In a week when the Leveson inquiry is investigating press misconduct through phone hacking this film arrives in cinemas harking back to the late seventies when although technology was not as advanced the methods deployed by the tabloid press were still as underhand and condemning as today. Focussing on the tale of Joyce McKinney a former beauty queen-Miss Wyoming-and a young Mormon, Kirk Anderson, who she allegedly kidnapped, held captive and forcibly had sex with it is still, even after viewing the film, unclear what actually happened so clouded with prejudice are the preconceptions instigated by the press. Matters are not helped by McKinney who although an extremely and intelligent interviewee in possession of a high IQ -168- and charming manner of discourse when recounting her version of events comes across as a delusional fantasist and therefore a less than credible witness.

The drama starts to unfold when McKinney first lays eyes on Anderson who she describes as a handsome desirable man though others point out that he was hardly an obvious object of lust weighing more than 300lbs and being of less than average attractiveness. This does not deter McKinney however who sets out to ensnare her man at whatever the price. Apparently some sort of compromise is reached and the two embark on an affair but when Anderson is removed to England as part of his Mormon training the trouble begins. McKinney believed he had been spirited away from her clutches and sets out to reclaim her true love and does what any (ab)normal person would do in those circumstances  enlisting the services of an accomplice-JK May- she then hires a bodyguard, a pilot and private jet then armed with a bottle of chloroform and an imitation gun flies to England to ‘persuade’ Anderson to impregnate her thus destabilising the hold the Mormon facility has over him. Where the financial backing she needs to fund such an elaborate plan derives from is never made clear but minor trivialities or reality never stand in McKinney’s way when her determination in overdrive. Along the way the bodyguard and pilot opt out so with May in tow as a loyal lapdog she tracks Anderson down and here matters become clouded in the various participants’ memories. According to the press McKinney held him captive and chained him up spread-eagled whilst she forcibly encouraged him to have sex with her repeatedly. McKinney however states that Anderson willingly accompanied her and chose to have sex with her and the handcuffs and manacles were merely sexual role play with him as her sex slave. The tabloid press, in the shape of the ever reliable Daily Mirror, cotton on to the story adding their salubrious sensationalist twist and immediately it becomes front page news and a national topic of conversation.

The subsequent coverage follows its way through the court case and after McKinney serves several months on remand is released on bail, Moments of notoriety then ensue including an infamous appearance at the premiere of The Stud where her presence even upstages that of the films star a certain Joan Collins. The story continues to become even more surreal after her release however as disguised as deaf mutes both she and May flee Britain only to turn up elsewhere as two unconvincing Indians from Calcutta. Meanwhile the press, in particular the Daily Mirror, have a field day and all manner of unsubstantiated stories are paraded as truth across their front pages. To counterbalance this the Daily Express attempt to tell Mc Kinney’s version of events and she suffers the confusing problem of having two radically alternate and differing stories about the same set of events spread across two of the biggest newspapers in the country at the same time. From the testimonies given by those involved at the time it would transpire that the truth is somewhere between the two events detailed but as no-one seems to be totally credible even this is debatable. What does become clear is that truth is a minor factor when it comes to selling newspapers or scandalising a nation by preying on those with petty morals to buy into their own brand of righteousness.

Tabloid is a thoroughly engaging film and McKinney remains to this day a fascinating character. All wide eyed disbelief and a raucous raconteur with ribald storytelling abilities who at one point, tellingly, insists that all the drama lessons she had have stood her in good stead. She reveals herself to be a thoroughly engaging if not wholly convincing or reliable interviewee although the tales of treating those around her as slaves still persist only nowadays it is the five Pitbulls she has had cloned –really- from her beloved soul-mate Booger who fulfil this role dialling phone numbers and retrieving drinks from the Fridge!! As all this is revealed at the end of this captivating and often unintentionally hilarious film it becomes clear that McKinney can quite accurately be described as barking mad.

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