Ilham Anas concedes work is slow four years after he found fame impersonating Barack Obama in Indonesia, when the U.S. president's childhood home went wild for its long-lost son.
With his wide smile and protruding ears, the shy photographer’s striking resemblance to Obama transformed him into an overnight sensation in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
But as Americans decide whether to hand Obama a new term as president in a closely fought election on Tuesday, the steady stream of appearances for Anas on TV shows and films across the region has dried up.
“I still get Obama work sometimes, but of course, it’s not like it was before. Back then the whole world had their eyes on Obama,” the 38-year-old told AFP, adding he has been forced to return to doing more photography work.
Nevertheless, Anas, who used his success as an Obama double to found a lookalike agency, is still loyal to the president. “If he wins, I'll get more work, so of course he has my vote,” he laughed.
Indonesia erupted in joy when Obama, who is remembered by his former Jakarta elementary schoolmates as a chubby kid named Barry, became the most powerful person in the world.
Obama moved to the city in 1967 with his mother and Indonesian step-father. He returned to live in Hawaii four years later.
But compared to 2008, Indonesians’ fervor towards their favorite American son has worn off somewhat.
“Last time it was new, the question really was could a kid from (the central district of) Menteng, somebody who had lived here, actually get that American dream, become president,” said Democrats Abroad Indonesia chairman Arian Ardie.
“I think it’s perhaps more of a temperature than a fever this time around.”
Food vendors who named their best dishes and chili sauces after the president are using generic names again, while a bar dedicated to Obama fans in the capital has become a little-visited nightspot.
Even Obama’s former nanny, a transgender named Turdi, whose story of living in hardship in a tiny single room caught the attention of the international media earlier this year, says that interest in his story is not what it was.
“I had journalists from all over the world come to visit me. From America, France, Australia, England. They would give me a little money,” said the 67-year-old, “but they no longer come”.
A “deeply moved” Obama returned to Jakarta for a brief visit in November 2010. But Turdi’s appeals for “Little Barry” to get back in touch have so far fallen on deaf ears.
But while the euphoria surrounding Obama’s election victory in 2008 has waned, a recent poll suggests that in Indonesia, as in many countries outside the United States, his support remains strong.
According to a BBC survey released last week, if Obama were running for president in Indonesia, he would win a landslide victory with 59 percent backing him against only three percent for Republican rival Mitt Romney.
That result reflects a global pattern. The survey, for which pollster GlobeScan/PIPA quizzed 21,797 people in 21 countries, showed 50 percent supporting Obama against nine percent for Romney.
Indonesians such as Nilam Mira Lentika, a 20-year-old student of international relations, have applauded Obama's efforts to reach out to the Muslim world and his “pivot” towards Asia.
“I think Obama has tried to engage Muslims, including in Indonesia, and that's sent a message to the world that there can be dialogue in this area,” she said.