Escort agencies everywhere will be rethinking their fee structure after Geri Halliwell's evening with the German impresario Dickie Lugner at the Vienna Opera Ball. First she refused to attend a press conference at her host's Lugner City shopping mall, then she hid from photographers at the Imperial Hotel, then she ran away from some more photographers at the Opera House and had to be dragged back inside. And when she was supposed to be personally greeted (live on television) by the Austrian President, Heinz Fischer, she'd got lost somewhere in the corridors, trying to find the ladies'. For this triumphant service, Herr Lugner is said to have shelled out a mere pounds 500,000. For his sake, I hope she was worth it.
Michael Gambon, slated to play Falstaff at the National Theatre's Henry IV in May, has a Falstaffian fondness for winding up people. He once met Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in a London club and the subject of his knighthood came up. "What would anyone want with a goddamn knighthood?" the US actors demanded. "You don't understand," said Gambon, "If you're an English knight, you can sleep with any woman in the land. It's called the Knighting Law. No woman is allowed to say no." Pacino and De Niro believed him for approximately 30 seconds before loudly denouncing him as a fantasist. During a lull between drinks, Gambon had a word with a quartet of girls at the bar. Five minutes later, the girls walked past the starry crew of Pacino, De Niro, etc, and Gambon said to one girl, "Excuse me, young lady, but I would like to sleep with you tomorrow night." "How dare you?" exclaimed the girl. "You foul man." "Perhaps I should point out I'm Sir Michael Gambon," said Gambon suavely. "Oh God, the Knighting Law," said the girl, playing along. "Oh - all right then." The faces of the American thesps were, they say, a picture.