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Movie Review: 'Tabloid,' 3 stars

Joyce McKinney

Joyce McKinney Credit: Handout

3 stars
Documentary by Errol Morris
Rated R

Handcuffs! Sex! Oil massages! These are just a few of the sordid details that made upthe wildly sensational tabloid story of American bombshell Joyce McKinney in the late 1970s.

The eccentric beauty queen made headlines in 1977 when she allegedly kidnapped and raped a young Mormon missionary in London. The story turned McKinney into a celebrity — that notorious breed of quasi-VIP we’re all too familiar with today.

McKinney offers a different take, and director Errol Morris captures her side through extensive interviews in his riveting stranger-than-fiction documentary “Tabloid.”

By McKinney’s account, she and her Mormon boy were in love and their weekend was a consensual tryst. The only reason he turned her in, McKinney explains, is because he was afraid of being excommunicated by his church for engaging in premarital sex.

McKinney has some strikes against her. There’s the fake gun and bottle of chloroform she reportedly brought with her to London. There’s her uncanny fairy-tale notion of eternal love. Less damning but certainly scandalous is the fact that she was a call girl in Hollywood, with heaps of bondage photos to prove it (McKinney claims the photos were doctored).

Still, it’s hard to tell where the truth lies. Are we dealing with a famemonger or a victim of vicious tabloid journalism? Most likely the answer is somewhere in between.

One thing is certain: McKinney is a mesmerizing storyteller. She’s articulate and animated; she gushes and giggles and speaks with a breathless yet confident demeanor. She is, in essence, an early prototype of today’s sex-tape stars. Thank goodness, for McKinney’s sake, that TMZ wasn’t around back then.

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