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It’s either the beginning of an era or one of the most expensive publicity stunts ever: the Beckhams have arrived, people! Dressed like a cross between an Indian maharajah and Rhythm Nation-era Janet Jackson, David Beckham and his wife Victoria touched down at LAX last night, facing throngs of paparazzi and football fans.
If money had a human face, it would look strikingly like David Beckham; cut him open and watch him bleed dollar bills. The BBC questions whether Brand Beckham will translate to America. Well, they certainly have the aspirational part down pat. David, with his Nordic looks and frightening white teeth, and Victoria, with her slapped-arse pout and huge sunglasses, have that untouchable glamour Americans connect with royalty. The Daily Mail says they were working that “Don’t look at me, I’m a celebrity” card even on the plane ride from London:
On the plane over from Heathrow, normal celebrity rules applied: just as with some deities, ordinary mortals are not allowed to look at them directly, so with the Beckhams no member of the public was allowed to take pictures or approach them.
On the ground it was a different story. The Beckhams walked on earth. People screamed. In particular, Dionne Barnes screamed: loudly, and happily.
“He’s beautiful and he’s a darling and he’s the best soccer player in the world,” said Dionne, a Jamaican living in LA who had waited for two and a-half hours to see Beckham. “I like his personality and I like the way he’s respectful towards humanity. I just love him.”
Andy Towle of Towleroad compares Beckham-mania to that other British Invasion: Beatle-mania.
On February 7th, 1964, when the Beatles arrived at JFK, a line-up of the fanatical American public greeted the British celebrities. Forty-three years later, at LAX, they send their emissaries, the paparazzi.
The Sun reports that the Beckhams will continue their ambivalent and often conflicted relationship with the paparazzi as they settle into Los Angeles. They are, at once, luring them (flaunting their expensive cars) and keeping them at arm’s length (blocking access to their multi-million dollar Beverly Hills estate):
According to Splash News, David looked ‘excited’ when he arrived at his new pad, Beckingham Palace West, at about 9pm Los Angeles time.
Their new cars – a bling Escalade with black and white wrapped steering wheel and a set of custom wheels for David and a classy Bentley GT convertible with VB embossed wheels and matching head rest for Victoria – were also ready and waiting after being delivered just hours before the pair landed.
US media and paparazzi have been banned from camping outside Posh and Becks’ new pad.
From 11am to 11pm US time there is no stopping and no parking by decree of the Beverly Hills Police Department on the street where Beckingham Palace West is located.
They may have received a warm welcome at the airport, but they will have to wait a few days to receive true entrée into Tinseltown high society. That’s where their friends Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes come in, according to People:
Once [the Beckhams] have settled in to their $22 million Beverly Hills mansion, their first housewarming party will be hosted by BFFs Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. “There are plans to host a welcome party for the family,” says a source close to the Beckhams. “It will probably be within the first couple of weeks.”
Speaking of Tomkat, Matt Lauer interviewed Victoria Beckham on The Today Show this morning about the Beckhams’ relationship with the couple and whether they’ll be Scientology’s latest recruits:
“Much has been made of your friendship with Katie Holmes. What attracted you two in the first place?” Lauer asked.
“She’s a very strong, sweet, lovely girl. She’s helped me so much with the move. She’s genuinely a nice girl … There’s been so much made of the Scientology, the this, the that. They are genuinely lovely people. Wonderful family.”
“So, it never even comes up with you?” Lauer asked. “When you guys are socializing, Scientology is not an issue.”
“No. It’s just a friendship,” Victoria said. “I mean, they do their thing. We do our thing.”
There are other gems in that piece, including Lauer asking Victoria why she looks like she just got finished sucking on a pound of lemons all the time. Of course, NBC is heavily promoting Miss Posh: they are airing her one-hour special, Victoria Beckham: Coming To America, on Monday.
As for David’s soccer career, which, ostensibly, is the reason for the season, The Los Angeles Times brings it all down to nickels and dimes – a whole lot of nickels and dimes.
Beckham’s personal payday at the end of his five-year deal with the Galaxy is expected to reach or top $250 million on the strength of that guaranteed salary, his existing corporate sponsorships – worth an estimated $20 million per year – with such companies as Motorola and Adidas, as well as profit-sharing deals negotiated with the team and its corporate partners.
However, The Times notes that Beckham presence “risks upsetting players in a league where many players earn $17,700 or less.” It will be interesting if there’s any protest as the MLS season trudges on.
The Guardian‘s Marina Hyde wonders how David is too big of a presence for a small L.A. soccer team:
The municipal motto of Carson City, the south-eastern suburb in which the Home Depot Centre is located, is “Future Unlimited”. It could double as a statement of MLS’s hopes. Yet shifting one’s gaze from the cover of W to the little league soccer practice taking place by the stadium, it doesn’t feel like a big fish is about to arrive in a small pond. It feels like a whale is about to splash down into a bathtub.
Will Becks sell in Middle America? The answer seems to be yes, according to USA Today:
Ticket sales for the Galaxy – one of the league’s worst teams – are up significantly from last year, and other MLS teams are reporting sellouts, or close to them, for when Beckham comes to their city.
“We’ve moved tickets at a really fast clip,” says Dave Stephany of the Columbus Crew’s communications office. Tickets for Beckham’s visit Sept. 30 – a game Stephany says “will rank up there with an Ohio State-Michigan (football) game” – are available as part of the team’s “Bundle it with Beckham” deal.
Also worth checking out: The Guardian has “David Beckham for dummies,” which proclaims that “Beckham has always been a very good footballer, but never a great. And certainly not fit to lace Ronaldinho’s boots.”Also, That’s On Point has a “big fat David Beckham post.” It is big. And fat.
Oh Good Lord, has she no shame?: Rebecca Loos, David’s alleged mistress, takes credit for strengthening the Beckhams’ marriage. “I think their marriage is stronger than ever and it’s like Victoria says, it’s bad things like the affair that have made it stronger. Victoria’s stuck by David and that’s the main thing.” Holy crap, where’s Sharon Osbourne when you need her?(Daily Mail)
See more posts by Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.