Nadal’s Locker Room Service

Is that a rac­quet in your pants? Or are you just pleased to see a camera?

Darkly hand­some 29 year old ten­nis ace Rafael Nadal’s new ad for Tommy Hilfiger has more than a hint of a Tom Cruise Top Gun locker room scene about it.

It also goes fur­ther than any other recent under­wear ads in com­modi­fy­ing celebrity cock. All but shov­ing it down our all-consuming maws. It’s a big budget ver­sion of a web-cam show.

The ad begins with the cam­era, appar­ently held by a heavy-breathing voyeur pre­tend­ing to towel off after a shower  - i.e. the view­ing pub­lic — slyly star­ing at Cruise/Nadal’s pert bum filling out his designer jeans as he enters the locker room. Then zoom­ing in as the win­ner of four­teen ‘Grand Slams’ strips, seem­ingly unawares.

We clock his ath­letic back, his cotton-clad buns, his tanned, toned, centre court thighs, his abs, and — WOAH! — his ‘open stance’ packet. Is that just the carefully-angled light? Or a pros­thesis? Or is he actu­ally turned on??

And is he going to have our eye out with it if he pulls those pricey pants down?

Just as we are about to find out, Nadal decides to end his little show — shak­ing his head at us with a naughty grin that says he knew full well what we were up to and enjoyed every minute of it. And then he vol­leys us his still warm ‘top-seeded’ Hilfiger under­wear. So kind.

A few years back, when Nadal was still in his mid-twenties, it was another designer, Mr Armani, who was offer­ing us Nadal bent over a builder’s bench, and chopped into smooth, sexy, slip­pery pieces in an abjectly objec­ti­fy­ing video.

In the latest cam­paign Nadal’s world-class rear still has a star­ring role, but now, nearly 30 — and the envel­ope of what’s accept­able in main­stream advert­ising hav­ing been well-and-truly pushed in our faces — he not only sports chest hair but also, a very prom­in­ent penis.

Which reminds me. Perhaps I’ve been pay­ing too much atten­tion, but in the vid Nadal seems to be dress­ing to his right and ‘rest­ing’ at 0:10. But by 0:11 he’s dress­ing left and a semi-finalist.

That’s some service.

Hollywood Gayze

Mark Simpson on Hollywood heartthrobs going ‘gayish’ 

The appear­ance of Channing Tatum and his Magic Mike XXL bun-chums Matt Bomer and Adam Rodriguez on a float at LA Pride shak­ing their money-makers for the highly appre­ci­at­ive LGBT crowd seems to have marked a water­shed moment in the City of Signs.

Not long after Tatum’s float dis­ap­peared into the heat haze of Santa Monica Boulevard the Hollywood Reporter ran a piece by Merle Ginsberg, formerly of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, about the way straight male per­formers like Tatum have gone ‘bey­ond met­ro­sexu­al­ity’ (char­ac­ter­ised by the HR as ‘indul­ging in feminine-seeming ped­i­cures and hair products’) and now want to be read as ‘gayish’.

Ginsberg argued that far from being frightened of  gay atten­tion and gay ‘taint’ as in days of yore, straight men these days act­ively – or is it pass­ively? – seek out, tickle and tease the male gayze on Pride floats and Out magazine cov­ers, and by talk­ing about which other male actor they’d do if they did guys. The piece also looked at how this phe­nomenon of furi­ously flirty ‘straight homos’ – or ‘stromos’ as it was dubbed – is blur­ring the lines of sexu­al­ity and jam­ming gaydar.

Obviously this is a sub­ject right up my pro­cliv­ity. And sure enough I found myself  quoted in the piece – but couldn’t quite remem­ber when I’d given them. I searched my Inbox and found that I’d answered ques­tions from Ginsberg about this phe­nomenon of straight male ‘gay­ness’ by email back in 2013. I guess even two years ago I’m still so now.

However the Hollywood Reporter piece seems to have ruffled a few gay feath­ers eli­cit­ing com­plaints about ‘gay ste­reo­types’ and ‘exploit­a­tion’. While it’s not really for me to defend the word ‘stromo’ – I’ve enough annoy­ing neo­lo­gisms of my own to look out for – the phe­nomenon that the art­icle is about is def­in­itely worth ana­tom­ising and cer­tainly not ‘made up’ as some claim, offen­ded ostrich-like.

You prob­ably won’t be sur­prised to hear that I think the only prob­lem with the Hollywood Reporter piece was that I wasn’t quoted enough — par­tic­u­larly since the art­icle strives to delin­eate a dif­fer­ence between ‘stromos’ and ‘met­ro­sexu­als’ which seems to be based more on an American mar­ket­ing defin­i­tion of met­ro­sexu­al­ity than mine.

So here are the answers metrodaddy gave in full. (Note the bit towards the end where I say the increas­ing inco­her­ence of what we mean by ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ is troub­ling for tra­di­tion­al­ists – straight and gay.)

MS: I agree that met­ro­sexu­al­ity has morphed – though I would say it has always been morph­ing and that really it’s intens­i­fied. Metrosexuality was never about facials and flip flops it was about the male desire to be desired – which is rampant nowadays. Today’s men are totally tarty. And shame­less hussies with it. Male self-objectification is very much the name of today’s game.

Funnily enough, I think this presents a prob­lem for male celebs in gen­eral and movie act­ors in par­tic­u­lar. Now that the young str8 male movie-going audi­ence are so image con­scious and so keen to attract the eye, the man on the screen has to go the extra mile – and get up even earlier for even longer, harder workouts. Likewise as their audi­ence becomes ‘gayer’, they have to become even gayer or else end up look­ing Dad-ish. They have to push the envel­ope fur­ther and try harder than their male fans, or the boy­friends of their female fans, or else why should they be in the spotlight?

MG: What do you think of these actors/singers (Adam Levine) who look and dress and even move in a rather gay way? Is this the new masculinity?

Adam Levine looks and sounds like a singing David Beckham. With a bit of Marc Jacobs thrown in. But then Beckham is a kind of non-singing pop star.

What’s hap­pen­ing is that a kind of male bi-sensuality is becom­ing more and more the norm, both with young men and par­tic­u­larly with male per­formers, appro­pri­at­ing tastes and man­ners sens­ib­il­it­ies and sens­it­iv­it­ies that were pre­vi­ously pre­served for women and gay men – on pain of emas­cu­la­tion and ridicule.

Men increas­ingly want to present them­selves as avail­able for any fantasy, and respons­ive to both sexes – even and espe­cially when they’re het­ero­sexual. It’s a use­ful strategy for a ‘civil­ian’ in today’s medi­at­ised, mirrored world, but it’s an essen­tial one if you’re a performer.

Is this pos­sibly due to a fur­ther accept­ance of gay cul­ture in gen­eral? How did that hap­pen over time?

It’s partly due to a greater accept­ance of gay cul­ture. If homo­pho­bia is uncool, as it is for most young people in the US or UK today, then fear of ‘gay’ things also, even­tu­ally, becomes uncool.

But I would almost put it the other way around, homo­pho­bia has declined because today’s men are less afraid of them­selves than they used to be. Today’s straight men enjoy most of the same sexual prac­tises as gay men, though usu­ally with someone with a vagina, and have embraced gay men’s love of the male body too – though usu­ally their own body. Likewise, male passiv­ity is much less of a taboo than it was. The itchy throb of the pro­state gland is no respecter of sexual orientation.

Why would a gay magazine put a straight guy on the cover? Why would a straight guy do it?

Gay magazines put straight men on the cover because a) Their read­ers, how­ever much they may deny it some­times, really like to look at hot straight guys, and b) it gets them press: ‘You’ll never guess who’s in his pants on the cover of OUT magazine this month!!’. A gay guy on the cover of a gay magazine is not news. Of course, straight guys on the cover of gay magazines is hardly news any­more now that they’re all scratch­ing each other’s eyes out to get there.… Another reason why gay magazines do it is because it helps to make homo­pho­bia even un-cooler.

Why do straight celebs and sports­men do it? Because: a) They get pub­li­city, and b) They get kudos, and c), prob­ably the most import­ant, straight men nowadays love to be ‘gay icons’.

There is money and career points in hav­ing a ‘gay fol­low­ing’, to be sure, but I think the need for gay male approval goes deeper and is shared by a lot of young straight men today. It’s that desire to be desired thing again. Straight men ache to be sex objects – and what bet­ter way to be objec­ti­fied than by other men? Straight men know how demand­ing men’s eyes can be. How pen­et­rat­ing their ‘gaze’ is.

Even if you have no desire to ever have sex with another guy there’s noth­ing quite so sym­bol­ic­ally, deli­ciously ‘pass­ive’ as being oggled by other pen­ised human beings.

Is it con­fus­ing that we can’t tell who’s straight or who’s gay any­more? Is this a good thing?

It is very con­fus­ing. But con­fu­sion can be a good and lib­er­at­ing thing.

I think we’ve reached a point where straight men are so ‘gay’ nowadays that they’ve actu­ally become ‘straight act­ing’. Those beards that gays star­ted wear­ing back in the early Noughties to butch up have been adop­ted whole­sale by a lot of straight guys in the last few years, and for sim­ilar reas­ons. The dec­or­at­ive, imit­at­ive mach­ismo of the gay world has become the ‘real’ thing.

Likewise, the pleas­ur­ing and pleas­ured pneu­matic porno male body that Tom of Finland was dood­ling from his over­heated ima­gin­a­tion back in the 50s and 60s has become the dom­in­ant main­stream fantasy. The Situation and his real­ity TV ‘bros’ have Tom-ish bod­ies that invite and plead for the gayze.

But of course the big­ger pic­ture is that what we mean by ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ is really break­ing down into inco­her­ence. Which is troub­ling for both straight and gay tra­di­tion­al­ists. While you might think that gay men would all wel­come this glor­i­ous con­fu­sion some do find it very dis­con­cert­ing. And no one likes to be upstaged.

But in the end, the total tri­umph of met­ro­sexu­al­ity and male tarti­ness, ter­ri­fy­ing as it is, should prob­ably be seen as a lib­er­a­tion for straight men – and a bloody relief for gay men. After all, they no longer have to embody all the van­ity and tarti­ness of their entire sex just to keep straight men ‘normal’.

Magic Mike XXL: What It Tells Us About Modern Manhood

The Magic Mike movies are, truth be told, a bit of a nos­tal­gia trip. ‘Male strip­ping’ is actu­ally rather retro. It emerged as a phe­nomenon in the now impossibly innocent-looking 90s when the Chippendales and their orange muscles framed by bow ties, white cuffs and permed hair drove women wild – and Channing Tatum him­self was work­ing as a strip­per in Florida, before he became a Hollywood sex object.”

Yours mus­ing on today’s stripped-down stuffed-crotch mas­culin­ity in The Telegraph.

Keyless Entry & Male Versatility

“I call him lollipop”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FORD KEYLESS ENTRY

Where you keep your key is up to you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip: Hans Versluys