Infamy, money and psychological issues can make criminals irresistible

Article by Melissa Meehan /
Herald Sun /
July 07, 2017 /
Click here to view original /

SOME women just can’t fight the sly, dark confidence of a bad boy.

‘Hot convict’ Jeremy Meeks’ is a perfect example: Despite weapons possession landing him behind bars, his smouldering mugshot landed him a modelling contract and had women across the world swooning.

The married US felon and father-of-three, also captured the attention of an heiress — Topshop boss Sir Philip Green’s daughter Chloe — and he was photographed kissing her on a yacht off Turkey last week.

His gang-related history and the fact that he served a nine-year prison sentence he served didn’t dampen his modelling prospects, but it did ensure he was denied entry into the UK in April.

Notorious Melbourne criminal Mark ‘Chopper’ Read often wrote about the fan mail he received in jail from women, and even married behind bars.

There has long been an appeal in the James Dean rebel type, with their leather and sullen looks.

But why is it that for some women, the most dangerous men are the most attractive?

University of Melbourne social scientist Lauren Rosewarne says the appeal is that the relationship becomes an escape from the mundane.

“Especially if they are bored, say, watching Game of Thrones on the couch with their other half every Thursday night,” Dr Rosewarne said.

“These “bad boys” don’t offer ordinary couple things — like popcorn on the couch.”

She says there are many explanations, which can range from the cliche of a bad boy to something deeper.

These type of men offer something different, a life that is exciting and different — but there is also a psychological side.

“For men who are behind bars for a long time or are convicted murderers with a life sentence — they are never going to be released,” she said.

“And for women with abandonment issues a) they can’t leave you and b) they will always be where you last left them.

“So for them, it’s a stable relationship.”

For others, it’s the desire to turn a bad boy good.

Dr Rosewarne says this is particularly the case for women who fall for prisoners on death row — they feel as though they have something to fight for, or the opportunity to save someone’s life.

Read is a case in point: He was inundated with letters and photos, some nudes, from women seeking his protection or wanting to protect him during his 23 years in prison.

He married his first wife Mary-Ann Hodge behind bars, after she had visited him in jail. She was fully aware of his underworld life.

She said she felt a sense of connection with Read as soon as she read his books, in part because he shared her strict Seventh Day Adventist upbringing.

And she was convinced that he was innocent of at least some of his crimes.

“I thought this is not a monster. This is just a man. I don’t condone his lifestyle. I was just immensely drawn to him. I understood exactly what he had gone through as a child. I mean my childhood was different, there was no violence or anything, but I understood the restrictions and I can understand how he struck out against that,” she told a journalist in a 1994 interview.

“I just drove up to the prison. I was absolutely petrified. I don’t know what I expected but he wasn’t what I expected. He was so natural and warm. I was just captivated by him.”

The pair divorced in 2003.

In recent times, partners of Australian criminals may feel drawn to the fame, money and infamy — especially after the popularity of the Underbelly TV series and the Sopranos television show.

“It’s all about the attention, whether it’s good or bad — that’s what they live for,” Dr Rosewarne said.

“These relationships allow the woman to take on the infamy of her partner.”

Others could also be attracted to the macho ‘alpha personality type’, Dr Rosewarne said, and the belief that they will fight for a woman’s honour.