The paparazzi (and the rest of the world) watch every move a celebrity makes. Fame brings them under a microscope, and they’d better live up to the public’s expectations. But there is a paradox here—we expect a famous person to conform, but we take great delight in seeing a celebrity break the rules or falter as mere mortals.
A kiss is an intimate and private act. To see evidence that someone is kissing someone that they shouldn’t (a taboo) gives us all a guilty feeling of pleasure. Add in a celebrity kiss, and we have newsworthy headlines. Here are the top 10 taboo kisses caught on camera.
10 Amber Rose and 5-Year-Old Son
In 2011, a Toronto police officer suggested that women should avoid “dressing like sluts” if they wanted to reduce the risk of sexual assault. Women in the Canadian city were outraged by the idea that they were responsible for sexual harassment and assault. They began a protest movement called “SlutWalk,” taking to the streets dressed as they liked and supporting women who society had judged because of their sexual behavior.
Amber Rose, a model, TV star, and rapper, organized the Los Angeles branch of the expanding movement. On her 35th birthday, Rose published a photo of her kissing her five-year-old son on the lips. The reaction from many people was vitriolic. Much of this bile was directed at the fact that Rose feels no need to hide her sexuality, with many suggesting that the kiss was inappropriate because of her lifestyle.
You might think that kissing a five-year-old on the lips isn’t wise—after all, you never know where they’ve been——but surely it has nothing to do with the mother’s sexuality. It just shows that SlutWalk still has work to do.
9 Orlando Bloom and Selena Gomez
Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry have one child together and seem to be a happy Hollywood couple. They started dating in 2016, were engaged on Valentine’s Day in 2019, and had their first child in 2020. But their storybook relationship stuttered when Bloom bumped into Selena Gomez in a Las Vegas nightclub soon after he began dating Perry.
On that evening, Bloom and Gomez stayed glued together through a large part of the evening—much to the bemusement of the many onlookers. Gomez was holding a party at the club to celebrate after one of her concerts and was clearly in a mood to enjoy herself, willingly helped by Bloom.
It’s fair to say that Perry was not amused. She and Bloom split for a while in 2017 but patched things up and got back together in 2018.
8 President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
The office of President of the United States demands a lot of the holder. As POTUS, a person represents the dignity of the nation. It is a post surrounded by ritual and expectation—we expect the president to behave presidentially. But one forgets that the office holder is a person with all the frailties that people have.
In 1996, during Bill Clinton’s second term as president, he began an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He was 49; she was 22. In January 1998, the affair became public knowledge, fed by blanket coverage in the tabloid press. In December of that year, Clinton was impeached for lying about the affair under oath and obstructing the investigation. The impeachment failed as there were not enough supporters, but the damage to Clinton’s reputation was done.
7 Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe
The movie Proof of Life (2000) starred Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe. Ryan played Alice Bowman, whose husband Peter (David Morse) is an engineer working on building a dam in Tecala. The Liberation Army of Tecala kidnaps Peter, and it’s up to Terry Thorne (Russell Crowe) to ensure that Peter returns to the loving embrace of his wife. Thorne, an ex-member of the British SAS, is the man for the job.
The movie is not a classic, but it’s entertaining enough; much of the interest lies in wondering if Alice and Terry will get together, as they are obviously attracted to each other. In real life, there was no doubt at all. Ryan and Crowe began a torrid affair that led to the breakup of Ryan’s marriage to Dennis Quaid.
6 Katharine McPhee and Michael Morris
Katharine McPhee hit the big time when she placed runner-up in the 2006 season of American Idol. She went on to star in various programs and built her reputation as a singer-songwriter.
In 2012, by then married to her manager, Nick Cokas, she took a leading role in the NBC show Smash. Although Smash only ran for two seasons and 32 episodes in all, it was a commercial and critical success. The British director, Michael Morris, was in charge of seven episodes.
The relationship between the star and the director went far beyond the strictly professional. The paparazzi, always present when the stars come out, caught the two in a passionate clinch in a parking lot.
5 Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes
Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes have been married since 2010, but not to each other. Both are television reporters. Robach learned her trade with NBC; Holmes has a background at CNN. In 2020, Holmes joined ABC’s GMA: What You Need to Know to join Robach as co-host.
Their relationship quickly became personal rather than professional and all too public. The couple made light of their blooming relationship on air, but executives at the station were not amused. This seems to fit with reports from staffers at ABC that there is a “rampant sex culture” within the studio, with one describing the atmosphere as “like a horny high school.”
Robach and Holmes separated from their spouses, and ABC fired them both at the end of 2022.
4 Jada Pinkett Smith and August Alsina
Jada Pinkett Smith and her husband, Will Smith, married in 1997. Someone close to the couple said: “Will and Jada, at the end of the day, are like a normal couple who just happen to be glorified because they’re famous.” Well, yes, but an orange is like a tangerine, but, at the end of the day, it isn’t a tangerine, and Will and Jada are not a “normal couple.”
In an interview in July 2020, Jada admitted that she’d been involved with R&B singer August Alsina. She had previously denied this after Alsina had talked about their affair a month earlier. It seems that their fling had been going on for some time; it was a romance that Jada called an “entanglement.”
As a couple, the Smiths have always said that their marriage is based on honesty, and they accept that romances will occur.
3 Rupert Sanders and Kristen Stewart
Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart are now two of the movie industry’s most bankable names. The door to fame opened when the two co-starred in the successful Twilight movies. Much to the delight of their fans, the pair started a romantic relationship.
Some of these fans soon turned against Stewart when, in 2012, the press published photos of her in a romantic clinch with Rupert Sanders, the director of Snow White and the Huntsman.
Stewart apologized to Pattison, but the damage had been done. At the time of his dalliance with Stewart, Rupert Sanders was married to model Liberty Ross—their marriage broke up in 2014.
2 David Boreanaz and Rachel Uchitel
David Boreanaz, the popular star of Angel and Bones, is still married to his wife, Jamie Bergman, a former Playboy Playmate of the Month. Their marriage has survived Boreanaz’s admission that he had an affair with Rachel Uchitel in 2010. Their fling might never have come to be public knowledge until photos of Boreanaz and Uchitel appeared.
The photos popped up in the wake of golfer Tiger Woods’s admission that he had had numerous relationships with women. Uchitel, a nightclub manager, seemed to be one of his conquests. David Boreanaz’s indiscretion was collateral damage.
Boreanaz later claimed that Uchitel tried to blackmail him, a claim that Uchitel strongly denied.
1 President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe
Some sites on the internet purport to show President John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe kissing, but these photographs are either unclear or photoshopped. Whether genuine pictures or not, the evidence is more or less clear that JFK and Monroe did have a relationship. Even though the President was a serial philanderer, a mystique surrounded Kennedy that persists to this day.
In the early sixties, the press was more respectful than it is today. Journalists close to the White House may have known (or suspected) that Kennedy was unfaithful but would never have gone public with the news because they or their editors didn’t believe it was in the public’s interest.
Some of the other people on our list probably wished that the press was still as cautious as it was in Kennedy’s day.