The owner of Maxverstappen.nl and Maxverstappen.com is, as the name suggests, Max Verstappen. Only he has little to do with Formula 1. When his namesake won the world title in Abu Dhabi last Sunday, this Max was in Amsterdam.
“I turned off my phone just to be safe,” the puppeteer and puppeteer told Business Insider. While not nearly as famous as his namesake, he is well known in the media and theater world. He is also called the ‘Dutch Jim Henson’ by connoisseurs, we read on his Wikipedia page.
That the creator of the page draws a comparison with the American creator of the Muppets, Verstappen finds “very honorable”. He has his own performances and made puppets for Studio100, the VPRO, NTR, RTL, NCRV, Talpa, MTV and De Efteling, among others. Nowadays he also gives courses and workshops for puppeteers and puppeteers.
The red letters in which the name Max Verstappen appears on his website may be somewhat reminiscent of Formula 1. But in terms of content there are ten worlds between his and his namesake, as Verstappen himself puts it.
In 2015, the driver Max Verstappen made his F1 debut and the doll maker Max Verstappen knew that. This sometimes resulted in lengthy e-mails from girls and phone calls and texts from both old and young men. He sent personal letters “neatly back”. “In the beginning I got calls from people congratulating me on my great achievements. Not every night, but regularly. Sometimes I also got calls in the middle of the night, from children, drunk people, stoned people…”
“I now know who Lewis Hamilton is”
That’s why the phone went off last Sunday.
But while driver Max Verstappen threw himself into a hopping crowd after his victory to party until the late hours, it remained relatively quiet in Amsterdam. This time, F1 fans left the puppeteer’s 06 number alone. “I did get an email from someone congratulating me. I used to respond to that, but they can also take a closer look at who they send their e-mail to.”
Years ago, he did send an e-mail to Max Verstappen’s team to see if they might be interested in the domain name. That would clear up the confusion. A brief email exchange followed, but Maxverstappen.nl and .com remained in the hands of the puppeteer. The driver Max Verstappen does it online without his first name: Verstappen.com. “I never heard anything about it again. If someone comes up with a great proposal, we can talk about it.And because everyone was talking about last Sunday’s race, I wanted to watch out of curiosity.” Unfortunately, that was not possible: “We don’t have a Ziggo, so we couldn’t even see it. I did learn a few things through current affairs programmes. You couldn’t ignore it in the news.”
Google suddenly blocked ads
Also on Google, Verstappen stumbled upon Max Verstappen years ago. The puppeteer has been around longer than his 24-year-old namesake in both real life and digitally, but Google didn’t realize that. “My ads were suddenly blocked. Their robots apparently thought: Hey, this name is protected, not knowing that’s my real name. We sent a message to Google and it was resolved.”
He has no intention of hooking up with the world champion. Besides not being an F1 fan, that can also cause problems. “As long as there are no conflicting interests, I don’t think there is a speck in the air. Cleaning agent Ajax has nothing to do with the football club Ajax. But as soon as I get in their way, I think I could get in trouble. And I don’t really know how to get one, two, three into the championship without a race car or Max himself.”
Maybe he could make a show with an F1 driver in the lead. This is a legal gray area, he knows from the lawyer who advised him on the Google blockade. But Verstappen does not look for that limit: “You always lose that. It would be funny if someone shows an interest in the domain name, but I haven’t noticed that much so far,” he says.
Furthermore, he does not have to take advantage of the victorious Verstappen if necessary. “I do work that makes me happy and that I can live on. That in itself is special.”
Similarities Between the Two Maxen
The namesakes have nothing in common, except that both came into contact with their profession at a young age and managed to turn it into their careers. Where the racing driver Max Verstappen started karting at the age of 7, the puppeteer Verstappen saw his first theater performance at the age of seven. He learned a lot at the teacher training course in drawing and crafts, but Verstappen is mainly self-taught. He made his first dolls at the age of 14, after which he deepened his craft.
The hardest and most important thing about a puppet is that it is a good tool”, he says about his profession. “The ergonomics on the inside have to be right, so that the doll is easy to play. It needs to move well and be as light as a feather because you need to be able to hold it above your head for a long time. A beautiful doll that sits badly cannot captivate people for hours. An ugly doll that fits well, though. Being a puppeteer too, I approach puppet making differently than a designer.“Max is a driver and strives for perfection in his race, but in the end it’s never quite right. The same goes for my work and that’s a good thing, because perfection is boring.”
Although he has been consciously sharing his name with Max Verstappen for a number of years now, he still has to get used to it. “I am sometimes startled when I suddenly hear and see my name on television. But it also has advantages: they know me in every store. I am remembered. And every conversation starts in a nice way, the ice is immediately broken when they hear my name.”
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