside from its eerie superficiality, this sort of thing should raise profound concerns about eugenics. You might even expect it to inspire the sort of public soul-searching associated with such political hot potatoes as human cloning.

Yet so far, "Donor look-a-likes" have hit the market without controversy. This may seem strange, but the US can be schizophrenic about family issues. In California, for example, gay marriage is illegal, but gay adoption isn't. The sort of person who might murder an abortion doctors would also applaud the free market ethos of selling vials of semen for £500.

No one, meanwhile, has so much as considered the most troubling question of all: what happens in the 50-50 eventuality that the child you want to look like Ben Affleck is eventually born a girl?

In fantasy land

Another week, another effort to extract cash from Michael Jackson's death: the owners of the singer's old ranch, Neverland, have filed a trademark request to use its name on children's toys, baby clothes, and "baseball bats." Funny, how they claim ownership of a word invented by Peter Pan author J M Barrie, 100 years ago.

Fleet Street's finest

The first photos of Californian child rapist Philip Garrido's garden were taken by Nick Stern, a British paparazzi who simply leapt a fence into the crime scene, and began snapping. "Some of his fellow media members admire him," reported the San Francisco Chronicle. "Others want him prosecuted." Doesn't the resourcefulness of Fleet Street make you proud?