Celebrity home tours—where VIPs, showbiz personalities, minor stars, and even online “influencers” open the doors to their houses for the whole world to see—are not new. As early as the ‘80s with the gilded luxury of the homes featured on the Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous, the gaudy abodes of MTV’s Cribs, the elegant spaces featured in Architectural Digest’s online videos, to the present quarantine season with 24/7 shows about homes on HGTV, a celebrity welcoming the viewer (pronounced as voyeur) is ordinary fare.
Part of the allure of these tours is 50 percent curiosity, 50 percent aspiration (with 0.1 percent envy). Who wouldn’t want to see (or even copy) Mariah Carey’s bedroom, Madonna’s closet, Jennifer Aniston’s porch, or Zedd’s studio? There’s an audience out there watching right now (with snacks in hand) how Kendall Jenner created her new Los Angeles hideaway to how Anna Wintour’s Vogue office reflected her personality. All these “exclusive spaces,” which we can only dream of visiting one day, are just a click away—and you can even press replay.
In the local setting, these celebrity home tours are also not something new. Morning TV shows feature a lot of these houses. Newspapers, and lifestyle and entertainment magazines have devoted pages splashing the new homes of Zsa Zsa Padilla, Coco Martin, and Daniel Padilla. In the past years, this was the selling point of Kris Aquino’s show, where she visits the homes of different personalities. The highlight of Kris’ tours, however, was not the homes, but how she would react to situations, with her slips of the tongue more slippery than the bathroom floor bathed in oil.
But just these past few weeks, there has been a deluge of local celebrity home tours online. I’ve been receiving two to three leads per day to watch this and that YouTube channel of a certain celebrity who has now opened his/ her house, apartment, condo, or even ancestral home. There are a couple of videos whose houses were not yet finished or undergoing construction. I admit that I’m not familiar with some of them and I even wrongly dubbed someone as a “starlet,” but some I know like Derek Ramsay, Gabbi Garcia, Erich Gonzales, Jed Madela, even some YouTube favorites such as Buknoy Glamur, Ivana Alawi, Maris Racal, etc.
A friend asked me for my “comment” and all I could say is I know their reasons for opening their houses at this moment of time. There are 10 of them and I’m sure all of them will have at least one check in this list.
1. They are just bored
After months of quarantine, going around in circles in their mansions or vacation homes, they call their manager to say that it is time to have a YouTube channel (hello, Sharon Cuneta!). So having a small camera crew going around their house is a jolt of adrenaline from their weariness from the lockdown, a welcome break from the humdrum existence.
2. There’s no other content to talk about
There are no shootings, TV guestings, or products to endorse. The world of content production in their preferred medium—television and movies—has ground to a halt. So what is there to talk about after revealing their eating habits, kids’ talents, and ho-hum culinary skills? Their home becomes an unwitting superstar.
3. They control the narrative
Prior to the pandemic, I was arranging an interview and photoshoot for a celebrity’s new home. I was given a “yes,” but with reservations. He raised concerns about security, safety, etc. and said he was not too keen on letting the public see his private space, so on and so forth. So, in short, he meant “no.” A few months later, I was “surprised” to see him parading his house online for all to see, even showing a glimpse of his neighborhood. I presume that he likes to just show (or direct) what he wants to show, something he couldn’t do when a reporter is around.
4. They need sponsors for their home
I cringe at celebrity homes that are half-finished, or even with no house at all. I even watched someone reveal that it was her dream to have this kind of house (so is this a mind tour, not a house tour?). It is not bad to aspire for a dream home, but to show (and make parinig) your desire to have this brand of appliance or this kind of tiles or paint, is just plain bad taste. If you are Lolit Solis who unabashedly thrives in “asking” for sponsors, then go ahead.
5. We like to watch it
The views are staggering, reaching to multiple millions that other content creators dream of. As celebrities, they feed on the public’s interest in them. They just don’t know that, sometimes, people at home just randomly scrolled through their video and accidentally pressed the play, like I do most of the time.
6. They need to remain relevant
With the shutdown of a major network, they need to have their faces shown somewhere. Though YouTube videos are not as “glam” as what they were used to, they need to show their faces online, garner the “necessary” number of followers, in order to command a certain fee for certain posts and shoutouts. Like what Donna Summer used to say, “She works hard for the money!”
7. They earn from the views
More eyes equal more zeroes in ad revenues from YouTube. Those pesky ads at the start, middle, or the end of their videos are all generating some serious dollars, which go to the online pocket of the celebrity (or to his/ her management team). This is the reason they often repeat the words “like, subscribe, or comment.”
8. They are “auditioning”
Tears of joy, jumping up and down, some voices rising. It’s the telenovela of the pandemic era. Some are real but most of the time, a lot are “scripted” in some way. These celebs are aware that casting directors or talent managers are on the prowl for talents for new television and online shows. There can be no letdown in acting, even if it’s just making ohh-ahhs while opening the ref door, huffing and puffing while going up the stairs, or wailing over a pile of labada. The emotions have to be authentic, even if just filmed using an iPhone.
9. They are “flipping”
I heard from the grapevine that a recent celebrity home tour online was just a “temporary” house (aka living in “Skuala Lumpur”). The reason for this (or the PR angle) is that the house can be resold at a higher value if this has been lived in by a celebrity. True or not, it just goes to show how hard it is to make a buck these days.
10. They just want to welcome you
Whoever believes this statement must be living in an alternative world. A home is the part of a celebrity’s life that is “sacred”—a private sanctuary where they can revel in their true selves. So a camera peeping inside is an invasion of privacy, as they have to preen hard to project an image of calm amid the underlying anxiety of losing their shows, movie projects, and endorsements. Unless they are Sharon (read top one reason above), this “privacy clause” is only broken once there is an instruction from their network, manager, management company, or the brand they endorse to let viewers inside their homes. And that setup is the T (truth). In the meantime, let’s enjoy—even savor—the opportunity to feel their welcoming embrace, even if it’s just for (online) show.