4 Weird Celebrity Stories We Sort Of Forgot About
All too often, a spate of weird headlines can overshadow everything else an artist does, which is why Ben Affleck is known as much for being an extremely divorced dad as for being Batman. Sometimes, though, a celebrity story goes completely off the rails and then just ... vanishes from public consciousness. Well, we're not letting them get away with it anymore.
Pete Townshend's Illegal Porn Arrest "For Research" For A Project That Never Materialized
In 1999, the U.K. launched its largest-ever investigation of child pornography, resulting in a number of surprises. Out of the hundreds of arrests made and "cautions" issued, a handful involved some big names, chiefly Pete Townshend of The Who in 2003. Townshend readily admitted to using his credit card to access a website advertising child pornography, earning him five years on the sex offender registry and lending a whole new meaning to the term "teenage wasteland."
Where it gets weird and not just gross, though, is Townshend's explanation of the situation, which kept changing and never made sense. First, he claimed he was doing research for a book, then for a campaign "to counter damage done by all kinds of pornography on the internet, but especially any involving child abuse." He was just trying to prove how dangerously accessible such "shocking material" was, which, mission accomplished, Pete Townshend. You proved that people can buy child porn, which no one realized or could have otherwise proven. There was also something about British banks profiting from child sex trafficking, which again could only be somehow proven by paying to access child pornography, but whatever. Townshend is a beloved figure of the British Invasion, and he was never actually charged, so some people gave him the benefit of the doubt.
But no book ever materialized. Townshend eventually published a memoir in 2012 that addressed his legal troubles, but it was remarkable foresight on his part to conduct research to explain an incident that hadn't happened yet and, in fact, directly resulted from such research. As for his crusade against internet porn, he didn't speak publicly for nine years after his run-in with the police, so that's some pretty shitty crusading.
Maybe he called the whole thing off, fearing the bad publicity would taint it. Who knows? It would certainly be understandable for a person accused of sex crimes to avoid the spotlight. It would be the most understandable thing in this story, but Townshend hasn't explained, and no one has asked him to. You'd think, "Hey, remember that time you were a registered sex offender? What happened there?" would be a question in every interview for the rest of his life, but that's the British commitment to propriety for you.
Courtney Love's Ex-Son-in-Law Claimed That She Tried to Have Him Killed Over A Guitar
It is inadvisable, to say the least, to mess with Courtney Love. Sure, she almost certainly didn't kill her late husband, but do you really want to take a chance with someone who is even a rumored murderer? At the very least, you're probably looking at some very unpleasant late-night phone calls and maybe an errant fist to the face. You definitely don't want to mess with anyone she was rumored to have murdered or the physical embodiment of all she has left of them, which is where Isaiah Silva went wrong. Two years after he and Love's daughter, artist Frances Bean Cobain, divorced in 2016, a judge awarded him the guitar that Kurt Cobain famously played during Nirvana's appearance on MTV Unplugged, which he claimed the younger Cobain had given him as an engagement gift. He was also awarded $12,000 a month in spousal support after asking for $25,000. Did he really think Courtney Love was just going to take that?
Well, maybe she did. We might never know. What we do know is that, in 2018, Silva claimed that two years earlier, a motley crew of Love's associates -- including then-manager Sam Lufti, notorious for hilariously mishandling Britney Spears's career in the 2000s, and Ross Butler, an actor best known for playing an only kind of terrible jock on Thirteen Reasons Why -- broke into his house in the dead of night to take back the guitar. Having failed to do that, the gang "allegedly beat and groped Silva, stole his phone, then dragged him into a waiting Escalade and drove away." Silva claimed he believes he would have been killed had it not been for the quick thinking of a friend no one knew remained behind in the house but that Lufti coerced him into explaining it to police as a big misunderstanding. Two years later, he filed a 300-page lawsuit against Love for, you know, all that.
Then he seemed to have just kinda dropped it. The case dragged on for a few years, then Sam Lufti -- long since fired by Love -- was ordered to hand over his cell phone records, but then Silva apparently stopped showing up or responding to court orders. Did Love threaten him into silence? Did Lufti? Was Love never involved in the first place? Was Silva lying? No one has any incentive to answer these questions. Incidentally, the guitar was auctioned off by an "anonymous seller" in 2020, breaking several world records in the process.
Did Silva have every reason to get that thing off his hands? Yes. Is it within the realm of possibility that Love strong-armed it out of him just to auction it off out of spite? Also yes.
Don Johnson's Mystery $8 Billion Dollars In Bonds
He's now known mostly as the father of the star of Fifty Shades of Grey, but in 2002, Don Johnson was known for ... not much. Sure, he was hot shit in the '80s, but a 2003 LA Times article described him as the star of "1996's Tin Cup with Kevin Costner," which was almost more devastating than its speculation on what looked like serious white-collar crime. Let's back up.
See, Johnson was all too aware that his career was in something of a valley in 2002. He was trying, he insisted, to change that, which is how he found himself in Switzerland ... to meet with "unnamed Americans" ... to arrange financing for some movies. He claims he asked for proof that they could deliver, so they handed over a collection of "credit notes and other securities" worth $8 billion. What was he trying to make? Mission to Actually Mars?
He then headed to Germany with his assistant, an "unnamed Swiss financial advisor," and possibly a third unidentified person for a sneak peek at a new Mercedes model ("He's a car buff," his publicist explained), but the international road trip was cut short by German officials, who found a briefcase containing the financial documents in Johnson's trunk and decided some kind of crime definitely happened. They didn't know what, but "if everything is legal, you don't have to transport documents worth this amount in a car," a spokesman for the Customs Investigations Department said.
Meanwhile, the story leaked to the media, compelling his mysterious investors to back out even though they were the ones who supposedly provided the documents. German officials did eventually close the case, having failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing, and the story just quietly went away, although Johnson claimed its depiction of him as a shady character made him unemployable, which we're going to just let him believe. Yep, that's why no one wants Don Johnson in their movies.
Lindsay Lohan Tried to Kidnap Refugee Children
Lindsay Lohan is kind of low-hanging fruit. She has a long history of bizarre behavior that can be pretty clearly explained by her many obvious mental health and substance abuse issues, so it's generally considered poor taste to draw attention to it. But she also tried to kidnap a family of Syrian refugees, and that requires answers.
In 2018, Lohan was in Moscow when she went live on Instagram, speaking in a strange stereotypical Middle-Easternish accent about a family who appeared to be homeless and she claimed were Syrian refugees, who she says she "met" but who clearly want nothing to do with her. They're just sitting on the ground, minding their own business when Lohan accosts them with demands to "Tell me your story so I can help you."
A woman clutching two children politely smiles while this weird stranger asks the children if they want to "stay in a hotel tonight" and "watch movies," but Lohan becomes agitated when they don't respond, chastising the woman for not being "a hardworking woman" or "doing what you do for your children so that they have a better life" and demanding to "let me take them." The family decides they've had enough of this disturbed lady and peaces out, but Lohan follows them, accusing them of trafficking the children and insisting that "I won't leave until I take you." She eventually grabs one of them, at which point the woman has reached her limit for This Shit and appears to strike Lohan before fleeing with her family. Lohan is last seen making the face of every entitled white woman who has been confronted by the consequences of her actions.
The story was the talk of social media for about a day, but not only was Lohan never charged for attempting to kidnap a child on video, she's never had to answer for it in any way. When asked directly about the incident later that year by Paper Magazine, she repeatedly dodged the question, later answering through a representative "I read the situation wrong. I've learned from it. And that's all I have to say." Society generally requires more than an "Ope, my bad," when it comes to, it cannot be overstated, attempted kidnapping, but Lohan has been allowed to go on to star in ... a straight-to-video supernatural thriller and a British series with Ron Weasley. You know what? Maybe she's been punished enough.
Top image: MTV International/Wikimedia Commons