OMFG I totally have a buttercream pleather couch in my gracious den too
Tom Cruise’s lawyer’s letter advising a publication that he had a ‘gracious and loving family home’ recalled the text of many a wonderfully sycophantic magazine article, or scenes in an MTV Cribs tour round a chintzy celebrity cack pile.
Gracious is a Beano comic imaginary word: always written, never spoken. ‘How’s your house?’ ‘OK, pretty gracious. Come round sometime. It’s also loving.’
It occurs to me there are so many key features that crop up time and again, you could play a kind of Obscenely Blingy Horror Shack Interiors drinking game and get nicely pissed.
You’d think having the kind of wealth that allows you to jizz funds around Harrods like Formula One champagne would mean an incredible diversity of result, but it seems there’s an aesthetic ubiquity in the upper price bracket to rival that of Ikea’s Miserly Landlord range.
Yes, YES I know MTV Cribs has been around awhile. But if, like me, you enjoy drinking booze, watching reruns, and leafing through nouveau riche, Casa ‘Shoulda Gone To Specsavers’ mansion photo-shoots, this tick list is always gold. Like a rapper’s keeping-it-ghetto bath tub.
(Please note: tiny creative contributions to this list made by @rob_hyde. He’s not ‘a friend’ as such, though.)
There must be a pond and it must feature Koi Carp, the landed gentry’s ‘roided goldfish. A beginner’s spotter badge, award self one shot of Dooleys.
2) ‘This Is Where The Magic Happens’
Mandatory phrase when being shown the recording studio in Cribs.
If one’s tour guide is a member of Maroon 5, or in Fred Durst-ian oversized shorts, it’s not so much magic, as necromancy.
3) Servant Sighting
‘Our lives wouldn’t run without her, she’s part of the family’ or similar, if being narrated to interviewer by willowy patrician blonde at her ‘Barbados hideaway.’ Except presumably, most family members aren’t tasked with refilling the loo roll pyramid and required to give four weeks’ notice if they wish to leave. Details.
In Cribs, this is a bashful-looking middle-aged Hispanic woman who our ebullient host grabs, hugs and shouts: ‘I call her Mama!’
Well, unlike ‘The Person Who Cif Lemon Mousses The Thunder Box For Money’ it has the benefit of brevity.
4) Showcase For Workless Wife’s Startlingly Appalling Taste
Ushered into a lounge that features beige box pelmets, Regency stripe swags, tasselled tie-backs, a Warholian triptych of the Queen, a suspended flat screen TV and a kidney-shaped glass coffee-table with lions’ feet, we’re told ‘My wife did all of this’ in an admiring tone that implies this isn’t a highly defamatory statement.
‘We’ve gone for a kinda country house, rustic, Ye Olde English feel…’ she says, clad in Juicy Couture trackie, in the blistering sunshine of the Hollywood Hills in a terracotta-washed Mexican style bungalow surrounded by palm trees. And the aim is to transport us, in this one room, to the Cotswolds?
Breaking news: you’ve dropped two mill to pull off the same standard of illusion as Duty Free lagged Brits rofling through airport terminals in sombreros.
There was a particularly splendid example of the ‘misguided pride in own DIY’ genre when Joan Collins welcomed Hello! into her Manhattan penthouse master suite, an aggressive whole-room pattern-matched vexatious twanging of the optic nerve, Jackson Pollock meets Heathrow Sheraton Classic Double circa 1988.
She announced, imperiously: ‘I have an eye.’ That you keep in a drawer, like a marble? USE TWO.
5) Turkey Bacon: So Many Questions
Casually introduced in fridge contents inventory, as if it’s not a paradoxical mind-bender and affront to gustatory dignity.
What in the name of all that is holy is ‘turkey bacon’? Why can’t Americans see a thing, without trying to transpose it into turkey? Why have so much cash you could hire the White House lawn for a barbecue, and then eat not-actual bacon? Why consume a meat-hybrid that, if made mythical circus creature flesh (‘Behold God’s abomination: Wattle Pig!’) you would run from screaming, not chasing with a mandolin slicer?
Is this the dream, you become an NBA superstar, platinum seller or American Idol judge in a sprawling estate the size of Wigan, beautiful partner, brace of kids, at the very pinnacle, the thin air summit of success, you then get so light headed, you ask your private chef to toss a skin graft flap of reformed smoked poultry to shrink in a skillet?
Turkey is not for winners. Turkey is for people who find chicken too exciting. To try to make bacon out of it is fucking demented.
6) Artefact That Reminds Them Of Where It All Began
Must be in a glass case. Extra shot awarded if it’s in a Temple To Thine Ego room full of trophies, awards, skateboards nailed to walls, framed photos of owner doing finger guns with wheelchair-bound confused Bob Hope, etc.
7) My Friends, Who I Have For Money
A loose affiliation of Entourage-style hangers on must be cluttering up the overstuffed sofa playing video games, or hanging around the island unit in the kitchen, waiting to do on-camera high fives. They have, of course, been ‘there from the beginning.’ The beginning of your being loaded.
This ‘hired homies’ technique was later adopted by makers of Jamie Oliver programmes. Little known fact: he calls everyone onscreen ‘tiger’ because he doesn’t know their names. Even his nan. That’s a Central Casting stunt nan if ever I saw one. Let’s just see if she turns up as Aaron Craze’s, too.
8) Specially Commissioned ‘Art’
Because no-one would embark on painting something that shit without being paid up front.
Once on Cribs, a tour guide showed us his haunting oil painting of Tupac Shakur being baptised by Martin Luther King. ‘It came from an idea I had,’ he mused, ‘That Tupac Shakur could’ve been baptised by Martin Luther King.’ Rendering Ali G instantly satirically obsolete, he then put on a wolf fur coat and started howling.
It was the finest ten minutes of telly ever.
9) Untouched Kitchen That Cost 40 Grand
‘I love to cook!’ says our WWF wrestler host, holding a spatula upside down and waving it vaguely in direction of a range that still has a fine coating of brick dust from the kitchen fitters’ work.
‘Yeah, I do egg white omelettes, and other stuff. Wolfgang Puck gave me a private lesson, it was wild. I can do sauces. All the sauces.’
Ah yes, Puck’s saucing masterclass: the red one, the brown one and the white one. The classic French jus trio for feasts of TURKEY BACON.
There must also be a double-door fridge large enough to store a dead body, holding only neatly stacked cans of Gatorade.
10) ‘Original Stone Tiles From Milan Are The Weapon Of Choice In The Luxe Bathroom’
Not strictly relevant: I once proof read an interiors piece containing this phrase from the designer. I now realise I devised this whole feature idea so I could share this.