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.

POSTSCRIPT 14/09/11

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-2_1958211b

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

Katie+and+Alex+in+Brighton

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’