Spectator columnist on Dusty Springfield: ‘You can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin’
A columnist for The Spectator has made a string of homophobic remarks about the late Dusty Springfield, also mocking Clare Balding and Ellen DeGeneres for their “Desperate Dan” jaw bones.
Reviewing a new book about the life of Springfield, which speculates about the singer’s sexual orientation, Roger Lewis wrote in a Spectator review published earlier this month: “Call me a crazy old physiognomist, but my theory is that you can always spot a lesbian by her big thrusting chin.
“Celebrity Eskimo Sandi Toksvig, Ellen DeGeneres, Jodie Foster, Clare Balding, Vita Sackville-West, God love them: there’s a touch of Desperate Dan in the jaw-bone area, no doubt the better to go bobbing for apples.”
‘Dusty: An Intimate Portrait’ has been written by author Karen Bartlett. It speculates about the musical icon’s much talked about relationships with women.
Quoting extracts of Bartlett from the book, Lewis continued: “It is thus a tragedy that Dusty Springfield’s whole existence was blighted by her orientation, which explains ‘the silence and secrecy she extended over much of her life, and her self-loathing’.”
Lewis wrote: “One glance at her chin should have revealed all – but the Sixties was not a fraction as liberated and swinging as people now assume.”
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At the end of his review, Lewis concluded: “But did Dusty really have an affair in Mustique with Princess Margaret? If I am sceptical it is only because Hanoverians have small chins.”
Today, Biteback publishing said it had withdrawn the offer of a book deal with Lewis over his comments.
In a letter to The Spectator, Iain Dale, the company’s managing director and LBC radio presenter, said: “I’m surprised and appalled by your decision to publish Roger Lewis’ review of our book Dusty: An Intimate Portrait.
“The reviewer clearly displays homophobic sentiments towards his subject and, indeed, a litany of other celebrity lesbians. The reasoning behind your decision is as incomprehensible to me as his overt homophobia is. We had been discussing with Mr Lewis the possibility of publishing his next book. He has just been told those discussions are at an end.”
At various times during her life and career, Springfield either identified herself or was identified by others as being bisexual or a lesbian.
She first suggested the idea in 1970 when she told the Evening Standard: “A lot of people say I’m bent, and I’ve heard it so many times that I’ve almost learned to accept it… I know I’m perfectly as capable of being swayed by a girl as by a boy.”
Springfield was intensely private about her personal life, and after the 1970 interview, she did not directly address the question or make a definitive statement regarding her sexuality in the press.
She died from breast cancer in 1999 at the age of 59.