Is being famous worth it?

Well, it is, and it isn’t worth it.

I have met and worked with many famous people. I can say that when you are at the top of your game it is definitely worth it. You will have access to all sorts of privileges that the rest of us can only dream about.

One friend of mine is always being asked to endorse high-end products such as cars, watches and designer wear. These companies literally throw their products at him. Sometimes he wears clothes, sometimes he gives them to me and others! He very rarely pays at restaurants, but always tips heavily. The restaurateurs plead with him to eat at their establishment without paying. This is usually for a party of six. He sits at the best table and his appearance attracts customers. I’ve been with him to these top eateries a few times and have seen the owner supply several bottles of champagne throughout the evening. Other diners go away and tell friends who they have seen, and then they book a table. This is precisely what the restaurant wants.

One evening, I was once with two world-famous dancers at a restaurant. Again, the meal was free. The downside was that they were approached during the meal to give autographs. They didn’t mind but wished the other diners had waited until they had finished eating before asking for autographs. These two dancers were picked up afterward by a chauffeur supplied by the major luxury car manufacturer. They told me that this was given to them for a year in return for visiting events at the dealerships in Nice, Monte Carlo, Paris, and Rome. All expenses paid, as long as they performed the Argentine Tango at the motor events.

Fame isn’t worth it when you fall from grace. An artist colleague of mine enjoyed enormous fame for most of his lifetime. His income from selling art and for his many TV appearances resembled telephone numbers. A multi-millionaire who had it all. Then his train hit the buffers, and now he lives as a recluse, confined to his beautiful house overlooking the river. His earnings have dried up and because he is recognized by everyone he rarely leaves the confines of his home.

“I was famous once” is something I hear a few friends of mine saying. One couple was on television every Saturday night a few years ago. They were household names. Today, people go up to them in the street and say, “We miss you being on TV. Variety shows aren’t shown any more.” Upon hearing this, one of them bitterly replied, “We’re comedians. We can’t cook or dance, so the BBC doesn’t want us.”

Fame is great when you are rising, or at the top. When you slip down, it’s painful.

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