How The Prostate Came Out of the Closet

Mark Simpson snaps on the latex gloves and gives men’s pro­states a thor­ough examination

(Originally appeared in a shorter, more taste­ful form in The Daily Telegraph, 12 Nov 2014)

Movember’ is upon us again, and so are the ironic and per­haps not so ironic upper lip pubes, remind­ing us of the very import­ant, very worthy – and until Movember, very over­looked – issue of pro­state can­cer, a dis­ease which affects 42,000 men each year, and kills 11,000.

But this is per­haps also a good time to remem­ber that pro­states don’t just get can­cer – and they’re not just for November, or for pro­du­cing an alkaline secre­tion which helps sus­tain ejac­u­lated sperm in the vagina. They can also give a great deal of year-round pleas­ure. Mind blow­ing, leg-shaking, eye-rolling, neighbour-panicking pleasure.

While the very exist­ence of the female G-spot remains a mat­ter of hot debate, the male G-spot is mighty real. Situated just below a chap’s urin­ary blad­der, wrapped around the urethra, the pro­state is a walnut-sized but­ton con­veni­ently placed about a finger’s length from the anal open­ing – proof pos­it­ive of ‘intel­li­gent design’.

And more and more are being reached reg­u­larly – not just by med­ical prac­ti­tion­ers look­ing for ‘enlarge­ment’. The 21st cen­tury is shap­ing up to be the cen­tury of the prostate.

Reach’ it and you – and pos­sibly your bed­room walls – will be left in no doubt as to its exist­ence. As Seann Scott William dis­covered in the col­lege com­edy ‘Road Trip’ – released in 2000, around the time Movember was just get­ting bristly – when his arrog­ant frat-boy char­ac­ter ‘EL’ attempts to make a sperm dona­tion, and is ‘helped out’ by a slightly sad­istic, latex-gloved female nurse.

That was awe­some!’ he says, dazed-amazed after­wards. And by the film’s end he’s instruct­ing his girl­friend to ‘use three fin­gers’. Probably pro­vok­ing many a young man’s interest in his own prostate.

2000 was cer­tainly a busy year for that tick­lish gland. In ‘Me, Myself & Irene’ another com­edy released later the same year, Jim Carrey plays a split per­son­al­ity Jekyll and Hyde char­ac­ter – the obnox­ious ego­ist half also turns out to enjoy anal inser­tion: this time in the form of an eye-wateringly XXL dildo dur­ing a night of pas­sion with Renee Zellwegger.

Yes the male anal­ity on dis­play in these Millennium movies was largely at the expense of the males con­cerned of course, but because the men being pro­stat­ic­ally pleas­ured were straight, both movies effect­ively told their audi­ences that in the new cen­tury men enjoy­ing their rears being played with was not spe­cific­ally ‘gay’. Just ridicu­lously intense.

Which seems to have been all the per­mis­sion that straight men needed. A dec­ade or so on from its Hollywood ‘out­ing’, that hitherto hid­den gland def­in­itely has no sexual ori­ent­a­tion – and little or no shame. ‘I’m going to stick my whole thumb up your ass this even­ing’ says a newly-engaged women fairly ran­domly to her lucky boy­friend in the TV drama ‘Fargo’.

Prostate mas­sagers’ of all shapes and baff­ling sizes (vibrat­ing and non-vibrating) fill the pages of online sex toy stores. Men’s mags such as Esquire and Men’s Health inter­rupt their guides to the mys­ter­ies of the female body to give advice on how to get your girl­friend to mas­sage your pro­state just right while giv­ing you a blow job. Entire books are devoted to the sub­ject, prom­ising you ‘The Ultimate Guide to Prostate Pleasure’.

And a giant green butt plug was inflated in Paris last month – the city that in another epoch was fam­ous for Mr Eiffel’s phal­lic Gallic tower.

Not want­ing to be, ahem, behind the curve, Harvard University is now offer­ing sem­inars on anal sex titled: ‘What’s What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101’, where you can learn ‘anal ana­tomy and the poten­tial for pleas­ure for all genders!’

The back bot­tom is the new front bot­tom – as a peek at straight online porn will con­firm. It’s pos­sibly not without sig­ni­fic­ance that the ori­fice that straight men seem most inter­ested in women these days is one they share them­selves. After all ‘anal sex’ is a highly revers­ible concept.

This was graph­ic­ally and nois­ily demon­strated in the leaked vid of the pro foot­baller a few years back which appeared to show him being ‘scored’ by an ex female part­ner with a ‘strap on’. The tabs talked then of course about how ‘bizarre’ and ‘kinky’ his private past-time was – but as with William’s ‘Road Trip’, his loud enjoy­ment of it will have just made many foot­ball fans won­der what they’ve been miss­ing by always play­ing up front instead of at the rear.

Certainly the pos­sib­il­ity of male passiv­ity is advert­ised every­where you look now. After all sporno­sexu­al­ity, hard-core, body-centred, second gen­er­a­tion met­ro­sexu­al­ity, is as much about the lunge-sculpted ass as it is the tits and abs. Straight Essex boy Dan Osborne kindly offered the read­ers of gay mag Attitude his naked muscle butt recently in a gen­er­ous double-page spread – with the strap line ‘Sex is fun. Be safe and enjoy it.’

Dan offers his bum (safely) to Attitude readers. 'Enjoy!'
Dan offers his bum (safely) to Attitude read­ers. ‘Enjoy!’

Posh boys are also at it. The male row­ers of Warwick University have just released their latest nude char­ity cal­en­dar, aimed at women and gay men, and ‘fight­ing homo­pho­bia in sports’ – rammed with plenty of arse shots (because there’s no penis in their nude cal­en­dar, they’re all bot­tom). In these pro­static times the male der­rière has been thor­oughly sexu­al­ised. Mostly by the men attached to one. Or as one of the row­ers puts it in their pro­mo­tional video: ‘Regardless of gender or sexu­al­ity we are invit­ing you into that moment with us.’

Some stick-in-the-muds will of course har­rumph that male anal play and passiv­ity is ‘unnat­ural’ and ‘sod­om­it­ical’. To which I always reply: If God hadn’t inten­ded men to try anal play he wouldn’t have given them pro­state glands. Unless he just wanted to really mess with their heads.

And He – or naughty, naughty She – gave them to all men, whatever their sexual ori­ent­a­tion and whatever their sexual hang-ups. Your pro­state gland doesn’t care whether you’re straight, gay, bi or homo­phobic – just whether or not it’s loved.

But then, that quaint old homo­phobic ral­ly­ing cry ‘Backs against the wall lads!’ was always a bit of a giveaway. Ever so slightly hint­ing that if ‘the lads’ didn’t press their rears against some­thing solid they wouldn’t be able to res­ist impal­ing them­selves on the ‘poof’.

Yes, of course, des­pite some of the pro­stat­itc pro­pa­ganda – includ­ing this art­icle – not all men enjoy their pro­states being mas­saged. Whether they are straight or gay. But the out­ing of the pro­state gland as a poten­tial organ of (pass­ive) male pleas­ure – of male ver­sat­il­ity – regard­less of sexu­al­ity frees gay and bisexual men from the very heavy bur­den of rep­res­ent­ing all male anal pleas­ure. And straight men from hav­ing to be full-time ‘studs’.

So next time you see a Village People mous­tache in November, remem­ber that the pro­state is a gland men should be proud of. And in touch with. One way or another.




Trunks Should Be Worn High (& Adjusted Privately)’

Trunks 1938


It seems that Cape May’s Speedo ban was rel­at­ively lib­eral com­pared to the beach blanket American Puritanism that pre­ceded it. Until the 1930s you could get arres­ted on East Coast beaches just for show­ing your (male) nipples, no mat­ter how baggy and unap­pet­ising your swim­ming trunks were.

In Europe and on the West Coast top­less bathing for men has long been no nov­elty on pub­lic as well as private beaches. But in the more inhib­ited East a male cos­tume con­sist­ing solely of trunks was, until just recently, cause for arrest on almost all pub­lic beaches and raised eye­brows on many a private one.

At Atlantic City top­less bathing suits are still for­bid­den, and only this year has Long Island’s ultrademo­cratic Long Beach allowed men to air their backs and chests. This trend which ori­gin­ated on the French Riviera has ser­i­ously dis­tressed man­u­fac­tur­ers who claim there is little field for ori­gin­al­ity of design in trunks. For proof of their con­ten­tion, see Long Beach pic­tures below.

On the one hand it seems laugh­able that the male breast should have been regarded as so inflam­mat­ory of lust to the good burgh­ers of East Coast America. But then again, given the flag­rant rise of pro­voc­at­ive, pec-tastic sporno­sexu­al­ity on our 21st Century beaches, maybe those clenched American WASPS were right.

At any rate, those trunks cer­tainly aren’t being worn ‘high’ any more. That would be a ter­rible waste of obliques.

 Tip: David Somerlinck


From Boy 2 Man in the Mirror (in a windy bedroom)


Hugo Cornellier took a selfie a day from the age of seven until he was nine­teen and then turned it into a selfie-movie. And in the pro­cess turned him­self into a YouTube celebrity.

There’s some­thing quite haunt­ing about it, not just in the stop-motion doc­u­ment­ary of a boy’s trans­ition into man­hood in a self-regarding, accel­er­ated age — and the way he can’t make up his mind whether or not a beard really suits him — but also the way that a selfie-movie turns every­one else in your life into a blur, the only con­stant being your eyes gaz­ing into the lens. Or is it the abyss?

Oh, and the other con­stant being the swiv­elly IKEA com­puter chair every­one has these days.

It reminds me of the won­der­ful 1960 movie ver­sion of HG Wells’ The Time Machine, star­ring Rod Taylor, the ori­ginal Jon Hamm, in an Edwardian swiv­elly chair that travels through time. As his hor­ri­fied friend with the com­edy ‘Scotch’ accent warns him:

If that machine can do what you say it can, des­troy it George before it des­troys YOU!”

But of course, as Mr Corneillier’s selfie time machine demon­strates, it’s already far, far too late for us to save ourselves. From ourselves.

Male Body Rolling

I’m really look­ing for­wards to this doc La Bare, about a male strip­per club in Dallas, released later this month. This single clip is more sen­sual than any­thing in Magic Mike. Except the bit where he goes to take a piss after a hard night’s party­ing. And that’s just acci­dental but­tock roll.


I have no idea how to body roll, and I sus­pect it would be med­ic­ally inad­vis­able at my age — let alone aes­thet­ic­ally — but it cer­tainly looks quite some­thing when mus­cu­lar men do it, as opposed to the teen girls on My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.

h/t Dakrolak

Dude, Where’s My Objectification?

These ‘jokey’ Veet ‘Don’t risk dude­ness’ ads in which a ‘sexy lady’ turns into an ‘unsexy dude’ because she hasn’t used the smelly depil­at­ory cream have pro­voked an e-flurry of out­rage for their sex­ism and sham­ing of women who aren’t always smooth, so much so that Veet had to issue an apo­logy and with­draw them.

But what’s truly ‘funny’ about these ads is that in some ways they strike me as actu­ally being the advert­ising world’s ver­sion of those ‘gender flip’ click-bait posts that many of the people lam­bast­ing the Veet ads pro­fess to love. You know, the ones that pre­tend that men are never objec­ti­fied – des­pite male (self) objec­ti­fic­a­tion being hard to miss these days unless you’re try­ing really, really hard not to notice flag­rant, flam­ing evid­ence like this. And this.

And this:

Zac Effron shirtless award



Instead of look­ing around us, we’re sup­posed to listen to blather like this:

For some reason, as soon as you put a man in there … it’s an entirely dif­fer­ent thing that we aren’t used to seeing.”

Only if you’ve been jam­ming your eyes shut for the last twenty years, dear.

So, hav­ing pre­ten­ded that male objec­ti­fic­a­tion doesn’t exist, it’s now ‘really rad­ical’ and ‘chal­len­ging’ to ‘flip’ the roles. But in an ironic and uncon­vin­cing way, usu­ally mak­ing sure that the men adopt­ing the faux ‘sexu­al­ised’ poses are unat­tract­ive. (And not wet­ting their vests.)


The ‘anti-sexism’ of many of those ‘gender flip’ memes strikes me as com­pletely bogus, impli­citly depend­ing as it does on the entirely (hetero)sexist pre­sump­tion that sex­i­ness is a female qual­ity. The ‘ludicrous­ness’ of the man adopt­ing ‘sexy’ poses requires a world­view that insists men just aren’t meant to be objec­ti­fied. That simply doesn’t see male objec­ti­fic­a­tion because it’s not sup­pose to hap­pen.

So the ‘gender flip’ actu­ally tends to rein­force the very thing it hypo­crit­ic­ally pre­tends to undermine.

Worse, people pre­tend, over and over again, to be impressed by daggy male hip­sters pre­tend­ing to do sexy while pre­tend­ing to sub­vert sex­ism – as a way of get­ting atten­tion. Which is the only really sin­cere part of the whole charade.

Instead of ditch­ing the dreary fuck­ing irony and just doing this. Or this.

By con­trast, these crass Veet ads are at least refresh­ingly hon­est and out of the closet in their hor­rendous het­ero­sex­ist revul­sion at ‘dude­ness’, and the ludicrous­ness of male sex­i­ness. And of course the thing that is always hov­er­ing behind that revul­sion, par­tic­u­larly in the US: that dudes might get it on with other dudes.

In stub­bly fact, this obses­sion ends up swal­low­ing their whole cam­paign, no gag reflex, to the point where it has little or noth­ing to do with women at all – des­pite them being the tar­get market.

It ends up being about two dudes in bed.

h/t Dr Petra

Meat the Spornosexual

The second gen­er­a­tion of met­ro­sexu­als are cum­ming. And this time it’s hardcore


by Mark Simpson

What is it about male hip­sters and their strange, pal­lid, highly ambi­val­ent fas­cin­a­tion with bod­ies beefier and sex­ier than their own? Which means, of course, pretty much everyone?

You may remem­ber last year that last year the Guardian colum­nist and TV presenter Charlton Brooker had a very messy bowel-evacuating panic attack over the self-sexualisation of the male body exhib­ited in real­ity show Geordie Shore.

Now the hip­ster bible Vice have run a long, pas­sion­ate – and some­times quite funny – com­plaint about today’s sexu­al­ised male body by a Brooker wan­nabe (and lookali­kee) titled ‘How sad young douchebags took over mod­ern Britain’.

At least the Vice writer isn’t in total denial. Brooker was so threatened by the brazen male hussies on Geordie Shore and the con­fu­sion their pumped, shaved ‘sex doll’ bod­ies, plucked eye­brows and pen­ises the size of a Sky remote pro­voked in him that the poor love had to pre­tend that they didn’t exist out­side of real­ity TV. That they were some kind of sci­ence fic­tion inven­ted to tor­ment and bewilder him and his nerdy body. Perhaps because he’s rather younger than Brooker, Mr Vice on the other hand has actu­ally noticed that these guys really do exist and are in fact pretty much every­where today, dipped in fake tan and designer tatts and ‘wear­ing’ plunging ‘heav­age’ condom-tight T-s.


In a media world which largely ignores what’s happened to young men Mr Vice is to be com­men­ded that he’s clearly spent a great deal of time study­ing them. Albeit with a mix­ture of envy and desire, fear and loath­ing – and a large side order of self-contradiction and sexual confusion.

He laments that these ‘pumped, primed, ter­ri­fy­ingly sexu­al­ised high-street gigo­los’ have been impor­ted from America, but uses the exec­rable impor­ted Americanism ‘douchebag’ to describe them – over and over again. What’s a douchebag? Someone with big­ger arms than you, who’s get­ting more sex than you – and prob­ably earn­ing more than you, des­pite being con­sid­er­ably less expens­ively edu­cated than you.


But by far the most infuri­at­ing thing about ‘sad young douchebags’ is that they are so very obvi­ously not sad at all. They and their shame­less, slutty bod­ies are hav­ing a whale of a time, thank you very much. They’re far too happy being ‘sad young douchebags’ to sit down and write lengthy, angry ration­al­ising essays about why someone else’s idea of a good time is WRONG. Or read one. Or read any­thing, in fact. Apart maybe from Men’s Health.

A strong smell of nos­tal­gia eman­ates from this Vice jeremiad, like a pickled onion burp. The writer laments a lost Eden of mas­cu­line cer­tain­ties and whinges that these young men with their sexu­al­ised ‘gym bunny wanker’ bod­ies have replaced older, more ‘authen­tic’ English mas­cu­line arche­types, ‘the charmer’, ‘the bit of rough’, ‘the sul­len thinker’ (which, I won­der, applies to him?) and that as a result:

Nobody wants to be Sean Connery any more. With their buff, waxed bod­ies and stu­pid hair­cuts, the mod­ern British douchebag looks more like a model from an Attitude chat­line ad than a poten­tial Bond.

Ah yes, Sean Connery – the former Mr Scotland gym bunny wanker ex chorus boy who wore a wig and fake tan in those glossy, slutty Bond films. Masculinity is never what it used to be. Even back in Ancient Greece every­one was whin­ing that real men went out of fash­ion with the Trojan War. And what’s so wrong with want­ing to look like an Attitude chat line ad, rather than a hired killer?

Oh, that’s right – coz it looks gay.


All this moan­ing, along with the writer’s com­plaints that these buff young men are dis­ap­point­ingly ‘soft’, crap in a fight and don’t have nearly enough scars, reminds me of those gays on Grindr who stip­u­late in their pro­file ‘I like my men to be MEN!!’. Or the camp queens who over the years who have sol­emnly informed me: ‘If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s camp queens!!’ Actually, it reminds me of myself when I was much more hope­lessly romantic than I am today, and before I real­ised real men were really slutty.

There is noth­ing gayer than the long­ing for mas­cu­line cer­tain­ties like this. Especially since they never really exis­ted any­way. It’s like believ­ing that the phal­lus is the real thing and the penis is just a sym­bol. It’s Quentin Crisp’s Great Dark Man syn­drome, but sans the self-awareness, or the arch­ness and the henna.

In fact Mr Vice is so nos­tal­gic – and so young – that he seems to think met­ro­sexu­al­ity is some­thing prior to, dis­tinct from and more taste­ful than these sexed-up shame­lessly slutty male bod­ies that insist on grabbing his atten­tion, wist­fully con­trast­ing how the ‘nat­ural con­fid­ence’ of met­ro­sexu­al­ity ‘has been replaced by some­thing far more flag­rant’. Take it from metrodaddy, today’s flag­rantly sexu­al­ised male body is merely more met­ro­sexu­al­ity. More sexy, more tarty, more porny, more slapped in your face. So stop bitch­ing and suck on it. Metrosexuality has gone hard-core –the ‘sexu­al­ity’ part has gone ‘hyper’.


The met­ro­sexual was born twenty years ago and had to struggle to sur­vive in an untucked ‘no-homo’ 1990s — but the second wave take the revolu­tion he brought about in mas­cu­line aes­thet­ics for gran­ted. Steeped in images of male desirab­il­ity from birth and mas­turb­at­ing furi­ously to hard-core online porn from puberty, they have totally sexed-up the male body and turbo-charged the male desire to be desired, which was always at the heart of met­ro­sexu­al­ity rather than expens­ive fash­ion spreads and fas­ti­di­ous lists of ‘dos and don’ts’. Their own bod­ies rather than clob­ber and cos­met­ics have become the ulti­mate access­ory, fash­ion­ing them at the gym into a hot com­mod­ity. Nakedly met­ro­sexy.

If we need to give this new gen­er­a­tion of hyper met­ro­sexu­als a name – other than total tarts – we should per­haps dub them sporno­sexu­als. These mostly straight-identified young men are happy to advert­ise, like an Attitude chat line, their love of the pornolised, sporting-spurting male body – par­tic­u­larly their own. Along with their very gen­er­ous avail­ab­il­ity to anyone’s gaze-graze. Especially at premium rates.


And every­one is call­ing their num­ber. Though admit­tedly not many do it via the extremely kinky route of writ­ing long essays denoun­cing them and explain­ing why they’re TOTALLY NOT INTERESTED. Hipsters, who of course think them­selves above the vul­gar­ity of sex­i­ness, are simply the ironic, anti-sexual wing of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – which is to say, abso­lutely fuck­ing point­less.

It’s the obvi­ous, if often obli­vi­ous, visual bi-curiosity of today’s totally tarty, hyper met­ro­sexu­al­ity that alarms people even more than its ‘vul­gar­ity’. Male bisexu­al­ity is still largely a taboo pre­cisely because it threatens the final, fond, sac­red, and highly phal­lic myth of mas­culin­ity: that it has an (het­ero­norm­at­ive) ‘aim’ and ‘pur­pose’. The scat­ter­shot slut­ti­ness of sporno­sexu­als sig­nals a very sticky end to that virile delusion.

Mr Vice argues repeatedly that these young men enjoy­ing their bod­ies and their lack of inhib­i­tion com­pared to their fath­ers and grand­fath­ers, are hav­ing a ‘crisis of mas­culin­ity’. This just smacks of more middle class resent­ment dressed up as ‘con­cern’ – a pissy, pass­ive aggress­ive way of call­ing them ‘sad douchebags’ again. Or ‘gay’. When people talk about a ‘crisis of mas­culin­ity’ they’re usu­ally talk­ing about their own – in deal­ing with the fact that mas­culin­ity isn’t what they want it to be. And par­tic­u­larly when work­ing class chaps aren’t what middle class chaps want them to be.

It’s true that our post-industrial land­scape often doesn’t know what to do with the male body apart from shag it or sell it, but that’s not neces­sar­ily such a ter­rible con­trast with the ‘glor­i­ous’ past. For a younger gen­er­a­tion of young men no longer afraid of their own bod­ies there’s no crisis – but rather a lib­er­a­tion. From the dehu­man­ising, sex­ist con­straints of their fore­fath­ers. Men’s bod­ies are no longer simply instru­mental things – for fight­ing wars, extract­ing coal, build­ing ships, scor­ing goals, mak­ing babies and put­ting the rub­bish out that must renounce pleas­ure, van­ity, sen­su­al­ity and a really good fin­ger­ing and leave that to women and pooves.


Instead the male body has been rad­ic­ally redesigned, with the help of some blue­prints from Tom of Finland, as a sen­sual sex toy designed to give and par­tic­u­larly to receive pleas­ure. Maybe it’s not ter­ribly heroic, and admit­tedly some of the tatts are really grotty, but there are much worse things to be. Such as a slut-shaming writer for a hip­ster magazine.

Of course, I would say that. Because I find these sporno­sexual, totally tarty young men fuck­able. But that’s kind of the point. They des­per­ately want to be found fuck­able. It would be extremely rude and ungrate­ful not to find them fuck­able when they have gone to so much trouble doing all those bubble-butt build­ing bar­bell lunges at the gym for me.

And in fuck­able fact, it’s their fuckab­il­ity which makes the unfuck­ables hate them so fuck­ing much.


© Mark Simpson 2014

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story is avail­able on Kindle.


Totally tarty Dan Osborne gifs from here - h/t DAKrolak

It’s a Queer World

Deviant Adventures in Pop Culture

Saint Morrissey

The acclaimed ‘psycho-bio’ of England’s most charm­ing – and alarm­ing – pop star.


A bio­graphy of the metrosexual.

By his dad.

End of Gays?

What’s left of gay­ness when the homo­pho­bia stops?

Male Impersonators

The book that changed the way the world looks at men.

Sex Terror

This book will change the way you think about sex. It may even put you off it altogether.

What Exactly Was Heterosexuality?



This clas­sic Gay Liberation poster from 1975 by Alan Wakeman mock­ing mid-century het­ero­sex­ist plat­it­udes remains very funny indeed. It’s also still per­haps the best response to those — straight and gay — still seek­ing to find the ’cause’ of homosexuality.

Though obvi­ously the ‘Cultural Deprivation’ bal­loon at the bot­tom is no longer true:

Heterosexual men… think them­selves “ugly”, beauty being ascribed only to women. Many psychic dis­orders stem from this self-rejection.’

Three dec­ades on, male het­ero­sexu­al­ity has been pretty much phased out and replaced by met­ro­sexu­al­ity — spec­tac­u­larly abol­ish­ing the sexual divi­sion of look­ing and love­li­ness. Men nowadays clearly think them­selves irres­ist­ible, thank you very much.

In fact, if it was drawn today this chart would be titled: ‘What Exactly Was Heterosexuality?’

The revolu­tion­ary, uni­ver­sal prom­ise of Gay Liberation has been real­ised — at least in the bath­room and bed­room. By non-gay men as much if not more than gay ones.

Metrosexuality & the Selfie

Metrodaddy Mark Simpson was recently email inter­viewed by Beverly Parungao for a Sydney Morning Herald piece titled ‘Are Men Becoming Too Metrosexual?’ . Below are his unapo­lo­getic, uncir­cum­cised replies.

Narcissus in the age of the selfie

BP: What is driv­ing the met­ro­sexual movement?

MS: Self-love – and a cer­tain amount of self-loathing – is cer­tainly a power­ful dynamo.

But ulti­mately what we’re see­ing here is noth­ing less than a revolu­tion in mas­culin­ity in par­tic­u­lar and gender rela­tion­ships in general.

Metrosexuality isn’t about flip flops, facials or man­scara, or about men becom­ing ‘girly’ or ‘gay’ – it’s about men becom­ing everything. Everything that they want to be.

Why are men today more con­cerned with their appearance?

Because they’re worth it. As advert­ising has told women for dec­ades. Men make up c. 50% of the mar­ket­place and need to pull their weight in the shop­ping mall if con­sumer­ism is to sur­vive. They cer­tainly seem to have upped their game rather a lot in the last dec­ade or so.…

We’re also liv­ing in a cul­ture in which women have enthu­si­ast­ic­ally taken on pre­vi­ously ‘male’ pre­serves – from drink­ing pints to join­ing the world of work to actu­ally hav­ing orgasms. Men, espe­cially younger men who’ve grown up with all this as the norm, have worked out that they too can now appro­pri­ate products, prac­tises and pleas­ures once deemed ‘gay’ or ‘girly’ and there­fore out of bounds. The much greater accept­ance of gay people has also reduced the stigma asso­ci­ated with men step­ping out of their stereotype.

Most of all, we’re liv­ing in a visual, looking-glass cul­ture of selfies, Facebook, Twitter, real­ity TV and Men’s Health cov­ers. Metrosexuality rep­res­ents men’s adapt­a­tion to this new world order – men can’t just ‘act’ any more they have ‘appear’ too, to be looked at. To be noticed. To be a brand. To be wanted. Male van­ity isn’t empty and indul­gent – it’s a sur­vival strategy.

In our shiny, highly reflect­ive 21st Century the sexual divi­sion of look­ing has thor­oughly broken down, and men now ache to ‘objec­tify’ themselves.

Even and espe­cially sports­men who used to be the embod­i­ment of ‘blokes’ and ‘reg­u­lar guys’ who were sup­posed to be only con­cerned, ‘at the end of the day’, with ‘the team’ and ‘doing their job’, have become glossy, inked, pneu­matic sporno stars.

You might be for­given for think­ing a lad only plays foot­ball or rugby these days as a way of star­ring in those saucy ads for Armani under­wear and those tarty rugby and row­ing calendars.

Manscaping is one the rise, but so too is male cos­metic sur­gery (in Australia and America). Do you view this as trend as part of the met­ro­sexual movement?

Absolutely. The male body, once the last fron­tier of con­sumer­ism, has been totally com­mod­i­fied. Masculinity has been thor­oughly aes­thet­i­cized. I would add to the trend for cos­metic sur­gery and man­scap­ing man-bits the way that men uses tat­toos to shade and emphas­ise their worked-out muscles. The male body has become a liv­ing work of art.

Ironically the total ubi­quity of beards at the moment is proof of that. No longer a sec­ond­ary sexual char­ac­ter­istic or badge of bloke­dom they’re just another sweet male access­ory. Another way today’s chaps ask you to adore them.

Should women be con­cerned that the met­ro­sexual male is now mainstream?

They should cer­tainly get used to it!

Many women I know wel­come the fact that men nowadays are not only bet­ter turned out, more worked-out, sen­sual creatures who are rather bet­ter in bed as a res­ult – but also the fact they’re more inde­pend­ent. Self-maintaining. They might spend forever in the bath­room but they are much more likely to be able to oper­ate a cooker or wash­ing machine and even buy their own under­wear. Which is an advant­age in a job mar­ket where women might be work­ing while their part­ner is not – and where men might be stay­ing at home look­ing after the kids.

Though for some women, per­haps with more tra­di­tional ideas about sex roles and the ‘com­ple­ment­ar­ity’ of the sexes, adjust­ing to the new met­ro­sexual order could be dif­fi­cult. But then, a lot of chau­vin­istic men had trouble adjust­ing to the changes brought about by women’s lib.

In their quest to be desired have men become too sexy, too fem­in­ised and there­fore less desir­able to women?

You should prob­ably ask women about that.… Though women aren’t always com­pletely truth­ful in their answer to that ques­tion. Quite a few assert that they find a man who spends longer than them in the bath­room – which prob­ably means just as long as them – a total turn off. But then they go com­pletely bana­nas over a guy who clearly spends hours in the bath­room and every even­ing in the gym. Trust me, men have noticed this discrepancy!

The only hope for het­ero­sexu­al­ity is double ensuite bathrooms.

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story is avail­able from Amazon in Kindle form and also in physical/fondle form.

Selfie Narcissus image taken from here

American Speedophobia Strikes Again

Speedo football fan


The buff chap with the stuck-on beard above was recently kicked out of a foot­ball game in Florida for dar­ing to wear as little on the stands as the cheer­lead­ers do on the pitch. Boo! American Speedophobia strikes again!

It wouldn’t hap­pen in Oz, home of the budgie smug­gler and anything-but-shy spor­no­graphic rugby play­ers.

And where, with the launch of, Mark Simpson Kindle titles are now avail­able to download!

Dear Hero in Prison — Quotes From Morrissey’s Autobiography

Well, I’ve read that book. You know, the fastest-selling music bio­graphy ever.

And while it would be hideously indec­or­ous of me to review it – espe­cially since Morrissey was kind enough not to men­tion my bio­graphy of him – I will say this:

It cer­tainly didn’t dis­ap­point.

In lieu of a review, here are some espe­cially cher­ished lines. Because of course, everything that he says rings true-oh-oh-oh.

Morrissey Reading

On his hometown

…we live in for­got­ten Victorian knife-plunging Manchester, where everything lies wherever it was left over one hun­dred years ago.

On his big head

Naturally my birth almost kills my mother, for my head is too big, but soon it is I, and not my mother, on the crit­ical list at Salford’s Pendlebury Hospital.

On being Irish Catholic

…we Irish Catholics know very well how rauc­ous hap­pi­ness dis­pleases God, so there is much evid­ence of guilt in all we say and do, but non­ethe­less it is said and done.

On school punishment

You touch me and my mum’ll be down,’ I warn Miss Dudley. I am nine years old.

On Myra Hindley

Tormentedly, every­one appears to know someone who knew Myra Hindley, and we are forced to accept a new truth; that a woman can be just as cruel and dehu­man­ized as a man, and that all safety is an illusion.

On George Best

My father takes me to see George Best play at Old Trafford, and as I see the apo­ca­lyptic dis­turber of the peace swirl across the pitch, I faint. I am eight years old. Squinting in the sun, it is all too much for me, and I remem­ber my father’s rasp as he dragged my twis­ted body through the crowd and out into the street, caus­ing him to miss the rest of the match.

On Lost in Space

Dr Smith’s voice is the caustic cat­ti­ness of a tetchy dow­ager rising in pitch as each line ends, hands a-flutter with away with you, my child intol­er­ance. Major West, on the other hand, will kick to kill. My note­pad rest­ing on my lap takes the scribbles of unspoken truth: effem­in­ate men are very witty, whereas macho men are duller than death.

On being caught by a teacher with a New York Dolls album sleeve

LOOK AT THIS!’ she deman­ded of every­one, ‘LOOK AT THIS!’ and every­one looked at this. ‘THIS is sick­ness. These are MEN mak­ing them­selves sexual for OTHER MEN.’

On del­ic­ate boys and rough girls

In King’s Lane a sporty Welsh girl lands me such a power­ful clenched-fist blow that I fall to the ground deafened. ‘What was THAT for?’ I said, sight­less with sore­ness. ‘Because I like you and you won’t look at me,’ she said – as if what she had done might improve the situ­ation. It didn’t.

On 1970s teen­age sex

Honeypots sprawled like open graves, their own­ers doing noth­ing at all other than let­ting you. The call of duty is all yours – to turn on and get off; to hit the spot and know the ropes; to please and be pleased; as the own­ers of such Bermuda Triangles do … noth­ing.

On 1970s porn

Female nud­ity is gen­er­ally easy to find – if not actu­ally unavoid­able – but male nud­ity is still a glimpse of some­thing that one is not meant to see. In mid-70s Manchester there must be obsess­ive love of vagina, oth­er­wise your life dooms itself forever.

On Top of The Pops

All human activ­ity is fruit­less when pit­ted against the girls and boys singing on pop tele­vi­sion, for they have found the answer as the rest of us search for the ques­tion. I will sing, too. If not, I will have to die.

On AE Housman

Housman was always alone – think­ing him­self to death, with no mat­ronly wife to sig­nal to the watch­ing world that Alfred Edward was now quite alright – for isn’t this at least partly the aim of scor­ing a part­ner: to trum­pet the men­tal all-clear to a world where how things seem is far more import­ant than how things are?

On Patti Smith

In a dream state I watch her explode as she takes on the les­bian con­tin­gent at the front who are call­ing to Patti to ‘come out’ (where to? from what?), and they heckle her in almost every song.

On Sparks

Ron Mael sat at the key­board like an aban­doned ventriloquist’s doll, and brother Russell sang in French ital­ics with the mad urgency of someone tied to a tree.

On being banned by his best mate’s mum

I pon­der on how I could pos­sibly be con­sidered a bad influ­ence, since I am neither bad nor remotely influ­en­tial. It is not as if, at this age of 18, I designed dresses under the name Violet Temper. It is not as if I sought a career in exotic dan­cing, or read jokes aloud at funer­als. I had never even once been drunk. My main con­cern in life was to find some­where that could make spec­tacles in less than an hour.

On Sandie Shaw

I had col­lec­ted all of Sandie’s slap-bang singles of the 1960s, and thought that they per­fectly tra­versed the cheap and loud sound of east London skirty jailbait.

On the North

…the north is a sep­ar­ate coun­try – one of wild night land­scapes of affec­tion­ate affliction.

On Success

…there is Paul Newman, sit­ting quietly at the door of his Sunset Marquis villa; there is Patricia Neal, frail but smil­ing at La Luna res­taur­ant on Larchmont; there is Paul Simon, sit­ting with Whoopi Goldberg, to whom the unem­ploy­able Stretford canal-bank cleaner is intro­duced. This all could be a dream, yet it is not sad enough to be a dream.

On Rough Trade Records

These are the days when almost any unsigned artist that I favor instantly awakes to find Geoff Travis sit­ting at the foot of their bed, a short-form agree­ment between his teeth. It’s a com­pli­ment, of sorts.

On David Bowie

David quietly tells me, ‘You know, I’ve had so much sex and drugs that I can’t believe I’m still alive,’ and I loudly tell him, ‘You know, I’ve had SO LITTLE sex and drugs that I can’t believe I’m still alive.’

On life with the boxer Jake Walters

…every minute has the high drama of first love, only far more exhil­ar­at­ing, and at last I have someone to answer the telephone.

On Jake’s belly

I am pho­to­graphed for Creem magazine with my head rest­ing on Jake’s exposed belly. ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ asks new man­ager Arnold Stiefel. ‘No?’ I say in a small voice. ‘Well, that’s a very intim­ate shot.’ ‘Oh?’ I say, baffled. ‘A man doesn’t rest his head on another man’s stom­ach,’ Arnold goes on. ‘No?’ I answer, all adrift on the cruel sea.

On that November Spawned a Monster video

Tim had asked me to do the entire November spawned a mon­ster video naked. I explained to him that this would be impossible since my entire lower body had been des­troyed by fire in 1965. His expres­sion remained wide-eyed with belief as he replied, ‘Oh.’

On his fans

As I watch and study, I am mirrored by a hand­some legion of the tough and the flash, and with this vis­ion all of my efforts succeed.

Made By Dave — Michael Barrymore’s Fashion Line


The ‘Dave’ of ‘Made by Dave’ is the name of Michael Barrymore’s pet Jack Russell terrier.

I rather like the idea of upmar­ket men’s clothes line designed by a dimin­ut­ive dog with a big per­son­al­ity. Fashion labels can be notori­ously snobby and pre­ten­tious. And after all, Barrymore is a work­ing class Bermondsey boy who became a mis­chiev­ous, chaos-causing much-loved fix­ture of the nation’s front rooms. His hugely pop­u­lar TV act often con­sisted in him bound­ing off the stage and jump­ing all over his audi­ence, cov­er­ing them with licks — to their loud, gig­gly shrieks of delight.

Barrymore’s seis­mic suc­cess in the Nineties and early Noughties as ‘Mr Saturday Night’ — before dis­aster struck, and Simon Cowell nabbed his crown — meant that he could develop a taste for the finer things in life. Back then, when I lived in a leafy part of London, I would often spy an immacu­lately turned out Barrymore sail­ing past in a gleam­ing Bentley con­vert­ible, top down. A geezer from the South London docks scrubbed up nicely and look­ing like the pro­ver­bial mil­lion quid.

Speaking of which, Made By Dave togs don’t come cheap — a jumper will cost you a ton and a half. Perhaps that’s why they’re aimed at being ‘what City lads wear at weekends’.

In an inter­view with The Telegraph he admits that people are likely to scoff at his new ven­ture:

Always a natty dresser on screen, Barrymore was hardly ever a style icon. “I know what every­one will be think­ing,” he says, “he thinks he’s a bleed­ing designer now. It’ll be one rail with a few shirts that a few mates put together in Peckham, and Aunt Cath’s knit­ted him some Aran jump­ers. Then he’ll run around the room scream­ing ‘Awright, awright, awright…’ ”

But as the some­times rather snob­bish GQ put it: ‘the most shock­ing part of this enter­prise is that some of the clothes are actu­ally quite good, espe­cially the shoes’.

GQ knows rather more about clothes and shoes than me, though for what it’s worth I think some of Dave’s clob­ber is quite tasty too. Or maybe it’s the model.

made by dave

The other pre­dict­able response to Barrymore’s fash­ion line launch involved loads of online ‘comedi­ans’ tweet­ing (and com­ment­ing beneath the GQ piece) about the lack of swim­wear, or how ‘this fash­ion line is already dead in the water’.

Being used as a crappy punch­line, and much worse, has often been Barrymore’s lot since the death in 2002 of a party-goer in his light-entertainment success-symbol swim­ming pool. The bespoke efforts of Fleet Street’s finest to fit him up as some kind of mur­der­ing gay rap­ist sold a shed-load of news­pa­pers for years after­wards, but no one really bought any of it. In fact, what’s remark­able is — a few Twitter trolls aside — how fondly regarded Barrymore remains with so many people more than a dec­ade after his TV career ended so abruptly.

I wish him and Dave every suc­cess in their dead posh new ven­ture together. And sus­pect that the vast major­ity of the British pub­lic does too.

Tasty New Works from Pallavi Singh

The rather won­der­ful Delhi based artist Pallavi Singh who was fea­tured on this blog last year has shared with me her latest paint­ings explor­ing the Indian exper­i­ence of met­ro­sexu­al­ity. With her kind per­mis­sion I’ve pos­ted them below with some explan­at­ory text from the artist. (My per­sonal favour­ites are prob­ably ‘Graynian Shades’, ‘Man Crush’, and ‘Beauty and the Man Bag’.)

In my pre­vi­ous works “Here comes the Mirror Man”, “Rise of Mirror Man” and “Mirror Mirror on the wall” showed com­fort and accept­ance of met­ro­sexual needs and com­pared the two phe­nom­ena i.e. the dis­tinc­tion between “to be admired” and “to be adored”.’

The works titled It’s A Man’s World, Graynian Shades, Appropriation and Box Of Vanity tries to explore man’s love for him­self, being a com­mod­ity fet­ish­ist and appro­pri­at­ing groom­ing which was primar­ily asso­ci­ated with women in the past.

work 1

work 2

work 4

work 3

Work Man Crush show­cases admir­a­tion of man by another man and con­tra­dict­ing the notion only beauty of women is adorned.

work 5

Work Antinomy of mas­culin­ity shows groom­ing is another form of masculinity.

work 6

The last work Beauty and the Man Bag is inspired by Indian myth­o­logy, it show­cases how man has finally opened his man bag (wal­let) to buy beauty. The char­ac­ter of the shop­keeper has been taken from the Indian myth­o­logy God Hanuman (who resembles a mon­key) with a moun­tain of san­jeevani booti (sela­ginella bry­op­teris) plant that cures and gives life to any­thing. It sym­bol­izes the yearn­ing of mod­ern man to spend money to pur­chase product to cure/protect beauty.

work 7

All images Copyright Pallavi Singh 2013

I Am Beardy Man. Hear Me Roar.


col­lec­tion of hir­sutely hil­ari­ous pho­tos from this year’s National Beard and Mustache Championships.

Full marks to the extens­ively ton­sured furry chaps who didn’t take them­selves too ser­i­ously to take part in this shoot.

But in truth, as a raging pogono­phobe, I have to admit that all beards look like this to me.

Except of course the one belong­ing to my good pogono­phile chum Lee Kynaston, who recently wrote this saga­cious piece in the Telegraph about why some men should never grow beards.

Tip: Norbert Mirani