The current memoir by a middle-aged woman named Mimi Alford about her affair with President John F. Kennedy when she was a 19-year-old White House intern heralds a new genre in the book business, Lover Lit.
Mrs. Alford's "coming out" reveals her 18-month sexual escapade with President Kennedy who, she alleges, took her virginity in the First Lady's bedroom. Contrived to be self-effacing, the book and its author have received kind reviews and interviews, like the one recently in The New York Times that reveals a gushing bouquet of envy by a writer who appears to fondly wish she, too, had parked her shoes at the foot of Kennedy's bed, any bed.
Considering that John Kennedy was by all accounts a serial adulterer, one can expect a vast series of books to be inflicted on an eagerly awaiting public under the new genre with one overriding theme: "As a young nubile, naïve woman, I was the mistress of a powerful (and very well known) man."
There is, of course, precedent for such a category, such as the Monica Lewinsky memoir and certainly numerous others, but the Alford memoir seems to offer a unifying content label that can encompass a vast output of sexual "tell-alls" about affairs with horny, dead men of historical importance. Just think of the lineup at Agents' and Publishers' offices with outlines of juicy details about bedding down with famous dead men.
Heck, a clever woman or man with a galloping imagination and a zest for research can make a case for herself or himself that might pass as fact.
In the matter of John Kennedy, there are numerous well-known anecdotes about his many seductions using the White House swimming pool as a perfect luring environment. Intimate Kennedy staffers have often told the story of the two girls in the typing pool, dubbed "Tweedledum" and "Tweedledee" who were called upon frequently to utilize their servicing skills for the president's needs.
Then there is the oft-touted story of his liaison with Judith Campbell Exner, the girlfriend of mob boss Sam Giancana, now deceased, and the one about Ellen Rometsch, the alleged East German spy. Both can be easily packaged in book form.
Dollars to doughnuts, the ladies of his many affairs held dear those eventful trysts and one would think they or their progeny or their best friends would be first on line to peddle an account of their real or faux memories of those halcyon days. As this genre progresses, expect even more intimate details of sexual techniques and preferences to spice up the accounts.
Ahead, too, with women beginning to surge in the political arena, one cannot discount the possibility of lovers surfacing with their own accounts of secret sexual affairs. An entire industry may be aborning.
Having lived in Washington many years and known some of the inside players of the Kennedy era and before and beyond, there are enough stories both hidden and in circulation that would constitute a vast library for this genre. While the Kennedy's -- Dad, John, Teddy and Bobby -- may seem like exemplars of the sex gambols, there were others, many, many others, equally blatant, but much more discreet, who used their powerful positions to exercise the venery.
We might even cite historical precedent. Hamilton, Jefferson and Franklin come to mind, but they are merely the tip of the iceberg. Research on this subject would require two lifetimes to pursue.
Aside from politics, insiders in the nation's capital always knew that sex, in all its manifestations, straight, gay or whatever as currently cataloged in the millions of porno websites on the net, was the coin also of the federal realm.
As a novelist/observer of the many foibles, sexual and otherwise, of our Washington elite, I have recycled my behind-the-scenes knowledge into many of my Washington novels and my Fiona FitzGerald mystery series which deals with the real skinny of life in the political fast lane where the aphrodisiac of power provides a drug of choice to enhance the libido of both genders.
For years, such libidinous acts were off limits for media sleuths and publicity seeking participants wanting their fifteen minutes of fame, but now that the cover has been removed from the once inviolate pressure cooker, the tasty secret brew has exploded into the soup of commercial packaging and nothing will ever be expunged again.
Either Washington has caught up with the times or the times have caught up with Washington. There is no shame in sexual peccadilloes anymore, providing the participants are of legal age. Indeed, perhaps a subgenre is in the spawning stage when the victims of pedophilia, incest and other aberrations open up their own vast library of secrets to the book trade.
Yes, Washington is all screwed up. But then it always has been.
Warren Adler is the author of 32 novels and short story collections published in numerous languages. Films adapted from his books include The War of the Roses, Random Hearts and the PBS trilogy, The Sunset Gang. He is a pioneer in digital publishing. For more information visit Warren's website at warrenadler.com.
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