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Strauss-Kahn sex scandal keeps creative juices flowing

Reported by AFP
Thursday, August 30, 2012
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn may have disappeared from public life but his spectacular and sordid fall from grace is being played out again and again in books, plays, TV shows and movies.

The six-minute sexual encounter between the man who might have been France's president and a maid in a swanky Manhattan hotel continues to fascinate long after the story fell off the front pages of newspapers.

"The DSK affair is the incarnation of contemporary folly," said novelist Stephane Zagdanski, using the initials by which the former head of the International Monetary Fund is best known in France.

"It fascinates enormously because he was at the summit of the world and he found himself in the gutter overnight, thanks to a six-minute fellatio," he told AFP.

"It shows the two faces of our world. People are fascinated by money, the rich, the stars, Hollywood... but they see that on the other side of this world of glamour there is also banal human misery which is not so unlike ordinary folks' misery," he said.

"Chaos Brulant" (Burning Chaos), the title of Zagdanski's just-published book, is taken from a quote by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that says civilisation is only a paper-thin veneer covering burning chaos.

The tragi-comic novel -- which follows the DSK affair through the eyes of a psychotic inmate of a Manhattan mental hospital -- is liberally inspired by the events of May 14, 2011 and their aftermath.

Strauss-Kahn's career collapsed after his arrest on accusations by the maid, a West African immigrant called Nafissatou Diallo, that he sexually assaulted her after she went in to clean his New York hotel suite.

The charges were eventually dropped but Diallo has launched a civil suit against him in New York seeking unspecified damages, while he in turn has filed a countersuit for malicious prosecution and defamation.

The silver-haired 63-year-old's woes did not stop on the other side of the Atlantic. When he finally got home to Paris, a string of ever more sordid revelations about him emerged.

In March this year, the ex-IMF chief, two businessmen and a police chief were charged with "aggravated pimping in an organised gang" for allegedly organising a prostitution ring for orgies in France and the United States.

Strauss-Kahn admits he attended orgies in various cities, but insists he had no idea that many of the female guests were paid to attend.

Then in July it emerged that Anne Sinclair, his fabulously rich wife of 20 years and a TV journalist famous in France, had separated from the man who until his disgrace was favourite to win this year's French presidential race.

Now the Strauss-Kahn drama is being seized upon by a host of film-makers, playwrights and novelists.

A US thriller inspired by the case made it onto the The New York Times bestseller list.

"Night Watch" was written by the former chief of the sex crimes unit in Manhattan, Linda Fairstein, who says that if she had still been in the job she left in 2002 she would have handled the DSK case.

"Among the interesting things about the case was the power dynamic. You've got a world leader, DSK, who was white, and the victim, the accuser, was a woman of colour," the 65-year-old told a US newspaper in July.

On television, a thinly disguised version of the DSK scandal was aired in 2011 in an episode of the hit US series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit". The affair even got an outing in a tongue-in-cheek porn film titled "DXK" that was released earlier this year.

"L'Affaire", a play about a sex-obsessed man who climbs to the highest office from where he experiences "nothing but the horror of the fall", was presented on the Paris stage recently.

A string of non-fiction books on the case have been published on both sides of the Atlantic, with "Les Strauss-Kahn", a study of the former power couple by two journalists from Le Monde newspaper, topping the bestseller lists in France this summer.

But perhaps the most high-profile outing is yet to come.

The US director Abel Ferrara -- whose work includes steamy films such as "Bad Lieutenant" -- is due this year to film a movie about the scandal with Gerard Depardieu in the starring role and Isabelle Adjani as Strauss-Kahn's wife.

Strauss-Kahn has been largely ostracised by former friends and colleagues in the Socialist party of the newly elected President Francois Hollande, and he rarely makes any appearances in public.

But novelist Zagdanski said he believes the fallen politician -- a highly respected economist who was once France's finance minister -- might one day make a comeback.

"If the economy gets really bad and we don't know who to turn to," then Strauss-Kahn might one day be a future presidential candidate, he said. "He had a few libido problems. We've had a lot worse in history."

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23/11/2014 22:46Sydney, Australia. 23 November,2014
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