Sometimes, it takes a while for the implications of a news story to reverberate fully. Take a piece that reporter Colin Soloway posted last week as an Internet exclusive at www.newsweek.com. In it, he described the contents of some of the thousands of videotapes — both homemade and commercially released — that were left behind by the missing Uday Hussein, the "notorious" eldest son of Saddam Hussein. While Soloway's story painted a persuasive enough picture of a psychopath's home-viewing habits (Green Card, indeed!), it in fact only scratched the surface of the sadistic party boy's eccentricities. We followed up on some of the report's more bizarre findings, unearthing a treasure trove of intelligence we present for you here in a convenient "they heard/we heard" format.
A number of tapes were marked PRIVATE. The tapes, which appear to have been shot in secret from behind a two-way mirror, include Uday making out with two women at once on his couch, and one of his friends chasing another woman around the room — unsuccessfully attempting to force himself on her.
"Unsuccessfully attempting?" With these two little words, Soloway unknow-ingly stumbled upon the real reason for the collapse of the entire Iraqi regime: Being friends with Uday Hussein DOES NOT GET YOU LAID. United States intelligence agencies had long surmised that Saddam's support structure remained in place largely because aides lived in hope of helping themselves to the first family's female overspill. In fact, the phenomenon was so widespread that it gave rise to a slogan popular among the nation's power elite: "We love Uday, we love Qusay, but if Allah is asking, we're just here for the pu-say."
The dream collapsed when general after general found himself unable to get to first base — or even to obliterate it with a semiautomatic weapon. Disillusioned, confidantes began ratting out the royal family to U.S. spies, though some holdouts are believed to be living in hiding as Ba'ath party loyalists, buoyed by promises that Saddam has a surviving cousin in Tikrit with a great personality.
[T]he scenes in his home videos are more homely than sexy. So far, at least, the videos do not feature sultry sirens in revealing underwear, but rather dumpy young women wearing loud, flowery dresses.
Says you, Mr. Soloway! Painted by the chauvinists at Newsweek as somehow indiscriminating, the socially progressive Uday was actually a pioneer of Iraq's anti-bulimia movement, which sought to foster realistic body images among the nation's thousands of young kidnap victims.
There are professionally produced music videos of Uday playing with his pet lions — now about to be dispatched to new lives in South Africa.
Originally, the dictator's son had wished that these videos be directed by Marc Schaffel, the gay-porn auteur also responsible for Michael Jackson's home movies. But rather than accept the assignment to cavort with Uday and his kitties, Schaffel opted for the relative peace and quiet of a job helming the direct-to-video "Pole Vaulters VI."
As a replacement, Uday conscripted Khaled Zarife, a second-semester film student who produced a series of unexpectedly stunning clips. The quality of these videos earned them power rotation on Al Jazeera-TV's Saturday-night dance programs, ensuring through-the-roof sales for Uday's accompanying CD, Buy This Record or Simba Carves Out Your Adam's Apple.
Following the fall of Baghdad, Zarife was able to cop a plea with coalition forces: In exchange for immunity from prosecution as a friend of the regime, he agreed to help the CBS network in its ongoing revitalization of its prime-time schedule. He is the creator of next fall's "CSI: WOMAD Unit."
The lions have inked a book deal with Simon & Schuster and are not allowed to respond to interview requests.
Only one tape shows Uday with his father and family — a beautifully shot home movie of the clan on vacation near Habbaniya Lake, sometime around 1980.
Relations between the tyrant and his boy appear to have soured shortly after this footage was taken: Elsewhere in Uday's personal effects, liberators found a copy of the Fonda family classic On Golden Pond, on which the words "Lies of the Great Satan" had been inscribed in angry red Crayola.
On one tape he presents awards at a function of the Iraqi Olympic committee, which he headed. The athletes and officials present appear terrified — hardly surprising given Uday's practice of torturing and beating those who performed poorly in competitive events.
The mood is lightened considerably by the presence of co-presenter Abdul Pa'ula Abdul, who effusively informs the assembled athletes how "really, really great" it is that they can put their fear aside to "follow their dreams." After a few more minutes of motivational jibber-jabber, Abdul is led out of camera range by uniformed guards. The closing moments of the ceremony are then drowned out by the sounds of human fingernails being ripped slowly and deliberately from their moorings.
One of the most memorable tapes is of a birthday celebration. When the drunken Uday becomes bored with sullen dancing girls, he pulls out a machine gun and starts shooting in the air in time with the beat from the band — Uday then finishes off the party by shooting [an assault rifle] directly over the heads of the band members, who amazingly, keep playing. The keyboard player crouches behind his instrument, still pounding the keys, as Uday shoots up the HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign hung at head level across the stage. When he runs out of bullets, Uday shakes hands with the frightened singer, and just to show he's a good sport, tells the keyboard player: "See all those holes? All those bullets could be in your belly." Then he laughs.
All in all, the birthday party was "the smoothest gig we've ever played," reflects Great White singer Jack Russell.Steve Schneider writes for the Orlando Weekly, where this feature first appeared. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org