Sunday, August 07, 2011


Tabloid is an Errol Morris documentary about Joyce McKinney, who I'd never heard of.

Joyce grew up doing beauty pageants, culminating in winning Miss Wyoming. In 1977 she fell in love with Kirk Anderson, a Mormon, whose mother (and church) didn't approve of their relationship and shipped him off to the UK as a missionary. Joyce financed and masterminded an elaborate intervention which unravelled somewhat, but she and a friend Keith May managed to take Kirk from London to Devon where they had rented a cottage. Tying him to a bed she seduced/raped him. Returning to London with Kirk, she claimed they were going to get married. He reported to police that he had been abducted by Joyce and Keith and held against his will.

Joyce and Keith were arrested and charged. Joyce protested the charges telling the magistrate that Kirk had gone to Devon willingly and that the idea of a woman raping a man was "like trying to put a marshmallow in a parking meter". Joyce and Keith jumped bail and fled disguised as deaf people to the US via Canada. The British police didn't try to extradite them.

A story like this is ideal fodder for tabloid newspapers like the Express, Mirror, Sun and Daily Mail. The Express sent Peter Tory to the US to continue interviewing Joyce while the Mirror sent Kent Gavin to Los Angeles to check out her past. The Mirror discovered that Joyce had worked as a nude and fetish model and as a call girl specialising in fantasy dressing up.

Joyce comes across in interview as mostly eloquent and funny. Whereas the British tabloid journalists Peter Tory from the Express and Kent Gavin from the Mirror come across as pompous and up themselves. The most balanced view point comes from ex-Mormon missionary Troy Williams, who gives us an insiders view of it is like being a 19 year old Mormon boy. Unfortunately Keith May is dead and Kirk Anderson won't talk.

If the story stopped there it would seem pretty amazing but Errol Morris and Joyce McKinney haven't finished with us. Joyce is not a person to lead a boring life. After years of further harassment from journalists she got a large guard dog, which mauled her badly. Her life was saved by another pet dog, Booger.

Finally she attracts the tabloid media attention again by arranging to get a clone made of her beloved Booger in South Korea. Initially she used her second name and claimed she wasn't Joyce McKinney to vainly try to avoid the limelight.

Tabloid is amazing story, that is told with a style that emphasises that the British tabloid newspapers were an active part of the story. Errol Morris times all the twists and revelations in the story to keep you engaged through out. Joyce is obviously a very determined woman who gets obsessed by things. She has the gift of the gab, unafraid to use her beauty and equally unafraid to live larger than life. How many young women do you know who would hire 3 men, fly them half way around the world and kidnap their boyfriend?

I see that the Kirk Anderson fan club has been out in force on Flicks.

Ian's rating 4/5

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