The divorce between Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook that started last week in Central Islip has been excellent tabloid fodder. It is dramatic and voyeuristic, and the guilt one feels enjoying the tawdriness of the spectacle is tempered by the fact that both participants are pretty much vile: Cook had an affair with an 18-year-old assistant he admittedly hired just so he could sleep with her, and Brinkley, mother of two young children, insisted on making their divorce public so that her ex would be humiliated in the tabloids. It is, as one of our commenters noted, "delicious summer fun," and we've been enjoying it fully. But even we began to feel some discomfort the other day when, as the Post put it, "the shamefaced Cook to burst into tears as he recounted under oath how he spent his evenings trolling porn sites while masturbating in front of strangers over a Web cam."
"Is it correct, sir, that you have masturbated in front of a Web cam?" his lawyer, Mark Winkler, asked.
Red-faced, Cook replied: "Yes, I have, privately, secretly — never at home, never in front of my children."
Wiping tears from his eyes, Cook admitted he sought "young fit girls" from swinger Web sites while confirming he was a voracious viewer of pornography.
Oh, the horror. First of all, we kind of think that no one ever should be called to discuss their masturbation habits in a courtroom filled with reporters typing feverishly on BlackBerrys.
Second of all, are Cook's porn-viewing habits really relevant? Brinkley's side claims yes, because Cook's preteen son, Jack, happened to catch some images on his father's computer, and this makes Cook, they say, a bad father, in addition to being a sexual deviant. The fact that Jack saw said images while his mother was digging through his father's hard drive looking for Internet porn seems to have been downplayed by the press.
Also downplayed was the revelation in court that day that Cook pursued Diana Bianchi, the 18-year-old he had an affair with, from the time she was 15 years old. It was the "dirty details" of Cook's porno habits that dominated the headlines the following day — "CHRISTIE EX'S PORN IDENTITY," screamed the Post. "'FESSES TO GROSS WEB-CAM ANTICS! 3G MONTHLY BILL FOR INTERNET SMUT!" — and have been repeated hundreds of times since.
"I mean, sneaking out of the house when you've got beautiful, loving children there, to go choose instead to masturbate on the World Wide Web, just makes me worry about his judgment," a plaintive Brinkley said in court yesterday.
Wait a second. Does Brinkley really still think that married guys don't masturbate? Does the Post? Is porn really still something that's regarded as for deviants only? You'd think we all would have been tipped off to the fact that it's not — that all guys masturbate, whether their children are beautiful and loving, or ugly and hateful, or, for that matter, nonexistent — if not according to the many articles and books that have been written on the subject, than at least by the existence of a multi-billion-dollar (and growing!) porn industry.
As Mark Penn just recently pointed out in his book Microtrends, one in four search engine requests on an average day is for pornography. And as for Cook's $3,000 monthly porn bill, trotted out as evidence of his perviness: Isn’t that just relative? He's a wealthy dude. Maybe he likes quality skin flicks.
We tried to get a guy to write about how Cook's porn-viewing habits were not actually that abnormal, but no one would go on the record about their own flesh-trade intake — they're too embarrassed: And you can't blame them. Look what happens to guys who confess to this "dirty" habit.
But it seems to us that while there's a lot of reasons why Peter Cook is a jerk — for his affair with the assistant; for his ugly, sarcastic comments to the press; for being mean to Alexa Ray Joel, even — he's not a jerk for jerking off.
Intel's Coverage of the Brinkely-Cook Divorce-taster
Related: The Affairs of Men [NYM]
Also Related: Sex Diaries