IT MUST have something to do with his initials. John Forbes Kerry, or JFK as he signed himself in his youth, has a secret past as a Lothario.
Among the Democrat frontrunners girlfriends was a go-getting young British reporter, Emma Gilbey, who is now married to the executive editor of The New York Times.
Gilbey is a member of the gin family and her cousin James gained notoriety for calling Diana, Princess of Wales Squidgy in telephone conversations that were recorded and leaked to a newspaper.
As befits a politician who lionised President John F Kennedy, Kerry escorted a string of attractive blondes around Washington in the 1980s. He befriended Catherine Oxenberg, a member of the Yugoslav royal family, and Morgan Fairchild, a prominent Hollywood Democrat and star of the soap Falcon Crest.
Kerry was also linked to Patti Davis, the rebellious daughter of President Ronald Reagan, and Michelle Phillips, of the group the Mamas and the Papas.
The big debate last week was whether the 59-year-old senator for Massachusetts was using Botox to plump out his wrinkles, but in those days the Vietnam war hero was a 6ft 4in babe magnet.
Kerry describes the mid to late 1980s as his wandering years. He separated from his first wife Julia Thorne in 1982, though the divorce was not finalised until 1988. During that period, while still married, he had a long-running affair with Roanne Sragow, his law partner and colleague.
Whether his infidelity while separated will raise eyebrows in the conservative Bible-belt South and Midwest after the high jinks of the Clinton era remains to be seen.
David Thorne, the twin brother of Kerrys first wife, who has been close to the senator since they were students at Yale, said: The truth of the matter is that he didnt have that much fun. He has described that period as one of the loneliest in his life. It wasnt so much a playboy phase as a transitional phase. There was a lot of trying to fix a marriage that, in the end, didnt get fixed.
Gilbey was in her mid-twenties when she met Kerry. By then she had dated Harry, Marquess of Worcester, and Taki, the well-heeled columnist. We were amazed by her, said Taki. Emma is extremely intelligent, well read and good fun. I never had one boring moment with her.
At a White House correspondents dinner one year, the incorrigible Taki could not resist calling out to Kerry as he passed by: Senator, do you like to have sex in limousines? a comment he claims is based on inside gossip. Kerry shot him a furious look.
Gilbey is said to have dumped Kerry for David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd guitarist. In the 1990s she wrote a well-received biography of Winnie Mandela and met Bill Keller, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who was then foreign editor of The New York Times.
Their affair caused a frisson in New York as Keller walked out on his respected journalist wife when Gilbey became pregnant. They married in 1999. After the scandal caused by the fabrications of Jayson Blair, a reporter, Keller took over as editor of the newspaper last year.
Taki is amused by the thought that Gilbeys influential husband could endorse Kerry as the next US president. I love the idea that Emma Gilbey, who was desperate to marry well, ended up getting the number one on The New York Times, he said.
Both Kerry and Gilbey are, relatively speaking, the poor cousins of wealthy families. Kerry enjoyed a golden upbringing as a member of the Forbes family of Massachusetts landowners and businessmen. But he grew up in the grand houses of relations.
His first wife had enough family money to help him launch his political career. But she hated the role of Washington wife so fiercely that she contemplated suicide.
Politics became my husbands life, she later wrote in A Change of Heart, her 1996 book on divorce. I tried to be happy for him, but after 14 years as a political wife I associated politics only with anger, fear and loneliness . . .
I had to be on guard, carefully monitoring my behaviour and appearance in an effort to avoid bad press, gossip or the loss of votes. I felt as if I were not just supporting my husband but selling my soul for the sake of his career. I wanted out.
She once recalled with a shudder how she and Kitty, the wife of former Democrat presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, posed for a publicity shot. Kitty had just come out of a rehab centre and I had just asked John for a separation and here we were, living these enormous lies.
Kerry was hard up after the split with his wife and had to go on the lecture circuit to boost his income. For more than two years he relied on friends to put him up until he bought a one-bedroom flat in Washington and a flat in Boston.
Thorne went on to conquer her depression, remarried and is living in Montana. Alexandra and Vanessa, their daughters, are active in Kerrys campaign. Though the couple have had tense moments over money, Thorne says she is backing him 100% for president.
Sragow also remains on good terms with the candidate, despite their past ups and downs. She is now a judge and her husband Richard Licht is running Kerrys election campaign in Rhode Island.
Im certainly aware of their relationship, said Licht. Though he has never probed for details of why they parted, he added that Sragow has only the nicest things to say about John Kerry.
In 1992 Kerry met and fell in love with Teresa Heinz, now 64, the flamboyant, outspoken widow of Richard Heinz, the Republican senator and ketchup heir. She is worth more than $500m (£276m) but old friends do not resent Kerrys good fortune. Hes always been much happier when hes married, said Thorne.