A win-win for Mr 3,000

Article by Lauren Rosewarne /
ABC The Drum /
December 06, 2010 /

Click here to view original /

In the words of my favourite doctor, Gregory House, everybody lies. When it comes to sex, truth is even more fickle.

It’s a hard choice for news item of the week; after all, last week and NBC’s Today ran a fascinating story about a potato baron who ate nothing but Idaho’s finest for two months. Personally however, I think the Mick Hucknall tale has a slight edge.

Claiming to feel “a bit like the antichrist”, last week the Simply Red lead used a newspaper interview to beg forgiveness from the 3,000-plus groupies he claims to have bedded: “In fact, can I issue a public apology through The Guardian? They know who they are and I’m truly sorry.”

A thoroughly astonishing number of fantastic bands have come out of Manchester. The Smiths. James. Stone Roses. Doves. Joy Division. Simply Red is not one of them. I need, of course, not to devote too many words to documenting their awfulness, the lyrics speak volumes: “She’s been with many men since she was only 10” from the creepy Ghetto Girl or “Tell her try her best just to make it quick / Woman tend to the sick” from the ickily “Caribbean” Night Nurse. Just for starters. Instead, this is an article about sexual madcappery.

Mick is by no means the first bloke to publicly divulge the notches on his bedpost. Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and Wilt Chamberlain top a long list of men to have revealed their numbers. The why of the reveal has long haunted me.

Three thousand sexual partners is a lot by anyone’s estimates; “about three women a day, every day. I never said no,” claims Mick. In this our Tiger Woods/Jesse James Zeitgeist, there’s an apparent temptation to pathologise, to dub such behaviour as evidencing addiction. Like a preoccupation with drugs or alcohol – or in my case overpriced hair conditioner – apparently people can be addicted to sex. Perhaps. Researchers are divided.

Hucknall telling the world about his exploits however, doesn’t immediately suggest a cry for help: his adventures after all, happened back in the 80s; a tragic time in our past when a man could cheesily point to a lady in the crowd, do the slow-mo wink, sing a little “and I’m waiting for your gentle reign”, and have his wicked way with her.

Rather, I suspect that Hucknall is making these confessions because he’s marketing himself as a stud. He’s telling us he’s virile, he’s claiming he’s sexy and he’s getting off on it in the process.

Before dissecting his hijinks, I should make it clear that I don’t necessarily dispute his calculations. Be they true, be they elaborate figments of his imagination, the reality is so much less interesting than his motivations to confess. And, truth be told, I really don’t care how much sex Mick or anyone else has; provided everyone consents.

Indeed, I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about this. A good year in fact. April next year and a book on perversion will hit a few shelves. And my name will be on the cover. In it, amongst other salacious topics, is an analysis of sexual confessions.

It’s no surprise that people get turned on by talking about – and writing about – sex. Sharing our sexual secrets can build intimacy, can function as dirty talk and can also substitute for the kind of sex we wish we’d had. It also serves as an ego boast.

When social scientists autopsy sex surveys a hardly surprising trend is exposed: men tend to inflate their number; women deflate. This stud/slut paradox is an oldie, hardly a goodie, and one with much resonance here.

One interpretation of the Hucknall story is overindulgence. That along with the excessive use of shoulder pads and drum machines, women were just another thing Mick was gluttonous about in the 80s. Perhaps. But, he actually went to the trouble of doing the math. And he reached a number that’s a tad higher than the standard stud. And he chose to tell The Guardian.

By confessing to sex with over 3,000 women, Hucknall – now a middle-aged married bloke with a kid – appears to be dabbling in a bit of Springsteenian masturbatory Glory Days – and worse still, he’s letting the world know about it. In true exhibitionist-style. By throwing a number out there we’re forced to consider whether this ginger-headed Manc has a certain special something. Whether we too would have fallen under his spell. Whether he still has got it goin’ on.

Mr 3,000 has painted himself as sexually practiced, as sexually versed. With such a score card and he’s inferring that, while perhaps not necessarily repeat custom, there was never a shortage of women tap-tapping on his dressing room door. Wanting a little piece of the Huckster. He’s painting himself as a player.

At 50, with his rock and/or roll days behind him (fingers crossed), his legacy is about sex, and a lot of it. As a Casanova, a Lothario. For some and this might even overshadow all that incredibly bad music. Certainly a win-win for Hucknall.

© Lauren Rosewarne