Maximum Impact 28.07.06 - Press Gazette

Maximum Impact 28.07.06

X-FACTOR is a hugely successful TV format for the masses, but every year it’s increasingly obvious to me that it’s the risk factor which is more and more appealing to the rich, powerful and famous.

Public relations for major stars continues to be more about shielding them, often from their own excesses and secret sexual fantasies.

George Michael showed yet again last weekend how important risks are for his sexual fulfilment. The News of the World revealed how George enjoyed a Ron Davies-like experience with a total stranger late at night on Hampstead Heath. George was pictured emerging from the woods after allegedly cavorting with 58-year-old Norman Kirtland, romantically described as a jobless, pot-bellied, lorry driver.

This time, as eight years ago, when he was caught doing far more than just whispering carelessly in a California park toilet, George will be mounting a massive PR operation to convince as many as possible that what he’s doing is totally normal and of no interest to the media. Fortunately, George is in the entertainment industry, and the public are far more tolerant of any kind of weird and wonderful activity as long as it doesn’t involve children.

He has the means to create a public toilet in his own back garden if he so desired, or even recreate a mini-Hampstead Heath in the grounds of a hidden property. But, of course, by eliminating the risk he also eliminates the excitement, stimulation and fulfilment.

I’m increasingly aware of other stars that get off on the risk factor.

Many have little interest in any kind of sexual activity unless they are taking a risk. Quite often they can’t even get under “starters orders”

unless what they are about to do puts them in fear of exposure.

An American star I represented for many years had an ever-growing need to service the married partners of his best friends. As the years went by, so the risks got greater of him being caught and eventually, almost inevitably, he finished up in hospital seriously hurt when he was caught out by one husband who resorted to violent revenge.

Did it stop him? No. It just made him less impulsive and more careful.

“I can’t help myself,” he said. “I know it’s crazy, but I’ve got no control over this and if I finish up dead because of it, then so be it.”

He had to have his risk fix, and that’s what it is – a drug.

For the very powerful, it often seems that the greater the potential damage, the greater the kickback. They are like the very big gamblers who are far more turned on and excited when they’re losing vast sums of money than when they’re winning. Weird – but often the case.

George Michael has been a star for many years. “Normal” becomes boring, so the search for the bizarre often increases as the years go by.

PR is often not so much about who or what you know, but what you know about who you know, and having the ability to stop everyone else knowing what you know. As I say to every big name that has ever approached me for PR, if I don’t know more about you than anybody else, it’s a waste of your money and my time.

The fee for this column is donated to the Rhys Daniels Trust