Sunday, January 14, 2007

THE TRUTH ABOUT CELEBRITY RUMOURS

Richard Gere and the gerbil
Throughout the '80s, accusations of gerbiling (i.e. "coaxing a live gerbil into your rectum for the purposes of sexual pleasure") haunted several D-listers, including a news anchor in Philly and a Cleveland Browns linebacker, before permanently latching onto Gere, who was allegedly rushed to the hospital for emergency rodent removal. Hearsay ballooned into the most famous celebrity rumor in history when someone faxed dozens of Hollywood offices a fake ASPCA press release claiming that Gere had "abused" a gerbil. Since then, the legend has been passed around locker rooms and the writers' offices of animated series (South Park, Family Guy). Perhaps none of Gere's interviewers have had the guts to go there, or maybe there's some kind of publicist-issued fatwa, but Gere has never publicly addressed the rumor. Would you?

Suri Cruise is a scam
Does Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' larvum actually exist? Cruise is so strange, and Scientology so shadowy, that it's easy to imagine the whole thing is some kind of conspiracy. Not helping matters: Holmes's press-friendly, four-year pregnancy; the media-whorish couple's failure to exhibit their offspring in public for months after her birth; and the rumor that Tom Cruise auditioned a stable of actresses for the part of his wife (among them Jessica Alba, Keri Russell and Scarlett Johansson). Then Vanity Fair got the photos, the result of days of shooting around the Cruise estate, and the smiling, glassy-eyed features editor was on Larry King declaring that Cruise and Holmes are the best parents in the world and that Scientology "didn't come up" during the shoot. So for the first time in history, documentation only made the existence of the subject seem less true.

Nancy Reagan was a blowjob queen
According to Kitty Kelley's biography, the future first lady "was renowned in Hollywood for performing oral sex." Back when she was Nancy Davis, the actress reportedly went down on many an actor "not only in the evening but in offices. That was one of the reasons that she was very popular on the MGM lot." You have to shift your conception of '80s conservatives around a little to buy this, but it's worth the effort.

David Bowie's wife walked in on him and Mick Jagger having sex
Some have said that the rumor about Mick Jagger and David Bowie having an affair in the '70s was fueled by prurient homophobia. We prefer to think it became popular because it's fucking hot. Regardless, according to Snopes.com, the rumor was started by Angela Bowie on The Joan Rivers Show. Recently freed from a gag order against her ex-husband, Bowie told Rivers that "I caught him in bed with men several times. In fact, the best time I caught him in bed was with Mick Jagger." She also specified that the men were naked. David and Mick's lawyers quickly denied the story, after which the ex-Mrs. Bowie did some extreme backpedaling, saying they hadn't necessarily had sex just because they were naked in bed together. Then came this passage from her 1993 memoir Backstage Passes : ". . .when I walked into that room and found Mick and David together, I felt absolutely dead certain that they'd been screwing. It was so obvious, in fact, that I never even considered the possibility that they hadn't been screwing. . . I didn't have to look around for open jars of K-Y jelly."

Marilyn Monroe did porn
If a Marilyn Monroe porn reel existed, it's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't want to see it. Does it? According to FBI files turned up by The Smoking Gun, Joe DiMaggio once tried to purchase a "French-type" movie of "Marilyn Monroe, deceased actress, in unnatural acts with an unknown male." And in 1980, a Swedish photographer unearthed a silent reel from 1948, featuring an awkward young actress with a striking resemblance to Monroe. After intense scrutiny by everyone from the American Film Institute to Penthouse, the film is still a mystery: no one can be certain that the actress is Marilyn. Does it matter?

Hilton mothers give their daughters sex lessons
Kathy Hilton taught her daughter Paris not to perform fellatio because it would put "holes" in her cheeks, according to Jerry Oppenheimer, author of the exposé House of Hilton. A tradition of sex lessons amongst the Hilton women supposedly originated with Kathy's mother; a source in Oppenheimer's book claims Big Kathy wanted her daughter to know "all about sex, and how to perform sex, literally the best possible way." To that end, Grandma Hilton allegedly asked a young man to teach her Kathy how to have sex in a van in the front of their house. Although this is probably all spurious and mean-spirited invention, House of Hilton sounds like a pretty awesome book.

John Lennon had an affair with Brian Epstein
According to Albert Goldman's book, The Lives of John Lennon, the Beatle had an affair with the band's manager and close friend, Brian Epstein, from 1963 until Epstein's death in 1967. Two other authors, Peter Shotten and Hunter Davies, claimed that Lennon and Epstein had sex but not a long-term relationship. Lennon denied the rumor, telling Playboy in 1980 "it was never consummated, but we had a pretty intense relationship." Lennon's ex-wife Cynthia also refuted the claim in her memoir, John, saying, "[Like] most lads at the time, [John] was horrified by the idea of homosexuality."

Mick, Marianne and the Mars Bar
In 1967, police raided a party at Keith Richards' estate and supposedly found Mick Jagger chowing a Mars Bar out of Marianne Faithfull's nay-nay. A delicious, nougaty rumor, for sure, but according to Faithfull's autobiography, the story is nothing but "a cop's idea of what people do on acid." Chris Gibbs, one of Richards' guests, said that the cops never kicked down the door, but knocked and were admitted into "a scene of pure domesticity," in which Faithfull was wearing a towel. Faithfull's long, high-profile relationship with Jagger in the '60s no doubt only added grist to the mill. In fairness to the cops, Faithfull admitted to giving them "a quick flash.

J. Edgar Hoover cross-dressed
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was such a mean son-of-a-bitch it's no surprise that people whispered about him. Rumors that Hoover was gay or a cross-dresser have circulated for decades; one claim comes from Anthony Summers' 1993 biography Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Susan Rosenstiel, the ex-wife of liquor-industry chair Lewis Rosenstiel, claimed she had seen Hoover in a dress, stockings, heels and wig at a party hosted by gadfly lawyer Roy Cohn. This seems fairly unlikely; historian Athan Theoharis notes that anyone as secretive and power-obsessed as Hoover would never have been so blatant about a predilection that could be embarrassing. We may never know the truth.

Prince Harry's father is not Prince Charles
It was clear and tacitly accepted that after only a few years of marriage, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were cheating on each other. Prince Harry was born in September 1984, and after the public glimpsed his puglike features and red hair, rumors began to circulate that he was the product of Diana's affair with army officer Major James Hewitt. Diana publicly admitted her liaison in 1995, but insisted that she met Hewitt too late for him to be Harry's father. Hewitt too claims that he first met Diana in May of 1986, when Harry was twenty months old. Simone Simmons, a former close friend of the Princess, wrote Diana: The Last Word, a book serialized in The Sun. In it, she clamed that Diana was forced to carry out paternity tests on both Harry and his brother, Prince William. The tests reportedly showed that both boys were fathered by Prince Charles.


For more visit www.nerve.com/dispatches/nerveeditors/40celebrityrumors/01/

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