If you're going to travel to a totalitarian country for a month to uncover the story of one of the most controversial living international leader's sex lives, you might want to bring along more than a detached hipster's sentiment about sex and politics. But what else would you expect from Vice, the paragon of detached hipster sentiment?
The magazine recently published a piece by two newlywed Americans who tried to confirm the legend that Fidel Castro has slept with more than 35,000 women. It asks the question "Is Fidel Castro the greatest lover of all time?" It doesn't answer it, though. Or much of anything really.
Before heading to Cuba, Wes and Holly Davis contacted noted journalist Ann Louise Bardach. She once interviewed Castro for Vanity Fair and asked him how many children he had. "Almost a tribe," replied El Jefe.
The duo ends up only sniggering about the idea of Bardach having slept with Castro simply because she was a "hottie."
Bardach says she had a friend who slept with Fidel when she was 16 or 15 (you know, under the age of consent, even in Cuba), but that apparently doesn't warrant an eyebrow raise from the duo.
Without clarification about how they arrived in Cuba, the pair then sets off on a bumbling journey to track down Fidel's conquests. Wes ends up deciding to get dental work done by a doctor who might have been Fidel's mistress for a few years. But all they come up with is some gossip from her assistant. Their only other hit is an old woman, who they describe as now looking like a donkey, who, during an interview in which she gulps down five daiquiris, claims to have slept with Fidel. She complains that Fidel wasn't into group sex but did love pre-sex pastries. Whether she was a bawdy old women who liked scandalizing gringos and sticking them with a drink tab for fun or an actual Fidel mistress isn't really clarified.
Other women they ask immediately "roll their eyes and change the topic or hurry away."
At a certain point, though, you'd think maybe they'd wonder why there was a reason no women who live under a communist dictatorship wanted to talk about having sex with the supreme leader. Perhaps they hadn't wanted to in the first place. This is a guy whose government puts people in jail for no reason and constantly harasses those who run afoul of the official party line.
If Fidel really was the sexual fiend legend makes him out to be, is there a chance a lot of women who had sex with him did so only because they thought they had no other choice? I mean, can a woman really ever give consent to her dictator?
Sharper journalists than Wes and Holly might have realized that at some point they should stop asking, "Is Fidel Castro the greatest lover of all time?" and start asking, "Is Fidel Castro the most prolific rapist of all time?"
The pair, though, remains blissfully unaware of the political realities of Cuba.
At one point, a male cab driver, sick of their questioning about Castro's sex life, replies with heavy sarcasm: "My aunt, she slept with Fidel. My grandmother, she slept with Fidel. My uncle, he slept with Fidel. You know, we have all slept with Fidel. Fidel and I made love in this car."
The pair actually wonders if he had, by pointing out that "Cuba is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world." Sure, if you forget the decades in which Fidel's regime forced gay men into labor camps and adopted an official anti-gay stance. Or, you know, the fact that the government still cracks down on dissident gay pride gatherings.
What could have been a somewhat thoughtful piece on the intersection of sex and totalitarianism is instead a tale of two clueless americanos wandering around the country asking any older woman they find about Fidel's penis and coming back only with the tale of a drunk woman they called a donkey. Good job, Vice!