The dark side of celebrityville

Sunday February 24 2019

Behind the veil of perfection, many stars live miserable lives but put up a brave face when the cameras hit record. PHOTO| FOTOSEARCH


Celebrity scandals are always received with such shock and awe. The sad truth, however, is that they are but a sneak peek into what is sometimes a toxic lifestyle. Behind the veil of perfection, many stars live miserable lives but put up a brave face when the cameras hit record.

There are many privileges that come with success in the showbiz industry, many of which insulate celebrities from real life. Many make more money in a two-hour performance than the average worker earns in an entire year’s worth of wages.

Fame also gives celebrities unlimited access to alcohol, drugs, sexual escapades and anything that their hearts desire. Combine that with a natural disposition to dysfunction that most creatives have, and it forms a deadly cocktail that could often destroy them.

Without a strong system of accountability and support from family and friends, many slide into destructive patterns.

A local pastor, who didn’t want to be mentioned, ministers to several famous people locally and internationally. He admitted that gifted people are predisposed to certain negative tendencies.

They tend to be socially awkward, hypersensitive, and often resistant to authority and, as a result, don’t know how to deal with life. This ultimately makes them susceptible to addictions, mental and social-psycho disorders. Their position and the risk of public backlash also prevents them from seeking help, causing them to sink further into the rabbit hole.


“These guys come to me in confidence so I can’t betray their trust or go into much details about what they are going through. All I can say is, these people are our brothers and sisters, we need to understand them without necessarily condoning what they do,” he explained.

“Our public condemnation of famous people who fall from grace is not only hypocritical but it’s also counterproductive. We, as society, are just as sick as they are; it shows in how viciously we attack celebrities when they fall. I just wish we could reach a point where we can have a sober conversation about the real issues that cause these scandals, instead of revelling in gossip.”

Some of the most successful performers of all time died as a result of the toxic lifestyle they lived behind closed doors. Elvis Presely, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and a host of other celebrities have all died of a drug overdose or related complications.

Suicide and other social-psycho dysfunctions are also common place in the industry.


The sex and drug culture has been a mainstay of the showbiz industry for many years. Many stars are revered as sex symbols with throngs of fans who are eager to actualise their fantasies with their favourite celeb.

At the end of every show, many impressionable young ladies mill around the backstage hoping to capture the attention of their star. R & B star R Kelly faced numerous accusations from women, including his ex-wife, who accused him of mental, verbal and sexual abuse.

The documentary "Surviving R Kelly", chronicling more than 20 years of rape accusations, caused a global buzz as claims on his secret life came out.

Celebrities are also surrounded by groupies and handlers who maintain a steady supply of their drug of choice. Some of the most successful performers of all time died as a result of the toxic lifestyle they lived behind closed doors.

Once these superstars are engulfed in toxic behaviours, the industry further deepens their woes by insulating them.

A hospitality rider is a list of requests for the comfort that a performer sets as a pre-requisite to their performance contracts. They include things like favourite foods, hotel and transportation standards among other things. These lists are known to sometimes include drugs, huge amounts of alcohol, and, in some cases, sexual needs. In cases where a promoter refuses to provide these extra items, the performer’s management makes internal arrangements.

“If you walk into the office drunk on Monday morning you will probably be fired the very next day. Yet there are artistes who drink backstage every day before their performance and get away with it,” Chris Kirwa says.


According to him, the addiction to free things gives celebrities a form of entitlement that in the end destroys them.

“It’s ironic how many stars complain when their fans ask for complimentary stuff, yet they demand for free things all the time,” he added.

Though the gospel fraternity was at some point insulated from this kind of lifestyle, the success of the genre has exposed its artistes to the same environment as secular artistes. In the absence of a moral compass and disconnected from their church community, gospel artistes are falling to the wayside and engaging in destructive behaviours.

“If I post something weird I have people in my life who will sit me down and ask me questions,” veteran gospel artiste, Mbuvi said.

“I am the firstborn in my family but I have given my siblings a license to call me out. There are many gospel artistes who start well but fall off because they lack a strong foundation.”

It is a story that has been told since time in memorial, and is likely to be told once more. Though they make for great reads, these scandals leave in their wake devastation and heart aches on both sides of the aisle. Though the writing is on the wall, the cautionary warnings often fall on deaf years, as young celebrities fall prey to the traps that destroyed their predecessors.