By Saryn Chorney
Once in a blue moon, a shocking story — be it legitimate news or sensationalized scandal — captures the public's attention, then locks in like the Jaws of Life. Pretty soon, every publication and TV news program feels compelled to cover the tawdry saga, ad nauseam. If your media outlet of choice is suddenly spewing headlines about an insane poster boy, girl, or freaky couple whom you've never heard of before in your life, there's a good chance you've got a tiresome tabloid case on your hands. Long after these ten exhausting tales have run their course, the jokes — and the infamy — will live on.
10. Jon and Kate Plus 8
Have we had our fill of Jon and Kate Gosselin's dirty laundry yet? We'd like to think it's concern for the Gosselins' eight children that has us hooked on the family drama, but let's face it: suspected cheating, public spankings, bikini photos and that fug haircut — not to mention impending divorce and a TV series that must go on — all add to this relentless story. How did TLC turn into TMZ?
9. Heidi Fleiss
It wasn't the world's oldest profession that made Heidi Fleiss a household name, but rather the world's second oldest profession. Back in 1987, the "Hollywood Madam" was convicted in connection with her high class prostitution ring (oxymoron?) and tax evasion charges. Heidi was sentenced to three years in prison, but her famous customers — Charlie Sheen among them — weren't punished at all. It's hard out there for a pimp(ette)!
Yet, if anyone knows how to take hookers and make, uh, hookerade, it's a business maven like the Madam. She's opened at least two stores, hocked a sex tips DVD, made many TV guest appearances, and wrote an "Ask Heidi" column for Maxim. With the rights to her life story selling for $5 million, a 1995 documentary and a 2004 made-for-TV movie, things nearly turned around for Fleiss — aside from a 2003 domestic abuse case against ex-boyfriend actor Tom Sizemore and a drug-related arrest last year. But, we hear she's opening a legal brothel in Nevada soon. Congrats, Heidi — that's a tabloid dream come true!
8. Eliot Spitzer and Ashley Alexandra Dupre
Speaking of brothels, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer (aka "Client 9") was caught patronizing a New York prostitution service on March 10, 2008. Less than a week later, with wife Silda by his side, Spitzer apologized to his family for a "private matter" and resigned. Meanwhile, city tabloids like the New York Post and the New York Daily News had a field day with the story, as did celebrity weeklies who scoured MySpace for photos of aspiring pop singer-turned-prostitute Ashley Alexandra Dupre (aka "Kristen").
The Jersey girl soon became a household name as images and information about her past — like that "Girls Gone Wild" video cameo (oh, the irony!) — surfaced. Although she appeared remorseful in a November 2008 interview with Diane Sawyer, the reported $1.4 million she's made in downloads of her singles "Move Ya Body" and "What We Want" must've cheered her up. Seriously, Dupre is now represented by Mariah Carey's former manager! Meanwhile, we hope Spitzer takes at least a little bit of comfort in the fact that new New York Governor David Paterson's extramarital history is almost as tainted as his own.
7. Jim Bakker, Tammy Fake Bakker and Jessica Hahn
Long before outing politicians for scandalous sexual behavior was a national past time, a bunch of notable religious figures of the '80s were brought down for their own immoral actions. Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was one, but former Assemblies of God Christian minister and host of the PTL Club, Jim Bakker, took the largest fall. Not only was a sex and blackmail scandal with former 21-year-old church secretary Jessica Hahn exposed (she claimed she was drugged and raped), but Bakker was also convicted for mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. Cheese and rice!
Jessica Hahn hasn't worked much besides a few old Playboy magazine appearances and a star turn in Sam Kinison's 1988 "Wild Thing" video. But, on the positive side, Tammy Faye pretty much won the sex scandal lottery. She remarried, became uber-famous for her elaborate eye makeup, became a beloved entrepreneur, author, TV personality, and an unlikely drag queen icon. She even starred in the 2004 season of "The Surreal Life." Surreal, indeed.
Who is she? Where did she come from? And why the heck did a fertility clinic allow her to become impregnated with eight babies when she already had six young children at home, but no discernable income? These are just a few of the mysteries surrounding Nadya "Octomom" Suleman.
This tiresome tabloid tale isn't even six months old yet, but we wish Octomom's creepy face would go away forever — and we assume Angelina Jolie and fans agree. Between Octomom's feuds with her own mom, feuds with neighbors, rumors that she used to be a stripper, rumors of reality show deals, and an offer to star in a porno movie for $1 million, we've got a permanent case of morning sickness when it comes to this insane story.
5. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan
The 1994 attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan quickly triple lutzed into a catfight of Olympic proportions when it was revealed that compatriot Tonya Harding had conspired to hurt her. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gilooly, hired a thug to hit Kerrigan in the knee during a practice session at the '94 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Michigan. Harding won the event, but Kerrigan's injury — "Why me? Why anybody?" she famously wailed — forced her withdrawal. A media frenzy ensued, culminating at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. And you thought a picture of Michael Phelps smoking pot was scandalous!
The sordid incident landed the skaters on the covers of Time and Newsweek, and 400 press members stormed the rink in Norway. In the end, Kerrigan placed second, but was later criticized for negative comments she made while on parade in Disneyland. Harding fared much worse: she was banned for life from all USFSA skating and coaching, she accused Gillooly of rape, a sex tape of their wedding night was released, she became a celebrity boxer and, finally, she broke the world record for drinking hot sauce. See, you win some, you lose some!
4. Mary Kay Letourneau
In case you don't recognize him from his sixth grade class photo, that's Vili Fualaau, now 26, and his teacher/statutory rapist/current wife Mary Kay Letourneau, 47, hosting a recent "Hot for Teacher" night in Seattle, Washington. LeTourneau began a relationship with Vili when he was only 12 years old and became pregnant with his child, all while she was married to another man. She had been his second grade teacher, too. So creepy.
After the affair was uncovered, Letourneau was arrested and sentenced to serve six months in jail, but was released for good behavior — provided she didn't contact Vili. Of course, she violated that order. Her original seven year sentence was reimposed, but she managed to become pregnant for a second time with her young lover's baby. Long story short, Letourneau completed her sentence in 2004, Vili had the no-contact court order lifted (he was 21 at the time), and the star-crossed couple finally married in 2005. Awww. Oops, sorry! We meant ewww. Really.
3. John and Lorena Bobbitt
Twenty years ago this month, Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband John's penis with a carving knife and all the tabloids reacted as if they had never heard such a thing in their lives — and they hadn't! To this day, the Bobbitt tale never fails to cause shock, awe and laughter … but mostly fear amongst men.
Let's make this one snippy, er, snappy: Upon sufferering years of abuse, Lorena snapped one night after John allegedly came home drunk and raped her. She became so enraged, she chopped off his penis, left him bleeding in bed, drove off and ditched his severed part on the side of the road. Then she called 911, and the partial pee-pee was retrieved and successfully reattached (after nine hours of surgery). Hallelujuah!
Lorena was eventually acquitted of charges due to temporary insanity and went on to lead a more low-key life. She's currently in a long-term relationship and has a two-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, John has starred in some ridiculous porn movies ("John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut" and "Frankenpenis"), been arrested for abusing two more women, and may still be pining for Lorena. She says he still sends her a Valentine's Day card every year! Cupid really messed up on this duo.
2. Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco
For better or worse — ok, for worse — "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher put the New York borough on the map. Back in 1992, an auto body shop owner (with the most fun name to say ever) Joey Buttafuoco, had an affair with the highly impressionable 17-year-old. Fisher then attempted to murder his wife, Mary Jo Buttafuoco … ova here! (Sorry, had to do it.)
In all seriousness, after the media frenzy and three made-for-TV movies, Fisher eventually served seven years in prison, and Buttafuoco served six months for statutory rape. Mary Jo and Joey divorced, but she later reunited with Fisher for episodes of Entertainment Tonight and The Insider. Meanwhile, Amy and Joey reunited a few times; once in 2006 at the Lingerie Bowl, and again in 2007 as a pseudo-reconciliation for an unactualized reality show (see left). Both Amy and Joey have gone on to achieve even greater levels of infamy, he via film appearances and she through a sex tape, adult films, and her own porn web site. Too bad she never got together with John Bobbitt — they would've made a great couple!
1. Monica Lewinsky
The "improper relations." The "stained" blue dress. The misplaced cigar. Oh dear, poor Monica, where do we even begin with you? Monica Lewinsky, a big-haired, big-boned Beverly Hills gal (with great taste in lip color) scored an internship at the White House in 1995-1996, and eventually became the center of the biggest sex scandal to date involving President Clinton.
After confiding in co-worker Linda Tripp, Lewinsky's conversations about her alleged affair with the president were taped and later became headline fodder for Kenneth Star's impeachment efforts against Clinton. Lewinsky's name became a national joke (it's pretty much synonymous with oral sex), and shall be forever invoked alongside all political sex scandals for the foreseeable future of this great — yet often hypocritical and morally depraved — country.