Friday, August 22, 2008

Secrets of the Green Room

After my stellar, life-changing, world-transforming, gold medal-winning performance on Richard & Judy, I retired to the Green Room. Ricky Gervais, Amanda Ross, the producer and brilliant manager of the R & J Book Club, Richard, Judy and assorted girls who had previously carried clipboards and worn headsets joined me. We talked of Arthur de Vany and the diet or way of life as I prefer to call it. Ricky was especially interested but apparently too devoted to carbs to be entirely enthusiastic. They all asked me detailed questions. 'I am not the expert,' I said, 'I am the evidence.' Perhaps disappointed by this, they then began to talk among themselves of various celebrities of whom I had never heard. They spoke in particular of the tribulations of their private lives. I realised suddenly how strange this is. The exposure of the private life has become an essential aspect - sometimes the only aspect - of being a celebrity. Yet these private lives are seldom especially extraordinary. Anybody's sexual history would be made to look chaotic and/or weird if exposed to public scrutiny. Perhaps celebrity heightens this a little, but, judging by the stories one hears and reads, not by much. Personally, unless there is some deep, structural reason why it is important, I am not interested in the private life. If I am interviewing somebody who is famous for being more than just famous - ie for actually having done something unusual or worthwhile - then trawling through the usual relationship nonsense seems like a waste of time and space. In this, I know I am hopelessly out of touch. And I have to acknowledge there may be some useful purpose being served by this exposure; we may be using celebrity lives as stories that reconcile us to our own failings, as, in effect, folk legends. That was how it sounded in the Green Room. People sat around the fire - sorry, canapes - and shared tales that would help them make sense of the storms and darkness outside their tiny circle.


  1. Great, once we had mythic heroes like Hercules or Christ by which to make sense of things, now we have Jade Goody.

  2. I'm sure you're right about celebrity lives as folks legends - hence, in part, the section devoted to "tragic life stories" in my local WH Smith. People get so angry and litigious about truth versus fiction in these stories, heated arguments often over complete trivia that fill half the tabloids. I suppose the same was true in earlier generations. Questioning the miraculous acts of saints or the activities of the gods could get you up on a charge of heresy. All fiction to us now, but get a single thing wrong about the life of a celeb ... Our grasp of what's really true, as distinct from what we need to believe is true, is just as shaky as it's always been. I wonder what future generations will do ... perhaps The Tale of Peter Replicant and the Flopsy Borgs.

  3. Some celebrities' private lives do indeed help us to understand their public personae. David Bowie is the first example that comes to my mind.

    Actually, I just remembered something he said in a Rolling Stone interview. Back in the '60s, before "bisexual" was a common word, some reporter asked him about his sexuality and that was the word he used to describe it. Bowie said the reporter suddenly looked horrified and fascinated and DB realized he thought "bisexual" meant Bowie was a hermaphrodite.

    Just face it Bryan: Man is a huddle of need. Woman too.