50 things you need to know about Simon Cowell

all Simon Cowell what you will—heartless critic, closet case, shameless self-promoter—but the true star of American Idol is no dummy. He knows, far better than all of the wannabes he mercilessly flays week after week, that you have to control your own press. His “autobiography,” I Don’t Mean To Be Rude, But…, is more whitewashed than a pair of ’80s jeans. So if all you know about the man is that he possesses hundreds of snarky put-downs, an enormous ego, and too many tight T-shirts, it’s because that’s all he wants you to know. But there’s more, much more. Radar searched far and wide to bring you 50 revealing facts on the Englishman we love to hate. The Cowell who emerges— a Kool-smoking high-school drop out mama’s boy with a fondness for strip clubs—has a few minor kinks in his armor.

1. Simon had his first kiss when he was nine and lost his virginity eight years later.
2. Since then, he’s slept with 100 or so women by his best guess. “I based my estimate on when I lost my virginity, figured that it was roughly 25 years ago and guessed that I had slept with an average of three to four women a year,” he explains.
3. Those women include lap dancer Georgina Law, ’80s pop star Sinitta, and current girlfriend and Extra correspondent Terri Seymour.
4. Sinitta, an African American from Seattle, was also Cowell’s first client. With just $17,000, they put together a single and video for her song “So Macho,” which went on to sell 900,000 copies.
5. Simon turned out to be a less reliable boyfriend than producer. According to Sinitta, he not only cheated on her three times, he made passes at her sister and her best friend and is “incapable of being faithful.”

6. Certainly, no relationship has ever curtailed his strip-club habit, which he indulges girlfriend or no, because, shockingly, he “like[s] it.”
7. Cowell has forbidden Seymour from asking him questions after 11 p.m. and suggested she get her boobs enlarged.
8. Last summer, British tabloids reported that he had been cheating on Seymour for six months with Jasmine Lennard, a bisexual 21-year-old former coke addict and model.
9. Simon was once approached by a man who said he would pay six figures to have Cowell judge him and his wife in bed. He refused—which he says he regrets.
10. Simon’s ex-girlfriend Jackie, whom he dated 19 years ago and refers to as his “best friend in the world,” accompanies him on family vacations with his girlfriend, brothers, and mother.
11. When in London, Cowell meets with his mother, Julie, a retired ballet dancer, for lunch twice a week. In 2005, he spent $500,000 on her surprise 80th birthday party.
12. His father, Eric, died in 1999 and was a real estate developer for EMI—where Cowell got his first real job, in the mail room.
13. His many part-time jobs include car cleaner, baby-sitter, caroler, waiter at Elton John’s London restaurant, and film set gopher.
14. Bette Davis frequented his childhood home, Abbot’s Meade, and Stanley Kubrick eventually purchased it.
15. Simon was suspended from boarding school for four months after being caught drinking—something he started doing at the age of nine, the same age he started smoking. He dropped out of school at 16.

16. Cowell now smokes Kools and says, like a proper control freak, “I’ve a golden rule, which is to drink only in the evening. I’m never drunk.”
17. He left his job at EMI to start a record label, Fanfare, with Iain Burton in his early 20s. He had made almost two million dollars by the time he was 29, but lost it a year later when a buy-out of his company went bad.
18. Simon then followed British record producer and Pop Idol judge Pete Waterman “around like a dog” for two years, learning the business.
19. Eventually he was hired by BMG, making albums for acts like the Teletubbies, the WWF, David Hasselhoff, and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

20. Tamyra Gray is his favorite Idol contestant.
21. To convince two British television actors, Robson and Jerome, to record a track for him, Cowell called the duo every day, three times a day for seven months. Their lawyers threatened legal action, but eventually the actors agreed, and the resulting song became the UK’s best-selling single of the ’90s.
22. Cowell turned down both the Spice Girls and Take That.
23. His Irish boy band Westlife has sold more than 45 million records.
24. Cowell has produced 25 number one singles and has sold more than 60 million records.
25. He owns an $11 million Victorian townhouse in the Holland Park neighborhood of west London that once belonged to a French ambassador.