GATECRASHER: How I Helped the Rich Become Famous and Ruin the World By Ben Widdicombe
"A fascinating and punchy account... This eye-opening account of a moment when 'being wealthy was becoming embraced as a sub-culture' will delight pop culture enthusiasts."—Publishers Weekly
"Witty and insightful ... A sharp-eyed and disturbing chronicle."—Kirkus Reviews
A sharply funny memoir that will satisfy every gossip-lover's itching questions about what it's really like to mingle with the filthy rich and the inexplicably famous.
Have you ever caught yourself standing on line at the grocery store, discreetly craning your neck to catch a glimpse of the gossip rag headlines? Of course you have. You're only human. But your secret glances will soon be a thing of the past, because Ben Widdicombe, society columnist extraordinaire, has arrived to be your in-depth guide into the dizzying heights of celebrity life with his sensational tell-all, Gatecrasher. No gossip-worthy venue will go unexplored—whether it be the Met Gala or Mar-a-Lago—and no high-flying family escapes his notice—be they Kardashians or Kochs.
Photographer: Jakob Owens
Widdicombe's Gatecrasher is not only a roaring good time, filled with every lurid, eye-popping detail you could hope for, but just look past that glitzy Instagram filter, and you'll find plenty of harsh reality beneath its surface. Gatecrasher makes it all too clear that our fascination with star-studded human interest stories is no simple guilty pleasure. Widdicombe argues that our national obsession with the rich and famous has had lasting, far-reaching consequences. Could it be that our love of Paris Hilton was the beginning of a dotted line that led straight to the election of Donald Trump? "As the gossip pages go, so goes the country," Widdicombe says, and he should know better than anybody. He is the only writer to possess one difficult-to-acquire distinction: the Triple-Crown of having worked for Page Six, TMZ, and The New York Times.
No other writer has slipped past more velvet ropes, dished on more juicy details, or brushed elbows with so many celebrities. If you want to gatecrash, this is your manual. If you want to make small talk with Anna Wintour or Henry Kissinger, this is your Bible. And if you want to see just how our country ended up where it is today? Well, this book can explain that, too. An endlessly comedic read that never skimps on detail or depth, Gatecrasher will be your next celebrity obsession and your go-to source for the last two decades of pop culture.
Photographer: Efren Barahona | Author Q & A | with Ben Widdicombe Author of: Gatecrasher
Q: What's the #1 reason you wanted to turn your experiences with the New York gossip scene into a book?
A: Gossip culture is garish fun, but I believe it is also a bellwether of the deeper currents in American public life. It anticipates mainstream culture and even political outcomes. This book is my attempt to outline that particular crackpot theory.
Q: Americans see so much gossip nowadays: on the newsstands, on Twitter, etc. Are there any preconceived notions about your industry you'd like to set right?
A: That gossip journalism can be done ethically, just like any other kind of journalism or profession.
Q: How did your background as an Australian immigrant factor into your early years on the job as you tried to climb the ranks?
A: I think it's helpful to look at any culture from the perspective of being an outsider, because it highlights what elements are unique and distinctive to a particular time and place, and which others are just an expression of indelible human nature.
Q: What was the most surprising thing we should know about the lifestyles of the rich and famous?
A: That hanging out with them looks glamorous, but is mainly just stressful and expensive.
Q: Do you see a line between the American fascination with celebrity culture and the election of a reality star to the highest office?
A: It's not so much a line as a power cord. Celebrity and democracy run on parallel tracks, since they are both popularity contests. Gossip culture is popular culture is mainstream culture, and in a democracy, mainstream culture determines political outcomes. In our modern era of decentralized media, with the new social norm that there is no such thing as too much personal publicity, there is much less separation between low culture and high office.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking to start gatecrashing, what would you say is most important?
A: The three golden rules of gatecrashing are: dress the part, act like you belong, and always be ready to sail with the tide.
Q: You co-founded Chic Happens, the first online gossip column, which set the stage for Perez Hilton, Gawker, and so many others. How do you see the online gossip scene as having changed since you and Horacio Silva kick-started it all?
A: We were young enough to be among the very first to "get" the 1.0 internet, which was instinctive to us, and enabled us to be more nimble than legacy publications. However, we were old enough to exist before social media, which changed everything about gossip reporting, and completely washed away the blog generation. I'm grateful we found that niche, and were able to thrive in it.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like your readers to think about?
A: Fame will cost you your soul.