Roll up, roll up for another celebrity birth

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The Independent Online

Kate Moss has a little bump. Elizabeth Hurley's is rather bigger these days – the tabloid press has given us the opportunity of following the bump's progress from its first gentle swell, tugging timidly against a Versace dress, to the mighty billow of an eight-month pregnancy. Recently, the model Jordan has joined the celebrity pudding club, posing proudly for the press with a great, naked stomach obtruding between mini-top and mini-skirt.

What makes the photograph faintly disturbing is that Jordan's posture and pouting mien could easily be those of a page three girl were it not for the fact that the erotic attribute she is proudly displaying is the stomach containing her unborn child. Rights to present the birth itself live on the internet are said to be under negotiation.

Perhaps none of this should be a surprise. Women quite often go bonkers when they are pregnant and, in Jordan's case, her entire career as a public figure has been based on two other unfeasibly large bumps. Her appearance on the ghastly Shooting Stars, for example, was so entirely breast-centric that it seemed as if the rest of her were merely a supporting act. At one point, Vic Reeves delighted his audience by communicating with his guest entirely with the help of props, placing in front her two door-knockers, followed by a couple of jugs and finally, a pair of stuffed birds – tits, of course. Watching this peculiarly oafish humiliation, I felt sympathy for Jordan, but now I realise I was being naive. Her body is part of her act – indeed, it is her act.

But, beyond the eager self-promotional activities of a bimbo, something odd seems to be going on here. Elizabeth Hurley, an intelligent and undeniably wealthy woman, has played the pregnancy game, too, selling photographic rights in her unborn child to OK! magazine, reportedly for £1.5m.

What, one wonders, will OK! be expecting for its cash? There will be the bulge, of course, and perhaps some candid shots of Liz doing pelvic floor exercises at her ante-natal class. Beyond that, perhaps we can expect the star to invite an OK! journalist into her lovely delivery room and allow a photographer exclusive first rights on young Hurley's arrival, all in glorious colour.

It seems a touch vulgar, but then perhaps most of us would be prepared to suffer a little inappropriate exposure in return for a million and half quid. A more interesting question is what precisely accounts for this new fascination with celebrity pregnancy. How is it that the most profoundly intimate act a woman can experience has of late fallen into the clutches of the PR industry and the press to be presented to the public in a sanitised yet curiously eroticised form?

One can only assume that, as the taste for the usual, old-fashioned stimulants becomes jaded and stale, we look for the truly big events of human existence to provide a new, dangerous, voyeuristic charge. Now that even children's innocence is in doubt – witness the tremulous disapproval which has recently greeted the news that they sometimes mug and steal, much like adults – we press on to the final frontier, as yet unphotographed and uncorrupted by celebrity. It is not enough for a model to appear on catwalks carrying a baby as the latest accessory; it is time for the foetus to take a bow.

Perhaps there is a grim connection between the circus surrounding celebrity births and the exhibition currently dominating the headlines, Gunther von Hagen's Body Worlds. Here, 26 real corpses have been hardened by reactive plastics and put on display in various witty poses. The highlight of the show reveals a mother, eight months pregnant, with her stomach split open to reveal the unborn baby within.

Roll up, roll up. Birth and death. They are the hottest shows in town.

terblacker@aol.com

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