John Edwards starring as Norman Desmond


It would be rude of me to ask if you have ever seen a sex tape, and ruder still I suppose to inquire as to your possible starring role in one. As I spinster I can assure you that my theatrical inclinations are limited to pretending I am interested in the lives of my friends’ children, but if attending a screening of Debbie Does Dallas counts as watching a sex tape, then I guess I have. I understand that what one or more consenting adults do in the privacy of his/her/their bedroom is his/her/their business, and if the inclination is to memorialize the activity electronically, whether for future reference or as means of sending Uncle Jonas into cardiac arrest for early collection on an inheritance, so be it. But let’s be honest, you and I are but faces in the crowd, and it’s highly unlikely that no one save a few intimates is going to be much interested in our celluloid escapades.

But not everybody who opens up for the camera is a private citizen, and the public’s need to know about the lives of the rich and famous pretty much demands that Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee use the subtle angle of a ceiling-mounted video cam to give us the skinny on those parts of their bodies that are not tattooed and those unconventional parts that are. Sometimes, of course, a fledging actress such as Paris Hilton, she of the life-like appearance in such gems as House of Wax and the Hottie and the Nottie, needs to give her career a goose. A release of an independently produced cinema verite in which the depths of her capacities are plumbed could be just the thang.

Between the worlds of the hoi polloi and the Hollywood bottom feeders, though, is the middle ground of people who are in the news because they are newsmakers or because their fifteen minutes are ticking. In the latter instance I think of Carrie Prejean, who’s so 2009 that I probably need to remind you who she used to be: the Miss California contestant who briefly became the poster girl for what she called “opposite marriage.” Her career as a spokes model came to a premature end, though, when the poster turned out to be of the centerfold variety, and an iPhone app of her making her own fun became available. Presumably Miss Prejean is back in her aptly named hometown of El Cajon, where one supposes she is even unto this day licking her…wounds.

But the blockbuster sex tape has got to be the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction one of the ambulance-chasing shyster turned one-term senator turned serially unsuccessful presidential candidate John Edwards and his extramarital cupcake Rielle Hunter. As cupcakes go, Miss Hunter is in a class by herself, and I mean than as a compliment. She’s stayed out the public eye, and she doesn’t appear to have a book deal in the offing. Edwards himself though is a different kettle of fish. I’d always suspected that his perfect coif was a substitute codpiece, and now that we’re pretty sure his extra-conjugal congress has been recorded for posterity—if the National Enquirer says so, it must be true—I am feeling rather smug that my suspicions have been confirmed.

You know, I can almost understand why a Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, or even a Carrie Prejean would engage in a little boudoir porn. It kinda fits their bleachy blond beach bod personae, and in the sorry world of popular culture it probably is a good career move. But for an over-the-hill adulterer who aspires to public office to yell “Action!” before jumping into the sack? He may have proven that he doesn’t shoot blanks, but he surely shot himself in the foot.

Before I began writing this post I asked myself, “what is left to say about John Edwards?” Six hundred and forty-seven words later I have my answer: nothing.

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