Review: Toxic Fame

I picked up a thick paperback called Toxic Fame in a used bookstore recently. 

Fame used to seem so glamourous.  It really isn’t and this book centres on that fact using only direct quotes from celebrities.  It’s a 10 year old collection but many of the names still resonate: Al Pacino, Kevin Bacon, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Grant, Whitney Houston and dozens of others.  Their comments were captured after the interview was over, when they were just talking person to person about what it’s like to be them.  As I’ve always suspected, many of them are pathologically insecure and remorseful about the pursuit of fame now that they have it.  Their lives are forever changed and not always for the better. Some of them now realize that what they really wanted was a shot at the best work opportunities and lots of money.  Fame is the byproduct.

When they’re on top they worry about losing their status.  When they’re on their way up they can’t wait to get “there” and when they do, they figure out that the journey was the best part. The book explores substance abuse and the allure of adulation and how it can bloat one’s ego. But it ends on a high note with the most sane among them admitting that they’ve got great lives and the b.s. they encounter is a trade-off for being paid enormous amounts of money. 

Some of the best nuggets in the book are the comments about stars by other stars.  Director John Landis claims Eddie Murphy will be looked back on centuries from now as a true movie star while John Travolta will be forgotten.  Ouch!  It’s raw and it’s honest and there’s no interpretation of the quotes except for the one in the reader’s mind.  Fascinating stuff.