Culture Vulture: Clay Aiken look-alike steals a bit of 'American Idol' spotlight

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Dave Dunn gets squeals from girls, poses for snapshots and even signs autographs, but he's not famous. He just happens to be a near-dead ringer for Clay Aiken, the apple-cheeked "American Idol" alum who performed a Christmas show last night at Abravanel Hall.

Dunn is a little taller (6' 3") than Aiken (6' 1"), but both have the same skinny frame, pale complexion and spiky reddish hair.

"It's not like I try to look like him," says Dunn, 23, an engineering student at the University of Utah. "But yes, I do."

(Incidentally, Aiken turns 26 today. But of course, you knew that.)

It all started last February when Aiken began appearing on the second season of "American Idol." Dunn was at a burger joint in downtown Salt Lake City when a man asked him, "Hey, weren't you on TV last night?” Dunn didn't know what the guy was talking about, but he soon found out.

Before long, people were approaching Dunn daily with some version of, "You probably hear this a lot, but you look just like . . ." His friends began milking Dunn's Aiken-like looks to get laughs and meet women. Last March, when Dunn attended Aiken's show with fellow "Idol" Kelly Clarkson at the Delta Center, concertgoers lined up by the dozens to have their picture taken with him.

Over the summer, Dunn's mother Lori sent a snapshot of him to ABC's "Live with Regis & Kelly," which was inviting "American Idol" look-alikes on the program. The next thing he knew, Dunn was in New York, appearing on national TV.

"It goes on and on," says Dunn, who is single. He admits to some ambivalence about his newfound "celebrity." Although he likes Aiken's music, he doesn't try to dress or act like his doppelganger. But he does have a sense of humor about the resemblance - one of Dunn's e-mail addresses is

By coincidence, Dunn also is a singer who performs solo and in a doo-wop quartet.

"I wish I could sound like [Aiken], too," he says wistfully.

Looking like Clay Aiken doesn't get Dave Dunn backstage passes or the best tables in restaurants. As of last week, he couldn't even get a ticket to last night's Aiken concert. But the resemblance does have its perks.

"I have my pick among the 14-year-old girls," he says. Joking, of course.

Latest sign of the apocalypse: A new video game, "Kuma/War: The War on Terror," lets players become U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Actual Military Events," the box reads. "You've seen it on the news, now PLAY IT!"

Maybe I'm out of touch with today's video-game generation, but I see nothing playful about an ongoing war in which more than 1,000 American troops and countless Iraqis have died.


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Separated at birth? Dave Dunn, a University of Utah student, is often mistaken for Clay Aiken, who performed at Abravanel Hall last night.