A Fresh Set Of Eyes

There’s all sorts of services available to help you date in the modern age, but if you’re a celebrity there’s only one effective way to sort out your matchmaking. Get the people who have been tailing you for years – and hire them for yourself.

After the book was thrown at Glenn Mulcaire for his part in News International’s hacking scandal, it looked – for a while, at least – as if private investigators would find themselves clutching some pretty slim client lists.

However, if PIs suffered a few fallow years as a result of the fallout from the whole phone-hacking fiasco, they have since managed to find a ripe new seam of revenue to replace it: celebrities.

Once the prey, now the predators – celebrities are increasingly turning to private eyes to work for them and assemble intel. How? And why?

Given that they’re the talk of the town at the minute, let’s use Taylor Swift and Tom Hiddleston as a (purely hypothetical) example.

A Swift Replacement

The ink was barely dry on Calvin Harris’s P45 before Taylor Swift had taken up with someone else. In normal civilian circles this is known as a ‘rebound’ – but rebounds are a luxury rarely afforded to celebrities. The moment that the press gets wind of a new romance it’s all over the front pages, replete with paparazzi photos and headlines screaming “IS [X] FINALLY THE ONE?”

So if you think that Taylor would ever be able to rush straight into the arms of the first man who showed her a bit of interest then you sorely underestimate the machine that’s at work here.

It’s all much more calculated than that.

Taylor Swift, you probably don’t need telling, is one of the biggest stars in the world at the minute. The last two years have seen her dominate the pop scene with a massive multi-million selling album, a string of number ones, a star-studded world tour and blanket coverage of her every move.

For the bulk of that time at the top she was ‘dating’ Calvin Harris (who, not coincidentally, was/is the highest paid DJ in the world). In terms of power coupling, they seemed to be as perfect a fit as Posh and Becks, Kim and Kanye, Bey and Jay, Britney and Justin: two stars, both independently famous, who exponentially boost the profile of each other when combined.

When this formula works, it works perfectly – but it’s an incredibly delicate one. It doesn’t take a great deal to kick it off its axis. For example, just one photograph of you stood outside a sketchy-looking massage parlour and suddenly your entire relationship is in turmoil.

That being so, you need to make absolutely certain that the person you’re merging personal brands with is not going to cause you any sort of professional embarrassment. Therefore – in much the same way that you would get a survey done on your Hollywood mansion, or would have a lawyer read over your renewed recording contract – you need someone who can do all the necessary due diligence on your next life partner.

This is where the private investigators come in.

You can’t just send your assistant over to their office to ask them a bunch of questions. Nor can you get a friend to follow them around all day. If your new partner knew they were being tailed then they’d make every effort to act respectably. They’d cut out their visits to the local rub-n-tug. They’d stop calling their dealer. They’d make sure that their Spotify wasn’t publishing Facebook statuses of their most listened tracks. They’d be clean as whistle.

No. In order to get the proper picture, this has to be done discreetly, under the shadow of darkness.

Which is why any single celebrity worth a good goddamn has a PI on their payroll.

The Task At Hand

Once a suitable candidate has been selected, the PI’s job is twofold:

1/ They need to make sure that any potential candidate is currently behaving in general accordance with the public perception of them, and
2/ They need to make sure there are no embarrassing incidents in their past which might come back to haunt them if they enjoy a newly-elevated profile

The first point is fairly easy. It’s not much more than a basic, routine profiling – but it also acts as a helpful test run for the more invasive reporters. To wit: if your prospective partner can keep a bad habit hidden from a PI, then they are likely to be able to keep it hidden from the press too.

Point two, though – that’s a little bit more involved. That’s where you start to weed out the people who have some unsavoury elements to their personal histories; the ones who might have skeletons in their closet that come strolling out the second their story suddenly becomes a profitable commodity.

What sort of story might that be? It could be anything. The obvious scandals – a lovechild; a drug habit; an experimental ex-boyfriend from their years at drama school – are all something to look out for. Simple stories of indiscretion or minor vice might not be particularly interesting when they’re about a carefree young bachelor, but they have a habit of developing a bit of a hook when they’re about one half of a celebrity power couple.

There are other things to keep an eye on too. Tax avoidance is a particularly timely example, seeing as so many people are being collared and facing trial these days. If a tax arrest looks possible in the event of a Treasury/IRS clampdown, then that’s a big red cross next to their name. You can’t risk tying your lot to that sort of celebrity.

Bad apples in the entourage are also worth a little vetting; hangers-on who will bring bad press. They needn’t necessarily be engaged in anything criminal (although, clearly, that’s a big no-no). It could be something as simple as a family member or friend who looks like they might spill to the press as soon as a blank cheque gets wafted under their noses. People like that are an unnecessary headache that can easily be avoided with the lightest bit of reconnaissance work.

None of this means that they have to be absolutely 100% clean, you understand (though the cleaner they are, the better their chances). This intel is more to give your publicity team a way to gauge the risk they pose and then to organise itself in advance. A way to tie up any loose ends, to head off any potential catastrophes with an NDA before the press gets wind of anything, to strategise, to make contingencies about any flak that might be headed your way.

If they’re going to be more hassle than they’re worth, your team swipes left.

If they’re something you can work with, your team swipes right.

And so begins a beautiful relationship.

The Debrief

If you think we’re alleging anything about Tom Hiddleston here, sadly, the exact opposite is true. As much as we’d love to be hinting at something juicy, the fact is that he would never have made Taylor’s shortlist if there was even the vaguest suggestion he was a wrong’un. He probably never even played Milky Biscuit at Eton with the rest of them.

It’s disappointing, but it does go some way to explain why the story surrounding them is so terminally devoid of interest or intrigue. This is why theories that this has to be some sort of piece of performance art is gaining such traction. That it’s a big video shoot for a new album, or an elaborate hoax to troll the press – or continued cover for the Kaylor rumours that just won’t die.

Hiddleston himself has addressed the publicity stunt rumours and insists that the two of them are genuine about their relationship. Moreover, he did so in exactly the way you’d expect a completely vanilla patsy to do it too – so perhaps he’s just Team Taylor’s safe celebrity choice?

Even more disappointing though is that this practice may soon become an industry standard. And having been fed for so long on a diet of excessive, exaggerated scandal, it seems that we can hardly stomach the scoops of plain yoghurt that Hiddleswift is currently doling out.

So thank heavens Kim and Kanye started stirring stuff up, eh?