Mr ‘Thing’: Pejic and his Prophet

All truly beau­ti­ful things are a mix­ture of mas­cu­line and fem­in­ine.’ So said the late Susan Sontag. And she would know.

I’ve only just read a recent pro­file of the tran­sexy Serbian model Andrej Pejic in The New Yorker called, with only a soupçon of hyper­bole, ‘The Prettiest Boy in the World’.

Pejic, who some­times mod­els women’s fash­ion, some­times men’s (though guess which gets more atten­tion), is the chap mem­or­ably described by US FHM in a widely-reported hissy fit as a ‘thing’ that prompts them to ‘pass the sick bucket’ — des­pite his pop­ular­ity with their own read­ers. And more recently as a ‘creature’ and ‘a fake’ and sym­bol of ‘abject miso­gyny’ by out­raged female colum­nists cit­ing him as the ‘final proof’ that they were right all along, that high fash­ion is run by an evil gay paedo con­spir­acy against women that wants to do away with ladies alto­gether and replace them with ‘young boys’.

Though per­haps the out­raged fem­in­ists of both left and right should wel­come Pejic with gar­lands since he means that women can finally opt out of the fatal gay embrace of high fash­ion alto­gether and leave the gays and their Ganymedes to it.…

Whatever Pejic does or doesn’t sym­bol­ise about the world of high fash­ion it seems to me that he and the scandale sur­round­ing him def­in­itely, dra­mat­ic­ally per­son­i­fies some­thing that is going on in the wider cul­ture that fem­in­ists, along with every­one else, are often far less keen to notice.

The way that in the last couple of dec­ades the male body has become ‘objec­ti­fied’ in main­stream media as much as the female vari­ety. The way that ‘beauty’ and ‘pret­ti­ness’ is no longer the sole pre­serve of women. The way that glossy magazines with men’s air­brushed tits on the cover have become the most pop­u­lar kind — with men. (Which lends a spe­cial irony to the ban­ning of a mag that fea­tured a top­less Pejic on the cover by Barnes & Noble — they knew Pejic is male, and don’t ban top­less males, only females, but were wor­ried the image ‘might con­fuse their cus­tom­ers’.)

And the way that col­ours, clothes, accessor­ies, products, prac­tises and desires pre­vi­ously thought ‘fem­in­ine’ have been greed­ily taken up by men  – and often re-labelled ‘manly’ in a way that only suc­ceeds in unwit­tingly sat­ir­ising the very concept of ‘mas­cu­line’ and ‘fem­in­ine’, ‘man’ and ‘woman’.

The way, in other words, that gender is undress­ing itself. Or at least, teas­ing us with an elbow-length glove or two and an unhooked bra-strap.

In the NYT pro­file ‘It’, alias Pejic says he’s largely indif­fer­ent to gender. For him, it isn’t about being a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’ it’s about being true to his own tastes, to him­self. Though he seems to have few illu­sions about how he is being used and pos­sibly exploited by the fash­ion industry:

It’s not like, ‘Okay, today I want to look like a man, or today I want to look like a woman,’ ” he says. “I want to look like me. It just so hap­pens that some of the things I like are feminine.”

I know people want me to sort of defend myself, to sit here and be like, ‘I’m a boy, but I wear makeup some­times.’ But, you know, to me, it doesn’t really mat­ter. I don’t really have that sort of strong gender identity—I identify as what I am. The fact that people are using it for cre­at­ive or mar­ket­ing pur­poses, it’s just kind of like hav­ing a skill and using it to earn money.”

I identify as what I am.

How very dare he! No won­der people rush to call him ‘it’ and ‘thing’.…

Pejic has been described, usu­ally deris­ively, as a ‘gender bender’. Which is inter­est­ing because, while I’ve not seen it poin­ted out, there does seem to be some visual and and philo­soph­ical par­al­lels with the ‘gender bender’ of my youth, the preter­nat­ur­ally pretty Brit pop­ster Marilyn, alias Peter Robinson. Who was, for a few moments in the early 80s the most beau­ti­ful boy — or girl — in the world.

Marilyn, 1980s

A Bowie fan with an obses­sion with a dead blonde American act­ress, Marilyn became the king-queen of the Blitz Set, fam­ously describ­ing him­self as “Tarzan and Jane rolled into one” – in addi­tion to the 1960s Hollywood star­let (dread-locked) glam­our, he spor­ted impress­ive shoulders which would have made it rather dif­fi­cult for him to model women’s fash­ion, or most men’s high fash­ion for that matter.

Marilyn denied want­ing to change sex, or being a trans­vest­ite, he just knew what he liked — and used words that sound very sim­ilar to Pejic’s today:

I’ve never taken much notice of gender. How you can take the same bit of cloth and cut it one way and it’s ‘for men’ and another way and it’s ‘for women’? If it looks nice I’m gonna wear it!”

A favour­ite tar­get of the Brit tabloids, who seemed to get sexu­ally aroused by the phrase ‘gender bender’, using it repeatedly, his pop career was a per­fect, orgas­mic explo­sion that was over before it began — after an infam­ously sul­try appear­ance on Top of The Pops in 1984pro­mot­ing his second single ‘Cry and be Free’. Giving good pouty face and flash­ing his mus­cu­lar arms in a glit­tery top Madonna would have hes­it­ated to wear, a nation gasped and the single sank without a trace.

The 1980s hast­ily decided it wasn’t ready for Marilyn or real gender bend­ing, or indeed sex — Marilyn’s whole per­sona shouted SEX!!!! — and instead opted for the safe, Mumsy charm of his Blitz Club chum and kabuki pale imit­ator Boy George, who didn’t really bend gender so much as tickle its tummy a bit. And make it a nice cup of tea.

Nearly thirty years on, des­pite Pejic’s unpop­ular­ity with some fem­in­ists and the closet-cases who write for US FHM, 1980s Marilyn and his shame­less, shin­ing desire to be desired looks more like a glam­or­ous prophet, pre­par­ing the way for the met­ro­sexy 21st Century.


Justin Bieber likes to wear women’s jeans:

I’ve worn women’s jeans before because they fit me. It’s not a trend; it’s just, whatever works, works.”…

Bieber was respond­ing to a ques­tion about Kanye West’s decision to wear a women’s sweater. “It wasn’t (so he’d) look like a woman in a sweater; it was just a reg­u­lar sweater that happened to be a woman’s.”


Shane Warne Comes Out Looking Pretty

Remember the Australian crick­eter Shane Warne? Remember how blokey and beery and one of the care­free lads he was? A proper man’s man? Well, he’s only gone and been snared by a posh Pommy Sheila who’s turned him into a bloody pooftah!

Or at least this was the drift of today’s Telegraph art­icle about him, snap­pily titled: ‘Shane Warne’s remark­able trans­form­a­tion at the hands of girl­friend Liz Hurley con­tin­ues’:

During his years as a fam­ous Aussie crick­eter, Warne had declined to take much of an interest in his physique or appear­ance, except for the odd foray into blond hair dye and hair “renewal”. If he grew slightly over­weight thanks to too much beer and too many meat pies, it didn’t seem to worry him.

But it seems those days are over.

Since he met and star­ted dat­ing Hurley, he has morphed into an alto­gether more soph­ist­ic­ated creature.

Gone is the bad dye job and spiky hair. Gone is the pot belly. Gone are the train­ers and high-street tracksuits.

These days Warne seems to be styl­ing him­self, or being styled, on a cross between James Bond and a Ken doll.

Thanks to the atten­tions of Hurley he says that he has lost 22lb and feels bet­ter than he has in years. He appears to have had his eye­brows reshaped and has even admit­ted to using mois­tur­ising cream, defi­antly pro­claim­ing: “Yes, I’m still a man”.

Warne, nos­ing into middle-age at 41, is a late­comer to the met­ro­sexual party, but he appears to be mak­ing up for lost time. For what it’s worth, I’m not sure his look is exactly work­ing for me, but it seems to be work­ing for him and that’s rather more import­ant. After all, he ‘feels bet­ter than he has in years’.

But note how this is all ‘at the hands of’ Hurley. How he is ‘being styled on a cross between James Bond and a Ken Doll.’ Hurley in other words is play­ing dressy-uppy with her new boy toy. Who might pro­claim he’s ‘still a man’, but we know he’s been tamed, and spayed and turned all girly by Hurley.

We’ve been here before. A sim­ilar sort of thing was said about David Beckham when he mar­ried Posh Spice (and not just by Sir Alex Ferguson). The wicked witch had ensnared the fresh-faced Manchester United foot­baller and then, with the help of her gay chums, had drugged him with hair­spray and turned him into the sarong-wearing sissy that paraded in front of the world’s media.

A dec­ade on, I think now most people accept that Becks is the way he is because Becks wants to be the way he is. He chose Posh as much as she chose him — prob­ably because he wanted to be the biggest Spice Girl in the world. If so, he succeeded.

Warne isn’t going to chal­lenge Becks for his metro crown any time soon, but he has obvi­ously decided to pret­tify him­self con­sid­er­ably. So much so that to some ret­ro­sexual die-hards it must almost look like a sex change (‘Yes, I’m still a man.’).

But Warne seems to enjoy feel­ing pretty. Maybe Hurley appealed to him pre­cisely because she knew all the right styl­ists. So he could become the beau­ti­ful met­ro­sexual but­ter­fly the roly-poly crick­eter was try­ing to turn into all along.

Being a blokey bloke isn’t neces­sar­ily about being care­free. It can be about caring much too much what other blokey blokes might say. Perhaps this new glam­or­ous, svelte Shane Warne is the ‘real’ one, rather than an inau­thentic, Girly-Hurley-confected fake that The Telegraph et al sug­gest he is.

In the end, con­trary to the way the media often likes to present it, met­ro­sexu­al­ity isn’t so much about men sub­missively pleas­ing women as men pleas­ing them­selves.

Which, it seems, is the scary part.


Long Live Lady Gaga and The McQueen

Until last year I thought pop was a com­pletely spent force.  Oh, there were some nice bands around with nice tunes and some nice hair­cuts, but pop as a total art form was pooped.  Along with pop cul­ture.  It was just another Facebook app.

And then along came the New York songwriter-turned-singer that the press loves to dub ‘bizarre’.  2009 was indubit­ably The Year of Gaga, and not just because she had a string of block­buster inter­na­tional hits, but because they were the instantly unmis­tak­able product of a ‘kooky’ young woman who is actu­ally com­pletely in con­trol of her work and vis­ion.  And her own aes­thetic.  Hence per­haps the wishful-thinking sight­ings of a penis.  This chick doesn’t need a dick — she has a real one.

Last night at the Brits (where she per­formed acous­tic ver­sions of ‘Telephone’ and ‘Dance in the Dark’, styled by Miss Haversham salut­ing Marie Antoinette ) she won a rare three gongs.  She deserved much more.  And a much longer set.  (It was rumoured to have been cut down by anxious Brits pro­du­cers because she kept chan­ging her plans.)

Gaga has, almost single-handedly, resur­rec­ted main­stream, High Street pop music — or at least made it seem like it’s alive again.  She’s even made post­mod­ern­ism seem almost… mod­ern again.  That she does it with a look and start­ling pop promos that play so enter­tain­ingly with the deathly, gar­ish icon­o­graphy of fash­ion and con­tem­por­ary celebrity cul­ture is all the more remark­able.  Yes it’s a kind of gal­vanic motion — those promos often look like Helmut Newton zom­bie  flicks — but boy, this is shock­ing fun.  Besides, that’s the nature of the twitching/tweeting human sub­ject in a medi­ated, hyper-consumerist age.

Sorry to go on, but Gaga man­ages to be truly pop, and yet is a true artist.  She churns out crowd-pleasing dance-floor tracks that stomp on the com­pet­i­tion, but there’s also a win­some mel­an­choly and vul­ner­ab­il­ity behind the… Poker Face.

Some hasten to men­tion the ‘M’ word to put Gaga in her place.  But aside from moments of hil­ari­ous bril­liance such as ‘Like a Virgin’ and ‘Vogue’ I was never much of a Madonna fan, even before she found the Kabala and I’m-not-Gay Ritchie.  Maybe it’s early-onset demen­tia, but I feel dif­fer­ently about Gaga.  Rather than see her as a Madonna knock-off, I see her as a more fully-realised Madonna.  She’s the Madonna Madonna wanted us to take her for (and legions of gays did).

And it’s not as if Gaga doesn’t pay homage.  ‘Dance in the Dark’, which Gaga per­formed at the Brits, is prob­ably my favour­ite track from The Fame.  It’s very 1980s HiNRG — with a talky bridge that is a touch­ing trib­ute to Madge’s Vogue.  It’s actu­ally gayer than Vogue, which is quite some­thing.  You can almost smell the pop­pers.  And I don’t even like poppers.

Gaga, a ded­ic­ated fol­lower of fash­ion, ded­ic­ated her Brits per­form­ance to her friend Alexander McQueen, who died last week.  I don’t like eulo­gies, but I did rate his work.  He was a genu­inely free spirit, a gay bohemian of the kind that almost died out in the 1980s (and which Gaga is clearly inspired by).  That he seems to have taken his own life sug­gests that it wasn’t easy fight­ing his­tory, or fash­ion houses.

I never met Lee, but we did have a flirty fax cor­res­pond­ence in the late 1990s when I was still in my thirties.  His open­ing gam­bit was ‘we met once in DTPM a couple of years ago’.  DTPM was a London gay techno club where all the muscle boys went and took off their shirts and downed masses of drugs, dan­cing the night away, so of course I should have met him at DTPM — and for­got­ten about it.  But I never did because I never went there.  Or any­where, really.

In the course of our thermal-paper cor­res­pond­ence (which I think I still have some­where, now fad­ing away into blank­ness)  he asked me, in a hand­writ­ten scrawl on Givenchy headed note­pa­per, to marry him. I don’t know how ser­i­ous he was, but I declined, point­ing out I wasn’t really the mar­ry­ing kind.  This was true, but it was even truer that he wasn’t really my type.  Which is a sad reflec­tion on me, and per­haps on male homo­sexu­al­ity.  I sus­pect Lee was often told by gay men he wasn’t ‘their type’.

Either way, I could have done much, much worse.  And of course, I did.

Celebrity Big Brother UK Drags It Up For The Final Season

C4 have been run­ning this rather clever new cross-dressing Renault Twingo Sport ad heav­ily dur­ing Celebrity Big Brother ad breaks.

Could this have any­thing to do with the fact that Alex Reid, Jordan’s tran­sexy cage-fighting beefy boy­friend, is one of the house-mates this year? And rap­idly steal­ing the show, des­pite being the tabloids’ whip­ping boy and the way he was loudly booed when he entered the House.

The Twingo ad is quite a depar­ture for a car com­mer­cial, espe­cially one for a sporty hot hatch aimed at young men.  Jeremy Clarkson must be pulling what’s left of his 1970s dad hair out.

Instead of dis­play­ing shame, shock, anger or embar­rass­ment at being humi­li­ated in front of his mates the hot-hatch met­ro­sexual son sees his father’s cross dress­ing as an oppor­tun­ity to be socially exploited: ‘Dad?  Can you get us in?’.  We live in mod­ern times indeed.

So it’s been enter­tain­ing to watch dino­saurs in the Big Brother House like Vinnie Jones give Alex pseudo fath­erly ‘advice’ — which boils down to: ‘Don’t ‘ave any­fin’ to do wiv any of that fackin’ queer stuff, my son.’  If you want to be a washed-up bit part actor-thug with sphinc­ter cramp, that is.

I lit­er­ally spilt my tea last week when Vinnie announced, after get­ting up sharp­ish and mov­ing, backs-against-the-wall-stylee, right to the other side of the room when Alex volun­teered he was ‘try-sexual’: ‘I wouldn’t be in a movie wiv you if they paid me five mil­lion quid!’

Well Vinnie sweetie, you are in a movie with Alex already — it’s called CBB and you did it, accord­ing to reports, for just 350,000.

Alex, bless him, looked crest­fal­len, but then almost all of them, includ­ing former Madam Heidi Fleiss, the one with pro­lapsed lips, were lin­ing up to have a go at him for being ‘con­fused’. Translation: inter­est­ing.  Let’s hope they don’t suc­ceed in straight­en­ing him out.

House rule-book mem­or­ising Vinnie is play­ing CBB dad, but a very bad one — with badly dyed hair.  He’s so jeal­ous of Alex you can taste it.  He’s jeal­ous of his youth, his hair, his looks, his tits, and jeal­ous of his cross-dressing, or at least his lack of hang-ups about it. He’s also threatened by Alex’s real as opposed to ‘Guy Ritchie’ fight­ing ability.

Most enter­tain­ingly of all ‘Hard Man’ Vin is shap­ing up to be a major gos­sip­ing bitch — cross-dressing Alex by con­trast mostly keeps his tongue in his head and hangs onto his sense of fun.  Vinnie knows Alex is his main threat, in every sense: that’s why he keeps need­ling him and nom­in­at­ing him. He’d make a great Blakey in any remake of On The Buses.

But the bad CBB dads don’t end there.  Mega-swish Stephen Baldwin, who puts me in mind of the crazy camp ‘Begone foul demons!!’ preacher on the make in There Will Be Blood, is com­pletely obsessed with Alex, spend­ing scads of time and energy try­ing to seduce him — into the ways of Je-sus!– with flat­tery, love-bombing, back mas­sages, men­tal­ist preach­ing, and lots and lots of inap­pro­pri­ate eye-contact dur­ing end­less shaggy dog ser­mons.  Stephen, who clearly doesn’t know his par­able from his allegory, thinks he’s ‘help­ing’ Alex and show­ing him and us the view­ers at home the revealed truth of the Holy Book he likes to thump so much and his own super­ior, saved status, but is in fact just mak­ing a very con­vin­cing case for American evan­gel­ism being sub­lim­ated — or rather con­gealed — homoerotics.

Alex is too nice a bloke to tell him to piss off.  Besides, he likes atten­tion — and I sus­pect he knows that The Conversion of Alex just gets him more cam­era time.

I haven’t really watched CBB, or BB, since Pete Burns’ legendary appear­ance on it a few years back as a mis­chiev­ous, some­times down­right malevol­ent, Eastern pagan god­dess with a scouse accent.  Nor have many other people, which is why C4 isn’t renew­ing the fran­chise with Endemol.  But this final CBB is shap­ing up to be almost as good.

And I haven’t even men­tioned Stephanie Beacham and Ivana Trump.…

Transexy Alex Reid


Yesterday’s Daily Star tells us, in a news item that seems to be full of invis­ible exclam­a­tion marks, that ‘The hunky cage-fighting lover of sexy Kate Price is a secret cross-dresser called Roxanne{!!!}.’

Muscleman Alex Reid, 34, has had the dual iden­tity through­out his adult life.  As Roxanne he wears full make-up, women’s clothes, wigs and high heels and even alters his voice to make him sound like a woman{!!!}. He also snaps at any­one who calls him Alex while he is in his female character{!!!!!}.

Well, can you blame him?  If I went to all that trouble to model myself on a Sting single about a loose lady put­ting on the red light and people still called me bor­ing old ‘Mark’, I’d be a bit sharp too.

His fam­ily are said to be relaxed about his double life and girl­friend Kate, alias Jordan, 31, is stick­ing by him. Yesterday she even admit­ted: “I find it really horny.”

Yes, it cer­tainly has a sexy pub­li­city angle to it.…

She is so accept­ing of his Roxanne role that she bought him dozens of pairs of size 10 stilet­tos on a recent shop­ping trip{!!!}

Despite the relaxed atti­tudes of Price and fam­ily, there are quite a few dis­s­ap­poin­ted punters out there.  Many of them tran­nies.  It was Michelle, my male-to-female tranny friend and former male strip­per called Stud-U-Like, for­war­ded me this story - in dis­gust.  Sometimes tran­nies have the greatest faith in mas­culin­ity, des­pite know­ing its weak­nesses very intim­ately.  But then, I sup­pose that’s what faith is.  And besides, it’s always a bitch when tranny-fuckers turn tranny.

I’m not much of a believer myself.  Not in these medi­ated, met­ro­sexual days of male slut­tery.  Besides, I don’t really mind strap­ping lads in basques who want to be high-heeled sluts.  I’m just not sure where I’m going to get the energy to deal with them all{!!!!}.

And regard­less of whether or not ‘Roxanne’ really exists, for some time I’ve looked at those ubi­quit­ous pic­tures of of Alex and Kate going shop­ping and thought: Your beefy new boy­friend is bor­row­ing your bronzer and is even more aroused by large lenses than you.  In other words: it’s a per­fect match.  For all that cage-fighting cabbage-eared muscle­man shtick - which looked as hyper-real as Price’s boobs - he seemed even more like a MTM tran­sexual than her pre­vi­ous part­ner Peter ‘Abs’ Andre (who of course is no longer a MTM, but a MTJW: male-to-jilted-wife).

Besides, it’s all so inev­it­able.  I wrote an essay for Out magazine last year, partly inspired by my friend Michelle’s tran­stastic jour­ney from Stud-U-Like to Chick-U-Love, about how we’re all going tran­sexy:

Looking around at our sexu­ally trans­par­ent, stimulated-simulated, implanted-imploding, cam-fun-anyone? world, it’s dif­fi­cult not to con­clude that most of us are going tranny but without the, er, balls to actu­ally change sex or even prop­erly cross-dress. We’re all becom­ing male-to–male and female-to–female trans­sexu­als: tran­sexy.

Nice to know that at least one tran­sexy male celeb has the balls to prop­erly cross dress.  But I guess if you’re a cage fighter then people are more likely to remem­ber to call you ‘Roxanne’.  And not laugh.  At least, not in front of you.

Or else this might hap­pen.

Tip: Michelle

Madonna and Guy — An Old Fashioned Celeb Couple

guy1903.jpgMadonna inter­viewed with this month’s Elle magazine, excerp­ted this week in the Daily Mail under the head­line ‘My amaz­ing sex-life’. Apparently hubby Guy has encour­aged her to be more feminine.

Madge said: “I think I’ve been hon­ing and fin­ess­ing my fem­in­ine side. I’ve always been very com­fort­able with my mas­cu­line side — the con­fid­ence, the ball­si­ness. I’ve learnt to be more pli­ant, more vul­ner­able — and to be com­fort­able with that.“‘

I know it’s rude to quote your­self, espe­cially in pub­lic, but it does remind me of some­thing I wrote for this month’s Out magazine about tran­sexy celebs who are oblit­er­at­ing sexual dif­fer­ence with botox:

Even when a celebrity couple, like Maddy and Guy, act out a reas­ser­tion of tra­di­tional roles, it only serves as par­ody. When Madonna brags about her mock­ney gang­ster groupie hus­band boss­ing her about, it only serves to make it clear that Guy is the English nanny whose duties include hav­ing to pre­tend to dom­in­ate Madonna seven or eight times a week.’

But what, I won­der, was Guy say­ing when the pic (left) was snapped?

Given this story from last year about Madonna’s sex toy gift for him, per­haps it was: “The strap-on was that big I couldn’t get my hand around it!”

Transexy Time!

Mitch (now Michelle) as the male strip­per Stud-U-Like (1980s)
Mark Simpson on why we’re all going trans­sexual — but without the balls to actu­ally change sex

 (Out magazine, March 2008)


How do you turn a penis into a vagina?

It’s not as dif­fi­cult from a med­ical point of view as you might think. Yes, it involves some rather del­ic­ate major sur­gery and the risk of all kinds of ghastly com­plic­a­tions. Nobody under­takes such a pro­ject lightly. But — and I know this will come as a dis­ap­point­ment to many — male and female gen­italia are, ana­tom­ic­ally speak­ing, suf­fi­ciently alike to make the pro­ced­ure rel­at­ively straight­for­ward. Essentially, the penis is turned inside out, inver­ted, and placed inside a cav­ity tun­nelled out of the lower abdomen.

Michelle (formerly Mitch/Stud-U-Like) c.2009

Or as my good friend Michelle, a post-op MTF trans­sexual (pic­tured above), joked with typ­ical tact: “I’m now shag­ging myself 24/7 — and don’t even need to buy myself dinner!”

Michelle is a very spe­cial lady. Not because she turned her penis into a vagina, but because back in the early 1990s she was a sexy male strip­per on ster­oids called “Stud-U-Like” (see kinky Santa snap at the top of the page) whose tat­tooed muscles and XL penis were the toast of hen nights and gay bars up and down the U.K. But one day Mitch, who had always had gender iden­tity issues, decided that des­pite the whoops and wolf whistles, the whole boy thing wasn’t work­ing for him. Mitch became Michelle, stopped tak­ing ster­oids, and star­ted tak­ing female hor­mones instead — becom­ing with the aid of hair exten­sions and dan­ger­ous crash-dieting even sex­ier than Mitch. After liv­ing as a woman for a while, she finally said good­bye to the last of Mitch, i.e. her nine-inch chop­per, and had the Op. Breaking the heart of many a gay man.

Operation Pussycat,” as she dubbed it, was for­tu­nately a total suc­cess. “I now have a 7.5-inch punani!” Michelle declared proudly while recov­er­ing in the hos­pital the Day After. “And in about six months, Mark, with use it will stretch to the full nine inches I had when I was a man!”

More like a month in your case, dear,” I quipped.

Michelle pursed her lips (the old pair).

Michelle’s trans-tastic voy­age, from Stud-U-Like to Chick-U-Love, turned out to be eer­ily proph­etic. She her­self has adjus­ted well to her life as a woman with large breasts, but I’m not so sure about the rest of us.

Looking around at our sexu­ally trans­par­ent, stimulated-simulated, implanted-imploding cam-fun-anyone? world, it’s dif­fi­cult not to con­clude that most of us are going tranny but without the, er, balls to actu­ally change sex or even prop­erly cross-dress. We’re all becom­ing male-to-male and female-to-female trans­sexu­als: tran­sexy.

Male and female cre­ated He them” — but now He’s watch­ing His handi­work rush down to the cos­metic sur­geon for a nip and tuck, liposuc­tion, rhi­no­plasty, pec and but­tock and calf implants, breast reduc­tion, breast enlarge­ment, penis exten­sions and girth widen­ing, vaginal tight­en­ing, revir­gin­a­tion, six-pack etch­ing, and labial and scro­tum reduc­tion. All in all, He must be feel­ing a little bit miffed.

It’s not enough, you see, to be male or female any more. You have to both embody and go bey­ond sex. You have to turn your­self inside out. We’re all becom­ing… Pamela Anderson. Which is nice, but we don’t all have the legs for it.

pamela_anderson-photo-sexy.jpgTransexy is not quite the same thing as andro­gyny — which, in addi­tion to David Bowie being enig­mat­ic­ally fey in a spangly 1970s leo­tard to a glam-rock soundtrack, means a mix­ture of mas­cu­line and fem­in­ine char­ac­ter­ist­ics. Androgyny can be actu­ally quite affirm­ing of sexual dif­fer­ence. Transexy, because it’s obsessed with trans­par­ency, tran­scends mas­cu­line and fem­in­ine and oblit­er­ates sexual dif­fer­ence — even and espe­cially when it’s try­ing oh, so-hard not to look androgynous.

Let me give you a very hairy example. Newsweek recently repor­ted the case of “George,” a 6-foot-3 man “with chiseled pecs and a bushy beard” who “seemed like a model of man­li­ness.” Yet two years ago the 47-year-old decided he didn’t look quite macho enough. “So he had 3,000 hair follicles ripped from his scalp and trans­planted into his face, chest, and belly.” He still wasn’t sat­is­fied. So a year later he returned to get an addi­tional 2,400 grafts done. “‘I could still have another sur­gery and not be com­pletely covered,’ says George today. ‘I’m very pleased, but 2,400 grafts is not a very hairy chest.’”

A little bird tells me George is never going to be sat­is­fied. After all, what is a very hairy chest? Once you start obsess­ing about such things, there’s no end to this.

And, boy, have we have star­ted. Says Newsweek: “George’s quest for max­imum hir­sute­ness isn’t as unusual as it may sound. He’s part of a grow­ing group of ‘ret­ro­sexu­als,’ men who shun metrosexuality…in favor of old-school mas­culin­ity.” The art­icle also cites an increase in the num­ber of men ask­ing sur­geons for “man­lier” chins and noses as fur­ther evid­ence of the so-called “rise of retrosexuality.”

Since when did “old-school mas­culin­ity” per­sist­ently per­ceive itself as chron­ic­ally lack­ing in male­ness and obsess over its phys­ical appear­ance, and since when did “old-school” men resort to repeated pain­ful and costly cos­metic sur­gery of ques­tion­able effect to make them­selves more attract­ive, more worthy of love — more “manly”?

It’s a meas­ure of how totally tran­sexy we’ve become that sur­gic­ally fix­ated MTM Pammy-trannys are seen as “ret­ro­sexual” by Newsweek. Like last year’s men­dacious “menais­sance,” with all those prissy-missy lists of manly dos and don’ts, this is just Fight Club the Musical (which by the way is com­ing to tap-dance and gush and bray on Broadway soon — no, really).

But why not? This after all is a gen­er­a­tion of men on hor­mones: hun­dreds of thou­sands are tak­ing ster­oids, accord­ing to recent reports. Most of them not cir­cuit party queens. Not only do base­ball play­ers appar­ently now need to take them to be base­ball play­ers, and high school foot­ball play­ers to be high school foot­ball play­ers, but also ordin­ary nonathletic, non-body-building men need to take them to be nonathletic non-body-building men. (Only 6% of ster­oid abusers in the United States play sports or con­sider them­selves body builders.)

vindieselbigmh9.jpgThe vast major­ity of males tak­ing “the juice” are not doing so to be stronger or faster or scar­ier, all tra­di­tion­ally mas­cu­line ambi­tions, but simply to look more attract­ive in the gym, on the dance floor, at the beach, or in their online pro­files — to look, in other words, like male strip­pers: Stud-U-Like. Or what is much the same thing, Vin Diesel.

But ster­oids, like tran­sex­i­ness itself, can have a para­dox­ical effect. In addi­tion to testicle shrink­age and erectile prob­lems, in large doses they can turn into estro­gen in the body, which causes “bitch tits” and female fat dis­tri­bu­tion: Stud-U-Like into Chick-U-Love. Perhaps this is why Sylvester Stallone looks more and more like his mother, Jackie. Given his recent ster­oid scan­dals, the tagline for his new Rambo movie, “Heroes never die…they just reload,” prob­ably refers to syr­inges rather than ammunition.

paris_hilton_03.jpgThe world of celebrit­ies is of course tran­sexy with knobs and knock­ers on. This is really the whole point of celebs — and the reason we’re so inter­ested in them. They’re what we would be if we had the time and money and could be bothered. Celebrities are the per­sonal fit­ness instruct­ors of post­sexual iden­tity: inspir­a­tional and motiv­a­tional and very shouty. Women such as Paris and Nicole are ads for tran­sex­i­ness — not because they look like skinny boys with smacked lips hold­ing water bal­loons, which of course they do, but because they look like women who have had all sorts of costly, pain­ful, and occa­sion­ally risky pro­ced­ures — to look, in fact, like Woman. They are all, like sex in the digital age, cop­ies of an ori­ginal that doesn’t exist. The ques­tion we con­tinu­ally ask of celebs is, How can we be like you? How can we copy your copy of sex?

Attacks on fash­ion design­ers for their unreal and unhealthy ideals of fem­in­ine beauty some­what miss the point that fash­ion is fash­ion. The fash­ion world, for all its dic­tat­orial ges­tures, only reflects cul­ture — or what is the same thing these days, what cul­ture aspires to be.

tom-cruise-top-gun.jpgCelebrity males are, of course, at least as tran­sexy as the women. Tom Cruise, still the biggest Hollywood box-office draw des­pite jump­ing the chat-show sofa, is a pint-size all-American action hero who is the abso­lute epi­tome of arti­fice. After 22 years he’s still play­ing his Top Gun char­ac­ter, Maverick (and the Scientologists appear to have his por­trait in their attic). The tagline on the posters for the Missy Impossible movies should read, “Can you spot the weave?” Weaved or not, Cruise’s zoom­ing nar­ciss­ism always out­guns his lead­ing ladies.

As Tom’s multimillion-dollar smile shows, male and female nowadays mean exactly the same thing: a raven­ous, ruth­less desire to be desired. And they both have the num­ber of the same plastic sur­geon. Sexual dif­fer­ence has been replaced by sexu­al­ized com­pet­i­tion. As with Blu-ray and DVD HD, there’s not much to choose between the formats: One has more stor­age space, the other has a bet­ter inter­face. That’s pretty much it.

Put, say, a pic­ture of Nicole Kidman next to ex-hubby Tom, and you’ll see what I mean. Can you really say that these two people are oppos­ite sexes? Or even dif­fer­ent sexes? Or put a pic­ture of her next to Keith Urban and watch them blur into one. it’s no won­der these two ended up together. After all, they seem to be shar­ing the same stylist.

keith-urban-nicole-kidman.jpgNo won­der Sharon Stone recently announced that she is sick of men who “act like women” and claimed she’d rather be romanced by a “mas­cu­line lady. It is dif­fi­cult to have a rela­tion­ship because I like men in that old-fashioned way,” she sighed. “I like mas­culin­ity, and in truth only women do that now.” So true, Sharon, so true. My TS mate Michelle, who is also an old-fashioned girl at heart, agrees with you com­pletely. She’s really fed up with the first thing straight blokes ask after she tells them her little secret being: “Will you fuck me??” Having been through all that trouble to have your large penis turned into a vagina, it’s a tad annoy­ing to have to go out and buy a selec­tion of strap-ons.

I sus­pect Sharon’s been watch­ing that show Entourage, in which a group of young men from blue-collar back­grounds behave like Sex and the City women, only more super­fi­cial. The Entourage gen­er­a­tion of men lives to shop and to be looked at and aspires to be noth­ing more than trophy-man wives. “Hug it out, bitch,” is the motto of tran­sexy men everywhere.

artdemiashtongi.jpgSpeaking of trophy man-wives, take a look at today’s celebrity couples. Actually, don’t even look; just say their names: Demi and Ashton, Jen and Marc, Angelina and Brad, Maddy and Guy. None of these couples even sounds remotely man-and-wifey. They resemble — you can look now — ana­tom­ic­ally incor­rect kids’ toys. Where is sexual dif­fer­ence here? In the drag-king stub­bly beards that the sack-and-crack-waxed toy-boys wear to emphas­ize their Timberlakian ador­ab­il­ity? No won­der these celeb couples end up being called two-headed single names like Brangelina or TomKat: flesh of my undif­fer­en­ti­ated flesh.

Even when a celebrity couple, like Maddy and Guy, act out a reas­ser­tion of tra­di­tional roles, it only serves as par­ody. When Madonna brags about her mock­ney gang­ster groupie hus­band boss­ing her about, it only serves to make it clear that Guy is the English nanny whose duties include hav­ing to pre­tend to dom­in­ate Madonna seven or eight times a week.

posh-becks-w-magazine-02.jpgBut none can com­pare, of course, with the ulti­mate tran­sexy couple: Victoria Adams and David Beckham. Somehow, Posh and Becks’s extraordin­ary appear­ance becomes, daily, more hero­ic­ally arti­fi­cial — per­haps because they seem to embrace their tran­sex­i­ness com­pletely, per­form­ing it shame­lessly to the hilt in fash­ion shoots in which they sim­u­late tran­sexy sex (which is, by defin­i­tion, sim­u­lated anyway).

If a record­ing of Posh and Becks hav­ing sex at home were to make its way onto the inter­net, as it has done with Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, or Paris Hilton and Rick Salomon, it prob­ably wouldn’t test the server’s band­width much. Not because their naked angu­lar­ity might be uncom­fort­able to watch, but because there’s noth­ing more to see.

Porn has become the celeb sens­ib­il­ity because porn lit­er­ally makes sex trans­par­ent. By cease­lessly ‘show­ing’ sexual dif­fer­ence and turn­ing it inside out, straight porn over­ex­poses it, along with het­ero­sexu­al­ity — and turns it tran­sexy. Most female porn stars these days look like Pamela Anderson — did they copy her, or did she copy them? Or was it both? Meanwhile les­bi­an­ism and sod­omy, i.e. non penile-vaginal sex, are pretty much de rigueur in ‘straight’ porn. On the rare occa­sions penile-vaginal sex actu­ally occurs, it’s usu­ally either in the form of a man lying flat on his back while a woman bounces up and down on him (fuck­ing him or giv­ing him a vaginal blow job) or a flo­tilla of science-fiction-sized pen­ises on one vagina.

Which reminds me, the male mod­els in straight porn are no longer the pen­ises attached to fat hairy fucks of yore but increas­ingly resemble those in gay porn; they are get­ting younger and more attract­ive, and their bod­ies are shaved and more worked out, and the cam­era won’t shy from show­ing this off. Or so I’ve heard.…

Meanwhile, some­thing inter­est­ing — at last! — seems to be hap­pen­ing in the world of gay porn. Perhaps inspired by Michelle’s jour­ney, an impress­ively hung young model called Stonie — who bizar­rely also played Borat’s son in the Sacha Baron Cohen movie — is now tak­ing female hor­mones. He’s already had breast implants and has changed his name to Brittany Coxxx (though for now she’s hanging onto her cockkk). And apart from the slightly hexagonal breast implants, she looks rather hot.

The curi­ous thing, though, is that s/he also looks even more like a gay-porn star now than s/he did before.

As Borat, per­haps the last true ret­ro­sexual left, might say: “Transexy time!”

Copyright Mark Simpson 2008

Special thanks to Michelle and Donald K and also the late great Jean Baudrillard, who shuffled off his vir­tual coil last year.


This essay is col­lec­ted in ‘Metrosexy: a 21st cen­tury self-love story’