Friday, 27 November 2009

A guide to successfully become a diva

I miss divas. And when I say divas, I don't mean Mariah Carey asking for bubble gum pink butterfly-shaped confetti wherever she goes, or J-Lo and her diamond-encrusted loo. I mean real divas, like they used to be, surrounded by mystery and high drama. For being a demanding star does not equal being a diva.
Above is a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt "the divine", big theatre diva and one of the first stage actresses to appear in films. Her name is still synonym with "grandeur", but her huge ego is only discreet if we compare her to some of the XXth century divas.

It is a well known fact dancers make really good divas; I guess tutus, excessive makeup and massive theatres filled with applause help. Anna Pavlova was only the first of a long list of ballet divas and divos, including of course Nijinski, Nureyev and the extremely eccentric Isadora Duncan (a precursor of the naturist movement who enjoyed nudism, comunism in all its forms and several more very shocking isms).

Music has also produced a memorable set of divas; as a matter of fact the word was originally used to refer to exceptional prima donnas. If being, erm, eccentric (not to say mad as a hatter) is mandatory in order to suceed as a diva, no one has or will ever beat Glenn Gould, genius pianist and one of my idols.

And how to forget Maria Callas, the queen of them all! Her ego was by far greater than her voice, but she has remained one of the biggest cultural icons of all times.

She was so famous she even inspired a very well-known secondary character in a mythic comic book series, eternally infatuated with Captain Haddock and eternally crying "Ciel, mes bijoux!"
But what does one need to become a great diva? After much thinking, I come to these conclusions:
1. Mystery. There's no possible way to be a diva if the whole planet knows (thanks to a bunch of cheap magazines) what you eat, how much you sweat when you jog around LA, how much money you spend on clothes, how big your house is... and specially, you cannot be a diva if everybody has seen you walking out of the supermarket wearing pink Juicy Couture sweatpants.
2. A distant attitude, not to be confused with being cold as ice. A diva knows she/he is a semigod and behaves in consequence. This doesn't necessarily mean being disagreeable. In fact being nasty is a bad taste trait that means you're just plain tacky.
3. The capacity of impressing everyone. This doesn't mean people should admire you, imitate you, or even like you. If you are a true diva you are above all that! You simply have to take their breath away.
4. A hint of extravagance. A brilliant personality is necessary. Not to be mistaken with being notorious, loud or provoking. You have to be different; you have to work on your own personality.
5. Lots and lots of talent. Yeah, none of the above will make a diva out of you unless you're brilliant at what you do. It's a hard life after all...

Hollywood understood all this very early, and worked non-stop until it created some of the most recognisable divas in the world. The most perfect diva moment in Hollywood's history? As follows:

A diva playing another diva, no one but Garbo could have played this scene (Swedish accent and all) and turn it into one of the most famous quotes ever.

But by then Hollywood had already had some silent film divas.

She is forgotten nowadays, but Lillian Gish was one of the most powerful persons in the cinema industry. She was also a grande dame. Same goes for Rudolph Valentino. You may not have heard about him, but when he died at only 31 innumerable girls killed themselves.

During Hollywood's golden age there were some more big divas. The best, in my opinion, are Marlene Dietrich and Bette Davis, one of the best actresses to ever exist.

So what has happened to divas nowadays? Yes, we still have some (Liz Taylor, Barbra Streisand), but what apart from them? Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga (as hard as she may try) are not divas. They are stars. Same with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, J-Lo (again)...Which brings me to the list of things you absolutely can't do if you are an aspiring diva:
1. Let everyone know how many hours you spend in the gym, doing pilates and bikram yoga.
2. Botox and plastic surgery. Joan Collins is not a diva, she is a trashy icon.
3. Talk publicly about your sex life. You're supposed to be mysterious, not tell about one of the most intimate aspects of your life.
4. Let everyone know how vulgar you are by chewing gum with your mouth open or speaking with an awful accent, or just generally being horrible.
5. Being mediocre, and actually enjoy it.
I think we need to bring divas back...


  1. Brillante!. Oye, Martu, este análisis es... Soberbio!.
    Mi opinión. Bailarines/as=No. Gould=Yes. Callas=No. Castafiore=Yes. Gish, Valentino=No+Yes Dietrich, Garbo=Yes+No (depending mostly on Lubitsch and Wilder). Davis=Oh, no!. I don't like egg-shaped eyes!

  2. yes that mans beard..hmm. it grew grey-as he grew older. i havent seen him for such a long time either so i was pretty shocked too..
    nice post. i like your thinking. i think diva is someone who is so good that one doesn't have to flaunt flesh to get attention.. there are too many trying this method- that im plain sick and tired off..

  3. Lovely post, I agree with the main diva points, most today are definitely not mysterious. Maybe the days of the diva are over, what with today's society?

  4. This is amazing! You are so right, we need the return of the diva - but who will it be? I wonder if the era has passed which is almost too much to bear!

    Glenn Gould, what magic fingers. That was a real treat to watch. Makes me proud to be Canadian, I missed home watching him!

    I thought of another one we still have with us - Shirley Bassey. I'm going to do a post and link to yours which of course inspired it.

    And I know Aretha Franklin would certainly put herself at the top of today's divas - she scares me a little which I think is par for the course!

  5. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing:)

  6. Wonderful wonderful post! adored reading it! Greta was wonderful and there will never be another Maria Callas...
    You are indeed right, there will never be divas like that. They had a inimitable mystery and allure. Times have changed,talent no longer a requirement and every Jane,Jill and Janice is lauded as her a diva.
    Bring the Diva in all her fabulous glory back!

  7. I'm only sadenned by one thing. Not having come to know your blog earlier, it's brilliant! I truly enjoyed myself, your posts are very well written in a poised, witty way and the subjects all so attractive. I hadn't yet heard of some of the people you mentioned so it was nice to be introduced to a few novelties. As far as divas go, I cannot imagine any surfacing in our times, not enough mystique to hold the magic such characters need to surround themselves with.
    But who knows, fashion and the world itself are cyclic.

    ps. I'm glad you enjoyed my blog too ;)

  8. great quotes.oh and the photos are...beautiful! thanks for sharing.
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  9. thanks for the congrats dear.

    ah. well its not too late to take the shot, right? but if you don't ill cross my fingers so you shouldn't get it ;) hope your sunday is a nice one. xx ediot

  10. When I was in second grade I was frequently a little divil/diva that my dad started calling me "Sarah Heartburn"...Ha!
    This post made for a fun and interesting read, kudos! :)


    • Choubelle •

  11. Encantado de disfrutar con tu estilo. Besos.

  12. Great post. Anyway, maybe you don't agree but i really see Audrey Hepburn as a diva, but i gess in a softer way. She was just amazing*
    Nice week and thanks for the comment ^^


Thanks for your lovely comments.