Charly’s loss, Bardot’s gain

Allan Fotheringham August 7 1989

Charly’s loss, Bardot’s gain

Allan Fotheringham August 7 1989

Charly’s loss, Bardot’s gain



The best stories, in my long years in the trade, never make it onto the front pages of the newspapers. The news editors, who make up page 1, have to fill it with wars and airplane crashes and abortion controversies and political speeches.

In other words, the dull stuff. The really interesting stuff is always buried way at the back of the paper, tucked in between the ads, hidden gems that provide the real meat. They are always too short, unlike front-page stories (which are always too long), and you want to read more about them.

Thus it is with the story about Brigitte Bardot castrating her neighbor’s donkey. Now that’s what I want to read. It is good summertime reading, granted, but I think I would like it as well in February as I do in July.

There are some sexpots who fade rapidly from view once their cleavage goes south. Not Brigitte. She has staying power. She has a gift for clutching for headlines every few years.

Once she disappeared from the silver screen clad only in a sheet, it wasn’t long before she reappeared on an ice floe off Newfoundland, intent on saving the cute little baby seals. Baby seals were big in the news that year, and it is hard for the TV cameras to keep their lenses off a selfless retired sexpot who was heavily into the animal-rights movement. And was breathing heavily as usual.

After a time, the news editors and TV cameramen tired of the Bardot act, as she appeared a bit of a nut in the save-the-animals movement and—you recall, don’t you?—her name hasn’t made print for some time. The solution? A stroke of genius! De-knacker the neighbor’s donkey. Reuters has sent the story around the world, and the superannuated sex kitten is the centre of attention once again.

It seems thatCharly, who was taken in as a nonpaying tenant by Bardot while owner JeanPierre Manivet was away from home, proved an extremely amorous donkey. He not only attempted to mount Bardot’s own donkey, Mimosa, but even tried to jump her 32-year-old mare, Duchess. Duchess, presumably, was there as Brigitte’s gesture for geriatric animals

in need of civil rights legislation, and the sex goddess thought it was all getting a bit much and called in a veterinary surgeon to do the snicker-snack on poor Charly.

An irate Manivet, claiming “inexcusable behavior” on behalf of his neighbour, told reporters that “Charly’s coming back but,”—in one of the understatements of our time—“for him, things will never be the same again.” One would certainly find it hard to argue with that.

It is mindful of the time when the marvellous little Northern Dancer, having won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but finishing third in the Belmont, was retired to stud, subsequently becoming the most successful sire in thoroughbred-racing history. At the time, a sports columnist wrote that Northern Dancer was his entire opposite: he was young, rich, good-looking, and his entire sex life lay before him.

Charly, a lowly donkey, ugly, now has all

those lustful thoughts behind him, and it’s no wonder that Jean-Pierre, as a Frenchman perhaps overly sympathetic to his pet’s dilemma, is understandably consulting a lawyer to see if damages can be claimed.

It is unclear how mere money could recompense Charly for the pleasures he has lost and will never enjoy again, but Brigitte has regained the headlines again—even if news editors don’t understand where stories should be played.

Gordon Sinclair always used to declare on Front Page Challenge (whatever happened to that show anyway?) that a story needed only one of four elements to make it to the front page: money, sex, crime or ambition. Meaning, those are the four things the great unwashed are interested in. On that criterion, Brigitte and Charly make it in spades.

Charly had ambitions, which were based on sex, Jean-Pierre says it was a crime, and Brigitte may have to pay out some money. It’s the best news story of the week, not a one to match it. Who would have thunk it? St-Tropez on the Riviera outside Nice, where all this action was taking place, was once world-famous for its topless popsies and now makes it back into print as the locale for the randy donkey. Perhaps he had been watching video reams of Brigitte’s early steamy exploits on the silver screen.

It’s hard to imagine how Brigitte is going to make it back into the card-carrying ranks of the animal-rights o regulars, tending to be rather prim-faced types who once successfully prosecuted a London theatre after an actor was required to hurl a bowl of live goldfish across the stage.

This pales into insignificance, needless to say, beside taking the sharp paring knife to Charly’s vitals, but we all know how righteous these rights people are these days. It’s hard to imagine Brigitte being allowed back on a single ice floe, a happenstance that will greatly relieve the Newfoundland seal-bashers.

One must, however, applaud her versatility. She has gone from making an awful lot of money by exciting male gonads—then through her Mother Teresa period with the baby seals—to now removing those of excitable Charly. She remains in the headlines as a result, but I just wish the news editors would move it from page 38 to the front page where it belongs, shunting aside all that junk about takeovers and mergers and political lies and royal commissions and heat waves.

Gordon Sinclair knew what he was talking about.