The world’s most perceptive writer about modern masculinity’

Is me, apparently.

I can’t really find it in me to disagree.

From the global trend-spotting/cool-hunting web­site Science of the Time:

Mark Simpson is prob­ably the world’s most per­cept­ive – and cer­tainly the wit­ti­est – writer about mod­ern mas­culin­ity. Mark Simpson has by far the sharpest mind when it comes to chan­ging mas­culin­it­ies. With a world­wide repu­ta­tion, a long story of excel­lence and many inter­na­tional pub­lic­a­tions he is simply world-wide leading.

Simpson Tops Arnie and Freud in GQ Spread

ms russian gq 2007 web Simpson Tops Arnie and Freud in GQ Spread

From this month’s GQ Russia.

My Russian is a little rusty, but I think the piece from this 50th anniversary of GQ issue is about ‘Forty Things That Changed Men’s Lives’.

I’ve no idea what GQ has to say about me, but all I care about is that:

  • there’s a scar­ily large pic­ture of me oiled-up pulling my pants down and
  • I’m ahead of, and much big­ger than, Sigmund Freud, Arnold Schwarzenegger and — this is really impress­ive — Biotherm Homme

I only wish I’d, err, trimmed a bit. Or worn some snug, designer, pos­sibly pad­ded, blind­ingly white underwear.

And had Freddie’s body and face. Or Beck’s air­brusher. (See below.)

MS Pic by Michele Martinoli

Sexual Outlaws: ‘Gay For Pay’ Paratroopers

ad1 Sexual Outlaws: Gay For Pay Paratroopers

This month’s Details magazine car­ries a let­ter (which Details strangely neg­lected to show to me) by vet­eran gay writer John Rechy, author of the cult 60s hust­ler nov­els ‘City of Night’ and ‘Numbers’, and the 70s plea for homo tol­er­ance ‘The Sexual Outlaw’ (books I enjoyed as teen­ager in the 80s). He takes issue with my recent story on the gay porn scan­dal involving the 82nd Airborne.

After agree­ing that it was wrong for the young enlis­ted para­troop­ers to be pun­ished so severely by the mighty US Army for what they did in their own time and with their own bod­ies – lit­er­ally out of uni­form – he gets to the main busi­ness of his letter:

…Simpson is entirely naïve when he upholds the absurdity that “straight” men who per­form – for pay or oth­er­wise – con­sen­sual gay sex are still straight, des­pite being aroused to the point of orgasm. This is strictly a lure by the cun­ning oper­at­ors of these sites to their gull­ible cli­ents who want to believe the fantasy. Those seven para­troop­ers should not have been pro­sec­uted, but they should not claim to be “straight” either. By doing so, they com­pound the dis­hon­esty of the whole situation.’

In other words, they shouldn’t be pun­ished for appear­ing in a gay video – but they deserve to be horse­whipped in the let­ters pages for their ‘dishonesty’.

I’m grate­ful to Rechy for cla­ri­fy­ing mat­ters. For years I’ve laboured under the naïve and absurd delu­sion that I was homo because I pre­ferred males. Now I real­ise my dis­hon­esty: how can I be homo? I’ve had sex with women! ‘To the point of orgasm’. And I wasn’t filmed. Or even paid.

It is per­haps too easy to make fun of his argu­ment. Lots of people have dif­fi­culty today accept­ing the idea that when two males have sex with another this does not neces­sar­ily mean that, before the spilled semen has even had time to cool, they have to book their own float at Pride. Once upon a Kinseyian time, prob­ably most male-on-male sex involved men who were oth­er­wise het­ero­sexual. In the 1940s Dr Sex fam­ously found that 37% of his inter­viewees admit­ted to sex ‘to orgasm’ with other males. (Though he was of course attacked for this find­ing by those who claimed he was entirely naïve and hadn’t inter­viewed enough ‘nor­mal’ men.)

As recently as the 1960s, a pan­icked British Navy called off an invest­ig­a­tion into homo­sexu­al­ity on Her Majesty’s ships because it was found that at least ’50% of the fleet have sinned homo­sexu­ally.’ Understandably, the author­it­ies hast­ily decided they would rather have a fleet than kick out every man who had ever engaged in spot of sod­omy, with or without the lash.

Though some gays seem unwill­ing to be as prag­matic or tol­er­ant as the 1960s Royal Navy. They seem, like Rechy, to want to press-gang any man who touches another man’s penis into the gay iden­tity. Or, as a fall­back pos­i­tion: ‘bisexual’ — in the sense of ‘nearly-gay’.

Obviously a pro­por­tion of Dink’s ActiveDuty mod­els must be gay or bisexual. After all, I appeared in an ActiveDuty video — and in fact not all of them are presen­ted as straight. And of course a cer­tain amount of scep­ti­cism is under­stand­able, advis­able even. And Dink him­self told me that he thought that quite a few of his mod­els were prob­ably ‘bi-curious’, and that iron­ic­ally, appear­ing in his videos for cash was for them a ‘safe’ way of explor­ing this.

But what is remark­able is just how reli­giously cer­tain Rechy et al are that these chaps can’t be straight. None of them.

My sense how­ever, as someone who has actu­ally met some of them — and per­formed with them — is that many if not most of them are prob­ably oth­er­wise het­ero­sexual. I can’t of course prove this, and per­haps it really is my gull­ible fantasy – but then neither can Rechy prove they’re not. And the onus of proof is with the pro­sec­u­tion. Besides, if you really do think that hav­ing sex with another male means you de facto can’t be straight, then you are effect­ively say­ing that any and all male-on-male sex auto­mat­ic­ally con­signs you into a sep­ar­ate, abnor­mal spe­cies of male.

Alas, male-on-male sex is not some magical, irres­ist­ible juju that robs hetero men of their pref­er­ence for pussy should they ever exper­i­ence it. Even when it’s me they have sex with (I like to think my dick is magical, but non­ethe­less…). For quite a few straight men, espe­cially those who aren’t schooled in bour­geois niceties, like the coun­try boys who become para­troop­ers, ‘cock fun’ is much less of a deal than it is for many gays. It’s just a naughty giggle. Or a quick way of earn­ing some cash. Something Rechy should know from his hust­ler nov­els — though as I recall they were usu­ally about hust­lers who thought they were straight but even­tu­ally real­ised that they were actu­ally John Rechy.

I sus­pect that part of the reason so many homos want to see straight guys hav­ing sex with one another — and will pay good money for it — is the para­dox­ical appeal of see­ing inno­cence ‘cor­rup­ted’, and cor­rup­tion rendered ‘inno­cent’. Straight gay porn, when it’s done right (and Dink seems to know exactly how), looks like a ful­fil­ment of the fantasy of much of gay porn: a care­free, smil­ing, laugh­ing, ras­cal­ish dis­cov­ery of mas­cu­line erotic pleas­ure — free of shame and pride, free in fact of ‘sexu­al­ity’. Tom of Finland draw­ings, pre 1970s, brought to life. Ironically, straight guys are some­times bet­ter able to embody the gay ideal than gays.

Speculation aside, the ‘bot­tom’, slightly coun­ter­intutive line here is that the fact that someone appeared in a gay porn video, even with an out­sized mem­brum virile in one or both of his ori­fices, doesn’t tell you what his sexual pref­er­ence is. All it tells you is that he appeared in a gay porn video. And per­haps that he can take it like a trooper.

As one of the para­trooper mod­els replied when con­fron­ted by a shell-shocked Fayetteville woman who’d recog­nised him on the ActiveDuty site demand­ing to know how he could have done such a thing:

It was no big deal,’ he replied lac­on­ic­ally. ‘And besides, I got paid.’

A per­fect response to the mil­it­ary, to offended/confused straights and gays alike. And to explan­a­tions in gen­eral. Foucault would have approved — even if it does some­what under­mine the need for three volumes of ‘A History of Sexuality’.

Salon vs Details: James Collard of The London Times speaks to editor Kerry Lauerman about his decision to spike Simpson’s ori­ginal piece because it was deemed ‘too risqué’ for Salon — two years before the Active Duty scan­dal became a major inter­na­tional story — and a major fea­ture in Details magazine. [link removed as page no longer active.]