Celebrity Skin Peel

A one-stop guide to the latest round of pop-star foolishness and bad behavior

Though the media's annoying eggshell-walking has started to subside, most of the toothy hosts of these so-called "entertainment shows" are still being careful to watch their P.C. p's and q's. (Of course, they were already attempting to put on a kinder, gentler image before September 11. After all, the public can take only so much gorging on White House porn before losing their lunch.)

Never fear -- it shouldn't be long before the mainstream media revert to their typical National Enquirer standards. And why not, if they have a willing audience? In the end, the so-called "better natures" that George Dubya appeals to always succumb to the temptations of juicy gossip. You might as well tell commuters to pass by a three-car pileup without looking. And no accident is more gruesome or delicious than one involving the rich and famous.

Celebrity may be more fleeting these days, but the old adage that envy breeds disdain is alive and well. It's just plain fun to knock some insufferable, usually undeserving egomaniac off his pedestal -- especially if his weekly paycheck has more zeroes than you've seen in a decade. I mean, even if the Christina Aguilera online sex video is a fraud (as her reps went to unusually great lengths to insist last week), doesn't the hubbub feel like some kind of karmic retribution for the pap she's inflicted on the market?

Courtney Love: Engaging in legal fisticuffs with the former members of Nirvana.
Courtney Love: Engaging in legal fisticuffs with the former members of Nirvana.
Britney Spears: Not a girl, not yet a PETA activist.
Herb Ritts/Jive
Britney Spears: Not a girl, not yet a PETA activist.

Without question, among all the self-absorbed entertainers out there, musicians are the most fun to hate. No matter how many PR flacks their record labels hire to put words in their mouths, these folks can't resist being "controversial." Too bad they usually only manage to show an absence of judgment, self-control or good taste, proving yet another old adage that you can take the kid out of the trailer park . . .

What's even more ridiculous is that, after musicians say stupid stuff in public, they always whine that it's somehow the media's fault. Hey, you love us when we mention how "groundbreaking" your new album is, so if you can't take the spotlight when it exposes your obvious flaws, maybe you should get out!

In the interest of civic duty, here are some of the juicier faux pas let loose by the aforementioned bigmouths in recent weeks:

Speaking of Foot-in-Mouth: In a desperate attempt to extend her rapidly fading 15 minutes, Nikka Costa pulls a Courtney Love and says something "outrageous" in hopes of getting a little attention. She actually told FHM magazine in December, "To date a rock star, it's better if you're not trying to be a rock star yourself. But you have to have a big dick. Seriously, I think no ego and a sense of humor are important . . . and a big dick. That's my top three." Sure, saying the d-word gave Lil' Nikki the exposure she hoped for -- and maybe more. You gotta wonder how many male fans have exposed their Mr. Happys to her after she revealed that tidbit.

Naked Ambition: And what the hell happened to that juicy deal Britney Spears supposedly made with PETA? The singer created a firestorm in the media after the activist group claimed that Ms. Spears would indeed bare it all on an anti-fur campaign poster, in an effort to avoid further negative publicity over mishandling live snakes in her concerts. At the last minute, Spears' personal publicist Lisa Kasteler apparently remembered that a nude photo wouldn't sit too well with the parents of Spears' fans (like her stage attire doesn't show enough skin anyway). Kasteler recanted that, no, the sexy singer planned to appear fully clothed all along. Not to point out the obvious, but, hello, if there's one place where a little flesh would be forgiven, wouldn't it be in an ad campaign that bears the slogan, "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur"?

Love on the Rocks: Get ready, folks, the catfight of the year has officially begun! After months of keeping quiet about Courtney Love's attempts to stall the release of a Nirvana boxed set and take control of the band's recordings, ex-members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic have come out swingin'. The two filed a counterclaim in Seattle on December 12, not only to overturn Love's previous injunction, which blocked the boxed set's release (previously set to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the release of the blockbuster Nevermind), but also declaring that Love "has become incapacitated and that her rights to vote should be assigned to a designated representative."

The counterclaim calls Love "irrational, mercurial, self-centered, unmanageable, inconsistent, and unpredictable" in her professional dealings (now that's an understatement!), saying, "Love now claims she wants to protect the legacy of [Kurt] Cobain and Nirvana by withholding approval of the public release of Nirvana sound recordings, including Nirvana's previously unreleased recording of the Cobain-authored song 'You Know You're Right.'

"Yet Love felt no such protectiveness when it came to her own career, exploiting the cache surrounding Cobain's death for her own benefit by performing the song on MTV after introducing it as Cobain's last song."

Grohl and Novoselic also blasted La Love in a letter to their fans, claiming she was motivated by "blind self-interest." In response, Love didn't do much to dispute her "mercurial" image when she wrote in an open letter: "Kurt Cobain was Nirvana. He named the band, hired its members, played guitar, wrote the songs, fronted the band onstage and in interviews, and took responsibility for the band's business decisions."

Live Fast, Die Young: The latest alcohol-related tragedy in the rock world sadly hit one of the most promising chick-punk bands to come out of L.A. in the past year. Bianca Halstead (more commonly known as Bianca Butthole), lead singer/bassist of Betty Blowtorch, who was famous for stunts involving fire and bare asses (not necessarily at the same time), was just beginning to garner national exposure following the band's midyear release of its debut, Are You Man Enough?. Ironically, she wasn't imbibing at the time of her death, but was hit by a drunken driver in New Orleans on December 15 just hours after performing with Nashville Pussy. Dammit, why do the good ones always go too soon? . . . December also saw two other rock 'n' roll demises. Death front man and founder Chuck Schuldiner finally succumbed to brain cancer after a three-year battle, and Stuart Adamson, singer for '80s band Big Country, was found dead in a Hawaii hotel, presumably of alcohol poisoning, after having disappeared for several weeks.

Hall of Lame?: And finally, in the "who really cares?" department. . . . For the dozen or so people who still care about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this year actually has some cool inductees, with Tom Petty, the Talking Heads, Isaac Hayes, Chet Atkins and the Ramones (which, unfortunately, was most likely a sympathy vote because of Joey's death) on the list. Despite the improvements, the board again proved it is a bunch of old farts by excluding Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, Gram Parsons, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and the Sex Pistols. . . . Up 'n' comers Puddle of Mudd suddenly dropped out of a potentially career-making tour with Creed, giving no explanation whatsoever. The rumors are rampant, however, that a certain flaccid biscuit named Fred, who signed the Mudd boys to his Flawless Records imprint -- and who has an ongoing hard-on for Creed singer Scott Stapp -- had something to do with it. Sheesh, talk about shooting yourself in the foot. . . . Last and certainly least, paint-by-numbers punks Sum 41 have copped more than just the music from mentors like Blink-182 and Green Day. Their latest de rigueur prank while on the road involves throwing bags of excrement at passing cars. . . . And how was your week?

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