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

Related Topics

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.

React Now

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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam