Austin Imposter? Yeah, baby, yeah!
By Chris Baker
The Washington Times
November 22, 2002
Nieb impersonated Austin Powers to entertain guests
of Rebecca Hierholzer (left), who celebrated her 50th
birthday at a private party at the Hotel Mocaco on
Nieb isn’t an international man of mystery, but he
plays one at parties. Mr. Nieb is a professional impersonator
of Austin Powers, the fictional 1960’s-era British
playboy portrayed by Mike Myers in a series of spy-movie
Nieb is paid to perform as Austin at private parties, trade
shows and corporate retreats.
“Austin is all about love, not just sex. He just loves life,” Mr.
The randy secret agent is just one character in Mr.
He also performs as Jimmie the Clown and the Five Niebinskis, a series
that includes master juggler Sgt. Will Juggle and improvisational
singer Jimmie Rock.
Mr. Nieb is also an actor. He appears frequently in television
commercials and industrial training videos, and dreams
of becoming a sitcom or movie
Until then, impersonating Austin Powers helps pay the
Cast of Thousands, a McLean agency that
supplies parties with celebrity impersonators,
hires Mr. Nieb to play
Austin. The company also employs
the Blues Brothers, Cher, Groucho Marx, Frank Sinatra, Britney
Spears, television mobster Tony Soprano and the “I love Lucy” cast,
to name a few.
Nieb, who got a post-performance back rub from Ms.
Hierholzer, works for Cast of Thousands.
Nieb is perhaps the brightest star in Cast of Thousands’ cast
On a recent Sunday evening, he performed at a birthday party
for Rebecca Hierholzer, a local masseuse. The celebration was
in a deluxe
suite at the swank Hotel
Monaco, located in the renovated Tariff Building in downtown
Mr. Nieb struts into the hotel lobby at about 9:15 p.m.
He is dressed in full Austin Powers regalia – the
blue velvet suit, the puffy shirt, the thick black frame
wig, the fake bad teeth.
In the Mike Myers movies, the Austin Powers character is irresistible
to women. When Mr. Nieb sashays into the suite where the birthday
party is held,
delighted to find it full of women.
This will be a room he can work easily.
“The museum called. They want their piece of art back,” he says to
one of the women guests.
“You’re the grooviest chick in here,” he tells another.
“Are you married?” he asks yet another.
“No,” she responds, tightly clutching a glass of cider.
“Well, neither am I. We have so much in common,” he says. He punctuates
this statement, as he does most, with Powers’ trademark
Nieb doesn’t so much impersonate Austin Powers as he does channel him.
He has closely studied Mr. Myers’ performances, and
The crowd at the party adores him. He flirts with the women.
They flirt back.
When a partygoer unexpectedly pops an Austin Powers soundtrack
into a CD player, Mr. Nieb spontaneously begins dancing, and
At one point, a partygoer’s cell phone rings. Mr. Nieb grabs it and answers.
Apparently, the person on the other end is so surprised to hear Austin Power’ voice
that they are speechless.
This is Austin Powers, baby. Talk to me, or are you a mime?” Mr.
Throughout the evening he refuses to break character.
“How do you keep your teeth in?” one partygoer asks him.
“The same way you do, baby. It’s called evolution, yeah,” he
Another partygoer asks Mr. Nieb who he is supposed to be.
What are you, Amish? I’m Austin Powers, baby. Do
you not own the videotapes? Are you a Mennonite?”
Later, Mr. Nieb chats up a young girl who has accompanied
her mother to the party. The woman and the girl wear matching
pantsuits. The mother’s
name tag reads “Me.” Her daughter’s reads “Mini Me,” an
apparent reference to the diminutive villain in the Austin
Mr. Nieb asks the little girl her age. She clutches her
pant let, and softly tells him she is 7.
“Really? I was seven when I was your age,” he responds. The girl
Interacting with children is one of Mr. Nieb’s specialties. He often performs
as a character named Dr. Jimmie though the Big Apple Circus’ Clown
Care Unit, which entertains sick children in hospitals.
“I value that work the most, because that’s where I make a palpable
difference. I feel like when I’m finished my act, the room has altered,” he
Mr. Nieb began his career after graduating high school. He started
in standup comedy before drifting into acting.
A performer’s life isn’t always glamorous.
Mr. Nieb recalls a gig a few years ago when he dressed
to entertain some
society types at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.
“For three hours, I was a jellyfish. The people there looked at me like, ‘You’re
just one step above this salad I’m eating.’” he
He hopes those days are behind him now. Over the years Mr. Nieb
has carved a niche for himself as one of the most popular performers
in the Washington
He regularly appears at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and
in local stage productions.
Mr. Nieb, an Anne Arundel County resident, expect to one day
move to Los Angeles to pursue film and television work.
He said he has been able to support himself as an actor because
he works virtually every day of the week. It leaves him little
for a social
life, he says.
Just how much can someone get paid to impersonate Austin
it be as much as – one million dollars?
Not quite. Depending on which agency hires him, Mr. Nieb says
he can earn between $200 and $1000 doing an Austin gig.
It is about 10:30 p.m. when Mr. Nieb’s gig at the
birthday party is up. He retreats to an adjoining suite,
will wind down before
Ms. Hierholzer knocks on the door and thanks him for visiting
her party. She asks if he is tired.
“Are you kidding me?” he responds finally breaking character.
“This was a blast. I have the best job in the world.”