Tall Tales

11 of 2021’s strangest tabloid stories

From a Ringo Starr-like sex toy to an odd Taiwanese loophole


The Bidens with the Carters

The Carter Centre

Giant Bidens

During a trip to Georgia, Joe Biden and his wife Jill popped in to visit an earlier Democrat president and first lady: Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. Their picture of the visit caused confusion, however. In it, the Bidens appeared to be giants, towering over the Carters like Gandalf visiting the hobbits. It then became a meme, with captions such as: “Honey, I Shrunk the Carters!” Photographers suggested it was an illusion caused by the use of a wide-angle lens and a strong flash.


Unusual Belgian baby names

A Belgian couple have given their 11 children names that are all made up of the same four letters. Gwenny Blanckaert and Marino Vaneeno named their first child Alex and their second Axel. “We realised that they were the same letters, so we decided to continue like this,” said Blanckaert. Their other nine children are Xela, Lexa, Xael, Xeal, Exla, Leax, Xale, Elax, and Alxe


Radio 4 DK/Twitter

Radio 4 DK/Twitter

Journalist records interview while having sex

A Danish radio journalist took immersive journalism to new heights this summer, by recording an interview while having sex at a swingers’ club. Louise Fischer, 26, who works for Denmark’s national radio, was sent to cover the reopening of the Swingland club in Ishøj, near Copenhagen, in June, shortly after Covid restrictions had been eased. In one two-minute segment, she could be heard chatting to a club guest while having sex with him. “For me, it’s very natural,” she explained later. “It is part of my job to give an insight into a world that not everyone has access to.”


Senator attends Zoom meeting while driving

A state senator from Ohio was caught attending an official Zoom meeting while driving his car. Andrew O. Brenner had set a background to make it look as if he were sitting in an office at home. But the seatbelt across his chest rather gave the game away – along with the way he kept glancing upwards to check the mirror as he changed lanes. The incident occurred as the state legislature was preparing a new bill to crack down on bad drivers.


Taiwanese couples marrying

Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan marriage loophole

A couple in Taiwan married each other four times in 37 days, in an attempt to enjoy an extended honeymoon. The groom, an unnamed bank worker, was seeking to exploit a law requiring companies to give newlyweds eight days’ paid leave. He argued that as he had married four times (having divorced his wife three times), he was due 32 days of marriage leave. But his efforts were in vain: the bank declined to grant him the extra holiday, saying he had abused the law. After a lengthy legal battle, he quit, saying they still owed him 24 days’ holiday.


Erotic novels in village library

A prankster caused a stir in the West Yorkshire village of Cornholme, by placing erotic novels in the village’s unofficial “mini library”. One disgusted resident pinned a typed note to the swap box, reading: “Whoever is placing the copys [sic] of pornographic literature in here, stop! Cornholme is a God-fearing Christian village. If this filth is to your liking, may we suggest that you move to the cesspit that is Hebden Bridge.” A councillor in that famously liberal former milltown took it in good part, thanking the angry villager for the free publicity, and urging visitors to explore Hebden’s thriving high street: “If the Cess gets too much, we have a soap shop! Cornholme’s also lovely, what it lacks in Cess it makes up for in nice pubs.”


Woman staring at an empty frame at the museum

Empty frames at the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art

Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

Empty frames for £60,000

A Danish artist who was lent £60,000 in cash by a gallery so that he could reproduce an acclaimed earlier work entitled An Average Danish Annual Income – which featured banknotes fixed to a canvas – came up with an even more interesting concept: he pocketed the money, and sent the gallery two empty frames which he called Take the Money and Run. The piece was, he said, a protest against the “working conditions of artists”. The gallery opted to show the empty frames – but threatened legal action if he didn’t return the money soon.


Aerial view of Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province

Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province

Ugur Ulu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Drunk man searches for himself

A drunk Turkish man spent hours helping a search party look for a missing person – before realising that the person they were searching for was him. Relatives of Beyhan Mutlu, 50, had sounded the alarm after he failed to return home from drinks with friends. He had wandered into a forest near his home in the northwestern Bursa province, and when he stumbled upon the party sent to look for him, he tagged along with it. He only twigged when he heard his own name being called. “Who are we looking for?” he asked. “I am here.”


Screengrab from John Dillermand


Controversial children’s TV show

A children’s TV show about a man with an enormously long penis generated fierce debate in Denmark. John Dillermand, which loosely translates in slang as “John Penis Man”, features the title character using his prodigious member to hoist a flag, tame a lion and even retrieve an oven from a lake. The stop-motion animated show, broadcast on the Danish equivalent of the BBC, proved a hit with many young viewers – but it attracted strong criticism from adults. Radio host Maria Jencel queried why children were being encouraged to take an interest in a “grown man’s huge magical penis”, while feminists warned that the show perpetuated “penis world domination”.


Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr

RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Ring O sex toy

Ringo Starr was not best pleased when it came to his attention that a sex toy manufacturer had named one of its wares “Ring O”. His lawyers warned that the name was “identical in appearance, sound, connotation and pronunciation” to Starr’s, and could lead people to think he’d endorsed the item. As part of a settlement, the makers agreed to “avoid any activity likely to lead to confusion” between the product and the ex-Beatle.


Image of person in the monkey suit


‘Rainbow dildo butt monkey’

Children who attended a Summer Reading Challenge in east London were greeted by an entertainer in a multicoloured, bare-bottomed monkey suit with a fake penis attached. The actor, at the council-run event in Redbridge, was meant to be representing the theme “wild world heroes”. But his costume sparked outcry on social media, where users queried if a “rainbow dildo butt monkey” was a suitable mascot for child literacy. The council blamed a third-party contractor for the “inappropriate” animal costume, adding: “This will never happen again.”


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