A series dedicated to explaining Britain's manufactured celebrities to an American audience.
Accompany me, if you will, on a little thought experiment: let us imagine that a band of intrepid time travelers, or intelligent extra-terrestrials should that be more plausible in your Dawkinsian worldview, have happened upon contemporary Britain, and are puzzling out its customs.
The inhabitants of these cold, wet, verdant isles—they would report in their alienish (or distant-era) idiom—are in apparently helpless thrall to an orange-hued, dead-eyed, grotesquely-mammaried personage who, while outwardly conforming to a female gendered shape, does not seem fully human. We hazard a guess that this intimidating being is a robot or some other species of man-made automaton, since its facial movements do not display the typical range of human expression. Corroboratively, some cursory research yields a public philosopher’s anxious observation that "her face never registers any emotion whatsoever, as though it’s never even been hooked up to that part of her brain. … seriously, have you ever seen her pull a single identifiable facial expression at all? She’s like a face on a banknote. Cold and unknowable. And omnipresent. And reeking of money."
Indeed, money flows toward this creature bountifully and unceasingly—much like the water in God’s own river Jordan, whose hallowed name she adopted as her showbiz pseudonym—leading us to the assumption that “Katie Price” is a literal descriptor. Just as appellations such as “Butcher” and “Baker” once denoted the bearer’s profession, or so say the history books, it is clear that Katie’s last name conveys that all aspects of her life are for sale, available for the right “price.”
In keeping with this ordained fate, one of Price’s most recent ventures is a glossy magazine all about herself, Katie, which features such journalistic coups as “My Tattoos and What They Mean” accompanied by copious advertisements for Katie-branded items, including the glamorous-sounding “Precious Love the Enchanting New Fragrance by Katie Price.” (After visualizing Katie at work in a lab, perhaps wearing a glittery white coat, indefatigably sniffing endless combinations of flower essences, herbal distillates, and exotic oils, we were rather condescendingly advised that she plays no role in the manufacture of “her” perfume. We were also apprised of the startling fact that she neither writes nor reads her many bestselling novels and autobiographies, which are “ghostwritten”—can it be that the literacy part of her brain-unit is as dead as the emotion part? Unlike some celebrity authors, though, Katie makes no bones about her lack of participation in the writing process, cheerfully pointing out that she doesn’t have time “to sit down and type” and reminding people “I’ve never lied about the fact that I don’t physically write my books”—as though literary production were merely low-skilled manual labor, like seamstressing or sticking plastic doll parts together, that she’s outsourcing. And on being told that the only woman author who outsells her in Britain is JK Rowling, Katie chillingly predicted how that would change once she too had a movie franchise.)
Intriguingly, Katie magazine has not been met with universal support from her pressroom peers. “An offensively vulgar blend of venality and egotism the likes of which I hoped I’d never live to see” was how a working scribe at a more cerebral ladies’ periodical entitled Cosmopolitan referred to Katie. (We did try to obtain the young woman’s name for attribution, but she’d run into the bathroom with a scotch and a cigarette, sobbing that the whole fucking industry was going to hell and they’d all be lucky to work at Starbucks by next year.)
Upon conversing with more of Price’s subjects, especially those older and less tearful, it emerged that once upon a time her ancient culture prized education, talent and the arts. But, to our foreign eyes at least, there remains scarcely a trace of this enlightened age; now, judging by Price’s deification (we’re reliably informed that only the Queen is as famous and venerated) and stupendous wealth (estimated at being in excess of $50M), this society rewards simpler achievements, like getting your kit off for the cameras, appearing on confusingly termed “reality television” shows, putting your name to hastily composed and bafflingly unedifying “books” and holding forth with alarming frequency on the comparative masculine endowments of your various gentleman callers.
During her recent speech to the Oxford Union—planet earth’s most famous debating society, previously host to fellow luminaries such as the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill and Jerry Springer—The Pricey offered a stirring piece of advice to her rapt audience, who were eager to learn the secrets of her success. “You mustn’t never give up,” she averred in her eerily unvarying monotone, which is reminiscent of, we overheard one young man musing, “Lilith Crane, if Lilith were a witless English chav.”
Thankfully, and because Price’s raison d’etre is to purvey each and every biographical occurrence for consumption by her hungry public, it was not difficult to pinpoint with more detail the genesis of her impressive accomplishments: as a pubescent girl in the English coastal town of Sussex, she knew—as surely as if it were whispered in her ear by a Victoria’s Secret angel—that the path to greatness was paved with saucy lingerie, lashings of mascara and a total modesty-ectomy.
First, though, she had to contend with a certain grim reality: the arena of modeling, of selling youth and beauty, tends for some reason to attract unsavory characters. Katie was only 13 when ambition drew her to the lair of a photographer who took pictures of her in lacy underwear and red lipstick. But when the man suggested that she pose in a wet shirt with nothing underneath, alarm bells began to ring. Balking at the request, Katie left the man’s house (he would later be convicted of child sex offences) and revealed to her mother what had happened. The practical, no-nonsense woman told her daughter not to be “so silly,” and that she “was being oversensitive.”
Sadly, there aren’t any psychologists where we come from, but nevertheless we’re tempted to identify this as a pivotal moment in Katie’s young life. (We’re also duty-bound to point out that Katie herself is no fan of psychotherapists, as she once eloquently explained: “I don’t believe in all that shit because they just talk bollocks. They’re paid to make out they’re in your mind and make you go, ‘Urghhh.’”) Certainly, no one today would accuse her of being oversensitive, or at least no one with eyes and ears. Case in point: Graphic footage of Katie having sex with a former lover which can be found on the Internet—a common rite of passage for temerarious starlets, we gather, but one usually accompanied by protestations of embarrassment and regret. Not so for Katie. “Everyone’s got the same bits and bobs and how you use it and bang it in,” she airily rhetoricized, “what’s the big deal?”
Undeterred from modeling by her brush with a filthy pervert and as ambitious as ever, by the time she was 18, Katie was regularly appearing topless on the Sun’s “Page 3”—a beloved institution and home to daily naked bosoms since 1970—and her brash, fearless new identity, Jordan, was born. This period of her life was momentous in another way, too: in 1996 she acquired her first set of breast implants, a move that defied the wishes of the Sun readership, who overwhelming voted against the enhancement in a poll by the newspaper. Katie has since had four further breast surgeries, sometimes going down in size instead of up, and she’s also confessed to a nose job, thigh liposuction, regular Botox injections, and an addiction to tanning beds. “I know people say they’re dangerous and can give you skin cancer,” she has acknowledged, “but we’ve all got to die of something, so that’s just my choice.”
In fact, Katie is already a cancer survivor. In August 2002 she was diagnosed with a tumor in her finger, the result of leiomyosarcoma, a rare and often fatal type of cancer; but, following surgery to remove the lump, she made a full recovery. Overall it was a tumultuous year for Katie: in May she gave birth to her first child, Harvey, who suffers from a host of health problems including blindness and autism. Little Harvey was the result of a brief, unsatisfying fling with Premier League footballer Dwight Yorke, whose defining qualities can be gleaned from Katie’s ruefully damning précis of what the relationship taught her: “it is definitely true what they say: it’s not size that counts, but how you use it.”
During her pregnancy, Katie had already parted ways with Yorke, but you’ll be relieved to hear that being with child didn’t put a crimp in her talent for enjoying herself. She continued a casual affair with former love Dane Bowers, a member of a now-forgotten boyband, although her growing bump did prove inhibiting: “I felt so self-conscious when we had sex,” she recalled, “especially if we were filming it.” (Presumably she selflessly soldiered on for the sake of posterity, and although we’re ignorant as to the prevalence of this ennobling niche of film vérité, we trust future generations will be grateful.) Luckily, her next conquest, seventeen-year-old singer Gareth Gates, was a virgin when they met, so bump or no bump, he barely had a clue what was going on. “When I look at it now,” Katie has said of deflowering a teenager while pregnant, “it’s gross, disgusting.” How very courageous of her, then, to relive the liaison in unflinchingly queasy detail in the first volume of her autobiography.
Inspiringly, motherhood was no obstacle to the ever-increasing fame of Katie’s breasts. Their amplitude and ubiquity continued to add to the gaiety of the nation and shift copies of FHM, Maxim, Nuts, Loaded and UK Playboy, and in September 2002 a girlhood dream came true: Katie appeared on the cover of US Playboy with the headline “London’s Legendary Bad Girl Jordan.” Hugh Hefner even invited her to remain at the Playboy mansion as one of his girlfriends, but she demurred, saying that she valued her freedom too much. Wise decision, since life chez Hef would surely have precluded Katie’s favorite activity of being photographed falling drunkenly out of nightclubs in outfits that, we’re told, made Jenna Jameson look like an FLDS wife.
Little did Katie know that a truly life-changing encounter was just around the corner! In early 2004 she gamely accepted a large fee to appear on “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here,” the TV show in which a group of C-list celebs endure sleeping rough in the Australian jungle. One of those C-listers was has-been popstar Peter Andre, an Australian singer famous in the '90s, less for his music than for his videos’ invariable showcasing of his bronzed, sweaty, heavily muscled torso. The moment Katie laid her inscrutable reptilian eyes on him, she knew it was a match made in shameless publicity-seekers’ heaven and, joyfully, Peter felt the same. Their September 2005 wedding, covered by OK, was attended by many famous friends and famous strangers, and was to our mind similar in style and spirit to the nuptials depicted on a fascinating documentary we were fortunate enough to catch, "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.”
Two children, Junior Savva Andreas and Princess Tiaamii Crystal Esther, were born during Katie and Peter’s marriage, which despite being generously shared with the public via three no-holds-barred reality series, set in London, Australia, and LA, did not survive the decade: the two were divorced in 2009. Almost immediately Katie rebounded with Alex Reid, a “cage fighter” whose classiest attribute is a penchant for wearing women’s underthings. Their entire relationship can be summed up in one line: married in Vegas in February 2010, separated less than a year later. Alex then salved his heartbreak by confiding to the Sun, via a “friend,” that Katie is an evil, Cruella de Vil-like figure who treats men “like the 101 Dalmatians. They’re destined to be skinned, worn for a while—then tossed in the bin.”
Katie’s next adorable fluffy pet was 25-year-old Argentine model Leandro Penner, whom she met at the April 2011 Oscars; their relationship was hampered, tragically, by the hitch that neither spoke the other’s language. Still, Katie gushed at the time that a psychic bond beyond the verbal realm united them, and we caution you to have a tissue at hand for this next bit: “In the car I’ll think, I bet he wants his glasses, just before he asks for his glasses.” Yet even the most transcendent meeting of minds has a shelf life, as Leandro discovered when Katie hired a translator to dump him. And life goes on: while Leandro is coping by bravely granting interviews about his and Katie’s sex life (we all grieve in different ways, do we not?), Katie has found comfort in the beefy arms of 23-year-old rugby player Danny Cipriani, with whom she’s no doubt enjoying a similarly scintillating level of conversational cut and thrust.
But while himbos come and himbos go, a constant in Katie’s life is her first love: horses. A keen equestrian from a young age, she entered gymkhanas as a teenager and now frequently rides and plays polo. Uniquely, this is a part of her life so sacred that she chooses not to sully it with money or commercialism. Wait—sorry, we’re being told that KP Equestrian caters to all your horsey needs, from (we’re quoting the website here) "riding jackets to horse rugs, bling hoodies to fitted tracksuits, made to measure Italian riding boots to diamante bridles." Oh, and a representative from Random House wishes to tell us about Katie’s hugely popular series of children’s books, Perfect Ponies.
Upsettingly, it seems these sterling credentials weren’t good enough for the Hurlingham Polo Cartier International match, which once saw fit to bar Katie’s attendance, despite her willingness to pay £6000 for a table. Earlier this year, when Cartier’s Arnaud Bamberger was questioned about the outrageous snub, he was unrepentant; being European, he evidently doesn’t grasp the supremacy, the zeitgeistiness, of Katie’s celebrity: “One minute, she has big boobs, then, she has small boobs. One day, she is called Jordan and, then, the next day, she is called something else. It is very silly.”
Well, that snobby Frenchman will eventually curse the day he made an enemy of The Pricey, as will everyone who’s ever crossed her. She’s plainly on route to terrifying, Murdochesque global domination, and the logical outcome of her ruthless commandeering of every corner of the media is that the highest levels of industry and government will soon be answerable to her and only her. Realistically, this may mean a return to some fairly draconian stances on law and order: “The way I see it,” she has fiercely pronounced, “is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. So if someone rapes a girl he should be bent over and the same thing done to him. And if someone steals they should have to wear a dye on their skin…like across their face!” It might not be all bad, though, living in a Price-ruled dominion—during a brief foray into politics back in 2001, when she stood as a parliamentary candidate, she promised free plastic surgery for all, a ban on parking tickets, and tax cuts for anyone having an affair with a foreign footballer.