Previous Next 

May 26 2022
Kevin Spacey HAD A Secret Comments (0)

Kevin-Spacey-gay-Has-a-Secret-Esquire-Junod-boyculture-scanned-by-Matthew-Rettenmund... or two! (Image by Jeffrey Thurner for Esquire; fair use)

Kevin Spacey, trying to make a comeback after umpteen allegations of sexual impropriety, has been formally charged with four counts of sexual assault against three different men in the U.K.

The Guardian reports an authority in charge of the case as stating:

He has also been charged with causing a person to engage in penetrative sexual activity without consent. The charges follow a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan police in its investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Spacey are active and that he has the right to a fair trial.

None of this should come as any surprise, except to any gay men who have embraced Spacey as the latest O.J., a figure too famous to be guilty. (How icky to read people excusing him by saying they, too, were once underage, and were rarin' to go with adult men.)

One wonders how many improprieties Spacey might not have committed had the media simply reported that he was gay back in the day. Oh, I know, I know — everyone's supposed to come out on their own time, no matter how rich, famous, protected, safe. Spacey's own time turned out to be ... well, after being credibly accused of sexually assaulting a minor, Anthony Rapp.

But the media almost did report on Spacey's sexual orientation. In 1997, Esquire played with fire by putting Spacey on its cover with the header, “Kevin Spacey Has a Secret.” The story, by Tom Junod, was ostensibly about the rumors surrounding Spacey, not about whether they were true.

But the magazine was winking so hard it went cross-eyed.

In his editor's letter for the issue, David Granger tried to thread the needle on the issue of invasion of privacy, making clear he felt Esquire was merely underscoring that absurd assertion of modern culture that no famous person's private life was truly private. Social media would later hammer the point home.

Granger wrote:

A celebrity has no secrets; he belongs to all of us, completely, not only his artistic output but his every secretory, excretory, and ejaculatory effort as well. There was a time, sure, when an actress could quietly beat her daughter with a wire hanger or when the president could pork with impunity without anyone making a federal case out of it. But that time couldn't have been much fun.

The satire is clear, but so is it clear that Esquire was having it both ways — mocking the death of privacy and capitalizing on it.

Granger-Esquire-Kevin-Spacey-boyculture-scanned-by-Matthew-RettenmundMichael Jackson, Clinton, Joan Crawford, Demi Moore ... (Image via Esquire; fair use)

The letter is prescient, and applicable today. Though it uses dated examples like Brad Pitt's penis (now, actors' penises practically have their own IMDb pages), Michael Jackson's sex life (we have a multiverse of sex tapes) and rumors that Demi Moore may have had a boob job (um, have you seen a Kardashian?), you can substitute all of his points about dwindling privacy and they hold true today.

Most interestingly, Granger highlighted a story of a woman who nearly died in a car crash, was filmed begging to die because she was in so much agony and later sued over use of that footage for entertainment. 

She lost*.

Maybe we did, too, but it would be hard to argue that point using coverboy Spacey. At the time Esquire mock-outed him, it ignited outrage in Hollywood — William Morris reportedly steered clients away from the publication, and advertisers (including, AHEM, Mossimo Giannulli) sniffed at the distasteful invasion of Spacey's privacy.

As it turns out, Spacey's privacy probably needed a little invading. Even in 1997, as Richard Johnson wrote in The New York Post, Granger had pulled his punches. According to Esquire staffers, Granger had dug up “scandalous” anecdotes about “illicit” sex that he gallantly left out of the profile — rumors he denied. One wonders what the truth really was. We already know that what passed for “scandalous”and “illicit” in 1997 was poften the kind of thing for which one gets charged in 2022, and it's a sad coincidence that Anthony Rapp was riding high on Broadway with Rent when Esquire's Spacey cover sparked debate.

Kevin-Spacey-Has-a-Secret-Esquire-New-York-Post-boyculture-Matthew-Rettenmund-scanYes, I save things. (Image via NYP)

As for what Esquire was really up to, The Post offered this tidbit:

[S]pies at the photo shoot say the editors seemed to know what they wanted by the time Spacey posed for the cover. They say photographer Jeffrey Thurner tried in vain during the three-hour session to get Spacey to put a finger to his lips in a 'Shhhh' gesture — as if he had a big secret — but Spacey refused.

Sometimes, the journey to coming out — and the journey to outing — aren't journeys, but calculations.

*Shulman appealed to the California Supreme Court, where it was determined that while her privacy had NOT been invaded by the TV show, it HAD been invaded when the show surreptitiously taped her conversations in a rescue helicopter, clearing her to try to hold the producers liable. I haven't found proof of how she proceeded or if she is alive or dead.