As the world received Ricky Martin’s shock revelation that he’s gay the cynic in me was wondering why he chose this moment to come clean. Either his hand was forced and he was about to be outed by a tabloid or his publisher thought it would make great media event on which they could sell bucket loads of his soon to be released biography. Rather like when George Michael was caught in those loos by The News of the World and only weeks later released a hit single all about having sex outside. Either he is very quick at writing, recording and marketing a song or it was all part of a clever marketing plan. As the release date of my two new CDs approaches I’ve been in discussions with my publicist about how we can best spread the word. Journalists are always looking for an angle and the angle, and the angle - it seems - is more important than the product. It’s not enough to write a best selling book or be the world’s fastest man in a coracle, they always want a little extra something to spice up the story. They call it “human interest” and evidently my two new albums are not sufficiently interesting to humans without a heavy dose of personal tragedy. In the words of Miss Mazeppa “you’ve gotta have a gimmick”. Loosing half my weight on a miracle diet, surviving child abuse, remortgaging my house to pay for plastic surgery, or discovering I’m the illegitimate offspring of gypsies I might provoke a glimmer of interest.
"evidently my two new albums are not sufficiently interesting to humans without a heavy dose of personal tragedy"
I could singlehandedly discover the cure for cancer and they'd want to lead with “how Sharon Osborne taught me to walk again”. Big band singer Andy Prior told me he once asked The Sun’s gossip columnist for advice on how to get in the papers. “Would it be enough if I was caught cheating on my wife in bed with four other women?”, “that,” came the reply, “would depend on who the women were.”
Over the years my publicists have always got very excited when they learn that before I was singing full time, I ran a fire safety company. “Ooh! The singing fireman” they squeal and start planning photo shoots of my dressed as a fireman with a microphone in my hand. No. Thank. You.
So in the absence of “how Princess Diana helped me through drug addiction” I rely on press releases, digital ways to spread the word like Twitter and MySpace, and the good old-fashioned flyer. The Edinburgh Fringe is living proof of how effective an A5 colour handbill can be, though when I considered “doing Edinburgh” a few years ago the reality of spending my afternoons dishing out flyers and my evenings in a sleeping bag on someone’s floor rather put me off. I once did a summer show on the end of Bournemouth Pier and in one marketing brainwave decided to run an offer with £5 of a pair of tickets. To spread the word, I hired the prettiest girls in town to hand out flyers on the High Street wearing yellow T-shirts emblazoned with the line "£5 off on the Pier tonight". The potential misunderstanding had totally escaped me.
I’ll just have to wait for Andrew Lloyd-Webber to launch a TV talent search for a balding, middle-aged crooner… and keep my fingers crossed.