Titanium Wives: Jonathan Burley's Cannes novella

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to 2013's Titanium is finally here, and a certain reality star is the talk of the town.

Chapter 1

s the Gulfstream G500 banked to the east, its Rolls-Royce engines barely murmuring at the sudden manoeuvre, Kasey Karmanian let out a small, surprised, Cristal-flavoured belch and giggled to herself. She surely did love her Champy, but it gave her killer gas if she drank too much of it.

Still, it was a boring old flight from Cala-basas to the south of France, and who could blame her if she needed a little something tasty to calm her nerves once she’d skim-read the gossip magazines and updated her Insta feed (42 million followers and counting) and doodled a few ideas for a new Kasey-based set of emojis she had planned? No mofo, that’s who. She sighed and looked out of the aircraft window at the coastline below.

"The tattoo above that internationally renowned Kasey butt read ‘#SNAPTHEINTERWEB’. Not a boast, a fact"

My, how that Frenchy sea looks pretty down there, she thought. All blue and shiny and deep, just like the Bausch & Lomb contacts she had specially made for her. Her real eye colour was a long-forgotten catfish brown, but no-one had seen those since she was a thin-lipped teenager with a flat chest and a skinny butt and a nose you could hang a towel on. A different girl, a decade ago. Ten years on and her eyes were blue, her nose was pert, her chest was insured for $7m and the tattoo above that internationally renowned Kasey butt read "#SNAPTHEINTERWEB".

Not a boast, a fact: when her boy Kamron posted those booty shots online, the amount of traffic to Kamsey.com brought most of the Western world to an open-mouthed, eye-bulging standstill. She still had the front page of the next day’s Wall Street Journal in a gilt frame above the desk in her office. It featured a heavily pixelated screen grab of one of the butt shots next to a graphic of plunging stock-market shares and the screaming headline: "NSFW!" That’s right, America, she’d thought at the time. That’s damn right; Kasey Karmanian is NSFW, and always has been.

Kasey defocused her fake baby blues from the scene below her for a moment so that she could concentrate on the reflection of her face in the window. She tilted her head ever so slightly to the left; that perfect, patented Kasey semi-profile, as seen on countless magazine covers and, currently, on every single poster site along La Croisette ("La Croisette?" she’d asked her agent, confused. "What kind of shitpoke street is named after a breakfast pastry?"). 

The posters were to promote her appearance at a roundtable debate entitled "Infectious content" as part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Sounded real fancy. Something to do with advertising, she had been told, although she couldn’t for the life of her work out the connection between creativity and those annoying infomercials that spoiled the flow of her hit reality TV show Kasey Goes Krazy. She was still furious about the advertisement they ran during the episode where Kamron asked her to marry him.

The show had cut straight from Kamron going down on one knee to a three-minute spot extolling the virtues of a new wonder drug claiming to cure the more publicly embarrassing effects of irritable bowel syndrome. "At last, you can feel confident in public spaces!" the grimly cheerful voiceover exclaimed. "Finally, you can enter a packed elevator without fear!" The most awful bit of the whole affair was how the commercial had finished with the tagline "SAY YES TO HAPPIER BOWELS!", then cut back without a beat to the show to see a close-up of a weeping Kasey screaming "Yes! Yes! Yes, Babyboy, yes!" as she threw her arms around Kamron’s neck. The clip and the unfortunate segue had gone batshit viral, naturally. 

"Ten minutes until we land, Ms Karmanian," came the voice of the very fine black man who was piloting the Gulfstream. Even across the PA system, he sounded like molasses. "Please fasten your seatbelt." Kasey happily obliged. With a voice and a face like that, the pilot could ask her to do anything. Anything.

Chapter 2

Paul Dawson (chief executive, Lenny Bennett Group, London) took a sip of Diet Coke and seriously considered stabbing his eyes out with his own genitals. True, he was sat next to Kasey Karmanian, a woman whose famous face and infamous derrière had featured largely in his frequent "me-time" sessions over the years and whose scent, he was delighted to discover, was that of wild strawberries and expensive chocolate (as opposed to Dawson’s own unique musk, which was of French fries and

Baileys Irish Cream), but why had he agreed to participate in this panel in the first place? "Infectious content"? What did he know about content, infectious or otherwise? Oh, dear Christ, this was going to be a disaster. 

"Kasey Karmanian didn’t give a monkey’s that Paul Dawson smelled of fried food, or that he’d made the mistake of wearing a too-pale pair of chinos"

He was just a great, big, buttery-haired, chip-and-liqueur-smelling fraud and he was going to be found out when it was his time to speak. Not for the first time, Dawson consulted the notes he’d had his head of modern new thinking scribble down for him the night before. To his horror, he realised that the sweat from his soft white palms had made the ink run and bleed, rendering the crib sheet an indecipherable, hieroglyphic mess. Oh, dear Christ, this was going to be a disaster.

To Dawson’s direct left was a small middle-aged white man with gel-spiked, blonde-tipped hair. His name tag read "Kicking Jimmy K, chief DJ, Screaming Content" and he spoke (non-stop) in a deeply unconvincing Dick Van Dyke mockney accent, peppered with West Coast jive slang Dawson hadn’t heard since he last watched repeats of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on BBC Two in the mid-90s.

"This is how we facking rock and roll, innit?" Kicking Jimmy K gibbered. "Push-button real-time optimisation and ideation, innit? It’s disruption, dudes and dudettes, it’s parking-lot puppy-punching, it’s cultural goddam synergistic leverage and we are always, but always, facking on. This is our cowabunga moment, homies, this is where we slam the beans in the back of the pan. I’m not shitting you, bee-yatches: it’s all that and a bag of chips, innit? Boo ya! Boo ya! Boo facking ya!"

Kicking Jimmy K sat back down and took a sip of his Quinton and Reishi green juice, accepting the desultory ripple of applause from the audience with a small, self-satisfied salute. "Sup," he said to Kasey, tipping her a wink. She visibly shuddered.

Dawson stood up to speak next, heart desperately trying to escape from his throat, a small bead of cold sweat trickling down the crack of his ample bottom. He cleared his throat.

"A powerful, coherent point from Jimmy K–"Dawson started to say.

"Kicking Jimmy K, mate, thankyouvery-muchmate," the chief DJ of Screaming Content interrupted.

"Sorry, yes, that’s right; a powerful, coherent point from Kicking Jimmy K there." Dawson paused and looked around him, face going an even more striking shade of red than usual – a feat most medical experts would have thought scientifically impossible. 

"Ah… yes…" he mumbled. "Yes. Yes, content. That’s right."

The silence in the room was deafening. Dawson cleared his throat again.

"Yes, indeed. Content. I… I, ah…"

Dawson wiped sweat from his eyes.

"I fucking love content," he stammered. "Don’t you all love it? Surely you do! It’s amazing! It’s fucking infectious!"

The silence grew louder yet. Dawson dug deep.

"Memes?" he asked the silence. Nothing.

"Vines? Myspace?" Not a sausage. "Breaking the narrative?"

The crowd just stared. From the back of the audience, someone shouted "Shame!" in what sounded like a heavy Brazilian accent.

"Impressions!" Dawson shrieked. "Trending! YouTube! Clickbait! Snapchat!"

He started to sob.

"Spuh-spam and buh-backlinks and geo-tuh-targeting and vuh-vuh-vuh-vlogging and, and, and… And Yuh-Youporn! Yes! Youporn – th-that’s content, isn’t it? That’s fuh-fine content! I, I luh-love Youporn!"

Eyes streaming with tears, he turned to Kasey Karmanian.

"I love you on Youporn!" he declared, earnestly. The crowd had started to boo, but Dawson ignored them. Screw ’em. He was on safe ground. This was his field of expertise, after all. 

"You’re amuh-amazing on it, Kasey. I can call you Kasey, cuh-can’t I?" 

Kasey stared at him with those amazing blue eyes of hers.

"Amazing. You and that basketball chap – Kevin Wachowski?"

Kasey stood up, smiling slightly. She nodded.

"That’s right!" Dawson said, beaming. He no longer heard the boos and the catcalls. He no longer cared that the rest of the panel was looking at him with a combination of abject horror and naked contempt. Kasey Karmanian understood him.

She didn’t give a monkey’s that he didn’t get content, or that he smelled of fried food, or that he’d made the mistake of wearing a too-pale pair of Reiss chinos this morning that clung obscenely to his milky thighs and vividly showed off the 50p-sized pee stain where he hadn’t shaken off properly. He just didn’t care. Kasey Karmanian understood Paul Dawson and, in time, maybe – just maybe – that understanding could turn to love.

"Kevin Wachowski," Dawson said, smiling back at her. "Big fella, if you know what I mean. Really big." He held his palms approximately a foot apart to demonstrate exactly how big.

"Bitch," Kasey said amiably, and headbutted Dawson in the face.

Chapter 3

From Champagne Daily Bulletin, Thursday 23 June 2016]

Breaking News 

Kroisette Khaos as Kasey Karmanian goes Kick-butt Krazy in Kontroversial Kannes Knockabout!

by Jeremy Brie

The Palais des Festivals erupted into violence this afternoon during what should have been a relatively non-eventful roundtable discussion of the impact of content and how it is shaping the way our industry works. 

After some initial lively debate and various interesting points of view – Jason Lemon, of veteran boyband Snatch This!, was particularly compelling on the subject of omnichannel shoppertainment – an obviously ill-prepared Paul Dawson (chief executive, Lenny Bennett Group, London) stood up to give his two pennies’ worth.

"It was a total shitstorm from the get-go," one onlooker said. "Dawson was patently all over the shop," another added.

After a bizarre stream-of-consciousness performance that shocked a combined audience of delegates and celebrity guests, Dawson appeared to lunge at co-panellist Kasey Karmanian. "He [Dawson] was making repellent kissy-kissy faces at her," Mark Nuttsel [global chief creative officer, Omniscis Groupe], who witnessed the episode from the front row of the venue, said. "It really turned my guts, I won’t lie to you. I wasn’t at all surprised when she nutted him. He was bloody asking for it, boyo."

Dawson, a big man but very much out of shape for his height, went down like the proverbial sack of King Edwards, much to the approval of the 150-strong crowd who witnessed the incident. Dawson’s newly appointed chief creative officer, Chaka Khan, led the crowd in chanting "Easy! Easy! Easy!" as Karmanian climbed on top of the podium and body-slammed the prone chief executive from a height. He didn’t get back up.

Related Stories:

  • Ex-Bros drummer to chair Titanium jury
  • Carol Vorderman speaks out against ad fraud
  • How advertising can learn a thing or two from the death of Coronation Street’s Leanne Battersby, by Robert Junior 
  • Paul Dawson: ‘Why I love data and how it loves me back’

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