‘I didn’t know they were prostitutes’
Badly behaved luminaries have perfected the art of making lame excuses. Find out who said what in this quiz
Opinion is divided as to whether Dominique Strauss-kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, has come up with the best excuse ever made, or the worst. When asked about his alleged participation in a series of orgies with prostitutes in Brussels, Paris and Washington, DSK said he didn’t know they were prostitutes “because they were naked.”
On the face of it, this remark might seem rather insulting to prostitutes. It’s the equivalent of saying that all prostitutes dress like, well, prostitutes. But perhaps his point is more esoteric. Perhaps he means that without clothes we are all the same, even if some of us do have more tattoos and navel piercings than others.
Some excuses have become so famous they have entered the language. It is hard to look at Bill Clinton without the words “I did not ... have sexual relations ... with that woman (Monica Lewinsky)” floating to mind. Being a lawyer, what he meant was that oral sex is not the same as sex-sex.
When asked “What is your definition of sex?”, he answered: “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
Excuses come so thick and fast among the rich and famous these days it is easy to lose track of who said what. Try this quiz to see if you can recall the correct excuse, or match the excuse to the celebrity who said it. We’ll start with an easy one that is still fresh in our memories. 1. What excuse did Italian cruise ship Captain Schettino give for abandoning the Costa Concordia? a) “I was only obeying orders.” b) “Look, I’d been a having a bad a week, OK? My wife she was a giving me a hard a time back at home, and my mistress was a giving me a grief on the ship.”
c) “I tripped and fell into a lifeboat.” 2. In 1975, British author Jeffrey Archer was accused of shoplifting two suits from a store in Toronto. What was his excuse?
a) “I thought they were being charged to my account.” b) “I’d wandered into another shop through an interconnecting passage.”
c) “Poppycock! I could afford to buy that store three times over, why would I want to steal their suits?” 3. What excuse did British politician Jack Straw give for shaking the hand of the dictator Robert Mugabe at the UN in 2004? a) “He seemed like a nice man.” b) “It was quite dark.” c) “I thought he was Nelson Mandela.” 4. Which celebrity failed to report the alleged theft of his property with the excuse: “The police, since my trouble, have not worked out for me.” a) Tiger Woods b) OJ Simpson c) Woody Allen 5. Former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney dodged the Vietnam draft in the ’60s. What excuse did he later come up with? a) “I had other priorities.” b) “I was a pacifist back then.” c) “I was exempt on account of my flat feet, and, er, my colour-blindness. Yeah, that’s right, I remember now. Colour blind. You can check my files.” 6. What excuse did the leading Stop Global Warming activist Laurie David give for flying in a private jet?
a) “There were no other flights out of there that day.”
b) “The truth is, I’m not perfect. This is not about perfection.”
c) “Look it’s not my plane. It’s my husband Larry’s plane. Take it up with him.” 7. Which celebrity gave the excuse “I didn’t have a professional bodyguard” after failing to appear in court on a drug-possession charge? a) Whitney Houston b) Snoop Doggy Dog c) Courtney Love 8. When Winona Ryder was arrested in 2001 for shoplifting more than $5,500 worth of designer clothes and accessories from a store in Beverly Hills, what was her excuse?
a) “I was doing research for my new movie.”
b) “I was intending to pay for them but I got distracted.”
c) “I thought they were giving them to me for free in return for an endorsement.” 9. “I was just giving her a ride home.” Which film star gave this excuse after being pulled over by the police for picking up a transvestite prostitute? a) Eddie Murphy b) Charlie Sheen c) Hugh Grant 10. What excuse did Janet Jackson give for exposing her breast during a dance routine with Justin Timberlake in the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004?
a) “I did it to get some publicity because I have a new album out.”
b) “That wasn’t my nipple, that was Justin’s thumb.”
c) “It was a wardrobe malfunction.” 11. In 1972, during the Vietnam War, Jane Fonda went on a trip to North Vietnam and was photographed wearing a helmet and sitting on an anti-aircraft gun that North Vietnamese forces otherwise used for shooting at American planes. How did she account for this?
a) “Someone led me toward the gun and I sat down. It had nothing to do with where I was sitting. I hardly ever think about where I’m sitting. The cameras flashed.”
b) “They kept calling me Hanoi Jane so I thought, what the heck, why don’t I start acting like Hanoi Jane?”
c) “That was a gun? It didn’t even look like a gun. I thought it was some kinda big telescope.” 12. What excuse did a naked and intoxicated Charlie Sheen give in 2010 for smashing up his hotel room at The Plaza after a hard night’s partying?
a) “I had an adverse allergic reaction to some medication.”
b) “I was looking for the book I’m in the middle of reading. The Brothers Karamazov. Have you seen it anywhere?”
c) “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.” 13. After Michael Jackson dangled his baby out of a hotel window, he gave what excuse?
a) “I wanted to teach him that there is no need to fear heights.”
b) “What can I say? We are the world. We can touch the sky.”
c) “I got caught up in the excitement of the moment.” 14. When George Michael was arrested in 1998 for committing a lewd act in a public lavatory, what excuse did he give?
a) “It comes from, I think, an abandonment issue ... if I feel a mistrust, then ... all my cards go down.”
b) “I didn’t know it was a gents. Honestly. I thought it was an underground nightclub.”
c) “The cop enticed me into a game of ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.’ ” 15. Which sportsman, upon failing a blood test for doping, said: “I have two kinds of blood because my twin died in utero”? a) Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson b) Olympic cyclist Tyler Hamilton c) Olympic swimmer Michelle Smith