BiMedia – May 2004
Bright Beautiful Bilingual Bisexual Babe in Becks Text Sex Shocka!
The news that David Beckham’s alleged lover, Rebecca Loos is openly bi has provided the widest media exposure of bisexuality certainly this year, and probably for quite some time, with over 800 stories mentioning her name since the beginning of April. As well as the huge opportunity for using lots of words beginning with ‘b’, the tabloids have loved this as a chance of stringing out a big story for ages, and for providing an excuse for headlines like ‘Beckham Sex Scandal: Day 45’ (sic). Soon after news broke about the affair at the beginning of April, rumours and stories from ‘friends’ and exes of Rebecca Loos started to circulate about her previous exploits with men and women, drugs and, err, tennis players. Much of this coverage seemed to “have mistaken ‘bisexual’ as a synonym for ‘rampant as a badger and will shag twice as many folk as a boring old hetero”, as the Guardian put it (15/04/04). This could have continued as a fairly average tabloid sex scandal, with an extra salacious edge, but for the actions of Rebecca Loos herself (with the help of one Max Clifford). Giving many interviews, she confronted the rumours head on, and without embarrassment or denial.
“ANGRY Rebecca last night branded other claims made about her sex life this week a vicious smear campaign, but admitted that she is bisexual – and proud of it. “A great deal has been made of my bisexuality as if, in some way, this is a vice. I am indeed bisexual and have been ever since I was a teenager. My family and friends know of this and accept this as part of my character and make-up. I don’t think anyone from my generation or even my parents’ generation are truly scandalised by bisexuality.” In fact, Loos seemed much more embarrassed about the tennis players: “The idea of me having a sexual relationship with Pat Cash is laughable,” she added. “I have never met Pat Cash. I need say no more.” (News of the World, 11/04/04). This was followed up by an interview on Sky, also well handled: “THOUGHTFUL: “The passion with David was so strong, the sex fantastic”; CHEERFUL: “I’ve kept the nice texts, the ones that mean something to me”; SERIOUS: “I don’t expect any sympathy from Victoria whatsoever”; SMILING: “Did I fancy Victoria? I didn’t spend much time with her” (The Mirror, 16/04/04).
Then, to cap things off, Loos arrived at a film premiere with a girl/friend, dragged up ‘as Beckham’, later “spotted snogging in Old Compton Street” (Daily Mail, 22/04.04). My particular favourite headlines have been the following: REBECCA SEX TXT TO SARAH (Daily Star, 25/04/04), detailing how Loos and one Sarah Marbeck, also alleged to have slept with Beckham and to be bisexual, have been exchanging sexy text messages. In a final, absolutely inspired twist to the whole ‘life imitating art, imitating life’ theme of this story, The Mirror reported (23/04/04) that adult TV channel Xplicit XXX has offered Loos “£250,000 to film a night of passion with a lookalike of England skipper David Beckham… Actor Ben Price, who plays Conrad Gates in the hit TV show Footballers’ Wives, has been approached to play Real Madrid star Beckham”.
There’s been very little in the way of media analysis, rather than reporting of the affair. The Mirror ran a 3 page spread entitled BISEXUAL GENERATION (27/04.04), in which they interviewed three young, white, pretty girls, who are, apparently, ‘part of a fast-growing trend’, in which ‘it is no longer taboo to be bisexual’. However, this does seem to apply pretty much exclusively to young, white, pretty girls, especially if, as these three agree, ‘if you go over to a girl and snog her, it gets the blokes interested’ and ‘eventually, I would like to get married and have children’. The Sunday Times (18/04/04) ran a piece on the ‘trend’, entitled ‘The B-Generation’: “Sarah Garrett, editor of G3, a magazine for lesbian and bisexual women, is one of those who has noted the phenomenon. “The number of young women defining themselves as bisexual, rather than either heterosexual or lesbian, seems to have developed hugely just within the three years we’ve been running the magazine,” she said”.
The Times goes on to quote approvingly Rebecca Loos’ background as ‘a well-educated woman of middle class parents’, and to ramble at length about girls taking drugs in clubs and getting all a bit carried away (both the girls in question and the author!). However, the article is also quite clear that ‘bisexuality is not so much a sign of psychological confusion but a sexuality in its own right’. Finally, The Observer (09/05/04) continues to explore the ‘growing trend’, but instead argues that, “A new bi-curious generation may go home with a woman one night, a man the next. But what is noticeable is that many of these women seem to avoid the word ‘bisexual’. It has connotations of old-fashioned sexual politics, having to ‘come out’ after years of hiding how you feel and perhaps wanting to join a group with the websites and helpful literature of an oppressed minority. For women such as Loos, liking men and women seems to be a natural progression from teenage fumbling with a girlfriend. The last thing they want is to be pinned down by labels.” Food for thought?
So what does all this mean for representations of bisexuality? It does seem that the approach taken by Rebecca Loos could have backfired hugely upon her, but instead much of the coverage, while lecherous and stereotypical, has not been anything like as vitriolic as the treatment frequently dealt out to women by the tabloid press. Maybe this does suggest that some boundaries have indeed been broken down, if admittedly within certain strict limits. Certainly, Rebecca Loos’ active claiming of bisexuality has increased bi visibility, at least for women and in the short term. Certainly she has exploited her sexuality to get extra media attention, but the way in which the story broke, and her behaviour since, strongly suggests that this is not purely a publicity based fabrication. I also wonder if Loos’ sexuality would have been anything like as big a deal if there were not already implicit question marks around David Beckham himself, as highlighted by the Footballer’s Wives connection.
Footballers’ Wives in “nod to reality”
Footballers Wives has established a rich tradition of series-ending cliffhangers; this time round they’ve gone bonkers. In the last few minutes (ITV1, Thursday), we saw Kyle (internet gambling addict, unlicensed boxer, mother-beater) detained under the Mental Health Act after trashing his mansion; Amber (extortionist, grass, nutcase) slipping some marching powder into Tanya’s handbag and going on the blower to the filth; Tanya (killer, cokehead, goddess) discovering that the baby inside her wasn’t the progeny of Conrad (bisexual, airhead, match-fixer) but of Frank (ex-club chairman, ex-husband, corpse) who she recently copulated to death… In a nod to the real world, Noah – who, er, had his mouth full of Conrad a few episodes ago – was man of the match in the win that got Earls Park into Europe, but, outed by Tanya’s party trick last week when she broadcast his rent-boy rumpy-pumpy over closed-circuit TV, ended the series in a pool of blood after a back-alley gay-bashing.
The Independent, 10th April 2004.
Schools Fail Bisexual Pupils
A study from Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, of Deakin University, Melbourne, found that bisexuality was ‘invisible’ in the school curriculum. Pupils she interviewed said that most teachers assumed that all children were heterosexual. And even when homosexuality was raised in lessons, there was little if any recognition that some people are attracted to both sexes. “Many young people are left feeling like ‘X-files’ in school: alien, isolated and disconnected,” Dr Pallotta-Chiarolli said. She found higher rates of anxiety and depression among people who were identified as bisexuals. Bisexually active teenage boys also reported especially high levels of Aids-risk behaviour.
Times Education Supplement, 7th May 2004