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Rachel Glucina: Fading stars and the dim celebrity flame

Nicky Watson and Sally Ridge in 2001. Photo / Supplied
Nicky Watson and Sally Ridge in 2001. Photo / Supplied

It's time to take refuge in the waning world of the fading celebrity. Last week we found Sally Ridge and Nicky Watson falling out of bikinis and on to the pages of a tittle-tattle rag.

At their peak, they were the poster girls for tans, tawdry love lives and visible undies. A decade on and not much has changed. We love them; we loathe them. But we all talk about them. In their nihilistic search for fame, we fed upon their every gum-chewing antic and cosmetic enhancement. But haven't we had enough?

Nicky, now with lips like over-stuffed pillows and mammaries rivalling the size of her head, first rose to prominence on the arm of office products mogul Eric Watson.

She bestrode two TVNZ news shows as an enthusiast of nipple piercing, commando raceway fashion and chief of the Chihuahua search party, crying: "Criiiiiicket, criiiiiicket. Trying to find my poor Cricket." "You're hoarse," said the Close Up reporter.

"No, my dog."

Sally, four kids down and still an undying proponent of the poodle-pouf, has persistently played the celebrity plus-one: first to a feisty footy star; then a conceited cricketer; followed by a handy glue gun.

She channelled her relationship highs and lows through the visceral remedy of homemade crafts. Sally has been an ardent advocate for scrapbooking - and the patent panty-line.

Both women invited the media into their rollercoaster lives at any given opportunity, but became dizzy when the ride took an inevitable slower pace. Problem is, they evidently can't jump off.

Watson tried to push the eject button earlier this year and, for a blink-and-you-missed-it-moment, insisted she'd gone back to her maiden name and fizzled out of the spotlight.

"I don't want to make a living off my former image. I am NOT Nicky Watson. I am so far from that person. I have no attachment to that person any more. I don't want to be associated with Nicky Watson," she vowed to me.

Six months later and Nicky Watson is back - last week smiling across the pages of the Woman's Day in one of the magazine's most talked-about issues. It was a decade ago when she last donned swimwear with Ridge as tabloid covergirls.

"They like and do the same things," the mag informs us. "There's the love of red licorice, a fascination with art and a love of creating intricate drawings together with marker pens."

Watson has a new role teaching school holiday courses to teenage girls to help build their self-confidence, and the doodling duo tell us their friendship is closer than ever. The mag says there "are no hard feelings" and the longtime pals have chosen to forgive and forget. For what, the story doesn't elaborate.

But it's no secret the besties became frenemies when Nicky had an affair with Sally's then-husband, rugby league star Matthew Ridge, who was signed to Eric's Warriors team. That was a lifetime ago and the friendship has clearly been patched up.

They are snapped in a variety of clinched poses and holding hands like school girls. "I feel like I'm 18 when I'm with Sally," 34-year-old Nicky declares. Forty-year-old Sally replies: "Sometimes I'm more immature than my [teenage] daughter."

Have they become downgraded versions of their former selves: older but apparently not much wiser? A sort of Nicky and Sally-lite?

Woman's Day readers took to the magazine's Facebook page to vent their opinions. Sarah Akroyd asked: "I thought Nicky wasn't chasing fame anymore? Seriously? Put 'em away." Lee McKinstry said: "They have had their day... time for them to leave the covers for some younger, more newsworthy New Zealanders."

Fellow celebutard blonde Casey Green (whose fiancé Ali Williams had a fling with Watson when the couple temporarily split) snarled on Twitter: "What does Nicky teach at her workshops? How to sleep with your "best friends" husband 101?"

Sally and Nicky may be inexplicable household names, but their lives still provide much fascination - even if it is to remind us how much we enjoy seeing what lengths celebrities will go to keep the fame flame burning. We may love them or we may loathe them, but while they're still selling magazines it's evident the women continue to interest us.

- NZ Herald

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