pic: daily telegraph
Nasty, bad-tempered, miserable old bugger, Jeremy Clarkson, is in the papers today. He’s been trying to justify punching his producer. apparently it was all down to the stress he was under at the time and, in particular, because doctors had spotted a “possibly” “cancerous” lump on his tongue. Oh dear, oh dear. An obvious and transparent attempt at rehabilitation. Celebrities have a horribly ignominious record for using illness as 1. and excuse for bad behaviour and 2. as the first step in rebuilding their careers. Expect similar “poor Jeremy” stories in the coming weeks and to see Mr. Clarkson working for the BBC again by the end of the year (after all, the BBC was perfectly happy to employ rampant child abuser Jimmy Savile for years so re-employing a sour-faced git who’s handy with his fists…what’s the problem, what’s not to like?).
This particular Jeremy Clarkson story almost exactly mirrors a story-line in my book “I Really, Really Want It” in which Andrew Manning, celebrity agent to stars in trouble (the man who knows where the bodies are buried, and who buries the bodies…) sets about rescuing the career of reality TV star Joey Camps, which has crashed and burned after he called the Queen a “cunt” on live television: his career-saving prescription for Joey? Celebrity (i.e fake) cancer.
Is Clarkson’s cancer scare “celebrity cancer?” I wouldn’t know and I couldn’t possibly comment, but here’s the “celebrity cancer” chapter from “I Really, Really Want It.” if you’d like a review copy of the book you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
ANDREW. HER MAJESTY IS NOT AMUSED.
Never call the Queen a Rancid Old Cunt on live television, even if you have snorted some fat lines of coke and downed half a bottle of vodka. If I ever wrote a “how to” manual on celebrity, that would be the first rule. I suppose I should confess that I’m absolutely not a fan of the Royals myself, I can’t see the point of them. To me they’re an extremely dull bunch of not very intelligent, aristocratic benefit scroungers who get to live free in extremely grand and expensive council houses. And they breed too much. In short, I really can’t get my head around the concept that some inbred idiot should be worthy of respect and privilege simply because they were squeezed out of a “royal” vagina. Weird.
This is what’s going through my head as I sit at home later that night. I have mostly recovered from the horror dropped upon me by Charlie Gold earlier in the day, and I’m having a quiet night in. I’m sitting back, “chilling,” as the young people say, digesting both the events of the day and a beautiful meal that Rosa knocked up for me (something Ukrainian or Russian I believe, made with sour plums and chicken) and slowly drinking my way through a lovely chilled bottle of Krug.
Can you have some Krug? Bollocks you can. Have you any idea how much this stuff costs? Anyway, you need to keep a clear ahead or you’ll not keep up with the pace of events, I don’t want you losing track of things or saying something you’re not supposed to because you’re pissed.
What’s bought on this line of thought is the plight of one of my clients that I do like. To be honest, I fancy the pants off him. He’s one of those rare celebrities who is a decent, if fundamentally screwed up, human being. And he’s gorgeous. Drop dead, fucking gorgeous.
He’s straight, unfortunately. But I’m just as prone to flights of fancy as you are, so you’ll have to forgive my little fantasy. I mean, it’s not like you don’t have any fantasies yourself, is it? For example, I know all about that embarrassing incident from last year, at the office party. Talk about misreading the signs, eh? Poor you, you must have nearly died of embarrassment! How do I know about that? That’s a silly question, I’ve told you before that I know all about you, I think you must be forgetting who I am and what I do.
I’m talking about Joey Camps of course. As you already know, it all happened for him five years back when he was the photogenic winner of TV’s favourite reality show, “We’re Watching You.” From there his good looks won him the role as the face of GK underwear. Suddenly a cute, but basically quite shy, lad from Doncaster found his face and body on television ads and billboards the world over. More modelling work followed, TV appearances, six page spreads in “Hi There” magazine, coffee table books featuring picture after picture of Joey’s sculpted body, a line of men’s toiletries. Nowadays Joey’s fame is global, his smiling face beaming out from posters, televisions, magazines and papers from Birmingham to Beijing. His fame was not even dented by his troubled marriage to the beautiful but flawed Katy Morgan, who died of a drugs overdose just three months after giving birth to twins. If anything this sad incident simply reinforced Joey’s fame as it led to a slew of stories about “brave” Joey as a “tragic” single parent.
Oops, I’m wittering on like a silly old queen aren’t I? Truth be told you know all this stuff about Joey, it’s old news to an avid celeb watcher like yourself. What you really, really want to hear is the juicy stuff, isn’t it? You want to know how Joey’s gone from international heart throb to www dot joeycampsfight4life dot com.
Let’s go back three months.
It’s late at night and I get a panicked and distressed phone call from Joey, he’s yelling down the phone at me, “Andy, you gotta help me, I’m fucked,” he sounds hysterical and on the edge of tears, “I’m so fuckin’ fucked, I’m over, finished, I’ve done meself in!”
“Woah,” I say, “slow down, Joey, take a deep breath, tell me what’s happened…”
“You bin watching the Paul Hunter show?” The Paul Hunter show (once again, you’ll know this, I hear you love to watch it), is the nation biggest chat show, live and primetime every Saturday night.
“Urrh..no, I’ve been busy with work.” In fact, I had been busy doing some rather impressive sexual athletics for a man of my age with a rather gorgeous piece of upmarket rent whom I had just paid and dispatched (to his next punter, I suppose), but Joey doesn’t need to know that, and you, you keep it to yourself. “Joey…are you pissed, are you pissed and coked up?” I’m beginning to get a bad feeling about this, “for Christ’s sake, how many times have I told you that substance abuse and live television do NOT go together.”
“I just ‘ad a cupla lines, well, maybe six, like, and ‘alf a bottle of vody, you know me I get a bit nervous, and I guess it got me more than usual cos I ‘adn’t eaten an’ that Paul were bein’ a sarcy cunt. You know what ‘e’s like, snobby twat, an’ ‘e was makin’ out I was this blond bimbo an’ a thick northerner an’ I got right pissed off. Then ‘e started talkin’ about the Royals an’ then, like, ‘e asked me if I ‘ad any thoughts on “monarchy versus Republic,” the fucking, smartarse dickhead, an’ then it just came out an’ I said that we should ‘ave a republic an’ that the Queen is a rancid old cunt…”
Oh, bollocks, cunting buggering shitting arseholes, this is worse than I thought, this is an out and out celebrity car crash death disaster scenario! I smell the acrid whiff of a career in flames. Joey has committed a number of drug and drink related indiscretions over the years, and each time I’ve called in favours and saved his career, but this, this is in another league!
“Joey, Jesus Christ, what the fuck have you done…where are you now?”
“I’m at ‘ome. They cut the cameras after I said the cunt stuff an’ I din’t want to stick around so I ran outta the studio, threw meself in a cab an’ now I’m ‘ere…”
“Okay, good, that’s at least one thing you did right. This is bad, you know that don’t you?”
“I do, Andy, I’m brickin’ meself…” he pauses and speaks again, this time sounding calmer but sad and lost, like a little boy who’s just lost his favourite toy, or a grown up facing the realisation that everything he’s built up over the years is about to turn to shit. “It’s over for me, ain’t it Andy? I’ve screwed it all up, ain’t I? I’ve totally fucked up everythin’!”
Like I said, I’ve a bit of an attachment to Joey, and his tone plucks at my heart (you see, you think I’m a cynical old bastard but the truth is I do have some finer human feelings), and I resolve at that point that I’ m going to get Joey out of this mess, one way or another I’m going to save his career.
“No, Joey, it’ll be fine,” I reply, trying to throw him some hope “we can sort this this, we just need a plan. Let’s just say your career is in intensive care, but it isn’t dead yet! First thing you need to do is to get out of your house because the press are going to be camped outside the place within the hour. Leave the twins with the nanny and tell her that you won’t be back until much later and get round here now. We’ll need to come up with some excuse pretty quick to explain why you said what you did. The papers are going to eat you alive tomorrow, Joey, it’s not going to be pretty so you need to prepare yourself for it.”
Fortunately Joey lives up in Belsize Park, a very short trip even by foot from my place, so I only had a few minutes to marshal my thoughts before the doorbell buzzed. I checked the video intercom, confirmed it was Joey and opened the door to him.
And there he was. Tall, slim, blond, languid and impossibly handsome, big blue eyes and moist, sensual lips, broad shouldered, slim hipped. When I first met him he was a boy really, just twenty one years old. Five years on and he’s matured into a beautiful man. As always when I see Joey my heart beats just that little bit faster. “Quickly, get in, we need to talk,” I say and Joey steps over the threshold, still with his cocky northern swagger, even given present disastrous, career-threatening circumstances.
Moments later we’re in my study, having briefly been interrupted by a rather grumpy Johnny who’s been disturbed by the doorbell, and being fussed over by an ever solicitous Rosa, still awake and happy to look after us even at this hour, bless her. I quickly send them both away, for in the few minutes it’s taken Joey to get here, I’ve already formulated a plan (you’ll learn that about me as we continue our journey together, I’m quick and nimble on my feet) and I need to discuss it with him privately. It’s a simple but daring plan, one where nothing can go wrong. At least that’s what I thought at the time.
“Andy, thanks so much for lettin’ me come round ‘ere…you’re right, them bastard journalist are gonna fuck me over, I don’t know what to say to ‘em, what am I gonna do?”
Joey’s beautiful, sensuous lips tremble and the big blue eyes moisten over with nascent tears and again I find myself wanting to do something, anything, to help him. I realise, with not a little shock, something I have known but repressed for a long time. I don’t just fancy Joey Camps. Truth is, I’m really a little bit in love with Joey Camps. Perhaps even more than a little bit.
I remember we were both seated on that big, old sofa I have in my study, and I reached out to, comfortingly, touch his shoulder, to show him he’s not alone, and suddenly he dissolved into my arms sobbing and I am holding him and being reassuring and, fuck, I’m actually caring about this guy. This is not good, not good at all. I can feel the barrier of professional distance melting away, the client/agent relationship shattering into something much more personal and messy.
As much to calm myself down as anything, I gently push him away, hoping that restoring some physical distance will restore some professional distance, and tell him “Joey, I can’t help you with what’s going to be written and said about you tomorrow, it’s too late for that, that’s already all screwed up, but I can manage the damage medium and long term.” He looks at me and nods, a flicker of hope blossoming in his eyes.
“Here’s the plan, tomorrow you’re going to be the most hated man in Britain so we need to find an excuse for why you said what you said about our, uhm, beloved Queen. And we need it to be an excuse that people will understand, that justifies your actions as a moment of madness caused by stress. It needs to be something that will shift the agenda back in your favour, something that gets the public back on board, something that will save your career and all those lovely sponsorship and advertising deals.”
“Okay,” nods Joey, “tell me, what we gonna do, ‘ow are we gonna find our way out of this bloody mess?”
“You, me old mate, are going to get cancer!”
“Fuck me, cancer, in’t that a bit strong an’ anyways I’m dead ‘ealthy me!”
“Don’t panic, Joey, it’s going to be Celebrity Cancer, which is to say, it doesn’t really exist. You’re going to go on a crash diet, so you look pale and drawn. You’ll pay regular visits to a nice private hospital I happen to know well. As far as anyone’s concerned you’ll be there for radiotherapy or some such stuff. In reality, a dodgy doctor friend of mine will be in charge of your “treatment,” which’ll consist of you sitting down and reading a good book for a couple of hours, or playing a game on your iphone, or whatever it is that you young people get up to nowadays. The press lap up sick celebrity stories, we can make it something like, mmm, testicular cancer, yeh, bollock cancer, that’s a good one, it’s quite fashionable nowadays. We can even get “Charitable and Brave Joey” to give his time free to a testicular cancer awareness campaign, that’ll make you look good. To start, the public will feel sorry for you, then they’ll sympathise with your brave fight against your dreadful illness, they’ll worry what will happen to those beautiful twins of yours should the worst happen to you, and by the time you “get better” in a few months’ time, the public will have taken you back into their hearts. We can use your Facebook page and upload touching pictures of courageous, but ill, Joey every couple of hours and we can Twitter constant updates about your illness and your state of mind. People will find that really, uhm, compulsive, it’ll really grip them. We can even set you up your own fucking website with daily streaming live updates, “joeycampsfight4life dot com.” Just imagine the potential of a site like that, the number of hits it’s going to get and the amount of advertising it could carry!”
“You know what, even though I say it myself, this plan is brilliant! The best part is that you only got your cancer diagnosis yesterday, just before you went on the Paul Hunter show. It gives you the perfect excuse for tonight’s outburst! Oh, the stress, the worry, the shock, the panic, you didn’t know what you were saying, you were worried sick about the twins, you hardly knew where you were, the shock of it all had snatched the ground from beneath your feet. Oh yes, we can have fun with this, save your career and make you a shitload of dosh as well! This whole thing could actually turn out to be a fabulous opportunity.”
“Andy, if you think this’ll work, I’ll do it mate…but isn’t a bit, well, like, cancer, I mean a bit sort of…tasteless?”
“Well, yes, obviously, it’s grossly tasteless but since when did being a celebrity have anything to do with good taste?”
Joey seems undecided for a few seconds, but then something in his face changes and I know he’s made a decision, he’s going to go with it, “what about my management?” he asks.
“They’re to know nothing about our little game. Let them handle the flow of news, set up the website, talk with sponsors, advertisers and all that shit, but as far as they’re concerned your fucking riddled with cancer!”
“Okay” nods Joey, “look, I’m really grateful for this, it ain’t the first time you’ve ‘elped me out…” suddenly those beautiful blue eyes seem to cloud over, “but is this enough to really save me cos I’m a serial fuck up, I mean I’m gonna fuck up again, I know I will, an’ what excuse do we come up wi’then? An’ I really, really want this, the fame, the money, the ‘ouse, the cars. I want to make sure I leave summat for me kids an’ there’s no way I’m goin’ back to flippin’ bloody burgers!”
“Hush, hush, Joey,” I say, again placing a calming hand on his shoulder, “this will work and you will learn from it and you will not fuck up again. You’ll see, six months from now the public will love you even more than they did before tonight’s slip up, your “treatment” will have worked, you’ll have conquered your “cancer” and everything will be back to normal!”
Joey looks me straight in the eye, for some reason he seems suddenly infinitely sad and says “let’s do it, Andy, let’s make me ill…”
In retrospect of course, I really should have paid more attention to that look of sadness and Joey’s comments about how much he really, really wanted fame: and the remark about the kids…how the fuck did I miss that? I guess it’s like I said, at the time it seemed such a simple plan.
What do you mean, you thought Joey’s cancer was real? For God’s sake, I know I said you were naïve but now your just being plain silly! Use your brain. Don’t use your brain. Just don’t believe everything you’re told, things are rarely as they seem.