History’s sex scandals that never were




Mary and Joseph’s ‘roll in the hay’

Much has been written about the premarital rendezvous between Mary of Nazareth and long-time boyfriend Joseph, of unknown origin, at the start of the first century.

Leaked scripts handed to the left-leaning rag — the Bethlehem Gazette — purported the two lovers to have taken up residence at an inn with room to spare, but, after viewing the establishment’s amenities, decided to head to a stable nearby to “roll in the hay”. Mary fell pregnant, but the conception was soon claimed to be immaculate by the Church and thereby washed of all shame, for there has never been, not before or since, a sex scandal involving only one.

Hugh Hefner’s ‘abstinence scare’

The startling revelation that “playboy” Hugh Hefner went a full day without sex reigned for several weeks in the Sixties. The hearsay tale was carried by major smut outlets, which made outlandish claims such as that Hefner had lost his virginity at the ripe old age of 12 and had stuck with two partners for most of his 20s.

Broadcast across all media, the rampant scandal rocked a free love movement reeling from rising condom prices and led to progressives demanding an immediate apology from Hefner and a return to the loose values the era was built on. The apology never came, but a series of films depicting Hefner getting his daily fix did.

The Jack and Jill “hill affair”

A nursery rhyme turned gossip bombshell, which claimed that a young couple climbed up a hill to produce offspring at altitude instead of fetching a pail of water as they had everyone believe, died after an investigation corroborated the details of their trip.

Suspicion as to the authenticity of the story was raised early when the boyfriend, Jack, refuted the allegations, saying fetching water was way more important than sex during a drought, and a hilltop above a town was a peculiar place to have it when no one claimed to know what they were doing up there. A probe conducted by the local municipality revealed a) The spring atop the hill to be an excellent way to replenish water supplies in dry times and b) The toddler they brought back down to be a girl who had been reported missing for months.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘liaisons’ with people he has never met

In 2017 an independent Sunday paper suffered a blow when its exposé of affairs of South Africa’s deputy president, which depended on emails by a writer who had “seen” them, lost its steam after displaying uncanny similarities to fabrications known as political smear campaigns.

Flamboyant language and the suspicious timing of the article sounded its death knell, revealing the lack of finesse by local writers when constructing their smear campaigns. Subsequent sex tapes not showing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa also failed to hit home, proving — at an audiovisual level at least — that material must feature the target to cause an uproar of substance.  

JS Smit

JS Smit

JS Smit is a Cape Town-based freelance writer. Formally trained as a copywriter, he took a break from ads in 2010 to write a blog for the Mail & Guardian's Thought Leader and since 2015 has written for the Mail & Guardian. Read more from JS Smit

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