When the book came out, Danii Minogue was nowhere to be found. She was presumably trying to find a very large hole to crawl into, such was her mortification.
Ignoring the old-fashioned dictum that a gentleman never kisses and tells, her old boss Simon Cowell has come out with an extraordinary account of a fleeting affair between the two.
Cowell, who loves nothing more than to polish his image as a ladykiller, has confirmed rumours of a fling in an “unauthorised” biography. Sweet Revenge: The Intimate Life Of Simon Cowell has been written by respected author Tom Bower. He has not allowed Cowell to read the final manuscript, but during hours of interviews it seems the two men became friends.
It is clear Cowell is loving the attention of being presented as the pasha at the head of a talent show TV harem. “Yikes!” he tweeted triumphantly after seeing the newspaper headlines proclaiming “Cowell’s Affair With Dannii”. Smug barely covers it.
Of course, if you are a 52-year-old entertainment titan who has long suffered jibes and speculation about your sexuality, publicity of this sort is catnip. Recently, the Village Voice in New York ran an article titled: “Simon Cowell: Gay Or Just British?”
The X Factor judge Louis Walsh has long enjoyed catty observations about Cowell’s camp demeanour. “He is camp, he is theatrical,” says Walsh. “He tilts his head just like a woman.” Brace yourself, then, for the heterosexual fightback.
Cowell told Bower he fell for Minogue after she joined The X Factor’s judging panel in 2007. “It was genuine love,” he claims.
However, a long-standing friend of his tells me: “Whenever Simon uses the phrase genuine, you know it’s not true.” (And “genuine love”, surely, is a phrase better reserved for happily-ever-after rather than a clandestine, no-strings assignation.)
His account of the romance is as follows: “I had a crush on her. It was her hair, the sexy clothes and the ***s. She was foxy. She was a real man’s girl. Very feminine.”
He says they got together in August 2007. An affair was rumoured at the time. They were pictured holding hands in a car leaving BBC TV Centre, and Cowell said repeatedly on record that he “fancied” Minogue, although at the time they both denied anything had gone on.
“Every guy in the world fancies Dannii,” he said in an interview at the time. “She’s become a sex symbol since joining the show.”
Why did it end? Apparently, Cowell told a friend: “There were a few bonks and then it petered out while I was in America.”
Not quite the stuff of grand romance, then.
Cowell has never married and none of his many relationships has lasted. There have also been numerous flings and liaisons, which he has been lucky to keep out of the newspapers.
One relative of a Cowell conquest told me: “He is very intense and controlling, and then when he cools off he simply couldn’t care less. I don’t really know if he has ever been in love. He will say he is, but it’s not in his make-up, in my opinion.”
Another long-standing colleague says: “Simon is only fully committed to work, making money and to himself. It’s all about him. The only person he cares about other than himself – who he has ever cared about – is his mum, Julie.
“He likes pretty girls and being in a relationship, but they end up just useful arrangements. He will never get married. That’s the way it is – it’s not the wrong girl or the wrong time, it’s just Simon.”
In the book, Bower says, perhaps more tactfully, that Cowell felt he was not ready for a relationship with Minogue, having just split with long-term girlfriend Terri Seymour.
It’s all rather odd, though, as Cowell and Seymour split officially only in November 2008 – more than a year after the fling with Minogue. And, in April 2008, as rumours circulated that the relationship with Seymour was over, Cowell’s spokesman, Max Clifford, insisted they were still a couple.
Now Clifford has changed his tune and claims they were, in fact, separated. “Simon was single and Dannii was single and there was an attraction between them, so that’s life,” he said.
A friend adds: “He and Terri had split up a long time before they made the official announcement. They both knew what the situation was then and there was no problem with it on either side.”
Others, though, say he has been an unfaithful partner.
Eighties UK pop star Sinitta, who dated him for a number of years and remains a close friend, has called Cowell a “master of denial”.
She caught him out several times with other women and described him as a “horny, salty dog”, saying he likes women of every colour, culture and size.
Despite his affair with Minogue, when it later suited him to drop her as a judge from The X Factor, he did so without a backward glance.
Minogue, now 40, has just split from her partner, Kris Smith, and issued not a word on the subject. Her PR, Simon Jones, said: “I’m sorry, but I’m not making any comment on this story, on the record or off it.”
As she is dealing with her own romantic heartbreak and has been hung out to dry to make Cowell look good, she could be forgiven for feeling bitter about it.
But then, as the many people whom he has picked up and shed along the way can tell you, Cowell is an egomaniac of ocean-going dimensions. If it suits him to drop you, he will.
If he thinks it helps his TV show to humiliate you, he will – witness The X Factor’s cannon fodder auditionees. If he thinks it is good publicity to cast you alongside someone who hates your guts, he will.
Indeed, the revelation of an affair with Minogue sheds a fascinating light on the feud between her and fellow former X Factor judge, Sharon Osbourne.
Osbourne declared war within a few weeks of Minogue joining the judging panel and developed an almost pathological dislike of the younger woman.
She said only last year that Minogue was “****ing useless” and described her as “not so much a dim bulb as a power cut”.
Now we know she was jealous of Cowell’s flirtatious preference for Minogue. He just sat back and watched them snipe at each other, thinking it amusing and good for the TV ratings.
Osbourne quit her job over it and Minogue was repeatedly reduced to tears, yet he never rode to her rescue. So much for “genuine love”. And if you thought the topic of his private life could not be any grubbier, then consider his “crush” on singer Natalie Imbruglia, another gorgeous Australian.
In his book, Bower reveals that she was invited on the yacht Cowell hired last New Year.
Allegedly, he hoped they could rekindle a former affair – but he got nothing more than a kiss and cuddle. After four days, the embarrassed singer left the ship.
It’s worth remembering that at the time Cowell was still with his fiancée Mezhgan Hussainy.
Hussainy, once his make-up artist, told her family at the time that she and Cowell were together, even as he was allegedly attempting to seduce Imbruglia.
Hussainy also had to put up with Cowell’s pursuit of Cheryl Cole, which he confirmed to Bower.
It was obvious to everyone watching The X Factor that he adored Cole. He would put his arms around her during the show. Colleagues noticed they shared cigarette breaks and Cole would often visit his dressing room. With a tactlessness which is his trademark, he told an interviewer that it would be “a fantasy come true” to kiss her. “When I’m sitting next to her, I forget everyone else,” he said.
Cole said he was so charismatic she felt he had put her in a trance. In the book, he admits: “I would have liked an affair with Cheryl, but I felt like a mouse being played with by a beautiful cat.”
In the end, he fired her from The X Factor USA after warning her to raise her game.
Did it ever occur to Cowell that his pursuit of Cole must have been uncomfortable for Minogue – and humiliating for his fiancée?
Perhaps it didn’t. For Cowell has a rhinoceros hide when it comes to such niceties.
There have long been rumours that he dates women on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously and the book seems to add credence to them.
He had a romance with model Jasmine Lennard in 2006, during his relationship with Seymour. She was seen arriving at his London house in a fur coat and high heels, and he took her to Ascot. And when it was all over, Lennard disappeared – never to discuss the subject in public. Might she be one of the women whom he admits he has paid off?
He was certainly generous to Seymour, buying her a house and paying for it to be refurbished by the celebrity interior designer Kelly Hoppen.
His PR spokesman, Max Clifford, told me: “Simon is naturally a very generous person. If he has spent a long time with someone and the magic has gone, but they have got used to a certain standard of living, then he feels they should have some money.”
What a curiously stunted emotional life Cowell seems to have. He may be 52, but it’s all crushes and flings, like a teenager.
He says he is in love, but there doesn’t seem to be any room in his life for anything resembling it. – Daily Mail