Writing about Czech tabloids without mentioning Iveta Bartošová is a bit like writing about Hamlet without mentioning Hamlet.
The troubled pop singer has been a mainstay of the country’s red tops for more than a decade.
Back in the mid-2000s, Douglas Arellanes bravely tried to record every Blesk story about Bartošová on his blog, but after 122 stories was eventually overwhelmed.
Nowadays she’s best known for heavy drinking and erratic behaviour, but for Czech newspaper editors, Iveta is the gift that keeps on giving.
Her alleged kidnap last month (see below) was such big news that Blesk posted live updates on its website, just like it did for the floods and the political crisis that brought down the government.
PraguePig.com is ashamed to admit that it’s been in existence for more than a year without mentioning Iveta once.
Here, to make up for that, are 15 things you should know about the tragicomic queen of the Czech tabloids.
1. Bartošová was born in Čeladná (now in the Moravian-Silesian Region) in 1966 but was brought up in nearby Frenštát pod Radhoštěm. She has a twin sister, Ivana, who is also a singer. Ivana uses the stage name Viana.
2. In 1983, Bartošová qualified for the Mladé písně v Jihlavě (“Young Songs in Jihlava”) festival, where she first met singer Petr Sepéši. Together they formed a duo whose hits included the single Knoflíky lásky (“Buttons of Love”) and an album of the same name.
The duo continued until 1985, when Sepéši, aged 25, was killed by a train on a level crossing in Františkovy Lázně.
3. Iveta briefly joined the group Balet in 1986, recording the hit single Hej pane diskžokej (Hey, Mister Disc Jockey), before launching a solo career.
4. She released perhaps her best-known song, Léto (“Summer”), a collaboration with songwriter/producer/impresario František Janeček — in 1986.
5. Bartošová released her debut solo album, I.B., in 1987, beginning the most successful period of her career and marking the beginning of her relationship, creative and romantic, with songwriter/producer Ladislav Štaidl. Bartošová and Štaidl had a son, Artur Štaidl, in 1996, but split up three years later.
6. Iveta has topped the nationwide Zlatý slavík/Český slavík (Golden Nightingale/Czech Nightingale) “female singer” poll three times, in 1986, 1990 and 1991.
7. Bartošová released an English-language album, Closer Now, in 1990.
8. In 2007, Bartošová was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Kroměříž, where she was treated for depression and alcoholism.
9. In 2011, Bartošová became romantically involved with Domenico Martucci della Torre, an olive oil importer from an aristocratic Italian family who reached the semi-finals of the Czech edition of X Factor in 2008.
10. Later that year, Bartošová began a relationship with her current boyfriend, Josef Rychtář. It’s Rychtář that gave Bartošová the nickname “Džambulka”, by which she’s often referred to in the tabloids, but none of the Czech-speakers PraguePig.com has asked about it seem to know what (if anything) it means.
11. Stalker or saviour? The role of software engineer Zdeněk Macura in the Iveta Bartošová story is a curious one. In August of last year (2012), Bartošová called the police after Macura, who had earlier declared strong feelings for Iveta on his blog, entered her home. On July 4th, however, Bartošová left the Prague 22-Uhříněves villa she shares with Rychtář and travelled to Italy with Macura, prompting Rychtář to file an official police report declaring that Bartošová had been abducted.
12. In an attempt to prove that Iveta had joined him voluntarily, Macura posted a photo of Bartošová sunbathing on a beach on his Facebook page. Instead, the photo of an apparently lifeless “Džambulka” prompted speculation she was actually dead.
13. Amid relentless media coverage, Rychtář tracked Bartošová down to Martucci’s mother’s home, apparently losing his shirt along the way.
14. Bartošová’s claims that Martucci’s mother had held her against her will in Italy were undermined somewhat when Martucci published photos of a happy, smiling Iveta on his Facebook page.
15. Upon her return to the Czech Republic, Iveta was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in Prague 8-Bohnice, where Rychtář and Macura came to blows while visiting her. Now, however, she’s back at Rychtář’s home in Uhříněves.
If a team of writers sat down and tried to script the perfect tabloid story, they’d struggle to come up with twists and turns to match the Iveta Bartošová saga.
New Džambulka stories appear every day, which makes condensing her life story into a short blog post a near-impossible task.
There’s one thing you can be sure of, though: This won’t be the last time she’s mentioned on PraguePig.com.