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PERSONALLY,  I always thought that cunnilingus was the name for Ireland's national airline.
by contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence
by contributing editor-at-large Tess Lawrence


But that's just me.

I was brought up a Catholic and we only have sex to procreate.

I've never procreated.

Until recently, I thought 'The Guardian' was the name of an industrial strength condom that came with carbon credited green emissions.

Just goes to show what a prize git I am.

On Monday, all that changed.  I am now enlightened thanks to a revelatory interview with actor and producer Michael Douglas written, no less, by the esteemed associate editor of The Guardian newspaper's UK online edition, Xan Brooks.

Xan marks the spot.

Douglas, whose illustrious name is now up in lights and lame for his impresario performance in Liberace - Behind the Candelabra, is on the publicity circuit, bearing the grunt of promoting the HBO biopic.

The film has also caused much tittering, because of the raunchy same-sex scenes with Matt Damon, who depicts Liberace's lover Scott Thorson, upon whose autobiography the film is based.

If watching lesbians having sex also provides a lazy fantasy and turn on for yer average hetero bloke, then surely for women (let alone gays) watching the likes of Douglas and Damon going hard at it doggie-style, is a bonus of a wet dream — even though Douglas may be more pastie than beefcake these days.

Or, as I once described former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, mutton dressed up as ram.
Douglas and Damon as Liberace and Thorson. (Image courtesy New York Daily News)


Okay, we've got the serious stuff out of the way, let's get down to the basic instinct.

Hopefully at the time of the U.S. release, the hapless Thorson earned enough privilege points to see even an illegal download of the Cannes Premiere movie in his Washoe County prison cell, Reno, Nevada, where the conman was incarcerated long after spending his palimony settlement with Liberace and becoming a career criminal.

Writing in The New York Times last month, David Segal put it this way:
Mr. Thorson has been held here since February, when he was charged with burglary and identity theft, after buying about $1,300 worth of computer and cellphone merchandise using a credit card and license that weren’t his. He was arrested at the Ponderosa Hotel, where he and a man he had just met rented a room for $33.90 a night.

It appears that Scott Thorson, sometimes known as Jess Marlow, has since been released from prison after Dennis Hof, owner of the Bunny Ranch brothel felt sorry for him and paid his bail.

Sadly, Thorson is also battling anal cancer.
Dionysos: God of wine, merry making, theatre and ecstasy.


Thorson was more than a golden haired Dionysus and a toy boy cum chauffeur answering to his generous master's unmistakable plush carpet voice.

In what struck me as a tragic distortion of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray Liberace tried to transform Thorson into a younger – if crack'd – mirror-image of himself. An avatar.

Liberace ordered and paid for Thorson to have dramatic facial reconstructive surgery, including chin and other implants, to resemble a (rather awful) painted portrait of Liberace as a younger man.

Whilst Liberace also had extensive surgical pruning, it was as if he could compensate for inevitably getting older faster than Thorson, by musing upon his younger muse — seeing himself as he once was, albeit pickled in surgical aspic.

The doomed relationship between Liberace and Thorson was to later curdle into acrimony.

Liberace died from cytomegalovirus (CMV) pneumonia – an AIDS related illness – in 1987. He never publicly came out of his ermine-lined closet and, on several occasions, successfully sued those who implied he was homosexual, including the famous British columnist, Cassandra.

Homophobia was rife in Liberace's day. In most of the world, it still is. Even during his dying days, Liberace managed to suppress most of the speculation about his illness.

Michael Douglas, on the other hand has been forthright about his gruelling experience as a throat cancer survivor, including the mandatory and carefully managed appearance on the Dave Letterman Show.

On September 1, 2010, The Huffington Post reported
Michael Douglas went on Letterman Tuesday and talked about the recent news that he has throat cancer.

He has just completed his first of eight weeks of radiation and chemotherapy, and appeared a little thinner than usual, with his suit slightly oversize. With the coming weeks of treatment, he said, his voice may change and it could become impossible to swallow solid food.

But he was upbeat, saying that despite his throat cancer being Stage 4, it has not spread down below his throat. Asked by Letterman what the percentages were, Douglas said he has an 80% chance of recovery, with some hospitals even more optimistic.

When Letterman wondered if there was anything he could do, Douglas said, 'Aw, give me a hug!' And the two men embraced.



So far, the Liberace star happily has the all-clear from cancer. But during his interview, Xan Brooks naturally broached the subject with Douglas.
The throat cancer, I assume, was first seeded during those wild middle years, when he drank like a fish and smoked like the devil. Looking back, knowing what he knows now, does he feel he overloaded his system?

"No," he says. "No. Because, without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus], which actually comes about from cunnilingus."

From what? For a moment I think that I may have misheard.

"From cunnilingus. I mean, I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer." He shrugs. "And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it."

Naturally, these explosive quotes from Douglas richocheted around the world, including the rather bland nascent Australian edition of The Guardian, to which we in the Antipodes were handballed in any online search for the UK edition, no doubt boosting Oz hits for a short while.

Later, Douglas, through his spin doctor foolishly denied saying any such thing.
Michael Douglas
Michael Douglas


The Guardian produced proof that he did — the audio and transcript, that I've quoted above.

Douglas is an experienced and consummate PR/media operator.  I do not buy any argument that his statement – importantly made to The Guardian – was anything other than deliberate and calculated and specifically uttered to lift the HBO biopic to a higher platform.

It did what Douglas wanted it to do. It generated millions of dollars of free publicity for the movie.

Don't you love it that Douglas first says he doesn't want to get too specific. In his next breath, he becomes very specific.

I would suggest that one doesn't use the word 'cunnilingus' without forethought and media foreplay in an interview, as it is a word that immediately invokes an image of the intimate act itself and invites prurient public speculation about his high-profile partners past and present; one imagines the latter would be less than pleased.

The disingenuous Douglas denial was such a pity, given that he's a UN Messenger of Peace and given the urgency to educate the world in safer sex.

We should never underestimate the power of celebrities publicly discussing their health issues.

Statistics indicate they have a profound influence on the general population who are often subsequently prompted out of lethargy and/or fear to consult doctors, health centres and support groups for check-ups and discussion — for themselves and loved ones.

Last month's candid op-ed article in the New York Times by actor/director Angelina Jolie, revealing that she had both breasts removed because of vulnerability to a particular cancer, unleashed a universal outpouring of public inquiries, discussion and debate.



There is also a respect and admiration for the fact she was so open and expressed solidarity with millions of women around the world – rich and poor alike – who have had breasts removed, and/or will have breasts removed and who are living – and dying – with breast cancer.

Jolie, who has had a longstanding association with the United Nations, was last year appointed a Special Envoy to the UNHCR, Antonio Guterres.

Despite the denials by Douglas – who, incidentally, on the evening of the same day he was denying The Guardian article, was in New York to receive an award from the American Cancer Society – his comments about HPV and cunnilingus caused an outbreak of discussion that has enabled experts, government agencies and health departments around the world to clear up a few myths that people might otherwise be too embarrassed to discuss.

It is one of the ironies of the consequences of sexual activity that we are more prepared to discuss it in furtive and/or smutty terms, rather than be open and honest and save our lives.

Revisiting the Letterman YouTube entry, a Peter Kenneth left this comment, that exposed his shared bravado ignorance on the subject:
I've heard of women getting cancer from nob gobbling but this is the first I've heard of pussy giving men cancer. I hope the few times Ive lapped pussy doesn't count.

The denial by Douglas caused confusion. Was he denying he said what he said? Or was he denying HPV was caused by cunnilingus?

BBC Radio One's Newsbeat consulted Professor Margaret Stanley from Cambridge University's Pathology Department who reported in part:


[caption id="" align="alignright" width="100"]Prof Margaret Stanley[/caption]

It is most often passed during vaginal and anal sex. However, as HPV can live in your mouth, anus and genital areas it can be passed through oral sex.

There are two types or strains of HPV which are most likely to cause cancer - HPV-16 and HPV-18.

HPV-16 is thought to be responsible for around 60% of cervical cancers, 80% of cancers in the anus and 60% of oral cancers.

Doctors cannot control the virus and can't predict if people will get the virus.

However, if you have a lot of sexual partners you are more likely to be infected with HPV and if your immune system cannot naturally get rid of the virus it can put you at risk.

Closer to home, you might find this information from Australia's helpful, especially for family discussion:
The National Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program Register

The Victorian Cytology Service, together with the Department of Health and Ageing has established the National HPV Vaccination Program Register (HPV Register).

The HPV Register supports the National HPV Vaccination Program funded by the Australian Government. The HPV Register plays an essential role in monitoring and evaluating the program by recording information about HPV vaccine doses administered in Australia.

Legislation was passed by the Australian Government in 2007 to enable the HPV Register to receive data from all states and territories.

For further information about the HPV Register, please visit the information for health professionals or information for consumers pages of this website.

The HPV Register acts to protect the privacy of vaccination providers and consumers.

This is what the HPV virus looks like up close:



It's official. Most people will have HPV at some time in their lives and never know it.

However, there is an HPV vaccine and in Australia we are lucky that it is provided to schoolgirls, with parental consent.

More details from the website:
School-based program:

The HPV vaccine is provided to 12-13 year old girls in the first year of secondary school. If you want your daughter to participate in the vaccination program, you will need to give your consent. Your daughter will bring a parental consent form home from school for you to sign. For more information about the School-based program, contact your daughter’s school or your State or Territory Health Department as they may vary in their delivery of the program.

As the HPV vaccine does not protect against all cancer–causing types of HPV, women, whether vaccinated or not, should be screened for cervical cancer by having Pap smears every two years from 18 years of age or two years after the first time they have sexual intercourse, whichever is later.

* Note: Eligibility is from the age of the first year of secondary school in your State or Territory. It may be 12 or 13 years old. Contact your State or Territory Health Department for details.

For more information on the HPV vaccine, please visit the Immunise Australia Programwebsite.

More information on HPV and HPV Vaccination

There are over 100 different types of HPV, including some that affect the genitals. Genital HPV is similar to the virus which causes warts on other parts of the body.

Genital HPV is so common that it could be considered a normal part of being a sexually active person. Most people will have HPV at some time in their lives and never know it. You may become aware of HPV if you have an abnormal Pap smear result, or if genital warts appear.

HPV infection is very common and in most people it clears up naturally in about 8-14 months.

When one considers the prevelance of HPV in the sexually active, regardless of gender, it seems so incongruous that we remain so uncomfortable with openly discussing such issues and learning how to protect ourselves – and others – from HPV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as learning how to responsibly manage sex lives if we – or others – already have an STD.

As a community, we seem to be more at ease watching drone strikes and other real-time killings on television caused by man-made disasters.

Easier to mock those who err on the side of love and mutual lust rather than war and anti-humanity.

We humans sometimes provide the real weapons of mass destruction.



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