Monday, November 7, 2011

The Celebrity Tell-All Rubric

I stumbeled upon my copy of Vanna Speaks by Vanna White (Warner Books) the other day. I think it came from a Salvation Army.

I have the hard cover 1987 version with a foreward by Pat Sajak.

The basic gist of this book is "Sure, I make it LOOK easy, but really..."

I did learn a few interesting points, I suppose. Merv Griffin hired her because she turned the letters better than everyone else. What were the other folks who auditioned like? Like maybe they were really bad at turning the letters. Like they did it too fast. Or got some goo on them or something. Also, Vanna White did hand modeling. Her poor hands got tired holding a pop can. Also! Yes, if you win prizes that are $600 or over you have to pay taxes on it.

Also, parting gifts may include tuna, shampoo, Rice-a-Roni, hardware, motor oil or hair products.

Here are some preposterous quotes I enjoyed from this book:

"I know wearing clothes sounds like a pretty simple task, but there's more to it than that." (p. 10)

"I believe that success -- in anything -- depends on who, not what, you are. More than that, it involves hard work and having a dream." (p. 18) (My reaction: ...And your dream is to pose in clothes for pictures and turn toy hangman letters? I mean, wearing clothes is so hard.)

"I smoked some pot with the two wilder girls and came home with such an intense case of the munchies that I ate an entire meatloaf." (p. 60)

This kind of Meatloaf?

"Informal surveys reveal that lots of people tune in to see what I'll wear" (p. 128)

Interesting other note: she dated a Chippendales dancer. Then he died. Also, when she was young and needed the money in LA before making it big she posed for a sexy lingerie ad. Later the pictures reappeared in Playboy. Also, she tanned in the nude and a peeping tom took photos, and those resurfaced later too. DUH! You are famous and you're tanning in the nude?! That's like when celebrities make sex videos. Why?! First of all, why are you videotaping yourself having sex? Are you going to watch it later? Also, you would think that enough celebs have had their sex tapes leaked that you would think that famous people would know not to make them any more. I know, I know, celebs and politicians think they're never going to get busted for doing something dumb, but -- I mean, why are you videotaping yourself having sex? That's the real issue, if you ask me.

As I was pawing my way through and making laughy snort sounds, I came up with this idea of a Celebrity Autobiography rubric that would calculate each book from awesome to not awesome via a point system.

Sure, there are different types of celeb autobios, but I particularly like the ones with extreme self-aggrandisement and salaciousness. And the more extreme the book is regarding specific categories, the higher the probability is that I would enjoy it.

The more certain themes/motifs play out in celeb memoirs, the higher the score they would get. The themes could include things like drug use, sense of personal importance, relationships with others, personal (mis)conceptions about reality, mental and physical health, etc.

This is the way the system could be set:

1=none            2=very little            3=average            4=fairly high amount            5=extreme amount

I'm not talking about rating the celebrity. I'm talking about rating the book. If I was merely rating the celebrity, that's a different story; if I was just rating the celeb, there is plenty material to choose from, but that's not my point. I'm talking about the celeb autobio as a genre. (Sidenote: If I was talking about just the celeb and their public behaivor, there's plenty to go with -- David Hasselhoff crying while eating a hamburger in a video on Youtube, Britney attacking with an umbrella, Toby McGuire bringing his own food to the craps table, etc.) But no! I'm talking about just the book.

Any of the tell-all books by members of Mötley Crüe like The Dirt, The Heroin Diaries, Tommyland etc. get high points in all categories that would be on the rubric, so as you can guess, they're fun to read. So I don't need to include them below -- They're kinda holy grail-y in regards to the celeb autobio genre. Just go read them and enjoy, even if you're not a Crüe fan.

Here are just two examples of how certain things would rate in this rubric that I can think of off the top of my head:

Sense of Personal Importance:
In Call Me Crazy: A Memoir by Anne Heche, she describes developing an alter ego, Celestia, who was the daughter of God, come to save mankind. That would rate the book a 5 for the category of Personal Perception. Also a 5 goes to David Hasselhoff in Don't Hassel the Hoff: The Autobiography (Thomas Dunne Books) 2007 for his insistance that he was integral to the capitulation of the Berlin Wall. Definitely a 5 for his book in this category.

Drug Use:
Gene Simmons said in Kiss and Make Up that he has never tried alcohol or pot and that he never will. That would be a 1 in this category.
Drew Barrymore was in and out of rehab twice by the time she was 14, as described in her book Little Girl Lost. Although you would think that I would assign her a 5 in this category, I actually went with giving her book a 4 because it seems like she was scared straight due to past public shame of herself in regards to the drugs.
In Memoirs of a Superfreak, Rick James talks about his habitual use of all types of drugs and his multiple rehab trips. He pretty much died because of drugs, and there is much ado about his drug endeavors in the book. I honor his drug use in the book with a 5 for this category.

Anyway, you get the idea...

Books that I haven't read but I am sure I would enjoy rating on this system would be ones by Valerie Bertinelli, Tatum O'Neal, Mackenzie Phillips -- It's just that I have a billion books on deck right now -- no, I haven't gotten to those -- yet...

One day I would love to sit some of the ghost writers down, get them rip-roaringly drunk and get the scoop behind the scoop.

I should also mention that there are some celeb memoirs that are totally outside the realm of this rubric -- like books that don't have that type of extreme preposterousness that I enjoy in a celeb memoir. Maybe, they actually learned something from their experience in the industry and have some legitimate wisdom to share, like in Pat Benatar's Between a Heart and a Rock Place, where she shares the love story of how she met her husband who is also the guitarist for her band, and then also some good stuff about the difference between corporate and indie record label business models and so on. I enjoy books like that too, yes, but they are a different type of celeb autobio. Rue McClanahan's My First Five Husband's...And the Ones Who Got Away is another fun autobio but doesn't have the preposterousness I usually enjoy like in the above categories, but it does have salacious info about her fellow Golden Girls, like who was nicer than who and who needed to read cue cards. Also, Growing Pains by Billie Piper is good too in a "I've learned so much through my pain" kind of a way, but with some typos that seem weirdly cozy.

Anyway, I've got some other memoirs that I would like to get to soon already in the Liz Mason Midwest Celebrity Autobiography Collection (read: my bathroom) that I haven't really cracked open yet I look forward to getting to them eventually, like a book by the original drummer for Oasis and Adam Ant's memoir. What celeb memoirs do you know about that I should read?

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