Hollywood West

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am

Victoria Beckham is many things, but normal isn't one of them.

Posh is certainly glamorous, at least in a manner that recalls a nouveau- riche Russian; she's ambitious, making it known that she won't go quietly into that good night; she's a fiend for publicity, going to high-profile events and venues (Oscars parties, lunch at the Ivy) while pretending to look askance at the hordes of paparazzi trailing her every move.

But normal? Not in a trillion years.

It's an adjective that Beckham, whose inevitable slide into borderline anonymity was halted by the fact that she married possibly the world's most famous soccer player, likes to attach to herself.

That, and 'boring'. You know, she's just a regular 'girl's girl' - as if any self-respecting 'girl's girl' is someone who wears a staggeringly big diamond ring, lives in a US$22 million mansion, and never leaves home without a bodyguard and team of beautifiers in tow. Yes, we should all be that normal.

Beckham described herself this way in a number of interviews published in the run-up to her and hubby David's much-trumpeted arrival in Los Angeles last week, where the atmosphere outside the airport was so frenzied, it was like the Second Coming.

When Queen Elizabeth II visited the US earlier this year, she wasn't given nearly as many column inches as these two, who have incited Beckhamania in a town noted for celebrity hysteria.

In true Hollywood fashion, the Beckhams' touchdown had to be documented in an appropriately glitzy way. He was leaving London to take up a US$250 million contract at Los Angeles Galaxy, a local soccer team that doesn't know what's about to hit them. She, the dutiful wife, packed up their three kids and vast personal entourage and accompanied him. But before the official move, she came to LA last month to start scouting for homes. It was all committed to tape in Victoria Beckham: Coming to America.

The one-off, hour-long reality show screened the other night, and I tuned in out of a perverse sense of curiosity. Like everyone else in the US, I'd been inundated with news, gossip and blogs about the Beckhams - where they would live, what they would do, who their friends would be. Beyond that, Mrs Beckham kept telling the world how regular she really was, intimating that all the hype around her was really just so unnecessary. Turns out, not so much.

The show opens in Madrid, where Beckham has played for Real Madrid, and where the duo posed not long ago for a steamy shoot for W magazine, to be published in August. Clad in denim, leather and boots, their half-naked bodies a tangle of tattoos, they were very regular indeed. But, I told myself, they were posing for a photo shoot. They weren't supposed to be regular.

Cut to another scene, and Beckham arrives - sans husband and children - at LAX, to a blaze of popping flash bulbs. Later, in a clumsy attempt to be self-deprecating and modest, she turns and says to the camera: 'Maybe they thought that, like, Madonna was coming into town or something.'

She's taken directly to the rented house that she and her family will stay in initially, a gorgeous spread with stunning views, a sunken living room and champagne at the ready. There, lounging by the pool in an embroidered black swimsuit and dominatrix heels, she introduces her 'best friends', who happen to be her hairstylist and makeup artist. A few minutes later the doorbell rings, and in walks Beckham's personal assistant, a charming young girl called Rene who was far more interesting than any of the individuals we've seen so far.

'She can't be too good looking, she can't be too thin, it's all got to be about me,' says Beckham about choosing her assistant, and in another cack-handed attempt to parody herself.

Truth be told, it actually is all about her. There are the usual cliches: Beckham asking the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles if she can get 'approval' on the picture taken of her; Beckham being pulled over by a traffic cop; Beckham going shopping and talking about how good it feels. And then, completely straight-faced, she talks about how in Britain she spent most of her time at home with the children and doing school runs.

'This is the first time I've sat down and socialised,' she says, not a trace of irony in her voice. Really? So all those zillions of images of Posh Spice at parties around the world were of her clone?

Lunch with her Beverly Hills neighbours, a shockingly blonde and Botoxed breed, provides perhaps the only genuine moment in the whole televised ordeal. The women bandy numbers around about David's football deal, to which his wife grows suddenly quiet and looks almost endearingly awkward.

But the rest of the time, I just wanted to shake her scrawny shoulders and scream: 'Please, woman, get some substance, will you!'

In any event, Beckham is here to stay, and will no doubt pop up at soirees and premieres and parties, amassing gift bags and generating copy for Hello! and Us Weekly. She will rule the town for a while. And then maybe, just maybe, she might eventually go back to being a regular girl.