Swing it Around Like You’re in a TV Commercial’

Mark Simpson on how Lynx grew up. And kissed a boy.

 “Swing it around like you’re in a TV commercial.”

I like this spunky new hair gel ‘Now can be amaz­ing’ ad from Lynx, cur­rently air­ing in Australia. Especially since it’s the per­fect anti­dote to the ball-shrivelling dreary para­noia of ads like this.

In fact, it’s prob­ably my favour­ite ad since Philips/Norelco ‘I’d F*ck Me’ where a young man play­fully chats him­self up in front of the bath­room mir­ror. Like the Philips ad this one isn’t afraid of its own shadow, and instead of mak­ing apo­lo­gies just embraces and cel­eb­rates male beauty and van­ity — and the spirit mak­ing the most of it while you have it.

More than this, it’s an ad which encour­ages young men to be any­thing that they want to be — to be ‘amaz­ing’. In much the same way that young women have been encour­aged for some time.

Hence the ‘Kiss the hot­test girl — or the hot­test boy’ moment. This is not, as has been pro­claimed by gay blogs, a ‘gay kiss’ so much as a bi-curious one, since it’s the same guy kiss­ing the girl and then the boy. Which is in keep­ing with what we might term the James Dean ethic of the ad — don’t go through life with ‘one hand tied behind your back’. Especially if it’s your best hand.

This is par­tic­u­larly impress­ive com­ing from Lynx (known as Axe in the US), a brand which is not usu­ally asso­ci­ated with pro­gress­ive advert­ising and in fact often asso­ci­ated instead with a hys­ter­ical het­ero­sexu­al­ity: ‘I only smell nice coz it attracts women and that proves I’m not gay, OK?’. (Though there have been sort-of excep­tions, such as this Axe ad star­ring Ben Affleck back in 2007.)

But then, I told Lynx all about their hys­ter­ical het­ero­sexu­al­ity and how dated it was in a world in which young men take male van­ity and self care for gran­ted — and aspire to be everything - when they con­tac­ted me last sum­mer ask­ing for my input into their re-branding. I’d com­pletely for­got­ten about this con­sulta­tion when I saw the ad, and just thought it was cool. I don’t know for sure whether my cri­tique made it into the brief for this ad, but it seems quite pos­sible I may have been admir­ing my own reflection.

Though being hon­est, I’m not entirely sure he’s really made the most of his hair with that bird’s nest look.…

From Metrosexual to Spornosexual — Two Decades of Male Deliciousness

In a devel­op­ment which will prob­ably have him run­ning to the mir­ror yet again to search anxiously for lines, this year the met­ro­sexual leaves his teens and turns 20.

How quickly your chil­dren grow up. Although it seems only yes­ter­day, I first wrote about him in 1994 after attend­ing an exhib­i­tion organ­ised by GQ magazine called “It’s a Man’s World”. I’d seen the future of mas­culin­ity and it was moisturised.’

Read my piece on the evol­u­tion of male van­ity at The Daily Telegraph

(And don’t worry, des­pite the alarm­ing head­line The Telegraph gave the piece, the metrosexual’s not really dead — just dead jealous.)

 

 

Meat the Spornosexual

The second gen­er­a­tion of met­ro­sexu­als are cum­ming. And this time it’s hardcore

Dan-Osborne-Spornosexual

by Mark Simpson

What is it about male hip­sters and their strange, pal­lid, highly ambi­val­ent fas­cin­a­tion with bod­ies beefier and sex­ier than their own? Which means, of course, pretty much everyone?

You may remem­ber last year that last year the Guardian colum­nist and TV presenter Charlton Brooker had a very messy bowel-evacuating panic attack over the self-sexualisation of the male body exhib­ited in real­ity show Geordie Shore.

Now the hip­ster bible Vice have run a long, pas­sion­ate – and some­times quite funny – com­plaint about today’s sexu­al­ised male body by a Brooker wan­nabe (and lookali­kee) titled ‘How sad young douchebags took over mod­ern Britain’.

At least the Vice writer isn’t in total denial. Brooker was so threatened by the brazen male hussies on Geordie Shore and the con­fu­sion their pumped, shaved ‘sex doll’ bod­ies, plucked eye­brows and pen­ises the size of a Sky remote pro­voked in him that the poor love had to pre­tend that they didn’t exist out­side of real­ity TV. That they were some kind of sci­ence fic­tion inven­ted to tor­ment and bewilder him and his nerdy body. Perhaps because he’s rather younger than Brooker, Mr Vice on the other hand has actu­ally noticed that these guys really do exist and are in fact pretty much every­where today, dipped in fake tan and designer tatts and ‘wear­ing’ plunging ‘heav­age’ condom-tight T-s.

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In a media world which largely ignores what’s happened to young men Mr Vice is to be com­men­ded that he’s clearly spent a great deal of time study­ing them. Albeit with a mix­ture of envy and desire, fear and loath­ing – and a large side order of self-contradiction and sexual confusion.

He laments that these ‘pumped, primed, ter­ri­fy­ingly sexu­al­ised high-street gigo­los’ have been impor­ted from America, but uses the exec­rable impor­ted Americanism ‘douchebag’ to describe them – over and over again. What’s a douchebag? Someone with big­ger arms than you, who’s get­ting more sex than you – and prob­ably earn­ing more than you, des­pite being con­sid­er­ably less expens­ively edu­cated than you.

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But by far the most infuri­at­ing thing about ‘sad young douchebags’ is that they are so very obvi­ously not sad at all. They and their shame­less, slutty bod­ies are hav­ing a whale of a time, thank you very much. They’re far too happy being ‘sad young douchebags’ to sit down and write lengthy, angry ration­al­ising essays about why someone else’s idea of a good time is WRONG. Or read one. Or read any­thing, in fact. Apart maybe from Men’s Health.

A strong smell of nos­tal­gia eman­ates from this Vice jeremiad, like a pickled onion burp. The writer laments a lost Eden of mas­cu­line cer­tain­ties and whinges that these young men with their sexu­al­ised ‘gym bunny wanker’ bod­ies have replaced older, more ‘authen­tic’ English mas­cu­line arche­types, ‘the charmer’, ‘the bit of rough’, ‘the sul­len thinker’ (which, I won­der, applies to him?) and that as a result:

Nobody wants to be Sean Connery any more. With their buff, waxed bod­ies and stu­pid hair­cuts, the mod­ern British douchebag looks more like a model from an Attitude chat­line ad than a poten­tial Bond.

Ah yes, Sean Connery – the former Mr Scotland gym bunny wanker ex chorus boy who wore a wig and fake tan in those glossy, slutty Bond films. Masculinity is never what it used to be. Even back in Ancient Greece every­one was whin­ing that real men went out of fash­ion with the Trojan War. And what’s so wrong with want­ing to look like an Attitude chat line ad, rather than a hired killer?

Oh, that’s right – coz it looks gay.

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All this moan­ing, along with the writer’s com­plaints that these buff young men are dis­ap­point­ingly ‘soft’, crap in a fight and don’t have nearly enough scars, reminds me of those gays on Grindr who stip­u­late in their pro­file ‘I like my men to be MEN!!’. Or the camp queens who over the years who have sol­emnly informed me: ‘If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s camp queens!!’ Actually, it reminds me of myself when I was much more hope­lessly romantic than I am today, and before I real­ised real men were really slutty.

There is noth­ing gayer than the long­ing for mas­cu­line cer­tain­ties like this. Especially since they never really exis­ted any­way. It’s like believ­ing that the phal­lus is the real thing and the penis is just a sym­bol. It’s Quentin Crisp’s Great Dark Man syn­drome, but sans the self-awareness, or the arch­ness and the henna.

In fact Mr Vice is so nos­tal­gic – and so young – that he seems to think met­ro­sexu­al­ity is some­thing prior to, dis­tinct from and more taste­ful than these sexed-up shame­lessly slutty male bod­ies that insist on grabbing his atten­tion, wist­fully con­trast­ing how the ‘nat­ural con­fid­ence’ of met­ro­sexu­al­ity ‘has been replaced by some­thing far more flag­rant’. Take it from metrodaddy, today’s flag­rantly sexu­al­ised male body is merely more met­ro­sexu­al­ity. More sexy, more tarty, more porny, more slapped in your face. So stop bitch­ing and suck on it. Metrosexuality has gone hard-core –the ‘sexu­al­ity’ part has gone ‘hyper’.

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The met­ro­sexual was born twenty years ago and had to struggle to sur­vive in an untucked ‘no-homo’ 1990s — but the second wave take the revolu­tion he brought about in mas­cu­line aes­thet­ics for gran­ted. Steeped in images of male desirab­il­ity from birth and mas­turb­at­ing furi­ously to hard-core online porn from puberty, they have totally sexed-up the male body and turbo-charged the male desire to be desired, which was always at the heart of met­ro­sexu­al­ity rather than expens­ive fash­ion spreads and fas­ti­di­ous lists of ‘dos and don’ts’. Their own bod­ies rather than clob­ber and cos­met­ics have become the ulti­mate access­ory, fash­ion­ing them at the gym into a hot com­mod­ity. Nakedly met­ro­sexy.

If we need to give this new gen­er­a­tion of hyper met­ro­sexu­als a name – other than total tarts – we should per­haps dub them sporno­sexu­als. These mostly straight-identified young men are happy to advert­ise, like an Attitude chat line, their love of the pornolised, sporting-spurting male body – par­tic­u­larly their own. Along with their very gen­er­ous avail­ab­il­ity to anyone’s gaze-graze. Especially at premium rates.

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And every­one is call­ing their num­ber. Though admit­tedly not many do it via the extremely kinky route of writ­ing long essays denoun­cing them and explain­ing why they’re TOTALLY NOT INTERESTED. Hipsters, who of course think them­selves above the vul­gar­ity of sex­i­ness, are simply the ironic, anti-sexual wing of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – which is to say, abso­lutely fuck­ing point­less.

It’s the obvi­ous, if often obli­vi­ous, visual bi-curiosity of today’s totally tarty, hyper met­ro­sexu­al­ity that alarms people even more than its ‘vul­gar­ity’. Male bisexu­al­ity is still largely a taboo pre­cisely because it threatens the final, fond, sac­red, and highly phal­lic myth of mas­culin­ity: that it has an (het­ero­norm­at­ive) ‘aim’ and ‘pur­pose’. The scat­ter­shot slut­ti­ness of sporno­sexu­als sig­nals a very sticky end to that virile delusion.

Mr Vice argues repeatedly that these young men enjoy­ing their bod­ies and their lack of inhib­i­tion com­pared to their fath­ers and grand­fath­ers, are hav­ing a ‘crisis of mas­culin­ity’. This just smacks of more middle class resent­ment dressed up as ‘con­cern’ – a pissy, pass­ive aggress­ive way of call­ing them ‘sad douchebags’ again. Or ‘gay’. When people talk about a ‘crisis of mas­culin­ity’ they’re usu­ally talk­ing about their own – in deal­ing with the fact that mas­culin­ity isn’t what they want it to be. And par­tic­u­larly when work­ing class chaps aren’t what middle class chaps want them to be.

It’s true that our post-industrial land­scape often doesn’t know what to do with the male body apart from shag it or sell it, but that’s not neces­sar­ily such a ter­rible con­trast with the ‘glor­i­ous’ past. For a younger gen­er­a­tion of young men no longer afraid of their own bod­ies there’s no crisis – but rather a lib­er­a­tion. From the dehu­man­ising, sex­ist con­straints of their fore­fath­ers. Men’s bod­ies are no longer simply instru­mental things – for fight­ing wars, extract­ing coal, build­ing ships, scor­ing goals, mak­ing babies and put­ting the rub­bish out that must renounce pleas­ure, van­ity, sen­su­al­ity and a really good fin­ger­ing and leave that to women and pooves.

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Instead the male body has been rad­ic­ally redesigned, with the help of some blue­prints from Tom of Finland, as a sen­sual sex toy designed to give and par­tic­u­larly to receive pleas­ure. Maybe it’s not ter­ribly heroic, and admit­tedly some of the tatts are really grotty, but there are much worse things to be. Such as a slut-shaming writer for a hip­ster magazine.

Of course, I would say that. Because I find these sporno­sexual, totally tarty young men fuck­able. But that’s kind of the point. They des­per­ately want to be found fuck­able. It would be extremely rude and ungrate­ful not to find them fuck­able when they have gone to so much trouble doing all those bubble-butt build­ing bar­bell lunges at the gym for me.

And in fuck­able fact, it’s their fuckab­il­ity which makes the unfuck­ables hate them so fuck­ing much.

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© Mark Simpson 2014

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story is avail­able on Kindle.

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Totally tarty Dan Osborne gifs from here - h/t DAKrolak

It’s a Queer World

Deviant Adventures in Pop Culture

Saint Morrissey

The acclaimed ‘psycho-bio’ of England’s most charm­ing – and alarm­ing – pop star.

Metrosexy

A bio­graphy of the metrosexual.

By his dad.

End of Gays?

What’s left of gay­ness when the homo­pho­bia stops?

Male Impersonators

The book that changed the way the world looks at men.

Sex Terror

This book will change the way you think about sex. It may even put you off it altogether.

Metrosexuality & the Selfie

Metrodaddy Mark Simpson was recently email inter­viewed by Beverly Parungao for a Sydney Morning Herald piece titled ‘Are Men Becoming Too Metrosexual?’ . Below are his unapo­lo­getic, uncir­cum­cised replies.

Narcissus in the age of the selfie

BP: What is driv­ing the met­ro­sexual movement?

MS: Self-love – and a cer­tain amount of self-loathing – is cer­tainly a power­ful dynamo.

But ulti­mately what we’re see­ing here is noth­ing less than a revolu­tion in mas­culin­ity in par­tic­u­lar and gender rela­tion­ships in general.

Metrosexuality isn’t about flip flops, facials or man­scara, or about men becom­ing ‘girly’ or ‘gay’ – it’s about men becom­ing everything. Everything that they want to be.

Why are men today more con­cerned with their appearance?

Because they’re worth it. As advert­ising has told women for dec­ades. Men make up c. 50% of the mar­ket­place and need to pull their weight in the shop­ping mall if con­sumer­ism is to sur­vive. They cer­tainly seem to have upped their game rather a lot in the last dec­ade or so.…

We’re also liv­ing in a cul­ture in which women have enthu­si­ast­ic­ally taken on pre­vi­ously ‘male’ pre­serves – from drink­ing pints to join­ing the world of work to actu­ally hav­ing orgasms. Men, espe­cially younger men who’ve grown up with all this as the norm, have worked out that they too can now appro­pri­ate products, prac­tises and pleas­ures once deemed ‘gay’ or ‘girly’ and there­fore out of bounds. The much greater accept­ance of gay people has also reduced the stigma asso­ci­ated with men step­ping out of their stereotype.

Most of all, we’re liv­ing in a visual, looking-glass cul­ture of selfies, Facebook, Twitter, real­ity TV and Men’s Health cov­ers. Metrosexuality rep­res­ents men’s adapt­a­tion to this new world order – men can’t just ‘act’ any more they have ‘appear’ too, to be looked at. To be noticed. To be a brand. To be wanted. Male van­ity isn’t empty and indul­gent – it’s a sur­vival strategy.

In our shiny, highly reflect­ive 21st Century the sexual divi­sion of look­ing has thor­oughly broken down, and men now ache to ‘objec­tify’ themselves.

Even and espe­cially sports­men who used to be the embod­i­ment of ‘blokes’ and ‘reg­u­lar guys’ who were sup­posed to be only con­cerned, ‘at the end of the day’, with ‘the team’ and ‘doing their job’, have become glossy, inked, pneu­matic sporno stars.

You might be for­given for think­ing a lad only plays foot­ball or rugby these days as a way of star­ring in those saucy ads for Armani under­wear and those tarty rugby and row­ing calendars.

Manscaping is one the rise, but so too is male cos­metic sur­gery (in Australia and America). Do you view this as trend as part of the met­ro­sexual movement?

Absolutely. The male body, once the last fron­tier of con­sumer­ism, has been totally com­mod­i­fied. Masculinity has been thor­oughly aes­thet­i­cized. I would add to the trend for cos­metic sur­gery and man­scap­ing man-bits the way that men uses tat­toos to shade and emphas­ise their worked-out muscles. The male body has become a liv­ing work of art.

Ironically the total ubi­quity of beards at the moment is proof of that. No longer a sec­ond­ary sexual char­ac­ter­istic or badge of bloke­dom they’re just another sweet male access­ory. Another way today’s chaps ask you to adore them.

Should women be con­cerned that the met­ro­sexual male is now mainstream?

They should cer­tainly get used to it!

Many women I know wel­come the fact that men nowadays are not only bet­ter turned out, more worked-out, sen­sual creatures who are rather bet­ter in bed as a res­ult – but also the fact they’re more inde­pend­ent. Self-maintaining. They might spend forever in the bath­room but they are much more likely to be able to oper­ate a cooker or wash­ing machine and even buy their own under­wear. Which is an advant­age in a job mar­ket where women might be work­ing while their part­ner is not – and where men might be stay­ing at home look­ing after the kids.

Though for some women, per­haps with more tra­di­tional ideas about sex roles and the ‘com­ple­ment­ar­ity’ of the sexes, adjust­ing to the new met­ro­sexual order could be dif­fi­cult. But then, a lot of chau­vin­istic men had trouble adjust­ing to the changes brought about by women’s lib.

In their quest to be desired have men become too sexy, too fem­in­ised and there­fore less desir­able to women?

You should prob­ably ask women about that.… Though women aren’t always com­pletely truth­ful in their answer to that ques­tion. Quite a few assert that they find a man who spends longer than them in the bath­room – which prob­ably means just as long as them – a total turn off. But then they go com­pletely bana­nas over a guy who clearly spends hours in the bath­room and every even­ing in the gym. Trust me, men have noticed this discrepancy!

The only hope for het­ero­sexu­al­ity is double ensuite bathrooms.

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story is avail­able from Amazon in Kindle form and also in physical/fondle form.

Selfie Narcissus image taken from here

Reset the Gaydar — Tom Daley’s Not Gay

Tom Daley showering

(Originally appeared on Guardian CiF, 11/09/13)

Tom Daley isn’t gay. But the bronze medal­list Olympic diver and presenter of celebrity Speedo show Splash! – recently voted ‘World’s Sexiest Man’ by the read­ers of gay mag Attitude – doesn’t mind if you think he is. Last week­end he told The Mirror:

I think it’s funny when people say I’m gay… I laugh it off,” says Tom… “I’m not. But even if I was, I wouldn’t be ashamed. It wouldn’t bother me in the slight­est what people thought.’

Quite a few gay pals of mine know bet­ter. Not because of any spe­cial ‘inside inform­a­tion’ gleaned from the gay grapev­ine mind, but simply because they ‘can tell’. Because they’ve seen him on telly they seem to know his sexual ori­ent­a­tion bet­ter than Daley does him­self. Maybe it’s because he smiles a lot, takes care over his appear­ance, is well-mannered and loves his mum. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t have a girl­friend at the moment.

But whatever the reason I sus­pect many of them might be rather less con­vinced – or inter­ested in express­ing an opin­ion at all – if Tom didn’t look hot in a pair of spec­tac­u­larly abbre­vi­ated swim­ming trunks.

This kind of gay insist­ence about Daley’s sexu­al­ity (and other pretty boys in the pub­lic eye, such as the Olympic gym­nast and Strictly star Louis Smith) isn’t mali­cious, in fact it’s meant very affec­tion­ately. But unlike Daley I’m not quite so inclined to laugh it off. In a sense it’s the ‘friendly fire’ ver­sion of the homo­phobic tweets Daley has exper­i­enced, and the bul­ly­ing which made him change schools. Unintentionally it rein­forces straight-and-narrow and increas­ingly obsol­ete ideas about what boys should and shouldn’t be – if they don’t con­form to that then they ‘must’ be gay. Though in the snug­gly sense of ‘one of us’ – rather than the phobic sense of ‘one of them’.

Perhaps, for the sake of argu­ment, des­pite what he actu­ally says Daley ‘really’ is gay, or bisexual. Perhaps he’s cur­rently kid­ding him­self, or us – or both. But so what if he is? He’s nine­teen. People should be pre­pared let Tom be Tom and not pro­ject their own past onto his present.

Although gay people – myself included – often pride them­selves on their ‘gay­dar’, their abil­ity to ‘spot’ another gay per­son, it’s a very impre­cise instru­ment and get­ting more so all the time. Now that the streets are awash with pretty, moussed, mois­tur­ised, gym-toned young men in pas­tel col­ours that look like they’re audi­tion­ing to be in One Direction – and who, like boy band stars don’t mind show­ing phys­ical affec­tion for one another – the poor old gay­dar is get­ting very jammed indeed. Perhaps it’s time to turn it off, or at least dial it down a bit. Particularly since Grindr is a much more accur­ate detec­tion system.

In a world where being gay – or look­ing gay – is no longer such a big deal, a world that gay people worked hard to bring about, per­haps we shouldn’t make such a big deal out whether someone ‘really’ is or isn’t any more. Especially if they’re as gen­er­ous with their fit body as Daley. (Who, by the way, was born the same year as the met­ro­sexual.)

Like many lads today Daley clearly loves to be looked at – and he has way of shower­ing after a dive in front of bil­lions that is, shall we say, very sen­sual. It’s part of the reason he wel­comes the gaze of gays. As he told The Mirror.

I can under­stand why I have a massive gay fol­low­ing – I spend most of my life half naked in trunks on a diving board show­ing off my bare chest.

I often joke I wear more to bed than I do to work.”

Being voted the sex­i­est guy in the world by a gay magazine (Daley’s aes­thetic daddy David Beckham was runner-up) might res­ult in your straight mates ‘gently tak­ing the mick’ as Daley reports, but in this age of rampant male tarti­ness, in which almost every straight male ath­lete that doesn’t look like the back end of a bus has been on the cover of a gay mag in their knick­ers, they’re prob­ably more than a tad jeal­ous too.

 

Update — Tom Daley Comes Out — As Happy