“I EXERCISE regularly,” declared Zsa Zsa Padilla. “That’s why I was really hurt when I read that I should start hitting the gym.” Delivered in her signature nasal voice, the singer said this a notch or two louder than usual, as if to emphasize to this reporter how upset she was about the unsolicited criticism.
It happened several years ago, when Zsa Zsa’s live-in partner Dolphy was still in fairly good health, and the rumor mill was abuzz with talk about their planned wedding.
Since my paper wanted to get it straight from the singer’s mouth, I jumped at the chance to interview her exclusively as she talked about the latest slimming procedures she went through under Dr. Vicki Belo. Little did I know that Zsa Zsa also had an agenda of her own.
She didn’t mention who the offending party was, but I knew that she was referring to none other than yours truly. I braced myself, waiting to get whacked any minute, but nothing like that happened. Nor did she break into song: ‘Di ba ako’y tao lang na nadadarang at natutukso rin…” Thank goodness.
How did I end up pushing the “Divine Diva’s” buttons? Several months back, I again went through the motions of writing what they wore to some awards night. And there she was in an unflattering, spaghetti-strapped dress that highlighted her voluptuous figure and hefty arms. I used her picture in my story with the accompanying caption: “Zsa Zsa Padilla, to the gym, ASAP!”
To people living in the moon, “ASAP,” of course, was the title of her Sunday noontime show with Martin Nievera, Pops Fernandez and the rest of the gang. To my mind, the juxtaposition of the show’s title–as soon as possible–with her rather unflattering photo was inspired. It wasn’t even me, but my then editor who thought of the caption. Zsa Zsa, however, didn’t find it funny, and promptly made a mental note of it.
When she learned from Belo’s staff who her interviewer was, she probably promised herself to make her feelings known. To be fair to Zsa Zsa, she mentioned it only once, as if to vent off steam, before granting me an interview. She didn’t dwell on it all afternoon.
At least, I knew how she felt and where she was coming from. And since she never accused me directly by mentioning my name, I didn’t see the need to apologize. In the next hour or so, we both acted as if nothing happened.
Just recently, I had the chance to travel with a legendary entertainment editor. We covered the photo shoot of a leading local RTW brand’s newest foreign endorser abroad. Although known to his countless readers for his juicy blind items and enviable access to the stars, Mr. Editor, I only learned during that trip, was also a really nice, down-to-earth guy. In due time, we hit it off.
Our “history” dates some years back, when, short of revealing my name, he alluded to me in one of his columns, as he supposedly took up the cudgels for “beleaguered” stars who were regularly criticized by red carpet reviewers. It didn’t take a genius to figure that one out since, as far as I know, I was the only one doing it back then.
Rather than say it directly, he quoted an outspoken beauty queen-turned-actress, who challenged me to look at myself first in the mirror. Who does he think he is? It’s as if he’s “perfect” himself, Mr. Editor quoted her further.
Naturally, I took umbrage privately at the patutsada (allusion), but I eventually managed to keep my cool in public. Well, different strokes for different folks. I do my red carpet reviews, and you do your blind items.
But, since then, I tried my best to keep my distance from Mr. Editor until I was forced to interact with him during the said coverage. Like I said earlier, he turned out to be okay.
He was probably just teasing me, as he again brought up the subject of red carpet reviews. He claimed that he wouldn’t resort to such “mean and distasteful” attempts to malign celebrities.
But I merely kept quiet, refusing to take the bait. Apart from being too old and too jaded to fall for it, I simply shrugged it off as something I did in the past to “entertain” and create a following. Man, I’m done with it.
At the same time, however, I found it laughable that while he branded my attempts in the past to do a Mr. Blackwell as harmful, he considered his regular dose of blind items as benign. It was as if engaging the public in a regular guessing game was totally harmless to those stars concerned, and was merely designed to titillate. Katuwaan lang naman. (Everything is done just for fun.)
Now, tell me, which, to you, is more malicious: directly criticizing a celebrity’s sartorial efforts with matching photos to boot, or sowing doubt, intrigue and speculation among readers as they try to guess the identities behind Mr. Editor’s list of “juicy” blind items?
Which is the more courageous thing to do: identify the evening’s fashion victims (who are supposedly also highly paid public figures) and point out one by one where they’ve gone wrong, or put half the men and women in local show biz as likely suspects by being coy about the subjects’ actual identities?
Come to think of it, if only I had made allusions to Zsa Zsa’s full figure without revealing her identity, I would have been spared her wrath. But, in the final analysis, it wouldn’t have been half as fun and as “educational” for either writer or reader. 😉