Fads come and go: the hoolahoop, the yoyo, the frisbee. Few stand the test of time and fewer still are as esoteric and downright creepy as “Samping”.
Samping is a phenomenon whereby people collect, preserve and trade samples of celebrities. The samples are generally frozen or preserved an alcohol/formaldehyde mixture, depending on the kind and quantity sampled.
“It’s not dissimilar to keeping an article of clothing once worn by celebrity. The samps we collect are more personal than mere objects,” says a practitioner, who refused to be named, “But I can understand that it’s not a hobby for everyone.”
The advent of the internet has seen a significant number of ‘samp-sites’, web pages that facilitate the sale and trade of samples between sample collectors or “Sampers”. The practice has been common since the fifties, when cheap refrigeration became widely available, enabling samples to be collected and frozen, although proponents state that the practice is actually an extension of the ancient Egyptian’s mummification ritual.
Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand are the most popular bang for buck, while Chuck Norris is rating at an all time high, even though there is a running joke that vials aren’t strong enough to contain his cells. While film and television personalities are popular, there are specialist Sampers who deal with requests for bits of scientists, artists, musicians and sports stars.
“I’m not going to share how I collect my samps. I will say that so long as you have documentation on the provenance, and you’ve preserved it properly, you’re onto a solid investment.”