Get Hur! How Gay Subtexts Became Ancient History

by Mark Simpson (Originally appeared on Out.com 18 August, 2016) We don’t really do subtexts in the see-through, digital 21st Century. Sextexts, definitely. Subtweets, possibly. Subtexts, not so much. Who has the time? Who can even be bothered with having a subconscious? Subtexts are so analogue. Perhaps this is why Toby Kebbell who plays Messala in the 2016 remake of Ben Hur with Jack Heston as Hur, announced recently that there is ‘no gay sub plot’ in the new version. Explaining that it’s ‘not necessary […]

The Legendary Test

Mark Simpson on the (fast diminishing) difference between fame and legend (The Hospital Club magazine, Spring 2010) A recent bloody assassination attempt on Gore Vidal, the last great American man of letters by the English journalist Christopher Hitchens in the glossy pages of Vanity Fair prompted me, and I suspect many others, to ponder the difference between fame and legend. Both Vidal and Hitchens are famous of course, but only Vidal is a legend. Hitchens, for all his achievements, for all his impressive, furious scribbling, […]

Edmund White’s Vulgar Fag-ism

I’ve always liked Edmund White’s refusal to get with the contemporary gay hypocrisy program and shrewishly condemn promiscuity in the hope that this will deliver lots and lots of wedding presents. In contrast to that pasteurised movie Milk, which lied shamelessly about gay men’s sex lives in the 1970s to make it easier for them to lie about their sex lives today, White, a veteran gay-libber who first started libbing around that time – in bath-houses, back rooms and along the piers – insists on telling […]

Gore Vidal Takes on The World – Again

God, I can’t help but love the old bastard.  Another tour-de-force from Gore Vidal (interviewed by Tim Teeman) appeared in The London Times last week, in which, as usual, he said so many things, so very loudly that so many people know to be true but daren’t begin to mumble. This frail, crippled, diabetic, alcoholic, eighty-three-year-old man repeatedly and energetically Gores Obama, for his ‘dreadful’ performance as President, decries how he has ‘fucked up’ healthcare, and most particularly how he has allowed himself to be […]

Gore Vidal Turns Off The Lights on the American Dream

Mark Simpson speaks to the mother of Myra Breckinridge, and scourge of imperialism, monotheism – and monosexuality (Arena Hommes Plus, Summer 2009) I”m hearing the last living Great American Man of Letters. He says something else I don’t hear and I ask him to repeat it. Suddenly this 83 year old legend is very loud and very scary indeed: ‘IS “QUIET” A EUPHEMISM FOR DEAD?!’ he thunders in a voice much more Biblical than his old foe the late Charlton Heston was ever able to muster. […]

Little Britain Touches Up Uncle Sam

By Mark Simpson (Guardian, 20 October, 2008) ‘What other culture could have produced someone like Ernest Hemingway,’ waspish bisexual American exile Gore Vidal once asked of America’s favourite so-butch-he’s-camp writer, ‘and not seen the joke?’. The answer, was, of course, that only a culture that couldn’t see the joke could produce a Hemingway. I don’t know whether Matt Lucas and David Walliams read Vidal or Hemingway, but in Little Britain USA, the recently launched HBO spin-off of their hit UK TV comedy sketch series (which […]