Ours is a golden age for pop culture, one in which the Internet and social media give us more access to famous figures than at any other time in history. But even though we can find out at a glance who’s got a new hair look and what kinds of engagement rings our fave celebrities are wearing, if we want a deeper look at them, there’s still nothing better than a masterful personal profile.
This month’s issue of GQ features just such a lengthy, well-crafted meditation on the celeb everyone loves (or loves to hate): Kim Kardashian West. It covers everything from her thoughts on the long-running feud between Kanye and Taylor Swift to her feelings about the recent dramatized retelling of O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial. It’s also an instant classic in the celebrity profile genre, which is no small feat: Thousands of the things have been written, and many of them are amazing. For those of you who found your appetites for definitive celeb profiles whetted by that story, we’ve compiled a brief list of similarly amazing profiles. (And if you haven’t read the Kim K one yet, no sweat! We included that one just for you.)
1. Kim Kardashian West on Kanye and Taylor Swift, What’s in O.J.’s Bag, and Understanding Caitlyn: Caity Weaver wrote both this and one of the other great celeb longreads of the year (on Justin Bieber), thus cementing her place among the best writers on pop culture today. A sample:
This is the other element of Kim’s new appeal: Marriage and motherhood didn’t diminish her eroticism, but combined, they made it more palatable. Imbued it with a new élan, even. (It’s difficult to slut-shame a 30-something mother of two when the man nuzzling her neck in photos is her husband.)
2. Leo, Prince of the City: In the late ’90s Leonardo DiCaprio was a teen heartthrob on the level of bowl-cut-era Justin Bieber plus current Justin Bieber. He was one of the most famous actors in the world and working on joining the most respected, yet behind the scenes there were rumors aplenty of wild behavior. This New York Magazine story mixes all of that into a wild tale that culminates in a Leo lookalike being mobbed in a Planet Hollywood (!). Here’s a taste:
“He started acting like an idiot,” says one highly placed New York publicist (who wouldn’t allow me to use her name because, she says, “everyone fears his power” — as if Leo were Louis XIV, whom he recently played).
3. Kanye West Has a Goblet: Kanye West is maybe the best-known rapper alive, and an extremely complicated figure. For a look at him before Kim, there’s no better place to start than here:
“Cut to a Thursday in July and West seemed to have banished the night demons, at least for the moment, with the raw force of 10,000 lumens. We were at his apartment and he was showing off his brand-new projection-screen television.”
4. Chris Evans, American Marvel: This 2011 piece (also from GQ) throws out the window one of the most sacred boundaries in journalism: maintaining a healthy distance from one’s sources. But when the resulting writing is this good, it only proves that sometimes rules really do need to be broken:
I couldn’t quite figure out if he was a goofy, warm, regular dude or just playing the character of goofy, warm, regular dude in order to charm a female reporter. At one point (and I don’t know if this proves the real-Chris or the pretend-Chris theory), he did utter the sentence: “I always say that the times in my life when I’ve been happiest are the times when I’ve seen, like, a sunset—”
5. Frank Sinatra Has a Cold: This piece, published in 1966, is one of the formative versions of the celebrity profile (and the ONE piece all of your fave mag writers were forced to study in journalism school). The author, Gay Talese, put the entire thing together without actually interviewing Frank Sinatra, who was sick and didn’t want to participate. Here’s a peek at why it’s become legendary:
This is the Sicilian in Sinatra; he permits his friends, if they wish to remain that, none of the easy Anglo-Saxon outs. But if they remain loyal, then there is nothing Sinatra will not do in turn—fabulous gifts, personal kindnesses, encouragement when they’re down, adulation when they’re up.They are wise to remember, however, one thing. He is Sinatra. The boss. Il Padrone.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever read on a celeb you love? Tell us about it on Twitter @BritandCo!
(Photos via Andreas Rentz, Jason Merritt, Jamie McCarthy, Mark Davis, Hulton Archive/Getty)