Get Your Filthy Hands Off Me!’ Gorgeous George’s Glamorous Legacy

Rather than watch the Olympics, and all that noble, ser­i­ous sport­ing uplift, I’ve been read­ing a book about a carny, corny, shame­less 1940s-50s American wrest­ler: Gorgeous George: The Outrageous Bad-Boy Wrestler Who Created American Pop Culture, by John Capouya.

gorgeous george book cover Get Your Filthy Hands Off Me! Gorgeous Georges Glamorous Legacy

My American chum Chris Supermarky recom­men­ded it to me, think­ing it would be of interest. He wasn’t wrong. It was noth­ing less than a rev­el­a­tion. It was like find­ing the Rosetta Stone of met­ro­sexu­al­ity. Or at least, post-war male glamorousness.

George Wagner was a baby-faced bru­nette, pint-sized, some­what unre­mark­able 1940s US wrest­ler who decided he needed a gim­mick to get noticed. And boy, did he find one. By turn­ing him­self into Gorgeous George, a vain, primp­ing, preen­ing pea­cock who per­ox­ided his hair, had it metic­u­lously ton­sured, fussily held in place by gold-painted ‘Georgie’ pins, and wear­ing flam­boy­ant robes that were out­rageous cre­ations of lace and silk and chif­fon in mauves and pale pinks, he suc­ceeded in invent­ing per­haps the most per­sist­ent and suc­cess­ful gim­mick of the post-war world: The glam­or­ous, dec­ad­ent, ‘effem­in­ate’ male star.

Before Beckham. Before Boy George. Before Bowie. Before Jagger. Before Elvis. Before Liberace. Before Little Richard. Before James Brown there was Gorgeous George.

gorgeous george Get Your Filthy Hands Off Me! Gorgeous Georges Glamorous Legacy

Under the shrewd guid­ance of his Svengali wife Betty (there’s no evid­ence, aside from his gor­geous­ness, that George was any­thing other than het­ero­sexual), who made many of his most dar­ing robes her­self, The ‘Human Orchid’ as he liked to be known, had deduced that the best way to get ‘heat’ from a wrest­ling audi­ence – and thus book­ings – was to trans­gress 1940s gender norms. Wildly. And cheat. Equally wildly. Not for noth­ing was his favour­ite slo­gan: ‘Win if you can. Lose if you must. But always cheat.’

The Sensation of the Nation’s pan­to­mime per­form­ance of sis­sy­n­ess was a kind of cheat­ing in itself: in 1940s and early 50s America men, par­tic­u­larly the blue-collar kind that Wagner wrestled for, were not allowed to enjoy chif­fon and affect­a­tion. George was bend­ing the rules and gender.

GG Mirror Get Your Filthy Hands Off Me! Gorgeous Georges Glamorous Legacy

To help milk his act, and mul­tiply his crimes, Wagner would hold his pre-match press con­fer­ences in local beauty par­lours while hav­ing his hair mar­celled and employed a tail-coated valet (a device later appro­pri­ated by GG fan James Brown) who would snob­bishly spray the ring with cologne before George would deign to grace it with his aris­to­cratic pres­ence. When the ref­eree tried to search George before the match as required by wrest­ling rules he would recoil offen­ded, shout­ing ‘GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF ME!!’

Such were the pas­sions aroused by George’s gor­geous­ness that his incen­di­ary appear­ance often led to fights and some­times mini-riots when incensed mem­bers of the pub­lic would storm the ring in an indig­nant fury and try to take him on them­selves. The dir­ector John Waters recalls watch­ing GG on TV as a kid, spell­bound by this appar­i­tion of queen­i­ness — while his offen­ded par­ents yelled insults at the lacey freak. GG was someone that America loved to hate but ended up just loving.

Although largely for­got­ten today, GG was about as fam­ous as you could get back then: a by-word for fame itself — even mak­ing an appear­ance in a Bugs Bunny Warner Bros car­toon (as ‘Ravishing Ronald’), and one of the first proper stars of the new medium of tele­vi­sion. Wrestling had been taken up by the early net­works as a cheaply-staged way of inter­est­ing the masses in this new-fangled gad­get. The small screen turned out to have been made for GG’s big glam head.

Many claimed to have been influ­enced by GG (includ­ing Bob Dylan of all people) but per­haps his most fam­ous dis­ciple was a young, rel­at­ively down­beat Mohammed Ali, who decided to adopt GG’s vain­glori­ous, pro­voc­at­ive per­sona – to dev­ast­at­ing effect:

I made up my mind after [meet­ing] Gorgeous George to make people angry at me.… I saw fif­teen thou­sand people comin’ to see this man get beat. And his talk­ing did it. I said this is a gooood idea!’

And so Ali became the mouthy black boxer who bragged about being the ‘pret­ti­est thing you’ve ever seen’ – ‘The Greatest’. Ali really was gor­geous. Facially and bod­ily. Wagner on the other hand… slightly less so. I’m not sug­gest­ing of course for one moment that GG was ugly – but at 5′ 9″, with a Roman nose and a bit of a pot belly his gor­geous­ness was per­haps more aspir­a­tional than Ali’s. Particularly in the lat­ter part of his career George’s appear­ance puts me in mind of Freud’s fam­ous phrase: ‘His majesty the baby.’

gorgeous george 03 234x300 Get Your Filthy Hands Off Me! Gorgeous Georges Glamorous Legacy

There was a dark side to all this glam­or­ous­ness. Wagner reportedly began to believe his own pub­li­city and insisted his own chil­dren refer to him as ‘Gorgeous George’, or ‘GG’. He was also, even by the stand­ards of the time and his pro­fes­sion, a hardened drinker. After both his mar­riages failed he took to drink­ing even more. And as TV fell out of love with wrest­ling, and the years – and the booz­ing – took their toll, he of course drank even more.

By the late 50s early 60s Gorgeous George was reduced to nov­elty fights in which he was billed as for­feit­ing his lovely locks if he lost. And of course, he did — sub­mit­ting to the indig­nity of being clippered seated on a stool in the centre of the ring, like a lat­ter day Samson. A great box-office suc­cess the first time, this ritual humi­li­ation became less and less so the more he repeated it. Even see­ing Gorgeous George finally get­ting what had been com­ing to him all these years wasn’t enough of a draw second or third time around.

When the final bell rang in 1963 and George Wagner died of liver dis­ease and heart fail­ure, aged 48, all the large wedges of cash that had passed through his hands dur­ing his stun­ningly suc­cess­ful career had van­ished without trace: he was pen­ni­less. But fam­ily and friends made sure he was given a glam­or­ous send off.

The Human Orchid was dressed in his favour­ite purple satin robe (the ‘George Washington’), his hair was ton­sured and pinned one last time and he was exhib­ited in a highly pol­ished purple cas­ket — before being ‘planted’ in the ground.

While he may have been largely for­got­ten, George’s glam­or­ous ‘gim­mick’ of course took root in the cul­ture, and lives on.

 

 

Let me Hear Your Body Talk

Are men the new women? I’ve always avoided using that line until now. As the (hetero)sexual divi­sion of labour and lov­ing and look­ing con­tin­ues to fall apart, men are the new everything. Just as women are.

TheSituation5 G 202x300 Let me Hear Your Body Talk

But in the last few months we’ve been told men now take longer get­ting ready than women, mer­ci­fully delet­ing at a stroke most of the mater­ial of stand-ups like John Bishop. We’ve also been told that gents are more likely to take travel irons, hairdry­ers and straight­en­ers on hol­i­day than ladies. Now there’s new evid­ence they may be as body-conscious as women too. In fact, accord­ing to a widely-reported study of 394 British men pub­lished last week, lads are now more con­cerned with their body image than lasses.

A third said they think about their appear­ance more than five times a day, 18% were on a high-protein diet to increase muscle mass, and 16% on a calorie-controlled diet to slim down. While a Faustian 15% claimed they would hap­pily trade 2–5 years of their life if they could have their ideal body weight and shape. (Probably because they hoped the years would be sliced off the end of their lives — when they’re old and crumbly and not very likely to go on Big Brother anyway).

Some we’re told were under­tak­ing com­puls­ive exer­cise, strict diets, using lax­at­ives or mak­ing them­selves sick in an attempt to lose weight or achieve a more toned physique. And although the sur­vey didn’t cover this, other data sug­gests a sur­pris­ingly large num­ber of men are also tak­ing ster­oids, growth hor­mones and other pre­scrip­tion drugs to achieve a more aes­thet­ic­ally pleas­ing appear­ance.

Which gen­er­ally means tits and abs. Men’s main pre­oc­cu­pa­tion, the sur­vey found, was their ‘beer belly’ and lack of muscles, with a whop­ping 63% say­ing they thought their arms or chests were not mus­cu­lar enough. And people never believe me when I tell them that while some women are size queens, all men are.

550w geordie shore jay 199x300 Let me Hear Your Body Talk

Geordie Shore’s Jay knows what you want

Clearly a lot of men are gaz­ing avar­i­ciously at the flaunted porno pecs and abs of hit TV shows like Jersey/Geordie Shore (Geordie Shore is back for a second sea­son on MTVUK at the end of this month). We already know they’re buy­ing Men’s Health magazine as it became the biggest-selling men’s mag recently. All those tarty, shouty Men’s Health front cov­ers prom­ising BIGGER ARMS! PUMPED PECS! and RIPPED ABS! in a fort­night may be as laugh­able as they are repet­it­ive, but they’re clearly, luc­rat­ively tap­ping into 21st Century man’s deep­est, darkest and beefi­est desires.

Men may or may not be the new women, but men’s tits and abs are the new eye candy. Men have become their own High Street Honeys.

Geordie Guys x 300x200 Let me Hear Your Body Talk

They’re also rather bitchy. Apparently 80.7% of the sur­vey respond­ents talked about their own or oth­ers’ appear­ance in ways that draw atten­tion to weight, lack of hair or slim frame. It also con­firms that men of whatever sexual ori­ent­a­tion look rather a lot at each other’s bod­ies, com­par­ing and con­trast­ing, desir­ing and detracting.

Dr Philippa Diedrichs of the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE in Bristol who led the sur­vey, described this con­ver­sa­tion between men about their bod­ies as ‘body talk’ (which makes me think of both Olivia Newton John beat­ing up the fat­ties in ‘Physical’, and also that single from the same era by the incred­ibly camp dance band Imagination.)

Body talk rein­forces the unreal­istic beauty ideal which rein­forces lean­ness and mus­cu­lar­ity. This is tra­di­tion­ally seen as an issue for women but our research shows that men are feel­ing the pres­sure to con­form too.’

Rosi Prescott, chief exec­ut­ive of Central YMCA which com­mis­sioned the research also sees this as ‘damaging’:

Historically con­ver­sa­tion about your body has been per­ceived as some­thing women do, but it is clear from this research that men are also guilty of com­ment­ing on one another’s bod­ies; and in many cases this is hav­ing a dam­aging effect. Men’s high levels of body talk were symp­to­matic of a grow­ing obses­sion with appear­ance, she added.

Some three in five men (58.6%) said body talk affected them, usu­ally negatively.’

I’m a bit con­flic­ted here. Probably because as an ‘avid fan’ of the worked-out male body I’m part of the prob­lem. On the one hand I wel­come this kind of research and the pub­li­city it’s received because it’s both put­ting the spot­light on both how much men’s beha­viour has changed of late, and also under­min­ing sex­ist assump­tions about ‘men’ and ‘women’, which many fem­in­ists, like lazy stand-ups, buy into. And it’s always good to draw atten­tion to the Patrick Batemanesque dark side of the met­ro­sexual revolu­tion – and its costs.

On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure that apply­ing the prob­lem­at­ising, patho­lo­gising and some­times Puritanical, dare I say ‘Wolfian’ (as in ‘Naomi’), dis­course that’s been used on women’s bod­ies whole­sale to men would be some­thing to wel­come. Men aren’t the new women, but they might be the new moral panic.

This ‘body talk’ amongst men isn’t neces­sar­ily a sign of ‘guilt’ as was sug­ges­ted. It might be a healthy hon­esty. And whilst obvi­ously this kind of cri­tique and com­pet­i­tion might push some into anxi­ety and obses­sion and self-destructive beha­viour, or con­form­ity to rather nar­row ideals of male beauty, the gen­er­al­ised, com­puls­ory, tra­di­tional self-loathing that exis­ted amongst men before ‘body talk’ and (male) body interest became accept­able was in many ways worse. It was also, remem­ber, ‘normal’.

After all, not want­ing to talk about their bod­ies is part of the reason why men his­tor­ic­ally have been very reluct­ant to visit their GP and tend to die much earlier on aver­age than women. Until very recently the male body was simply an instru­ment that was to be used until the main­spring broke. Barely giv­ing men time to rewind their hor­ribly sym­bolic retire­ment clock.

And cer­tainly, men didn’t look at one another’s bod­ies. Unless they were queer.

Mark Wright 214x300 Let me Hear Your Body Talk

Not any­more. Men’s ‘body talk’ has become deaf­en­ing. On the hit ITV real­ity series The Only Way is Essex Arge, who is a little on the husky side, was always gaz­ing long­ingly at Mark (above) and ask­ing how he gets his ‘fit body’ and whether he can help him get one too.

A mar­ried squad­die mate who is an occa­sional gym buddy always sub­jects my body to a close scru­tiny in the chan­ging rooms after our workouts, appre­ci­at­ively com­mend­ing, say, my delt­oid or tri­cep devel­op­ment, and mer­ci­lessly cri­ti­cising, say, my fore­arms’ fail­ure to keep up with them. And my belly’s gen­eral miser­able flab­bi­ness. Part of me dreads the scru­tiny, but another wel­comes the frank ‘body talk’ too. I’m glad he gets all Olivia Newton John on my ass. If he didn’t, I might have to pay someone to do it.

Mind you, his wise obser­va­tion about gym cul­ture to me one day sticks in my mind: “It’s all about ‘ow you look isn’t it, Mark? Nobody really cares whether any of this makes you fit or not. You could be rot­ten under­neath but if you look great no one gives a fook.” He’s right. The met­ro­sexy cult of male beauty is all a bit Dorian Ghey.

Which reminds me, appar­ently a quarter of the respond­ents in this sur­vey were gay (well, it was sponsored by the Central YMCA). Of course, some people will hast­ily seize upon that to dis­qual­ify its find­ings. And while it prob­ably is reason to treat them with at least as much cau­tion as those of any other sur­vey, I’m inclined to see the large sample of gay men included as a sign of this survey’s rel­ev­ance and inclus­ive­ness. After all, it’s gays that are to blame for the cult of male bloody beauty.…

Gays like The Village People. Love it or loathe it, the body-fascist found­a­tions for the met­ro­sexy male cul­ture we’re liv­ing in were laid in the early Eighties. And I’m deli­ri­ously happy the Central YMCA com­mis­sioned this sur­vey as it’s a per­fect excuse for me to post (below) my Favourite Music Video of All Time. I sus­pect it was part of the inspir­a­tion for Olivia’s ‘Physical’ video. (And both were almost cer­tainly inspired by this epic.)

Every frame is a joy, but the Busby Berkeley (or is it Leni Riefensthal?) shot of the swim­mers diving one after the other into the pool as if they were perfectly-formed pop­pies scythed down by the camera’s gaze never fails to send me into par­oxysms of delight. For me, it’s always fun to stay at the YMCA.

Which is just as well. In the 21st Century we’re all checked in there. Permanently.

 

Really Rucking Funny: Best Manlove Video of 2011 (SFW)

This clip by Irish com­edy out­fit Dead Cat Bounce called ‘Rugby’ has to be my favour­ite video of 2011. Even if it strongly sug­gests that, in Ireland at least, my work here is done and it’s well past time to retire to the touch-lines.

There’s much to admire here: the light­ness of touch, the hil­ari­ous blend of the accur­ate and the absurd; the josh­ing, ban­ter­ing, boy­ish affec­tion — both for rugby and man­love. I even like the tune. But I find myself espe­cially mes­mer­ised by the lead singer’s vast, match-winning gob. He could swal­low that giant, muddy testicle he’s pre­tend­ing to lick without it so much as touch­ing the sides.

It seems I’m not the only one who rated this man­love bal­lad. Originally broad­cast on their state TV sta­tion RTE, it’s the fifth most pop­u­lar YouTube clip in Ireland this year. Oh, and you can down­load the song from iTunes too.

Below the YouTube clip are scores of com­ments by self-identified straight rugby play­ers and fans, most of whom seem to love it as much as this old homo does:

im a rugby player. i play lock.. which makes me the guy who sticks his head between the guys’ thighs. i still think this is fuck­ing hilarious.’

It’s dif­fi­cult to ima­gine a sim­ilar skit about soc­cer get­ting the same good-humoured response. But then, as sev­eral rugby fans have poin­ted out, soc­cer is for poofs.


Tip: Dermod Moore

The Press Still Love-Hates ‘Twinkletoes’ Ronaldo So

cristiano ronaldo toes The Press Still Love Hates Twinkletoes Ronaldo So

Cristiano Ronaldo’s latest fash­ion foible, painted toe-nails has pro­voked the usual bitchy, mock­ing response that is attached to any­thing Ronaldo in the Anglo media. Despite — or per­haps because of — the way they seem to regard him as a sure-fire way of selling newspapers.

The announce­ment of the birth of his son by a sur­rog­ate mother last week also presen­ted another oppor­tun­ity to give him a good kick­ing.  Some, like Celia Walden in The Telegraph, really going over­board in the expres­sion of their tain­ted, twis­ted love.  It almost makes me regret out­ing the male nar­ciss­ism of met­ro­sexu­al­ity.  As one of the com­menters on the Telegraph web­site points out, her hus­band Piers Morgan is everything she com­plains about in Ronaldo — but untal­ten­ted and unat­tract­ive.  More gen­er­ally it goes without say­ing that Ronaldo’s van­ity would be con­sidered nor­mal and healthy and worthy of approb­a­tion in say, a much less pretty female journalist.

It’s pos­sible, I sup­pose, that Ronaldo painted his toe­nails as a riposte to the ‘Twinkletoes’ school play­ground nick­name (Twinkletoes was a fairy, ged­dit?) given to him by foot­ball fans and the tabloids dur­ing his stint at Manchester United.  But much more prob­able he painted his toe­nails just because he thought it would be fun and might look nice.  Which is an outrage.

Really, it’s no won­der that a year after leav­ing these shores the UK press con­tinue to love-hate him so.  This boy from a humble Portuguese fam­ily is very rich.  He’s fam­ous.  He’s fab­ulously tal­en­ted.  He’s young.  He’s absurdly good look­ing.  And he doesn’t owe any­one any­thing.  Worst of all, he knows it and doesn’t bother to hide this know­ledge.  And he thinks noth­ing of paint­ing his toe­nails because he feels like it, rather than because Esquire magazine told him to.  Yes, he’s a spoilt child, but then — so are the gods.

Here are a couple of other recently snapped pho­tos which may help explain the jeal­ousy mere mor­tals feel towards him.   (And let me assure you most people work­ing in journ­al­ism are very mor­tal indeed — inwardly and out­wardly.)

ronaldo2 The Press Still Love Hates Twinkletoes Ronaldo Soronaldo1 The Press Still Love Hates Twinkletoes Ronaldo So

Tip: Mark W

Sporno on Steroids

nakedborthwick Sporno on Steroids

Now that’s what I call push­ing back.

Taking the sporno trend to parts it hasn’t yet reached — and what parts! — while spread­ing the fam­ous French ‘pro’ tarti­ness of the Dieux du Stade cal­en­dars to these shores, the latest ad cam­paign for Powerade’s ‘InnerGear’ iso­tonic sports drink fea­tures sev­eral UK pro rug­ger bug­gers in the buff snapped by the pho­to­grapher Alan Clarke. Including, most spec­tac­u­larly, most spher­ic­ally, England Rugby Union Captain Steve Borthwick (above), keep­ing his spor­no­graphic end up for the Queen.  And nicely stuck out.

Or as the gay porn legend Dink Flamingo would say, ‘Arch your back, bitch!’

Once again, it seems that it isn’t just me who is undress­ing ath­letes with my eyes and giv­ing them filthy dir­ec­tions.  Advertising is doing it too.  But unlike me, advert­ising can actu­ally afford these tarts.

But I’m not bit­ter. Honestly. I’m sure that Borthwick was rewar­ded hand­somely by his sugar daddy Coca Cola (who own Powerade) for his bare-faced cheek, but nev­er­the­less he also deserves, as Julian Clary would put it, a warm hand on his entrance for his bravery.  Apparently his mates have been roger­ing him — sorry -  rib­bing him.  ‘It is one of the most dar­ing shoots I’ve been involved in,’ he told the ladies and gen­tle­men of the press,  ‘but it has been loads of fun, even it it has given my team mates plenty of ammuni­tion for chan­ging room banter.’

I can’t help think­ing though that the shoot would have been even more dar­ing and fun if Borthwick had been por­trayed along with his ban­ter­ing naked team mates in an actual scrum instead of doing a mus­cu­lar Marcel Marceau.  For the pur­poses of real­ism, of course.

The InnerGear for an ath­lete — how we train, what we eat and drink — is as import­ant as what we wear,’ says Borthwick, clearly read­ing here from Coca Cola’s script. ‘And it’s great that this cam­paign brings it to life’.

Gear’ of course is also the street name given to ster­oids, that hot com­mod­ity more and more rugby play­ers these days look as if they’re tak­ing, man­dat­ory drug test­ing or no.  According to vari­ous reports, epi­demic num­bers of young men who aren’t ath­letes but who, like today’s sports­men, also want to look like porn stars are down­ing them like, well, soft drinks.

I’m sure Coca Cola chose the name ‘InnerGear’ for entirely inno­cent and pure reas­ons, and that none of their mod­els would ever use banned sub­stances, even if it is quite easy to do so and avoid detec­tion, but if young men think that by drink­ing an over­priced sugary-salty drink inves­ted with magical, virile prop­er­ties by advert­ising they’ll get buff instead of fat, and look as desir­able, as shag­gable, as these pro ath­letes, that can surely only help sales.

Below, England International Paul Sackey and Welsh International Shane Williams who also fea­ture in the InnerGear cam­paign, prove that really fit bubble-butts can fly. Williams, who looks a little like a Welsh statue of Eros with a rugby ball let loose instead of an arrow, also proves that really fit bubble-butts can arch and look over their shoulder at the same time.

It’s true that this pub­lic cam­paign, unlike the DDS cal­en­dars (which are for private con­sump­tion, after all), avoids frontal nud­ity, but then Freud thought that in dreams fly­ing had a phal­lic symbolism.

So with InnerGear’s fly­ing rugby but­tocks you really can have both.

nakedsackey 666x390 717915a Sporno on Steroids

nakedwilliams 350x4 717878a Sporno on Steroids

Welsh International Shane Williams. Your flex­ible friend.

Why The Sun Can’t Leave Ronaldo’s Legs Alone

ronaldo sunbathing Why The Sun Cant Leave Ronaldos Legs Alone
Ere, Ron, The Sun’s just texted me. They want to know if you’ve got any smal­ler shorts.”

Britain’s best-selling news­pa­per The Sun has been work­ing itself into a con­fused lather about our met­ro­sexual foot­ballers, again. Like me, it just can’t leave them alone.

In a long, hand-wringing — and graph­ic­ally illus­trated — art­icle spread over the centre pages last Friday head­lined ‘Preen Team’ they ask ‘What the hell is going on with our footballers?’

Led by the Premier League’s arch-metrosexual Cristiano Ronaldo, foot­ball has this sum­mer gone camper than a row of tents.

This week Ronaldo con­tin­ued his hol­i­day tour by hanging out in a pair of tight sil­ver shorts in LA — and had the world’s gay men com­ing over all funny.

Er no, it had The Sun com­ing over all funny. For much of the sum­mer, The Sun has been stalk­ing Portuguese Ronaldo, the best foot­baller in the UK and also one of the best look­ing, who is cur­rently con­vales­cing after an injury (hence the unflat­ter­ing blue foot­wear), try­ing to exploit his cur­rent unpop­ular­ity — the res­ult of his plans to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, and his fail­ure to keep them, like his hot oiled bod, under wraps.

Like a jeal­ous, spurned suitor, The Sun (along with most of the Brit tabloids) has been bitch­ing and beat­ing him up over his dark (Portuguese) tan, his shorts, his good looks — and his lack of apo­logy for them. And try­ing to imply he is girly and, what is the same thing in their book, homo.

And who can blame him for want­ing to leave the UK, where the biggest paper behaves like a school-ground bully with sexual iden­tity issues? They’ve even pub­lished pic­tures of him smil­ing at a mate (who appears to be his brother), telling us that he’s cruis­ing him. And I thought I had bum­sex on the brain.

In a famil­iar trick, they’ve given space to the editor of ‘Britain’s best-selling gay magazine’ to gush about what a ‘gay idol’ Ronaldo is. Otherwise known as guilt by asso­ci­ation. At the same time as prov­ing they’re ‘not homo­phobic’ because they let the king of poofs have his say.

Friday’s art­icle goes one step fur­ther and seems to blame Ronaldo for mak­ing an entire gen­er­a­tion of foot­ballers gay. I know he has nice legs, but I doubt even those pins have that kind of power.

But a perfectly-waxed chest and budgie smug­gling shorts are just the tip of the iceberg.

A sun invest­ig­a­tion has found the man­bag and groom­ing obses­sion is rife among our highly-paid stars.

As you may have sus­pec­ted, it turns out that this ‘invest­ig­a­tion’ is just another excuse for lots of pics of young foot­ballers without much on. An excuse even smal­ler than Ron’s sil­ver shorts.

Though I can’t help but poke fun at The Sun’s hissy list of the met­ro­sexual offences of our footie aces:

Chelsea ace Frank Lampard refused to go any­where this sum­mer without his sal­mon pink vest and match­ing shorts.

(Which we’ve Photoshopped to make look even pinker and gayer, just as we’ve done with Ronaldo’s tan to make him look even darker and even more of a girly dago.)

He has also been lug­ging around wife Elen Rives’ fuch­sia handbag.

I think it suits Fabulous Frankie and he should nick it off her.

Italian World Cup win­ner Fabio Cannavaro actu­ally SHAVED his mate’s chest and armpits on the deck of their hol­i­day yacht this week in a show of shame­less male bonding.

Actually SHAVED his mate’s chest and armpits? No! Well, I never! The shame­less­ness of it!

And Liverpool and Spain striker Fernando Torres spent most of last month by the pool with an Alice band in his hair while leaf­ing through life­style magazines.

You can bet he wasn’t read­ing The Sun.

Ah, for the days of foot­ball when men were men and soap was never scen­ted — or dropped. Right on cue The Sun wheels out 1970s foot­baller Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, to whinge about how in his day he got paid ten bob a week, cut his own hair with garden shears, ate gravel, and beat up poofs on sight (or so you’d be for­given for think­ing). Interesting that The Sun didn’t ask retired ‘hard­man’ Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock back to play this role, after he failed to deliver the poof-baiting goods in a recent pre­vi­ous Sun art­icle bemoan­ing the gay­ness of today’s foot­ball.

How The Sun loves to keep com­ing back to this theme of metro V retro, pre­tend­ing of course to be on the side of ret­ro­sexu­al­ity against, well, homo­sexu­al­ity. Partly this is because it ima­gines that ret­ro­sexu­al­ity is syn­onym­ous with ‘work­ing class’ — tra­di­tion­ally the major­ity of this tab’s read­er­ship — because The Sun is now edited by expens­ively edu­cated types who are fak­ing it.

By pos­ing as cham­pi­ons of ‘Chopper’ Harris they present them­selves as con­nec­ted to that stoic pro­let­arian tra­di­tion they actu­ally have noth­ing to do with, and today’s con­sumer­ist, sen­sual, closet­ted metro Sun is a mil­lion fake-tanned miles from.

I sus­pect read­ers under the age of 30 that they know they des­per­ately need to attract if they are to have any future at all, let alone con­tinue to sell mil­lions every day, are mostly turned off by this con­fused and con­flic­ted met­ro­phobic bul­ly­ing, how­ever jokey it’s presen­ted as being. Especially those from a work­ing class back­ground. Why? Because they will prob­ably see it as dir­ec­ted against them.

When repeatedly adopt­ing this kind of cor, strewth, look at the poof­tahs foot­ballers are today! tone, The Sun just sounds like their night­mare fat dad.

Or me.

Intentionally or not, this time the space given to the editor of Attitude to twit­ter about fash­ion and male free­dom and foot­ballers show­ing the way makes that gay mag sound much more in tune with younger Sun read­ers than The Sun itself.

Tip: Dave Harley

Naked Rugger Buggers Buggering About

naked rugby nz 1 690091c Naked Rugger Buggers Buggering About

The New Zeeland and South African Rugby teams made the news this week with their nude rugby match on St Kilda beach.

(UPDATE: In fact, the NY Daily News story cited here appears to have got a little over­ex­cited: the play­ers were NOT from the All Blacks and the Boks but local ama­teur play­ers tak­ing part in a mid-winter naked rugby tra­di­tion that has gone on for years — see Uroskin’s com­ment below and on his blog.)

Held before their offi­cial match, and sponsored by ‘Bottom Bus’ (a local tour agency, allegedly), it looks at first glance like a real­isa­tion of the spor­no­graphic fantasy of those Dieux Du Stade cal­en­dars and those ‘Paris: City of Love posters’ with snog­ging rugby play­ers advert­ising the Rugby World Cup last year. And per­haps in a way it is.

But the naughty slo­gans scrawled on their bod­ies and the gen­eral may­hem seems to have more of the trade­mark, old-style rug­ger bug­ger haz­ing humour. Porn and DDS (and UFC) by con­trast, are a very ser­i­ous business.

This seems more like a genu­ine, beery, blokey laugh.

Nice arses, though.

nuderugby 9 Naked Rugger Buggers Buggering About

Ultimate Pillowbiting — How Gay is MMA?

ufc83x300 Ultimate Pillowbiting   How Gay is MMA?

This month’s Out magazine includes a fea­ture by yours truly on my visit to Montréal in April to see the biggest, bad­dest, ball­si­est Ultimate Fighting Championship event ever. UFC, for those who aren’t in the know, or unac­count­ably unin­ter­ested in see­ing fit, near-naked men grap­pling and grunt­ing, is the cage-fighting craze that is rap­idly becom­ing the most pop­u­lar sport with young men in North America.

Out tell me my take has pro­voked some threats against my pretty face from out­raged MMA fans. It seems my crime was enjoy­ing it too much. Other less shall we say clenched fol­low­ers of this man-mounting sport have how­ever wel­comed my interest — even if I breathe too heavily.

Here’s how the piece begins:

Imagine the space shuttle tak­ing off with a really fat cus­tom­ized exhaust pipe or the Visigoths sack­ing Ancient Rome with kick­ing bass tubes fit­ted to their 4-by-4s. Or 20,000 super­charged male orgasms. Simultaneously. And you have some idea what it sounds and feels like in Montréal’s fam­ous Bell Centre tonight for Ultimate Fighting Championship 83, as a spunky young car­rot red­head in shorts pins an auburn lad on his back with his heels some­where around his ears. I think the tech­nical term for this is a “full mount.” Or maybe it’s “ground and pound.”

As the chiseled and blond bad guy with the low-slung shorts (Cam Gigandet) in the recent mixed mar­tial arts (MMA) exploit­a­tion flick Never Back Down says leer­ingly to the doe-eyed bru­net boxer good guy (Sean Faris) new to MMA, the good news is that in this sport you can choke, kick, punch, pin, and throttle; “the bad news is that it’s gotta end with you look­ing like a bitch in front of every­body.” Perhaps it was bad news for him — and for the auburn lad in the ring tonight — but cer­tainly not for the 22,000-strong over­whelm­ingly young-male audi­ence for the biggest-ever UFC event.

Over 2,500 miles away in Las Vegas, “slap­per” Brit boxer Joe Calzaghe is tonight defeat­ing light heavy­weight Bernard Hopkins on points. In the long-established world of box­ing, there is rumored to be an ancient and secret tra­di­tion called the “perk,” or “per­quis­ite” — by which the los­ing man may be required later to lit­er­ally give up what he has lost sym­bol­ic­ally. In other words, the fucked gets…really fucked.

I don’t know how much truth there is to the “perk,” though the breath­less trash talk of modern-day box­ers in the run-up to a fight — “I’m gonna make you my bitch/girlfriend/punk” — cer­tainly doesn’t dis­credit it. But I’m fairly cer­tain that the “perk” doesn’t exist in the “full-contact” brave new world of mixed mar­tial arts, an omni­vor­ous blend of box­ing, free­style wrest­ling, judo, tae kwon do, kick­box­ing, kar­ate, jujitsu, and Thai box­ing that is rap­idly repla­cing bor­ing old tra­di­tional box­ing, espe­cially among young men, as the fight­ing sport. The perk isn’t needed. Because in MMA you get fucked in the “ring” in front of every­body. On pay-per-view TV. The “perk” is the whole, er, perking point, man. And UFC, by far the most suc­cess­ful pur­veyor of MMA fights for the cable TV voyeur, looks remark­ably like gay porn for straight men: Ultimate Fuck-Fighting.

Read the art­icle in full here.

Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

misha1 Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly ToysMark Simpson on the Cold War with Cuddly Toys

(Arena Hommes Plus, Spring 2008)

The titanic Superpower con­front­a­tion of the early 1980s between the Soviet Union and the United States saw the deploy­ment of sev­eral new and ter­ri­fy­ing stra­tegic weapons sys­tems, includ­ing Cruise Missiles, Pershings, SS-20s, B1 Bombers, and SDI/Star Wars.

But undoubtedly the most power­ful, most feared and most soph­ist­ic­ated of these weapons sys­tems was a smi­ley cuddly toy called Misha.

Unleashed at the height of the Cold War, at the Moscow Olympics of 1980, boy­cot­ted by the US and her allies because of the Soviet inva­sion of Afghanistan, Misha the bear cub, or to give him his full, chilling title, Mikhail Potapych Toptygin, left the West com­pletely defence­less. A tri­umph of art, mar­ket­ing, pro­pa­ganda, and plush toys, Misha appeared on hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent badges, in plastic, por­cel­ain, rub­ber and wood. He was the most com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful and thor­oughly exploited Olympic mas­cot ever. It took Communists to real­ise the mer­chand­ising poten­tial and polit­ical power of fluffiness.

To under­stand the scale of the Soviet tri­umph that was Misha you have to look at (gingerly, through your fin­gers) what went before: 1968 Grenoble’s Winter Olympics ‘Schuss’ or ‘ski­ing sperm’ as it came to be known, Munich 1972’s radio­act­ive Wiener dog, and Montréal 1976’s black beaver Amik, a turd taste­fully tied-off with a chocolate-box ribbon.

Montreal Mascot 300x216 Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

Misha, who became the smi­ley, irres­ist­ibly furry shape of Brezhnevism, was a labour of love. Famous children’s illus­trator Viktor Chizikov took six months to per­fect him, draw­ing over one hun­dred vari­ations. His big dark wide eyes, trust­ing smile and irres­ist­ible cud­dli­ness inver­ted the Western view of the USSR and Russia as a scary, slav­er­ing, lum­ber­ing beast. Misha’s humane, friendly face fore­told the arrival five years later of that other cuddly Mikhail, the one with that ador­able birth­mark on his forehead.

The US, under­stand­ably pan­icked by Red Misha, com­mis­sioned their ideo­lo­gical depart­ment, bet­ter known as Disney, to come up with a response to this stra­tegic threat. Sam, a bald eagle, the national sym­bol of the US (and also of the USMC, which the pre­vi­ous year had invaded Grenada), wear­ing a natty stars and stripes (Capitalist?) top hat and bow tie, was rolled out as the offi­cial mas­cot for the 1984 LA Games.

sam Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

Although bet­ter than most mas­cots, Sam was rather less lov­able and much crasser than Misha, and in this Cold War of cuddly toys it was gen­er­ally agreed that the USSR had won.

The end of the Cold War proper shortly after­wards, and the non-ideological nature of the Games that fol­lowed, meant that mas­cots once again rever­ted to their pre-Misha harm­less­ness — and tack­i­ness. 1988 Seoul’s ‘Hodori’ looked like Tony the Tiger with tas­sels. OK, but not Grrrrreat.

Hodori Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

Better than most, 1992 Barcelona’s snig­ger­ing sur­real dog ‘Cobi’ was unloved at first but won many over in the end.

Cobi Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

The Sydney Olympics in 2000 fea­tured a Platypus, an Echidna and a Kookaburra that appeared to be a rejec­ted Aussie kid’s TV line-up (and were in fact rejec­ted by the Australians).

Sydney Mascots 300x216 Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

Athens in 2004 deployed Athena and Phevos, gods of wis­dom and light, who might have been for­mid­able if they hadn’t been rendered in Playdough by an angry two year old.

Athens Mascots Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

The undoubted nadir though was Izzy (from ‘Whatizit?’) in Atlanta 1996. An ‘amorph­ous abstract fantasy fig­ure’ Izzy was an aes­thetic tizzy who only sym­bol­ised how the post-ideological world had no place for icon­o­graphy or, for that mat­ter, human­ism. The End of History meant not only dreary Olympics, but a wider cul­ture lack­ing a sense of import­ance or pur­pose. Worst of all, it meant really daggy mascots.

izzy Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

But now, eight­een years on from Moscow, another Communist giant is host­ing the Games, determ­ined to exploit them for every last scrap of pro­pa­ganda. Consequently they threaten to be the most spec­tac­u­lar yet. The Soviet Union may have been con­signed to the dust­bin of his­tory, but the coun­try it taught how to organ­ise a proper flag-waving parade, the People’s Republic of China, goes from strength to strength, dividend to dividend — and wants the world to know about it. Everything, from the Stadium to the stick­ers, is going to be a huge, flut­ter­ing statement.

The Games might offi­cially hark back to the freedom-loving ideals of Ancient Greece, cradle of demo­cracy, but it takes a good old-fashioned total­it­arian state to show us what they really mean: Ideology and icon­o­graphy plus cho­reo­graphy.

And all these things come together in… fluffy toys. Undoubtedly, China’s ‘Fuwa’ mas­cots for 2008, imp­ish ener­getic car­toons based on pop­u­lar Chinese anim­als, have been given more thought than all the ones since Misha put together. That there are also five of them, the most ever, is a reminder of China’s pop­u­lous­ness, its dynam­ism, and its new-found Capitalist wili­ness: five mas­cots = five times as many sales opportunities.

And you can be sure these mas­cots, like everything else theses days, are made in China. (They will also be offi­cial: China, the home of cheap knock-offs is crack­ing down hard on Olympic cloning.)

fuwa Fluffy Ideology: The Cold War With Cuddly Toys

Apparently Beibei the fish sym­bol­ises water, prosper­ity and swim­ming. Jinjing the Panda: metal, hap­pi­ness, weight­lift­ing and judo. HuanHuan the (Red!) Olympic Flame: fire, pas­sion and ball sports. Yingying the Tibetan ante­lope: earth, health, track and field events. Nini the swal­low: wood, good Fortune and gymnastics.

A col­li­sion of Chinese astro­logy, Communist ideo­logy and Sino hege­mony, per­haps these mas­cots — with their ‘super­powers’ — sym­bol­ise a little too much. Their names also spell out ‘Beijing wel­comes you’. Or is it ‘Welcome to a Chinese 21st Century’? The ele­mental nature of the Fuwa mas­cots also looks like an augury of the future: given its recent phe­nom­enal growth China may one day mono­pol­ise these resources.

The flame of the fluffy mar­ket­ing and ideo­lo­gical tri­umph of the Moscow Olympics has been passed on to Chinese Communism — which, unlike the USSR, is still around today only because it effect­ively went Misha back in the 1980s, now doing Capitalism and con­sumer­ism bet­ter than the West. Being very, very care­ful, of course, not to allow the emer­gence of a Misha Gorbachov: instead at Tiananmen Square the lead­er­ship crushed its own people like they were… toys. Rather than grant­ing its people human rights, China set about mak­ing everything the rest of the world wanted — and at a snip.

So I pre­dict the Fuwa, or Chinese Spice Girls, will be a great suc­cess with kids and adults around the world, and cause China to open a couple of dozen more power-stations, as well as pay­ing for at least another air­craft carrier.

Especially Jingjing the giant panda — Misha with Chinese characteristics.

Special thanks to Jo-Ann Furniss

Size Hero: How Steroids & Muscle Marys Conquered the World

action man atlantic mission Size Hero: How Steroids & Muscle Marys Conquered the World

Mark Simpson on how ster­oids got into our blood­stream and changed the shape of masculinity

(Guardian CIF, 6 Dec, 2007)

Roids may sound as Eighties as Cher’s black-lace bod­ice. But they’re baaak, even big­ger and bustier than ever.

According to a series of recent reports, ster­oids, or ‘juice’ or ‘gear’ to the ini­ti­ated, once an exotic drug of cheat­ing ath­letes and freaky body­build­ers have entered the main­stream and have become just another life­style product for young men: some boys as young as 12 are reportedly tak­ing the drug.

And this des­pite the fright­en­ing pos­sible side-effects metic­u­lously lis­ted in these press reports, includ­ing liver, heart and kid­ney dam­age, atrophied testicles, erectile dys­func­tion, depres­sion and raised aggres­sion. (Though, argu­ably, you could also exper­i­ence most of these simply by fol­low­ing Arsenal FC.)

The key to this main­stream­ing of ster­oids is van­ity. If you want to get into people’s blood­stream these days, prom­ise to make them like what they see in the smoke-glass gym-mirror. According to the sur­veys, the large major­ity of young men using the gear are not doing so to be stronger or faster or scar­ier — all tra­di­tion­ally accept­able ‘mas­cu­line’ ambi­tions — but rather to look more attract­ive. To look shag­gable. Or just make you look.

In other words, young men are tak­ing ster­oids the way that many gay party boys have taken them for years: to look good on the beach or dance floor or web­cam. ‘Muscle Marys’ — as they’re called by envi­ous, less-muscular gays — are appar­ently no longer a strictly gay phe­nomenon. Muscle Marys are where mas­culin­ity is at, Mary.

It shouldn’t be so sur­pris­ing. We don’t really need sur­veys to tell us this. It has, after all, happened right before our eyes. It’s the media that has main­lined ster­oids into the cul­ture and our kids. Unlike, say, very skinny girls, very mus­cu­lar boys are very pop­u­lar. An anti ‘Size Hero’ cam­paign like that we’ve seen against Size Zero is some­what unlikely. Steroids are an essen­tial, pre­scribed even, part of the way that the male body has been farmed and pack­aged for our con­sump­tion since it was laid off at the fact­ory and the shipyard in the 1980s.

A gen­er­a­tion of young males have been reared on irres­ist­ibly — and fre­quently chem­ic­ally — lean and mus­cu­lar images of the male body in sport, advert­ising, magazines, movies and telly, even in the car­toons they watch and the com­puter games or toy dolls (or ‘action fig­ures’) they play with. It seems all that’s left of mas­culin­ity in a post indus­trial, post paternal world, apart from a science-fiction-sized penis, or a right foot good enough to get you into the Premier League, is a hot bod. Men and women — but espe­cially men — will give you kudos for that. So will people cast­ing real­ity TV series.

Even Action Man (GI Joe in the US) is now a Muscle Mary. Perhaps because he’s only twelve inches tall, Action Man seems to have been hit­ting the ‘juice’ big time. He’s also got him­self a nice deep all-over tan — to bet­ter show off his pumped muscles.

Since the 1960s his bicep meas­ure­ments have more than doubled from a (scaled up) 12″ to 27″ and his chest from 44″ to 55″. His cur­rent ‘cut’ physique would be rather dif­fi­cult to achieve just by eat­ing corned-beef hash rations — espe­cially since, as far as I’m aware, a port­able plastic gym isn’t yet one of his basic accessor­ies. In an example of life imit­at­ing art, or at least squad­dies imit­at­ing dolls, ster­oid abuse by sol­diers is increas­ingly com­mon: US sol­diers in Iraq have been caught order­ing ster­oids online, and it was recently alleged that a size­able pro­por­tion of Blackwater mer­cen­ar­ies are on ‘the gear’.

Muscle Marys aren’t just for Xmas — they’re also for High Office. Arnold ‘Commando’ Schwarzenegger, seven times Mr Olympia, who has admit­ted using indus­trial quant­it­ies of ster­oids since he was in his teens (though denies he takes them now) is today the walk-on-water Green Governator of California and Republican inspir­a­tion to David Cameron — after a suc­cess­ful Hollywood movie career play­ing an under-dressed heavily-muscled male mas­seur pre­tend­ing to be an action hero. Quite an achieve­ment when just walk­ing without pain­ful chaf­ing must have been difficult.

Partly because of Arnie’s 80s ‘spe­cial effects’, Muscle Marys are de rigeur in the movies today — even in middle-age. The age­ing star of a recent epic block­buster whose career has largely been built on his six-pack was widely rumoured to have been on so much ‘gear’ try­ing to look ‘invin­cible’ that he fre­quently had to be stretchered off the set at the end of the day, poor love. Meanwhile ‘Comeback Kid’ Sylvester ‘Rocky’ Stallone (aged 60) was caught by Australian cus­toms with sev­eral vials of his comeback secret earlier this year.

The ail­ing James Bond fran­chise suc­cess­fully re-launched Bond and made him more attract­ive to younger view­ers by rein­carn­at­ing him in the pneu­matic form of Daniel Craig — Bond became his own big-chested Bond Girl - and last year’s smash hit film ‘300′ fea­tured ‘Spartans’ who looked less like ancient war­ri­ors than Muscle Marys at a Toga Party. Or the “juiced-up” pro­fes­sional wrest­lers in Speedos that so many boys today have on their bed­room walls.

WWE wrest­ler Chris Benoit’s recent murder-suicide of his wife and child and intense media spec­u­la­tion about whether it was steroid-related (ster­oids were found at his house and his post mortem testoster­one level was ten times nor­mal) has caused a major scan­dal in the US. But it has been as obvi­ous for many years that most of these guys were sprink­ling more than sugar on their Cocoa Pops (and Benoit was actu­ally rel­at­ively scrawny com­pared to some wrestlers).

That’s, after all, what people were look­ing at. What they were pay­ing to see. Pro wrest­ling is show­busi­ness, and ster­oids are the busi­ness — at least when it comes to mak­ing spec­tac­u­lar bodies.

As a res­ult of this and other recent ster­oid scan­dals in American foot­ball and base­ball - includ­ing at High School level — a panic has emerged about the use of ster­oids by US ath­letes. But this has ten­ded to obscure how main­stream ster­oids already are in the US and how, as in the UK, they’re prin­cip­ally (ab)used by non-athletes (only 6% of users played sports or con­sidered them­selves bodybuilders).

In the UK there have been calls to ban the sale of ster­oids online, crack­down harder on gyms selling them and edu­cate young people about the dangers. Well, every­one is in favour of edu­ca­tion, and no one is in favour of teens using ster­oids, but it’s unlikely that any of this will ser­i­ously reverse the Muscle Mary/Size Hero trend.

Steroids can’t be unin­ven­ted — or filtered out from the culture’s blood­stream. They’ve already changed the shape of mas­culin­ity. What’s more, unlike most if not all of the expens­ive sup­ple­ments advert­ised in FHM, Men’s Health and Nuts as ‘muscle-builders’ and ‘fat-burners’, they actu­ally work. And I know whereof I speak: I dabbled with the ‘juice’ myself as a cal­low youth. They cer­tainly did what they said on the tin: I only stopped because they made me even spot­tier and angrier than I already was.

In an age when what’s authen­tic­ally mas­cu­line is unclear, but what’s hot is as in-yer-face as a nice pair of pecs, inject­ing syn­thetic man­li­ness, des­pite the pos­sible risks to your actual man-bits, is not going out of fash­ion any­time soon. The only effect­ive way to dis­cour­age their use will be to come up with a new gen­er­a­tion of muscle-building drugs that work as well as ster­oids but have fewer side-effects. I’d cer­tainly take them.

Steroids are the met­ro­sexual hor­mone — they make men sale­able and shag­gable in an age that doesn’t have much idea what else to do with them.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2007

This essay is col­lec­ted in Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story

Ricky Hatton: ‘I have a fantastic bum’

rickyhattonphoto Ricky Hatton: I have a fantastic bumToday’s Sun car­ries an inter­view with England’s tasty pocket-rocket Ricky Hatton about his upcom­ing fight in Vegas this Saturday with World wel­ter­weight title holder Floyd Mayweather.

Pretty Boy’ Mayweather was in the news last week for say­ing to Ricky: ‘I wish I was in prison with you. I’d make you my bitch.’

Having another boxer threat­en­ing to do that to me is a first,’ Ricky admit­ted to the Sun. ‘But’ he said (I’m guess­ing with a twinkle in his eye), ‘I’d like to think I have got a fant­astic bum.’

From where I’m stand­ing, Ricky, it looks like you have. And you can trust me — I’m an expert.

hatton bum Ricky Hatton: I have a fantastic bumBut, given the infuri­at­ing bag­gi­ness of the box­ing shorts you like to wear (which appear to have been made with some of your nan’s spare tas­selled cur­tains), just to con­firm how fant­astic it is I think a closer inspec­tion — and a road-test — is required.

And there’s no need to worry: we don’t have to go to prison. You could just come back to mine.

—-

PS  To those writ­ing in to tell me that Ricky’s ‘no David Beckham’, or that he’s ‘really fat’ most of the time, or that he’s ‘ugly’, please note: I’m not claim­ing Ricky is of major socio-cultural import­ance or a ‘sex god’. I just fancy him.  Here’s one, sorry, two reas­ons why.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Touchy-Feely Footballers

By Mark Simpson (Guardian CIF, 30/11/07)

In an age of broad­band hard­core it’s rather sweet to dis­cover that men are still so eas­ily aroused. At least, that is, foot­ball fans and tabloid journalists.

A little inno­cent hand-holding by Liverpool FC dur­ing a team-building train­ing ses­sion before their cru­cial Champions League match with Porto worked the Sun into a frenzy this week. ‘Koppin’ Off’ screamed the Sun head­line, next to a pic­ture of Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard chastely hold­ing hands, with the sub­title ‘So this is what they mean by “train­ing camp”??’

Those log­ging on with moisten­ing palms to the Sun’s web­site were treated to a ‘slide show’ of other mem­bers of Liverpool FC hold­ing hands with mood-enhancing cap­tions like ‘Chase me, chase me!’ and ‘Ere, is that the fairy across the Mersey?’.

In fact, the Sun was so excited by this non-story it returned to it yes­ter­day, wheel­ing in early 90s Liverpool ‘hard­man’ foot­baller Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock to stick it to the nancy boys, by-lining a piece head­lined, ‘What’s next… make-up and pink strips?’

At first Ruddock duti­fully tries to play the ‘hard­man’ role the Sun has cast him in: ‘It cer­tainly wouldn’t have happened in my day, he says. ‘I’d have found it too embar­rass­ing and a bit girly.’

But then he begins to lose the plot: ‘The only time we would have held hands with another player is on the way back from the pub after a few drinks.’

No, no, no! You”re really let­ting the side down now, hard­man! Where’s your… rigid­ity? The whole point of get­ting so pissed with the lads is so that you don’t remem­ber what you did on the way home and cer­tainly don’t write about it in a national newspaper.

But Neil can’t help him­self: ‘In our day, we did all our team-building in the pub. When a new player joined it was straight down the pub for a few bevies… It did the trick and the new lads soon bed­ded in.’

Bedded in?? Was that before or after hold­ing your hand on the way back from the pub?

Neil tries to get back ‘on mes­sage’, but then he’s off again, giv­ing us far too much inform­a­tion: ‘But it’s no longer a hardman’s game. John Terry and Frank Lampard now shave their body hair off.… It’s a Continental thing… When I was at West Ham Paulo Di Canio shaved off all his hair apart from the stuff on his head.’

I’m sure if he asked them nicely and made it clear how much you pre­ferred your foot­ballers furry they’d let their body hair grow for the ‘Razor’.

He goes on: ‘Players use sun­beds and wax their chests and under-arm hair. What’s next? Make-up? Pink strips?’.

Get up to speed mate. The Sun already told us a few months back that Manchester United have had to rebuild their player’s chan­ging rooms to make their lock­ers big enough to ‘accom­mod­ate their man­bags’ filled with ‘more cos­met­ics than their WAGS’.

Then, finally, he con­fesses: ‘Mind you, if I was offered £120,000 a week like some of the top stars are on now I would hold Peter Crouch’s hand — or any­one else’s for that matter.’

Yes, which reminds me Neil, how much were you paid to be Pete Burn’s bitch on Wife Swap?

Maybe it’s the fear of another tongue-lashing from real hard­man Pete Burns that’s respons­ible for Ruddock’s endear­ing fail­ure to deliver the queerbash­ing goods here and go a bit… limp. Compared the Sun’s first report, and, sadly, many foot­ball fans, he seems to go out of his way not to chas­tise the Liverpool play­ers for their ‘poovery’ — and talks instead rather mildly about how hold­ing hands is ‘a bit girly’. (At least, that is, when you’re sober.)

Or per­haps he was wor­ried someone might find some pics of those dirty great big sloppy snogs he and the lads used to give one another after every goal back in the good old manly days of soc­cer. Followed, fre­quently, by what looked very much like a team gang-bang on the ground.

Today’s met­ro­sexual young foot­ballers — per­haps because they look so ‘gay’ — are vestal vir­gins with one another by com­par­ison. They prac­tic­ally shake hands and exchange busi­ness cards.

On the other hand, per­haps they don’t snog each other wildly after a goal these days because unlike Ruddock’s ret­ro­sexual gen­er­a­tion, they don’t need that spe­cial excuse — or have to be dosed with gal­lons of beer down the pub — to actu­ally show affec­tion towards other men. Many of them prob­ably kiss one another when meet­ing and bid­ding farewell, like Becks - ‘It’s a Continental thing’). This after all is a gen­er­a­tion of straight lads who send text mes­sages to other lads peppered with kisses at the end. And to be hon­est, this old poof­tah finds that a bit girly himself.

It seems though that hold­ing hands sober, whatever the Sun or Ruddock thought of it, worked a treat. Liverpool won the game against Porto 4–1.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2007

Ricky’s My Bitch!’ Boxing Gets Spornographic

ricky hatton 1 Rickys My Bitch! Boxing Gets Spornographic
Boxing’s trash talk just got trash­ier — and highly spor­no­graphic. According to huge head­lines in Britain’s most pop­u­lar news­pa­per the Sun, big black American Welterweight cham­pion Floyd Mayweather has announced that he wants to make England’s white scally Manc boxer Ricky Hatton his ‘Prison Bitch’.

He said he wanted to buttf**k me’ com­plained little Ricky, look­ing even paler than usual.

Ricky, mate, I have to say I really don’t blame him. mayweather hatton Rickys My Bitch! Boxing Gets SpornographicAnd I mean that in a very lov­ing way. (Though I’d have to insist you remove those mickey-mouse earphones first.)

But why wait until they’re shar­ing a prison cell? Why not do it ‘in the ring’ — like they do in Ultimate Fighting?

Actually, I’ve heard that there is a (semi) secret tra­di­tion in box­ing of the loser giv­ing it up after a match — appar­ently, it’s called ‘the perk’. (A term I rather like and plan to use: ‘I’m gonna perk your brains out, bitch’ and ‘I’m gonna give you such a hard perking’.) I’m told it’s not exactly oblig­at­ory, but not so rare either. It is, after all, what that film Fight Club was really all about.

So if Ricky loses, we’ll know why.

Rugby students study sporno

dds8 Rugby students study sporno

It’s rumoured that some mem­bers of the ‘rugby com­munity’ com­plained about the white-hot 2007 Dieux du Stade cal­en­dar (pho­to­graphed by the stun­ningly tal­en­ted Mariano Vivanco) going ‘too far’ and being ‘too gay’. Which would sug­gest that some rugby fans are very, very stu­pid. What on earth do they think the long-established DDS is for if not to go ‘too far’ and be ‘too gay’?

Stade Francais, the French Rugby club who owns the luc­rat­ive fran­chise, sup­posedly took­fright at these com­plaints and decided to tone down the 2008 Dieux du Stade Calendar.

Judging by this just-released kinky cover image for the 2008 edi­tion which brings a whole new mean­ing to the term ‘ball weight’, I’m not con­vinced they succeeded.

Whoever the spoilsports were who com­plained about the spor­no­graphy of the 2007 cal­en­dar, it clearly wasn’t the lads of Sheffield Hallam University Rugby team– who as you can see are only too happy to emu­late the excess­ive homo­erot­ics in their latest cal­en­dar. (Obviously these are very smart mem­bers of the rugby community.)

Nor the fit young chaps of Sandbach RUFC, who were happy to go even fur­ther on national tele­vi­sion.

I’ll bet it was the same jeal­ous ugly old bas­tards that got this can­celled.