David Beckham, global poster-boy for metrosexuality, sporting an Edwardian beard, had a hot date with Obama at the White House today.
Though he had to bring his team-mates along as LA Galaxy were being honoured with a reception after winning the Major League Soccer Cup, America’s equivalent of the Premiership.
After listing the soccer star’s achievements, introducing him joshingly as a “young up-and-comer,” and adding that, “half your teammates could be your kids”, Obama quipped (almost fluffing the line): “It’s a rare man that can be that tough on the field and have his own line of underwear.”
Or as rare as a GQ Commander in Chief?
Contrary to recent reports, Obama is not the first gay President. He’s the first metrosexual President. Or as I wrote in Metrosexy:
“A well-dressed mixed-race, polyglot male who makes the Free World wait on his gym visit every morning. A man whose looks are regularly praised – particularly by male journalists. A man who won the Democratic nomination in part because he was much prettier than his more experienced female opponent. His wife Michelle is very attractive too, of course – but in some ways Obama is the first US President to be his own First Lady.”
Which makes the Beckham and Obama’s hot date quite a historic occasion.
I can’t quite decide though whether Obama’s own rampant metrosexuality makes his bitchy remark to Beckham about his underwear funny or a bit… pants.
Burger King have come a long way from their ‘manthem’anti-metro backlash days of the mid Noughties in which they literally sang the praises of fatty food.
Now their ads star the ultimate metrosexual smoothie, David Beckham, who is given the kind of soft-focus, mouth-watering treatment in this ad that used to be reserved for their ‘man-food’ Whoppers. Beckham is the ‘exciting thing’ happening at Burger King.
And he really does have a very appetising, seductive smile. Even his terrible acting is appealing. There is also something charmingly submissive about the way he pleads for his order. No wonder the female server is transfixed.
Like BK’s new menu, which includes freshly-made low-calorie fruit smoothies, chicken strips and ‘snack-wraps’ – or what might once have been called ‘girl-food’ – Beckham is part of a push to rebrand BK, whose sales have been plummeting. Even back in the Noughties, ‘manthem’ was an attempt to make a manly virtue out of BK’s accelerating obsolescence. Clearly even that approach isn’t working any more.
The ad rams home the rebranding of BK by playing up the omnisexual appeal of the metrosexual pin-up. The middle-aged male manager also finds himself captivated by Becks’ beauty midway through saying ‘I am sorry David we make them fresh every time with… fruit.’ It’s unclear whether the manager is actually a ‘fruit’ himself or just another straight man who finds himself strangely drawn by Beckham’s beguiling looks. Probably the latter as he seems genuinely surprised by his own response.
Beckham the equal opps narcissist isn’t phased of course and replies, with an indulgent smile: ‘No problem, John’.
The only part that mystifies me is why anyone, male or female, straight or gay, would fantasise that the be-jeaned and denim-shirted Becks before them was actually dressed as a 1960s undertaker.
On The Jonathan Ross Show last night David Beckham was the star guest. He looked great of course. But I kept finding myself staring at Mr Beckham’s foot.
Naturally, it was shod tastefully and expensively – in keeping with his John Hamm hairdo and 60s-style black whistle and flute. But that wasn’t what drew my eye. No, it was the way it was trembling.
The icon of the age had feet of jelly.
Or at least, a foot of jelly. David (I think we can use first names here; in fact, I’m sure he would insist on it) was sitting cross-legged on the sofa, facing Ross’ chins. His face was smiling radiantly, teeth and eyes flashing and laughing. His body language speaking of the casual grace and ease of beauty, celebrity, money. He was doing in other words all the things you’re supposed to do on a chat show sofa.
But his raised foot was shaking. Violently. And in doing so it succeeded in saying much more than the other end. It made me think of the proverbial serenity of swans underscored by that furious paddling you know is going on beneath the water-line.
There are plenty of good reasons to be terrified on a chat show, even one not presented by Jonathan Ross and his unaccountable vanity. But Becks has more reasons than most. He has a lot to lose. If by chance, and much against his better judgement, not to mention media training, he were to actually say something or have, god forbid, an opinion it would cost him millions in corporate fees.
At one point he was talking about, I think (but can’t be sure because even when you try to listen to David it’s very hard to focus), the benefits of his football academies for getting kids away from their Playstations and outdoors. But then caught himself: ‘Not that there’s anything wrong with Playstation, of course,’ he added very hastily. And not that there’s anything wrong with another Sony endorsement deal, either.
Or maybe his foot was trembling because he knew that later Jonathan Ross would pull his pants down and shove his own Aussiebum packaged groin into David’s famous face. (No, this actually happened and was even more disturbing than it sounds.)
In the ad break there was more David. David out of his expensive suit and in his pants, spinning around, selling David, and selling his H&M ‘bodywear’.
In keeping with the trademark passivity of metrosexuality in general and uber-metro Becks in particular, the ad features much batting of long eyelashes, and arms held defenceless above the head, as the camera licks its lens up and down and around his legs and torso. Teasingly never quite reaching the package we’ve already seen a zillion times on the side of buses and in shop windows – but instead delivering us his cotton-clad bum, his logo and his million dwollar smile.
I’m here for you. Want me. Take me. Wear me. Stretch me. Soil me. But above all: buy me.
All, curiously, to the strains of The Animals: ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’. Is it meant to be ironic? What after all is to be misunderstood? Don’t the images tell us everything? Even what we don’t want to know. About the total commodification of masculinity.
Perhaps Beck’s foot could have told us, but alas it didn’t appear in the ad and was unavailable for comment.
Carelessly disposed shopping bags pose a real menace to defenceless celebrities.
Better order some industrial strength lip balm and practise suppressing the gag reflex.
Shameless sporno star and uber-metrosexual David Beckham is ramming his eye-popping lunchbox down our collective throats again. This time with a media ‘offensive’ for his own line of men’s undies – and strangely shapeless vests – from Swedish-owned high street fashion chain H&M.
“I always want to challenge myself and this was such a rewarding experience for me. I’m very happy with the end result and I hope H&M’s male customers will be as excited as I am.”.
It’s true, you do look very pleased to see us again, David dear. But I worry that my ‘end result’ might not look quite so excited/exciting in your pants.
But Beck’s own palpable, prominent excitement is entirely understandable. He saw the humongous wads of cash Mr Armani was covered in when he brazenly pimped Beck’s designer cotton-clad tackle to the world a few years back. Becks was paid very handsomely for his services himself of course, but seems to have decided he can make even more filthy lucre by designing his packet himself and flogging it to the global punter (H&M is the second largest retailer in the world).
Last year he explained:
“I have had the idea of doing a bodywear collection for some time now. The push to do something of my own really came as a result of my collaboration with Armani. They told me that their gross turnover in 2007 was around €16 million, and after the campaign in 2008 it went up to €31 million, in 2008. It proved to me that there is a real market for good-looking, well-made men’s bodywear.”
Whether or not his finished pants and vests are that kind of bodywear I’ll let you be the judge of. Bear in mind they are a lot more affordable than Mr Armani’s. I think proud-father-of-four Goldenballs is here going for ‘volume’. Metrosexy dadwear. Hence the emphasis he puts on comfort.
And as we’ve seen again and again in the last few years, there is definitely a real market for good-looking, well-made, famous, well-packaged men’s bodies. Advertisers, reality TV and Hollywood have practically had our eye out with them.
Smithy aka James Corden is a British comedian who isn’t terribly funny but does have a lot of front. And back. And sides. Especially sides.
You can watch his spot at the British Sports Personality of the Year Award, from which the Becks scenes above are taken, in full below. But be warned: it goes on rather a long time and features a lot of sports stars you’ve probably never heard of if you’re not British.
There’s also a lot of kissing of foreheads and tops of heads by Corden – which is a peculiar habit of British football fans when they’re feeling happy and affectionate but afraid of your actual lip contact (footballers here used to snog each other properly after they scored a goal, but now mostly do the forehead thing their fans do).
There’s a kind of double irony seeing Corden do this to Becks in bed in the context of their domestic girlie grooming/nesting send-up – especially since it looks really quite tender. Becks in particular plays it ‘straight’, eschewing campy insurance policies, and reaching for Corden’s hand – making their coupledom seem quite believable, or imaginable. I suspect that not a few footie fans, in between nervous giggles, suddenly realised that it might be quite comfy snuggling up in bed with Becks watching Neighbours re-runs. Even with that beard.
Actually, the Becks scene put me in mind of the domesticated bliss of sweet 1950s comedy couple Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. Though not as funny.
After all those ads in which Becks thrusted his giant Armani wrapped package in our faces if not down our throats, an Italian satirical TV show decided to do a little consumer product testing. You know that in Italy they like to handle the sausage and tomatoes – and haggle over the price – before they part with their Euros.
Both parties are clearly unimpressed.
For those who don’t speak the most beautiful, most musical language in the world: the rubber-gloved lady shouts at a hooded, glowering Beckham driving off in his (ridiculously large) car full of minders: ‘HOW COULD YOU TAKE US FOR A RIDE!!??’
The incident has caused some anger in the UK, and some see it as outright sexual assault. But if you are paid very large wedges of cash to put your lunchbox on the side of buses to sell overpriced underwear to the masses then perhaps the only shocking thing is that more punters don’t cop a feel of the goods.
Yours truly will be giving talk on ‘Sporno: How sport got into bed with gay porn – with Mr Armani taking pictures ‘ in Berlin on Thursday 18th June – i.e. tomorrow – at 8pm at the Dorrie * Priess Gallery (details below), courtesy of Manner-Magazin, CSD and Queer Nations. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.
It will be richly illustrated.
Sorry for the very tardy notice….
Dörrie * Priess Berlin
Ulrich Dörrie / Holger Priess
Yorckstr. 89 a
Tel. (+49) 030/ 7889 5533
I’m still in shock after watching the handover to the London Olympics in Beijing. Please tell me it was a bad dream and that on your goggle-box you saw something much less horrifying.
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson looked like he’d put on his worst suit – sorry, someone else’s worst suit – and slept in it all the way to China. Adding to his impact, he generally behaved like someone from a Home for the Terminally Bewildered on a rare day out.
As for the show the Brits put on, featuring a morphing red London bus, hordes of annoying dancers – it looked like a Cliff Richard film directed by Brent Council, but less fun.
And then the climax: David Beckham popping out of the top of the bus like Samantha Fox out of a birthday cake, to the tunes of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ warbled by crummy TV talent show winner Leona Lewis in crinolene, stuck on the end of a pole like a dodgy Christmas decoration.
How the world went wild as he showed us his latest cosmetic surgery! (My tranny friend Michelle tells me he’s had his eyes done, the upper bags – and I never doubt her judgement about these things). Before expertly kicking a ball into the wrong part of the stadium.
It was a complete and utter disaster and embarrassment. A comedy of errors with no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
Next week the V&A opens an exhibition called Fashion v Sport, profiling the relationship between the sports and fashion industries – a relationship that seems to be flourishing despite the habit of many of today’s sportsmen and women of wearing less and less.
Recently the New York Daily News ran a spread of photos showing rugby players from the New Zealand and South African national sides playing a match, starkers, on a windswept New Zealand beach. Disappointingly, it turned out that the players showing us their tackle were not in fact Boks and All Blacks, but local amateurs taking part in a beery annual “Naked Rugby” event.
But who can blame the media for getting over-excited? After all, last year the Rugby World Cup was advertised with posters on the Tube of snogging, scrumming rugby players. And then there are footballers such as Freddie Ljungberg and David Beckham spreadeagled across the side of buses.
Almost everywhere you look, sports, advertising and fashion seem to have jumped into bed to produce a spornographic money shot. Sports stars have become sporno stars. How did this happen? What does it mean? And where can I get hold of a pair of those pants?
Ironically, the only unconvincing aspect of the snogging scrum campaign was the relative unattractiveness of the faux rugby players compared to the pumped, shaved perfection of the real thing. The Parisian team produce an arty soft-porn calendar, called Dieux du Stade, featuring lovingly photographed nude players soaping each other up in the showers – or playing naked rugby on the beach. A great success. It sells like, well, hot rugby players.
In the run-up to the last football World Cup the fashion label Dolce & Gabbana commissioned the photographer Mariano Vivanco to snap members of the Italian team all oiled up and ready for us in the changing rooms, wearing very skimpy – and stretchy – D&G briefs. The results were splashed across prime advertising sites. In hindsight, the world was grovelling at the Italians’ feet from that moment on. The Spanish winners of Euro 2008 have yet to pose glistening in thongs, but with studs such as Fernando Torres and Iker Casillas in their stable it can only be a matter of time.
To get our attention in an age of broadband jadedeness, men’s fashion advertising has to promise us nothing less than an immaculately groomed, waxed and pumped group session in the showers.
And if this sporno looks a bit gay, that’s probably because it’s meant to. Partly because it made you look, partly because gay men are a loyal niche market and also taste-formers – especially when it comes to consuming the male body (Mr Dolce and Mr Gabbana are themselves famously gay).
It’s also partly because it seems to turn on the ladies in the same way that girl-on-girl action does their boyfriends. For an athlete nowadays, having a big gay following no longer necessarily means looking over his shoulder worriedly, but instead turning round and winking playfully.
Both Beckham and Ljungberg have posed in gay magazines, the beefy former England rugby ace and married father of two Ben Cohen has brought out a nude calendar marketed at gay men and talks about “embracing my gay fans”. Some, such as Becks and Welsh rugby glamour-boy Gavin Henson, have even argued over them. “I think I have lost a lot of my gay fans to Gavin,” Beckham once said. “It is a shame, as I really love them.”
Being equal-opportunity flirts, today’s sporno stars want to turn everyone on. Sportsmen, like porn stars, are by definition show-offs. Besides, it also means more money, more power, more endorsements, more kudos.
Fashion is more than happy to indulge them. Athletes represent everything that is desirable today: youth, vigour, success, health, fitness, looks, fame – and also the sweaty shorthand for all these things: sex. What’s more, as highly paid “pros”, their bodies are already what all men’s bodies are supposed to be these days: hot commodities. If athletes with hundreds of thousands of fans – gay and straight – are willing to tart themselves up this way, why bother with silly, skinny male models?
Naturally, all the sporno stars flirting with gayness are officially heterosexual. Team sports are still not the best place to openly bat for the other side, not least because it might cost you one of those lucrative gay-looking sporno endorsement deals. Virility is still considered to be officially hetero. (This holds true even in gay porn – where many stars are, like sporno stars, only “gay for pay”.)
But there’s no denying how dramatically attitudes towards the sporting male body have changed as a result of sport’s collision with the world of fashion and celebrity. Sporting male heroes now adopt sex-object poses on the side of buses that were once seen as girly, slutty or homosexual. Or, what was once much the same taboo in the male mind: passive.
As one outraged, middle-aged – and rather plain looking – BBC sports presenter thundered recently in The Sun about Beckham’s Armani-clad giant package: “You’ve got money, status, respect and fame – and then someone says: ‘Armani want you to do a picture wearing tight white pants with your legs as wide open as England’s defence.’ Why would you say yes?” Actually, in a spornographic age, the question should really be: why on earth would you say no?
The Fashion v Sport exhibition runs from Aug 5 to Jan 4. The catalogue, edited by Ligaya Salazar, and featuring an essay on Sporno by Simpson, on is published by V&A Books at £19.99.
Beck’s ‘tidy’ Armani underwear ads have generated a craze for male waxing, according to the Guardian:
All over the country more and more men (gay and straight alike) are marching into beauty salons and demanding a “Boyzilian”, or as one Yorkshire-based salon bills it, “the Full Monty”. In other words, the complete or near-complete removal of hair in intimate areas using wax. If you have £120 to spare, you can even get it done in Harrods, in the Refinery spa.
Clearly these men haven’t been reading Desmond Morris’ recently-published hairy retrosexual reverie The Naked Man. He must be, er, pulling his hair out.
Retrosexuality Islamic stylee – which until recently was possibly the only un-ironic or non-fashion-accessorised kind of retrosexuality left – seems to be in a bad way in the Islamic heartland. Medievalism just isn’t what it used to be.
Yesterday’s London Times carries a news feature on what’s termed “Pakistan’s metrosexual revolution”. The local Mullahs’ fatwahs on beauty salons for women as ‘un-Islamic’ appear to have provoked Pakistani men into an inspiring act of solidarity with their countrywomen: they’ve been selflessly queuing up for waxings and facials themselves and splashing out on Western vanity products for their own bathroom cabinets. Male cosmetic surgery and hair transplants are sprouting up everywhere – including on the previously shiny bonces of former Prime Ministers such as Nawaz Sharif who recently tried to return to Pakistan (the bad quality of his implants and dye job led to his immediate deportation back to Saudi Arabia).
Most Pakistani women are not complaining about the locked bathroom door. A survey of 25,000 women found that over half preferred men with “a metrosexual appearance similar to David Beckham” to those with “a rugged appearance”. Though perhaps they just preferred a man who looked like they had David Beckham’s money.
But the most important angle to this news about Pakistan’s ‘metrosexual revolution’ has been missed: it confirms that the most wanted man on the planet after David Beckham – Osama Bin Laden – has indeed been taking refuge in the country as many suspected. In his recent cheery ‘anniversary’ video address, the one exhorting Americans to ’embrace Islam’, Bin Laden appears to have ordered a 9-11 on that tired-looking grey beard of his seen in previous videos and given some major uplift to his Prophet of Doom look with a trim and a dye that has really helped massacre the years. Who wouldn’t embrace him now? Patently, Pakistan’s metrosexual makeover fever has reached Osama, even in his inaccessible mountain redoubt.
Now all the the CIA has to do is find a cave in on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border within easy donkey-ride of a drug store stocking bottles of Arabian 2000 hair restorer.
American mobile communications company Motorola have launched a poster campaign for their new Razr with an image of their ‘Global Brand Ambassador’ with his tits out.
In recognition of where most men and women are going to be looking, the product is dangling between Beck’s pecs from a chain around his neck.
The mobile is supposed to become an object of desire because of its proximity to the most famous nipples in the world. I wonder if Beck’s tits taste slightly bitter when you chew on them, like many men’s? Or whether they taste instead of pink champagne?
The chain (no pockets?) and the cropping of the pic more than hints that Becks is completely starkers.
And is it just me, or is he gazing at us greedily like punter at a gay sex club who wants us to take him home for some individual attention and capture him with his mobile camera in all sorts slutty positions?
Banning gay propaganda can backfire. Spectacularly.
“All Saints should be presumed guilty until proved innocent.”
The book that changed the way the world looks at men
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