May 9, 2012

Pros and cons of being a celebrity

As a writer who wrote the novel Confessions of a Gambler, the downside is that people think you are the gambler. Everything you write in novels and in articles or talk about in interviews, the reader thinks it is you. Well, I am a gambler in the risks that I take. Quitting my job as a paralegal in the seventies and believing that I can support two kids in Toronto just writing is a huge gamble. I go for the stock market instead of savings bonds. I trust in the characters I choose for a book and know that they will come through for me. I buy a house and don't worry too much how I pay for it. But people will take things out of context.

Coming back to the main question, the big advantage I see in being a celebrity is that you have privileges not afforded to others. You get a seat in the line at the traffic department to get your driver's license. Yes, celebrities have to stand in line too for certain things. You also feel good when people acknowledge your work. As a writer who lives in Cape Town, small in comparison to New York, I am well known and live in my community. A community feels safe, you know the people and they know you.

The disadvantages of being a celebrity is that you always have to be well dressed or you will read in a magazine that you wore baggy pants and an old sweater taking your kids out, or you were spotted picking your nose when you thought no one was looking, and you are constantly under the microscope. You can be famous for almost anything today. Look at Kim Kardashian. What has she done that she should count herself as a celebrity? Her claim to fame is that her father knew OJ Simpson, she has a big posterior, and voila, a celebrity is born. Celebrities are dime a dozen today. There are no stars left like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard; a true star. Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen have got it right. I've been a Dylan and Waits fan since the sixties.

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