"Celebrity requires 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration" - Cher
Copyright © 2004 All Rights Reserved
The Early Days Of Celebricide
The first sign that something peculiar was going on in the lifestyles of the rich and famous came, not when Cameron Diaz shot up a Banana Republic, killing one and injuring three others, or when Tony Blair confessed a liking for 'teabagging' during a live expletive-addled political debate, or with Francis Rossi from Status Quo was arrested as part of a widespread bestiality ring, but when Val Kilmer keeled over in the toilets of a central London pub; a small bubble of blood on his sculpted lips the first sign that something dreadful was afoot.
Previously unconnected, but equally bizarre events, were suddenly connected by a media who'd put all the recent unexplainable celebrity behaviour down to global warming, or a bad Botox supply, or Susan Sarandon, depending upon who you read.
Yes. He keeled right on over in a sticky little dive called Cesare's, a stone's throw from Oxford Street.
'The Iceman'. 'Jim Morrison'. 'That guy in the Island Of Dr. Moreau' -- all of Kilmer's countless screen roles counted for shit when his otherwise healthy body was gripped with an intense pain that reverberated throughout his entire toned frame in the toilets of an old of bar that sold cheap burritos and margueritas to tourists.
Regrets? Kilmer was full of them, but this wasn't a time to be thinking about 'What ifs?'. A hardcore aneurysm was squirming behind his eyes and it felt like all his organs were attempting to leave his body through the nearest available exit. Heart though mouth. Brain through ears. And yes: kidneys though anus. Terrible.
The pain was excruciating, but mercifully short. So short that by the time Kilmer's personal bodyguards, two large men in Hawaiian shirts, both called Dave, one white, one mulatto, began to wonder whether Val was either doing a number two or maybe another line of rainbow flakes, the new drug of choice amongst those in the know, rather than the promised piss of moments earlier, their charge was already dead. Total system failure. Initial cause of death would later be (wrongly) diagnosed as a rare heart, brain and organ degeneration; impact instantaneous. A one-in-a-million death, but there you go. Someone always has to be the one.
Millionaire divorcee Kilmer was found on the floor of the toilets, his head resting gently on the U-bend of the sink, that small bubble of blood still expanding from his final rasped breath. Death gases filled the bubble until -- pop! -- it burst in a mini-explosion that sent miniscule flecks of blood cascading down to the floor, covering Kilmer's own face like some sort of morbid confetti mask, his eyes blank and very much lifeless. There would never be a Top Gun sequel.
Maybe there would. But it would be nothing without Kilmer. Nothing.
He was found by a man.
The man was a nobody.
Soon he would a somebody.
But that was all to come.
Jeremy Paxman, Trevor McDonald, Peter Snow and Carol Vorderman sit in a bland-looking TV station room, jugs of water on a table in front of them. Carol is talking about the war.
"Well I think it's, like, you know...wrong?" she pouts.
"I disagree," interjects Paxman, nose pulsing like a blind cobbler's thumb. "I think it's right. And necessary too. For obvious humanitarian reasons."
McDonald nods quietly, his thoughts elsewhere.
"Obvious Rastafarian reasons," he mumbles.
Not hearing him, the others turn to Snow. He shrugs.
"Anyone fancy a line?"
They all mutter signs of approval -- and, in McDonald's case, glee -- as Snow chops out eight fat ones on a copy of Heat magazine. Snorting like pigs at a trough they hungrily hoover them up in turn as Vorderman slips a Phil Collins CD into the stereo. As the music kicks in she does a slow, lascivious dance -- "I can feel it / Coming in the air tonight…" --eyes closed, head tilted, back arched as she runs her hands down her body. Paxman pulls out a crack pipe, lights it, takes a hit, passes it to Snow who is stuck on a crossword clue in the paper and who only stirs when the bitter smell of the burning rock infiltrates his senses.
"Seven across," he says, tooting on the pipe and passing it to McDonald. "Connecting words, phrases and sentences. Three letters. A, something, D."
I can feel it / Coming in the air….
Hair rigid with hairspray, Vorderman dances on, lost in a reverie, lithe fingers tugging at her stiff nipples, dreaming of calculus, tabloid editorials and cock. McDonald snorts and feels the cool trickle of coke in his throat, coughs, cracks his knuckles. Paxman combs his hair and wolf-whistles himself in the mirror.
Thinking he's talking to her, Vorderman gyrates downwards like a pole dancer, puckers her lips, pisses where she stands.
"You're on in five," says a muted robotic voice from somewhere in the ceiling.
I can feel it / Coming in the air….
"Bitchin'" says Paxman.
Liza Minelli has sprouted some unsightly nasal hairs overnight. They are black and durable and some are as long as six inches, and as tough as copper wire. They silently appeared during the night when she was sleeping.
The pills have her so whacked, she wouldn't even notice if an ostrich laid an egg up there. She eats pills like sweeties. She has a pick 'n' mix rack of them in each of her five kitchens. One for each continent -- or 'potential territory' as she calls them.
Looking in the mirror as she awakes, Minelli's eyes widen with fright. The hairs stretch down her coarse, tanned sandpaper chest. She rubs her eyes in disbelief. They're still sore from the recent black tattooing she had done on her upper and lower lids in order to immortalise that Cabaret look with which she will forever be synonymous.
Beside her in bed, Minelli's seventeenth husband (a tall black plumber called Steve who she married because "he matches my eyes, dahlink") doesn't stir.
He's heard it all before. He think it's just her usual hypochondria. He remembers the open sores, the dried skin, the blood-flecked stools, the hysterical screams in the night. Life's like that with Liz, he tells his buddies. She always thinks there's something wrong with her. She's the type of motherfucker who'll put 'I told you so' on her headstone just to spite you, he says. Cracker ass mad.
But of course it's all just part of the slow process. Minelli's a old tough boot, and her antibodies are valiantly fighting Celebricide, but of course she's not going to make it. She'll never do Isherwood again.
Steve watches her naked cellulite ass from behind, wobbling lifelessly like a mound of dried mozzarella, as she hurries into the en suite bathroom. She turns the corner, farts and Steve thinks 'Christ, maybe I should have gone for Gabor after all..."
He leans over to the bedside dresser and snorts up a line of coke with a straw. At least her toot is always good, he thinks, leaning back against the pillow.
In the bathroom, Minelli has located some tweezers and is attempting to extract the hairs from her nose, but they're too strong so she carefully inserts the tweezers into a nostril in an attempt to pull them out from the source. That doesn't work either, so she reaches for some small pedicure scissors and tries them instead.
The phone rings and Steve picks up.
"Yeah, she's here."
He puts his hand over the mouth-piece and calls through to the bathroom.
"It's for you. It's that fag Hassellhoff. He wants to score some coke. Says something about a party at Morrissey's house. You want to take it through there?"
Minelli grunts, distracted. With the scissors poised to snip the unsightly hairs away, she turns to reach for the phone by the commode but her foot catches a vast fur rug and her toes bend under themselves, causing her legs to buckle. With a squawk, Minelli falls forward. The force of her head hitting the floor jams the tweezers up her nose and deep into her gin-soaked, pill-contorted brain. Her body jerks for a second or two, then she's dead. Celebricide isn't to blame for this one.
"Hey, you picked up?" shouts Steve.
There is no response.
"Don't make me come in there..."
Thank you for calling the official Celebricide emergency helpline. Due to high demand all our operators are currently busy and we ask you to please be patient. Please also be aware that the current epidemic only applies to celebrities -- if you are a non-celebrity displaying symptoms of the virus we recommend you contact your local GP. To help us help you more efficiently listen carefully to the following options:
If you are a celebrity seeking urgent medical advice press ONE on your keypad now.
If you are calling to report the sighting of a celebrity acting strangely press TWO.
If you need assistance with body disposal press THREE - please note this only applies to Celebricide and not civilian corpses.
If you'd like a copy of our souvenir Celebricide information pack, including free educational DVD, mouth swabs and money-off gift vouchers, press FOUR now.
If you are a fan of a virally infected celebrity and feel you need to talk to someone, please call The Samaritans.
Current waiting time is six hours.
We thank you for calling the Celebricide help-line.
(music: Enya's 'Orinoco Flow')
"If you're thin-skinned you need to get out of the public eye." - Dr Phil from The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Her body emaciated by the cell-destroying Celebricide that has moved into her internal organs, Lo straps on her prosthetic posterior, covers it with some tight hotpants and calls her agent. "Cancel all appointments, then kill yourself" she demands. "Before its too late."
Always keen to pick up on the latest trend and appropriate it as her own, Lo is well aware of Celebricide, even at this early stage.
In the bathroom she sticks her fingers down her throat and vomits and vomits until there's nothing left inside her except a dime she swallowed at the age of seven. The dime is worth more than the insurance pay-out Lo is expecting upon her death. All celebrity policies were rendered null and void the previous day. All bets are off. Celebricide wasn't in the contract.
Translucent strings of snot hang from Lo's nose. Two long ones, flecked with blood. Her head lolls forwards into the bowl, tears running down her cheeks. The snot falls to the floor and is immediately replaced by two more strings, darker this time, bloodier. Small rivulets run down the central stalks of mucus before dripping down Lopez's famous front and down on to the floor. The flow begins to run heavier, darker and she can taste cold steel in her mouth, in her nose. She breathes in heavily and one of the strings of snot retracts up a nostril, but there's too much of it, and it's coming out for a reason, but it's met with more blood, blocking her nose, causing her to gag and gasp until a wad of snot and clotted bloods falls out. She's dying inside, quickly.
The prosthetic ass she's been forced to wear for weeks "for appearances sakes" has dropped away to reveal a flat wide panel of sourdough flesh, bleached white to help her career. Even her slack asshole has been bleached Caucasian.
Lo is attempting to scream now, but the sound is muted by the black film of fecal-smelling blood, flesh and matter that masks the lower part of her face as it rots and slides away -- flesh and blood and matter that once was a multi-million dollar-making Latino-singing sex machine and actress of mediocre talent.
Convulsions shake her body and jar her jaw away. It falls to her feet with a rattle (the teeth coming loose). Her hair is stringy and wet with blood, although strangely still parted perfectly on top where an Alice band holds it in place. But Lopez doesn't feel like Alice. She feels like she's caught the full force of a nuclear explosion; a fresh hell where she can see her black skeleton pulsing in agony, her nails and hair falling away, her eardrums bursting pus three feet in both directions, electrified, a horrific and all-consuming horror the likes of which has never been felt. She long ago shit itself; her bowels have been in decay for weeks, her ovaries for a couple of months.
She is in the final throes of death by Celebricide and it makes Ebola seem like a visit from the Tooth Fairy..
Realising that the end is nigh, Damien Hirst drowns himself in a tank of formaldehyde and installs his worthless bloated corpse in the Guggenheim.
The piece is judged "a rousing success" by Melvyn Bragg.
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Captains Of Industry
"The love of fame is the last weakness which even the wise resign" -- Tacitus
Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch recline on adjoining sunloungers by a swimming pool. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the pool is full of blood. In such vast quantities it looks black. It looks like a sheet of black ice. Stagnant blood sours after a few days, so the air has a strange metallic tang to it that visitors agree is 'quite charming'. Gates and Murdoch are wearing snug-fitting Speedos and designer sunglasses. They sip strawberry milkshakes, eat Oreo cookies and leisurely thumb their way through a book. Gates is engrossed in a children's pop-up, Murdoch in a biography of Meatloaf. Both slurp their shakes and sigh contentedly, neither feeling the need to say much, relaxed enough in each other's company to not consider it an awkward silence.
"Well Bill," says Murdoch after some minutes have passed. "I think I'll take a dip".
He takes off his sunglasses, walks to the deep end and executes a smooth dive with a minimal splash. Small spots of blood fleck the flag stones around the pool.
Gates picks up his cell phone, hits redial.
"Hello? Is that Domino's? Yeah, I'd like a large pepperoni stuffed crust with pineapple on one half and…wait a second -- " he puts his hand over the mouthpiece. "Hey, you want some pizza pie?"
Murdoch comes spluttering to the surface, face and shoulders covered in a thin film of blood, eyes open wide in surprise.
"Wait -- I've got blood in my ears."
He waggles a finger in one ear.
"OK. What is it?"
"I said, you want some pizza?" says Gates, holding up the cell phone.
"No," says Murdoch, spitting out a small clot. "Just get me some dough-balls. And an iced tea."
"They don't do ice tea."
"Oh shit. A coke then."
Gates places the order and hangs up without giving an address. They already know it. He has an account.
Murdoch pushes off and swims silently underwater.
Speaking directly to the camera, microphone in hand, Ricki Lake climbs her way up a mound of dead celebrities. At one point she is on all fours, giving the viewers a quick flash of panties as she struggles to get her footing amongst the rigid limbs, blackened torsos and white-eyed heads, the camera crew and soundman struggling to keep up.
Lake is wearing a well-cut power suit and has lost weight again. Back in the studio, the Jewish producer nods knowingly, a look of smugness spreading across his face like an oil slick over a seagull's eyes.. His assistant tuts in disapproval.
"What?" he proclaims, innocently, shrugging his padded shoulders. "Sex sells!"
"Sure. To some people."
Another camera crew is trailing Lake and her boys, filming footage for a warts-and-all-biography of the portly actress-turned chat show host. They've been leisurely making it for months, way before Celebricide struck, and now realise that time is clearly of the essence if they want to complete the job. Another crew consisting of a budding young director with a hand-held digicam and a soundman are trailing the Lake documentary makers as part of a college project entitled 'Documentary Vérité in the 21st Century'.
Approximately fifty metres away, behind a stack of dead Eastern European sports stars, a private detective films the student sound-man to be used as evidence against him for a bogus insurance scam in which he proclaimed he was recently incapacitated after a roller-blading injury. Suspecting that her husband is a secret necrophiliac, the private dick's wife is taking snaps of him filming the student using the only camera she had to hand, a cumbersome 1980s Polaroid. Behind the smokescreen of burning bodies, another private detective watches the private detective's wife. The first private detective suspects his wife of spying on him, so has hired a private detective to look the case over. He would do it himself, but what with Celebricide and everything, he's got a hell of a lot of work on right now.
Fourteen satellites track all their movements from just inside the earth's atmosphere.
Delivering a monologue to the camera, Lake tugs at a wrist and pulls a stiff arm from the pile, pulls off a Rolex and dangles it for the camera dramatically, sensationally:
"This Rolex belonged to actor Patrick Duffy, most famous for his roles as Bobby Ewing in Dallas and The Man From Atlantis, whose actual character name escapes me right now. I think he was just referred to as 'The Man From Atlantis'. Whatever. Duffy is dead now, just one of many celebrity victims of this mysterious -- "
Lake stops, screws up her Botoxed face and puts a hand to her throat. She is balanced precariously at the top of the corpse pile.
"What is it?" the soundman mumbles to the cameraman.
"I don't know," he whispers back. "Ms. Lake -- are you OK? Do you need more doughnuts?"
Lake makes a strange rasping, choking noise, clutching a throat which appears to be covered in a red rash with white welts. She gurgles and falls.
The mound of bodies becomes slightly higher, slightly wider.
A commemorative ceremony is hastily arranged for the following day, but as Lake only mixes with celebrities, no one will come, apart from the second film crew who think they could maybe use some footage for a closing sequence of their Ricki biopic.
A twelve year old deaf mute wanders by with a camera, stops, rearranges a few of the errant limbs and films various close-ups of bodies, which he will later post on his pay-per-view website.
At fourteen he will be declared a millionaire. The first of the Celebricide Age.
All New Celebricide Funeral Service
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Independent, family run business for over twenty years now specialising in Celebricide disposal.
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Life-like make-up and restoration
Cremation * Embalming
open casket policy
Chapel Of Rest
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24 hour in-house masonry service and snack-bar.
Formaldehyde on request.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ben Myers is the author of the novel The Book Of Fuck (Wrecking Ball Press, 2004), which was recently nominated for the 3:AM Good Sex Writing prize. He has also published a number of short stories. As a music journalist, Ben has travelled the world and has written several books on ugly, noisy bands. He lives in Peckham and is a member of the Captains Of Industry collective.