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Ted Kennedy- Boozer, Womanizer, Manhandler and Sometimes Downright Bastard

Today the Internet is busy revising history about the late Senator Ted Kennedy. But back in 1990, Gentlemen’s Quarterly [GQ] ran a piece called Ted Kennedy on the Rocks which focused on Kennedy’s boozing and womanizing. Here is some of that article just so you’ll remember Chappaquiddick because no one else seems to…..

Up close, the face is a shock. The skin has gone from red roses to gin blossoms. The tracery of burst capillaries shines faintly through the scaly scarlet patches that cover the bloated, mottled cheeks. The nose that was once straight and narrow is now swollen and bulbous, with open pores and a bump of what looks like scar tissue near the tip. Deep corrugations crease the forehead and angle from the nostrils and the downturned corners of the mouth. The Chiclet teeth are the color of old piano keys. The eyes have yellowed too, and they are so bloodshot, it looks as if he’s been weeping.

Edward Kennedy was once the handsomest of the handsome Kennedy boys, with a proudly jutting chin, a Nelson Eddy jaw and Cupid’s-bow lips under a thatch of chestnut hair. When he is dieting and on the wagon, there is a glimpse of that still, which makes it all the harder to see him as he more often is. There is a great desire to remember him as we remember his brothers. The Dorian Grays of Hyannis Port, John and Robert, have perpetual youth and beauty and style, and their faces are mirrors of all that is better and classier and richer than us. Ted is the reality, the 57-year-old living picture of a man who has feasted on too much for too long with too little restraint, the visible proof that nothing exceeds like excess….

The Kennedy brothers always perpetuated their own glorious images, but over the years the last brother has built an image—not glorious at all—of his very own. For his hard public drinking, his obsessive public womanizing and his frequent boorishness, he has become a late-century legend, Teddy the Terrible, the Kennedy Untrammeled. In Washington, it sometimes seems as if everyone knows someone who has slept with Kennedy, been invited to sleep with Kennedy, seen Kennedy drunk, been insulted by Kennedy.

At Desirée, a private Georgetown club where well-heeled fat men mingle with society brats and party girls, Kennedy is known as a thrice-a-month habitué and remembered by at least one fellow customer for the time he made a scene with his overenthusiasm for a runway model during a club fashion show. In a downtown office, a former congressional page tells of her surprise meeting with Kennedy three years ago. She was 16 then. It was evening and she and her 16-year-old page, an attractive blonde, were walking down the Capitol steps on their way home from work when Kennedy’s limo pulled up and the senator opened the door.

In the backseat stood a bottle of wine on ice. Leaning his graying head out the door, the senator popped the question: Would one of the girls care to join him for dinner? No? How about the other? The girls said no thanks and the senator zoomed off. Kennedy, the formal page said, made no overt sexual overtures and was “very careful to make it seem like nothing out of the ordinary.” It is possible that Kennedy did not know that the girls were underage or that they were pages and, as such, were under the protection of Congress, which serves in loco parentis. Nevertheless, the former page said she did find Kennedy’s invitation surprising. “He didn’t even know me,” she says. “I knew this kind of stuff happened, but I didn’t expect it to happen to me.”

……A former mid-level Kennedy staffer, bitterly disillusioned, recalls with disgust one (now ex-) high-ranking aide as “a pimp…whose real position was to procure women for Kennedy.” The fellow did have a legitimate job, she says, but also openly bragged of his prowess at getting attractive and beddable dates for his boss. The former staffer also recalls attending a party at Kennedy’s McLean, Virginia, mansion and finding it “sleazy and weird” to see that senator had apparently established as his live-in girlfriend a young woman known to the staff as the T-Shirt Girl, a New Englander who had previously sold tees at a beach resort and who had reportedly met the senator through his son Teddy junior.

A waiter at La Colline, a French restaurant near the senator’s office, remembers a drunken Kennedy and a fellow senator recently staging a late-night scene out of The Three Musketeers, grabbing long-stalked gladiolus from a vase in the front hall and fencing “just like D’Artagnan.”

At the same restaurant in 1985, Kennedy and drinking buddy Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut did a “Mexican hat dance” on their own framed photographs. According to The Washingtonian magazine, which broke the story, “Kennedy spotted Dodd’s framed photo [on the wall] and shouted ‘Who’s this guy?’ Laughing, he grabbed the photo from the wall and threw it on the ground, breaking the glass in the frame. Dodd, not to be outdone, located Kennedy’s photo and returned the favor.” A new Kennedy photo adorns the wall today, inscribed with “Laissez les bons temps rouler—Let the good times roll.”

….Lobbyist John Aycoth recalls a recent afternoon meeting he arranged between Kennedy and several of Aycoth’s potential clients, representatives of an African government. Aycoth says Kennedy “was incredibly rude” and “was drunk…stumbling and slurring his words and red in the face and smelling of alcohol.”

One of the visiting dignitaries—a Kennedy devotee who had called on JFK at the White House—presented the senator with a necklace to give to his mother for her forthcoming ninety-ninth birthday. Kennedy’s appreciation? “When we were walking out, he just pitched it on the desk, right in front of them,” says Aycoth. “Didn’t open it. Didn’t say thanks. Nothing.” (After my talk with Aycoth, his associate, former Delaware Congressman Tom Evans, who was also at the meeting, called to say nervously that he had heard what Aycoth had said and that while the account of rude behavior is true, in his opinion Kennedy had been “perfectly sober.”)

Kennedy regularly finds himself in unseemly scenes. One East Coast playboy recalls an incident a few years ago in a popular Palm Beach bar when “a definitely drunk” Kennedy shoved him against the bar and spilled his beer as the senator rushed out the door with a blonde so young, the man at first mistook Kennedy for an angry father come to take home an underage daughter.

Dropping in for a 2 A.M. drink in the Manhattan bar American Trash in January 1989, Kennedy reportedly got into a shouting match with an obnoxious (and possibly intoxicated) off-duty bouncer, which climaxed with the senator’s throwing his drink in the other fellow’s face. Unkind Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr writes of Kennedy as “Fat Boy” and says it isn’t really considered summer in Cape Cod until the senator drives on the sidewalk for the first time. Reporters wonder at his behavior. “He really will do anything at all,” says veteran Washington gossip columnist Diana McLelan, “I think he’s mad.” Says Bill Thomas, writer of the “Heard on the Hill” column for Roll Call, the well-regarded newspaper of Capitol Hill, “He’s off the reservation…out of control…He has no compunctions whatsoever.” Thomas likens Kennedy and Dodd to “two guys in a fraternity who have been loosed upon the world.”

….Perhaps this seems unfair. From all available evidence, God created our elected officials to drink and screw around. Arrogance, too, is common. So is sexual recklessness (witness Gary Hart, Robert Bauman and Barney Frank); power dements as well as corrupts. But Kennedy’s behavior stands out. The two most infamous Terrible Teddy stories make the point. Both take place at Washington’s La Brasserie, where Kennedy is a favorite customer.

Brasserie I: In December 1985, just before he announced he would run for president in 1988, Kennedy allegedly manhandled a pretty young woman employed as a Brasserie waitress. The woman, Carla Gaviglio, declined to be quoted in this article, but says the following account, a similar version of which first appeared in Penthouse last year, is full and accurate:

It is after midnight and Kennedy and Dodd are just finishing up a long dinner in a private room on the first floor of the restaurant’s annex. They are drunk. Their dates, two very young blondes, leave the table to go to the bathroom. (The dates are drunk too. “They’d always get their girls very, very drunk,” says a former Brasserie waitress.) Betty Loh, who served the foursome, also leaves the room. Raymond Campet, the co-owner of La Brasserie, tells Gaviglio the senators want to see her.

As Gaviglio enters the room, the six-foot-two, 225-plus-pound Kennedy grabs the five-foot-three, 103-pound waitress and throws her on the table. She lands on her back, scattering crystal, plates and cutlery and the lit candles. Several glasses and a crystal candlestick are broken. Kennedy then picks her up from the table and throws her on Dodd, who is sprawled in a chair. With Gaviglio on Dodd’s lap, Kennedy jumps on top and begins rubbing his genital area against hers, supporting his weight on the arms of the chair. As he is doing this, Loh enters the room. She and Gaviglio both scream, drawing one or two dishwashers. Startled, Kennedy leaps up. He laughs. Bruised, shaken and angry over what she considered a sexual assault, Gaviglio runs from the room. Kennedy, Dodd and their dates leave shortly thereafter, following a friendly argument between the senators over the check.

Eyewitness Betty Loh told me that Kennedy had “three or four” cocktails in his first half hour at the restaurant and wine with dinner. When she walked into the room after Gaviglio had gone in, she says, “what I saw was Senator Kennedy on top of Carla, who was on top of Senator Dodd’s lap, and the tablecloth was sort of slid off the table ‘cause the table was knocked over—not completely, but just on Senator Dodd’s lap a little bit, and of course the glasses and the candlesticks were totally spilled and everything. And right when I walked in, Senator Kelly jumped off…and he leaped up, composed himself and got up. And Carla jumped up and ran out of the room.”

….According to Loh, Kennedy “was sort of leaning” on Gaviglio, “not really straddling but sort of off-balance so it was like he might have accidentally fallen…He was partially on and off…pushing himself off her to get up.” Dodd, she adds, “said ‘It’s not my fault.’ ” Kennedy said something similar and added, jokingly, “Makes you wonder about the leaders of this country.”

Giving Kennedy the benefit of the doubt, it’s quite possible he did not intend an assault but meant to be funny, in a repulsive, boozehead way. Drunks are notoriously poor judges of distance, including the distance between fun and assault.

Brasserie II: On September 25, 1987, Kennedy and a young blonde woman—identified by several sources as a congressional lobbyist—allegedly got carried away at a wine-fueled lunch in a private room upstairs and succumbed to the temptations of the carpet, where they were surprised in a state of semi-undress and wholehearted passion by waitress Frauke Morgan. The room, located next to the restrooms, is secured only by a flimsy accordion door, which could not be fully closed. Morgan declined to be interviewed for this story or to comment on or refute the accounts of other sources.

However, waitress Virginia Hurt, who says Morgan described the scene to her shortly after witnessing it, recalls, “He was on the floor with his pants down on top of the woman, and he saw her and she just kind of backed away and closed the door. The girl didn’t see Frauke. So Frauke went downstairs and told the manager and [another waitress] overheard.”

A waitress to whom Morgan spoke just after the incident says, “She told me…she went up to offer them coffee and when she opened the door…there they were on the floor.” Morgan said explicitly, the other waitress goes on, that Kennedy had his pants down and his date “had her dress up,” and the two “ ‘were screwing on the floor.’ ”

Says another waitress to whom Morgan immediately related the episode, “She said she had walked in to ask them if they needed anything else before she gave them the check, and she just sort of found Senator Kennedy on top of this [woman] on the floor and they were sort of half under the table and half out.”

A copy of La Brasserie’s reservation list for that day shows that a luncheon table for two in the back room was reserved for Kennedy. A copy of the check, signed “Edward M. Kennedy,” shows he was billed for two bottles of Chardonnay.

*****

Kennedy’s friends, family and aides are a little skittish about questions on any of this. I asked the senator’s nephew Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy II if the man portrayed so scandalously in gossip columns and tabloids was the Ted Kennedy that he knew. “Hey! Hey,” said Joe in alarm. “I got—I can’t—I, uh, have really no comment on that…There’s no answer I can give you that isn’t going to be explosive, that’s all.” Recovering slightly, he added, “You know, Teddy’s a grown man and he can do whatever he wants.”

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