Home » Documentary » ‘Tabloid’ revisits mystery of manacled Mormon

‘Tabloid’ revisits mystery of manacled Mormon

“I don’t see any connection at all between cloned puppies and a 32-year-old sex-in-chains story.”

So explains Joyce McKinney, a former Miss Wyoming who in 1977 allegedly kidnapped and raped Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson.

Joyce, the subject of Errol Morris’ 2010 documentary, “Tabloid,” also doesn’t understand why folks were so fascinated by her love life. By love life, she means the infamous incident, which turned her into a tabloid sensation. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to the cloned puppies in a minute.)

The story begins in Utah, where North Carolina native Joyce met Kirk. According to Joyce, they fell in love and planned to marry. They even selected names, all of which began with “J” or “K,” for their future children.

Joyce was happy – until the day Kirk “vanished into thin air.”

Actually, he had gone to England to perform a Mormon mission.

Joyce found Kirk and with help from her sidekick, took him to a cottage in the English countryside. Kirk would tell police Joyce had imprisoned him, chained — or tied? — him to a bed and forced him to have sex. Kirk refused Morris’ request for an interview, but Joyce claims Kirk was a willing participant in their “honeymoon.”

England couldn’t get enough of the tale of the manacled Mormon. A battle between two British tabloids commenced with one telling Joyce’s side and the other publishing sordid details and titillating photos of her past.

Joyce dismisses the latter’s coverage as lies. She blames the tabloids — and the Mormons — for ruining her life, but she doesn’t hold Kirk responsible. She speaks wistfully of the babies she could have given him – if it weren’t for those meddling Mormons.

Morris uses newspaper headlines to accentuate certain words such as “spread eagle” and “impotence” and makes it appear as if Joyce’s home movies and older interviews are playing on a vintage TV. In addition to Joyce, he interviews the pilot who flew her to England, a photographer from the tabloid Joyce believes ruined her life, and a reporter from the paper that gave her more favorable press.

But the larger than life Joyce, whom the reporter describes as “barking mad,” is the star of the show. At times, it’s hard to believe she’s real, but only real people say things like “doo-doo dipper” and “that’s like putting a marshmallow in a parking meter.”

Joyce also mentions a book she’s been writing since forever. In fact, she alludes to it so many times I yelled, “Write the damn book.”

And as I yelled at the TV, I wondered why Morris wasn’t challenging Joyce. I wanted him to ask why she happened to have chains — or rope? — laying around the cottage and if she cared to name her source of income.

But I realized Morris knew what he was doing. It’s best to let people like Joyce keep talking. Of course, Joyce is such a dynamic personality that by the time the 88-minute movie neared its conclusion, I felt mentally exhausted.

I needed the shot of adrenalin supplied by the revelation she had cloned her dead pit bull, Booger.

Not that Joyce recognizes the connection between following Kirk across the Atlantic Ocean and cloning Booger. Nope, nothing obsessive about either act.

Epilogue: Joyce McKinney has sued Errol Morris claiming the movie “promotes vicious and malicious lies” about her.

Her lawsuit reminds me of something Joyce said about Kirk, “You know, you can tell a lie long enough until you believe it.”

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5 thoughts on “‘Tabloid’ revisits mystery of manacled Mormon

  1. What a funny review! I saw an interview with this woman and she is, indeed, “barking mad.”

    p.s. Oh Mr. Bates! How could you? Loved the Downton Abbey blog…amazing show. Poor Mr. Bates!

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