The allegations of abuse by Jimmy Savile reveal our myopia about the sex lives of the rich and famous

Why do we still assume that so many people in the public eye don't have a sex life? If we got over that superstition, we'd be less shocked at headlines

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The Independent Online

When, many years ago, I asked my mother – who adored Danny La Rue, and never missed any of his TV shows – if La Rue was perhaps a homosexual (since he spent a large part of his life dressed as a glamorous woman – and I couldn’t mention Transvestite, too complicated), she vehemently stated that he certainly wasn’t. La Rue was a celebrity, and therefore sacred and, in strange way, without sexuality.

All the clues to Sir Jimmy Savile’s personality were clear within Louis Theroux’s brilliant documentary on him, made for the BBC in 2000. The man with the sad, shifty eyes admitted, in a roundabout way, that he had never loved or been loved properly – except by his mother.


A relationship lasting more than two hours would “give him brain damage”. His mother’s flat, where the fearless Theroux spent the night, was as creepy as the clapboard house above the Bates Motel. Savile had his knocking-shop in a caravan park down the road, so as not to defile the sanctuary while Mum was alive. And yet to the millions who formed his loving public, he didn’t have a sex life. He was as sexless as a saint, who just happened to work in a business that was crowded with young girls – poor man!

Celebrities don’t have sex lives – the Pope, the Queen, Gyles Brandreth… we mustn’t even think it. When Prince Harry got snapped naked in Las Vegas, he was having ‘high jinx’ and ‘natural high spirits for a young man’ – but he was with not one, but two, bar-girls, for Heaven’s Sake. Unless they were the only such girls in Las Vegas who wouldn’t, they were hookers – but the furore was about the nakedness and not about the prostitution issue. And despite the fact that she was married – and even had a son – Mary would forever be ‘The Virgin Mary’.

Throughout all the massive publicity about the new sporting celebrities of the Paralympics, sex was never mentioned. This silence around the very famous – unless they do something so obvious as to get caught with a woman called Divine Brown in a parked car in LA – is the last great hypocrisy. But put a foot wrong, of course, and the flood gates open; nothing is taboo. I thought it was shaming to see press photos of Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley’s double bed being maneuvered out of their former communal home. I would rather have simply read that Hurley had stated she didn’t want to catch anything.

But it is still acceptable for celebrities not to have sex lives, and yet sex is the prime function of human existence – our survival instinct is only so that we can live to reproduce. There is no one who doesn’t have a sex life. It could be that this is one of denial, and that maybe denial can be so constant that it ceases to be an urge put-down.


As we are finding with the almost weekly exposures of Catholic priests, often channelling their impossible denial towards children, it is unnatural not to have a sex life. There is no moral or religious argument against married priests; it is only that to organize a dedicated army of holy clerks who are paid a pittance and who can be transferred at a moment’s notice to another location – wives are an encumbrance, and children ditto and expensive.

I don’t think we want to know the details, but it would be appropriate to know how celebrities are orientated – if only so that those without orientation might be treated with just a little bit of suspicion. Although sexuality encompasses about fifty thousand shades of grey, I am sure that everyone could put themselves into one of the five major categories:

1) straight, 2) gay/lesbian, 3) bi-sexual, 4) none of the above, 5) I’ve forgotten

Then we’d know where we stand, and there would be no more sudden Sir Jimmy shocks.