Tuesday 20 February 2018

Review: Booky Wook 2 by Russell Brand

Harper Collins, €23.40, Hardback

Brand appeal: The funny man has written a second saucy memoir
Brand appeal: The funny man has written a second saucy memoir

When Russell Brand slept with Kate Moss and gazed at her in his bed, he said it was like looking in the garden and seeing Elvis mowing the lawn.

The fling with the model in 2006 was just one of the sexual conquests of the comedian -- a man with so many notches on his bedpost that the bed is in imminent danger of collapse.

One wonders what the future holds for Brand, the former self-proclaimed heroin addict and lothario with the curious line in mock-Victorian cockney patter.

He made his first official appearance with his new wife, the singer Katy Perry, at the MTV Europe Awards, looking a picture of contentment. The couple had literally hit it off last year when she threw a bottle at him. But how does the comedian/film star continue with his shtick as a leather-clad luurve machine, capable of entertaining up to five women at a time, now that he has embraced drug-free monogamy?

Brand has become one of those stars, whose ubiquitous presence on every platform -- from print through TV chatshows to film -- prompts the feeling that the public should have a right to privacy from celebrities.

Like many of his glitzy contemporaries, Brand has produced not just one autobiography, but two, at the age of 35.

The second volume, Booky Wook 2 has recently been published. By the time our hirsute hero has arrived at his last saucy romp, the reader is not begging for more, rather that he would become a monk, and neither be seen nor heard of again.

Brand tells how during a stand-up tour last year, his staff "competed to see who could bring me the most post-gig girls; they were delivered in giggling gaggles.''

Nobody is capable of parodying Russell better than Russell himself, of course. Describing his own animal magnetism, he says: "Women met for the first time in my bed and tumbled into the abyss of my serpentine kiss.

"Chains and trains of strangers, some as young as 18, some as old as 45, were flung together in a metropolis of flesh.''

He lists his liaisons as if his womanising was a hobby, like trainspotting or collecting stamps.

"Five girls in Bournemouth, closing in on me like sweet murder. Four in Sydney, coffee brown to lily white, a mother and daughter on the coast, and perfectly, given its reputation for incest, two sisters in Devon.''

He tells how he was staying in a castle on the West coast of England last year and his entourage brought back 20 girls after a gig -- "By 3am it looked like the cover of an album the (Rolling) Stones never got round to recording called "Crumpet Banquet'' or "Floosie Soup''; they were propped up against the mantle or dumped on chairs like plane crash survivors.''

Just at the point when you want to turn him off, he produces some insights into this life of "Caligulan excess''. He grates on the nerves, but he is also revealing about the life of a male sex object.

Suddenly the picture turns dark: "As I lay on my bed watching (the girls) above me, it felt like an alien autopsy; they prodded, not caressed, they fed, they did not kiss.''

He describes in his book how the fun eventually faded, the lights flickered on the ferris wheel of fame and the carriage creaked uneasily. He felt an overwhelming spiritual emptiness.

A realisation that this life was not for him seemed to dawn on Brand when he was filming his Hollywood movie Get Him to the Greek and he was staying in the same hotel in Las Vegas as the rapper Sean 'P Diddy' Combs.

In the front room of his suite there was a glass cylindrical shower, like a teleportation device, with lights on the ceiling and floor. At the centre of it was a pole for the pole dancers who would routinely be brought back to the suite by guests.

"I used it once to shower in, alone,'' says Brand. " It was the most depressing shower of my life, it was like doing your taxes in Disneyland.''

"The closer I got to the summit of this mountain of indulgence, the more the climb seemed pointless.''

While his constant round of womanising eventually left him empty, he also finds little satisfaction in being a Hollywood film star.

His breakthrough came in 2008 with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where he played the title character's boyfriend.

'Making movies is not like watching them,'' says the comedian. "It's like a long, boring caravan holiday.''

The comedian jokingly advises aspiring movie stars who want to learn film-making to book themselves into a mobile home trailer park in Ramsgate (a dowdy seaside resort in Kent) for three months and say the same thing 20 times every morning while caked in make-up. "If you enjoy that, then Welcome to Show Business.''

On the face of it, Brand's appearance as the presenter of the MTV Video Music Awards last year, where he rose on a concealed hydraulic podium like a deity on a wedding cake, might have seemed like the height of glamour.

Waiting to appear, he had to hunch in a tiny dark space on a platform.

"It's like being launched from a cell in Abu Ghraib straight into the Oscars and having to make your orange boilers suit look snazzy and pretend the dog wee is a fancy new cologne.''

In one of the most notorious incidents of his career, he had to quit his BBC radio show two years ago after he and Jonathan Ross made a prank call to Andrew Sachs (Manuel in Fawlty Towers) and Ross told the elderly actor in a voice message: "He (Brand) f***ed your grand-daughter.''

While Brand is capable of honest insights, he also suffers occasionally from extravagant self-delusion. He describes the Sachs incident as the "biggest media event since Princess Diana died''. (Never mind 9/11, or countless other historic events)

And he goes on to describe the prank call as "perhaps the most significant minute of broadcasting in the BBC's history''. Does it really compare to Winston Churchill's wartime broadcasts?

The monstrous ego may grate on the nerves, but Brand's forthright reflections on the emptiness of fame raise this second memoir above the level of the ordinary celebrity biography. But, now that he is happily married, where does his act as a self-described "S & M Willy Wonka'' go from here?

Irish Independent

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