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The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

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Tag: Steroids

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.

Chris Evans is Captain Cocktease

You know how everyone complains that the best bits of a movie are in the trailer these days? Well, in the case of the new super-hero blockbuster Captain America the ONLY bits are in the trailer.

But WHAT bits they are! At around c. 1.40 mins Chris Evans’ oiled bazookas burst out of the instant stud machine he’s been strapped into by the German-Jewish Frank-N-furter. Everyone’s jaw in the lab slaps the floor as the camera trolleys in for a worshipful close-up on those shiny, massive melons.

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Injected with gallons of steroids and popped in the gimp microwave the skinny nerd’s buns have risen, transforming him, not into an ultimate fighting machine but into the ultimate Men’s Health cover model. And in just a few moments instead of the several months it usually takes everyone else using gear — or the seven days that Charles Atlas promised. Isn’t this every boy’s metrosexy dream come true?

So I eagerly coughed up £8 to see more of his super tits last night. But I was robbed. Turns out that this is the only time Evans’ gets his tits out in the whole movie. What a con! What a TEASE!

What’s more, this scene comes very early on in the film, and is its climax — in every way. Unfortunately, there’s another hour or two to go, in which our hero tediously battles the evil Nazi bad guy, fully-clothed — and wearing that daft helmet. Desperately trying to prove he’s not, as Tommy Lee Jones’ hard-bitten old Colonel character dismisses him after he has done one too many propaganda shows, a ‘chorus girl’.

But he so IS a chorus girl. No one went to see Captain America because they wanted to see him throwing his stupid bouncing dustbin lid around (has there ever been a more rubbish super-power? Or a camper one?) Male, female, gay, straight, young, old, animal and vegetable they ALL went to see his TITS.

And I’m not even mentioning the terrible script, total lack of any plot – or credibility – the completely lifeless direction, and the terrible acting (Evans’ body may have been injected with steroids but his face seems to have been injected with Novocaine). It is, after all, a super-hero movie.

Towards the end of this very long, very disappointing, very chaste movie date, Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson in a dashing eye-patch, tells a defrosted Evans running around Times Square (finally levered into a nice tight t-shirt — but it’s much too little much too late): ‘You’ve been asleep for 70 years, Cap’n.’

‘YES!’ I felt like shouting at the screen in my local cinema, ‘AND SO HAVE WE!!’

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Sporno on Steroids

Now that’s what I call pushing back.

Taking the sporno trend to parts it hasn’t yet reached – and what parts! – while spreading the famous French ‘pro’ tartiness of the Dieux du Stade calendars to these shores, the latest ad campaign for Powerade’s ‘InnerGear’ isotonic sports drink features several UK pro rugger buggers in the buff snapped by the photographer Alan Clarke. Including, most spectacularly, most spherically, England Rugby Union Captain Steve Borthwick (above), keeping his spornographic end up for the Queen.  And nicely stuck out.

Once again, it seems that it isn’t just me who is undressing athletes with my eyes and giving them filthy directions. Advertising is doing it too. But unlike me, advertising can actually afford them.

But I’m not bitter. Honestly. I’m sure that Borthwick was rewarded handsomely by Coca Cola (who own Powerade) for his bare-faced cheek, but nevertheless he also deserves, as Julian Clary would put it, a warm hand on his entrance for his bravery. Apparently his mates have been giving him stick for it in the locker room: ‘It is one of the most daring shoots I’ve been involved in,’ he told the ladies and gentlemen of the press,  ‘but it has been loads of fun, even it it has given my team mates plenty of ammunition for changing room banter.’

I can’t help thinking though that the shoot would have been even more daring and fun if Borthwick had been portrayed, along with his bantering team mates, in an actual naked scrum instead of doing a muscular Marcel Marceau. For the purposes of realism, of course.

‘The InnerGear for an athlete – how we train, what we eat and drink – is as important as what we wear,’ says Borthwick, clearly reading here from Coca Cola’s script. ‘And it’s great that this campaign brings it to life’.

‘Gear’ of course is also the street name given to steroids, that hot commodity more and more rugby players these days often look as if they’re taking, mandatory drug-testing or no. According to various reports, increasing numbers of young men who aren’t athletes but who, like today’s sportsmen, also want to look like porn stars, are downing them like, well, soft drinks.

I’m sure Coca Cola chose the name ‘InnerGear’ for entirely innocent and pure reasons, and that none of their models would ever use banned substances, but if some young men think that by drinking an overpriced sugary-salty drink invested with magical, virile properties by advertising they’ll get buff instead of fat, and look as desirable as these pro athletes, that can surely only help sales.

Below, England International Paul Sackey and Welsh International Shane Williams who also feature in the InnerGear campaign, prove that really fit bubble-butts can fly. Williams, who looks a little like a Welsh statue of Eros with a rugby ball let loose instead of an arrow, also proves that really fit bubble-butts can arch and look over their shoulder at the same time.

It’s true that this public campaign, unlike the DDS calendars (which are for private consumption, after all), avoids frontal nudity, but then Freud thought that in dreams flying had a phallic symbolism.

So with InnerGear’s flying rugby buttocks you really can have both.

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The All-New, All-Tarty Gladiators

Contenders, ready! Gladiators, ready! Cross-Your-Heart male bra, ready!

It’s back. This weekend that naff 90s Saturday Night family entertainment staple Gladiators returns to British TV – though this time on sattelite and cable only.

A few, possibly superfluous, observations:

It looks a lot kinkier. It looks, in fact, like a suburban fetish party. Rather ‘dark’, with a lot of leather and rubber and a lot of porno pouting – and that’s just the guys.

The most popular male Gladiator, ‘Spartan’, wears a skirt.

Some of the men also seem to be wearing bras. It’s difficult not to wonder they’re a bit lacking in the tit department but have good abs, so they gave them something to cover up their saggy breasts or over-large nipples.

Or maybe, along with the skirt, it is just more evidence that the male body is now as packaged and fetishised, not to mention scrutinized, as the female variety – at least on Prime Time TV.

Actually, on the basis of the new Gladiators, you could argue that women are now held up to less exacting standards. The men are showing more flesh than the ladies – and their flesh is much more spectacular. Spartan’s abs aren’t really terribly useful, but they do look fantastic, so let’s have him hanging by his arms while the camera zooms in on them.

Either way, the Gladiators, male and female, with the exception of pigtailed Battleaxe who looks like she might actually be able to handle herself in a pub fight, seem less like super-heroes than a bunch of tarts.

But then, tarting’s what we want these days. Especially on family shows like Gladiators.

It’s a measure of how mainstream metrosexuality is now, how ‘normal’ it’s become, that even naff old Gladiators has been metrosexed up – ‘for all the family’. The original series was of course also a form of lycra-clad voyeurism, but with a It’s a Knockout/PE-teacher heartiness as fig-leaf. New Gladiators, on the other hand, like the brave/terrifying new metrosexual world we’re living in, isn’t the least bit shy and doesn’t need fig-leafs. Instead, we’re given skimpier outfits and flickering, lustful, wicked flames licking around their perfect bodies.

Sometimes the effect though can be very confusing. Atlas (left), with that long blond hair and sly wink he does on the website, looks less like Charles Atlas, than a cross between Popeye, Jessica Rabbit and Dick Emery. It used to be said that female bodybuilders looked like men in wigs – but looking at Atlas I can’t work out who or what is wearing the wig. Transexy time again.

Perhaps inevitably the trailer for the new series includes a pastiche of the hit 2000 film Gladiator, set in the Coliseum. Gladiators were slaves, commodities of worked-out human flesh that were bought and sold and pitted against one another in a life and death struggle by Roman showbiz at the point of a sword. Now though it’s done at the point of a TV contract. Who says civilization doesn’t advance?

Perhaps I’m reading too much in again, but to my eye this adds a layer of irony to the inclusion of several black Gladiators – in an attempt to update the format to reflect multi-racial Britain. Or perhaps simply to make it look more ‘exotic’ and saleable.

The muscliest gladiators meanwhile seem even musclier. Atlas and Destroyer look more impossibly massive than the big Gladiators of the Nineties series, such as Hunter and Wolf. The bar has, literally, been raised. Their shoulders in particular are vast – perhaps because since the 90s, partly down to the original Gladiators series, we’ve all got a personal fitness trainer – or are related to one. So they have to be EVEN BIGGER.

Or perhaps it’s because we’ve all got widescreen TVs now.

Somehow I don’t think it terribly likely the steroid ‘epidemic’ that drug agencies have warned is rampaging amongst young men today because they want a desirable body like the ones they see in the media will abate anytime soon.

 

Size Hero: How Steroids & Muscle Marys Conquered the World

Mark Simpson on how steroids got into our bloodstream and changed the shape of masculinity

(Guardian CIF, 6 Dec, 2007)

‘Roids may sound as Eighties as Cher’s black-lace bodice. But they’re baaak, even bigger and bustier than ever.

According to a series of recent reports, steroids, or ‘juice’ or ‘gear’ to the initiated, once an exotic drug of cheating athletes and freaky bodybuilders have entered the mainstream and have become just another lifestyle product for young men: some boys as young as 12 are reportedly taking the drug.

And this despite the frightening possible side-effects meticulously listed in these press reports, including liver, heart and kidney damage, atrophied testicles, erectile dysfunction, depression and raised aggression. (Though, arguably, you could also experience most of these simply by following Arsenal FC.)

The key to this mainstreaming of steroids is vanity. If you want to get into people’s bloodstream these days, promise to make them like what they see in the smoke-glass gym-mirror. According to the surveys, the large majority of young men using the gear are not doing so to be stronger or faster or scarier – all traditionally acceptable ‘masculine’ ambitions – but rather to look more attractive. To look shaggable. Or just make you look.

In other words, young men are taking steroids the way that many gay party boys have taken them for years: to look good on the beach or dance floor or webcam. ‘Muscle Marys’ – as they’re called by envious, less-muscular gays – are apparently no longer a strictly gay phenomenon. Muscle Marys are where masculinity is at, Mary.

It shouldn’t be so surprising. We don’t really need surveys to tell us this. It has, after all, happened right before our eyes. It’s the media that has mainlined steroids into the culture and our kids. Unlike, say, very skinny girls, very muscular boys are very popular. An anti ‘Size Hero’ campaign like that we’ve seen against Size Zero is somewhat unlikely. Steroids are an essential, prescribed even, part of the way that the male body has been farmed and packaged for our consumption since it was laid off at the factory and the shipyard in the 1980s.

A generation of young males have been reared on irresistibly – and frequently chemically – lean and muscular images of the male body in sport, advertising, magazines, movies and telly, even in the cartoons they watch and the computer games or toy dolls (or ‘action figures’) they play with. It seems all that’s left of masculinity in a post industrial, post paternal world, apart from a science-fiction-sized penis, or a right foot good enough to get you into the Premier League, is a hot bod. Men and women – but especially men – will give you kudos for that. So will people casting reality TV series.

Even Action Man (GI Joe in the US) is now a Muscle Mary. Perhaps because he’s only twelve inches tall, Action Man seems to have been hitting the ‘juice’ big time. He’s also got himself a nice deep all-over tan – to better show off his pumped muscles.

Since the 1960s his bicep measurements have more than doubled from a (scaled up) 12″ to 27″ and his chest from 44″ to 55″. His current ‘cut’ physique would be rather difficult to achieve just by eating corned-beef hash rations – especially since, as far as I’m aware, a portable plastic gym isn’t yet one of his basic accessories. In an example of life imitating art, or at least squaddies imitating dolls, steroid abuse by soldiers is increasingly common: US soldiers in Iraq have been caught ordering steroids online, and it was recently alleged that a sizeable proportion of Blackwater mercenaries are on ‘the gear’.

Muscle Marys aren’t just for Xmas – they’re also for High Office. Arnold ‘Commando’ Schwarzenegger, seven times Mr Olympia, who has admitted using industrial quantities of steroids since he was in his teens (though denies he takes them now) is today the walk-on-water Green Governator of California and Republican inspiration to David Cameron – after a successful Hollywood movie career playing an under-dressed heavily-muscled male masseur pretending to be an action hero. Quite an achievement when just walking without painful chafing must have been difficult.

Partly because of Arnie’s 80s ‘special effects’, Muscle Marys are de rigeur in the movies today – even in middle-age. The ageing star of a recent epic blockbuster whose career has largely been built on his six-pack was widely rumoured to have been on so much ‘gear’ trying to look ‘invincible’ that he frequently had to be stretchered off the set at the end of the day, poor love. Meanwhile ‘Comeback Kid’ Sylvester ‘Rocky’ Stallone (aged 60) was caught by Australian customs with several vials of his comeback secret earlier this year.

The ailing James Bond franchise successfully re-launched Bond and made him more attractive to younger viewers by reincarnating him in the pneumatic form of Daniel Craig – Bond became his own big-chested Bond Girl – and last year’s smash hit film ‘300′ featured ‘Spartans’ who looked less like ancient warriors than Muscle Marys at a Toga Party. Or the “juiced-up” professional wrestlers in Speedos that so many boys today have on their bedroom walls.

WWE wrestler Chris Benoit’s recent murder-suicide of his wife and child and intense media speculation about whether it was steroid-related (steroids were found at his house and his post mortem testosterone level was ten times normal) has caused a major scandal in the US. But it has been as obvious for many years that most of these guys were sprinkling more than sugar on their Cocoa Pops (and Benoit was actually relatively scrawny compared to some wrestlers).

That’s, after all, what people were looking at. What they were paying to see. Pro wrestling is showbusiness, and steroids are the business – at least when it comes to making spectacular bodies.

As a result of this and other recent steroid scandals in American football and baseball – including at High School level – a panic has emerged about the use of steroids by US athletes. But this has tended to obscure how mainstream steroids already are in the US and how, as in the UK, they’re principally (ab)used by non-athletes (only 6% of users played sports or considered themselves bodybuilders).

In the UK there have been calls to ban the sale of steroids online, crackdown harder on gyms selling them and educate young people about the dangers. Well, everyone is in favour of education, and no one is in favour of teens using steroids, but it’s unlikely that any of this will seriously reverse the Muscle Mary/Size Hero trend.

Steroids can’t be uninvented – or filtered out from the culture’s bloodstream. They’ve already changed the shape of masculinity. What’s more, unlike most if not all of the expensive supplements advertised in FHM, Men’s Health and Nuts as ‘muscle-builders’ and ‘fat-burners’, they actually work. And I know whereof I speak: I dabbled with the ‘juice’ myself as a callow youth. They certainly did what they said on the tin: I only stopped because they made me even spottier and angrier than I already was.

In an age when what’s authentically masculine is unclear, but what’s hot is as in-yer-face as a nice pair of pecs, injecting synthetic manliness, despite the possible risks to your actual man-bits, is not going out of fashion anytime soon. The only effective way to discourage their use will be to come up with a new generation of muscle-building drugs that work as well as steroids but have fewer side-effects. I’d certainly take them.

Steroids are the metrosexual hormone – they make men saleable and shaggable in an age that doesn’t have much idea what else to do with them.

This essay is collected in Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story

Copyright © 1994 - 2016 Mark Simpson All Rights Reserved.