Why are the gentlemen of the popular press so interested in George Michaels manhood? Why wont they leave it alone?
In 1998, after stalking him for years, in a painful pincer movement with Beverly Hills Police Departments finest, they succeeded in catching him short in a mens toilet. Now they despatch a flash photographer to follow him up to Hampstead Heaths cruising area at 2am and then plaster the results all over the front page. No wonder Michael angrily turned to the snapper and snapped: Are you gay? No? Well f**K off then!
Personally, Ive never been that interested in George Michaels toilet parts. I used to live a mile or so away from Hampstead Heath and cruised it myself many times (before the internet spoilt everything), and have seen Mr Michael down there but we never bumped uglies as he just isnt my cup of peculiar and judging by the press reports, Im probably not his.
The tabs appear most shocked by the fact that Mr Michael who could have anyone allegedly chose to have fun in the dark, in the bushes with an unemployed 58-year-old pot-bellied man who lives in a squalid flat in Brighton. Yes, how awful. What a terrible crime. Perhaps he should have shagged the straight flash photographer instead? We know he has a nice job and he probably has gym-membership too.
Of course, theres more hypocrisy wafting across this story than poppers on a warm Saturday night on the Heath. Michael is lambasted for his sick and sordid crazy and addicted behaviour and advised to seek counselling (plus rather a lot of barely-disguised queer-bashing encouragement in the form of warnings that he could get his throat cut). But part of reason why the tabs are so interested in this story - and why they cant leave Georges penis alone - is precisely because many if not most men can perfectly understand the appeal of anonymous, no-strings, no-romance sex. It is this freely-available aspect of the homo demi-monde which most fascinates many straight men. Because they usually have to pay for it. Unless theyre very lucky.
In the same issue of the NOTW that exposed George Michaels sick behaviour one of the stars of reality TV show BAD LADS ARMY (someone whom I would like to bump uglies with) bragged that he had had sex with nearly 500 women before he reached the age of 21 and would often pick up three women a day on holiday. Im guessing that their age, their looks and their employment status werent exactly major considerations. Naturally, the article was as admiring and envious of this laddish behaviour as it was condemning of Michaels. Whats sauce for the straight goose should be sauce for the gay gander.
This is something that Michael successfully argued himself after he was caught in that Beverly Hills lavatory in 1998. His single Outside sang the praises of public sex. It was probably precisely his success in turning around this humiliation that embittered the tabs against him. The tabs hate it when theyre out-tabbed by their victims.
Inevitably, Michaels long-term partner was mentioned in the Hampstead Heath expose to give a veneer of journalistic value to the story, but in fact Michael has been very frank about the open nature of his relationship. This is a degree of honesty with the world that few celeb gay couples show - even though many of them are in relationships more open than 7-Eleven.
Michaels visit to Hampstead Heath just before a major comeback tour, wasnt very clever, wasnt terribly grown-up, and it may or may not be a sign of compulsive behaviour, but it is certainly not a matter of national importance. Or even terribly interesting.
Male sexuality, gay or straight, is not very easily domesticated. If it were, then the tabloids would be the first to go out of business.
And Hampstead Heath wouldnt be so busy at 2am. Even if nowadays newspaper photographers compulsively cruising for a story outnumber the punters.
Read more of Mark Simpsons coverage of the George Michael affair here.