If you don’t know the video I’m talking about, it’s an old home movie from 1992 of Shaun Sperling’s bar mitzvah. In the video, the then 13-year-old boy dances — quite enthusiastically, in front of dozens of cheering friends and family members — to Madonna’s “Vogue.” It’s just as goofy and awesome as it sounds.
Well, 20 years later Sperling is a commercial litigation attorney in Chicago. In between appearances on the Today Show and Jimmy Kimmel, we caught up with him to ask if his newfound fame has affected his legal work over the last few weeks. In short: it’s been great.…
Before going any further, check out Shaun Sperling’s moves and his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week:
The original video is also on YouTube. But thanks to the company’s draconian copyright policies, the sound has been removed. It’s just not the same without sound.
Sperling is a corporate litigation associate at Aronberg Goldgehn in Chicago. When he’s not lawyering, he writes and performs creative nonfiction for fun. Recently, he was working on a piece about his lifelong love of Madonna. As promotion for the performance, he posted his old bar mitzvah video. Things got a little crazy when Perez Hilton picked up the clip.
So how did his firm — which he describes as relatively conservative — respond to one of its attorneys getting a lot of press for his nontraditional personality?
Fortunately, Sperling says the firm has handled his newfound internet fame in the best spirit of the 21st-century:
I have an incredible firm. As soon as it got posted on Perez Hilton, I went to my managing partner and said I was on a blog, and that it’s going to get a bunch of attention.
Sperling says the firm is happy to let him have his 15 minutes of fame. It set him up with its PR rep, and firm management trusts he will represent Aronberg Goldgehn in the right way. (It also sounds like the firm understands Sperling, who is a pleasant interviewee and looks at this whole thing with a healthy dose of humor and perspective, himself is good PR. Nothing wrong with that.)
To be fair, Sperling says he has made a specific effort to keep his firm updated with every aspect of his time in the spotlight. He realizes that time is money, and he’s grateful that the firm’s given him some slack to allow him his 15 minutes. (He also openly acknowledges that everyone knows that it is likely to be just 15 minutes, and not much longer.)
He says has enjoyed the experience, so far. Not just because he’s gotten to go on TV (he was quite funny on Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week), but because he’s seeing his story bring joy to people he’s never met. He appreciates how people are reacting to what is a truly unusual video.
Sperling is gay (shocking, right?), but he says his sexual orientation isn’t the only thing that makes the video special. It’s about family and friends supporting a kid who was outside the box of whatever people tend to call “normal.”
As an interesting side note, he doesn’t remember his choice to have a “Madonna Mitzvah” being a big deal at the time. Sperling’s parents jumped right on board; I asked him if he realized when he was 13 how brave he was. He said no. “It was just me,” he says. “I don’t remember being nervous or apprehensive.”
As far as practicing law, his firm has given him faith that the legal industry has really begun to modernize:
Specifically as a lawyer, I think it speaks volume to the profession. It’s changed a lot, it’s not just straight-laced men who play golf on weekends. There’s room for for everyone, even if you don’t fit the mold.
Indeed. Let’s close with a few words from the Material Girl herself:
When all else fails and you long to be
Something better than you are today
I know a place where you can get away
It’s called a [LAW FIRM], and here’s what it’s for, so….
Skype Interview with Bar Mitzvah Vogue Dancer Shaun Sperling [Jimmy Kimmel / YouTube]