We all have ways we like to imagine the people we admire, especially the famous ones. We create personalities for them in our minds, no matter how little we know about them. We even get attached to them—and then get upset when we find out, for example, that Martin Luther King Jr. didn’t spend all his time slamming his fist and telling people about his dreams.
But we only really know these people in their best moments, when they’re performing for a crowd. Sooner or later, everybody gets off the stage and goes home. And more often than not, the person you meet in private is nothing like the show they put on for the public.
10. Edward Snowden Is An Internet Rage Commenter
Before he leaked the NSA’s terrifying surveillance project and became a symbol for political transparency, Edward Snowden was just a guy who liked to chat on the Internet. And, as it turns out, he was about as angry and foul-mouthed as they come—even by Internet standards.
Snowden used to chat on IRC under the name “The TrueHOOHA,” where he mostly just made foul-mouthed rants about American politics. Ironically, his favorite subject was whistle-blowers. In one of Snowden’s rants, he criticized The New York Times for “reporting classified s—t,” saying they were “like WikiLeaks” and that whistle-blowers “should be shot in the balls.”
Nobody really seemed to listen to Snowden at the time. When Snowden complained that “Obama just appointed a f—king POLITICIAN to run the CIA,” one wrote back, “I’m appointing ur mom to run my penis. Plus she can be secretary of my balls.”
He made a lasting impression, though. When his old IRC friends were asked about his newfound celebrity, they knew exactly who he was.
“I remember that guy,” one told the media. “He was a total cockmonger.”
9. Taylor Swift And Lorde May Be 4chan Users
4chan is about as notorious as a website can get. It’s an unfiltered, anonymous community where self-proclaimed “autists” spend their time celebrating anime, child pornography, and open racism. And among that crowd of basement dwellers, rumor has it, you can find two of the world’s biggest pop stars.
At least, that’s what 4chan’s cyber sleuths claim. They’ve put together a whole chart analyzing the posts of an anonymous, blonde-haired user who posts on the site and who, they insist, is Taylor Swift.
Some of their arguments are weirdly compelling. The day before Taylor Swift tweeted pictures of a new cat she’d named Meredith, a user posted pictures of an identical-looking cat and asked 4chan to name it. And yes—4chan named the cat “Meredith.”
That’s not exactly conclusive, but 4chan has much stronger proof that Lorde frequents their “/b/” message board. On December 13, 2012, someone who appears to be Lorde uploaded her song “Royals” to the message board asking for feedback.
Lorde denies that it was her. But somebody definitely posted her song there, and it went up a good three months before the song was released.
8. Stephen Hawking Was A Regular At Sex Clubs
Most of us don’t really tend to think about Stephen Hawking’s sex life. But, as it turns out, that was about all Hawking himself thought about. When he wasn’t breaking new ground in astrophysics, Hawking was partying—and he was a lot raunchier than you might want to know.
Hawking was spotted at a swinger’s club called Freedom Acres, a sex club that warns customers that they have to supply their own lubricant and encourages them to “bring a change of clothes.” And this wasn’t when he was young—Hawking was 70 years old when it happened.
When the news broke, his friends tried to defend him by saying that he only went there once. But it wasn’t out of character for the world-famous physicist. Hawking had been repeatedly spotted buying lap dances at a strip club called Devore and once bought fellow physicist Kip Thorne a year’s subscription to Penthouse.
It might all seem out of character—or it might just be proof of the man’s unending dedication to studying black holes.
7. Gandhi Was Weirdly Comfortable With Bowel Movements
Years after his death, one of Mahatma Gandhi’s followers fondly recalled, “[Gandhi] taught us to be open about everything.” He didn’t really mean “everything,” though. He mostly just meant bowel movements.
It was a biological process with which Gandhi was unnervingly at ease. He would start the morning by greeting the local women with a wave and the polite question of: “Did you have a good bowel morning movement this morning, sisters?”
In Gandhi’s defense, constipation was a major problem in the area and he just wanted to make sure they were feeling all right. He was very careful about that. He encouraged all his followers to regularly administer enemas to one another—something he said they should do “without embarrassment.”
Gandhi would spend at least 20 minutes sitting on the commode every time he went to the bathroom. He didn’t want that time to be wasted, and so, whenever he sat on the toilet, he would invite people to come and chat with him while he did his business.
6. Julian Assange Doesn’t Bathe
The first person to talk about it was one of his sexual assault accusers. Assange’s hygiene had her so upset that she still felt the need to complain about it in the middle a rape deposition. Assange, she claims, never took a shower the entire time she knew him and staunchly refused to ever flush the toilet.
She might seem like a suspicious source. Her accusations have never been proven, and many believe that Assange is innocent of sexual assault. But if not showering was a crime, there would definitely be enough evidence to lock him up.
When he went into hiding in the Ecuador embassy, the staff there filed multiple complaints against him for stinking up the building. One reported that “it seems he doesn’t wash properly.”
Even his friends have complained about it. One of his aides stated that Julian ate everything with his hands and always wiped his fingers on his pants. The aide added, “I have never seen pants as greasy as his in my whole life.”
Fellow activist Jeremie Zimmermann backed it up, too, but he’s a bit more proactive about it. When it comes to Julian Assange, he says, you just have to force him into the shower. Because if nobody makes him, he just won’t go in there.
5. Bill Gates Has A Minesweeper Addiction
He might be the richest man alive, but that doesn’t mean Bill Gates doesn’t spend any time slacking off. In fact, according to his old colleagues, he has a major problem with the game Minesweeper.
In the 1990s, Bill Gates was completely obsessed with Minesweeper. He played it so much that it started seriously impacting his productivity and, to keep himself in check, he forced himself to delete it. Even after he took it off his computer, though, Gates still couldn’t stop playing. Instead, he just started sneaking into Microsoft’s then-president Michael Hallman’s office to play it on his computer.
Gates didn’t get caught until he got so excited about setting a new high score that he called his staff into Hallman’s office just to show it off. He’d beaten beginner mode in just five seconds, and he was so proud of it that he was willing to let everyone know he’d been spending his time playing video games on their computers.
4. Michel Foucault Was ‘Completely Amoral’
Michel Foucault is one of the most revered philosophers of the 20th century. He’s a major thinker of the post-structuralist movement and a person who has changed the way we think of history and power—all of which might make you picture an old fuddy-duddy in a white tower university.
Foucault, though, was anything but conservative. He once went on TV and debated philosophy with linguist Noam Chomsky—all because Foucault had been promised a “large chunk of hashish” as payment. Afterward, he held parties where he’d tell all his friends he’d be bringing what he called his “Chomsky hash.”
He also led a movement to get rid of the age of consent and make it legal for grown adults to have sex with children. He criticized the government for arresting a man who’d slept with a 13-year-old, something Foucault felt was Puritanism gone mad.
“An age barrier laid down by law does not have much sense,” Foucault said in an interview. Then he criticized the entire concept of “consent” by saying that “no one signs a contract before making love.”
“He struck me as completely amoral,” Noam Chomsky said about the man. “I’d never met anyone who was so totally amoral.”
3. Jack Kerouac Couldn’t Drive
When Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady drove from sea to sea across America, they changed more than just their own lives. Kerouac’s novel On The Road changed society. The book made a minor boom in the automobile industry because it helped connect the idea of driving with freedom, exploration, and independence. As some have put it, it made getting a driver’s license a “rite of passage” for Americans.
And yet, Jack Kerouac couldn’t drive. He didn’t even have a driver’s license when he and Cassady traveled the country. Kerouac never once put his hands on the wheel despite the incredible amount he traveled in cars.
Even when he did get a license, Kerouac was a notoriously bad driver. Reportedly, he would avoid getting behind the wheel unless absolutely necessary. When he did drive, he was terrified. He would inch the car along, hesitating every time someone passed him.
For all his experiences, Kerouac would later admit that he was just a writer. “I don’t know how to drive,” Kerouac said. “Just typewrite.”
2. Albert Einstein Was A Sexual Predator
Albert Einstein might have been a blessing to the world of science, but he wasn’t exactly a blessing to women. Einstein’s libido was out of control. We’ve already told you about his affairs and the secret daughter he hid from his family. But Einstein was more than just a serial cheater. He was basically the early 20th-century version of Harvey Weinstein.
Einstein had what his friends called the “disconcerting habit” of leaving his dressing gown undone. He would walk around with an open robe, letting what God gave him hang out free for the world to see whether he was in the privacy of his own home or out for a stroll on the street.
When girls asked him to close his robe, he would just get angry. When one woman blushed at seeing Einstein exposed, he scoffed at her. “How long have you been married?” Einstein demanded. “And still you go red?”
If she’d reacted differently, though, things would have been a lot worse. Reportedly, Einstein kept his robe open to see how girls would react. If they didn’t complain, Einstein would take that as a sign that he was clear to move in. And usually, he’d pull that stunt after getting a girl alone in a hotel room.
1. Prince Was A Jehovah’s Witness
Prince, though, was very different in real life—especially after 2001 when he became a Jehovah’s Witness. Prince was a surprisingly devout follower of the religion. He would even go door-to-door with a Bible tucked under his arm and tell people about God’s kingdom on Earth. Usually, he was accompanied by Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham.
With his new religion came a surprising anti-sex attitude for the man who wrote “Jack U Off.” He had publicly spoken against gay marriage and sexual promiscuity in general, saying, “God came to Earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ “
He kept his faith until the end, too. While he was dying, Prince refused a blood transfusion because of his beliefs. And he was even laid to rest in a service at a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ church, which they prefer to call a “Kingdom Hall.”