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


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

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.]