Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag ‘Studio’

grey Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag Studio

English (uned­ited) ver­sion of Q&A with Mark Simpson by Michele Masneri for Italian cul­tural  magazine Studio in which he talks about the Italian roots of sporno, the next stage of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – and the Silviosexual

What do you mean by the word “sporno”?

The place where sport and porn get into bed while Mr Armani takes pic­tures. Beckham and Ronaldo’s bul­ging pack­ets rammed down our throat on the sides of buses. Dolce & Gabbana hanging around the Italian foot­ball team’s locker room. That kind of thing. So once again we mostly have Italia to thank.

Metrosexuality, the male desire to be desired, has become so nor­mal now that it’s pretty much taken for gran­ted. So in order to get noticed you have to go hard­core – and prom­ise the view­ing pub­lic a gang-bang in the showers. Hence sporno.

grey Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag Studio

Is Italy the most met­ro­sexual country?

In a sense the wave of met­ro­sexu­al­ity that swept the globe in the last dec­ade or so was really just the rest of the world catch­ing up with Italia and becom­ing a little bit more Italian.

Male nar­ciss­ism is at the heart of met­ro­sexu­al­ity – and in Italy unlike in the Anglo world this has never really been prop­erly repressed. Italy, home of Michelangelo, Marcello Mastroianni and Dolce & Gabbana, never ser­i­ously pre­ten­ded that ‘beauty’ was a word that couldn’t sit along­side ‘male’, and pat its well-formed knee.

In Italy, par­tic­u­larly Southern Italy, young men often have an almost swishy but entirely assured way of walk­ing that few Anglos can ever hope to match. And if we try, it just ends up a silly sashay.

Nonetheless, I think full-throated met­ro­sexu­al­ity does break down tra­di­tional or offi­cial ideas about the sexual divi­sion of lov­ing and look­ing even in Italy by under­min­ing mach­ismo and ‘out­ing’ the queer­ness of it all. The way that women look at men and men look at other men – and how men get very turned on by all the attention.

Do you know the Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne? 

Mark Simpson: I’m afraid I had to look him up. Are you sure he’s Italian? He looks like Jeremy Clarkson’s dad. Do you think he has a ward­robe at home with 365 identical shape­less jump­ers and shirts?

Hummersexuals are guys who over-emphasise their mas­culin­ity with ‘manly’ accessor­ies in a way that makes you won­der what they’re cov­er­ing up. Retrosexuals are merely pre-metrosexual.

Sergio seems more ret­ro­sexual than hum­mer­sexual. Partly because Fiat cars aren’t ter­ribly pop­u­lar with the US mil­it­ary or Hollywood action her­oes  – too small and ‘faggy’, I expect – but mostly because he reminds me of my old chem­istry teacher.

And how about former Prime Minister Berlusconi?

He’s quite some­thing, that Berlusconi! But at least, as he keeps remind­ing us, he’s not queer. Even if he does look like a drag queen.

I don’t think any of the cat­egor­ies really fit Silvio. He’s far too spe­cial. He’s in a cat­egory all of his own. Silviosexual.

Mind you, his old chum Tony Blair, our former PM and rock star man­qué, shared the same drag queen smile. But ulti­mately Silvio is a reminder to an Anglo like me of the mys­ter­ies of ‘mach­ismo’. How some­thing so camp can ima­gine itself some­thing so butch.

Perhaps we need to go way back in time to loc­ate Berlusconi’s painted, dyed, stretched, ter­ri­fy­ingly cos­metic look. Back to the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.…

grey Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag Studio

Is David Beckham still the epi­tome of the metrosexual?

Yes, albeit the age­ing met­ro­sexual. In English we have an expres­sion, ‘mut­ton dressed as lamb’.… But then there are lots of men his age and older who also don’t want to give up their sex-object status – so they look to him for inspir­a­tion. Though he’ll have to offer them some­thing a lot sex­ier than those daggy H&M pants and vests he came up with recently.

Beckham’s met­ro­sexual crown has of course been usurped by younger, pret­tier play­ers such as Cristiano Ronaldo – who also fam­ously stole his Armani undies. At the same time you have a new gen­er­a­tion of tarty male real­ity TV stars, such as Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and his ‘gym tan laun­dry’ metro man­tra from Jersey Shore. And at the movies you have stars like Tom Hardy, with those pouty, Brando-esque lips, muscles and his openly admit­ted bi-curious past telling us ‘Don’t be a afraid to dream a little big­ger, darling.’

grey Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag Studio

Is met­ro­sexy the “next stage” of met­ro­sexu­al­ity? The word ‘met­ro­sexual’ was born in the Nineties. What happened to male nar­ciss­ism since then?

Funnily enough Justin Bieber was born the same year as the met­ro­sexual. They’re both sweet sev­en­teen. In other words, met­ro­sexu­al­ity is still wait­ing for its voice to drop.

That said, men’s nar­ciss­ism has become much so main­stream and accep­ted in the last dec­ade or so, to the point where it is often taken for gran­ted, espe­cially by the younger gen­er­a­tion who has grown up with it. Hence the word itself is likely to become defunct at some point in the not too dis­tant future. To some extent Metrosexy is about a post met­ro­sexual world.

However, there are still reaction-formations and kinky back­lashes against met­ro­sexu­al­ity, par­tic­u­larly in the US which, because of a pas­sion­ately Protestant his­tory and an equally pas­sion­ate denial about its own scream­ing gay­ness, con­tin­ues to work out her issues. E.g. those hummersexuals.…

Essentially ‘met­ro­sexy’ is the tarty male sens­ib­il­ity that met­ro­sexu­als have injec­ted into the cul­ture. Metrosexuality has gone from being a ‘type’ – ‘the met­ro­sexual’ –  to be spot­ted and poin­ted at, to being a per­vas­ive ‘feel­ing’. A way of see­ing and being seen.

Also, a glance at the news­stand, the bill­board, the TV, and the queue at the bus stop tells us that with many young men the desire to be desired and embody male beauty has taken an increas­ingly phys­ical, sen­sual form: their lov­ingly, painstak­ingly sculp­ted and shaved muscles and their elab­or­ate, expens­ive designer tattoos.

Following the cues of sporno, many seem to aspire to be sexual ath­letes. Hustlers. Porn stars.

What’s the rela­tion­ship between hip­ster­ism and metrosexuality?

Although most hip­sters would prob­ably rather die than admit it, hip­ster­ism is a form of met­ro­sexu­al­ity. But a very middle-class and ener­vated – or ‘ironic’ – one. It’s pat­ently nar­ciss­istic, but usu­ally regards the body and ‘sex­i­ness’ as ‘vul­gar’. Which it is of course – if you’re lucky.

What’s the “gay bomb”, Abercrombie & Fitch or American Apparel or Apple?

Abercrombie & Fitch were per­haps the det­on­ator – Apple and iPhones were the explo­sion. iPhones are of course the ulti­mate van­ity product – they’re really MEphones. The app that comes gratis with every smart­phone is dumb self-obsession. And they’re also a great way to take a pic­ture of your­self top­less in the gym chan­ging room mir­rors to upload to Facebook, or per­haps a more ‘dis­crete’ ‘social network’…

Are the social net­works, i.e. Facebook and espe­cially Twitter, a form of a sub­lim­ated metrosexuality?

Inasmuch as they’re all about MEEEEEE! yes. They’re where people com­pete for atten­tion and try to turn them­selves into brands and com­mod­it­ies and mar­ket them­selves, a hall­mark of metrosexuality.

In the case of Facebook, often the met­ro­sexu­al­ity isn’t even very sub­lim­ated. Young men can and do upload hun­dreds of top­less pic­tures of them­selves, appar­ently audi­tion­ing for that Men’s Health cover.

You’ve writ­ten that “in some ways Obama is the first US President to be his own First Lady.” Is there any met­ro­sexy can­did­ate in the Republican party?

Not in the cur­rent line-up of hope­fuls. Though Mitt Romney does look like a man­nequin in the win­dow of a par­tic­u­larly bor­ing depart­ment store.

Aaron Schock on the other hand, the Republican Congressman who stripped off for Men’s Health magazine pos­it­ively drips met­ro­sex­i­ness – for a politi­cian. He’ll prob­ably end up President one day. Him or Justin Bieber.…

grey Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag Studio

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy is avail­able for down­load from Amazon.

grey Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag Studio

 

 

Sporno Gallery

I’ve added an eye-popping gal­lery of sporno to the met­ro­sexy Facebook page here. (It’s a lot easier on FB than on WordPress.)

Alas, due to the lim­it­a­tions of the format there are no illus­tra­tions in the e-book — aside from David Williams lyr­ical shower scene on the cover. Metrosexy is 70,000 words long but doesn’t say nearly as much as the but­tocks below.…

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Henry Finally Throws in the Towel

Much-loved British heavy­weight boxer Henry Cooper died this week.

Unborn in 1963, the year he nearly defeated Cassius Clay (the Brits love near-winners much more than win­ners), I remem­ber him for the curi­ous Brut TV com­mer­cials he did in the 1970s that helped usher in the world of male product aisles in super­mar­kets and spor­no­graphic advert­ising we know today.

Enery’s ‘omely fea­tures and work­ing class man’s man status, along with the ironic play on Brut/brute, guar­an­teed that there was noth­ing poofy about men using cologne as more than just an after­shave — ‘splash it on all ovah!’ Which was an import­ant state­ment for one of the first mass mar­ket male colognes to make at a time when such van­ites were gen­er­ally still frowned upon in the rather pongy UK. In the Dick Emery, Are You Being Served? 1970s it was incon­ceiv­able that ‘enery could be ‘omo.

But the ‘omoso­cial reas­sur­ance that some­thing isn’t ‘omo can look a lot like ‘omo­sexu­al­ity sometimes.

Here’s one of the hap­pily mar­ried Henry hav­ing a sweaty workout, shower and towel-flicking sesh with foot­baller Kevin Keegan. Which is manly man’s man stuff, but with a sur­pris­ingly pro­nounced (intergen­er­a­tional) homo­erotic sub-text. The fact I still vividly remem­ber it from my youth sug­gests that the sub-text was there all along, and not just some­thing the filthy-minded 21st Century has pro­jec­ted on the past.

It even seems like they’re about to kiss at one point. But then, in the 1970s foot­ballers did this to one another after scor­ing. Because again, it was incon­ceiv­able that they could be ‘omo.

Thirty years on, it’s hardly a sur­prise that Brut is no longer trail­blaz­ing. Brut, which was never exactly a ‘refined’ fra­grance, is mar­keted in the US today as a slightly ironic ret­ro­sexual throwback.

Though maybe I’m mis­taken. Perhaps the ret­ro­sexual at the end of the ad below is really a butch lesbian.

 

 

Tarty Armani’s Latest Sporno Spunk

grey Tarty Armanis Latest Sporno Spunk

Paolo Rumi in Milano sends this snap of Armani’s latest sporno star, ten­nis player Rafael Nadal, kindly offer­ing his giant but pertly ath­letic arse to pass­ers by in Armani’s hometown.

In the early Noughties I described the exhib­i­tion­ism of met­ro­sexu­al­ity as ‘lit­er­ally ask­ing to be fucked’. I’m sure people thought I was being absurd and vul­gar again. I was, of course.  But I was also on the money (shot).

The Daily Mail taste­fully describes this saucy image of the world’s No.1 ten­nis player half-naked, bent over and look­ing implor­ingly at the cam­era over his shoulder as ‘con­fid­ent’. Which is reas­sur­ingly mas­cu­line sound­ing enough for their read­ers I sup­pose. While per­haps imply­ing ‘spunky’. But let’s not pre­tend that this image is summed up by any other word other than ‘coquet­tish’. Coquettish with knobs on. And in. It could be an image straight out of a Dieux du Stade cal­en­dar (minus the jeans).

It isn’t just the fact that a half-naked Rafael is appar­ently offer­ing him­self on a prop from a porno movie set (‘Builders’ Big Erections’). It’s the smoothly invit­ing, defence­less mus­cu­lature of his prone shoulders and back. And the small of his back before the tempt­ing swell­ing bubble of his butt filling out the product so allur­ingly. Along with that ‘come on big boy’ expres­sion on his flirty face — which added all together shouts out: WANT ME!

As with much of sporno the dynamic of the image is the delib­er­ate pro­voca­tion of an ath­lete who lives by ‘mas­cu­line’ ‘activ­ity’ flaunt­ing his flag­rant ‘fem­in­ine’ ‘passiv­ity’ to the world. And in case any­one refuses to get the mes­sage, Armani are, in this cam­paign, sim­ul­tan­eously run­ning an image of a slightly boy­ish look­ing tat­tooed Megan Fox in the same pose. Lovely as it is, it doesn’t have quite the same charge as the Nadal snap, and in fact seems to have been designed to merely draw more atten­tion to the tarti­ness of Nadal’s pose.

grey Tarty Armanis Latest Sporno Spunk

Male tarti­ness, once con­sidered per­verse and unnat­ural is a very big very global busi­ness these days. Or as Paolo put it in his email to me with the pic attached of Rafael spread all over the wall in Milano: ‘the homo­sexu­al­iz­a­tion of het­ero­sexu­al­ity is complete’.

grey Tarty Armanis Latest Sporno Spunk