This post originally appeared in VICE UK
If Aesop were writing today, he'd have a hard time coming up with a better fable about the perils of celebrity than the tale of Kris Humphries.
Kris Humphries, you may remember, was a basketball star who shot to worldwide fame a few years back for having some peripheral involvement in Kim Kardashian's 72-day marriage (he was the husband). Handily for Kris, the whole relationship was pretty much done and dusted in the NBA's off-season, but when he returned to work after his marital breakdown, he noticed something had changed.
The second that Kris stepped onto the court at Madison Square Garden, to play against the New York Knicks, the crowd immediately started to boo him. He tried to play on, but the booing wouldn't stop. It kept going and going and going until the coach decided to bench him. At which point the crowd suddenly turned. They began to chant: "WE WANT KRIS! WE WANT KRIS!"
Why? So that he would come back on the court and they could boo him again.
This is the modern state of stardom. In 15 years of publishing Popbitch, we've heard all sorts of stories about the behind-the-scenes lives of the rich and famous. Here are a few of the eternal truths of celebrity.
Your Personal Assistant (PA) Says Things About You…
Obviously your PA will say things about you in the literal sense—that's primarily what they're paid to do—but your PA will also say things about you in a symbolic sense.
It's a well-established rule of thumb that if a celebrity's PA is a total nightmare, then the celebrity they represent is actually likely to be quite nice—the PA having been employed as the ball-breaker of the pairing. Conversely, if a celebrity's PA is incredibly charming, effusive and polite, the chances are it's because they're making up for the fact that their boss is a complete fucking asshole.
…And Your PA Sells Things About You
Most of the stories you'll see in the glossy weeklies and tabloids are sold by people close to celebrities, hoping to make a bit of pocket money from their connection. They do this through specialist celebrity news agencies, who take their stories and then email them to any editors they think are willing to print utterly banal nonsense about "seating plan snubs" at Jennifer Aniston's (non-existent) wedding or Blake Lively's folic acid intake.
Sometimes this is done with the blessing and full knowledge of the celebrity in question (it's easier for them to manage the stories if they're coming from their camp and the continued coverage helps to keep their profile high). But judging from the full caps-and-exclamation combo that lines the bottom of all these agencies' emails—phrases like, "Source: Katy's Assistant DO NOT ID!" or, "Source: Works for Ashton on Two And A Half Men DO NOT ID!"—maybe not all of them.
Lawyers Will Use You Like An ATM…
To someone like Tom Cruise, for whom litigation is both a hobby and a passion, lawyers are an unavoidable expense—like mooring fees for your yacht, or green fees at your golf club. To your more downmarket celeb, though, the lawyer is not so much a necessity as it is an accessory. A statement piece—like a runty little dog or this season's coveted handbag—to make you look important.
Celebrities who do this should be wary, though, because lawyers will treat them like a cash cow. You see, there is rarely any actual legal work to do for these sorts of clients, so the lawyers have to find a way to justify their retainer. The way they do this is by firing off letters to any and every publication who mentions their clients in a negative fashion—however slight. Even if there is zero chance of any actual action, the lawyers still send out threats, simply to prove to their clients they're providing value for money.
The net result? Journalists think that celebrities are humorless, greedy divas (even though most probably have absolutely no idea that legal threats are being issued on their behalf). Celebrities believe that journalists are constantly slandering them (because they have a stack of legal bills telling them so). And lawyers? They just keep on stirring and skimming.
…And They Will Talk Behind Your Back
Some of the biggest gossips we know here at Popbitch are lawyers. You don't even have to get them drunk (they'll happily take care of that themselves). They absolutely love to talk tittle-tattle, and if we lowly journalists got to hear the rumor about Charlie Brooks attempting to get rid of his laptop in the middle of the phone-hacking investigation—not because it contained anything that would be professionally compromising for his wife, Rebekah, but because the (ahem) nature of his pornography collection would be more professionally compromising for him—then you can be sure as hell that anyone who's passed the bar has heard it too.
It Is Incredibly Hard To Kill Your Career…
Here are four names:
1) Leslie Grantham
2) Matthew Broderick
3) Mike Tyson
4) Mark Wahlberg
Here are four crimes:
1) Murdering a taxi driver
2) Killing two people as a result of careless driving
3) Raping someone
4) Punching a Vietnamese man in the head so hard that you permanently blind him
Here are four possible career paths you can enjoy as a celebrity if you're ever found guilty of a crime:
1) Star as "Dirty" Den Watts in EastEnders for decades, then earn thousands of dollars a week in pantomime every Christmas
2) Have a huge Hollywood career, then star in a primetime Super Bowl ad for Honda in 2012
3) Tour your one-man show internationally, get a cameo in The Hangover, and become the star of your own cartoon series
4) Have a multi-million dollar music and movie career, then request a pardon from the state of Massachusetts because you punched a Vietnamese man in the head so hard that you permanently blinded him and your conviction is standing in the way of you expanding your restaurant ventures
See if you can match them all up!
"Highlights" from a panto Leslie Grantham starred in alongside Toadfish from Neighbors
…And Even When You Do, So What?
Want to know something depressing? It's entirely likely that Gary Glitter out-earns you. Even as one of the least esteemed members of the Sex Offenders' Register, Glitter is reported to be earning something in the region of £300,000 a year from royalties.
How? Rock And Roll Part Two was on the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack and is played coast to coast in sports stadiums in the US where he isn't really known—either as a rock star or as a child molester.
He gets a cut of every copy of the Oasis album (What's The Story) Morning Glory? sold because a sample of Hello, Hello, I'm Back Again is on there (22 million copies and counting).
Even his supremely icky song Do You Wanna Touch Me? enjoyed renewed airings because of touchscreen technology. Joan Jett's cover of the song was used on a Hewlett Packard ad in 2008 for a while, netting Glitter an estimated $100,000 before someone tipped them off to his crimes and they pulled it.
So even if your fortune changes, it doesn't necessarily change your fortune.
You Pay To Have Friends…
Everyone wants to be part of a celebrity entourage. Cristal popping. Stretch Navigators. Food everywhere, like the party been catered. It's a dream life.
Celebrities want to have an entourage, too, as it makes them appear cool and popular, but the truth of it all is sadder than it all looks. Because, while the money at the end of the night might come out of your record label or your film studio's pockets, that is all money that they will reclaim from you—the talent—in record sales and box office receipts. Ultimately, you are the one paying for everyone to hang out with you.
It's no better at work, either. Your celebrity lifestyle will be so busy that the only people you really get to hang around with is your staff—so you'll quickly find that whether it's professional or personal, most of your mates are coming at a quantifiable financial cost to you. To be a celebrity is essentially to be a john in a big, unwitting escort service.
…But It Pays To Have Friends
If, like Chris Brown, you have trouble keeping your fists to yourself, then you are going to find yourself involved in a few altercations from time to time. That being so, it's best you invest in some bodyguards. Not only to help protect you, but also to take the flak if—in the middle of a brawl outside a Washington, D.C. hotel, say—you end up smacking someone and violate the conditions of your probation.
As it turned out, Chris Brown didn't manage to escape arrest or jail time after that particular incident. But Nelly did when authorities in Texas found marijuana, heroin and a loaded firearm on his tour bus (his bodyguard Brian Keith Jones took the fall for it). Paris Hilton didn't get fined or booted out of South Africa after sniffer dogs found weed in her handbag (but her friend Jennifer Rovero did). P Diddy didn't get sentenced to ten years in prison for starting a gunfight in a club (his protégée Jamal Barrow did).
So, if the life of a celebrity sounds a bit bleak, there is some solace in knowing that you'll always have someone to take the (w)rap for you.
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