Image Credit: DeMichele Photography/SplashSigh. The job opportunities just keep coming for former mistresses of famous dudes, don’t they? Jesse James’ alleged lover, Michelle “Bombshell” McGee, is being rewarded with a Vegas gig (not to mention this possible reality show, if TMZ is to be believed) for blabbing affair allegations to the press days after his wife’s Oscar win. And in the Year of the Cheating Scandal, she’s only the latest to cash in on her notoriety.
The concept of a string of mistresses “coming forward” baffled me when first introduced (I believe) during the Tiger Woods debacle: Why on earth was it necessary to come forward as someone who also slept with someone who also apparently slept with other someones? A phrase heretofore reserved for actual victims of something illegal — say, sexual harassment — coming forward carries a connotation both of victimhood and of bravery, neither of which apply here. Now, however, I realize we should have called it getting in line — to claim the spoils of their victories, their celebrity moments. In the past month, Rielle Hunter and the Tiger Woods harem have both gotten glam photo spreads in respected national magazines (Hunter pantsless in GQ and Woods’ ladies in the buff in Vanity Fair). Woods mistress Rachel Uchitel booked a correspondent spot on Extra. Joslyn James set up a website publishing her “sexts” from Tiger (and promoting her adult film work, of course).
Granted, McGee’s new job is a topless-dancing appearance, not a Vanity Fair shoot. (Then again, the line between those two is getting finer every day.) But when the proprietor of the establishment told People magazine flat out that he hired McGee to “cash in on her celebrity,” he was articulating a sad truth: Sleeping with married, famous men, then telling all, has become the quickest route to celebrity in an age when we had pretty quick routes already. When Tina Fey unleashed her shockingly harsh tirade against McGee on last week’s Saturday Night Live, she ruffled some feminist feathers for being so specifically mean to McGee while not mentioning James’ responsibility for the affair; and while perhaps her rage was a little too directed at McGee’s appearance, I understood where it was coming from. She was, in a sense, fighting fire with fire — fighting celebrification with the darkest side of being a celebrity, the mean-spirited, pointed criticism that comes with it. The problem, of course, is that it’s all just an endless cycle in which, apparently, any attention is good attention. And that just begs the question: Is there any chance we’ll stop paying attention?