It could happen to anyone, surely? You walk naked from the bathroom of your hotel suite and encounter a cleaner, who gives your genitals a seductive look. In a moment, and without a word being spoken, the two of you are at it like rabbits. The whole thing's over in six minutes and you put on your clothes, ready to enjoy an agreeable lunch on your way to the airport. Then you board your plane, first-class of course, heading for Paris and Berlin where you have important meetings.
If this sounds like a fantasy from a 1970s lads' mag, you may be surprised to learn it's what's supposed to have happened to the former director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in a New York hotel. In real life, DSK's pleasant day in Manhattan – shower, blow-job, lunch – was rudely terminated by the arrival of the NYPD, who removed him from his plane seat on suspicion of attempted rape.
Yet it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding, according to Michel Taubmann, DSK's biographer, whose book on the furore has just been published. The politician's friends might think the last thing he needs is more publicity; it's only a couple of months since French prosecutors decided there was evidence that DSK committed a sexual assault on a journalist in 2003, and declined to proceed only because it fell outside the three-year statutory limit. But Taubmann says he talked to DSK half a dozen times, and he offers a version of events that prompted a pithy headline in New York magazine: "Ladies Look at DSK and Instantly Want to Do Sex, Says DSK Biography".
The book repeats the claim that DSK was the victim of an international conspiracy to prevent him becoming the Socialist party's presidential candidate, a theory that has also been given space in the New York Review of Books. But the most startling passage in Taubmann's book refers to the moment when DSK emerged naked from the shower to find Nafissatou Diallo in his suite and is said to have concluded, although he didn't speak to her, that she wanted to have sex with him: "The flesh is weak. Dominique Strauss-Kahn saw a proposition. The situation amuses him. Rarely in his life has he refused a moment of pleasure. He does not resist the temptation to receive oral sex. The act is fast, very fast."
Ms Diallo's lawyers dismiss the notion that she consented to DSK's "violent and abusive sexual acts", along with Taubmann's claim that she stole his BlackBerry. Elsewhere, Taubmann discusses DSK's alleged involvement in what's become known as the Carlton affair, a French police investigation into claims that a prostitution ring existed at the luxury Carlton Hotel in Lille. Taubmann says DSK admits to having enjoyed "libertine gatherings" but denies paying "even one cent" for sex, fleshing out his portrait of a man who is irresistibly attractive to women.
That isn't the picture that's emerged since DSK's arrest. Though charges in New York were dropped, the politician looks more and more like a figure from a previous age. Feminism and gender equality have passed him by, leaving a man who behaves more like an 18th-century rake than a progressive politician.
Two days ago, DSK started to distance himself from Taubmann's book, but his insight comes a little late. In the modern world, there isn't much sympathy for men who appear to attribute such improbable pulling power to the penis.