JOHN CLEESE ON SEX AND AGE­ING

Ni­amh Ho­ran

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Front Page - writes Ni­amh Ho­ran

FRENCH in­tel­lec­tual Yann Moix made in­ter­na­tional head­lines this week when he said women over 50 were “too old” to love.

The 50-year-old mul­ti­award-win­ning au­thor caused out­rage and was la­belled misog­y­nis­tic, an­tifem­i­nist, sex­ist and ageist when, in a Q&A with the French edi­tion of Marie Claire mag­a­zine, he said it would be im­pos­si­ble to love a woman of his own age.

“I am in­ca­pable of lov­ing a woman of 50,” Moix said. “I find that too old. I pre­fer younger women’s bod­ies, that’s all. End of. The body of a 25-year-old woman is ex­tra­or­di­nary. The body of a woman of 50 is not ex­tra­or­di­nary at all.”

In re­sponse to the out­cry, Moix said he was just “try­ing to be hon­est”.

He said: “I do not see it as a pride, but al­most as a curse, one is not re­spon­si­ble for one’s tastes, one’s in­cli­na­tions”.

Now one of the world’s most fa­mous ladies’ men, John Cleese, has be­come the lat­est high-pro­file name to wade into the con­tro­versy.

Speak­ing to the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent at Dublin’s Pen­du­lum Sum­mit, he de­fended the au­thor, say­ing: “You see, one of the things that no­body ever talks about with men is the fear of not be­ing able to func­tion, which I have had a cou­ple of times — right af­ter my first di­vorce — and you get very anx­ious about whether you can func­tion or not. And that, I feel, is why a lot of men go on about boobs and this kind of thing be­cause if they get sex­ual stim­u­la­tion they can func­tion — but the sad thing is that no mat­ter how much you like a woman if you are not as sex­u­ally at­tracted to her, there is noth­ing you can do about it. You see what I mean? You can’t tell your willy to do what it is not nat­u­rally do­ing.”

Asked if this means he thinks younger women make it eas­ier for men to per­form, he said: “I just think that the prob­lem is that as peo­ple get older and wrin­klier and fat­ter they do be­come less at­trac­tive phys­i­cally — but not as peo­ple — be­cause if I was dat­ing now, nor­mally I would be dat­ing 50-yearolds be­cause they are so much more in­ter­est­ing.”

More in­ter­est­ing than younger women? “Yes.” But younger women have the bet­ter bod­ies?

“That’s right. Peo­ple don’t re­alise that there is a fear I think, and its not talked about, for a lot of men that ‘am I go­ing to be able to get it up?’ and the an­swer is that a bet­ter body helps you to get it up.”

The Fawlty Tow­ers and Monty Python ac­tor has been with both older and younger women through­out his life­time, while his colour­ful love life has been the sub­ject of count­less front pages.

He has had four mar­riages — walk­ing down the aisle again even af­ter he paid out £25m in di­vorce set­tle­ments to one ex-wife. Al­though turn­ing 80 this year, he is cur­rently mar­ried to a woman who is 31 years his ju­nior.

Speak­ing about his age-gap re­la­tion­ship with Jen­nifer Wade, he says it works be­cause “older peo­ple, if they have got their lives half way right, be­come more mel­low. And if you have an anx­ious part­ner then it’s much bet­ter to be with some­one who is mel­low.”

He said: Jenny wanted more than any­thing some­one who was steady and funny. Some­one who wasn’t go­ing to be thrown all over the place by dis­as­ters.”

Af­ter many failed re­la­tion­ships he says he now un­der­stands how to make things work:

“There are two very sim­ple rules: one is try to be calm and the other is try to be kind. I used to feel that I ought to feel an­gry or that I was let­ting my­self down by not stand­ing up for my­self but what I re­ally dis­cov­ered is to try to stay calm and kind. It works much bet­ter. It’s very sim­ple. That is the dis­til­la­tion of all re­li­gions.

He added: “It’s very easy to get into ar­gu­ments. But it doesn’t get you any­where. You don’t have to re­spond. This is true of ev­ery re­la­tion­ship. Peo­ple oc­ca­sion­ally say things that upset the other per­son — but if you don’t re­spond you won’t get upset. Just keep it to your­self. Most peo­ple think that to be au­then­ti­cyou have to start shout­ing back. It doesn’t work.”

On his own at­ti­tude to­wards sex, as he gets older, he says: “What I’ve no­ticed now is that it’s just as en­joy­able but I’m not as ob­sessed by it any more. It’s a much bet­ter bal­ance. I think it was Sopho­cles who said that as he got older he felt as though he had been un­chained from the lu­natic he had been liv­ing with.”

‘As Sopho­cles aged, he said he felt he had been un­chained from a lu­natic’

AGE GAP: John Cleese, above, and with part­ner Jen­nifer Wade, left, who is 31 years younger.

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