J.Lo's indecent proposal from Turkmenistan

Why would J.Lo serenade a cruel dictator? Photo: Lopez/AP

NEW YORK, July 8, 2013— If you were wondering what Jennifer Lopez did this summer, here is the scoop.  She was entertaining the glorious leader of Turkmenistan.

Thereby she answered the following question: What would you do for a million dollars?

We are only talking price.

In fact, if the reports are true, she got even more than that after she volunteered to belt out a Marilyn Monroe styled “Happy Birthday” number to the glorious leader whose name it is impossible to spell or pronounce, so let’s just call him Glorious Leader. He hates cats and dogs. Most of his own people are in jail or waiting to be jailed.

Even the United Nations, which adores cruel dictators, can not find a good word to say about him.

Let’s try spelling his name if only to say we tried. Here goes: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

Do not try that at home.

So on Saturday, June 29, what was J. Lo doing in a place like Turkmenistan, serenading a man like that? This is exactly what the world wants to know. The people who are paid to apologize for her only say that she did not know how bad it was in Turkmenistan. She certainly knew nothing about good old glorious what’s-his-name.

Plus, if you are J.Lo and you choose to avoid tyrannical dictatorships, that would deny you more than half the known world. A girl has to sing,

Given Turkmenistan’s atrocious record on human rights, where was Alice Walker to stop J.Lo from going ahead? What a strange silence from a “human rights” activist who tried to stop Alicia Keys from performing in Tel Aviv, and who, apparently, can find no fault in any country except Israel, where civil liberties are valued and protected. 

Detractors have suggested that J.Lo, or her hirelings should have checked out Turkmenistan before proceeding.

They would have found out that Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 and has since been ruled by brutes. After it gained independence, like neighboring Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – countries always on the take but never on the give — it got many of us nostalgic for the good old days of the Soviet Union.

We were better off when tyranny had a single address, the Kremlin.

Turkmenistan, moreover, is a Muslim nation, where alcohol and erotica are forbidden.

So it comes as a surprise that a performer known for suggestive dance routines got invited in the first place.

Agence France Press reports the following,: “Dressed in a clingy outfit, the singer danced with half-naked back-up dancers and shook her famous behind in a rare performance for the Muslim country, watched by ministers, ambassadors and chief executives of state-owned companies, all of whom applauded enthusiastically.”

Is everybody for sale?

A year after Indecent Proposal was published in 1989, and again after the movie came out in 1993, I got letters telling me that what I wrote was not entirely fiction. I thought I was making it up. But in real life B-List and even A-list actresses frequently succumbed to million-dollars invitations from oil-rich Middle East barons. They did more than sing and dance for the money.

This is not to suggest that Jennifer Lopez went that far. She only sang for the money.

But she proved that one way or another, everybody can be bought.


New from Jack Engelhard, the novel: Compulsive.


Jack Engelhard, a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist, Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, brings his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior and reaches around the globe.

Read more Jack Engelhard, A Novelist’s View of the World

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Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard enjoys international fame as a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, which was turned into film starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His memoir Escape From Mount Moriah has been acclaimed for excellence and a movie version was an official selection at CANNES. Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer. Engelhard’s journalism covers all topics, with special focus on  the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe. He can be contacted at www.jackengelhard.com


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