The Publicist's Handbook
"Do you think Mick Jagger is a living god?"
The aim of every good publicist is to build public interest in his
client until that interest becomes self-sustaining, irrespective of any
further professional efforts on the client's behalf. This is a point of
spontaneous combustion, of critical mass, of ascendancy into the realm
of myth. Yes, myth. The client becomes at this exciting juncture a
mythological creature; created in all his glamorous particulars by the
fertile imaginations of the citizens at large the fans and in a
manner which is ongoing, dependable, and sure.
The publicist's job is now to steer acquired momentum - not create
any more of it. Only, all the control mechanisms now work backwards.
your client for public inspection; you shield
him from it. You refuse interviews, and never solicit them. You say "No
comment." "I really can't say anything about that," and "no,
way that could occur." You make a secret about where your clients are,
what they're doing, and what they're thinking. Basically, you take your
of the public eye, in order that the public eye might
turn inwards, on itself, where it's free to hallucinate, and in a
manner which, as publicist, it's your duty to control, condition, and
Excessive exposure of the client can also endanger the myth, to the
extent that the client compares unfavorably to it. Let's not forget
that it's the fans who gratuitously create the objects of myth using
their imaginations. When the real objects become scarce
inaccessible to the public then it's mainly out of what the public
concerning the real objects, that the mythological
objects are created. That's what it means to be a creature of the
Needless to say, it's under these circumstances that we see an
between real and mythological objects.
People's 'projections' cease to agree, property for property, with the
real objects, the real individuals. They are inevitably more glamorous,
more an answer to the felt needs of the public. They are your popular
heroes your folk heroes. Cut loose from the constraints of mundane,
worldly existence as real objects objects which people can agree
on, using their eyes and ears the objects of myth can soar into
whatever heady realms people can agree upon as being
And that allows for heroes of great luster, and appeal.
Popular heroes of this sort mythological creatures are what we
call demi-gods. Demi-gods belong to the people to the fans. They
bear no necessary resemblance to any real person or persons from whose
properties they are, or were once, derived, and for that reason it's
very important that the real persons
to the demi-gods
to the objects of myth.
The results of that comparison
would be disastrous to the extent that the people used their
imaginations well. It would be extremely demoralizing. It could kill
the myth, such a comparison could. So, whenever the publicist has a
client who has successfully spawned a public myth, it becomes very
important to keep that client out of sight. The myth is
self-sustaining; the people are sufficient unto themselves, and the
publicist does not need to fan the flames of fame any longer. The job
is done. The balloon has been lofted, flying now in accordance with the
wishes of the masses. And the publicist's job now is to be sure only
that it doesn't get punctured. Keep your man out of sight. You've
got a roll going. Silence is golden; less is more, and don't forget that
all the controls work backwards.
As soon as the Rolling Stones left Long View Farm, and I was free to
talk to writers and reporters once again, I was asked by almost all of
them if I thought that the Rolling Stones were gods. The question was
put to me in different ways, according to the circumstances, and my
answers were never wholly satisfactory at least for me they
"So you're saying that the Rolling Stones aren't gods, but that they're
religious figures instead?" This was a serious reporter from the
I was talking to, and he had me up against the wall
in Studio C, the Sound Stage, right beside the brass plate which says
"Stage built for and according to the specifications of the Rolling
"No, Dan, I didn't say that, either. I said that religious figures are
almost always made into mythological objects, too, just like the
Rolling Stones are. I said that the Stones call forth from the people
the same set of responses normally reserved for religious heroes."
". . . like Jesus Christ . . .?"
"Yes, I said that."
"Hmmm . . . still doesn't square with some other remarks of yours we
have on the record, Gil. Don't make me write a piece which makes you
look like a schizophrenic, or someone who can't make up his mind."
"What do you mean by that, Dan?"
"Well, we have you saying several years ago, in 1977, that there are
living gods in India, and that you went there with George Harrison of
the Beatles, to track some down."
"That's nonsense, Dan. I just happened to meet George Harrison on a
plane coming from the Seychelles. Never knew him before that. It was
pure coincidence. The Beatles had long since broken up, anyway."
"What about the living gods? We have it that you moved about with
Harrison and his girlfriend, looking for them."
"Well, Dan," I said, "there's always been talk about living gods in
India, only more recently here, in the West. They can make packs of
cigarettes appear and disappear stay alive for hundreds of years
drinking only water things like that. It was the year of the
so it was hard to stay
Every twenty years it happens at Benares, a
religious center like Lourdes, only in central India, not France. They
say that's where you can see it all happening. People levitating all
along the side of the road, saints coming out of caves to give
interviews. All sorts of amazing things." I was laughing now, and
didn't mean what I'd said.
"Do you think George Harrison is a living god?" Dan asked.
"No," I said, "although he does draw out of people the same sort of
responses, as though he were one. The people have made a demi-god out
of George Harrison."
"Do you think Mick Jagger is a living god?"
"No," I said, "although he's treated like one, too. People allow
him to play that role for them, just like Harrison. Mick's a demi-god,
"Are these quotes that neither man is a living god?"
"No, Dan, they aren't quotes. No need for us to offend these fellows
unnecessarily, is there?"
"That's up to you, Gil. I'm just interested in this 'living gods'
angle. Anything else you can think of to help?"
"Well, yes," I said. "I think there
such things as living gods."
"The Rolling Stones, right?"
"No, Dan, not exactly, no."
"What about the Beatles? George Harrison. What was he like in '77? What
did he think about the breakup of the band, about the other members of
the band, Lennon, McCartney . . . anything along those lines you can
remember? Anything George told you that stands out in your mind?"
"'Take this book,' he said, 'and read it.' It was Yogananda's book
My mother had given it to me twenty years earlier, claiming sorority
with the forces that saw it published on Earth. So I took it, of course.
That made an even dozen for me."
"A dozen saints?"
"No, Dan. A dozen copies of Yogananda's book."
"Hmmm . . . doesn't tell me much more about your theory of living gods,
and the Rolling Stones, but I'll stick with what I've got."
Dan Silverman flipped his notepad shut, stuck his ball-point pen back
into his jacket pocket, and started looking around for the way out.
"How do you get out of here?" Dan asked.
"Through Studio B. This door, follow me," I said. Dan kept talking as
we made our way through the recording studio.
"Does throw some light on the question of public turmoil, the uproar,
the suspension of normal patterns of work and recreation your
theory does. It was the same sort of thing they saw in Jerusalem, two
thousand years ago. People reaching out to touch. I have to admit
you're right about that. And Tibet."
"Los Angeles, too," I said, laughing.
"Los Angeles, too. Yeah. Did'cha see the quote from the Boston Police
Commissioner, or whoever said, 'next to this the problem with the
Stones the visit of the Pope was child's play' or something to that
effect? Same sort of disturbance."
"People being taken out of themselves," I offered. "Reaching out
"That's it, Gil."
We were now standing beside Dan's car, and he opened the door.
"Maybe we'd better not use any of that stuff about the Stones being
gods, you know?"
"I agree with that, Dan," I said. "Less said about that, the
Author's note: Dan Silverman's last name was really
"Golden," and the article he was writing was printed shortly
thereafter in the Boston Globe.