Episode 109 - The Many Faces of Clive Mildoon (1988 Week)
I had a strange dream yesterday morning Sam that I thought you’d like to hear about. I dreamt that I did a really big turd that blocked a toilet. In the dream I vividly experienced that moment when you flush the toilet and the water starts to rise ominously. You’re thinking, surely it’s going to drop, any second now, but it doesn’t. The water keeps rising. In my dream, the unthinkable happened, it overflowed across the bathroom floor. There was then a continuity error in my dream where suddenly the floor was covered in brown water but the toilet water was back to a normal level, that is when I spotted the enormous turd, straight as an arrow, made up of lots of multi-coloured pieces of sweetcorn; much like skittles. I took a deep breath and committed myself to battling the turd mano a mano, or more precisely, mano a poo-o, but alas, when I reached for the bog brush, there was only a fork. So I had to break apart the poo with a fork. Fin.
I started in the most logical place possible, in fact, the place that inspired this topic suggestion; my almost completely redundant Encyclopaedia Annual for 1988. My thought process was that I would be able to flick through the many pages of this book and discover something truly left-field that would make listeners marvel at my ingenuity. That was until I realised that the 1988 Encyclopaedia Annual is all about what happened in 1987. I’m not sure why if I’m honest, I think myself and most people would make the assumption that a big book with ‘1988’ written down the spine in large, friendly letters (yes I know, numerals, but it’s a Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy reference) would be largely devoted to things what happened in 1988.
Anyway, I still found something good that fits with the topic because some important parts of the story took place in 1988. So this week Matthew, I will be talking about Jim Bakker & Televangelism.
Not to be mixed up with Jim Henson & Smelly-vag-elism; which was a Sesame Street spin-off that Miss Piggy refused to take part in. Or indeed not to be mixed up with Jim Davidson’s Jelly-Vandalism which was a British 90s Saturday night television show in which Jim Davidson went around the country vandalising public monuments with types of jelly. The angel of the north had strawberry jelly catapulted at it, Stonehenge was covered in trifle and Nelson’s column was smeared in KY.
This might not be the most original idea for our American listeners; Jim Bakker is very well known, but we’re an international show so let’s just do it. I’m actually surprised that neither of us have talked about televangelists before, it’s a gold mine for mockery. I think the closest we’ve come is passing references to the Farting Preacher, aka Robert Tilton. Jim Bakker is still alive, so we need to be a tad careful with what we say here, not that anyone is listening, but just in case.
Jim Bakker was born in 1940, in 1961 he married Tammy Faye LaValley (that’s a solid American name isn’t it?). From the mid 60s to the mid 70s the couple were honing the art of religious quackery on various low-key television programs. It would appear that they were making very good money but they weren’t really loaded yet. The in 1974, they started the PTL Club; this was an evangelical talk show with other forms of entertainment. Hallelujah praise the Lord, literally, PTL stood for Praise the Lord or People That Love, not Parsnip Tickling Lesbians, nor Perverted Turnip Lickers, nor Putrid Toenail Lollipops. At the same time, the couple set up their own television network to broadcast this pile of crap. As their success grew, they began building up a base of operations in a little spot in Fort Mill South Carolina. I do find it a tad ironic that the type of television that these evangelical Christians produce is my idea of hell.
Now Sam, I imagine like me you like Theme Parks don’t you? You know, roller coasters, water parks, restaurants, drama students dressed as cartoon characters, embarrassing family photos. We love it! But what could make Theme Parks even better? What’s more fun that vomiting up a litre of cola after going on the great spinny-me-jig six times in a row? I’ll tell you Sam; salvation. Salvation and Jesus Sam.
PREACHER VOICE Halitosis praise the lord. I’ve been drinking nothing but coffee for weeks now. Hmmm oh yeah. I haven’t the time to clean my teeth; I have the Lord’s work to do! My breath smells like a shit in a post box.
So in 1978 Bakker and Faye developed their headquarters into Heritage USA, a Christian Theme Park. The sort of place David and Louise Turpin took their children on holiday in matching clothes (that’s a good joke if you stop your mind from recalling what those parents did to their children in any detail, when you do, it takes the edge off the joke somewhat).
This place was seriously big! 5-6 million people visited it annually and at one point it was the third largest theme park in the USA behind Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I don’t the difference between the two; presumably Disneyland is based on the Disney films whereas Walt Disney World is where you go to learn how to draw pictures of Jews with hooked noses stealing children from prams.
The theme park had a huge hotel, Water Park (take a dunk on the baptism luge!), shopping centre, church of course, campground, train, skate rink, drama students dressed as your favourite disciples. It had everything!
Then in 1987 it all started to fall apart. This bit is really sad Sam. I hate hubris Sam. I hate it when charlatans get their comeuppance. I hate it when hypocrite turd faces get caught out.
Well it turns out that Bakker couldn’t keep his dick in his pants. Let me introduce John Wesley Fletcher; another nutcase who had worked with Bakker and Faye on their television network. In 1987 a lady called Jessica Hahn, who worked for Bakker and Faye, alleged that she was raped by Bakker and Fletcher in 1980. Fletcher later claimed that Bakker was going through a bit of a tough time with his wife and so asked him for a girl to nob. Fletcher found Hahn (a 21 year old virgin) and Bakker and Hahn had sex. Hahn alleged that Fletcher stepped in immediately after Bakker was finished and also had sex with Hahn. To top thing off, Fletcher and Bakker allegedly had bum sex too. It was also reported at the time that Bakker had been caught in a sauna gay orgy. The Bakker-Hahn bit was either consensual or rape, Bakker says one thing, Hahn the other. You can decide, I know what I think. According to Hahn, during the encounter, Bakker repeatedly said "By helping the shepherd, you're helping the sheep." Now twist my balls and put your fingers up my nose baby. Hahn ended up being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money. She immediately used her fame to do some Playboy shoots and try to launch a career in acting and modelling.
On the topic of ‘holier than though’, another televangelist called Jimmy Swaggert apparently pushed hard for there to be a church investigation into Bakker’s sexual misconduct. I think I read that there were rumours that we was circling like a vulture around Bakker’s empire. Anyway, a year after the Bakker scandal started, Swaggert was caught with a prostitute. 3 years later in 1991, he was pulled over by the police with a lady in his car, she was quoted saying "He asked me for sex. I mean, that's why he stopped me. That's what I do. I'm a prostitute.” After the first scandal, he had come clean. And after that he confessed. But after the 1991 scandal, he apparently said "The Lord told me it's flat none of your business."
I think jumping on someone and kicking them when they’re down is just what Jesus would have wanted in this situation. So not only were other televangelists going on national television and having a good go at Bakker, but the those involved Bakker and Faye Empire started kicking them in the hope that the Empire would survive the scandal. A chap called Falwell who had worked with Bakker and Faye called him "the greatest scab and cancer on the face of Christianity in 2,000 years of church history" and a "cancer in the body of Christ".
The controversy that surrounded the sexual misconduct and hush money led to investigations into financial affairs. It may surprise you to find out that Bakker and Faye had been the source of a number of allegations and investigations into financial impropriety during the 1980s. Well in 1988 Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in prison on 8 counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and 1 count of conspiracy. As an aside, I ascertained in my research that mail fraud wasn’t women wearing fake moustaches, putting on deep voices and insisting that only they are allowed to hold the barbecue tongs as is commonly believed. It was a slightly odd trial, at one point it had to be delayed for a few days after Bakker had a breakdown and hid behind a sofa claiming that there were giant bugs in the courtroom.
So Bakker was basically using donations for whatever the fuck he liked and selling things that didn’t exist; like memberships that involved an annual stay in the hotel at their theme park. There were tens of thousands of memberships purchased and only 500 hotel rooms. He ended up only serving 8 years. I keep saying ‘he’. Well he took the hit on this one, although I think it is fair to say that his wife must have had something to do with all. Talking of Faye, she apparently was a nutty middle aged lady who liked hitting on male staff and going bonkers on prescription drugs and running around naked. She looks like a right old sack of spuds too; a good example of lipstick on a pig.
Since 2003, Bakker has been back in the game! He has his own cable television show and now preaches that the end is nigh, and boy have we got some products that you’ll love! No kidding, he sells doomsday stuff to idiots. He’s made all sorts of weird comments about 9/11, Trump conspiracies, high school shootings, Obama, usual weird American twat stuff. My particular favourite is that God visited him wearing camouflage, a hunting vest and a rifle to tell him that Trump was right; teachers should be armed. He’s also quoted as saying that people who ridicule him are going to be punished by god. I’m so scared Bakker, ooooooo, I’m shivering in my boots! Well, in retaliation, I say that Bakker is going to be punished by Thor wielding Timmy Mallet’s hammer for being a big fecking egit.
Since the Covid pandemic, Bakker has been selling miracle cures. Here’s a quote quoted on the US Food and Drug Administration website in a warning letter sent from the FDA to Bakker.
“But this influenza that is now circling the globe, you’re saying that Silver Solution would be effective? Well let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus, but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus, and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours, totally eliminate it, kills it, deactivates it”
“Silver Solution has been proven … to kill every pathogen it has ever been tested on … and it can kill any of these known viruses …”
Time for my catch phrase; and there you have it Sam. Jim Bakker who’s life fell apart in 1988.