Older and wiser, Monica returns
By John Cloud
February 1, 1999
Monica Lewinsky has always been a stranger to her generation. She has seemed lovestruck, needy, pitiable--never hip or even comprehensible. After all, what self-respecting twentysomething would want to be a White House bureaucrat, or hang with Mom all the time, or lust after a golf-playing, Kenny G.-listening fiftysomething with a taste for giving cheesy gifts?
But recently, even as she was preparing for this week's videotaped deposition in the impeachment trial, Lewinsky has started to act her age. She reportedly has a boyfriend, a guy who works at an indie-film studio. She got a phat 4x4 to cruise around in. Her book will be out soon. At a Manhattan party in December, according to gossip queen Liz Smith, she even sang along with the hottest track in underground clubland, a new remix of the '80s hit Tainted Love. It's a perfect anthem for her, now that she's over Clinton, focusing less on that awful Linda Tripp and getting rock-star-worthy hounding from reporters.
Sometimes I feel I've got to run away...to get away.
The public scrutiny hasn't been this intense since the first weeks of the scandal. Some of it isn't so bad. When she walked into a Los Angeles haunt, Lewinsky got a chorus of cheers. And it's common for people to stop, stare and offer unsolicited advice. But friends say the relentless paparazzi make her crazy. On Jan. 15 the New York Post ran an investigative report on Lewinsky's "chocoholic chow-down" the day before. Complete with unflattering photos of the "portly pepperpot," as the paper called her, the story detailed her order (a vanilla cupcake, a slice of chocolate-mousse cake and so on) and quoted a bakery manager: "She ate it all--every drop, every little crumb. She eats a lot."Ouch.
The love we share seems to go nowhere... Once I ran to you/ Now I run from you.
Lewinsky used to crave the Washington insider's life. Now she has moved into her own place in L.A. and started building a life of her own--or she had before the House managers came calling. "She was off doing her own thing," a companion told TIME. Then she "suddenly gets dragged back in. It's like she has no control over her life."
During her January trip to Washington to meet the managers, the national press made the New York Post look timid. One gang tried to rent the Mayflower Hotel room next to the suite where the managers interviewed her. Police used high-tech devices to keep anyone from eavesdropping. Then a group of photographers tore down a curtain to get a clear shot through a window Lewinsky was supposed to pass. Even the stately New York Times reported the contents of her breakfast and the fact that she cried herself to sleep the night before.
I toss and turn/ I can't sleep at night...oh, tainted love, tainted love.
Lewinsky is trying to regain control. Last week her lawyers asked a judge to free her from Kenneth Starr's gag rule so she could go on TV for a ritual cleansing administered by Barbara Walters. MTV's Carson Daly would have been a much cooler choice.
--By John Cloud. Reported by John Dickerson and Michael Weisskopf/Washington
MORE TIME STORIES:
Cover Date: February 8, 1998
Fasten your seat belts
Older and wiser, Monica returns
Driven to distraction
The year of living foolishly