The Price of Fame

As a singer, everyone automatically thinks you want to be famous. I have to admit that I would love to do concert arenas and big budget live shows, but that still isn’t about fame, it’s about success in my field. If it happened for me, fame would be the down side. This seems increasingly abnormal, and if I had a quid for every time someone asked why I hadn’t gone in for The X Factor, I’d be a lot closer to a deposit on a house. I try in vain to explain, seeing in their eyes that they think “what a waste – if I could sing, I would use it”. This can be quite hard to take, as I think being in work in this field is a success, especially in a global economic crisis. Of course I wonder about how far I’d get in a competition like The X Factor, but being an actual singer, middle class and without a noteable sob story, my guess is not far. Then if you don’t win, you are forever a loser.

Look at all the people The X Factor ‘breaks’. They’re in the final stages, so they should be really excited and driven, but instead they are crying, shattered and fainting. Not everyone can cope with the pressure of constantly having to prove themselves. It’s exhausting, and then we wonder why celebrities are always checking into rehab for ‘exhaustion’- how hard can their lives be – right?! It is these negative side effects that everyone seems blind to.

You only need to look at Britney, who was a wholesome, driven girl with a bright future, propelled too fast into a world where she didn’t understand the rules and behaving like, well, a teenager! She suddenly didn’t know who to trust and sought attention and approval through any means possible. Her desperation was summed up in her lyric “everybody’s talking all this stuff about me, why can’t they just let me live”.

It’s hard enough being a teenager – the insecurity, the need to be liked, to experiment and fight authority. All Britney was doing was all of these things. Magnified onto the world’s stage though, she just didn’t have the mental capacity to cope. it happens all too often, and looking at the increasing numbers joining the ’27 club’ ( famous people that have died at the age of 27 – Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger and Kurt Cobain being only some of them) it can be the ultimate undoing of great talent.

It is scary then that these days, everyone can experience ‘fame’ in some way. As psychologist Pamela Stevenson argued in her documentary recently, the nearest thing the general public has to fame is Facebook and Twitter.

On one hand, social networking can be a great way to connect with old friends and family, share your holiday snaps and publicise your business. It can be enjoyable in the same way as reading a magazine, but now imagine you’ve been tagged in a photo, your eyes shut, wearing ‘that’ outfit that you only realised was see-through once you were in the club, and you’re talking to that person none of your friends approve of. Panic sets in, doesn’t it. Untag! Untag!

Now imagine that wasn’t Facebook but a magazine. You’d be on the ‘What Are You Wearing!’ page, the country laughing, people wanting you to explain why you were talking to her??? All of a sudden it’s not so fun. Everything is so much bigger… how do you cope?

Ultimately I believe the fame-hungry come under two main categories. The first are those who want to feel great success. The second are those who want to be known; that somehow if everyone knows them, their lives automatically ‘matter’ more.

These people, instead of living their lives, are in on a Saturday night uploading pictures and status updates about how “Crazy! LOL” their lives are, keeping up the appearances of the person they want to portray, then sitting down alone thinking how, in comparison, real life is awful.

Think about why fame would feel good to you, and see if it can be achieved in your real life rather than concentrating on your profile. Think how much time you could free up buy not checking Facebook all day. After all, if everyone thinks you’re busy and out all the time as your uploads suggest, they aren’t going to invite you anywhere.

Lose the Virtual Self and find the Real You again, and the next time you see the media tearing up Britney or Lindsay or Cheryl, remind yourself to be grateful you don’t have to defend yourself to the world, and that other peoples lives aren’t always the party they seem to be.

Images reproduced from and

Style Tips from Star Designers

Need some celebrity inspiration for your digs? Check out what some of Hollywood’s biggest names in interior design have to say.

Go Green

Kari Whitman is the designer who decorated Jessica Alba’s Los Angeles home. Both Alba and Whitman are environmentalists and Whitman says, “I incorporate the green aesthetic into my home designs as much as I can.” While going green is important, she believes that there is no need to renovate an entire home. A few smart choices make a difference. Shopping at flea markets, antique shops, and even hotel-liquidation warehouses is a great way to reuse, recycle, and reinvent. “It’s all about working with existing things,” says Whitman.

Break the Rules

Jeff Andrews, Khloe Kardashian-Odom’s interior designer had great advice for DIY decorating. His best advice? “Don’t over design. Don’t follow any current trends too closely, leave room for evolution,” Andrews says. His aesthetic is built on a traditional base without traditional rules. He admires small details in a room like personal photos and mementos that give the space a fresh, personal feeling. He also advises not to neglect the window treatments, as they can really pull a room together.

Be Happy

Barbie’s Malibu Dream House designer, and interior decorator to the stars, Jonathan Adler’s style philosophy is “happy chic.” Adler encourages bright, unpretentious spaces that look chic without being stuffy. He considers himself and his room maximalist (rather than minimalist). “Personal style means having a space that’s comfy, but filled with stuff that has meaning to you. It should hold things created and inspired by passionate people. Personal style should make you feel happy and happiness is chic,” says Adler. He also says that if you’re feeling unsure about a color, always pick orange as it is often the answer to most decorating conundrums.

Reflect your Personality

When Jennifer Lopez needed her California home redecorated, she called on the talents of designer, Michelle Workman. Workman strongly believes that your décor should reflect who you are. For example, her work for Jennifer Lopez was sophisticated, sexy, but not too over the top. What resulted was an Art-Deco glam reminiscent of black and white movies from the forties. She isn’t afraid to mix the masculine together with feminine to create the perfect balance of grace and substantiality.

Be Unexpected

Ruthie Sommers decorated Drew Barrymore’s new office for her production company, Flower Films. Sommers insists that matching, “is for amateurs.” Using a lot of colors to create contrast will make a room feel more accessible and fun. Use color in unexpected places, for example, the ceiling. “It’s the 5th wall,” she says. Whatever your style, as long as you decorate with what you love, you’ll be pulling it off. She also insists that there should be enough seating for at least 8 people in every room. So having extra cushions or makeshift seating is imperative if you like to entertain.

These designers decorate for the trend setters and really know their stuff. If you follow their advice, your home will be looking stylish in no time!

This article was written by Erie Construction. Follow Erie Construction on Twitter for more tips on home improvement.

The Resurrection of Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s persecution and exile have been regarded by some as a “crucifixion”. There has been a crucifixion, so, it follows; there must be a resurrection. Such is the power of the narrative; of the myth-making machinery that operates in our culture in the creation of icons.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde has a remarkable capacity to touch the lives of the twenty-first century reader, to make people feel as though he is someone with whom they are so familiar that it is as if he is their personal friend.

In fact, at times, he seems so contemporary and like “one of us” that we could be forgiven for thinking he is alive and well and living in the twenty-first century. The word that always springs to mind when considering such notions is “spirit”.

Indeed, over the past century, there have been numerous reports from people, claiming that Wilde has “appeared” to them, or has been “spotted.” One sighting, by a student at Magdalen College in 1934, claimed that he was seen drifting across the College quad in his graduation gown.

John Stokes in his book, Myths Miracles and Imitations, writes of Wilde having been seen in New York in 1905 and again in 1912 by his own nephew, Arthur Cravan.  In the latter example it is a dark and rainy night … and the apparition of Wilde appeared to Craven in his flat. According to Stokes, Cravan turned upon Wilde and abused him, but, suddenly overcome by pity, ran after him, calling his name and, when he realised Wilde had gone forever, he returned a desolate man.

Such a story seems to me to provide the perfect metaphor for the history of Wilde’s cultural reputation.  It is almost a story in miniature of his fall and subsequent rise to glory.  He was abused, he fled this world and now that world is sorry and wants to call him back, so much so that wishful thinking sometimes overflows into belief that he has been “seen”, spotted somewhere.

Elvis Presley also has the capacity to generate such rumours.  Elvis has been “seen” in some fairly surreal situations: pushing a trolley full of fish fingers outside a supermarket in L.A., where his Cadillac was parked in the disabled spot; eating a meal in Burger King wearing a white robe (what else do ghosts wear?); washing his smalls in a laundrette in West London, telling the attendant “you ain’t nothing but a hound dog” when they ran out of soap flakes.

There have been various attempts to make “contact” with Wilde. Perhaps the most amusing case was the recording made of the late Leslie Flint, a famous medium back in the 1960s.

When asked to speak, he replied, “I have never been known to say nothing” and he told the medium he was still writing and having his plays performed, saying that, “more money has been made out of my reputation since my death than I was ever able to make out of my plays, which goes to show that sin is very successful.”

The point of these ramblings about sightings and so forth is that such cases are illustrative of the power of personality – the power of the spirit. Aided and abetted by the advent of the media and its rapid expansion since Wilde’s time, some of that power is accrued through the reproduction of images, the Oscar Wilde industry, as it has become known.

Although dead for over a century Oscar is very much alive to us, not simply in the sense of being immortalised through his works as indeed many authors are, but because he was – is – larger than life – because he was more than a writer – he was a celebrity. Like many celebrities, such as Elvis Presley, it is hard for many to believe that he is dead.

He is so much a part of modern life that it is hard to believe he died all those years ago.  Wilde, in the manner of a spirit, retains a “presence” – one might be tempted to say “omnipresence” – within popular culture.

Of particular note is Wilde’s appeal to the teenage demographic, an appeal which is at least in part due to the fact that he speaks to the outsider in people.

It is no wonder then, that the author Michael Bracewell had, he confessed, two posters on his bedroom wall when he was growing up: one of David Bowie and one of Oscar. “Bowie came down after awhile”, he noted. “But Oscar stayed.” Stephen Fry too, noted that teenagers “trembling on the brink of bourgeoisification” look to Oscar as an inspiration. Indeed, there is a certain fragility about his position in Victorian society, his status as a wit and an artist – that seems to provide the perfect metaphor for the struggle against conformity endured by young people, especially teenagers, for whom individuality (a.k.a. identity) is vitally important, but who are all too keenly aware of their vulnerability to the ravages of social pressure.

Wilde’s brief career is very “teen”, in the sense that it represented a brief oasis of self-expression, flourishing in a desert of conformity.  It was all too quickly quelled, he was packed off to prison where he was stripped of his individuality, had to wear a uniform and to do what he was told.  He can be regarded as a metaphor for those with artistic aspirations who maybe cultivated an interesting style for just a few brief years of their lives, before they have to forsake themselves and end up working in an environment that does not make room for individual expression.  Like the 1890s itself, his was a flame that burned too brightly and was all too soon snuffed out.

Of course, Wilde does not merely appeal to teenagers. HE appeals to people from all walks of life. He has, albeit posthumously, become a figurehead for a whole range of communities, that have gathered around him, fought over his legacy and claimed him as their own.  The main one of these is, of course, the gay community. Over the years, much has been written about Oscar’s gay identity, about whether or not he would care to be seen as a “gay” author.

On the centenary of Wilde’s death, thousands of people came from all over the world to pay their respects, leaving flowers and messages at his graveside, such as, “love you always” and “I will keep you forever in my heart”. One message, written in French, said, “For Oscar Wilde the outraged martyr, who died in the name of love”.

The notion of Wilde as a modern celebrity is a frequently discussed one. In the twentieth and twenty-first century, with artists and celebrities becoming, for many people, like Gods or Guru figures, Wilde and his reputation fit with ease into this cultural template.

Wilde himself would perhaps not be surprised, living as he did in a culture where this had already started to happen, when the spiritualist Madam Blavatsky was looking to nominate her guru to popularise spiritualism and when actresses like Sarah Bernhard were commanding the kind of adulation now given to stars like Madonna and Kylie. Indeed, Wilde himself commanded such adulation, when on his American tour with his manager and publicist, the Victorian equivalent of Max Clifford.

Wilde epitomises the spirit of our time and that is why it feels as if he is alive and well and living in Chelsea, or Paris, or wherever one might picture him to be.

As Ellmann so aptly pointed out, “he belongs to our world more than to Victoria’s”. After a decade of celebrations Wilde’s “resurrection” is finally complete and he is restored to us in all his resplendent glory.

Julia Wood is the author of The Resurrection of Oscar Wilde: A Cultural Afterlife. (Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press, 2007) £15.00 pbk 164pp ISBN 978-0-7188-3071-7

Bipolar Disorder Hits the Headlines

Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest celebrity to hit the headlines as a sufferer of Bipolar Disorder. Earlier this month, her publicist announced that the Oscar winning actress made the decision to check in to a mental health facility for a brief stay to treat Ms Zeta-Jones’ Bipolar II Disorder after dealing with the stress of the past year.

Catherine Zeta-Jones has been praised by mental health charities for the bravery of her openness about suffering from Bipolar Disorder – especially as there is unfortunately still stigma and misunderstanding about the condition and mental illness in general. One only needs to look at the derogatory comments on Twitter and Facebook in reaction to this news for an example of the way mental illness is treated by some members of the public.

Mental health professionals have a much better understanding of Bipolar Disorder these days than 20 years ago. This is reflected by the fact that Manic Depression, the old name for Bipolar Disorder, is no longer used by psychiatrists because every sufferer of this condition does not necessarily experience manic AND depressive episodes. Catherine Zeta-Jones for example has a diagnosis which means she would mainly suffer from periods of depression and may only have rare or occasional mild manic episodes. In fact, there is now discussion about a Bipolar Spectrum which covers every variation of this condition from its mildest forms to the most extreme cases. You can find out more information about Bipolar Disorder, its symptoms and treatment on the NHS Choices website.

Approximately 1 in every 100 people will suffer from symptoms of Bipolar Disorder at some point in their life. The condition has been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In recent times, more and more people in the public eye have talked about their diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and there are also historical figures who are believed to have been affected by the condition. Below are the names of some famous Bipolar sufferers from the past and present:

  • Adam Ant – singer
  • Russell Brand – comedian & actor
  • Frank Bruno – boxer
  • Stephen Fry – actor, comedian & writer
  • Mel Gibson – actor & director
  • Macy Gray – singer
  • Ernest Hemingway – writer
  • Nina Simone – singer
  • Vincent Van Gogh – artist
  • Virginia Woolf – writer

As you can see from the list of names, many Bipolar sufferers are creative individuals who have had successful careers or been blessed by incredible talent. As these famous names demonstrate, although Bipolar Disorder can make individuals vunerable and fragile, it is not always the case that someone who is affected by the condition cannot achieve their ambitions and dreams.

There are a number of charities out there that raise awareness about Bipolar Disorder and support those affected by the condition. Most notable are MDF, Equilibrium and Rethink. Other mental health charities include Mind and SANE. Check out their websites for more information and how to make a donation, if you so wish.

Image reproduced from The Guardian: Chris Pizzello/AP

Who Wants to Live Forever? – Part 1: The Origins of Celebrity

If one had to name or describe the dominant theme of our cultural epoch, it would almost certainly be celebrity, and the public’s obsession with fame; what we have come to call the cult of the personality.

Never before has a culture been quite so fixated with fame: the quest for it; the acquiring of it, and the dealing with its pressures and demands. We are talking not simply about fame as a by-product of talent, but as a thing in itself; for its own sake. We are talking about the search for cultural icons and the making of them.

In the first part of this article I am concerned with tracing the history of celebrity because, like most contemporary themes and concerns, there is usually a history. Nothing is ever quite new, but merely an old idea cloaked in a different form.

The second part of this article will be concerned with the contemporary phenomenon of celebrity and the cult of the personality.

While it is tempting to see our cultural epoch as entirely unique, the phenomenon of celebrity and the cult of the personality can be traced back to at least the late nineteenth century, to the figure of Oscar Wilde, whose quote, ‘there is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about,’ can be taken as a sort of mantra for contemporary publicists and the celebrities whom they represent.

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde was famous before he had published his best work, largely due to his flamboyant dress style, but also because of his razor-wit and his ability to, as he put it, ‘sum up all existence in a phrase.’ Wilde was the master of the one-liner, the sound-bite, of what was then referred to as the epigram.

Oscar Wilde made himself known by going to the right parties and impressing the right people and he was lampooned in Punch Magazine for his extravagant nature and distinctive style and for his conspicuous association with the newly popular Aesthetic Movement. Contrary to popular belief, Wilde did not ‘invent’ the Aesthetic movement. Yet he has not only come to be thought as synonymous with it: he has come to be thought as its leader.

Wilde’s big break came in 1882, when Gilbert and Sullivan produced Patience, an opera which satirised the Aesthetic Movement. The main character, Bunthorne was said to be modelled on Wilde, with his long hair, flowing cravats and velvet knee-breeches, yet it could just as easily have been modelled on the painter, James Whistler, another conspicuous ‘fan’ of the Aesthetic Movement.

The interesting point here is that the ‘aesthetic’ image was already an iconic one, which the savvy Oscar Wilde adopted for himself and inhabited, for the sole purpose of securing himself some useful publicity.

In support of Gilbert and Sullivan’s opera, Wilde was invited to embark on an American lecture tour, an affair which bore many similarities to the world tours of today’s stadium rock bands, both in the press attention it received, and the public hysteria surrounding his arrival in the States. Wilde’s lectures were packed to the rafters with fans and detractors and Wilde writes of being requested to send locks of his hair to adoring fans, confessing that his manager, to whom he wisely delegated this unfortunate task, was now, ‘quite bald.’

In the manner of today’s celebrities, Wilde knew how to make controversy work for him. At one lecture, Wilde was confronted with a row of undergraduate hecklers, who had decided to mock him by turning up dressed in knee breeches and cravats. Wilde was, however, tipped off in advance and arrived for the lecture attired in a conventional suit.

Wilde worked and thrived within a society where the cult of the personality was at its nadir, yet when we examine the socio-cultural conditions of his time, we find that, running parallel to the rise of celebrity culture, is the decline of religious faith, the demise of organised religion and the rise of the self-nominated guru figure.

By the 1880s, Madam Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, was spreading the popularity of Eastern religions and had made several trips to India, where she brought back many ideas involving mysticism and the occult; including the use of various forms of divination such as Tarot cards and magic. The movement quickly grew in popularity and amongst its members were the author Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde’s wife, Constance.

Integral to Theosophy was the idea that there is no single god, but many gods; that spirituality is accessible to everyone regardless of religious creed, and that, in the manner of the ancient Gnostics, true wisdom is to be found within, by tuning in to the inner self, rather than looking without, to a preacher, or to God.

In this sense, what we have here essentially, are the seeds of the modern New Age Movement. But what we also have is the foundation for a spiritually egalitarian culture, in which the role of the guru is open to anyone with something insightful or controversial to say.

The significance of this for the cult of celebrity is that the self-nominated guru may not necessarily be a religious figure but simply one who espouses a creed and accrues followers, and what is more, who does so through the machinery of the media, through publicity.

Thus we are beginning to see the rise of popular culture, replacing and usurping organised religion, or at least, offering an alternative. The transition from a monotheistic culture into a polytheistic one paves the way for the rise of the artist-as-guru, ‘preaching’ his creed to an adoring or outraged public.

According to many cultural historians, including Joseph Campbell, art is the spirituality of our time. It facilitates the exploration of our inner selves and can act as a moral compass; expressing the ‘soul’ or spirit of the age.

But it can also be the means for the artist to achieve celebrity and more importantly, immortality. With the prospect of ‘heaven’ and the hereafter looking less believable to many, celebrity may the only way to feel we can cheat death.

For us in the contemporary world, however, the phenomenon of celebrity has evolved into one in which the artist, or other person of talent, is often removed from the equation, thus making celebrity possible for anyone who knows how to manipulate the media. This will be the subject of Part Two.

Losing The Fame Game

Lorna Bliss unsuccessfully auditions on X Factor 2012

Nowadays I tend to avoid shows like the X-Factor but as I was scrolling down my Tumblr feed last night a clip popped up of someone’s audition on the show. Normally these clips posted around the Net are auditions that are either amazingly good or horrendously bad and I try to resist my guilty pleasure of laughing at the expense of some poor soul about to get their deluded dreams shattered. However the comments on this clip referred to a judge running away and so my curiosity clicked the play button.

A woman called Lorna Bliss wearing what she described as a ‘Body Stocking’ exploded onto my computer screen, talking excitedly about wanting to be on TV all the time. She was enthusiastic and friendly, chatting away to anyone she met, you knew this was a set up for something awful. After she had introduced herself to the judges she turned around to start her performance, receiving an mixed reaction from the audience about her thong showing clear underneath the stocking. The music started and she jumped straight into a well rehearsed routine in which she climbed up on the judges table dancing. This was the point in which one of the judges ran, undeterred she followed him, still singing and dancing into the audience. She then made her way back to the stage for the end of her song and stood nervously awaiting her comments.

The judges slaughtered her. Saying she was only in it for the fame and that was not what this show was about. She didn’t get through. This girl had been completely set up. The judges audition would have been the fourth one she had attended, going through two initial rounds and one round in front of the producers on the show, they had seen what a performance she would give and put her through to be publicly humiliated. After bad press in recent years about reality shows being fixes with pre-decided winners and bad talent put through to make good telly, this girl was set up to ‘prove’ it’s about wanting to sing, not wanting the fame. If she had entered a few years ago, she would most likely have got into the live performances. Cleverly done by the show though because despite this act being so obvious the only thing going viral is a poor girl throwing her heart into her audition and being self righteously cut down for the entertainment of thousands.

Image reproduced from
Video reproduced from YouTube / TheXFactorUK

Who Wants to Live Forever? – Part 2: The Evolution of Celebrity

“Where has God gone?… We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers…God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’ (Nietzsche, The Gay Science)

From Oscar Wilde to Jordan

How did we get from Oscar Wilde to Jordan?  This may sound like the opening line of a cheesy joke, but in actual fact the cult of celebrity has a lineage, an evolution which, like any cultural phenomenon, can be historically mapped. When we engage with this mapping process we discern a move away from the artist, to the personality, a move away from the notion of fame as a by-product of talent and towards the phenomenon of fame for its own sake.

Even as recently as the 1980s this idea was unheard of. Those in the public eye had to have a talent, usually but not necessarily, an artistic ability, in order to ascend to the status of celebrity.

Yet the seeds of this evolution were sown by Oscar Wilde, who once said, “I have put my genius into my life, only my talent into my works.” Indeed, the public’s fascination with Wilde’s life has often overshadowed the immense talent he possessed, with filmmakers and biographers concentrating upon the tragic story of his downfall rather than his works.

But with Wilde, there still is a body of work, a legacy by which to remember him, now that all those who knew him are dead. These days, with modern celebrities there is often no such thing. So hungry are we to adopt new idols that we have removed the years of hard work devoted to developing a talent in order to facilitate the quick, easy acquisition of fame. Reality shows such as Channel Five’s Big Brother, along with internet sites like Star Now, mean that almost anyone can pursue and achieve celebrity.

Channel 5's Big Brother

It is plausible that the current obsession with ‘instant fame’ and the cult of the personality may come be regarded by future historians as symptomatic of cultural indolence; a reflection of the trashy disposable society in which we presently live.

Indeed, along with flat pack furniture, high rise tenements and ready meals for one, it would be easy to regard the celebrity craze as something that shows our culture as just that: a disposable, empty and meaningless sham.

After all, remove the concept of talent from the equation and we soon have a free-for-all, in which the only criterion necessary to achieve celebrity is desperation: the desperation to be on camera and to be immortal.

But where has it come from, this need to turn our lives into a perpetual performance, to play out our lives in front of the cameras, to film, scrutinise and record every aspect of the human experience, from the day to day goings on of the contestants in Big Brother, to the D.I.Y. projects of ordinary people?

Has this impetus to observe ourselves and be observed always been there? Is it something wired into the human psyche, or it is a superficial thing, a result of the rapid expansion of media culture?

Certainly the need for idols and heroes stretches back to Hercules and beyond and is an innate human need, but the criteria defining such figures – bravery, struggle, intelligence, strength – was narrow enough to exclude most of the population. Now, what we are seeing is an expansion of the criteria defining the hero so that to be famous is to be a hero, regardless of whether one possesses the requisite qualities of courage, vision and strength.

Hercules - the original hero?

 Mythologist Rollo May was quick to point this out, arguing in The Cry for Myth (Doubleday 1991) that one of the problems of our time is that, “we have confused celebrities with heroes.” May is undoubtedly correct in this claim. We have confused celebrities with heroes.

But why? And why the restless, almost frantic search for fame on the part of those who want to be celebrities and, I would argue, the equally frenetic search for idols on the part of the public? It is suggestive of a culture that has lost its way, one that has lost the ability to navigate through the labyrinthine paths of existence towards some kind of meaning.

As I discussed in my last article, the waning influence of religion in the late nineteenth century has contributed to the search for guru figures. The gradual erosion of monotheistic culture in favour of a polytheistic one has paved the way for the egalitarian celebrity culture in which we now live. As Andy Warhol observed, “everyone can be famous for fifteen minutes.”

In the last few decades, as the search for idols and the quest for fame has increased in momentum, the criteria defining the guru figure has expanded, making it possible for almost anyone to become famous.

Andy Warhol

To desire fame is to desire immortality. That much is obvious. But it is also to desire for one’s every thought, movement, action and response to be observed. Why? Because human beings are innately theatrical. Because human life is inherently a performance, in which we need to be noticed and acknowledged in order for our lives to have meaning and if God can no longer fulfil the function of continual audience; if the hereafter can no longer be the route to immortality, then something else must fulfil those functions, otherwise what is the point?

This is where the camera comes in. If Heaven and Hell are just concepts invented by humans and not places we go to when we die, then immortality must be rethought; the afterlife re-invented to mean being captured for posterity on camera – or at least for fifteen minutes.

In addition, the ever-burgeoning human population and the rise of technology renders us more faceless and impersonal than ever. Tired of being lost in the crowd, we want to feel valued again; we want to feel as if we matter as individuals.

In the faceless bureaucratisation of our society and the equally faceless life of the cities in which most people live, people are looking to find a way back to an essential humanity. For some, the way to achieve this is by being known to everyone. Of course this is inherently narcissistic, since it is not a two-way process. Celebrities do not care to “know” their public, simply to be known by them.

Yet what the modern cult of celebrity shows is an essential discontentment with everyday, contemporary life. It is a reflection of the need to re-inject meaning into our existence, to replace what has been lost through the slow decline of religion – meaning, certainty and value – and to replace it with something more radical, egalitarian and liberating. However, whether this is a positive thing is perhaps a question only future historians will be able to answer.

Images reporduced from,,, and

Sarah Michelle Gellar in RINGER

A first glance at the trailer promoting the premiere of Ringer, one of the new Fall shows debuted for a September airing, I thought, “naw.” Partly because I’m a fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer, her breakout television series of 1997 that led to her becoming a Hollywood “A” list celebrity, and partly because I still harboured ideas that a young teen Buffy, ‘slayer’ girl would reunite with her still kind hearted Vamp love, Angel, and the two of them would remain blissfully happy on the huntdown for vampires and demons to destroy and be made an example of.

Many fans might recall an earlier time in the life of Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was a fresh faced 16 year old, cast in the role of Erica Kane’s daughter, Kendall Hart, in the long running soap opera, All My Children.

Reality check! Sarah Michelle Gellar aka All My Children’s Kendall aka Buffy the Vampire Slayer aka Mrs. Freddie Prinze Jr and 34 year old mom to baby girl Charlotte, is no longer a teen and has moved on to another television drama I’m proposing will become a big hit for the elusive actress. Ultimately, the realization that Buffy needed to grow up and that Angel would go on to do bigger and better shows- BONES, airing on the CW Network, led me to watch Ringer.

Sarah Michelle Geller in RINGER

In Ringer, Sarah Michelle Gellar is cast in dual roles. She is Bridget, a former stripper and drug addict who runs to the only safe haven she knows; the home of her twin sister, Siobhan, after fleeing a witness protection program and the man she was set to testify against in a witnessed murder.

Gellar, as Bridget takes a bit of getting used to after seeing the actress play stronger characters in prior performances. As Bridget, Gellar is the timid, trusting, and oftentimes, clueless victim, trying to set right all wrongs of her sister’s life that has become her life after Siobhan mysteriously drowns.

Playing the bitchy, evil, and conniving Siobhan, Sarah Michelle Gellar leans toward giving viewers a stellar performance. Playing dual roles cannot be a catwalk; yet the actress seems to make this transition believable. Ringer, premiering on the CW Network in America, was recently picked up for the full season and deemed the network’s best new drama!

I will continue to watch and hope that Ringer finds its audience because the popularity of a new show tends to wan as we are f
ickle sometimes in our viewing choices - remember Nurse HawthoRNe?

Anyway, for Buffy fans, I leave you with a juicy titbit…

In the mid season finale of Ringer, you see an original cast member from Buffy the Vampire Slayer days.

Amber Benson who played Tara on Buffy can be seen playing Tara, a snitch and stripper in a recent episode of Ringer. Her brief appearance is totally, brief. But, that’s the power of television.

Happy Holidays!

Editor’s Note:
In the UK, Ringer premiered on Sky Atlantic in Autumn 2011.

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Kris Humphries: Life After Kim Kardashian

After Kris and Kim’s divorce, a 72 day union of sorts, people are getting to see some of the events of what led up to the split in Kourtney And Kim Take New York, the latest Reality Show for the Kardashian brand. People continue to speculate as rumors about the marriage dissolution continues to escalate via media outlets, blogs, and tweets.

Kris Humphries & Kim Kardashian

If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you’ll see my own suspicions come into question. Ultimately, the two people involved know the truth behind their split, but, according to Kim’s camp, Kris was a real brute to his new wife. There’s even been media assumptions that Kim and her people had portions of Kourtney And Kim Take New York edited in order to support these allegations. Kris has been described as a beast of sorts as he continues to belittle and give Kim a verbal beatdown.

Not too many folks are buying this pity party from the Kardashian empire, however, as their agenda seem to ultimately win back favor with viewers for the money making reality queen. As we watch from all parts of the globe the demise of Kim’s and Kris’s marriage in Kourtney and Kim Take New York, allow me to fill in the gaps to Kris Humphries life after marriage to Kim Kardashian.

Kris has reportedly asked for an annulment from the marriage as opposed to Kim’s hastily signing for a divorce. It appears that Mr. Humphries isn’t backing down on having his name tarnished by Kim and her advisors. According to RadarOnline, Kris is also asking that the prenup the two signed before the marriage, in effect, preventing him from ever talking about their marital situation, be deemed null and void.

Of course, Kim wants to protect her assets from Kris, so the heat is on, as folks in Kim’s corner consider their next move. In the meantime, she is making more public and positive appearance in view of the papparazzi; serving in a Los Angeles soup kitchen over the Thanksgiving holiday and making young at risk women dreams come true on an obviously televised fashion program.

Kris talking on ABC News

Kris Humphries was seen moving back to Minnesota to practice football  in an episode of Kourtney and Kim Take New York, after he comes home to find Kim, Kourtney and some friends practicing naked Yoka with a male yoga instructor in the apartment  they shared with Kourtney and her babies daddy, 28 year old Scott Disick. Kris called what he saw disguisting and gross before packing up and heading back to Minnesota.

Recently other celebrities have been weighing in on the media  attention given to the Kardashians. Daniel Craig aka James Bond, is quoted in the GQ UK magazine bashing Kardashians saying , “What, you mean all I have to do is behave like a f***ing idiot on television and then you pay me millions?!”

Teen Mom’s Farrah Abraham tweeted:  “I’m shocked Kourtney Kardashian is pregnant again. Did she not learn anything from TEEN MOM?” To which Kourtney tweets: “ Why would I have anything to do with Teen Mom? I’m 32 years old, honey, don’t get it twisted!” adding a smiley face afterwards for emphasis.

Seemingly Kris is moving on. He recently appeared in a Good Morning America cooking segment and also is having his bachelor pad in Minnesota revamped for an episode of the DIY Show called “Man Caves”.

How about a positive to report in all of this energy depleted Kardashian fallout, kids? Well, has voted Khloe and Lamar Odom the happiest couple of 2011! Yep, it is possible for a Kardashian sister to marry and experience a happy medium with her betrothed…

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The Rise of Whitney Houston

Editor’s Note:  On February 11, 2012 – after the following article was published – Whitney Houston was found dead in a suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, California, submerged in the bathtub. The cause of death was not immediately known. City Connect offers our deepest sympathy to Whitney Houston’s family and fans.

Whitney Houston, the songstress, actress, and often times “in your face” diva’s return to the fold of celebrity spotlight could be classified as a Phoenix rising of sorts. Not that Ms. Whitney Houston is being compared to a mystical creature, but, more like a fierce warrior woman with an agenda – to show the world that she IS a survivor!

Recently, I caught a 2 part interview of the embattled star as she began making her comeback to acting after a 15 year absence. Whitney Houston appeared strong, determined and happy while speaking exclusively to Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson in Detroit where her new movie Sparkle was filming.

Looking relaxed and personable in sedate clothing and wearing a bright smile, Whitney Houston offered insights on Sparkle, the movie, and on why she’s back since her fall from grace under a media microscope and public opinion. She touched briefly on her looks, stating how she had matured and ”I’m older now.“

When asked why she’d taken the role of mother to Jordin Sparks playing daughter in the movie, made famous in 1976 by Irene Cara, Whitney Houston says “I felt it. I felt a passion for the role… the love a single woman have for her children in the late sixties.” Although Whitney Houston admitted being apprehensive doing the remake, she thought it was fun and that everyone was going to love the film.

Whitney Houston admits she didn’t watch American Idol when Jordin Sparks was a contestant who ultimately became season 6 American Idol winner. She admits to giving the new actress hugs because she knows how it feels to be in Jordin’s shoes, stating she was “petrified” filming The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner.

More talking points:

On her daughter: She’s my greatest inspiration. Whitney credits her role as mom to 18 year old Bobbi Christina in helping to prepare her for the movie.

On her fans: I’m honoured and humbled that I’m still doing what I love to do.

On the remake of the movie, Waiting To Exhale: Based on the bestselling novel by Terry Mcmillan and starring Whitney Houston, Angela Basset, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon. Whitney calls the women, her 3 ladies and says “I’m not going to say no.” ”Savannah has to be, she has to come back.”

As a little girl whose mom sings backup for Elvis Presley and Whitney gets to meet him: “ He comes in wearing his dark glasses and mink coat. You didn’t really meet Elvis. You just sit back and just look… Amazing.”

The interview on Access Hollywood with Whitney Houston reveals a bit of what’s going on with her, but, oddly enough, Whitney didn’t say when she’s going back into the studio to record another awesome album. Whitney Houston sings… Wow, another chapter in the life of a talented Phoenix.

Sadly, it was the late singer, Aaliyah who was first cast in the role made famous by Irene Cara.

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I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here 2011 – The Line-Up

So the line-up has been revealed for ITV’s C-List celebrity vehicle – I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here 2011. The “celebrities” – note the speech marks as I use the term loosely – will be all clamouring for air time and column inches now that the show has hit our screens once again.

Amongst the has-beens and “rising” stars who will be braving the creepy crawlies in the jungle are TOWIE’s Mark Wright (24) – who has perhaps taken extreme lengths to avoid his turmultuous Essex love life by travelling to the other side of the world! 

Fighting Mark for the title of Jungle Stud is Mcfly bass player Dougie Poynter (23) who is sure to have the girls swooning during those shirtless scenes that are bound to happen over the coming weeks.

Coronation Street’s happy chappy Anthony Cotton (36) will also be on the show and will have to face his fears of flying, heights, claustrophobia and arguments. Cotton also has said he has a mild form of OCD. Thankfully for him, ITV bosses have ensured he has had hypnotherapy as part of his preparation to go to the jungle.

Joining funny man Cotton will be not-so-funny man Freddie Starr (don’t mention hamsters!). Starr (68) has no qualms admitting his real reason to be on the show… he admits he’s there to get his profile up. It will be interesting to see what antics Freddie Starr gets up to during his stint in the Australian jungle as he’s known for his “quirky” behaviour on and off screen.

Horse racing legend, Willie Carson OBE is the final chap making his debut on I’m A Celebrity. Although he’s the same age as Freddie Starr, Carson says that his reasons for being on the show are very different – he wants to enjoy the experience and also impress his grandchildren who are massive fans of the show.

And so on to the female “celebrities” of the show…

This year’s obligatory Jungle Babe is Jessica-Jane Clement (26) who some of you may have seen in The Real Hustle. Jessica-Jane also has worked as a glamour model and has appeared in Playboy. Unfortunately for Jungle Lothario Mark, Jessica-Jane has recently become engaged so there be no hanky panky in the hammocks. Shame!

Adding some impressive muscle to the proceedings is world champion javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread MBE. Fatima (50) says that as well as being competitive, she is also looking forward to the bushtucker trials. Really?! I know that I’d not be relishing the opportunity to chew on a certain part of a kangaroo’s anatomy!

Joining Fatima and Jessica-Jane in the jungle is 53-year old Benidorm actress Crissy Rock. It has been revealed that Crissy is no stranger to sleeping rough as she has been homeless before in her life. They say that this revealation means she has a better chance of lasting the distance during her time in the no-frills camp.

The fourth woman to swing into the jungle will be Lorraine Chase, the 60-year old model and actress who rose to fame as the star of the Campari adverts during the 70s. Since then she has also appeared in Emmerdale swapping cocktails for the countryside. Lorraine sees the show as a test of her bravery and says it will challenge her to stretch herself and get braver.

Finally, American actress Stefanie Powers will star in the show and is doing it for all the right reasons. The 69-year old was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago and wants to show people that it is possible to beat the disease and prove there is life after cancer. The star of Hart To Hart says that having survived cancer she is now going to try and survive I’m a Celebrity.

I wish Stefanie and the other contestants all the best and look forward to watching their trials and tribulations over the coming weeks. Who is your favourite to win?

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Behind the Scenes: Kim Kardashian‘s Fairytale Wedding

Kris & Kim on the Jay Leno Show on 4 October 2011

Two months after what some folks call the marriage of the year between Reality Star Kim Kardashian and Basketballer Kris Humphries, viewers finally got a look behind the scenes to spicy footage leading up to the couple’s big day. The 2 part series aired on The E Channel on Sunday and Monday nights appropriately called Kim’s Kardashian’s Fairytale Wedding.

From the onset, it was evident that things aren’t always what they seem when we’re standing on the outside looking in. Sadly, the prelude to a wedding drama overshadowed the happy go lucky sound bytes viewers watched as Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries said their I dos. What unfolded on the ‘pre show’ to a Kardashian Wedding was a bit disturbing.

First, the younger of the three adult Kardashian sisters, Khloe and soon to be brother-in-law, Kris Humphries kept saying inappropriate things to one up the other.

Khloe thinks Kris sees Kim as a beautiful trophy wife and If she marries him, he has nothing to lose. She calls Kris “opportunistic” telling him that he has “come up off of Kim.”

Kris Humphries to Khloe Kardashian “How dare you question someone else’s marriage?” “Are you sure you’re not using Lamar?” referring to basketball player Lamar Odom whom Khloe hastily married, causing reports to surface in the media that the nuptials were a sham.

At some point Kris feels his input as the groom is being overlooked and undervalued by the women in the Kardashian household, leaving him frustrated and feeling like a non factor. He tells Kim how he’s afraid of becoming like Bruce Jenner and Scott Dusic, “ living life in the passenger seat.”

Seemingly controlling women, Kim Kardashian and her mom, Kris Jenner plans the wedding venue without the soon to be groom. Of course, Kris feels slighted . When he confronts Kim, she tells him she’s been dreaming of her fairytale wedding every since she was a little girl. An angry Kris tells Kim she could just as easily slide any guy into the grooms’ slot. There’s so much tension and drama in Kim Kardashian’s Fairytale Wedding, a viewer might begin to wonder when the director will call “cut!”

Shortly after the two part series aired, there were more reports about the couple in the media and it was not very encouraging. On Friday October 14th, Wendy Williams , a former radio host and now queen of daytime gossip , recently got wind of some interesting and hopefully untruths about the newlyweds.

According to Wendy Williams, Life And Style Magazine quotes Kim Kardashian saying she needs a break because she didn’t realize marriage was going to be so hard! At this posting Kim has taken off for Dubai, leaving her basketball lockout and new hubby home to fend for himself. Some things that seemed to stress the betrothed Kim Kardashian out?

Dogs sleeping in her bed (Kris’s)

Splattering the bathroom mirror while brushing (Kris)

Kris Humphries ‘Price Is Right’ bedroom in his Minnesota home!

Kris Humphries loves:

Dogs sleeping in his bed

Splatttering the bathroom mirrors when he’s brushing his teeth

His bedroom in his Minnesota home!

Love & Marriage goes together like a horse and carriage, so can’t they all just get along?

72 days after Kim & Kris tied the knot, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences for the reason for the split. Before they married, Kim and Kris signed a prenuptial agreement so that their respective assets would be protected in the case of a
divorce. Just as well eh?!

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Affordable Celebrity Fall Fashions

Clara Freeman, City Connect’s American correspondent, turns her eye from Entertainment to take a look at what the fashion world is offering Stateside this season. Whether you call it Autumn or “Fall”, get ready for some hot fashion tips from Clara…

Okay, I’m sure everyone who’s anyone made an appearance at many of the September Fashion catwalks extending along the street haunts of New York City to the cobblestone sidewalks of the Paris elite where designers got to show off their best models adorned in Spring fashion. A memorable fashion frenzy of glitz, glamour and glam!

But, what’s in store for frugal fashionistas this Fall?

Fall became official on Sept 22nd. Already, consumers are being bombarded with answers to what’s appropriate and what’s not when purchasing clothes for Fall. Fashion is a big deal worldwide and if you’re not a celebrity fashionista, come join my pity-party, because neither am I. You can start by scouring the numerous fashion magazines to find the latest fashion styles and compare prices. Some of my favorites include the fashionable Vogue, InStyle Magazine, Essence Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.

But, that doesn’t mean we cannot live vicariously through celebritydom and at affordable prices to boot. If you follow fashion trends, you’ll know that many famous designer labels and big name Hollywood celebrities have their clothing placed with discount retailers where regular shoppers can get to feel like a celebrity, at less than half the price of a celebrity cost. Some of the designer labels include the following:

Missoni for Target – whose designs cost an entire website to crash during fashion week!

The Kardashian Dash Collections at Sears – can’t seem to get enough of those Kardashians.

Jennifer Lopez and estranged husband Mark Anthony recently unveiled individual clothing lines at Khols Department Stores.

Calvin Klein at Marshalls.

Isaac Mizrahi also at Target.

Jaclyn Smith offers age appropriate designs at Kmart and if you have a fetish for fab and affordable shoes, there’s Christian Siviano shoes and accessories at Payless Shoe Stores. The young designer has made a name for himself in celebrity fashion since winning Bravo’s Project Runway Fashion Design Competition during the show’s first season.

Now that you have an idea where to look for celebrity fall fashions that won’t empty your pockets, how about a few tips on what’s hot for fall and what’s not?

The look for fall includes everything from Polka Dot, Pastel, Navajo, Suede and leather, to peep toe booties. Some style mavens give a thumbs up to wearing summer pieces straight into Fall.

The emphasis is on creativity, pairing and knowing it’s ok to break traditional convention when it comes to wearing after season clothing. Some clothes given the green light to wear into Fall include:

  • Maxi dresses paired with chunky knit and belted at the waist.
  • Capri pants (fitted to the leg) worn with tall boots.
  • White trousers fitted with cashmere sweater and colorful elongated scarves.
  • White blazer paired with tweed fabric, printed blouse, or, leopard pants.

According to the fashion experts, the “it” top for Fall that every fashionista must have is the Turtleneck.

A true lover of gorgeous and age appropriate fashion, my motto continues to be: Have fun, think affordable, dress for comfort and look and feel like a billion bucks…

Kim Kardashian’s Wedding Extravaganza

Being dubbed “the wedding of the summer” 30 year old Kim Kardashian, who garnered 74% of viewer vote up against rival Paris Hilton in the battle for the media proclaimed ‘REALITY TV Queen” married for the second time on Saturday 20th August in Southern California. The groom, 26 year old old New Jersey Nets basketball player, Kris Humphries prosposed to Kim in June.

The two dated for only 6 months prior to becoming engaged. On 20th August with 400 plus in attendance, including an approximate report of about 50 A List celebs in attendance, and under the glare of a reality television camera shutter lens, the two exchanged vows.

Kim’s stepdad, Brue Jenner escorted her down the aisle. Her younger sisters, Kylie and Kendall wore ivory bridesmaids dresses and the ringbearer was none other than little Mason, Kim Kardashian’s nephew and the son of Kim’s older sister, Kourtney and ill-fated boyfriend, Scott Disic.

Kim Kardashian has come a long way since the infamous relationship sex tape she made with her then boyfriend, Ray J , Brandy Norwood of ”Moesha” little brother. When Kim sued and settled for an undisclosed amount against the tape being released, the world became kim Kardashian’s “oyster!”

She ventured into a Reality TV Show with her family, called “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” where viewers got to see all sides of the Kardashian family dramas. The show became so popular that it produced several spin-off reality shows for the Kardashians; “Kourtney And Kim Take New York” follows the two sisters around the city as they open another of their Dash stores clothing line.

The younger of the three sisters, Khloe married Los Angeles Lakers basketballer Lamar Odom in 2010, after only 4 weeks of knowing each other which led to their reality show – “Khole and Lamar”.

Kim and her sisters, along with their manager mom, Kris Jenner, have amassed a small fortune in hocking everything from swimwear, fitness, fashions, perfumes, books and shoes to gracing the cover of famous magazines but it’s truly the relationships of these once lesser known industry publicity seekers that have viewers tuning in to watch. And did I tell you? The Kardashian number of tweets nearly tops The President Of The United States!

I think the Kardashian’s are on a roll and they’re not going away anytime soon. Kim and Kris’s Saturday nuptials will be televised in October as a special wedding documentary. Can’t wait for that…

The wedding of Kim Kardashian to Kris Humphries was, according to one insider, ”well produced and well staged.” And Kim was definitely channeling the British Royal Wedding as she oversaw preparations for her extravagant California nuptials.

From the themed black and white guest lists to the bride’s three Vera Wang gowns and 10 tier wedding cake, the event was from all reports a wedding fit for a princess.

And the money made from this wedding according to The Post totals a whopping $17.9 million. As of this writing, it’s being reported the couple are heading off for a short European honeymoon… hmmm, maybe they’re headed to collect from Britian’s OK! Magazine for allowing them exclusive rights to Kim’s bridal shower!

Okay, lovelies, the follow-up to the “show me the money” post will have to wait for another day of entertainment news and views. You won’t want to miss it!

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