A recent incident where singer Britney Spears was caught choking former beau Justin Timberlake’s chicken backstage in Cincinnati prior to a performance by the former N-Sync member, has highlighted the current fascination exercised upon the world of celebrity by the ancient Haitian religion of Voodoo. “Justin has always been a bit squeamish about the whole live sacrifice thing,” explains top showbiz reporter Rick Wedge. “Luckily Britney was on hand to strangle his cock for him at the pre-concert Voodoo ceremony – it really is amazing what strong hands that girl has, no sooner had she grasped it firmly by the neck than it went completely limp. Strictly speaking, she should have slit the bird’s throat and Justin should have drunk the blood, but he just can’t stand the sight of the red stuff – he just had the chicken fried up Southern style and ate it in a burger with fries and mayonnaise, instead – which is probably why his subsequent performance was good, but not fantastic.”

The sacrificing of live animals by celebrity Voodoo adherents in order to gain the favour of the Voodoo spirits, or Loa, before important performances, has become increasingly common over recent months. “If Mariah Carey demands a dressing room full of fluffy kittens and wet-nosed, floppy-eared puppies before a Top of The Pops appearance these days, it’s because she intends slaughtering the whole lot to ensure the number one chart slot,” says Wedge. “There is no doubt that Voodoo now outstrips the Kabbalah as a favoured celebrity religion and is fast catching up with Scientology!” According to Wedge, Louisiana-born Britney was one of the first celebrities to adopt the Voodoo religion and now, having risen to the rank of High Priestess, or Mambo, her advice and expertise is much sought after by fellow famous Voodoo worshippers. “It’s just so convenient as a religion – the ceremonies fit right in with my act,” she recently revealed in a magazine interview. “All that frenzied dancing with a snake isn’t just for titillation – it’s part of our centuries-old ritual to invoke the Loa, specifically Dambala, the serpent spirit. When I dance around a pole, it has nothing to do with sleazy tittie bars, the pole is the poteau-mitan, the symbolic place where the Gods and spirits communicate with man!” Indeed, Britney claims that her most exotic and erotic dance routines are the result of the ritual being successful and her body being possessed by the Loa Ezili – the spirit of female love. “It explains the dichotomy of my being virginal, yet able to dance like a whore,” she says.

“Voodoo is probably the perfect religion for celebrities as it perfectly reflects their world view – anything can be bought. One sacrifice and a bit of wild dancing to please the right spirits and success can be ensured. It takes such inconvenient variables as talent out of the equation completely,” says top showbiz sociologist Norman Futz, attempting to explain the attraction of Voodoo to the rich and famous. “In fact, they can claim to be worshipping without significantly changing their daily schedule – lunch with their agent could qualify as the ‘feast’ which often precedes the main ceremony, which could be represented by a visit to a pole-dancing club and getting out of their skulls on illegal substances, or ‘possession by spirits’, as they call it! Plus, Voodoo has all that mystical shit celebs think can bring some kind of depth and meaning to their shallow lives.”

Many Hollywood actors now reportedly believe that by allowing themselves to be possessed by the appropriate Loa, they can improve their acting performance. “Brad Pitt is supposed to have sacrificed a whole flock of sheep on the first day of shooting on Troy, to ensure that the spirit of Ogun, the Loa of war, took control of his body for his scenes as the great warrior Achilles,” reveals Futz. “I suppose it’s the ultimate in method acting.” The Voodoo priesthood have generally welcomed this upsurge in interest in their faith, believing that celebrity endorsement will help give them a more positive public image. “Hopefully, it will encourage Hollywood to stop portraying us in films as being a bunch of wild-eyed lunatics forever sticking pins in dolls and raising the dead,” enthuses Henri Joombye, High Priest, or Houngan, of the Hollywood Church of Voodoo. “Mind you, I am still a little concerned that all this animal sacrifice might appear a little negative to the general public – the actual offering to the Loa does not have to be a literal sacrifice, gifts, especially cash are equally acceptable. Indeed, all our Houngans are now able to accept donations by most major credit cards.”

However, some Hollywood stars have grown disillusioned with Voodoo after learning that it isn’t all dolls and black magic. “Dang it all, I only joined so’s I could stick pins in a doll of ma ex-wife Angelina,” says lunatic hillbilly and general weirdo Billy Bob Thornton. “I made it myself, the wig is made from her pubic hair – we exchanged pubes as part of our marriage ceremony.” Nevertheless, although not sanctioned by the official Voodoo church, some stars have allegedly dabbled with evil sorcery, or ‘left-handed Voodoo’, in pursuit of financial and professional gain. Nicole Kidman, for instance, is rumoured to have spent months sticking pins into an effigy of Sharon Stone in order to ensure her rival for the coveted lead role in Stepford Wives fell ill before shooting started. Moreover, Clive Owen’s performance in King Arthur is said to be the result of his being put under a zombie spell by a Caplata (evil sorcerer) employed by his rival for the role of James Bond, Hugh Jackman. There have also been unconfirmed reports that unscrupulous studio bosses are planning to use Voodoo to resurrect several recently dead stars, including Marlon Brando and Carrie Snodgress, as zombies in order to keep their wage bills down. “It is highly dangerous to meddle with such things – the evil will always rebound on it’s originator,” warns Joombye. “Nicole Kidman may have got the lead role she wanted – but look what a crock of shit the film turned out to be!”

Nevertheless, there are signs that the popularity of Voodoo – both good and evil – amongst celebrities might have reached its high-water mark, and could soon be on the wane. “I’ve heard tell that Madonna has joined ‘The Brethren’ and has been seen searching through supermarket dumpsters for food past its sell-by date,” says Norman Futz, although he suspects that the cult’s insistence on giving up worldly goods and living nomadically might be too off-putting for most celebs. “Robert Downey Jr has allegedly been seen knocking on doors in Bel Air, trying to sell copies of the ‘Watchtower’, so maybe the Jehovah’s Witnesses could be the next big thing in celebrity religion. I mean, they’ve got that whole anti-war thing the stars are into these days and they’ve even got a head’s start in the celebrity endorsement game – Michael Jackson is already an acolyte.”