The Mind's Eye
BY TRISTAN VOX
There is a tale told of former President Sukarno of Indonesia – se non
é vero, é ben trovato – that speaks volumes about the nature of power.
It appears that the Soviet secret police attempted to intimidate the
dictator with proof of his promiscuity. Sukarno was presented with a
collection of photographs that showed him polymorphously at play in the
sack. His interlocutors expected to say no more. They had delivered
Indonesia. As Sukarno inspected the images, however, a look of pleasant
surprise came over his dour countenance. He was delighted, he said,
with his souvenirs of some of his happiest moments in the Soviet Union.
The KGB representatives were thanked in advance for as many copies of
the pictures as they could provide, and dismissed.
As both dictators and democrats know, there is nothing that cannot be
accomplished or acquired when the judgment of others ceases to matter.
In the end, what stands most in the way of dictators is shame. More
than once in history have people concluded that a ruler who cannot be
reached by shame must be reached by bullets.
This grim thought is occasioned by a slim volume, Marcos' Lovey Dovie
by Hermie Rotea, that has, at long last, come into my hands. For years
friends in the Philippines have praised it as required reading about
Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, and as the world's tackiest and tawdriest
account of a tyrant. They were right on both counts. Produced by
something called Liberty Publishing (which answers to a post office box
in Los Angeles), the book is indeed a gem . . . its pictures – the
lubricious little snaps that nearly did Imelda's husband in – are
execrably reproduced. And yet there is instruction to be gleaned from
it. For those interested generally in the bedrooms of government, and
specifically in the sexual origins of one man's authoritarianism, Mr.
Rotea has done good work. The book bears keeping around, moreover,
during the Reagan years, when authoritarians give the best parties.
Marcos' "lovey dovie" is one Dovie Beams, born Dovie Osborne in 1932,
erstwhile Nashville piano teacher and B-movie actress who, according to
a government-controlled weekly in Manila, "had carnal relations with
the late President John F. Kennedy and his brother Ted. She was
intimate with the Canadian prime minister Trudeau. She went to bed with
the former prime minister of England, Harold Wilson. She had sexual
relations with the present prime minister of West Germany, the former
mayor of Berlin, the president of France, the Sheik of Kuwait, Baron
Ernst Valentine Von Wedel, Prince Hohenhow, Howard Hughes, George East
Jr., George East Sr., Senator [Al] Gore of Tennessee, a certain "pogi"
Filipino senator, and many others.
In short, a
woman who, if she will not go down in history, will (in the immortal
words of Elizabeth Ray) have gone down on history. But, alas, it is all
lies. Dovie's only brush with history came in the form of Ferdinand
Marcos' attentions. From 1968 to 1970 Dovie Beams had an absolutely
hilarious affair with the Philippines' president, whom she knew as
"Fred." They were introduced by a local movie mogul Potenciano
Illusorio, who must be the most aptly named movie mogul that ever
lived. He was abetted to this bit of mischief by the manager of the
Wack Wack Golf and Country Club. Fred loved Dovie by their second
meeting, before he had delivered "not a make-out kiss." Dovie loved
Fred by their third. He loved her so much that one day while she was
having trouble with her kidney he personally went to the drugstore and
bought some medicine himself." Maybe he also bought soap, which he
liked to watch the woman of his dreams eat.
took poor Dovie a long time to catch on, but it appears that Fred's
love for her was primarily physical. "His appetite for sex knew no
bounds," Mr. Rotea writes. "Besides, what he in power for?" What,
indeed? Included in the book are the transcripts of tape made by the
lovers while love raged, of the Dovie Does Manila kind. Occasionally
the burdens of office intrude; at one point, for example, Marcos is
heard to say, "Demonstrations and bombings. I'm going to take a
shower." But by and large his passion for Dovie Beams is a sorry story
of masculine failure. As Dovie almost immediately discovered, there
were stronger men in the Philippines than the strong man of the
Philippines. Sounding now like an investigative reporter, now like a
sex-shop salesman, Mr. Rotea provides even the brand names of the
devices and the substances that Fred brought to bed. Presumably the
forces of democracy require such information.
Meanwhile, the wicked queen Imelda has learned of the doings in the
sack sack near the Wack Wack. Dovie is doomed by her displeasure. Fred
starts making excuses, and it appears that one of the prerequisites of
high office is the grandeur of one's lies to a lover. He cancels a plan
for a torrid afternoon because "the Liberals . . . are out to wreck the
administration," by which Dovie is disarmed. (This must be added to the
Philippine opposition's short list of victories.) Then Dovie's movie
contract (she played Marcos' first love in the trumped-up story of his
wartime heroism – Farley Granger and Paul Burke also starred) is
broken. Finally, Marcos refuses to see her, and Imelda threatens to
deport her. Dovie holds a press conference and plays the tapes, thus
(in Mr. Rotea's characteristic usage) "rocking the Philippines." In the
middle of a media storm she leaves for Hong Kong. An assassin follows
her, but like everybody else in this farce, he bungles it.
Mr. Rotea insists that the scandal was not all that Dovie left behind.
The women of the Philippines, for example, will be eternally grateful.
"In the beginning [birth-control pill] were banned because of their
alleged harmful effects and the opposition of the Church. But Dovie
told Marcos: "Look at me. I've been taking birth control pills for
years and you don't see anything wrong with me, do you?" Thus after
that they brought birth control pills into the Philippines, and now the
people were free to make their own decisions regarding having or not
having babies." Still, scandal was most of what Dovie left behind. Her
last act before flying to Hong Kong was to play for reporters the tapes
of their trysts, grunts and groans included, with no expletives
deleted. By way of revenge, Marcos arranged for a government-controlled
magazine to reproduce his own photographs of his spread-eagle former
sweetheart for weeks running.
Which brings us
back to the relationship of shame to power. Imagine a political culture
in which the president responds to evidence of infidelity with evidence
of his own! It makes you appreciate the moral worth of a cover-up. To
Americans, whose political scandals are rather more rarefied, and
usually can be completely understood only by lawyers and accountants, a
cover-up seems contemptible. But at least a cover-up is based on an
admission to oneself. To be sure, it is a form of dishonesty; but it is
a form of dishonesty that has not lost respect for the judgment of
others, for the authority of society. To the "honest" Marcos, however,
society no longer has any authority. For that reason the most
scandalous moment in the Dovie Beams scandal came not with the
president's cheating but with the president's publication of the proof
of his cheating. That required a quality of cynicism that makes a man
Library of Congress: ISBN 0-918229-00-6
Author: Hermie Rotea
Copyright © 1983
Edition: Brand New
Binding: Hardcover with Jacket
Size: 5-1/2" x 8-1/2"
Price: US – $20 (Shipping Included)
Price: RP – $30 (Shipping Included)
Publisher: Liberty Publishing
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA
Autograph: Available upon request
Mail Check or Money Order to . . .
Author & Screenwriter
P.O. Box 547, Harbor City, California, United States 90710
Email: email@example.com • www.rpictures.net • www.hermierotea.com