Likely Stories Boys Just Want to Have Fun

How the city’s most eligible bachelor became an accidental celebrity. And then went wild.

I AM SITTING ON THE EDGE OF MlKE MULLEN’S BE1.J-A KING-SIZE. pillowed extravaganza. I look down; my feet don’t even touch the floor.

Mike slips a videotape into the VCR as my eyes wander upward to a hand-painted ceiling mural. Is that a group of cherubs crowning the bed of the most eligible bachelor in Dallas? (The world, if you believe his publicist.)

I have known Mike Mullen maybe 10 minutes and already we are in his master bedroom atop the elevated bachelor bed. watching a videotape of his appearances on Blitz, a German TV show he describes as a cross between 20/20 and Entertainment Tonight. A crew from the show was in town the day before to tape additional footage for yet another segment on der Millionar von Texas.

My question is, Why? Why did the twice-divorced Mullen appear on Oprah last January playing the lonely bachelor in search of a wife who would be a suit-able stepmother for his three children? Why did he hire a publicist? Why is the publicist pitching stories on Mike’s children, his six homes, his poor-boy upbringing? More to the point, why can’t he meet women on his own?

The answer, as it turns out. is deceptively simple. Mike Mullen is living out his adolescent fantasy.

“As a child, I always thought it would be great to be Hugh Hefner with thousands of women,” he says. “This isn’t Hugh Hefner, but it’s not far off.”

I’ll say. Wherever Mullen travels now, the girls are just a local phone call away. When he was in Miami shopping for a yacht, he dated a Miami model who had sent him her number. In Las Vegas, several women were waiting to meet Mullen. Same in L.A. “I just picked up the phone,” he says, his voice becoming animated by the thought of it. “It was so easy. They were speechless.”

The last time Mullen was in search of the right woman, weeks after his second divorce, he resorted to more conventional tactics, joining It’s Just Lunch, the dating service. But before he had the opportunity to do lunch even once, Oprah entered his life. He promptly canceled his membership. Who needs lunch when you’ve got women flooding your P. O. box with videotapes and pictures and letters cleverly written out in candy bars (“Dear M&M…People will Snicker at me, but I’ve got to build my self-esteem or I’ll feel like a Zero….”)?

His publicist insists that Mullen backed into the Lothario role. While Oprah was stranded in Amarillo fighting Texas cattle ranchers who claimed she’d defamed beef, her producers began rooting around for Texas clichés, including The Rich Oilman.

Mike Mullen was the willing beefcake and virtual no-name who, back then, had no reason to know Helen Bryant from Lois Watson, When he mentioned that he was a twice-divorced father of three who would like to remarry-for some reason, he had already purchased a 13-carat diamond ring for Mrs. Right No. 3-the producer cast Mullen as The Rich Texas Oilman Looking For a Wife (y’all).

Now, almost a year later, Mullen has a personal publicist and a press kit (complete with an 8/;- by 11-inch black-and-white photograph shot by celebrity photographer Bob Mader on Mullen’s ranch near Glen Rose). He’s been pursued by Saturday Night Live and Jerry Springer. He’s appeared on Inside Edition. People has a story in the works. He’s warranted on-air gibes by Howard Stem, who accused Mullen of artificially enhancing the front of his pants. Mike Mullen is, in other words, a celebrity for our day. He is famous for being famous.

By the time his story made its way to Germany, it had been spun to the geographic satisfaction of a German-speaking audience. Overseas, Mike Mullen, der Millionar von Texas, is not looking simply for a wife, but- imagine the coincidence!-a German wife.

He and I are sitting on his bed, waiting for the Blitz video to begin, when he tells me how his intentions got lost in the translation. I am assuming he regrets misleading thousands of German women. I assume wrong.

“I love the sound of women speaking German,” Mullen says, missing the point of my question.

Clearly, he thinks I am the one missing the point. His expression tells me he is beginning to view me as a threat to his very good time.

The Blitz segments open to the theme from Dallas, as the camera pans the Dallas skyline. Soon we see der Millionar getting into and out of his Mercedes, der Millionar in front of his “propeller machine” (his helicopter), der Millionar at his Preston Hollow home, saying things like “Germany is one of my favorite countries” and “Even [hough one speaks differently, the core of the heart is the same in all of us.” (His comments had been translated into German for the benefit of the Blitz audience, so Mullen quotes himself back to me, in English.)

After the Blitz segments aired last summer, thousands of women wrote letters wanting to meet der Millionar. Before the Blitz crew arrived back in Dallas to tape a third segment, Mullen asked the producer if she wouldn’t mind sorting through the latest batch and bringing along the 50 best-looking. Mullen has become a pro at sorting out fan mail. He immediately discards letters without pictures (“If there’s not a photograph I don’t want to waste my time. ’You saw me! Be smart! 1 want to see you, too.’”). Next, he discards the culls. “I don’t want to say I’m incapable of falling in love with an ugly woman, but I don’t see it happening,” says Mullen. At 48, he doesn’t consider him-self particularly handsome, but does think he has “a manly look.”

The Blitz blitz yielded 250 of what he calls “racehorses.” Of those 250, some 25 are Playboy Playmates. Of those 25, he’s had about a dozen dates with four different Playmates. Not bad for a guy who wants to be Hugh Hefner.

“They’re all the same,” Mullen says, dis-missively. “Real immature, like beauty pageant contestants.”

Although his libido fluctuates with the opening of each day’s mail, he is-at this moment-taken with a “Grace Kelly look-alike” from Switzerland who saw him on Blitz. When Mullen received her letter and saw her picture, he insisted the Blitz producer call her right then, from his home. The producer got the woman on the phone and then handed the receiver to Mullen.

“She writes this letter talking about wanting to meet me and then I get her on the phone and she’s shy,” Mullen says. “It’s almost like you’re a star and these women are awestruck.”

A LITTLE SECRET; MIKE MULLEN ISN’T REALly looking for a suitable stepmother. He’s not even looking for a wife.

Mullen is immensely likable, nice looking, and clearly successful-not exactly a losing combination in Dallas. But he is also an opportunist. He made his millions, after all, following the oil bust, buying old oil rigs for cents on the dollar and then reselling them when the market rebounded for dollars on the dollar. The accidental celebrity plucked out of nowhere and invented by Oprah is simply maximizing another opportunity. If this one requires him to look and act and talk like the marrying kind, well then, OK.

The truth is, he never liked the part about being held accountable. “When you’re married,” he says, “you can’t tell your wife to piss off.”

And yet Mullen knows he can’t go on like this forever. Even Hugh Hefner isn’t Hugh Hefner anymore.

“A quality lady won’t put up with this,” he says. “There was one girl I liked a lot from Houston. We were developing a relationship, and she was here when Inside Edition was filming. She saw it all and thought, ’He’s trying to act like he hasn’t met anyone.’ She said adios.”

A week after our interview, I call Mullen to ask about a particular episode, a summer night in 1985 when, separated from his first wife, he forced his way into the house they had shared and, in a drunken rage, threatened her. She called the police and Mullen was arrested.

He falls silent. (Now, he really sees me as a threat to his good time.)

“Do you think it’s appropriate to pull out something so painful from the past?” he asks.

I explain that anybody’s marital history is germane to a story about a twice-divorced bachelor searching the world for a bride.

“Well.” Mullen starts, speaking delibera-tively for the first time, “we’re very civil now, but we had some rough times during the breakup. I had been locked out of the house, I was trying to get my clothes, and she refused to let me in. She called the police. And they removed me from the property.”

Mullen, a recovering alcoholic, blames the episode on booze. He insists I call his ex-wife, Debby, who will confirm that they are now good friends. (Debby confirms they are friends, but demurs on how good.) He sounds upset. “I strongly suggest you call Debby,” he says again, this time offering her phone number. He pauses. I half expect him to hang up on me. Instead, he abruptly switches the subject. “Want to hear the latest?”

The latest?

“I’ve been named the second most eligible bachelor in the world by Woman’s Day Australia,” he says, his mood suddenly brightening. “They’ve offered me a first-class, round-trip ticket to Australia to visit their women. Also, Blitz has offered to fly several women in.”

Is he going to lake them up on their offers?

“I’m going to take them both up on their offers. My God, it’s first class, and I love to travel. I’m also flying to Las Vegas for the opening of (the apparel store) Exclusivo. Kristian Alfonso and I will be the VIP guests.”

Kristian Alfonso?

“She plays Hope on Days of Our Lives.”

Wait a second. The week before, he told me he’d hired a publicist not to perpetuate the myth of the lonely bachelor looking for a wife, but to bring closure to the whole thing.

“That’s right,” he says. “But this is international. I have no control over it.”


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