Wednesday 15 August 2018

The countdown is on to un-VIP behaviour at Style Awards that outlived the Celtic Tiger

Lisa Murphy at the VIP Style Awards 2011
Lisa Murphy at the VIP Style Awards 2011
Lisa Murphy at the VIP Style Awards
Katie Price aka Jordan arrives at The VIP Style Awards with boyfriend Leandro Penna in 2011
Katie Price
Katie Price (aka Jordan) and Leandro Penna at the VIP Style Awards 2011
Ryan O'Shaughnessy: solid but familiar song
Katie Price aka Jordan arrives at The VIP Style Awards with boyfriend Leandro Penna in 2011
Ed Sheeran
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Cast your mind back to 2001, when helicopter was the preferred mode of transport in Ireland, toddlers owned their own homes, and bank managers ate caviar with soup spoons.

It was during this almost mythical time the VIP Style Awards sprang to life.

While the majority of Celtic Tiger beanos faded when the gold rush stopped, the Style Awards managed to survive it all.

Like Terminator T-800, or a giant red carpet cockroach - it seems nothing can bring it down. This year's shindig takes place next Friday night, and, as per usual, is being run by ringmaster Michael O'Doherty - barrister, magazine publisher, and the man who was brave enough to advise rugby star Shane Byrne to lose the mullet on Celebrity Come Dine with Me.

He thinks the longevity of the VIPs coincides with the demise of that much-loved Celtic Tiger wealth and virtue signifier: the ostentatious charity luncheon (complete with eye -watering novelty auction).

"After the recession, people were less willing to spend €2,000 on a bodhrán Jim Corr once played, or a vial of Pádraig Harrington's blood," O'Doherty says. "Guests never pay to be at the VIPs - it's invite only."

As a result, it is one of the longest-running red carpet events in Ireland's popular culture. The IFTAs started two years later in 2003: probably, after realising they were missing a trick.

Others have followed suit, and now there are a dime a dozen low-rent red carpet dos. Earlier this year, TV3 launched the Xposé Awards - a production so shaky it looked like it had been filmed by your Da (not mine) on a Sony Handycam.

"I think the VIPs is the oldest red carpet in Ireland," O'Doherty says. "Aside maybe from the People of the Year Awards which I believe began in 1762... But we always have the best guest list."

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Katie Price aka Jordan arrives at The VIP Style Awards with boyfriend Leandro Penna in 2011

It certainly is a curious bunch. Conor McGregor and GAA pundit Marty Morrissey nominated alongside our Beloved Leader, Leo Varadkar? Anne Doyle going head to head with Twink?

And there is always some poor eejit who takes it all too seriously: this year that accolade goes to Caitríona Perry.

The Six One news anchor has been canvassing for votes on social media signing off with #ReporterLife, #AnchorLife, and #NewDresses.

Of course, we all know the real reason the awards show gets good traction - because the VIPs inevitably results in very un-VIP behaviour.

In 2011, Lisa Murphy upstaged Katie Price by arriving in a completely see-through dress. That was the same year a well-known model was seen relieving herself in a potted plant in the corner of Krystle nightclub.

In 2016, Amanda Brunker was pelted with seagull droppings as she made her grand entrance at the launch, and had to ask reporters to help wipe her dress clean. In 2015, the MOD's trousers burst open, leaving him terribly exposed.

There was the time the VIP party bus broke down en route to Copper Face Jacks, leaving guests stuck on the quays for an hour. At the time, there was fierce speculation Twink was to blame. (Untrue, of course).

In 2008, one society lady was caught campaigning for votes by pushing pamphlets under the doors of hotel rooms, and in 2013 a TV presenter was stopped leaving the Marker Hotel after snaffling 12 goodie bags.

My personal favourite VIP story was the year I met two lads from the adjoining flats who had thrown on suits, and successfully crashed the awards ceremony in the Marker Hotel.

"We were watching telly," one of them said. "And now we're here with Rosanna Davison and Brent Pope." Ah, yes, Dublin's high life.

Last year was awfully tame, and to spice things up MOD has decided to come 'out of retirement', and once again deliver a hugely offensive speech during which he plans on tearing all the attendees apart. "No one is safe," he says.

Undoubtedly, ensuring it sticks around a while longer.

Time to leave the 90s behind in search of Eurovision glory

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Ryan O'Shaughnessy: solid but familiar song
 

What do you pack when you are going to the Eurovision?

Bunting with flags of all the countries taking part? Points cards? Glitter and glo sticks? A portable shrine to Björn and Benny?

It's not a question I've previously had to answer before, but this year I am going to Lisbon for the glorious kitsch-fest that is the Eurovision Song Contest.

Do I think we'll win it?

Win?! Of course not!

Ryan O'Shaughnessy's song is solid in an inoffensive way. Sadly, his act is just too similar to our previous two entries.

You may recall Nicky Byrne, twirling about in a two-tone leather jacket to 'Sunlight' in 2016, and Brendan Murray belting out ballad 'Dying to Try' in a stationary hot air balloon.

Both men failed to qualify.

At this stage, we clearly need something a little different from white, male solo artists who may have been considered cutting edge in the 90s/00s. Last year, after we failed to make it through, RTÉ's Head of Eurovision Delegation Micheal Kealy, said: "I'm not sure people appreciate how difficult it is to qualify these days… It's a completely different competition to how it was when we used to win back in the 90s."

Which raises the obvious question of why they are sending 1990s-inspired acts.

I think RTÉ needs to get a bit of its Eurovision mojo back. It may also want to seem a bit more set on winning. Sometimes, the delegation looks defeated before they have even boarded the plane over.

Of course, I hope we qualify, but even if we don't I will be there watching Marty Whelan work a room, visiting the Eurovision village, searching for Loreen, and loading up on those delicious Portuguese custard tarts.

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Ed Sheeran
 

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