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VANITY FAIR
New York City, December 1985

Book Review


MARCOS' LOVEY DOVIE

 Hermie Rotea


The Mind's Eye

BY TRISTAN VOX

X-Rated Dictatorship

    There is a tale told of former President Sukarno of Indonesia – se non vero, 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.
    It 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 dangerous.

BOOK INFORMATION

Library of Congress: ISBN 0-918229-00-6
Author: Hermie Rotea
Copyright 1983
Edition: Brand New
Binding: Hardcover with Jacket
Pages: 257
Photos: 103
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 . . .


HERMIE ROTEA
Author & Screenwriter
P.O. Box 547, Harbor City, California, United States 90710
Email: hrotea@netzero.com • www.rpictures.net • www.hermierotea.com