The odd world of Oscar goodie bags

Just what exactly does Bruce Willis do with a DrainWig plug?

Never mind the glamour, and the excitement of who will win the Best Actor and Best Actress gongs what the guests who attend the Academy Awards are really interested in is the annual ritual of opening up the Oscars' goodie bag, which is given to every nominee.

"Some amazing gifts... have made their way into the homes of the actors who frequent the Academy Awards or the houses of their publicist, car valet, or whoever else they offload the bag to," says Danny Walker on These "awesome-sounding presents" have included electronic gadgets, luxury products and even "all-expenses paid trips to Africa".

But, among these high-end freebies, there are still occasional bizarre options, says Walker: "products you didn't even know existed, let alone the type of tat" you'd expect to be thrust upon a Hollywood star.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

Previous gems have include vampire' facials (which apparently involve taking a patient's blood out of their arm and injecting it back into their face), as reportedly favoured by reality star Kim Kardashian, and Naked Condoms (a premium condom brand) .

This year was no exception. While the value of the goodie bag rose from 2013's $55,000 to an eye-watering $85,000, I suspect that quite a few of the giveaways will be re-gifted'.

The goodies, organised by a marketing company, and ranging in value from $6.49 to $16,000, include a DrainWig plug that prevents hair from getting caught in the shower plughole, Mane N Tail' horse shampoo worth $95, two Mace pepper-spray guns (a his'n'hers matching set) and perhaps the highlight $2,700 in gift vouchers for a procedure to stimulate a woman's sex drive, known as the O-Shot'.

As Emmeline Saunders puts it in Heat magazine: "What's Bruce Willis going to do with the DrainWig plug Does Meryl Streep really need two Mace pepper guns? And can you really see Idris Elba washing his beard in Mane N Tail Horse Shampoo?"

And spare a thought for poor Leonardo DiCaprio. Always the Academy Award bridesmaid, but never the bride, the star received his fourth Oscar nomination in 20 years for The Wolf of Wall Street, but missed out to Matthew McConaughey.

What's more, he didn't even get to play a part in the orgy of selfies', photobombs and pizza-guzzling that went on under the light-hearted influence of this year's host Ellen DeGeneres. Incensed, his fans took to Twitter to protest, with the hashtag Poor Leo' soon trending amid 40,000 tweets.

DiCaprio fans shouldn't worry, says Robbie Collin on Leo will get there in the end. Paul Newman was nominated seven times without winning, before receiving an honorary trophy in 1986 and eventually winning Best Actor in 1987, while Al Pacino walked away empty-handed for two decades before his 1993 win.

Poor Leo' will "have his moment soon enough" and no doubt, unlike us ordinary mortals, he can find himself a beautiful supermodel to console him in the interim.

Tabloid money: Royal Mail is 'a true privatisation disaster'

The speaker enjoyed luxury hotels, such as the five-star Langham Hotel in Auckland, during the 12-day trip last summer.

"Royal Mail's greedy owners are raising the price of stamps again, adding to the toll of a true privatisation disaster," says the Daily Mirror. First-class stamp prices will go up by 2p to 62p, second class by 3p to 53p.

"Not content with ripping off taxpayers by buying this long-established public service on the cheap, speculators are charging the public even more to send letters and birthday cards. For centuries the Royal Mail existed for the benefit of the public. Today it operates in the financial interests of avaricious owners."

Angela Merkel gave Britain a "clear vision" of what the EU is all about for her, writes German-born Labour MP Gisela Stuart in The Sun. "For her, it is delivering three promises peace, freedom and prosperity."

German and European interests "are one and the same. This has never been the case in the UK." Here, Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a "wish-list" of EU reforms, "but he hasn't told us how he is going to get any of these".

Tory MP James Wharton, who initiated the EU referendum bill, has seen donations surge, says Daily Mirror columnist Kevin Maguire. His reward "may be gleaned from records £55,000 donated to him since he demanded a referendum, compared with £22,500 in the previous three years".