Shallow Not Stupid

More people commit suicide on weekends and holidays, or at 3 am, when everyone else is trying to sleep. It’s only $50 an hour to have a moan-on-the-phone at

But Crazy Keiko calls me every night with an update on her lack of a date for Valentine’s Day. She can’t get a man and she’s not even fat. What hope is there for chubsters who use any excuse, including St. Valentine, to chow into chocolate? Despite taking Mr. Lash’s advice not to wear her blow-up ass with her plastic jugs, Crazy Keiko has stalked men who have either died, left town, or threatened her with prison. She’s even considering Sneaky Pete from work, who robbed her last time they had sex. Or her creepy neighbor Cheesy Walter, whose socks I can smell from here. He’s a hard man to avoid but it’s well worth the effort.

Her best bet is to fake a date. Have a hot bikini wax on the big day, whisper into the phone to someone who isn’t there, and send herself more flowers than usual. Chocolate hearts are out of the question because she hasn’t eaten since 2003. "It’s not fair," she wails. "Bad Viv married Mr. Lash and I’m still flying solo." She’s not flying at all. She’s on her back in a vodka coma. But nobody said it was fair, as Joan Crawford told her kids before locking them in the cellar.

The Western world has a number of weird rituals, increasingly adopted by other cultures, designed to cause calorie addiction. There’s creepy Claus who sneaks into children's bedrooms leaving behind chocolate images of himself. Then Easter, when a hairy dude’s crucifixion is celebrated by the mass consumption of chocolate eggs. And Thanksgiving, when the President gets to talk to a turkey slathered in sweet stuff.

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Feb 09, 2013 13:58:00

Shallow Not Stupid

Normally it starts with a kiss, but my marriage to Mr. Lash started with a tubercular toe. He saw it immediately, which wasn’t hard. I was wearing a Louboutin on one foot and a bandage on the other, while wielding Grandfather Money’s silver walking stick like the chib used by the Nazi nightclub owner in Gilda. "You’re the immaculate consumptive," Mr. Lash said.

The tuberculosis had bypassed my lung, leaving no shadow, and gone straight to my toe. I’m the only person in England since records began who’s ever had this type of osteo-tuberculosis. "Someday the shadow on your lung may appear," doctors have warned me, and they haven’t stopped looking since—any excuse to take my blood, or an X-ray, or to amputate the toe "just in case." But I’d need the one on the other foot done, too, to be symmetrical. And how would that look when the man-servant gives me a pedi?

This illness was payback for years of hypochondria. I’d always wanted to be pale, frail and dangerous to kiss, like Emily Bronte and the actress I’m named after, Vivien Leigh. Eating ice cream for breakfast and staying size zero is a diet Kate Moss would spit blood for.

Fortunately for me, consumption is Mr. Lash’s fantasy illness too. Susan Sontag makes a good case in Illness as Metaphor for there being no such thing as romantic bacteria, but there's no denying that coughing blood the color of MAC Viva Glam is just sexier than cancer. And now that there’s a cure for TB, you don’t have to die for your glamour, just lose a few kilos.

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Jan 15, 2013 20:11:00
Diana Vreeland by David Bailey

Shallow Not Stupid

Who can fail to admire a woman who called her scarlet sitting room a garden in hell? Who, when sacked at 70, instead of retiring into her closet with her shoes, said to the man who terminated her golden age as editor of Vogue, "I've known white Russians and Reds, but you’re the first yellow Russian."

If Diana Vreeland is sitting on a crimson cloud looking down on the fashion world, she would have been disappointed by the audience of not so thin bland bitches in LBDs who came to the world premiere of the film about her life, The Eye Has to Travel, in London. I could almost hear her say, in her faux-European voice, "Lack of artifice is bloody boring."

Hosted by Manolo Blahnik, one of those men who mysteriously always has more hair this year than he did last year, and Penelope Tree, whose round face looks less like an old oak and more like a dehydrated shrub, the evening rightly focused a gimlet eye on the real star, Ms. Vreeland.

"Water is God’s tranquillizer," she says to George Plimpton, apropos of nothing. On Planet Lash, God’s trank is vodka, but swap the black hair dye for peroxide and DV could be my Aunt Irene the Slut, staying in bed till noon, having at least four fittings for her silk underwear, whispering the same advice to me that DV gave to her sons: "If you can’t be top of the class, make sure you are bottom." Heaven forbid the mediocrity in the middle. That would be like shitting on Chanel’s grave.

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Sep 26, 2012 14:55:00

Shallow Not Stupid

Mr. Lash and I escaped from Beijing without getting lung cancer. I miss my servants, obvsies, but not the smog, crackdown against foreigners, and new restrictions on buying drugs over the counter. I couldn’t get my usual stash of Zopis to bring home in the diplomatic bag, so now I’m on the jetlag express and sleepless in London.

Staying up late watching old movies isn’t sending me to slumber. The dead glam heroines from the upper and downer years of Hollywood keep me awake analyzing them. Clever casting uses an actor’s biography. Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with self-destructive Rita Hayworth. That's good casting. Bad casting has Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath when nobody believes Gwynnie would gas herself over a man. She’d be more likely to bake a cupcake.

You’re supposed to drink camomile tea for insomnia, but the last time I drank camomile it made me dress like a plant. I even considered eating a tofu burger. I don’t want to be lobotomized, just catch up on my beauty sleep. There’s only so much Touch Eclat can do for dark circles.

I had no choice but to visit a witch (like the other Vivien Lash in my evil twin's new book, Spying on Strange Men). She had a bad-tempered cat and nostrils big enough to move in a family of five. She was formerly a groupie to Nick Cave, though I’m not sure if he knows that. She studied witch therapy with the person who taught the person who taught someone I’ve never heard of—not Harry Potter.

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Sep 03, 2012 10:05:00

Shallow Not Stupid

The Olympics follow me like a stalker poo that won’t flush. My size-two bum is still sore from sitting through the opening ceremony in Beijing, where I wanted to kill smug Bird’s Nest artist Ai Weiwei, or at least pelt him with dumplings from his overpriced restaurant. He took the Chinese government’s silver to help design their stadium, then whined when he was accused of playing dim sum with his taxes.

Now I'm home in London and the Olympics are here too. I really wish Danny Boyle had made a new movie instead of squandering his talent on the government’s massive mugging of taxpayers and tourists. It’s embarrassing to watch the sports minister Tessa Jowlie salivating over Olympic Ambassador David Beckham, who isn't competing but could get gold for putting up with Queen Victoria. And David Cameron, who’s face has started to look like a bum since he became Prime Minister, sits on his ass doing mental arithmetic, wondering if this expensive fiasco will cost him his job.

Okay, I’m sounding like my Ranty Auntie, but I’ve suffered at the hands of sport since the last century, when I was forced to train every day during my American childhood, just in case I’d be picked for the Olympic team. Which was unlikely since they don’t give medals for being six and a half stone and sleeping late. As if having to do track with a psychotic cat following me, impersonating the way I run, and break my fingernails swinging from the trees behind the school (in an undignified display somewhere between Tarzan and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) wasn’t bad enough, the sadistic canoeing teacher always picked me to demonstrate being capsized.

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Aug 05, 2012 12:33:00
Tony Leung in In the Mood for Love

Shallow Not Stupid

If being friends with Crazy Keiko has taught me anything, it’s to always search your house when you get home. When her boyfriend caught her asleep in his wardrobe, with a machete in one hand and an iPhone in the other, he decided it was the end of the affair. But he owns a girly bar in Soho and would rather lose a testicle than have anyone think he’s vanilla.

In those innocent times before location apps, Crazy Keiko may have found a new hobby. But now being a stalker is so easy it’s embarrassing not to have one—especially if you're famous, like most of the men on Crazy’s list.

Mr. Lash and I were invited to dinner at the home of one of them, a Chinese movie star. When we arrived, Mr. Lash made the mistake of ringing the doorbell. "Tell that crazy flasher bitch behind the tree I’ve called the police," the movie star’s wife said.

"He really cares about me," Crazy Keiko mooned as we dragged her naked body away, "or he wouldn’t have come out in the rain to speak to me." "What did he say?" we asked. "He say, 'Fuck off, you crazy bitch.’" At least she has the sheet he covered her with as a memento of their non-existent affair and can wipe her tears with the restraining order she's sure his wife forced him to file.

If there’s one thing worse than being stalked by a fan, it’s being under the evil eye of the strange woman who’s your mother. Andy Murray’s mom calls it support; I call it stalking. His dad sits there with moobs, while his girlfriend has exactly two looks: plant and petrified plant. And who can blame her when Andy's mom, who can’t keep her tongue in her mouth when Nadal’s on the court, could soon be her mother-in-law? Maybe she should take a cue from Mel Gibson’s stepmum and get a restraining order.

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Jul 09, 2012 18:24:00
Queen Elizabeth and her corgis

Shallow Not Stupid

When I was five I stood in the rain waiting for Queen Elizabeth. I was expecting Liz Taylor dripping in diamonds when a middle-aged lady wearing a hat like a window cleaner’s bucket drove past. She wasn’t even in a Rolls Royce. "Wave at the Queen!" Mummy said. And I did, though my wave was more international salute than royal flutter.

Fast forward to me as a crazy teen, running away from home for the first time. My cousin, gay as a summer’s day, smuggled me into Balmoral Castle, where he was working as one of QEII’s servants, serving stodgy food six times a day.

It’s not hard to see why camp-as-a-cracker Diana became anorexic in this atmosphere. Flabby folk crawling around the tartan rugs with corgis had me reaching for the puke bucket, and I'm not a bulimic—I lack the commitment for it.

I made up my mind there and then that when I could afford servants they would be deaf-mute eunuchs. Gossip about the royal family, usually from people paid to wipe their brown bits, reminds you why it’s best to go to the toilet without a reliable witness.

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May 15, 2012 10:15:00
Greta Garbo in A Woman of Affairs

Shallow Not Stupid

The nuns warned me I’d never have a "real" job if I couldn’t make it to the end of class, but those crucifixion chicks were confusing me with somebody who wants to get up in the morning for bores and chores. A job, real or imaginary, wouldn’t leave me time for my secret vice.

It’s best done in private but can be done in public. It’s not illegal—yet—but provokes hostility in people who don’t share the addiction. In England, the birthplace of literature, reading is treated like doing a jobbie—ugly but necessary when your auntie gives you a book token or a colonics voucher.

My dad agreed with Chairman Mao when he said, "Reading ruins you, really ruins you." But the Chinese midget stayed in bed all day reading, occasionally interrupting his book to order an execution or a hot chick. Meanwhile, Mom couldn’t stand dust, so books were banned in our house, apart from the shelf of fake leather ones with hollow insides. It’s creepy enough that your parents fucked to make you without having to live with their totally tragic taste as well.

It was always dark when I escaped to the library, eyes peeled for Pete the Pedo. The library smelled sexy but I was normally asked to leave by the librarian, who had a man at her nose but no sign of one anywhere else. I had to hide under a big plant when I wanted to read something from the adult section.

Characters seduce me more than plot. I would fantasize about being one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heroines, like Jordan Baker, who cheats at golf, and I’d prefer her to play poker. I got a dark-angel bob after reading Lulu in Hollywood by Louise Brooks, who said, "If I ever bore you it will be with a knife."

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Apr 24, 2012 16:58:00
Not the author's bum

Shallow Not Stupid

The Olympics follow me like a stalker poo that won’t flush, and now everyone’s trying to sell me a bum, even though I have one already.

First you starve your ass off, then have a surgeon add some fat to look less Manga cartoon and more Italian movie star on speed. The budget version is a blow-up bum from Chinatown and it sounds like a dying trumpet when you sit on it. Best not worn with the fake chest, as my model friend, crazy Keiko, discovered when she slithered off the Experimental Cocktail Club’s bar stool and her safer-than-Silicone plastic jugs jumped out.

It’s a shame big handbags aren’t in, or she could have discreetly stashed her chest until closing time. I could say she’s out of control after two martinis, but the truth is she’s mad as my mom’s wig even when she’s on the dandelion tea. Modeling is so brain-damagingly boring that it’s an asset to be shallow and stupid. Crazy Keiko doesn’t have to be the smartest banana in the bunch to figure out how to throw up her calories in a toilet—or not bother eating in the first place.

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Apr 02, 2012 21:40:00

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