Joyce McKinney's arrest picture
But after four decades shunning the limelight, the former beauty queen at the centre of one of Britain’s most sensational sex scandals of the 1970s is back.
Joyce McKinney, who famously claimed to love kidnap victim Kirk Anderson so passionately that “if he had asked I would have skied down Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose,” is poised to take centre stage in a dramatic courtroom battle that will relive her extraordinary escapades.
“Yes, I tore off his pyjamas, but that was because I wanted to please him,” she told Epsom magistrate’s court in her Southern drawl during committal proceedings in 1977.
“It was bombs, firecrackers and the Fourth of July every time he kissed me.” But while out on bail McKinney fled the country, and has been laying low – until now.
McKinney, aged 66, is suing the creators of the 2010 documentary Tabloid, by Oscar-winning director Errol Morris, which retold her astonishing story in sordid detail.
“They offered me £45,000 to settle, and I told them they could kiss my butt,” says McKinney.
“They made millions off me. I’m going to take it all the way to the end. I want my day in court.”
That day comes on February 29, when a Los Angeles judge will hear McKinney’s claim that she was tricked into a filmed interview, and that personal photos and videos were stolen by filmmakers.
Joyce McKinney at Linville Animal Hospital North Carolina
She alleges breach of contract, fraud, and the infliction of emotional distress.
Promised that the film would “clear her name,” McKinney claims it portrayed her as a sex-crazed stalker instead.
Visually impaired and using a guide dog, she alleges that producers broke into her home and threatened her dog would die if she didn’t sign release papers for the documentary.
McKinney’s “manacled Mormon” exploits are now set to be re-examined by the court in all their twisted detail, 39 years after they dominated newspaper front pages for weeks following her arrest.
She first met the mild-mannered Anderson when studying at a Mormon university in Utah in 1975. They dated but he insisted on saving his virginity for marriage.
We were close to being engaged when the Mormon elders, who did not trust me, sent him away
McKinney recalled: “We went on picnics and made out, nothing more. We were close to being engaged when the Mormon elders, who did not trust me, sent him away.”
She hired a private detective to track Anderson down in England, where he travelled as a missionary. “That took 18 months and all my savings,” she said.
Armed with a bottle of chloroform and a fake gun, aided by her Californian friend Keith May, McKinney kidnapped Anderson and tied him spreadeagled to a bed in a quaint rented cottage in Devon.
“She came into the room wearing a negligée and put on some music,” Anderson told the court.
“I was manacled to the bed. She grabbed the top of my pyjamas and tore them from my body until I was naked.”
McKinney claimed that she was saving Anderson from a “cult” and that when they had sex on his third day in captivity it was consensual.
“He was grinning like a monkey,” she alleged. “I don’t have to beg for boys’ services. I am 38-24-36, so I don’t beg. I was Miss Wyoming.”
McKinney claimed she performed oral sex on Anderson and played bondage games to help cure his “sexual problems”.
“I can’t say I got any pleasure out of sex with Kirk,” she insisted. “I was too busy trying to satisfy him.”
But prosecutor Neil Denison told the court: “A kidnapping for the sake of or because of love is no less a kidnapping than a kidnapping for monetary gain.”
Joyce McKinney at the Premiere Of Saturday Night Fever
Only when Anderson promised to marry her did she untie his chains, and he managed to escape.
Committed to trial, McKinney lashed out: “I have been played up as a wicked and perverted woman.
“It’s not true. How could an eight-stone girl rape an 18-stone, 6ft 2in man?” McKinney became an instant celebrity while awaiting trial.
She was invited to red carpet events, met the Rolling Stones and even upstaged Joan Collins at the premiere of her movie The Stud.
But in April 1978, a week before their trial was to begin, McKinney and May fled the country posing as deaf mutes, using false passports.
She disguised herself in a red wig and large blue-tinted spectacles. The two fugitives were found the next month hiding in Atlanta, Georgia, disguised as nuns.
“This isn’t what I wanted,” she lamented. “I just want a little house with Kirk. To be able to have a hot dinner with him when he gets home from work. To stand by him. Why can’t I have that?”
British authorities decided not to seek McKinney’s extradition and she tried to fade into oblivion, but could not avoid controversy.
She was arrested outside Anderson’s workplace in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1984, where police reportedly found a rope and handcuffs in her car.
“I never expected Joyce McKinney to reappear in my life in any shape or form,” said a shaken Anderson.
EMPICS Sports Photo Agency
Mormon Missionary Kirk Anderson, 21, was kidnapped in Surrey
She emerged again in 2008, running the world’s first commercial enterprise cloning pet dogs. Her pit bull Booger was cloned in South Korea, producing five puppies.
Yet the manacled Mormon scandal continued to haunt her.
So when director Errol Morris offered to “clear her name” with a documentary about tabloid excess, she leapt at the chance.
McKinney told filmmakers that she is an “incurable romantic,” and that it is impossible for a woman to rape a man.
“It’s like trying to put a marshmallow into a parking meter,” she said.
Director Morris admits: “Joyce was amazing. We used to joke: if there was an Academy Award for best performance in a documentary, she’d win.”
But McKinney loathes the film: “It’s not my story. What they did was unconscionable.”
She insists she and Anderson had a consensual romance at their Devon cottage and tales of abduction and rape were concocted by the Mormon Church.
McKinney claims that producer Mark Lipson broke into her home and threatened that her dog would be killed if she didn’t sign release papers.
“Sign it! Sign it or the dog will die!” he allegedly raged.
The producers claim in court papers: “The evidence will show that (McKinney) willingly – in fact eagerly – participated in the lengthy interview that featured in the film.
“She can’t demonstrate she was damaged and the events in her life are more likely to have caused problems than the alleged fraud.” McKinney’s co-conspirator May died in 2004.
Anderson refuses to discuss the case, but the Los Angeles court may soon decide where the truth lies.
McKinney, who insists she has been the victim of decades of lies by British authorities, says in the documentary: “Sometimes you tell a lie long enough and you start to believe it.”
Those words could soon come back to haunt her.