Earlier this week, BuzzFeed and CNN published different versions of an unverified dossier that made several damaging but dubious allegations against President-elect Donald Trump. Buried deep in the report was a detail that attracted our more sophomoric sensibilities like a fire hydrant attracts a dog. The dossier alleged that the president-elect had engaged in some urine play with Russian prostitutes, that there was video, and that Vladimir Putin was using his ownership of that video to exert influence over Trump.
The video’s existence, again, is not verified, but the response to the rumors were swift. Trump hadn’t held a press conference since July, but deemed this release important enough to address publicly. He claimed the dossier was “fake news,” and besides, he’d never pay prostitutes to urinate on each other in a Russian hotel room, because he’s a germaphobe with knowledge that in hotels, tiny cameras are everywhere (a spooky thought, especially coming from a person who owns several hotels). Trump then berated CNN journalist Jim Acosta and called BuzzFeed trash. He was pissed.
The president-elect’s strong condemnation of the watersport rumors are especially telling in light of the comparatively tepid response his camp had to Trump’s own claim that he grabbed women by the genitals without their consent. There was no post-Pussygate presser in October, even after a baseball starting lineup’s worth of women came forward to accuse him assault. There was, however, a speech at Gettysburg, wherein the future leader of the free world pledged to sue his accusers. All of that, he explained, over and over, was locker-room talk.
Trump shouldn’t be too embarrassed by the rumors; he is far from alone. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a world leader in history, especially a Trumpian one with despotic tendencies, without a closet full of underage or extramarital or piss-covered skeletons. Dictators and deviant sex go together like Russia and blackmail.
Nearly a half-century ago and halfway around the world, another leader who targeted an entire demographic of people for expulsion was engaging in his own unorthodox sexual practices. Uganda’s Idi Amin, said to be responsible for the deaths of 400,000 during his brutal reign (some of whom, legend has it, he ate or threw to crocodiles), also was responsible for expelling the entire Asian population of the equatorial African nation. Asians, the Amin line of reasoning went, were too influential in Uganda’s economy, and by kicking them out, Uganda would become great again. While he was doing all that, Amin somehow found the time to father 25 children with his five wives. He also allegedly had 33 mistresses, and 34 additional children from those relationships. Amin demanded he be called “Big Daddy.”
Decades later and a ways north, another famous misogynist billionaire who rose to power on a wave of populism faced his own sex scandal. And his was juicier—pun intended—than one measly Trump hookers n’ pee video that probably doesn’t exist.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was rumored to have quite an appetite for prostitutes. Which on its own is probably not ideal for a world leader, but, hey: Italy. Berlusconi’s joy de vivre ran afoul of the law when he was charged with soliciting sex with a minor, a 17-year-old Moroccan prostitute who went by the stage name Ruby Rubacuori. Once investigators began looking into Berlusconi’s sexual past, more extremely NSFW allegations about his proclivities came to light. Among them were that he and several prominent Italian men would frequently host sex parties with top-shelf sex workers. Berlusconi, according to reports, referred to the gatherings as “bunga bunga” parties, the most disgusting possible slang term for “sex” apart from “making whoopie.” The solicitation trial was one of 20 trials Berlusconi has faced during his tenure in the Italian government. Impressive for an octogenarian.
In 2013, Muammar Gaddafi’s manservant claimed the former Libyan dictator was addicted to Viagra and was having sex almost constantly. He further claimed that some of the women Gaddafi had sex with sought medical attention after the encounters, which sounds like it is supposed to be a brag but is actually an indicator that Gaddafi probably wasn’t very skilled at foreplay. A book about the dictator claimed Gaddafi kept schoolgirls as sex slaves, that he sexually abused young boys, and that he sexually pursued the wives of foreign dignitaries. Of course, Gaddafi wasn’t around to defend himself or file any lawsuits by then; he had been captured and killed by Libyan revolutionaries in 2011.
Chairman Mao was rumored to be a pedophile. His penchant for very young women played a part in the 2000 Tom Clancy novel The Bear and the Dragon.
Kim Jong Il, who lived a life of luxury as his countrymen starved to death, enlisted a rumored 2,000 women dedicated to serving his sexual needs.
A 2004 movie about Josef Stalin entertained the notion that he might have murdered his second wife. The historically accepted version of the story was that she shot herself after a fight with Stalin at a dinner party. The version that was released to the public after her death was that she died of appendicitis.
And speaking of killing oneself, nobody’s got a sadder set of sex rumors than Adolf Hitler.
Hitler, a man whose party Trump evoked in criticizing the piss dossier’s publication, had quite a reputation when it came to sex. Like our new president, Hitler was a germaphobe. Unlike our president-elect (well, almost), he reportedly avoided sexual contact out of fear of catching something. He’s rumored to have had deformed genitalia, although it’s not clear how anybody would know that and besides, the human phallus is a strange-looking organ.
But the bad news for Hitler’s sexual legacy doesn’t end with a lumpy bulge. Adolf liked the ladies, but the ladies, well… They were not as enthusiastic about him. His long-term partner Eva Braun killed herself alongside Hitler. Another of Hitler’s alleged former love interests killed herself as well. A third alleged romantic partner died eight years after a suicide attempt, and a fourth also tried to kill herself, but did not succeed.
And let’s not forget Russia’s own Vladimir Putin, whose personal life has been shrouded by secrecy but trailed by rumor. He had a wife, with whom he fathered two children before she disappeared from the public eye for years. Many assumed her dead until she suddenly reappeared for long enough to divorce Putin. During the time she was out getting fresh air in the Russian countryside, Putin was alleged to have taken up with a former rhythmic gymnast he met when she was only a teenager. The pair have three rumored children. Last year, Page Six speculated that Putin has a new girlfriend, a “busty” 23-year-old who appeared in a sexy calendar dedicated to Putin’s birthday when she was just out of high school. The rhythmic gymnast, say the reports, was kicked to the curb. He’s like Leonardo DiCaprio, but only 5-foot-7 and without the ability to move his face.
One could argue that the difference between, say, a Putin or an Amin rumor and the Trump rumor is that the aforementioned world leaders faced accusations that bolstered their virile image. The Trump rumor, not so much. Even though the Trump dossier contains little verifiable information, it’s hard to eliminate the stench of a pee rumor from a mattress or a reputation. But it could be much worse. At least nobody’s speculating about what’s wrong with his penis. Yet.
—with additional reporting by Jay Michaelson