The ‘Donald Trump Asks Melania to Dress as a Gibbon in Bed’ Story

As I progressed through my postgraduate course in journalism, I could never have imagined I would find myself writing about ape-based bedroom antics of President Donald Trump.

The main reason for that is nobody in their wildest drug-induced dreams could have imagined Trump would ever be president, back in those carefree days. Well, except Donald Trump — and maybe Steve Bannon, and maybe even Vladimir Putin. But you get the point.

Trump for me was merely a presenter of some weird watered-down Hunger Games style gameshow for wannabe corporate psychopaths and oily sales executives. I also knew he’d inherited a lot of money and had a taste for golden erections, preferably with his name on, but he didn’t seem like president material.

Before I get into discussion of Donald Trump’s sexual penchants, I’d like to mention a couple of extremely different journalists, neither of whom are alive today, who are worthy of note in this piece.

The first, Hunter S. Thompson, held the powerful to account with a brilliant blend of political insight and mischief. He made no pretence of neutrality and would put considerable effort into weakening politicians he disapproved of. His approach to writing itself was like that of a predator — he would sit with his hands poised above his typewriter (like a hawk hovering) and rapidly start typing (like a hawk swooping to take its prey) when the right words came to him. The name Hunter was perfect for him.

The most colourful example of Hunter swooping upon a candidate deemed weak (and in the way of his favoured outcome) is his mischievous attack on Edmund Muskie. No stranger to vision-inducing substances himself, Hunter suggested that Senator Muskie was using the relatively obscure African entheogenic plant Tabernanthe iboga, which spread from ‘pygmy’ bushmen to other communities and can enable life-review visions. The shrub contains the chemical ibogaine.

In Rolling Stone commentary (subsequently compiled in his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72) Hunter made the hilariously bizarre claim that Democratic front-runner Muskie was addicted to the unpleasant tasting substance, which in recent decades has been used to treat addiction and is an unlikely candidate as a drug of habit.

Thompson cunningly wrote: “Not much has been written about The Ibogaine Effect as a serious factor in the Presidential Campaign, but toward the end of the Wisconsin primary race — about a week before the vote — word leaked out that some of Muskie’s top advisors had called in a Brazilian doctor who was said to be treating the candidate with ‘some kind of strange drug’ that nobody in the press corps had ever heard of.”

He added: “It is entirely conceivable — given the known effects of ibogaine — that Muskie’s brain was almost paralyzed by hallucinations at the time; that he looked out at the crowd and saw gila monsters instead of people, and that his mind snapped completely when he felt something large and apparently vicious clawing at his legs. We can only speculate on this, because those in a position to know have flatly refused to comment on rumors concerning the Senator’s disastrous experiments with ibogaine.”

I’m not sure this would get around UK libel legislation, but Hunter’s subsequent justification for being able to write about Muskie and iboga in this way was that he wasn’t saying it was true — merely that there was a rumour it was true. He explained: “People really believed that Muskie was eating ibogaine. I never said he was. I said there was a rumour in Milwaukee that he was. Which was true — and I started the rumour in Milwaukee. Yeah, if you read it carefully, I’m a very accurate journalist.”

Hunter’s favoured candidate for the Democrats was George McGovern, who did ultimately become the party’s nominee to take on incumbent Richard Nixon, after Muskie’s campaign ran aground. McGovern turned out to be unsuccessful against Nixon. It later emerged, after the Watergate scandal broke, that there had been a dirty tricks campaign against Muskie from the Nixon team, including a forged a letter showing him in a bad light, released to press just before a pivotal New Hampshire primary. Therefore, Thompson’s mischief wasn’t the only fake news that brought down Muskie, but it certainly helped present him as unstable — which was reinforced for some when he responded to the letter and aftermath with, justifiable, anger.

I will get to Trump’s gibbon costume sex thing shortly, but would first like to mention another exceptional American journalist who is no longer with us. Marie Colvin was a foreign affairs correspondent for The Sunday Times when she was killed covering the Syrian civil war, in 2012. She had previously covered conflicts in Chechnya, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and East Timor, and the ‘Arab spring’ in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Colvin wore an eye patch, after losing the sight in her left eye in 2001 due to a blast from a Sri Lankan army rocket-propelled grenade.

Colvin died along with French photographer Rémi Ochlik, amid the bombardment of Homs by Syrian forces. An autopsy conducted by the Syrian state concluded that Colvin was killed by an ‘improvised explosive device’, which the government claimed was planted by terrorists. This account was refuted by photographer Paul Conroy, who was with Colvin and Ochlik when, he says, Syrian artillery fire struck a makeshift media centre.

The biographical film, A Private War, starring Rosamund Pike as Colvin, is soon to be released. On BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show today, Pike spoke about the danger of people just reading headlines of articles before sharing them online. Asked if Marie Colvin made the world a better place, the actor said: “I think she did, yes, but of course her anxiety was a valid one — ‘is anyone going to care?’ — Yes, she made the world a better place, if people read her stories, but are they reading them? Do people care? Are people just ready for the sort of immediate outrage of a headline and they are never going to penetrate further? That was always her fear.”

Which leads us to Trump’s ‘gibbon costume sex story’ headline above. If you got to the bottom of this article, thank you. I must report that there will be no gibbon costume-related Trump sex revelations. It was merely an experiment to see how many shares this article gets compared to reads. I will tweet the results of my experiment. Just to be clear, I have not personally heard any rumours of Donald Trump asking Melania to dress as a gibbon in bed.

**edit**

When I wrote this article, I said I had not heard any rumours pertaining to Donald Trump’s gibbon costume sexual proclivities. Since publication I HAVE heard some rumours. But it is important to state that they are just rumours. And, as with the Moscow hotel story, no video has yet emerged to confirm the story.

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Will Black

Will Black

Will is an anthropologist, journalist and former clinician. He is the author or Veneer of Civilisation, Psychopathic Cultures and Beyond the End of the World