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The Old Turkey Bacon Routine


There is a good profile of George Clooney in the latest issue of Esquire. Tom Junod is an expert at this kind of celebrity writing and Clooney is a gracious, professional subject. A lot of insights in this piece but this one stands apart:

You must love him.

For one thing, he’s lovable, professionally so. For another, he leaves nothing to chance. If he can’t win you over with his fame, his charm, and his good looks, he will win you over with preparation. It’s not that he’s needy, like an actor; it’s that he’s competitive, like an athlete. He’s always been good at making people love him; he’s not about to give up his edge now.

Of course, he is not often challenged, and risks the fate of a fighter whose dominance is tainted by a lack of worthy opponents. A few years ago, however, he lost one of his dogs to a rattlesnake. He is a dog guy—a little sign about men and dogs adorns a living-room wall otherwise dominated by signed photographs of dignitaries—and he set about to get another, preferably hypoallergenic. He saw a black cocker-spaniel mix on the Web site of a rescue organization and called the number. The woman who answered said she’d be happy to bring the dog to his house, but then she explained that the dog had been abandoned and picked up malnourished off the street. “He has to love you,” she told George Clooney, “or else I have to take him back.”

At first, he found himself getting nervous—“freaking out.” What if the dog didn’t love him? Then he responded. “I had some turkey bacon in the refrigerator,” he says. “I rubbed it on me. I’m not kidding. When she came over, the dog went crazy. He was all over me. The woman said, ‘Oh, my God, he’s never like this. He loves you.’ ”

He has told this story before. He has even told it to Esquire before. That he tells it again—that it’s the first story he tells—serves to announce what is essential about himself: that he’s a man who will do what it takes to win you over, even applying bacon as an unguent.

I’m seduced and repulsed by charming people. I’m sure Clooney would charm the pants off me like he does with most people. But the turkey bacon story is revealing because it doesn’t just suggest that he’ll do whatever it takes to win you over but that he’s willing to cheat to get there. Beneath the surface there is something desperate about it (“You really like me!”. He wanted that dog and the trainer to like him so much that it was more important than giving the dog the home it needed. What we don’t know is how the dog got along with him after the stunt. Maybe he did give him a good home. Did Clooney bring the dog with him on location? Did a house sitter look after the dog most of time?

We don’t know. The seduction is the thing here not necessarily the reality.

[Photo Credit: Nigel Parry]


1 rbj   ~  Nov 14, 2013 10:26 am

The cheating thing is a bit of an issue, but the fact that he went to such lengths says something good. And it was a rescue dog, not a puppy mill or fancy breeder.

When I got Susie (long haired Chihuahua_ as a replacement for Maggie (short haired one) I went to the county dog pound. I picked her up and she was shivering all over, but calmed down after a couple of minutes. Despite needing expensive dental work there was no way I could have left her there.

2 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 14, 2013 10:34 am

1) Yeah, but again, to me, it was about the art of seduction. Did Clooney give the dog a good home? We don't know. We just know that it was important to him to make that great first impression.

3 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 14, 2013 11:23 am

Wooing a dog with bacon doesn't exactly demonstrate the art of seduction to me. I think Clooney acted more out of fear of being rejected than anything else, and he wouldn't be the first leading man to be driven by that impulse.
He's a good actor who makes good movies, and seems like a good guy who sometimes comes across as more than a little too pleased with himself, but whatever. There are definitely less appealing characters in Hollywood who get more attention than Clooney.

4 RagingTartabull   ~  Nov 14, 2013 11:29 am

can we talk about his unsolicited life advice to Leonardo DiCaprio? Because that whole little anecdote...

5 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 14, 2013 11:39 am

4) Yeah, that's a great story.

6 kenboyer made me cry   ~  Nov 15, 2013 10:45 am

Rescue dog? A chance for a loving home in the literal lap of luxury? What's not to like, millions are destroyed every year.

Our dog is a rescue puppy from a mill that was raided in Tennessee. We just had to prove to the worthy agency (North Shore Animal League) that we were who we said we were, and that we would hopefully love her. She didn't have to demonstrate love for us, but she did anyway.

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