Manly Strap-Ons Still Selling Like Hot Bronuts

I usu­ally avoid link­ing to any­thing on Buzzfeed. On prin­ciple. I for­get exactly what that prin­ciple is but I’m sure it was a very good one.

However this list of ’27 gendered products’ is rather funny. ‘Gendered products’ is of course a polite way of say­ing manly strap-ons — things that have to be butched up so that men’s pen­ises don’t shrivel and blow away when they use/do them. Scary things like sun­screen and soap.

I say ‘men’s pen­ises’ but really I mean American men’s pen­ises. Most of the manly strap-ons are American — very American — and began to come on thick and strong dur­ing the faux back­lash the US had against met­ro­sexu­al­ity in the late Noughties. Remember the ‘menais­sance’? Thought not.

Strapping a ‘man’ word onto some­thing not very manly (man­scara, man­dates, man­bag) was a kind of phal­lic paci­fier, a lucky charm against any anxi­ety about sexual ambi­gu­ity. In other coun­tries, such as Australia, this might have been done with humour and irony — but not in the US.

It was after all the US which gave us, in all ser­i­ous­ness, the ‘lum­ber­sexual’ — the manly strap-on man (who worked in IT or artisan cof­fee retail). And before him the ‘uber­sexual’ and the ‘macho­sexual’. All hys­ter­ical reaction-formations to the metrosexual.

Four years ago I hoped that manly strap-ons and campy cod­pieces had peaked — or drooped — with ‘hegans’. You know, men who don’t eat meat but aren’t faggy at all but MANLY. I was so wrong. Apparently there is such a thing in the world as ‘Mangria’ — though prob­ably you shouldn’t drink it with a raised pinky, or even too much fruit. And ‘bronuts’. Which appar­ently you eat when you want to ‘snack like a man’. Whatever the bloody nora that means.

My favour­ite though is the manly soap with grips — a very prac­tical addi­tion: ensur­ing, of course, that it is NEVER DROPPED.

Mark Simpson Interviewed on Italian Swiss TV Channel RSI

At the end of last year I was inter­viewed by Sarah Ferraro of Italian Swiss TV chan­nel RSI for a doc about mod­ern mas­culin­ity air­ing Thursday (tomor­row) at 9pm.

Here are some advance clips that the makers of the doc kindly shared of me unre­lax­ing in a male spa in London’s Mayfair called The Refinery.

The ori­ginal inter­view, as you can ima­gine, las­ted hours.…

The doc­u­ment­ary should be avail­able to view on the RSI site here this Friday (with me dubbed into sexy Italian).

Keyless Entry & Male Versatility

“I call him lollipop”

The sexu­al­isa­tion of the male body probes new, perfectly-rounded depths in this European ad pro­mot­ing the ‘key­less entry’ fea­ture on Ford cars.

And pos­sibly the use of Ford key fobs as sex toys.

A remark­ably well-crafted ad, it makes excel­lent use of the increas­ingly blatant mod­ern phe­nomenon of meta­phys­ical — and increas­ingly phys­ical - male ver­sat­il­ity. How men in our sporno­sexual age are now act­ive and pass­ive. Tops and bot­toms. Subjects and objects. Heroic and tarty.

To the strains of an ‘inno­cent’ 1960s bubblegum pop track in which a girl com­pares her boy­friend to some­thing sweet to suck, every­one on the beach, male or female, young or old, gay or straight, is hav­ing a really good look at the worked-out, oiled-up grin­ning hot­tie in the tight trunks saun­ter­ing past.

So far, so nor­mal in a world in which the male body has become bouncy castle for the eyes.

As our beach babe approaches his car how­ever, we real­ise that every­one is sup­posedly star­ing because they are won­der­ing how he’s going to get into his locked, lovely new ride.

The oblig­at­ory, ‘objec­ti­fy­ing’ close ups of his packet and ass served up to us before­hand have only ‘served’ to make it clear that he hasn’t got any­thing down his pants, save his meat and two vege — plus two pert buns.

The car greed­ily unlocks itself when presen­ted with his lunch-packet. Which is entirely understandable.

But we’re star­ing right at his bubble butt strain­ing against his tight trunks when this happens.

And then the kiss-off strap­line spells out the anal­ity of all this:


Where you keep your key is up to you.

So the ad is less about the lol­li­pop and more about the buttered buns. ‘Keyless entry’ is all about male ver­sat­il­ity, if not voraciousness.

Likewise the pop­ping sound-effect on the ‘Lollipop’ track at the end of the ad is now less sug­gest­ive of fel­la­tio than the removal of a car fob from a toned, er, trunk.

Britain’s Got Tarty (& Chris Hemsworth’s Got Codpiece)

I always used to won­der when watch­ing gay porn in the 1990s how the deuce the mod­els man­aged to get their pants over their chunky butch boots without remov­ing them.

Now of course every straight male from South London learns how to do this before they can leg­ally drink in pubs — as ‘Forbidden Nights’, an act audi­tion­ing on Britain’s Got More Talent recently demonstrated.

Note how the camp judge (David Walliams) is con­trac­tu­ally bound to be ‘gay’ — regard­less of the fact he’s straight. And twice the size of the rather lovely pocket-sized strip­per he hugs (no doubt he had to have his suit dry-cleaned of orange body make-up).

Note also how ‘sexu­al­ised images’ of the male body — and extreme close-ups of cotton-lycra mix bulges — are now an entirely accept­able, and enthu­si­ast­ic­ally applauded, part of British prime-time fam­ily entertainment.

Something the American Phalliban suc­cess­fully sab­ot­aged in the BBC’s recent Wolf’s Hall — spoilsport American TV execs insisted the Tudor cod­pieces be toned down.

Hooray for Hollywood how­ever — who gave ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ Chris Hemsworth one the size of, well, the ham­mer of a Norse god of thun­der, in the just-released ‘red band’ trailer for the forth­com­ing remake of National Lampoon’s (R-rated) Vacation.

That’s prob­ably way more phal­lus than you’ll get in Magic Mike XXL.

Tip: Hans Versluys


The Blinding Blandness of Wheeled Whiteness

Mark Simpson on the col­our­less cars that hog today’s roads

I recently found myself – inex­plic­ably – in a fash­ion­able nightclub. Or as fash­ion­able a nightclub as Birmingham allows. I was the old­est per­son there, but what struck me about all the bright young things bop­ping around middle-aged me – in those rare moments when they weren’t snap­ping selfies with their smart­phones to post on Facebook  – was how bor­ingly dressed they were. Almost every­one was wear­ing white and black. It was like a cater­ing after-party.

Or, indeed, like the M6 that had brought me there earlier. White, you see, is now offi­cially the UK’s ‘favour­ite’ new car ‘col­our’, account­ing for 22 per cent of sales last year – 550,000 new ghost cars – tail­gated by black at 19 per cent. Grey is in third place with 14 per cent, just pip­ping sil­ver with 13 per cent.

I put ‘favour­ite’ and ‘col­our’ in quotes because, of course, white is not anyone’s favour­ite col­our. It’s not even a col­our. Nor is black. They are an absence of col­our. Grey/silver is an achromatic mix of both absences. Which is pre­cisely why people choose them. You can go wrong with col­ours. Glaringly wrong. So 68% of new car buy­ers avoid them.

Today every­one, like the young­sters in the nightclub, is ter­ri­fied of being taste­less. Or not being ‘cool’. Of giv­ing too much away. So every­one is being drear­ily sens­ible. Which isn’t actu­ally very cool at all. This may also explain why the UK’s top-selling car mod­els last year were Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Golf and Vauxhall Astra. Want a por­trait of the UK today? Here’s a white Ford Fiesta.

White cars, pre­cisely because they have no col­our, are bet­ter at dis­guising dings and chips and dirt – their bland­ness blinds you to their imper­fec­tions. They also reportedly hold about five per cent more of their value from new than the mar­ket aver­age for used cars; which can be sev­eral hun­dred pounds after three years. In aus­ter­ity Britain this seems to be a ‘primary’ factor in new car purchases.

But then, every­one is now liv­ing in a house with white walls, white bath­rooms, white kit­chens and white bed linen. It seems we’ve all been vis­ited by one of those bossy TV ‘house doc­tors’ that tell you to dump your per­son­al­ity in a skip.

People choose a white car because it ‘doesn’t clash’ with their white lives. Forget White Van Man, here comes White Goods Man.

Some have sug­ges­ted that the phe­nom­enal rise in pop­ular­ity of white cars – back in 2007 they accoun­ted for just 1.1 per cent of sales – is down to Apple and the min­im­al­ist white­ness of their ‘cool’ products which have invaded our lives over the last decade.

Perhaps a gen­er­a­tion has been brain­washed into believ­ing that white is ‘cool’ (rather than just cold). But it rep­res­ents much more than this – a chan­ging atti­tude towards cars them­selves. They’re now accessory-gadgets rather than vehicles. ‘Mobiles’ rather than motors. Their Bluetooth func­tion­al­ity more import­ant than their engine capacity.

While at least sil­ver, last decade’s favour­ite ‘col­our’, recog­nised and cel­eb­rated cars as machines, white cars seem to sug­gest digital boxes with wheels. Or very expens­ive iPhone holders.

True, ‘neut­ral’ col­ours are kind of where we began with our love affair with the mass-market motor car. Henry T Ford fam­ously dic­tated you could have any col­our so long as it was black. But he only made that stip­u­la­tion after dis­cov­er­ing black took less time to dry – and, in the earlier part of the 20th Century, car painting/varnishing tech­niques were labor­i­ous, tak­ing many coats and even more days. Less time meant less costs which meant cheaper cars which meant more sales.

But even Mr Ford only made this mono­chro­matic stip­u­la­tion from 1915 until 1926, when demand and also increas­ing com­pet­i­tion saw him rein­tro­duce col­our to his cars. The 1920s were a flam­boy­ant, flap­per time for car col­ours. Depression and then war painted the 1930s and 1940s dull. The rock­ing 1950s saw the intro­duc­tion of pas­tels and two and three tone colours.

The swinging 1960s wore shiny metal­lic paints, includ­ing groovy gold. The glam 1970s were verd­ant with greens, browns and, er, mus­tard orange. The power-mad 1980s were sig­nal red, metal­lic black and cobalt blue. And the rav­ing 1990s were… metal­lic teal. Which may help explain why, by the Noughties, sens­ible sil­ver had become dom­in­ant.

Today’s paint tech­no­logy, hav­ing evolved spec­tac­u­larly from the horse and car­riage var­nish­ing tech­niques employed on early cars, is able to deliver breath-taking, vivid col­ours of hyp­notic depth and clar­ity, along with impress­ive dur­ab­il­ity and afford­ab­il­ity. Which makes it bit­terly ironic that col­our has appar­ently become some­thing you can only afford to risk if you’re an Oligarch, a pro­fes­sional foot­baller or Katie Price.

But per­haps penny-pinching eco­nom­ics, and safety con­cerns, will change the col­our of cars again – or rather, rein­tro­duce col­our. And what a col­our! Light yellow-green is the most vis­ible tint for vehicles in all-weather con­di­tions, par­tic­u­larly for that vital WHAT-THE-BLAZES?! peri­pheral vis­ion. Cars in this ‘wince­some’ hue are, unsur­pris­ingly, much less likely to be overlooked.

People will­ing to endure it may end up with lower insur­ance premi­ums. Or maybe a future gov­ern­ment, look­ing for fur­ther reduc­tions in road acci­dent stats and hav­ing noted that the pub­lic has already given up on choos­ing col­ours for their new cars, might offer drivers VED reduc­tions for adopt­ing it. In which case, the future might be chartreuse.

And everything is going to clash with it. If not actu­ally crash into it.

But it’s still bet­ter than white.

Originally appeared on Hitachi CVS