05.09.04 THE DAILY MAIL


The following article by Alison Boshoff. appeared in an May 2004 issue of The Daily Mail newspaper...

He's the ordinary bloke (with seven homes and a butler). The Tantric sex guru (who adores lapdancers). The eco-warrior (who promotes gas guzzlers). As he finally admits he's fooled his fans, who IS the real Sting?

Sting's favourite home (out of the seven he owns) is The Lake House in Wiltshire, an outstandingly beautiful Elizabethan manor house made from local limestone and flint, with mullioned windows and decorative gables.

It sits behind imposing electronic gates, and is protected by barbed wire fencing, closed-circuit television and signs warning that guard dogs are patrolling its manicured grounds.

Inside, there are 14 bedrooms, a recording studio and a farm with sheep, pigs and goats, plus a newly dug trout lake, which provides fish for the rock star's table.

Maintaining this luxury requires a formidable staff which includes two fulltime gardeners, a fulltime farmer, a chef, a butler (who wears Ralph Lauren suits by day and a Nehru collared white jacket for dinner parties), a yoga and spirituality guru, at least one nanny and several housekeepers.

'I employ a lot of people. I pay them well,' says Sting, a 52-yearold milkman's son from Newcastle, who likes to make great play of his social conscience.

Sting - real name Gordon Sumner - has a fortune put at somewhere between £85 million and £200 million, so he can well afford such a grand lifestyle.

But he likes to insist that he remains very much a common citizen, talking about his 'right' to be a regular guy and claiming he goes daily into the village to buy newspapers, visit the pub and place a bet at the bookies.

'I live underneath and behind all that, at street level,' he says. 'I demand my right to walk around in a normal way'.

It's an intriguing picture - but not one which the locals in the nearby villages of Wilsford-cum-Lake and Amesbury recognise.

There, those who run the local paper shop say they have never seen their famous customer.

Meanwhile, in the William Hill betting shop in Amesbury, staff say that when Sting feels like having a flutter, he does not appear in person, but sends a 'runner' from his domestic retinue. And although he has been seen drinking either red wine or lager at his local pub, his appearances are so rare that they attract as much attention as would the appearance of an alien.

Not to put too fine a point on it, Sting's pronouncement about his love of the simple life appears to be about as synthetic as his curious mid-Atlantic accent.

But then, as we have discovered this week, not much about Sting is quite as it seems.

For years, he was happy to let the world believe that he was a master of so called 'Tantric sex', a yoga related practice which allowed him to make love to his wife, Trudie Styler, for up to seven hours at a time.

He even went into details of how, by pulling in his stomach muscles towards his spine, he could pull off this incredible feat.

'Your stomach goes as near to the spine as you can make it and you never lose control, you just keep going,' he said. 'The purpose of sex ideally is for the woman to attain orgasm and for the man not to. I'm serious about this. I think it's about control.'

However, in an interview with Jeremy Vine on BBC1 this week, he admitted that he hasn't 'a clue' what Tantric sex is, and added that the whole concept had sprung from a drunken boast to Bob Geldof at a dinner party.

'It's more like four hours of begging,' he said of his marital sex life. But it seems Sting isn't the only one who has been stringing us along.

His wife Trudie has also retracted her colourful admissions to American DJ Howard Stern, made earlier this month about the couple enjoying threesomes, drug-taking and lesbianism saying she was only joking.

The whole episode has no doubt been excruciatingly embarrassing for the couple's four children, Mickey, 20, Jake, 18, Coco, 13, and Giacomo, eight, although - now here's a surprise - it has helped to publicise their father's new album, Sacred Love, and his forthcoming dates at the Royal Albert Hall.

So what is the truth about Sting's sex-life? And why on earth does this man - who is wealthy and successful beyond most people's wildest dreams - feel the need to indulge in such unsavoury, childish posturing about his personal life?

Sting is certainly a more contradictory person than his po-faced pronouncements would lead you to believe.

He is the caring eco-warrior who has spent years in therapy, but attended the funeral of neither of his parents - and later admitted that he didn't shed a tear for them.

He is the dedicated family man who likes to frequent strip joints, says he adores prostitutes and cheated on his first wife, actress Frances Tomelty, when she was pregnant with their second child.

He is the republican with a social conscience who is on first name terms with Prince Charles.

And he is the singer of tender ballads who ruthlessly drops friends and loved ones when it suits him.

Stewart Copeland, drummer with The Police - the band who shot Sting to fame - has said Sting is an egotist, narcissist and misanthrope. 'Not only does he hate humanity, but every human within the species, except for his family,' said Copeland. He added that Sting had an ego so large it was visible from the moon.

In short, he is a very different person from the working-class lad from the North-East who, as a 25-year- old English teacher, packed up his wife and young son in a battered car and travelled to London to seek his fortune.

As well as his Wiltshire mansion, Sting has a palatial home in Tuscany and an apartment in New York that is so large it has three front doors.

Then there is the yoga retreat in the Lake District, the Malibu beach house and a lovely 18th century London home.

They are all the trophies of an immensely successful career in music which is thought to earn Sting £1 a second. Accounts for his company, Steerpike, show that last year he earned £25 million in just eight months.

But for all his wealth and curious New Age beliefs, it is his relationship with Trudie Styler that is the most intriguing and unconventional aspect of his life.

They lead fairly separate lives - he has joked that she books him in for a 'meeting' when they need to see each other. She tends to spend three days a week in London attending to her career as a film producer, while he is often on a different continent every week.

But the unconventional arrangement seems to work.

Sting said recently: 'I don't want a little woman waiting for me; I want her to have freedom, and she allows me freedom.' This freedom appears to encompass plenty of sexual latitude, even if it does not mean that Sting and Trudie are, as she claimed to Howard Stern, heavily into wife-swapping.

Certainly, around the time Sting met Trudie, when he was at the peak of his success with The Police, he was constantly pursued by groupies, and there can be little doubt that he indulged in plenty of casual sex.

He boasted to old friend Andy Hudson that at one point he slept 'with every woman who came into the room'. Another time he talked about sleeping with five different women during a weeklong stay in New York.

From what Sting says, it seems that these habits have died hard.

'Monogamy's becoming easier for me as it becomes more logical,' he said recently. 'As I get older, it's making more sense to me.' They are hardly the words of a man who has never strayed.

And more than that, Sting is quite open about his admiration for strippers and prostitutes. He has a horror of being 'bourgeois' and apparently believes that this kind of talk makes him seem more rock 'n' roll.

'No one could call me reactionary or dull,' he boasts. 'I've never met a whore I didn't like.

I've always found them very warm people. I mean genuinely.

The old cliche of the tart with a heart actually is true.' Although he insists he has never paid for sex, it is clear he is no stranger to the erotic thrill some men find in paying for the attention of a beautiful woman.

Lonnie Hannover, owner of Manhattan lap dancing club Scores, told the Mail this week: 'Sting has been a regular for more than ten years. He's been in with band-mates, friends and business associates.

'He often comes in with Trudie, who buys him dances, and he is very popular with the girls.'

How very broadminded Trudie must be not to be offended by her husband enjoying lap dances while she watches. But then Trudie is acutely aware of her husband's desirability and the temptations it presents.

She first laid eyes on him in 1978 - the same year The Police had their first hit - when she was working in a nightclub and Wiltshire home he was her neighbour in Bayswater, West London.

Sting was then married to Frances Tomelty and they had a son, Joe.

Like Frances, Trudie was an aspiring actress, and by 1980 they were friends and starring together in a production of Macbeth.

Sting and Trudie have always refused to discuss exactly what happened next.

But it is clear the singer began sleeping with his neighbour, and Frances discovered the affair shortly before the birth of their daughter, Kate. Soon after, he left her.

At the time, Frances was virtually bedridden with what was later diagnosed as a thyroid condition, but far from regretting the pain he had caused her, Sting says the affair was, in fact, his salvation.

'The one relationship that saved me was with Trudie,' he explained.

'She saved my life. She knew me and, despite knowing me, she loved me.

When I talk to other people who knew me through that period, they say: "God, you were a bastard."

And I was.

'I was very confused about who I was and what I was doing. I was very destructive. I was taking a fair amount of cocaine, which changes your personality in a bad way. I was feeling alienated and isolated.'

Perhaps some of his many years of therapy have been directed towards assuaging this guilt.

Trudie once said: 'It was a very dark time and we have both taken responsibility for what happened in a way we think is appropriate.'

This introspection will have been no hardship for Sting, who has a fondness for examining his own life bordering on the narcissistic. He consults with various spiritual gurus - Buddhist, Hindu and Christian - and devotes two hours every morning to yoga which allows him the 'mental purity' he says he needs to write music.

He has put himself through hallucinogenic regressive therapy in the Amazon, claiming to have experienced what it was like in the womb, and recently took a spiritual journey to India, where he meditated by the Ganges wearing a dhoti, a garment resembling a nappy.

Those who know him of old say he was always self-focused, not to say obsessed. Mike Hales, a record executive, recalls Sting furiously vetoing scores of pictures taken of him at a session with The Police.

And he has always loved to give a good impression. At their 1992 wedding, Sting led Trudie from church on horseback, looking every inch the romantic hero. She wore a £25,000 Versace dress, with Versace himself on hand to make sure it all looked just so.

Despite such attention to image, Sting has, on occasions, been made to look decidedly foolish, not least over his charitable association with the Brazilian Kayapo tribe.

Famously, Sting brought their leader, Raoni, onto Terry Wogan's chat show to raise consciousness about the destruction of the Amazonian rainforest, and helped to raise £1.6 million for their cause.

But the association became increasingly troubled: it emerged that the tribe had been selling mahogany to Europe, and then the Brazilian media said that one of the chiefs had made a deal with a timber company that allowed him and his sons to move into a city hotel with white prostitutes.

After the Brazilian government gave the Kayapo homeland protected status, Sting quietly dropped campaigning on their behalf, and it is noticeable that he has talked a little less about ecological matters as he has got older.

Two years ago, he was even willing to endorse gas-guzzling Jaguar cars - hardly the marque of an eco-warrior.

Yet this contradictory man insists he is just as sincerely concerned as he ever was to make the world a better place.

'I am not pretending, I am just trying my best,' he says. And he continues, in one of those aphorisms that sound so convincing: 'I am an adult, which is more significant than being a pop star.'

But like so many of Sting's pronouncements - whether on Tantric sex or his homely lifestyle - it is hard to know quite what he means, or whether we should believe him.

© The Daily Mail
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