I have now spent over a year trying to figure where in the workplace I belong. It seems there is scant need for once-attractive, now-aging women with no other credits. To compound the problem, the fact that I was once famous makes it really hard on my ego to go and get a normal job. I wasn't kidding when I mentioned working at Starbucks in a previous blog; I really would go and do part-time if it wasn't for my ego. (It's bad enough to have the postman hand me the mail and ask me to tell that "hot model" that lives in my building that he had a poster of her twenty-five years ago.) I have worked every day since the age of fifteen, supporting not only myself, but also helping a sizable family when needed. My career has an umbilical cord straight to my self-esteem. Too bad I have very little control over being desired or desirable. After I was the first to get kicked off "Dancing with the Stars" in 2007, and my book failed to sell all that much, and I couldn't get on "The View" no matter how much I begged, and I got fired from "America's Next Top Model," I spent the rest of the year feeling a bit sorry for myself while knitting and shouting comments at morning TV shows. I'm not trying for sympathy here; I am well-aware that a woman in my position has as much right to self-pity as a gluttonous man who has just consumed a pound of caviar and now whines about a heartburn. But the heartburn still burns, if you know what I'm saying.
Fame is an interesting phenomenon. When it's first acquired, you may have a few moments, of "Aw shucks, me? Really?" but on the inside, you know you deserve it. Finally, everyone's caught on to what you already knew: You are special. Imagine if you will, that you come into work one day, and you have been given the corner office. A great, big desk, an ergonomic chair, soft light, and maybe even a secretary. As a trade-off, the huge windows that line your walls are open to the rest of the office and you will constantly be on display. At first, you may be a bit flustered. You may have to quickly learn how not to pick your nose or wrestle with the wedgie. But soon, you will get used to all the nice new stuff and even the ogling. After all, you deserve it. You're special. And the people who keep watching you in your office can't help themselves from looking at someone this special.
Celebrities can't help being entitled. When you speak, the room goes quiet. Everyone wants to know every little thing about you. You are simply the most fascinating person ever to the admiring gazes around you every time you walk outside. How can you not buy into it? Especially if you did nothing much to earn your fame, like say, models, reality stars, and ousted mistresses. (The people who have earned their fame would have done whatever it is they do regardless of fame or money. These special and talented folks usually are also the ones to disdain fame, if not the money.)
I remember going to the funeral of a friend of mine who was a very famous makeup artist. Almost every famous woman he had made even more beautiful took turns to eulogize him. It took me a little while to realize they didn't so much eulogize him as they did themselves. There were a lot of cute, heartwarming, and delightful stories - about themselves. My friend was featured only in the background. I am by no means innocent in this entitlement myself. To this day, when someone taps my shoulder in a supermarket, I turn around with a pretend sigh and my hands ready to autograph, only to be asked to move so the person behind me can reach the tomato soup.
The real bummer of fame is that at some point you're bound to get demoted. Imagine now, when you one day walk into your spacious office and discover your ergonomic chair has been replaced with a plastic stepladder. And your walnut desk with a door on cinder blocks. And the people outside that watched you with such reverence now snicker and point. You ask your secretary for a cup of coffee and she tells you to screw yourself. And no one, not even your best friend can commiserate, because she thinks you may not have deserved this office in the first place.
No one but aliens can stay on top forever. (I'm talking about you, Tom Cruise. And you, Madonna.) For the rest of the humans, the B-list is waiting! And that's the good news, because there is also a C-list and a D-list. For those of you that would like a closer explanation: On the A-list you're a God and can do no wrong. Every observation you make is a treasure for posterity; every dandruff you flake is auctioned off on eBay. On the B-list your glow may have faded, but you're still invited to hot parties and designers still lend you their clothes. You still get interviewed on the red carpet and paparazzi are a pest. The C-list will get you into restaurants where a maître d' is roughly your age and hence remembers your moments of glory. It will also garner you a lot of invitations to benefits for which you have to pay a lot of money to attend. On the red carpet, you are now called a B-roll (a misnomer) which means the camera crews are no longer interested in interviewing you, but will film as you awkwardly walk by, hoping against all hope someone will stop you. The paparazzi may snap an occasional pic, but it will most likely, if at all, show up in the "what-was-she-thinking" category in the gossip mags. This is a good moment to get fat. You may find new life in shedding bulk publicly, while people still care about your redemption.
By the time you find yourself on the D-list, you've become invisible except when you really want to be, i.e. when you're stinking drunk and puking onto your shoes, or while beating up your spouse, or just scored some good sh*t to help you forget -- from an undercover cop. The only place to go to now is a VH1 reality show, and if they won't have you, there is always Dr. Drew's rehab.
What are fallen celebrities to do if they're too vain to get fat and too paranoid to get strung out on drugs?
Knit and yell at morning TV for starters. And blog for free.
Modelinia's Get to Know Paulina Porizkova