Sunday, June 10, 2007

New baby for Art Bell

Radio host Art Bell, who will be 62 years old in a week, announced on Saturday night that his wife, Airyn, had given birth to a girl, Asia Rayne Bell. Bell married Airyn last year and described her at the time as being in her "early twenties." She had just finished teacher training in the Philippines.

Bell founded the Coast to Coast talk show on which he interviews guests on topics ranging from the paranormal to Middle Eastern politics. Bell's late night show is broadcast from Nevada and has a following on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where unemployment is high and people get into the habit of staying up late. Bell gets many Canadians on his call in line; in fact they dominate the International Line he set up for listeners outside America.

Bell announced at the opening of last night's show that Airyn, 4 ‘ 8” tall, gave birth to the 8 lb. 5 ounce Asia by cesarean section. The baby was born on May 30th at 6 a.m. She was conceived during a visit to Hong Kong. Hence the name, Asia.

Bell says Asia is an "alert, advanced beyond her days" little girl. It's as if she is three months old, he said. But he does not intend to "dwell" on his new offspring because he knows that new parents sometimes do that and for those who are not the parents, "it probably bores them to death."

Bell met Airyn in 2006, just weeks after his second wife Ramona, 47, died suddenly of an asthma attack in their RV in January. Bell told his listeners when he returned to the air that Ramona’s death had left him in almost unbearable emotional pain and he had even considered suicide. But after a few weeks of mourning, Bell began to sound upbeat on his show, almost giddy. When interviewing theoretical physicist, Lisa Randall, he repeatedly kidded her about how a woman so good looking could be so smart. He told her that he knew he was being sexist, and she agreed. He just didn't seem like himself. But his listeners would later discover something.

He was high on Airyn.

An American friend of Bell's who was engaged to Airyn’s sister in the Philippines, had Bell's personal e-mail address and had given it to Airyn. Bell was not aware of this. But he began to receive e-mails from Airyn and they began to correspond. He went to the Philippines to meet her and after a couple of weeks of getting to know her, married her in a double wedding with her sister and his friend.

That was less than four months after the death of Ramona who was half-Filipino. Bell, who regularly interviews people who believe that the dead can communicate with the living, had attempted to check in with Ramona before the marriage. If I'm making a mistake, he told her, "Kick my ass." Bell explained to his listeners that his marriage to Ramona had been good, an experience that left him eager to marry again.

Bell had managed to keep his wedding to Airyn a secret until it was over. Then he put a photo of his wife on the Coast to Coast website and announced to his listeners that he was once again married, in love, and happy. "Life is very short", he repeatedly reminded them, recalling that the coroner had reminded him of that fact at Ramona's death.

Some of Bell's roughly 10 million listeners looked askance at him snapping up a wife almost 40 years his junior from the provinces in the Philippines, where young women are notoriously desperate to marry Americans who can rescue them from poverty. As Jim Arkansas, a Downtown Eastsider who has been devoted to Bell for years, looked at the photo of his wife and said, "She looks like a little girl...I lost respect for Art." But Bell dismissed critics with, “Some people are not happy unless I’m unhappy.”

After marrying Airyn, Bell told listeners that he "retired her" from the teaching profession, which in the Philippines requires that new teachers work in remote areas.

Bell completely relocated to the Philippines, getting a condo -- an entire floor actually -- in a high rise in an American section of Manila and broadcasting his radio show from there. But the typhoons there where making his windows buckle inwards. And his life was in danger when a phony letter, circulated years earlier and traced to a computer at a university in California, was published by a newspaper in the Philippines. The letter falsely presented him as the author of disparaging commentary about the Philippines, that he considered the Philippines to be a "dirty" place, etc. Bell noted that it is not unusual for media personalities to get assassinated in the Philippines.

In 2007, months after announcing to his listeners that his young wife was expecting a baby in June, Bell secretly moved back to the U.S. He returned to the Nevada compound where he has his own radio broadcasting towers. When springing the news on his listeners that he was now back on U.S. soil, Bell noted that many had not been pleased about him picking up shop and moving to the Philippines. He has an almost cult following in the U.S.

Bell gave only one reason on the air for his return to Nevada: he wanted his daughter to have U.S. citizenship and that would involve much less paper work if she were born in the U.S. rather than the Philippines

Bell's newborn daughter is not his first child. He has a grown son, Arthur Bell Jr., from an earlier marriage. It was due to his son that Bell left his radio show abruptly in Apr. 2000, saying at the time that it was "to resolve a family crisis". Listeners would later learn that he had left to deal with psychological trauma suffered by his son, who as a 16 yr. old in 1997 had been raped by a substitute high school teacher with AIDS. Bell sued the Nevada School District on behalf of his son and the court papers ended up on the internet. Bell returned to his show in 2001. He recently mentioned that his son lives with his mother in the U.S., and that it is a "tragic" situation.

Bell, who acknowledges that he is a night hawk and that at Coast to Coast the middle of the night is "when we do our best work", says the new baby has not been causing him much sleep deprivation. She tends to wake up at night which is when he and his wife are up anyway. "Airyn and I go to bed typically at 4 or 5 in the morning."

Bell put a photo of Asia at 10 days of age on the Coast to Coast website. That prompted a listener, Heinrik from College Station, Texas to send Bell a 'fast-blast' e-mail, asking if he was going to put a photo of Asia's first poo on his site via the web cam. Bell responded, "No, Heinrik, but for free samples write to the network."


See related Story, "Is Art Bell Hinting at a Comeback?", at:
Is Art Bell Hinting at a Comeback?