Male Impersonators

grey Male Impersonators

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

Why is body­build­ing a form of trans­sex­u­al­ism? What do foot­ball and anal sex have in com­mon? Why is Top Gun such a flam­ingly ‘gay’ movie? Why is male van­ity such a hot com­mod­ity? And why oh why do Marky Mark’s pants keep fall­ing down?

In his influ­en­tial first book Male Imper­son­ators, first pub­lished in 1994, Mark Simp­son argues for the vital cen­tral­ity of homo­eroti­cism and nar­cis­sism in any under­stand­ing of the fraught phe­nom­e­non of mod­ern mas­culin­ity. A highly pen­e­trat­ing, tick­lish but always seri­ous exam­i­na­tion of what hap­pens to men when they become ‘objec­ti­fied’.

From porn to shav­ing adverts, rock and roll to war movies, drag to lads’ nights out, Male Imper­son­ators offers wit and reader-friendly the­ory in equal mea­sure in a review of the great­est show on Earth – the per­for­mance of masculinity.


On male strippers…‘

The myth of male strip­ping mes­merises pre­cisely because it con­tra­dicts itself with every dis­carded item… No mat­ter how freak­ish his gen­i­tal attrib­utes, no mat­ter how craft­ily engorged and arranged with rings and elas­tic bands, no mat­ter how fran­ti­cally it is waved and wag­gled, the stripper’s penis, once naked, never lives up to the prom­ise of the phal­lus: the cli­mac­tic finale of the strip is… an anti-climax.’

On Elvis…

The world does not need a ‘gay Elvis’, for the orig­i­nal, with his black leather suit, pomaded pom­padour, come-fuck-me eyes and radi­ant nar­cis­sism, was quite queer enough.’

On porn stars…

Visu­ally, Jeff Stryker resem­bles noth­ing so much as an illus­tra­tion of the human ner­vous sys­tem in a med­ical text­book where the size of each region and append­age rep­re­sented is related to the num­ber of nerve end­ings. Thus Jeff on-screen is remem­bered as a huge face, a vast pair of hands (all the bet­ter to grab and slap ass with) and grot­esquely out­sized genitalia.’

grey Male Impersonators

Simp­son pulls the pants off pop­u­lar cul­ture and wit­tily winks at the Freudian sym­bols lurk­ing beneath.’ (FOUR STARS OUT OF FOUR) – The Mod­ern Review

This set of high-spirited essays dis­plays more insight into the mas­cu­line mys­tique than has the dec­ade of earn­est men’s stud­ies that pre­ceded it. Simp­son has an unerr­ing eye for the inner logic and pre­tences of a wide range of mas­cu­line enter­prises and sym­bols. This is queer the­ory without the jar­gon and is a must for any­one inter­ested in things male. General and  aca­demic read­ers at all levels.’ – Choices

What is hap­pen­ing when men and their sex­u­al­i­ties become the focus of the camera’s gaze? Mark Simpson’s bril­liant, witty, up-to-the-minute analy­sis shat­ters com­pla­cen­cies, old and new.’ – Alan Sin­field, Uni­ver­sity of Sussex

Mark Simp­son detects and dis­sects the myths of mach­ismo and its atten­dant media cir­cus with refresh­ing gusto and wit.’  – John Ashbery

It’s not only women who don’t have the phal­lus – men don’t have it either – just the inad­e­quate penis! This book cheered me up with the reminder that when it gets down to it, both sexes are just great pre­tenders.’ – Lor­raine Gamman

Like me this book plays with men. Provoca­tive, irrev­er­ent, acer­bic and witty, it offers one gigan­tic intel­lec­tual orgasm after another.’  – Margi Clarke

A brilliantly-positioned array of fire­crack­ers, ele­phant traps and banana skins designed to trick con­ven­tional male­ness into show­ing it’s true hand, or some extrem­ity. Simpson capers like Robin Goodfellow, strip­ping off the fig leaves with exuber­ance.’ – Jonathan Keates, The Observer



Mark Simpson’s Male Imper­son­ators could do for male sex­u­al­ity what Camilla Paglia did for women, find­ing lat­ent homo sub­texts to Marky Mark, Clint East­wood and Tom Cruise’s base­ball bat.’ - Melody Maker

‘Male Imper­son­ators quickly reveals itself to be dif­fer­ent and, argu­ably more insight­ful than many pre­vi­ous ‘Mas­culin­ity books’. Male Imper­son­ators makes a timely and exem­plary addi­tion to cult stud’s ‘Return to Freud’. It has an excel­lent read­abil­ity fac­tor com­pared to many oth­ers freighted with dull writ­ing.’  – Per­ver­sions


– Stage and Tele­vi­sion Today

These smash­ingly provoca­tive essays by the spunky Brit writer Mark Simp­son det­o­nate myths, stereo­types and icons, gay as well as straight. The psycho-social line sep­a­rat­ing homo and het­ero male­ness, he ful­somely shows, is much fuz­zier than Robert Bly and Pat Buchanan find it to be.’

Lambda Book Report