Getting a manicure from Lorena Bobbit.
Next month Amazon Prime drops a new documentary series about Lorena Bobbit, an American woman who became famous 25 years ago because she was convicted of slicing off her husband’s penis. The series is promising to look in detail at the story. It is certainly worth investigating, because it was always much more complicated than it it was portrayed in the tabloids, where it played out as some dark, brutal comedy about a man having his penis excised. It wasn’t that; it was a story about spousal abuse. In early 1995 I was sent by Night and Day, a relatively new supplement of the Mail on Sunday, to Las Vegas, where I (kind of) interviewed John Wayne Bobbit. Later, I flew to Washington DC, and arranged to have a manicure with Lorena who had recently returned to her old job in Arlington, Virginia, just outside DC. This was in the earliest days of the web and certainly the Mail on Sunday was not then online. I have therefore posted the piece in a series of scans of my own cuttings.
A couple of things. I am open in the piece about the subterfuge I used to get to spend time with Lorena. Looking back now it’s not something I’m proud of, and is definitely not something I would repeat today. I apologised to her at the time. All I can say is I was in my twenties, and those were different times. Secondly, for those slightly baffled as to why a Guardian group lifer was working for the Mail on Sunday, a little bit of newspaper history: back in the early 90s the MoS had reached a sale of well over two million and concluded that if they were to expand further they would need readers from the broadsheet market. They decided that they did not know how to do that. Hence, they hired a young former Guardian journalist and rising star called Jocelyn Targett, then at the Sunday Times, to launch an upmarket supplement. He phoned a bunch of us up at the Guardian and asked if we’d like to join him. My response was that I couldn’t write for a Tory rag. He told me that there would be no interference from the rest of the Mail; that I could carry on writing Guardian style journalism but that I would be paid Tory money. So it proved. I firmly believe that Weekend Guardian Would happily have published this piece.
(Statement of obvious: read both columns on each two column scan, before moving on to the next.)
A SLICE OF LIFE.
She’s a manicurist. He’s a rising star of porn films.
They’re married but live 2,500 miles apart.
Which – since they are Lorena and John Wayne Bobbit – suits them just fine…
By Jay Rayner
First published in Night and Day of the Mail on Sunday, March 19, 1995.
ANNOUNCING: a new collection of my scorching reviews of terrible restaurants. Publ October 4 (perfectly timed for Christmas). Price: £5.
‘Jay Rayner isn’t just a trifle irritated. He is eye-gougingly, bone-crunchingly,
teeth-grindingly angry. And admit it – that’s the only reason you’re here, isn’t it?’
I’m delighted and thrilled if not contractually obliged to announce that, on October 4, Guardian Faber will publish Wasted Calories and Ruined Nights, a second collection of 20 of my most negative restaurant reviews. Some might argue that this is a dark and disobliging move, which adds little to the sum of human happiness. I would argue that you’re all horrid people who adore reading the utter shitbaggings much more than anything else, as the success of the first volume, My Dining Hell, proves. I could, of course, have published a collection of my most positive reviews but who among you would have bought that?
This one includes my accounts of dinner at Beast, The Farm Girl Cafe and, of course, Le Cinq in Paris. There’s an introduction which describes the aftermath of the publication of that review of the Parisian Michelin 3 Star, and I look at what happened after each of the other reviews. It is a beautifully crafted volume and you’ll want to buy copies for every member of your family this Christmas. Or I’ll sulk. Look, it’s only a fiver. What have you go to lose?
Incidentally there are 10 tickets left for My Dining Hell, my show about lousy restaurants and why we like reading about them. Crazy Coqs, London, tomorrow night, Sept 5. Tickets HERE.
There are more tickets available for The Ten Food Commandments, also at the Crazy Coqs, on Sept 11. Tickets HERE
All of my other shows, both comedy and jazz, are listed HERE
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SELL WASTED CALORIES AND RUINED NIGHTS?
With both My Dining Hell and The Ten Food Commandments we found that there were a whole bunch of non-traditional retail outlets for books which did very well with these small but perfectly formed volumes which sit beautifully by the till: think delis and cafes, butchers and B&Bs. If you would like to stock this new one please email me at [email protected] and I will put you in touch with the right sales person at Guardian Faber, who will sort you out.
Last time I did this Michael Gove got weirdly cross about it. But then it was just before Christmas, and I think the spirit of the season had got to him. I’m hoping that, now he’s back in government and very important, he’ll be too busy to have a go.