Towards the end of Tabloid I properly got the giggles – the story became so ridiculously bonkers that I just lost it. This is the story of the Beauty Queen and the Manacled Mormon – a tale of obsessive love, kidnapping, rape, pornography and cloning, which filled pages and pages of the tabloid press in Britain during the latter part of the 70s. The beauty queen in question, Joyce McKinney, has her knives out for director Errol Morris, claiming he misrepresented the film to her to get her to take part – she’s suing him and has been turning up at us screenings to heckle. Brilliant. McKinney is obviously not impressed with her portrayal as the sex in chains hooker and the reappearance of the journalists who exposed her for this at the time, when she was presenting herself as a lovelorn rescuer of poor Mormon boys, cutting them free of their protective undercrackers for their own good. She had converted to Mormonism to find herself a nice husband, and she wasn’t about to let him escape.
Morris tells the story with a healthy nod to the farcical side of what went on, from taking a troupe of bodyguards to the UK to kidnap Kirk Anderson (the manacled Mormon in question), to the tabloid frenzy after her arrest and her release on bail which she spent upstaging Joan Collins and kissing rock stars. Then there’s the cloning, which I won’t spoil here, but which is the point at which I totally lost it. McKinney gives good testimony, she’s had a long time to perfect it – maybe she genuinely believes it herself, and certainly the truth isn’t as cut and dried as the papers reported. But boy, did it sell papers.
Fascinating, brilliantly told and not one to eat a bag of crisps during (please note this if you were the man sat behind me in Curzon Soho) – this is a skilled look at the nature of celebrity culture and the impact of obsessive love and a timely insight into an industry that has almost eaten itself.
There’s a great piece on this story in the Guardian.