A new breed of megastars has arrived in Shanghai, not in a stretch limo, but rather in the comfort of your home. Really, you can even meet these new stars while lounging in your smiley face boxers. Who are they, you ask? They are the web celebs of Shanghai–trendy bloggers, jet-set tycoons, quirky YouTubers, MySpace rockers, and Podcasting beatboxers– and they are all models of the info-age avenue to fame. In the world of online celebs, these net stars land their first audition with their networking skills; their PR reps are a wide array of internet-portals. Though the paparazzi may not hound them as they strut the Shanghai cement carpet, these stars have the skills and determination to connect with web communities and broadcast their talents, dreams and personalities. Whether it's entrepreneurial, written or musical, these stars have found their niche. Meet five Shanghai web celebs whom, if you don't know them already, will have you logging on soon.
Trendy Blogger: Dan Washburn
Shanghaiist Hits: 4,000 to 5,000 unique visitors a day, according to SiteMeter.com
Dan Washburn, a freelance writer from Pennsylvania, USA, was awarded the title of Best Blogger in mainland China in 2004. Since then, he has gone on to publish new sites to bring Asia's biggest little city together. Washburn started with Shanghaidiaries.com, his own personal blog that also features essential information about Shanghai, but "since all expats in Shanghai have a blog, I rarely update it now." Never fear. Washburn then moved on to Shanghaiist.com, the much-loved site that specializes in news analysis, useful information and photography that runs the gamut from new government legislation to the next best new eat. He claims there is no secret to his popularity. "You just have to give readers a reason to come back every day," says Washburn." Just provide them with something interesting or entertaining." And do it consistently. "Or," he notes, "just buy a webcam and take your clothes off. Both work."
MySpace Rocker: Isabella
Number of friends: 1145 on MySpace and leader of MySpace's Shanghai Group
This MySpace rocker was raised in the Chongqing countryside, studied film in the U.S. and returned to Shanghai in 2005, only to find that she missed the West Coast's bohemian lifestyle. Determined to bring a slice of this scene to Shanghai, Isabella began researching the real estate market so as to open her own trendy café, La Bella. She also hit the MySpace and Flickr scene full force, which she says has only fed her barrister goals. "One of the coolest things is that since La Bella opened, many people I met online have stopped by," says Isabella, giving the café a common vibe. The back area even has a small stage where both she and the local performers she meets online can live out their rock star dreams.
Quirky (or QWERTY) YouTuber: Princess Fantastic (name shared by the women in her family for generations)
"I'm a member of nothing; they belong to me." YouTube.com
Number of friends: "How does one measure the infinite?"
This quirky YouTuber based in Shanghai showed us crazy video clips and gave a fantastic interview–we will let her words say it all. "YouTube has provided me with an audience and with the ability to elevate my full celebrity potential. As a result of this, I am now staging the show of my life story–Princess Fantastic: The Musical," she says. "As a result of my affiliation to this website, many fans have pledged their undying devotion and many vows come in the form of marriage proposals and erotic/stimulating photographs." Visit the site and see for yourself her chaotic escapades and humorous performances. We promise you'll log off saying, Where did this girl come from?
Jet-Set Tycoon: Giacomo James Beretta
Number of friends: 1221, out of roughly 10,000 total members.
This jet-setting Italian is the most connected person in Shanghai on the exclusive website aSmallWorld.net. New members from around the globe are screened and added by invite only. So, if you aren't highly educated, sophisticated and don't already have several Blackberrys full of connections, chances are, you won't make the cut. It's good to be in this small world. "Wherever I go for business, there is an ASW member with whom it will be a pleasure to have a drink with," says Beretta. He's also found business customers, apartments and even his current job in Shanghai through these online friends. Modestly he admits that he isn't famous and doesn't want to be. He's a social person who has had the fortune to meet new people in five different countries and various industries, and ASW has only made that easier. Yet with its rigorous admissions process, "The question is not why to join the site," says Beretta. "The question is, can you?"
Internet DJ: MoJo aka Morgan Jones
DJvibe has 1 million hits a month
Already known for hosting DJ and hip hop shows throughout China (recent stops include Hangzhou, Xi'an and Guangzhou), Shanghai’s very own emcee MoJo is now making waves on the web with his rhyming lyrics, beat boxing and of course his charming personality. His weapon of choice? Podcasting -- though you’ll also see him on many web communities and blogs. “Podcasting has allowed me to spread the word about what I do, and it has helped me stand out as an artist to get more shows and entertainment opportunities,” says MoJo. Indeed, his podcasting career has shaken up Shanghai’s music scene by bringing hip hop, “particularly quality, conscious hip-hop,” to local clubs and online radio. With a growing number of producers and computer techies preaching the future of podcasting, MoJ may have a future career in the works.
www.secondlife.com: An online society within a 3D world, where users can explore, build, socialize and participate in their own economy. Build you own avatar and create anything you can imagine, and make money at the same time. Truly an experience.
www.facebook.com: Offers a social networking service for school, corporate, and geographic communities. Features include news feed, social time line, and weblog options. spaces.live.com: Provides users with the ability to publish a weblog via mobile phone, add music lists and manage friends.
www.blogger.com: Free, automated weblog publishing that sends updates to a site via FTP.
www.decayene.com: An exclusive social and business network established in 2001 that caters to all of its members networking needs
www.shanghaiist.com: A local lifestyle blog about everything that happens in Shanghai.
Shanghai.asiaxpat.com: An online resource for expatriates moving to or working in Shanghai providing property and real estate listings, service apartments, hotels and classifieds.