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:

FORD KEYLESS ENTRY

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.

Well-Oiled, Precision-Engineered German Spornosexuality

This recent German ad caught my eye. Or rather, some silky smooth, highly-grabable German glu­tes leapt out of my mon­itor and rammed them­selves in my face.

My German is rather poor, but the ad would appear to be for lady’s body-cream called Aldo Vandini. Expensive body-cream, judging by the size of that obscenely lux­uri­ous bath-living room the shame­less young man is oil­ing him­self and his precision-engineered but­tocks up in. I don’t know about you, but I found myself rather dis­trac­ted by it. Perhaps I’m deeply shal­low, but I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. His bum or the bath-fittings.

Butt’ I think it’s pretty clear what the real product and object of desire is here – as it so often is in advert­ising these days: The tarty male body.

The ad is shot voyeur­ist­ic­ally. We, the viewer, appear to be loiter­ing in the door­way, breath­ing heav­ily, our eyes linger­ing on his nicely-lit back and but­tocks – but we’re listen­ing to opera, so we’re not being sleazy – while he bends over to sniff the aro­matic body-rub, which we’ll assume isn’t actu­ally poppers-infused. He’s not afraid of the fem­in­ine product, just likes the way it smells and how it feels.

Likewise, he’s not afraid of the ‘fem­in­ine’, ‘pass­ive’ pos­i­tion of being looked at – from behind. Towards the end, the finely-featured scamp looks over his shoulder, clocks us per­ving over him, smiles and just car­ries on rub­bing him­self up. Deliberately or not, this German ad, aimed appar­ently at women, has spoken in the lin­gua franca of the delight­ful, play­ful, sen­sual ambi­gu­ity of mod­ern, sporno­sexual mas­culin­ity – and the assert­ive sexual appet­ite of mod­ern femininity.

And also, as I’ve shown with my drool­ing, the ambi­gu­ity of just who is watching.

Man-Knockers on the London Underground

A funny thing happened to Mark Simpson on the way to the ‘Being a Man’ forum

I almost fell off the plat­form when I saw this body­build­ing sup­ple­ments poster bust­ing out all over the London Underground recently - around the same time as all that indig­nant hul­laba­loo sur­round­ing The Sun’s infam­ous now-you-don’t-see-them-any-more-now-you-do-again lady busts.

There they were, depil­ated man-knockers (and pixelated knack­ers) nakedly objec­ti­fied in the rush hour for all to see: men and women, chil­dren and adults, wide-eyed tour­ists and jaded loc­als. No need to buy a copy of a declin­ing tabloid news­pa­per, open it and turn to page three to ‘exploit’ this model’s tits and abs. Just look up from your smart­phone. Shameless male top­less and bottomless-ness plastered all over the walls for every­one to ‘gaze’ at while wait­ing for the next obscenely over­crowded Elephant & Castle train, per­haps car­ry­ing Laura Mulvey.

Even worse, the poster encour­aged other young men to objec­tify them­selves (‘reveal your­self’), and spend their hard-earned cash buy­ing sup­ple­ments that they hope will help to make them more desir­able, more sale­able, more shag­gable — bustier. Men are the new glam­our models.

The web­site for the sup­ple­ment com­pany includes ‘cover model’ as one of the poten­tial ‘goals’ that their sporno­sexual cus­tom­ers might be inter­ested in:

…lean muscle has become an industry recog­nised term that is now syn­onym­ous with a cover model look. To achieve a cover model body, the key con­sid­er­a­tion is to increase muscle whilst keep­ing body fat to an abso­lute minimum’.

And lib­eral use of Photoshop.

Funnily enough, I was on my way to appear on a panel at the Southbank Centre talk­ing about ‘Being a Man’ when I was con­fron­ted with these man-knockers. On the panel I was respond­ing to a present­a­tion by the artist and TV presenter Grayson Perry. Who is a bit of man knocker him­self — in a more ‘crit­ical’ sense.

Perry’s present­a­tion (along the lines of this piece for the New Statesman) was acerbic, enter­tain­ing and not without insight, but some­times seemed at least thirty years out of date. And I know this because I myself am only twenty years out of date.

My main issue with it was not that it prob­lem­at­ised and patho­lo­gised mas­culin­ity and ‘toxic’ testoster­one and the Sauronic ‘male gaze’ — which it did in spades — but that it reified, pos­sibly fet­ish­ised mas­culin­ity as some­thing unchan­ging, some­thing mono­lithic. Sometimes the biggest crit­ics of mas­culin­ity are its biggest believ­ers — includ­ing cross-dressing fem­in­ist men.

Of course, I tend to notice far too much what some don’t care to see at all — and I began my com­ments by warn­ing the audi­ence that I like men. A LOT. But I was sur­prised how little Mr Perry seemed to under­stand me when talk­ing about the eager self-objectification young men today go in for and the break­down of what I call the het­ero­sexual divi­sion of labour, of look­ing and of loving.

I won­der if he uses the tube? Or even his eyes?

***

The recently-released movie ver­sion of Fifty Shades of Grey has been attacked by some fem­in­ists for set­ting back ‘the cause of woman­hood’ (because it fea­tures female sub­missive­ness and male mas­ter­ful­ness) and for glor­i­fy­ing ‘abuse’ (des­pite being very con­sen­sual). Notwithstanding it is writ­ten by a woman, dir­ec­ted by a woman (Sam Taylor-Johnson), green-lighted by a woman — and of course enorm­ously pop­u­lar with women. Likewise, the rehab­il­it­a­tion of female mas­ochism in the last dec­ade or so seems to have been for­got­ten and replaced by sus­pi­cion of women who like their sex sub­missive and spanky.

I haven’t seen the movie, I’m still recov­er­ing from going to see the last ‘event’ ‘chick flick’, so can’t com­ment on whether or not the women involved in mak­ing it and the mil­lions going to see are suf­fer­ing from ‘false con­scious­ness’. And obvi­ously I don’t know much about woman­hood anyway.

But I have watched the offi­cial trailer. Repeatedly. The mas­ter­ful Mr Grey (Jamie Dornan) is a standard-issue sporno­sexual who prob­ably has a Bulk Powders Gold Card. In the 2.23 min trailer there are 7 top­less shots of his sculp­ted torso, includ­ing a mir­ror shot which gives you a sim­ul­tan­eous, spitroast­ing front and rear view of it, vs 1.5 of Ms Steele (Dakota Johnson), sans nipples in her case. Oh, and one side shot of her panties — with Dornan’s pretty face in front of them.

My favour­ite shot though shows him play­ing his grand piano shirt­less, in a scene that looks a bit Behind the Candelabras - but with Liberace as the toy-boy. I sup­pose that the grand piano rep­res­ents Ms Steele sub­mit­ting to the skill­ful fin­gers of Mr Grey. But it looks like a very camp — sorry, I mean mas­ter­ful — form of masturbation.

 

Swing it Around Like You’re in a TV Commercial’

Mark Simpson on how Lynx grew up. And kissed a boy.

 “Swing it around like you’re in a TV commercial.”

I like this spunky new hair gel ‘Now can be amaz­ing’ ad from Lynx, cur­rently air­ing in Australia. Especially since it’s the per­fect anti­dote to the ball-shrivelling dreary para­noia of ads like this.

In fact, it’s prob­ably my favour­ite ad since Philips/Norelco ‘I’d F*ck Me’ where a young man play­fully chats him­self up in front of the bath­room mir­ror. Like the Philips ad this one isn’t afraid of its own shadow, and instead of mak­ing apo­lo­gies just embraces and cel­eb­rates male beauty and van­ity — and the spirit mak­ing the most of it while you have it.

More than this, it’s an ad which encour­ages young men to be any­thing that they want to be — to be ‘amaz­ing’. In much the same way that young women have been encour­aged for some time.

Hence the ‘Kiss the hot­test girl — or the hot­test boy’ moment. This is not, as has been pro­claimed by gay blogs, a ‘gay kiss’ so much as a bi-curious one, since it’s the same guy kiss­ing the girl and then the boy. Which is in keep­ing with what we might term the James Dean ethic of the ad — don’t go through life with ‘one hand tied behind your back’. Especially if it’s your best hand.

This is par­tic­u­larly impress­ive com­ing from Lynx (known as Axe in the US), a brand which is not usu­ally asso­ci­ated with pro­gress­ive advert­ising and in fact often asso­ci­ated instead with a hys­ter­ical het­ero­sexu­al­ity: ‘I only smell nice coz it attracts women and that proves I’m not gay, OK?’. (Though there have been sort-of excep­tions, such as this Axe ad star­ring Ben Affleck back in 2007.)

But then, I told Lynx all about their hys­ter­ical het­ero­sexu­al­ity and how dated it was in a world in which young men take male van­ity and self care for gran­ted — and aspire to be everything - when they con­tac­ted me last sum­mer ask­ing for my input into their re-branding. I’d com­pletely for­got­ten about this con­sulta­tion when I saw the ad, and just thought it was cool. I don’t know for sure whether my cri­tique made it into the brief for this ad, but it seems quite pos­sible I may have been admir­ing my own reflection.

Though being hon­est, I’m not entirely sure he’s really made the most of his hair with that bird’s nest look.…

Stripping Down the Male Body

Disability char­ity Scope have been air­ing a cheeky ad this sum­mer designed to encour­age people to donate clothes. It’s a funny trib­ute to the iconic Levis ‘Laundrette’ ad of 1985 and fea­tures a very studly 24-year-old model and per­sonal fit­ness trainer Jack Eyers in the Nick Kamen role. And boy, does he fill it.

Instead of strip­ping off to wash his clothes, Eyers denudes him­self to donate to the cause. As he gets down to his white box­ers we sud­denly get a close-up on his hi-tech pros­thetic leg, which has remained hid­den until now. In terms of the way the ad is shot and struc­tured his pros­thesis is basic­ally his penis. It becomes another way of ‘strip­ping down’ and ‘reveal­ing’ the male body. Of sig­nalling both tough­ness and vul­ner­ab­il­ity, passiv­ity and activ­ity, loss and pos­ses­sion at the same time.

Jack Eyers kink

And Eyers isn’t shy about it. His pros­thesis is, as he says in an inter­est­ing inter­view with the Telegraph’s Theo Merz here, some­thing he likes to show off rather than hide because it looks ‘pretty cool’. It also doesn’t neces­sar­ily harm his employ­ment pro­spects in an industry wak­ing up to both the eye-catching poten­tial and, para­dox­ic­ally, the ‘nor­mal­ness’ of dis­ab­il­ity. (You might also want to check out Theo Merz’s exped­i­tion to Newcastle in search of the sporno­sexual here - in which he dis­cov­ers the man some Telegraph read­ers would like to pre­tend doesn’t exist is ter­ri­fy­ingly, ab-tauteningly real.)

Alex Minksy

Even less shy is US Marine vet turned under­wear model Alex Minsky, who has been gar­ner­ing a lot of well-deserved atten­tion for his saucy shoots — and most par­tic­u­larly for the way, with his body art, sculp­ted muscles, styled facial and head hair, he has totally aes­thet­i­cised him­self, pros­thesis and all. He’s also a model who clearly isn’t afraid to become a form of per­form­ance art. Splendidly kinky per­form­ance art. (Some naked selfies were leaked earlier this year — which only served to, err, enhance his reputation.)

Alex Minsky pressup

Perhaps part of the appeal of the buff, sexu­al­ised chap with pros­thetic limb(s) is not just the ‘inspir­a­tional story’, but also the fantasy of total con­trol over the body — even after some­thing as trau­mat­ising as ampu­ta­tion. And of course the hi-tech, fas­cin­at­ing pros­thesis that seems to bring ‘bionic’ powers blends with the cyborg nature of sporno­sexu­al­ity itself — a bod­ily mer­ging with tech­no­logy, in which the body is ‘machine tooled’ into some­thing more excit­ing by nutri­tional and med­ical sci­ence, Technogym decline presses and Nair for Men. (Though for most this mer­ging is done by upload­ing smart­phone selfies to Facebook.)

Alex-Minsky-9 alex-minsky-modello-senza-gamba-6

I ana­lysed the ‘Laundrette’ ad in Male Impersonators as a ‘sem­inal’ moment in the objec­ti­fic­a­tion of the male body — its ‘looked-at-ness’. Kamen’s strip in the liv­ing rooms of the UK in the mid-1980s (along with sev­eral other ads in that cam­paign, which increas­ingly sought to sub­sti­tute the product for the model’s unshow­able penis) really did mark a moment at which we woke up to the male body as a fully-fledged object of desire. Everyone in the laundrette, male and female, is hav­ing a really good look. And it’s worth men­tion­ing he’s doing his own wash­ing — no ‘little woman’ in his life to do it for him.

Like Top Gun, which was released the fol­low­ing year, ‘Laundrette’ pack­ages this new male nar­ciss­ism as ‘tra­di­tional’ and ‘retro’, when the real 1950s it is notion­ally loc­ated in con­fined this kind of fare to under­ground gay mags like AMG — cer­tainly not prime-time TV.

Thirty years on we’re all still hav­ing a really good look. So much so that we require much more visual stim­u­la­tion. Our gaze is more demand­ing, more pen­et­rat­ing. Back then Kamen’s body was pantingly-described as ‘hunky’, but now his slim, svelte body looks not rather coy in com­par­ison to today’s ripped, pumped, inked and sexed-up spornos, with or without gleam­ing, well-oiled pros­thetic limbs.

Not to men­tion almost a dif­fer­ent species.

Metroessexual

Dan Osborne, the won­der­fully, shame­lessly tarty star of The Only Way is Essex and now beau­ti­fully brazen under­wear model for Bang Lads, pho­to­graphed deli­ciously by Darren Black.

Dan shows us the girth of his Xmas cracker. Or what we’ll be doing after it goes ‘bang’.
Dan2
Dan, who is clearly a very shy lad, shows us his obliques, his biceps, his tatts and his elbows.

 Write-up by the DM on the shoot here.