Bil Browning

Because man-on-man sex will kill you

Filed By Bil Browning | December 05, 2007 1:55 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: go-go, homophobic behavior, journalism, murder, scandal, Seth Tobias, sex

Did anyone else catch the CNN story about the hedge fund manager found floating face down in his pool? It has enough salacious and lurid details to make The National Enquirer blush.

Gay sex, a go-go dancer, his wife, his brothers and millions of dollars. These stories write themselves, eh?

If you're interested in the VC Andrews version of the story, watch the video. I want to talk about the gay angle because John Zarella does a good job of sensationalizing the story in a homophobic manner.

How do you talk about a case involving a millionaire, his wife and a male go-go dancer and not ignore the gay angle without being homophobic? The International Herald does a good job.

The brothers, Samuel, Spence, Scott and Joshua, claim that Filomena Tobias drugged her husband and lured him into the pool, where he drowned. A former assistant to Seth Tobias has told the police that Filomena Tobias confessed to him that she had cajoled her husband, who was on a cocaine binge, into the water, promising him sex with a male go-go dancer know as "Tiger." A lawyer for Filomena Tobias has called the claims outrageous.

How does Zarella describe it? (My transcript - his emphasis.)

A couple of years ago, Tobias married a woman named Filomena. In no time the couple became a fixture in Florida's society whirl.

According to the New York Times, the couple also did something else together. They enjoyed going to a local gay club.

And it was at Cupid's where, according to the Times, Tobias allegedly developed a liking for a mysterious man who called himself "Tiger," a gay dancer with tiger-like tattoos covering his body.

Over time, Tobias' relationship with his wife turned sour. He filed for divorce in 2006.
But Tobias' brothers, in legal documents filed in litigation over Tobias' 25 million dollar estate, say Filomena drugged Tobias then lured him into the pool with a promise of sex with Tiger.

Is it really necessary to keep stressing "gay?" I find it interesting that they never call Tobias "gay," which would be the usual media paintbrush. After all, reporting Tobias as bisexual would require too much head scratching.

Zarella purposefully uses the word "gay" and emphasizes it and "sex" so he can titillate the viewer. By trickling out more and more salacious plot twists he hopes to justify his salary.

Notice that the "gay dancer" isn't implicated, nor is it stated that he was at the scene of the possible crime. In fact, it's not until the end of the story that Zarella acknowledges that no criminal charges have been filed in the case.

He weakly mentions that the "charges" themselves come from wrangling over the dead man's inheritance, but glosses that over in a rush to declare it a "mystery" as if he were an all-grown-up Hardy Boy.

The sexuality of any of the participants is irrelevant. Here's a more accurate description:

"Brothers allege dead hedge fund manager's estranged wife drowned him in the family pool after luring him with a promise of sex with a stripper. No charges have been filed."

A little short? Yes. Give all the complete details that circumstantially condemn the wife? No. Is the story complete? Not really.

But it's a good way to show that sexuality shouldn't be the juicy sideshow. Zarella should let the story write itself - and keep his homophobia out of it.

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Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | December 5, 2007 9:12 PM

You know that this story is going to become some melodramatic made-for-tv movie starring some has been Brat Packer.

I don't expect much more from CNN. After all, it is the station that has Glenn Beck and Nancy Grace in prime time and let's not forget their 24/7 coverage of the death of Anna Nicole Smith. The only reason to watch is Anderson Cooper.

Michael's right. CNN stories always have some campy lead in. The initials stand for Crap-tastic Not-so-much-new Network. They were so quick to blame the Oklahoma City bombing on "Arabs" that they missed the real perpetrator, a white dude. I don't even put CNN on for background noise in my hotel. I'd get more information from the blue screen that welcomes you to the hotel.

However, I do want to hear more about the drugs and go-go dancer. Now THAT'S my kinda news!