City Paper is not for tourists
Oh Genny, precious Genny. That’s Bill Clinton’s term, not mine. It seems that somewhere in the middle of his alleged 12-year tryst with Gennifer Flowers—who bares every salacious detail in a tell-all book titled Passion and Betrayal—those muskrats came up with pet names for each other’s privates. Hers: “Precious.” His: “Willard.”
“And you know,” she writes, “it kind of had a Willard-like personality.”
My, what glorious twists life brings! One minute you have that fire-on-the-Sealy, grits ‘n’ butter belly-slappin’ going on with the future leader of the free world. The next, he’s calling you a gold-digger in prime time (with a Super Bowl lead-in) while you get bushwhacked on Rolanda by some cheap-shooting yenta journalist. (“I would’ve slapped her ass out of the chair if she made another low-life comment to me,” Flowers says.) Yet a few beats later, you’re flacking the straight dope on a cross-country book tour with a first printing of 100,000.
Thus Flowers’ appearance at the Trover bookstore on Capitol Hill last week, one of four local stops. “It’s an easy read, it’s an interesting book,” she assured one eager patron. And how. Fact or fiction, it’s all in there—the good, the bad, and the bumpin’ uglies, in prose as graceless as the acts themselves doubtless looked:
Page 32: “Though not particularly well-endowed, his desire to please was astounding.” Page 38: She aborts Bill’s love child. Page 42: Clinton drinks from the River Cheeba, and talks of cocaine use to boot. Page 72: During phone sex, “Bill would keep it up until he climaxed while we were talking.” Page 75: Clinton is tied to the bedposts and serviced with an apparatus that almost rhymes with “Bilbo.” Back to Page 72: Clinton has her adorn him with makeup. (Which is not to say that he was a full-blown drag queen: “I just think he liked the way it felt on his skin when I putzed around on his face,” Flowers says. “We only did that on maybe three separate occasions.”)
But wait, that’s not all. Drop-kick me, Genny, what’s this on Page 41, where you warn Bill of scurrilous rumors concerning his wife’s hankering for the ladies?: “ “Honey,’ he said, “she’s probably eaten more pussy than I have.’ ” Yikes!
When asked about this last tidbit, Flowers confided in a tone just hushed enough to ensure I’d repeat it here: “I’ve actually thought, “I wonder how much I’ve eaten vicariously through [Bill].’ ” Color me shill, but the woman has a mighty strong pull.
If you don’t believe me, ask her fiancé, Finis Shelnutt, standing by her side in navy banker’s pin stripes and a John Holmes mustache. Nothing rattles this guy’s cage. He’s been through it all—the graphic recounting of his beloved’s tenure as first poke, the media shellackings, even the stringy-haired Dungeons and Dragons refugee with the facial tics laying low by the comics rack, who’s tailed Flowers to all of her D.C. appearances.
“A lot of them are intimidated,” Shelnutt said. “A lot of people come in just out of curiosity. They’ll pick up another book and start staring at her. Some of the guys come up and can’t get over how attractive she is. She’s so photogenic, but I think she’s prettier in person.”
Still, some are immune to her charms. One red-ribbon-wearing Library of Congress employee lisped indignantly, “I feel it’s just trash, it’s just garbage. I think the whole thing is put-up. I don’t think most of us care, and I think most of us don’t have a right to know this stuff.”
But the majority of the mostly male processional obviously concurred with the Michael Kinsley’s book-jacket bumper: “Even many supporters are pretty sure [Clinton’s] lying about Gennifer Flowers.”
Throughout the afternoon, it was a rush of pin-corded, rep-tied, red-cheeked preppy cuts—lunch-breaking legislative assistants who weren’t giving names or office affiliations for fear of future recriminations, but were nevertheless intent on seeing the Original Ms. Town Crier, a buxom Cassandra, the One Who Told Us So.
Even former Congressman Tom McMillen made the scene in his jogging suit, ostensibly to pick up a paper, while refusing to get scorched by Flowers’ shining love light. When I asked him what he thought of Flowers, he bellowed, “I can’t see her.” For God’s sakes, you’re 6-foot-11, you hulking baritone behemoth—just tip on those gunboats and focus. “I can’t see her,” he insisted again, before the store clerks warned me off.
“I’m going to take a picture with this handsome young man,” Flowers cooed to the delight of one Republican staffer. Said another, “I think she’s a great American hero—she’s done more than just about any other person in this country to keep Bill Clinton out of the White House. It’s just too bad that she didn’t succeed.”
“She looks like a librarian,” said Patrick Kowalczyk, a disappointed Hill staffer. Look again, my good man. Sure, she has the modest Miss Crabtree road-rig down cold, playing against type with an olive linen jacket and granny reading glasses. But beneath that high-necked pearl silk blouse beats the heart of a torch-singing tigress. Flowers worked three eager college boys into a lather, holding hands while they drank her in like a 5-foot-2 glass of sun tea.
“It was everything I expected and more,” gushed one afterward.
You don’t even have to use your imagination; with all of her “little ol’ me” ‘s and air-kissin’ and arm touchin’, it’s not hard to understand how a grown governor’s shorts might seize right up on him. She’s the berries, all right, a dixie-licious cupcake with platinum frosting on top. Flowers is what those ’70s songsters T-Rex called “dirty- sweet,” with ice-blue eyes and cherry Kool-Aid lipstick and décolletage summoning all that Song of Solomon imagery—King James version of course, her being a Baptist and all.
“Maybe this is just a commentary on American society—it’s tacky,” said Bob Kran, a Michigan dairy farmer who was taking in the scene. Or maybe, as one 23-year-old Republican staffer opined, this was indicative of a grave lapse in taste on the part of our president. “She’d make a much better first lady,” he said. “It would be nice to have one we could be proud of who’s also good lookin’.”
And what of this book, queried one television reporter—was it just the effort of a scorned woman delivering last licks with an election drawing nigh? “I broke up with him, he didn’t break up with me,” Flowers said. “If Bill’s hurt in the next election, he doesn’t need any help with that.”
A few moments later, the same reporter, a sassy Bette Midler type who prided herself on not having actually read the book, accosted another young buck, all testosterone and drool. “Why are you buying this?” she brayed. He stood there blinking like the afternoon kill.
“Tell her for the sex,” Genny teased.