I admit it: this is absolutely, totally, completely and utterly beneath me. And yet I can't stop thinking about how the sex parties of disgraced French minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn mirror those bizarre sex parties in "Eyes Wide Shut."
Remember the movie? Tom Cruise found himself an onlooker at a creepy gathering in Stanley Kubrick's final film (which also foreshadowed the end of Cruise and Nicole Kidman's marriage) in which cloaked, rich and powerful men intoned mysterious chants before parading off with naked women and having group sex.
Honestly, when I saw the 1999 movie, I thought the scene was completely preposterous, that Kubrick's imagination had gone off the deep end.
But now I've read the French interview with Strauss-Kahn, and The New York Times description of it, and I'm wondering if Kubrick got to attend one of these evenings himself.
Strauss-Kahn is seeking to throw out criminal charges in an inquiry into ties to a prostitution ring in northern France. He is also defending a civil suit brought by a hotel maid who accuses him of assaulting her last year.
The prostitution investigations stems from sex parties involving DSK and acquaintances from France's secret Freemasons society, according to Karl Vandamme, a defense lawyer. He represents the owner of a medical supply company who helped organize them and who wanted to ingratiate himself with Strauss-Kahn.
Freemasons? Cloaks, anyone?
In France, they delicately call such orgies "parties fines," literally, "refined evenings," with Champagne and high-end prostitutes and guests from the upper reaches of French society. One evening would cost about $13,000, according to the Times. The prostitutes were enlisted because of a shortage of women for the parties.
VanDamme told the newspaper that Strauss-Kahn would typically arrive late for the more than a dozen parties, held over about five years. Everyone dressed for a sit-down dinner, and eventually, "kisses were exchanged between one woman and another and between a husband and the wife of a friend" until the guests "all ended up nude," he said.
At L'Aventure, a private club in Paris, Mr. Strauss-Kahn and a few friends gathered in a basement carpeted in purple and black tiger stripes. DSK had sex with a Belgian prostitute and tried to initiate sex with the companion of a Belgian sex club owner, but she turned him down. DSK often wanted three or four women in a single night, the Times said.
In the movie, Cruise, as Dr. Bill Harford, wanders through a mansion outside New York City in fascination. Gazelle-like women in masks wander in the nude, accompanied by cloaked men in masks. Then they end up in a formal dining room, where everyone is nude and having or watching sex. Sound familiar?
The man-who-would-have-been president finally broke his silence about this aspect of his life, giving an interview last week to Le Point.
"I long thought that I could lead my life as I wanted. And that includes free behavior between consenting adults," he said, with only the slimmest scrap of self-awareness. "There are numerous parties that exist like this in Paris, and you would be surprised to encounter certain people. I was naïve."
Ultimately, though, DSK was contrite, just like Cruise's character. "I was too out of step with French society," he said. "I was wrong."