It's a coup for Liberace: By sharing his own tale of sexually transmitted disease, Michael Douglas has pulled off a promotional masterpiece

Whether or not cunnilingus cures cancer, all's fair in love and film promotion

Share

For a scion of Hollywood royalty, Michael Douglas has always had an unlikely ability to capture the experience of an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances. He’s a regular sleaze in Fatal Attraction, who happens to pick the rabbit-stewing Glenn Close for his adulterous fling. He’s nothing but a regular cop in Basic Instinct, albeit one whose interrogation technique produces a surprising result. He’s overwhelmed by the pressures of city life in Falling Down. But which of us can honestly say we haven’t wanted to shout at a golfer just once? Even his Gordon Gekko is a typical Wall Street sociopath.

He’s now turned his debilitating brush with cancer into an Everyman story. Was it the Hollywood lifestyle which caused it – an endless supply of booze and drugs? Apparently not: Douglas’s cancer was caused by HPV (the same virus which causes some cervical cancers). In other words, he seems to have got cancer from having been a considerate lover. And perhaps a promiscuous one. Douglas was rumoured to have been treated for sex addiction a few years ago, though he later denied it. Still, it’s hard to imagine he was short of potential sexual partners after playing Jack Colton in Romancing The Stone.

There’s something so neat about this interpretation of events: the guy was rich and handsome and may have slept around, so this was clearly the payback he should have expected. Except not. Ninety per cent of sexually active over-25s have been exposed to HPV, and the vast majority of them don’t go on to develop throat cancer. Douglas – never one to miss a headline with a film to sell – told one reporter that while cunnilingus had caused his cancer, it was also the best cure for it. Best, in terms of being more fun than chemotherapy? Perhaps not quite as medically effective, though you can’t blame a guy for trying.

While doctors have expressed polite disbelief that Catherine Zeta-Jones may have a magical, cancer-curing vagina (though surely we all believe this at some level. Everything about her is magical), Michael Douglas knows better. But then, all’s fair in love and film promotion.

He’s currently flogging Behind The Candelabra, Steven Soderbergh’s biopic of Liberace. Douglas’s star turn as the fading Vegas legend will win him a host of awards: he doesn’t just play Liberace in all his glitzy glory, but bald and ageing as he steps out of the shower, post-surgery as his scars fade and, finally, shrivelled and weak as he dies of Aids-related complications. He manages to capture the intrinsic ridiculousness of the man, but never at the expense of his humanity.

So what better way to highlight the fact that Michael Douglas, one of Hollywood’s great (heterosexual) leading men, was taking on the role of one of the great gay figureheads of the 20th century, genital warts and all, than to announce that he, too, has suffered from the consequences of unprotected sex? Sexually transmitted disease has rarely been discussed by so many beautiful people, wearing so much sparkle. He’s ensuring that a few more people don’t die of ignorance, as the safe sex adverts used to say.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas