[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! – Mark]
Superstring theory suggests there are ten dimensions, while bosonic string theory posits as many as 26 dimensions of spacetime.
But I've discovered an additional dimension: the alternate universe inhabited by the tabloid magazines, where the laws of reality rarely apply.
What do Kim Kardashian's new sex tape, Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss's celebrity-packed little black book, Janet Jackson's two secret love children, John F Kennedy's secret love child and Jennifer Garner's pregnancy have in common?
They all spring from the quantum mechanics of this week's National Enquirer, which approaches events with the certainty of Schrodinger's Cat. If a story could conceivably have happened, that's good enough for these fact-challenged folk.
Inspired by allegations that Cuba's Fidel Castro has ordered celebrities' hotel rooms to be fitted with hidden cameras and listening devices, the Kardashian-bashing Enquirer screams: "Kim in new sex tape shocker," claiming "she's caught on film Havana romp with Kanye in Cuba." But read the story, and you'll find the Enquirer admitting that "cameras probably caught" the couple – because without evidence the story is sheer conjecture.
As is the list of "A-List stars in Hollywood Madam's black book." The Enquirer names Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Hugh Grant and Justin Bieber in its recreation of Fleiss's contacts book.
Let's not quibble about the inclusion of Justin Bieber, who was born in 1994 – one year after Fleiss' arrest and the collapse of her vice ring. The Enquirer undoubtedly had insiders in his mother's womb who witnessed Justin's embryo hiring hookers. The Enquirer even admits that these celebrities are not in Fleiss's black book; rather, they are the result of "an exhaustive Enquirer probe." A host of other stars allegedly named in the book – if it exists, since even Heidi isn't certain – may have simply been friends or acquaintances of Fleiss, rather than clients, the Enquirer admits. But that doesn't stop it smearing the lot of them.
Janet Jackson allegedly had not one secret love child but two, both given up for adoption, claims the Enquirer. The singer supposedly had these children while married to pop star James DeBarge in the '80s. "I hadn't known," DeBarge reportedly tells the Enquirer – because you know how easy it is in a busy modern marriage to miss little details like your wife's pregnancy. There's the trash to take out, the dog to walk, a world concert tour to arrange – who has time to notice that your wife is pregnant? Twice.
Why is the Enquirer interested in Jack Worthington II, who first claimed to be JFK's love child way back in 2008? Because he's endorsing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and Enquirer favorite Donald Trump, saying: "Donald's the one to lead the nation." How does Mr. Worthington know his own parentage? Through a failure in planning, the Enquirer did not have an insider in his mother's womb. But when Mr Worthington wondered why he had different DNA from the man he always assumed was his father, his mother gave the perfectly natural explanation that she had a fling with JFK. Presumably because Elvis wasn't available. And his saintly mother couldn't possibly be lying, could she?
Jennifer Garner has reunited with estranged husband Ben Affleck and is expecting their child, claims the Enquirer, based on nothing more than a photo of Garner in a blouse that could be showing a modest baby bump, or merely a slight gust of wind. I'm not sending a baby gift until I receive the official announcement.
Not to be outdone in the fan fiction department, the Globe has sensational photos of Prince Charles tenderly kissing and hugging a young "toy boy" lover. It seems remarkable that Charles and his team of bodyguards could have allowed photographers up close to snatch these intimate images, in which the unidentified young man lovingly straightens Charles' tie, pulls the Prince toward him and embraces in a passionate lip lock on a public street. "Shocking proof of secret life dooms fight to be King," proclaims the Globe. But wait . . . what are those tiny words tucked away in a small corner of one image? "Photo recreation." So these "explosive pictures" aren't real at all. In fact, the Globe provides no evidence that such photos even exist, but that doesn't stop the mag from quoting an "insider" who concludes: "The photos have undoubtedly clinched the crown for William and his wife, Kate, who have disowned him." Undoubtedly.
Marilyn Monroe's missing private journal has been "found at last," claims the National Examiner, which publishes two pages of excerpts, allegedly revealing the star's anger that the Kennedy brothers and Mafia mob boss Sam Giancana all treated her like "a whore" and promising "I'll get revenge . . . I know all their dirty secrets." It seems a highly convenient explanation for her suspicious drug overdose death, but it's there in her journal, so its must be true – though the Examiner confesses that it "cannot independently verify claims the diary is genuine." Well, I never saw that coming.
With summer and swimsuit season approaching, People magazine brings us its "bodies of the year" issue, an excuse for 23 pages of celebrities baring flesh. Two pages alone cram in 39 actresses, aged from their 20s to 50s, in bikinis and swimsuits, while another page squeezes in 18 hunky actors baring their pecs. Celine Dion is given People mag's cover, explaining how her heart will go on after the death of husband René, and how she explained his passing to their five-year-old twins by throwing a "glitter-and-balloon" party (doesn't every widow?) and explaining that their father had "gone up," floating away on balloons like the old man in the Disney movie Up. Will Dion's children grow up believing that their father is still alive in a small house on the top of a cliff surrounded by a pack of talking dogs? Squirrel!
Fortunately we have the investigative team at Us magazine to reveal that Kerry Washington wore it best (not much of a contest when you're compared to Tina Fey), Joe Biden's favorite meal is pasta, singer Jennifer Nettles carries sunglasses, a protein bar and hairbrush in her Madewell purse, and that the stars are just like us: they pump their own gas, snack on the go, run on the beach, and (branding Her Majesty the Queen a "star," which seems something of a demotion) color-coordinate.
Us mag devotes its cover and eight pages inside to a "tenth anniversary special" on TV series The Hills. Because that's what America really cares about today: what happened to Lauren, Kristin, Audrina, Spencer and Heidi. Perhaps we'll also find their names in Heidi Fleiss's little black book, and on a Cuban secret police sex tape in some alternate universe. Because if you can think it, then in the Tabloid Dimension it must have happened.