I'm not much of a voyeur. Certainly less than most people these days, what with their fixation on 'Reality TV.' You know, the badly scripted shows that the mentally feeble latch on to because the events are happening to 'real' people. It's all about the schadenfreude and we are all the poorer for Reality TV's popularity.
But every now and then, I descend from my high horse and take in something that offers only voyeurism as an excuse to participate. I offer you Jillian Lauren's bio, Some Girls - My Life in a Harem.
My curiosity for this book stems from a 60 Minutes piece I saw about the beauty queen who sued the Sultan of Brunei, claiming she had been kept against her will and treated as a sexual slave. Astonishingly, she won her day in court. But other things soon came to push those lurid headlines to the side and the affair is largely forgotten. As is the man once called the richest man in the world. That hasn't been the case for years, not since the ascension of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and a succession of oriental shipping magnates and middle eastern oil potentates. The Sultan's money was also petro-driven, but the reserves in Borneo weren't anywhere near what's been drilled elsewhere. So, while rich, the Sultan no longer is a major player on the Forbes List (which is currently topped by a Mexican media baron, of all people).
Lauren is certainly not sparing of herself or her family in describing her journey from Daddy's girl to rebellious teen to sex worker to harem girl to the American Dream of married with child. She was, and obviously still is, a survivor. That said, the only real thing of interest is the goings on in a modern day harem.
The harem in question actually wasn't that of the Sultan. No, Lauren was swept into the sphere of prince Jefri Bolkiah, one of the Sultan's sons. And it's obvious that the multi-married prince is one lost soul. The every-evening entertainment, mostly amateurish and mostly bad, followed by a quick roll in the hay. That's his life according to Lauren. It is all so banal. There are some political intrigues amongst the girls that are a bit interesting. None of the sex is. The description of the opulence, the "let's do lunch in Singapore" type instant decisions and the money that flows to the ever-evolving cast of girls makes being rich seem as boring as watching paint dry. Truly.
Don't get me wrong, I am happy I read this book. It's like a Pavlovian cure. If THIS is what being rich is all about, then I'm damn happy to be middle class.
At least, I keep telling myself every week I tear up my lottery ticket losers.