We’re thrilled to welcome British author Keith Brighouse to our pages today, here to talk about his new release, The Peep Show!
Politics And Sex
There was a time when sex and politics was strictly a ‘no no’, it just didn’t happen. Politicians were married to asexual wives who had children through immaculate conception and the odd politician who had a beautiful wife, the wife was so beautiful, one couldn’t imagine the politician straying into someone else’s bed. In a time before the communications revolution, secrets on the whole, could be kept in-house, and while politicians had sex, in theory at least, it was just impossible to imagine it.
How things have changed, such is the low public opinion of politicians, we expect them to spend half their lives with their trousers around their ankles. Now it isn’t so much a question of whether they’re having sex, but what type of sex are they having? And how taboo is it? A simple sexual affair no longer means the end of a politician’s career, in Britain at least, it all depends on the circumstances. A politician who never pontificates on moral matters, and never spouts on the sanctity of marriage, will on the whole, have no career damage if his (I say his, as it is almost always a man) affairs are made public in the tabloid.
In Britain we have had a whole raft of politicians being exposed as philanderers over the last twenty years with no negative impact on their careers. It is the type of affair and its context that matters, not the actual act itself. Politicians who have beautiful wives are thought to be more likely to stray, after all, they have the gift of attracting beautiful women, and for politicians to have such a gift, one expects them to be underhanded enough to use it. There simply have been too many revelations in our modern age where secrets are almost impossible to keep. One Conservative government minister, the aristocratic Alan Clark, not only bedded another man’s wife but his two daughters too. Ex-Prime Minister John Major had a four year affair with ex-Minister and MP, Edwina Currie, much to the amusement of the British nation. We also now have openly gay government ministers who are quite happy to be seen with their lovers in public and not an eye-brow is raised. It wasn’t so long ago a mere rumour of being gay, never mind the brazen act of being openly gay and having a lover, would have, if not immediately ended a political career, would have sent it into a nosedive from which it would have never recovered.
According to English poet Philip Larkin, Sex began in 1963/ Between Lady Chatterley’s Lover/ and the Beatles first LP. Well not exactly. In British politics it was 1961 when the seeds of the Profumo Affair took root, when John Profumo, the British Minister of State for War had an affair with a beautiful young woman, Christine Keeler, who the press labeled a call girl, who was also having an affair with a Russian spy at the time. It led to an almost immediate end of the Minister’s career, who had lied in Parliament to keep the affair secret. It was a sexual scandal which played a major part in the then Conservative government losing the following election. It was a sex scandal in a more puritanical age when politicians were expected to be honest (how naïve!), moral (what a laugh!) and with all the integrity of your local bank manager (once you have stopped laughing, I’ll carry on). Now, in a more cynical age, all politicians are tainted and no one expects them to be honest and moral, and integrity belongs to the naïve past. However, such a view has had the positive affect of allowing politicians to have a sex life, as long as their ‘willy waving’ is kept within acceptable boundaries.
George, the politician in my story ThePeepShow doesn’t just break one taboo but several. His story is based on a story I was told about by an actual owner of a London peep show, and the person who told me vowed it was true, though I remain skeptical. I have made fictional enhancements for the benefit of the romp. For me, George is a sympathetic figure, a lonely man looking for solace, one could question his judgment but he certainly isn’t predatory, but people for the most part, judge actions, not motive. Not only does George frequent seedy sex establishments, already enough for the tabloids to create a week of lurid headlines but he is having an affair with one of the young strippers there, the gorgeous Oliva. To make matters worst, in our times of hysterical pedophilia, the young woman in question is not only young enough to be his daughter but comes from a comfortable bourgeois family. Now this might seem trivial but not to the tabloids. One might expect a young working class girl of morals loose enough to work in such a sex establishment to anchor herself onto an affluent man. However, a young woman like Olivia, from an upright family and with a good upbringing and a bright future to be working in such a place and on the arm of a ‘dirty old man’, one assumes she must have been groomed and taken advantage of. Along with the devastation caused to his family, George would suffer trial-by-tabloid and be found guilty if his story leaked out. He would be forever marked as the sleazy politician who used his money and influence to corrupt an innocent young women. Truth! What of it?
Despite us thinking we live in a more worldly, more liberal age, we have merely redrawn the boundaries to render our own hypocrisies redundant. As always, we rationalize and justify our own behaviours by widening the boundaries for other people. When it comes to politicians, the public is still largely puritan, expecting better behavior from them than from ourselves. We are allowed our peccadilloes because they only affect us and those near to us, but for politicians, how can they possibly run the country properly if they have no sense of decorum when it comes to sex, as though sex interferes in their ability to run the economy. Rightly or wrongly, I suspect their economic competence or incompetence has more effect on the economy than which way their pendulum swings.
London’s backstreet “peep show” acts as a crossroads for four fascinating people: Lucien, the misogynistic and perverse owner who takes advantage of his sexy employees every chance he can get; gorgeous, young Olivia, who performs in the peep show as a way of rebelling against her strict upbringing; Sharon, the curvy and lusty career stripper; and George, a politician at the end of his game who seeks a diversion at the peep show from his miserable marriage and career, and comes out with more than he bargained for. The story unfolds as the characters clash together and come apart, and come together again. In the end, for each of them, sex is both the problem and the solution.
Keith Brighouse was born in Liverpool, England, in 1955 and grew up in a coal mining village in Yorkshire from the age of four. On leaving school he traveled widely, working in many countries, mostly employed in menial jobs, fitting in his art education along the way, which all gave him an education in life. He also worked in the probation service for a time, offenders being an important source of many of his ideas and caused him to question many mainstream values. He now devotes his time to art and writing poetry, dividing his time between Rotterdam and Berlin. Writing prose is a new venture. Find him at: www.keithbrighouse.nl and http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1110926737 and http://www.borisandbettybad.blogspot.com/