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    Andy Kaufman Lives?!

    It's just not as easy to be a mad hermit as it once was--there aren't any good caves or ice fortresses or deserted islands left, plus, there's the Internet. And it's really hard to maintain your mythic isolation if you're checking your email every 20 minutes. The Internet sucks everybody in, including, apparently, missing person extraordinaire Andy Kaufman.

    You remember Kaufman? The mad-cap performance artist whose antics, life and (presumed) death were depicted in the movie Man on the Moon? Well, Andy (best known to most as Latka Gravas from TV's Taxi) once promised to fake his own death and return 20 years later to accept the accolades for having pulled it off.

    The 20th anniversary of Kaufman's death was May 16, and while the comic hasn't physically emerged from seclusion yet--he didn't attend a welcome-home party thrown by his friends and family at the House of Blues--he (or his nominal doppleganger) has taken up blogging.

    The Andy Kaufman Returns blog (andykaufmanreturns.blogspot.com) appeared on the Internet early last week, and Andy (who, in 1984, tried to convince the world that he was dying of lung cancer at the age of 35) has been softening up the streets for his forthcoming national tour. The transition from wandering mendicant to global celebrity would be rough on anyone though, so he's taking it slow while keeping his public apprised of his baby steps toward a re-emergence as a beautiful, sparkling, slightly older and balder butterfly.

    "It's not easy being bigger than Jesus right now. I'm actually getting death threats from a few of the non-believers. Don't worry, I forgive you. If I ever mysteriously stop posting anymore, it's either because one of them got to me, or I'm just too busy on my national Starbucks and Wal-Mart tour. Hopefully I'll get to make my first public television appearance before I would have to go into hiding or permanent touring of the country again," wrote Kaufman in a May 22 entry.

    Kaufman is also using the site to publish pictures from his victory lap--his recent visit to Las Vegas' Bunny Ranch is remembered with several snapshots of alter ego Tony Clifton (who also bears an uncanny resemblance to Kaufman's former partner in crime Bob Zmuda, who has so far suspiciously remained mum about the Website) in the arms (and bosoms) of the, uh, ranch hands.

    He's set up a FAQ for anyone curious as to his whereabouts during the past 20 years, the truth about his relationship with Ann Coulter (they are the same person, apparently) and what drugs he thinks the kids oughta try. (Crack, is the answer, by the way. Andy Kaufman thinks your kids should try some delicious crack.)

    But what about the central questions of "Is he or isn't he?" (Is he or isn't he enjoying the fruits of the greatest comic scam of all time? Is he or isn't he just plum crazy? Is he or isn't he actually dead?) Well, maybe the answers don't matter, because wherever Andy Kaufman is hanging out these days--on the Internet, on the Las Vegas Strip or on a higher plane of existence--he's definitely having fun.

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