A couple of weeks ago, when I shot off a post about Roman Polanski, I mentioned in passing the public statement made by France's Minister of Culture condemning the arrest. Now it turns out that Frédéric Mitterrand also has a past involving sex with youngsters.
After Polanski's arrest on September 26, the French Culture Minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, made a public statement in which he said it was "absolutely horrifying" that the director would be arrested like this in connection with an incident which was now ancient history. He is also quoted in the press as saying "in the same way that there is a generous America that we like, there is also a scary America that has shown its face."
As I said, if you think of Roman Polanski as one of the most esteemed directors of our time his arrest seems shocking, but it's pretty understandable when you recall the serious allegations against him (drugging and sodomizing a 13yo girl) and the fact that after pleading guilty in 1978 he fled the country and has been evading the long arm of American justice ever since.
The book is a wishing well of juicy quotes. For instance, "the profusion of young, very attractive and immediately available boys put me in a state of desire that I no longer needed to restrain or hide." Far from being put off by the sordid details of the sex trade, or sympathising with underpriviliged, young Thai people pushed into prostitution, Mitterrand's narrator found it to be a turn on: "all these rituals of the market for youths, the slave market excited me enormously." Mitterand, who is openly bisexual, claims that he used the word "garcon" loosely and that none of the young men he paid for sex were underage.
BBC News recently ran an article on the Mitterrand dynasty. The family is originally from the Cognac region in southwest France, where they made their fortune in the early 20th century producing vinegar. In 1993, President Mitterand's son Jean-Christophe was fined for tax fraud after he received millions of francs in connection with the illegal sale of weapons in Angola. François Mitterrand also had a daughter, Mazarine, by his mistress whose existance was hidden from the public for many years. Mazarine Pingeot is a best-selling author whose novels are laughed at by critics.
Images: brilliant photo of Frederic Mitterrand in 3D glasses taken from sky news blog; photo of la mauvaise vie by AP taken from BBC News