I’m feeling a little sorry for Henrik Rummel, the US Olympic rower who was photographed on the podium with a raging stiffy. Overcome with embarrassment, he foolishly tried to deny the obvious in an interview with a celebrity gossip site. One might say his performance was predictably wooden. I couldn’t resist showing the podium picture to the manager of the safari camp.
“If that isn’t a boner, the sausage I ate for breakfast was a noodle,” he said.
For once, I had to agree with him. What Rummel should have done was brazen it out. Instead of getting his girlfriend to back up his flimsy evasions, he should have used her as an excuse for his unplanned turgidity. Suppose he had responded to the picture with the following statement:
“I guess my brain was thinking about the medal I won, but my Johnson was thinking about Melinda’s hooters.”
He would have come across as a cool dude rather than a dissembling nitwit.
Public relations is an art I mastered in my circus days. The rules I followed were: (i) answer all your fan mail; (ii) ignore all your hate mail; (iii) cultivate your image by disseminating titbits of personal information. The unwashed human masses love hearing quirky snippets of news about the celebrities they revere. Here are a couple of facts about myself I released through carefully chosen media outlets:
Gorilla Bananas has a bust of Lord Nelson in his trailer.
Gorilla Bananas can play ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ on his recorder.
Needless to say, my fans lapped it up like cream from the she-elephant’s udders. As I grew more media savvy, I cashed in on the product placement scam by feeding the press headlines such as:
Gorilla Bananas uses Harmony Hairspray.
Few of the Olympic medal-winners possess such skills, which is why they tend to make a hash of their public pronouncements. Even Usain Bolt, who is used to being in the limelight, sounded like a bit of a dick after winning the 100 metres. If I were Bolt’s manager, I’d tell him to avoid all unscripted interviews and project his persona solely in TV commercials.
“Be realistic, Bolty,” I would say to him. “A professional scriptwriter will feed you far better lines than anything you could say when speaking off the cuff.”
Bolt would probably be too arrogant to follow my advice, but at least I’d have the satisfaction of knowing I’d done my job whenever he yammered away like a jackass.
Some Olympic medal-winners are so jejune in their public statements that it actually makes you like them more. This is what Helen Glover, the 26-year-old British rowing champion, said to the BBC during her victory parade in Cornwall:
"Oh my God, I'm so excited and the rain's stopped, so that's good. I said I wasn't going to cry at all, but I did, once.”
Heh, what a sweet little girl! One has an avuncular urge to buy her an ice-cream and take her to the funfair.
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