"She thought I was Bono," says Pavel Sfera of Ireland's president. Sfera met her at a public appearance he made in Dublin last month. Sfera was in high school in 1982 when he started hearing the Bono comparisons, "But it really started happening in the last five years."
Sfera has an SDSU degree in city planning that he has never used. He works in property management and real estate and with Desire, San Diego's first U2 tribute band, which he started a year ago.
Sfera's gigs as a celebrity impersonator earn him the biggest paychecks. He retains an agent and a manager who have obtained work for him in TV and landed him public appearances in Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, and L.A. He earns between $200 and $600 per walk-on.
"I have done eight TV shows." On the Carson Daly show, he and other celebrity impersonators were rated on a scale of one to ten; Sfera received a ten. He characterizes his experience on Chelsea Handler's show as "crude and cheesy."
Sfera estimates there are at least a dozen Bono impersonators in U2 tribute bands.
"Sonically, I think some of the other singers do it better than myself," admits Sfera, who emigrated from Yugoslavia with his family.
"I never tell people that I'm Bono; I actually have a life. I don't do the Bono thing 100 percent with the exact same jacket, earrings, and haircut." Sfera says he's 5'8", two inches taller than Bono. "I'm 40 and he's 45." Similar to Bono, Sfera says he has been doing humanitarian work since high school.
"I spent the summer of '91 working with handicapped orphans in a Romanian village called Rimnicu Vilcea. I designed and built a playground using a student loan.... I helped build bathrooms for farmers in San Quintín [in Baja]."
Desire appears July 1 at the Dublin Square Pub downtown.