marksimpson.com

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

Menu Close

Category: metrosexual (page 2 of 9)

David Beckham’s Total Package – And his Fascinating Foot

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.

 

Tip: DAKrolak & Mark Rangel

 

Today’s men are obsessed with their bodies – but is that so bad?

Yours truly in today’s Guardian.

Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag ‘Studio’

English (unedited) version of Q&A with Mark Simpson by Michele Masneri for Italian cultural  magazine Studio in which he talks about the Italian roots of sporno, the next stage of metrosexuality – and the Silviosexual

Studio: What do you mean by the word “sporno”?

Mark Simpson: The place where sport and porn get into bed while Mr Armani takes pictures. Beckham and Ronaldo’s bulging packets rammed down our throat on the sides of buses. Dolce & Gabbana hanging around the Italian football team’s locker room. That kind of thing. So once again we mostly have Italia to thank.

Metrosexuality, the male desire to be desired, has become so normal now that it’s pretty much taken for granted. So in order to get noticed you have to go hardcore – and promise the viewing public a gang-bang in the showers. Hence sporno.

Is Italy the most metrosexual country?

In a sense the wave of metrosexuality that swept the globe in the last decade or so was really just the rest of the world catching up with Italia and becoming a little bit more Italian.

Male narcissism is at the heart of metrosexuality – and in Italy unlike in the Anglo world this has never really been properly repressed. Italy, home of Michelangelo, Marcello Mastroianni and Dolce & Gabbana, never seriously pretended that ‘beauty’ was a word that couldn’t sit alongside ‘male’, and pat its well-formed knee.

In Italy, particularly Southern Italy, young men often have an almost swishy but entirely assured way of walking that few Anglos can ever hope to match. And if we try, it just ends up a silly sashay.

Nonetheless, I think full-throated metrosexuality does break down traditional or official ideas about the sexual division of loving and looking even in Italy by undermining machismo and ‘outing’ the queerness of it all. The way that women look at men and men look at other men – and how men get very turned on by all the attention.

Do you know the Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne? Is he hummersexual or retrosexual?

I’m afraid I had to look him up. Are you sure he’s Italian? He looks like Jeremy Clarkson’s dad. Do you think he has a wardrobe at home with 365 identical shapeless jumpers and shirts?

Hummersexuals are guys who over-emphasise their masculinity with ‘manly’ accessories in a way that makes you wonder what they’re covering up. Retrosexuals are merely pre-metrosexual.

Sergio seems more retrosexual than hummersexual. Partly because Fiat cars aren’t terribly popular with the US military or Hollywood action heroes  – too small and ‘faggy’, I expect – but mostly because he reminds me of my old chemistry teacher.

And how about former Prime Minister Berlusconi?

He’s quite something, that Berlusconi! But at least, as he keeps reminding us, he’s not queer. Even if he does look like a drag queen.

I don’t think any of the categories really fit Silvio. He’s far too special. He’s in a category all of his own. Silviosexual.

Mind you, his old chum Tony Blair, our former PM and rock star manqué, shared the same drag queen smile. But ultimately Silvio is a reminder to an Anglo like me of the mysteries of ‘machismo’. How something so camp can imagine itself something so butch.

Perhaps we need to go way back in time to locate Berlusconi’s painted, dyed, stretched, terrifyingly cosmetic look. Back to the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt….

Is David Beckham still the epitome of the metrosexual?

Yes, albeit the ageing metrosexual. In English we have an expression, ‘mutton dressed as lamb’…. But then there are lots of men his age and older who also don’t want to give up their sex-object status – so they look to him for inspiration. Though he’ll have to offer them something a lot sexier than those daggy H&M pants and vests he came up with recently.

Beckham’s metrosexual crown has of course been usurped by younger, prettier players such as Cristiano Ronaldo – who also famously stole his Armani undies. At the same time you have a new generation of tarty male reality TV stars, such as Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and his ‘gym tan laundry’ metro mantra from Jersey Shore. And at the movies you have stars like Tom Hardy, with those pouty, Brando-esque lips, muscles and his openly admitted bi-curious past telling us ‘Don’t be a afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.’

Is metrosexy the “next stage” of metrosexuality? The word ‘metrosexual’ was born in the Nineties. What happened to male narcissism since then?

Funnily enough Justin Bieber was born the same year as the metrosexual. They’re both sweet seventeen. In other words, metrosexuality is still waiting for its voice to drop.

That said, men’s narcissism has become much so mainstream and accepted in the last decade or so, to the point where it is often taken for granted, especially by the younger generation who has grown up with it. Hence the word itself is likely to become defunct at some point in the not too distant future. To some extent Metrosexy is about a post metrosexual world.

However, there are still reaction-formations and kinky backlashes against metrosexuality, particularly in the US which, because of a passionately Protestant history and an equally passionate denial about its own screaming gayness, continues to work out her issues. E.g. those hummersexuals….

Essentially ‘metrosexy’ is the tarty male sensibility that metrosexuals have injected into the culture. Metrosexuality has gone from being a ‘type’ – ‘the metrosexual’ –  to be spotted and pointed at, to being a pervasive ‘feeling’. A way of seeing and being seen.

Also, a glance at the newsstand, the billboard, the TV, and the queue at the bus stop tells us that with many young men the desire to be desired and embody male beauty has taken an increasingly physical, sensual form: their lovingly, painstakingly sculpted and shaved muscles and their elaborate, expensive designer tattoos.

Following the cues of sporno, many seem to aspire to be sexual athletes. Hustlers. Porn stars.

What’s the relationship between hipsterism and metrosexuality?

Although most hipsters would probably rather die than admit it, hipsterism is a form of metrosexuality. But a very middle-class and enervated – or ‘ironic’ – one. It’s patently narcissistic, but usually regards the body and ‘sexiness’ as ‘vulgar’. Which it is of course – if you’re lucky.

What’s the “gay bomb”, Abercrombie & Fitch or American Apparel or Apple?

Abercrombie & Fitch were perhaps the detonator – Apple and iPhones were the explosion. iPhones are of course the ultimate vanity product – they’re really MEphones. The app that comes gratis with every smartphone is dumb self-obsession. And they’re also a great way to take a picture of yourself topless in the gym changing room mirrors to upload to Facebook, or perhaps a more ‘discrete’ ‘social network’…

Are the social networks, i.e. Facebook and especially Twitter, a form of a sublimated metrosexuality?

Inasmuch as they’re all about MEEEEEE! yes. They’re where people compete for attention and try to turn themselves into brands and commodities and market themselves, a hallmark of metrosexuality.

In the case of Facebook, often the metrosexuality isn’t even very sublimated. Young men can and do upload hundreds of topless pictures of themselves, apparently auditioning for that Men’s Health cover.

You’ve written that “in some ways Obama is the first US President to be his own First Lady.” Is there any metrosexy candidate in the Republican party?

Not in the current line-up of hopefuls. Though Mitt Romney does look like a mannequin in the window of a particularly boring department store.

Aaron Schock on the other hand, the Republican Congressman who stripped off for Men’s Health magazine positively drips metrosexiness – for a politician. He’ll probably end up President one day. Him or Justin Bieber….

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy is available for download from Amazon.

 

 

Gayest Fashion Feature Evah?

The NY Times wants to convince you that men’s fashion blogging is the new bull-fighting.

In an inadvertently hilarious piece titled ‘Straight Talk – A New Breed of Fashion Bloggers‘, it sets out to prove that Tweeting and Tumbling about tie pins all day is really, like, butch.

NOT every fashion blogger is a 15-year-old girl with an unhealthy obsession with Rei Kawakubo. Some are older. And some are men.

Well, that’s a relief. Even thought I don’t know who Rei Kawakubo is.

And not just any guy with an eye for fashion.

You mean, not just another fag? Phew!

There are hyper-masculine dudes who “look at men’s fashion the way other guys look at cars, gadgets or even sports,” said Tyler Thoreson, the editorial director of Park & Bond, a men’s retail site.

“There’s the same attention to detail.”

Don’t stop. I’m getting hard.

In other words, these are macho fashion bloggers, writing for a post-metrosexual world. “It’s translating this sort of very-guy approach to something that’s so traditionally been quasi-effeminate,” Mr. Thoreson added.

Very-guy? Or just very-gay? In the worst possible sense of the word.

The whole piece, especially the ‘hyper masculine dude’ and ‘macho blogger’ with a khaki fetish profiled first, whose ‘Dislikes’ include “Pants that are too tight and too short, men who are getting too pretty, and guys wearing fedoras” is of course incredibly faggy. Much faggier than anything flaming could ever be. He sounds like the kind of queen who comes up with the strictly-enforced ‘real man’ dress-code for leather bars.

This kind of guff isn’t ‘post-metrosexual’ at all. It’s so pre-metrosexual it’s positively pre-Stonewall.

And is it just me, or did the NYT just call straights ‘breeders’ in that headline?

This guy here (if indeed it is a guy) is the only ‘macho’ men’s fashion blogger anyone will ever need. Strangely, he wasn’t included in that piece by the NYT. He probably terrifies the poor poppets. He certainly scares the shit out of me.

Tip: Lee Kynaston

Let me Hear Your Body Talk

Are men the new women? I’ve always avoided using that line until now. As the (hetero)sexual division of labour and loving and looking continues to fall apart, men are the new everything. Just as women are.

But in the last few months we’ve been told men now take longer getting ready than women, mercifully deleting at a stroke most of the material of stand-ups like John Bishop. We’ve also been told that gents are more likely to take travel irons, hairdryers and straighteners on holiday than ladies. Now there’s new evidence they may be as body-conscious as women too. In fact, according to a widely-reported study of 394 British men published last week, lads are now more concerned with their body image than lasses.

A third said they think about their appearance more than five times a day, 18% were on a high-protein diet to increase muscle mass, and 16% on a calorie-controlled diet to slim down. While a Faustian 15% claimed they would happily trade 2-5 years of their life if they could have their ideal body weight and shape. (Probably because they hoped the years would be sliced off the end of their lives — when they’re old and crumbly and not very likely to go on Big Brother anyway).

Some we’re told were undertaking compulsive exercise, strict diets, using laxatives or making themselves sick in an attempt to lose weight or achieve a more toned physique. And although the survey didn’t cover this, other data suggests a surprisingly large number of men are also taking steroids, growth hormones and other prescription drugs to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Which generally means tits and abs. Men’s main preoccupation, the survey found, was their ‘beer belly’ and lack of muscles, with a whopping 63% saying they thought their arms or chests were not muscular enough. And people never believe me when I tell them that while some women are size queens, all men are.

‘Geordie Shore’s Jay knows what you want

Clearly a lot of men are gazing avariciously at the flaunted porno pecs and abs of hit TV shows like Jersey/Geordie Shore (Geordie Shore is back for a second season on MTVUK at the end of this month). We already know they’re buying Men’s Health magazine as it became the biggest-selling men’s mag recently. All those tarty, shouty Men’s Health front covers promising BIGGER ARMS! PUMPED PECS! and RIPPED ABS! in a fortnight may be as laughable as they are repetitive, but they’re clearly, lucratively tapping into 21st Century man’s deepest, darkest and beefiest desires.

Men may or may not be the new women, but men’s tits and abs are the new eye candy. Men have become their own High Street Honeys.

They’re also rather bitchy. Apparently 80.7% of the survey respondents talked about their own or others’ appearance in ways that draw attention to weight, lack of hair or slim frame. It also confirms that men of whatever sexual orientation look rather a lot at each other’s bodies, comparing and contrasting, desiring and detracting.

Dr Philippa Diedrichs of the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE in Bristol who led the survey, described this conversation between men about their bodies as ‘body talk’ (which makes me think of both Olivia Newton John beating up the fatties in ‘Physical’, and also that single from the same era by the incredibly camp dance band Imagination.)

‘Body talk reinforces the unrealistic beauty ideal which reinforces leanness and muscularity. This is traditionally seen as an issue for women but our research shows that men are feeling the pressure to conform too.’

Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA which commissioned the research also sees this as ‘damaging’:

‘Historically conversation about your body has been perceived as something women do, but it is clear from this research that men are also guilty of commenting on one another’s bodies; and in many cases this is having a damaging effect. Men’s high levels of body talk were symptomatic of a growing obsession with appearance, she added.

Some three in five men (58.6%) said body talk affected them, usually negatively.’

I’m a bit conflicted here. Probably because as an ‘avid fan’ of the worked-out male body I’m part of the problem. On the one hand I welcome this kind of research and the publicity it’s received because it’s both putting the spotlight on both how much men’s behaviour has changed of late, and also undermining sexist assumptions about ‘men’ and ‘women’, which many feminists, like lazy stand-ups, buy into. And it’s always good to draw attention to the Patrick Batemanesque dark side of the metrosexual revolution – and its costs.

On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure that applying the problematising, pathologising and sometimes Puritanical, dare I say ‘Wolfian’ (as in ‘Naomi’), discourse that’s been used on women’s bodies wholesale to men would be something to welcome. Men aren’t the new women, but they might be the new moral panic.

This ‘body talk’ amongst men isn’t necessarily a sign of ‘guilt’ as was suggested. It might be a healthy honesty. And whilst obviously this kind of critique and competition might push some into anxiety and obsession and self-destructive behaviour, or conformity to rather narrow ideals of male beauty, the generalised, compulsory, traditional self-loathing that existed amongst men before ‘body talk’ and (male) body interest became acceptable was in many ways worse. It was also, remember, ‘normal’.

After all, not wanting to talk about their bodies is part of the reason why men historically have been very reluctant to visit their GP and tend to die much earlier on average than women. Until very recently the male body was simply an instrument that was to be used until the mainspring broke. Barely giving men time to rewind their horribly symbolic retirement clock.

And certainly, men didn’t look at one another’s bodies. Unless they were queer.

Not anymore. Men’s ‘body talk’ has become deafening. On the hit ITV reality series The Only Way is Essex Arge, who is a little on the husky side, was always gazing longingly at Mark (above) and asking how he gets his ‘fit body’ and whether he can help him get one too.

A married squaddie mate who is an occasional gym buddy always subjects my body to a close scrutiny in the changing rooms after our workouts, appreciatively commending, say, my deltoid or tricep development, and mercilessly criticising, say, my forearms’ failure to keep up with them. And my belly’s general miserable flabbiness. Part of me dreads the scrutiny, but another welcomes the frank ‘body talk’ too. I’m glad he gets all Olivia Newton John on my ass. If he didn’t, I might have to pay someone to do it.

Mind you, his wise observation about gym culture to me one day sticks in my mind: “It’s all about ‘ow you look isn’t it, Mark? Nobody really cares whether any of this makes you fit or not. You could be rotten underneath but if you look great no one gives a fook.” He’s right. The metrosexy cult of male beauty is all a bit Dorian Ghey.

Which reminds me, apparently a quarter of the respondents in this survey were gay (well, it was sponsored by the Central YMCA). Of course, some people will hastily seize upon that to disqualify its findings. And while it probably is reason to treat them with at least as much caution as those of any other survey, I’m inclined to see the large sample of gay men included as a sign of this survey’s relevance and inclusiveness. After all, it’s gays that are to blame for the cult of male bloody beauty….

Gays like The Village People. Love it or loathe it, the body-fascist foundations for the metrosexy male culture we’re living in were laid in the early Eighties. And I’m deliriously happy the Central YMCA commissioned this survey as it’s a perfect excuse for me to post (below) my Favourite Music Video of All Time. I suspect it was part of the inspiration for Olivia’s ‘Physical‘ video. (And both were almost certainly inspired by this epic.)

Every frame is a joy, but the Busby Berkeley (or is it Leni Riefensthal?) shot of the swimmers diving one after the other into the pool as if they were perfectly-formed poppies scythed down by the camera’s gaze never fails to send me into paroxysms of delight. For me, it’s always fun to stay at the YMCA.

Which is just as well. In the 21st Century we’re all checked in there. Permanently.

 

David Beckham’s ‘End Result’ – Can You Handle It?

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.

Regardless of his advancing years (he’s a frighteningly well-preserved, carb-free 37 this May) and consequently fading football career, Becks will always be fondly identified with that metrosexual revolution and will very likely get his money shot yet again.

He and his endowments, natural and Photo-shopped, always seems to wangle a way to attract the eye. Whatever you may think of his vests.

 

Still Ill: Narcissism is Sick Again

Terrible news! Call off the Xmas Party at Men’s Health magazine! Cancel the male strippers and the buckets of (low-fat) blancmange!

Self-love isn’t going to be rehabilitated after all. At least not by the shrinks. Professionally speaking, it will remain the love the dare not speak its name — even as the culture screams nothing else.

According to this piece by Jennifer Allen in The Sunday Telegraph, in the face of strong criticism, the American Psychiatric Association has backtracked on its plan to remove Narcissistic Personality Disorder from the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Allen suggests the reason they tried to de-list narcissism in the first place was not down to any recognition of how ‘normal’ narcissism has become in the world outside the consulting room, but because of the American psychiatric trend to biologise mental illness (‘Baby, I was born this way’) and prescribe drugs instead of the ‘interminable’ talking cure.

Allen isn’t impressed though by the APA’s backtracking:

I find the volte-face dismaying, not because I’m for prescribing drugs and against talking cures. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to see that narcissism has shifted from a pathological condition to a norm, if not a means of survival.

Narcissism appears as a necessity in a society of the spectacle, which runs from Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” prediction through reality television and self-promotion to YouTube hits.

Well, quite. But then, I would agree as I’ve been saying this for years, darling.

Perhaps, being somewhat cynical, the objection to de-listing NPD was driven precisely by the ubiquity of narcissism. It’s certainly a growth market.

I don’t doubt that NPD, or something akin to it exists, and can be an extremely unpleasant experience both for the sufferer and those they come into contact with — here in the UK we’re only just getting over Tony Blair. But even before the advent of Big Brother, Facebook, iPhones and Immac for Men the symptoms of NPD were vague and common enough failings to be applied to almost anyone who had anything about them.

Or, to quote Gore Vidal, anyone better looking than you. According to the DSM ‘narcissists also tend to be physically attractive on first impression, giving them advantages when first meeting people’.

Here’s the full list of NPD sins provided by the DSM:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

If you thought that just five of these symptoms might apply to you, then you may have NPD. If you found that they all apply to you then you’re probably in prison serving a very long stretch indeed or have your own TV cookery show and supermarket endorsement deal.

Though I suppose a psychiatrist would probably say that someone with NPD would likely not be able to recognise those traits in themselves. At any rate, that’s what I’m telling myself.

So if you found that none of these traits applied to you then you’re probably Jesus Christ. Or Barbara Streisand.

Men’s Tits, Women’s Balls & Gavin Henson’s Tarty Body

This jokey Canadian ad is aimed, I believe, at encouraging women to regularly check their breasts for strange lumps. Though it seems to have been side-tracked by, er, checking out strange lumps. Albeit perfectly-formed and waxed ones. 

For my charity money the blond, buffed, fashion-bearded presenter’s best asset isn’t his chest but his man-humps — which he, along with the other tarty men in the ad, kindly shoves in the camera during the credits, while disco dancing.

I suppose women are very grateful for this kind of eager self-sacrifice on the part of men, but I’m not entirely sure what the gentle sex is supposed to do with all those plucked, pushy, insatiable bottoms.

To be honest, I’m not even sure what I’d do.

Is a bevvy of men flaunting tits and ass the best way to educate women about looking after their own bodies? It may come as a shock, but I’m probably not best qualified to answer that question. I would imagine though that this infomercial has been circulated on the interweb rather more than more conventional efforts. But then, maybe it’s being circulated by men like me, who can’t recall the last time they examined a pair of breasts that didn’t come shrink-wrapped from Sainsburys.

One thing’s indubitable, however: this ‘inverted’ ad is more evidence if it were needed of the way that in the 21st century men’s tits have not just rivalled but replaced women’s as the touchstone of ‘sexy’ in mainstream pop culture, even when the audience for them is other men.

Speaking of tits, the apparently endless UK version of reality TV series The Bachelor starring metrosexy Welsh rugger bugger Gavin Henson reached its final climax this week on C5. Though I’ve no idea which lucky lass Gav plumped for in the end as I only made it through the first couple of shows. I have a pathological fear of commitment. And crazy ladies with a famous, rich, orange man in their sights.

Ostensibly a reality TV show in which a series of foxy women try ensnare a celebrity playboy who will then treat them like a princess, The Bachelor is, as everyone knows, quite the opposite — or inverse — of how it presents itself.

No matter how many times they make the eligible bachelor say sincerely, solemnly and unblinkingly into the camera, “I am looking for the special woman I will marry and spend the rest of my life with” we can’t help scoffing, loudly. Even when they say it in an adorable, slow-talking Welsh accent. We know that everyone on the show, Mr Henson especially, have gone on telly to spend their life with you and me.

Likewise, despite the traditional pretense of the ‘pretty ladies’ with their ‘stunning’ outfits paraded like cattle in front of the ‘man of the world’, Henson is unquestionably the show’s eye-candy. Or ‘object’ as the feminists would have it (if they could ever bring themselves to admit that men are objectified too — by both women and especially by themselves).

Gav’s the Prince and the Princess of The Bachelor. And, it has to be said, the worst actress out of a brace of very bad ones.

Pink of lip, white of eye and tooth and with a much prettier complexion than most of the ladies, his body, which only seems to be actually clothed after sunset — and then in tailored shirts and suits that advertise his flaring back, his beefy arms, his swelling chest, his voluptuous, shelf-like arse even more — simply has no competition. All must worship it. And do.

It is an astonishing, captivating ‘object’ (much more so than the one in the Canadian ad), which Henson has clearly devoted thousands and thousands of intimate hours to nurturing, feeding, watering, sculpting, shaving, tanning and moisturising. This, finally, is a love story we can all believe in. What’s more, unlike most male bodies on display these days, his also has a actual function. He’s a professional athlete.

Little wonder then that Gav and his body is the relentless focus of the camera’s gaze. Every time he strips off the camera zooms in and grazes along his taut, polished skin, practically licking the Armani body lotion off him. Just as it did last  year when he appeared on the BBC’s Saturday night ‘family show’ Strictly Come Dancing — a reality vehicle targeting the older viewer which also objectifies men but presents it within the faux traditional ‘sexist’ format of ballroom dancing where men ‘lead’ – the eye. Sportsmen appearing on the show have to go topless every week or go home.

OK, having worked myself into a frenzy talking about Gav’s pneumatic body I’ve just taken a quick peek at the final episode of The Bachelor online, and it seems Gav chose as the winner and his ‘girlfriend’ (whatever that actually means in the context of reality TV) a female model – with a Roman nose remarkably similar to his. Whose first, delicate, coy, halting words on seeing him clad immaculately in designer black tie in Episode One,  were: “GO ON!! SHOW US YOUR MUSCLES THEN!!!”

Before doing what everyone else wants to do to Gav, and what Gav seems to want everyone to do — grabbing his bicep and copping a really good feel.

And this is the show that the Guardian recently moaned was ‘demeaning to women’.

Like ballsy ladies, gender reversal is everywhere these days. Below is a UK viral ad raising awareness for testicular cancer, which uses the same ‘inversion’ as the Canadian breast cancer ad, but to rather different effect. Check out the lumps on her….

Tip: DAKrolak

NY Mag Notices How Tarty Men Have Become

New York Magazine has just noticed that men have become ‘objectified’. Or as I like to put it in Metrosexy, using the proper, scientific term — tarts.

The Summer of 2011 officially became the summer that the male gaze was reflected back at itself — and with enthusiasm! In the summer’s superhero movies, a supremely buff body became part of what made these heroes so super. The Captain America trailer had Dominic Cooper doing the old look-over-the-top-of-my-sunglasses move to get a load of the newly pumped up Chris Evans. In Thor, Kat Dennings’s audience-surrogate character spends half the movie talking about how nutso everything is and the other half pointing out that this blond god from the heavens is massively pumped. Fourteen years ago, America lost it when Batman’s costume included rubber nipples. Now we’ve got a Spider-Man whose costume lifts and separates.

It’s great that New York Magazine has noticed (and welcomed) how Hollywood has objectified men, and how men have objectified themselves. Difficult to believe, I know, but there are still plenty of people who do their best not to. Or refuse to admit that they’ve noticed. Including some feminists who want to pretend that objectification is something only done by men to women.

But despite NY Magazine‘s presentation of it, this isn’t something that happened in one Summer. I’ve been banging on about it myself since 1994 — my first book Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity examined the way the so-called ‘male gaze’ had been reflected back at itself in movies, magazines and advertising. And rather liked what it saw. Even back then I wasn’t exactly the first to notice – though I did make more of a meal of it than anyone else.

‘Objectification’ is also of course the hallmark of metrosexuality – men’s desire to be desired is necessarily the desire to be ‘objectified’. Though I have to say I think the ‘O’ word clunky and outmoded. ‘Tarty’ trips and skips off the tongue better.

For those interested in ancient history – albeit ancient history that New York Magazine treats as news – all rights in Male Impersonators have reverted to me and I’m planning to e-publish it very soon, probably in downloadable PDF format for a nominal fee.

The image below is the jacket of the original Cassell edition of M.I., now out of print, sporting a classic 1950s Athletic Model Guild still. I chose it partly because it was a tad ‘overdetermined’ and camp – particularly the Grecian codpiece and the pedestal/butt-plug. And partly as an illustration of the kind of ‘objectification’ of the male that happened underground and illicitly in the past.

In contrast to today’s corporate kind, conducted on billboards and at the multiplex.

UPDATE: Male Impersonators is now available on Kindle.

Tip: Fraser K

What Do Men Want?

Facial hair fascinates me. I’m not actually much of a fan of it personally, but symbolically I’m besotted. Particularly the way that it is no longer a secondary sexual characteristic, a sign of manhood, or a love of Real Ale, but an adorable accessory that men today adopt and discard according to whim, following in the capricious, scented footsteps of Beckham et al.

Though of course, if you’re gay and living in a metropolitan area whim isn’t allowed. You have to sport a beard at all times. Otherwise you won’t get any dates. Gays will just hiss at you instead.

So I read with interest this YouGov survey published this week which provides some confirming data on the fashionability of face fuzz and its accessorization by males today: ‘stubble’ is reportedly the most popular form of facial hair today – especially with 18-24 year olds (51% say they have facial hair and 80% of those describe it as ‘stubble’). Stubble of course being the most easily adopted and discarded form of facial hair.

But the survey – called ‘Let’s Face It’ — is much less interesting for what it reports than for what it doesn’t. What it’s not facing. At all. The assumptions behind it and the way that compulsory heterosexuality is used to deprive all men of a voice, even about their own bodies.

Here’s the first paragraph of the YouGov press release/summary:

Are you male and looking for a date? It might be a good idea to shave beforehand, our survey suggests, as we discover that two thirds of British women prefer the appearance of a man without a beard, compared to less than one in ten who like the more hirsute type.

The first assumption of course is that the date a male is looking for is necessarily with a woman. (And as I say, if you’re gay you have to have a Captain Haddock to get a second look.) The second, and closely-related assumption, is that men’s affinity for facial hair is naturally to be measured entirely in terms of what women want:

  • 66% of British women prefer the appearance of a man without a beard
  • While 6% prefer the appearance of a man with a beard, and 27% have no preference either way

The survey asks men whether they have facial  — and chest — hair, and what kind. (And a third assumption here is that women don’t have facial hair….) But only asks women the questions: ‘Do you prefer the appearance of a man with or without a beard?’, and ‘Do you prefer the appearance of a man with or without chest hair?’

  • Fortunately for the two thirds of women who aren’t keen, only 37% of men currently have facial hair

Men are objects here, and not in a good way. They are not allowed subjective feelings about facial or chest hair, their own or anyone else’s. They merely have it or they don’t. What they might want is of no interest. Women are the only ones allowed to want here. (Even when they are lesbians — the survey polled 1417 women, and no mention is made of screening respondents on the basis of their sexuality, so statistically a significant number of them will have been Sapphic. Just as some of the 1340 men not asked this question would have been gay or bisexual.)

It would have been great to also find out whether males think facial hair enhances men’s appearance or not. Especially in a survey on male facial and chest hair. But they weren’t asked. YouGov apparently isn’t interested here in what men think about other men’s appearance. Though they were asked (but not mentioned in the press release) about their reasons for having facial hair — ‘habit’ was the most popular response at 32%. Amongst 18-39 year-olds ‘To make myself more attractive’ came in at 19%.

Either way I’d guess the popularity of stubble with young men today probably has rather less to do with what women (say they) want than the male celebs young men admire – and want. Even if it’s only about giving them permission to have stubble.

I don’t mention this to score gayist points and invoke ‘homophobia’. Or to diss the importance of women to most men. I mention it to illustrate how (hetero)sexist assumptions are sometimes used to shut men up. And maintain the reassuring pretense that even in a world where young men have become brazenly narcissistic and ‘passive’ – desiring to be desired – and where women are now allowed and indeed encouraged to have active preferences about men’s physical appearance, that it’s still all about good old heterosexuality.

When it’s as plain as the designer stubble on your face that it really aint.

Edited 28/8/11

Tip: Big Daddy Keltik

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.

 

Interview with Mark Simpson in Portuguese National ‘Publico’

English version of interview with Simpson about his new book metrosexy by Bruno Horta (Publico, June 16, 2011)

Why did you decide to collect these texts in a single volume?

I wanted to bring together my essays that document and analyse the profound revolution in masculinity that metrosexuality represents. But which has been mostly trivialized by the media as being literally skin-deep – Oooh! men having facials!! Oooh! Manbags!! That kind of thing. Metrosexuality isn’t about men becoming ‘girlie’ or ‘gay’. It’s about men becoming everything. To themselves.

It’s told-you-so vanity on my part, but I also thought it was necessary to bring these pieces together into one collection so that if someone wants to find out the real story of what has happened to men and to sexuality in the early 21st Century they can. Even if it’s just historians of the future trying to work out why civilization collapsed.

The kind of texts you write and the tone you use (ironic and camp) is not common in Portugal but as far as I know is common in English language authors. Could you comment? Is the tone of your writings autobiographical or is just a rhetorical mechanism?

Are you calling me camp, Bruno? I try my best to be entertaining when I write, as I’m extremely dull in person. Also, I think when it comes to subjects like sex, sexuality and gender a sense of humour is absolutely necessary. If someone can write about these subjects straight-faced then they probably don’t know what they’re talking about.

Did you realize you were creating a worldwide concept when you first wrote about “metrosexual” men in 1994? How proud do you feel about having seen before others a social tendency?

The newspaper article in which I apparently coined that term was written to publicise my first book Male Impersonators: Men Performing Masculinity. I used metrosexuality as a kind of shorthand for what I was talking about in the book – about the way that an increasingly mediated world was changing masculinity and how it was becoming much more narcissistic and exhibitionistic – and ‘objectified’ in that feminist-speak.

In other words, masculinity was no longer always heterosexual never homosexual, always active never passive, always desiring never desired, always looking never looked at.

The enforced association of masculinity with capital H heterosexuality was breaking down even in the early 90s – you only had to look around the culture to see it. And I’ve always been something of a voyeur. The desire of men to be desired wasn’t something I was going to ignore.

Though, of course, people don’t always want to see things that are happening around them. Which is probably why it took another decade for the concept to catch on.

And yes, seeing some things before others want to does give me a certain mischievous, perverse pleasure, but it isn’t necessarily something you’ll be thanked for. Look what happened to Cassandra….

You say in the 1994 text that “metrosexuals are the creation of capitalism’s voracious appetite for new markets.” Do you think sexuality is nowadays more an economic issue than a ‘natural’ or ‘primary’ behaviour?

Not really sure that sexuality has been a ‘natural’ behaviour since humans became social animals with elaborate rules and codes, languages – and religions. It’s certainly been even less ‘natural’ since the industrial revolution. What’s clear though is that the productive/reproductive impetus of early capitalism has been replaced by sensual/consumerist imperatives, even and especially for men.

You see this even in China, where after a period of rapid productive growth consumerism is now rampant and encouraged by the Party as the next step in China’s economic development – and hyper-metro behaviour has been observed amongst a lot of Chinese young men (the so-called ‘herbivore’ phenomenon). Plus of course, population growth is not something China exactly needs.

It’s fairly clear that men have always had a capacity for sensuality and vanity – and a desire to be desired – but for most of history it has been rather closeted. Especially since the Victorian era. Men were meant to be warriors or labourers or empire builders. They weren’t meant to be beautiful. The sexual division of looking that the Victorians codified decreed that women were beauty and men were action.

But now that men have been encouraged to get in touch with their vanity and sensuality it seems there’s no stopping it….

Is the concept of “sporno” a proof that our Western culture is being constructed around pornography and sex? Camille Paglia wrote some months ago that American middle-class society is desexualized: men act like children until 50 and women are so thinner that men hardly fell attracted for their bodies. What should we conclude?

America is a conundrum. Sporno doesn’t really exist in the US, except via imported Armani advertising campaigns (which don’t feature US sportsmen). Sporno is a European phenomenon. The Protestant component of American culture is still very strong today and America still makes a quasi religious fetish out the notion of the Real Man.

The US is the only country that had a backlash against metrosexuality in the mid-Noughties. In many ways the ‘menaissance’ as it was called was men-dacious and hypocritical – often it was just a more uptight version of metrosexuality that was being sold. And in fact the US as a hugely consumerist country has continued of course down the metrosexual path – it can hardly do anything else.  But it’s still in terrible denial.

Sporno represents an intensification of metrosexuality – from a soft core to more hard-core gay porn sensibility.  It’s too out-and-proud in its metrosexuality, ramming it’s designer-clad packet – or ass – down your throat. America’s not really ready for that. America is, as everyone knows, one of the ‘gayest’ countries in the world but it’s the last to know it.

Why do we see rugby and football players acting as “sporno” stars but rugby and football are still homophobic areas?

I’m not so sure that rugby is that homophobic – partly because it’s all about male-male physical contact.  And it does have one or two out players/ex-players. Football is a different matter however. Pretty much the whole point of following football is to prove you’re not gay, my son….

To some extent the fashion houses deploying footballers in their spornographic advertising campaigns are exploiting the homophobia of the sport – the images are especially striking in their ‘gayness’ and their ‘passivity’ because they use men who live by ‘activity’ in a sport renowned for its homophobia.

In fact, David Beckham’s media career has also been based to some degree on exploiting the homophobia of football. If football wasn’t homophobic the notion of a footballer who ‘loves my gay fans’ and wears sarongs and his wife’s knickers wouldn’t be so newsworthy.

But of course sporno – and Beckham and Ronaldo – also change expectations and challenge prejudices. There is a time-lag between the pansexuality proffered by sporno images used to sell clothing to young football fans and attitudes on the terraces and in the changing rooms. But this will change. Things have already changed enormously in just a few years.

What is really, strikingly, shockingly apparent in these spornographic images is the lust young sporting heroes have to be… sluts. This apparently insatiable appetite for tartiness and sluttiness of men is something that metrosexuality has unleashed and isn’t going back in the closet any time soon.

How do you see the way gay men, or more accurately gay activism, behave today: they demand gay marriage, they want to adopt children and they claim family values? What’s happening? Has the “heterosexist” society just contaminated the previously subversive gay culture?

A lot of gays seem to have decided that they want respectability. Of course they call it ‘equality’. But perhaps they have an equal right to be respectable if they really want to be.

Just as straights appear to be going ‘gay’, given the chance, in the form of metrosexuality and recreational, kinky sex, gays seem to be going ‘straight’. It’s the inevitable result of the breakdown of the division between ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ and the crossover between the two.  Sexuality no longer dictates lifestyle.

And it’s not so surprising that it turns out that a lot of gays have made a fetish out of ‘normality’ and respectability – because it was denied them for so long.  I expect though that many will tire of it rather more quickly than a lot of heterosexuals have.

What’s your opinion about the apparently main-streaming of the transgender culture (last week Daniel Craig in drag; the Spanish magazine Candy, the recent success of the model Andrej Pejic)? Is trans the new sexual/aesthetic model? Are we going “transexy”, as you call it?

I think it’s becoming pretty apparent that in an increasingly intensely mediated culture everything is becoming hyper-real – especially gender.  The increasing use of cosmetic surgery by both men and women, especially celebrities, is bringing about a kind of effacement of sexual difference. Not necessarily because men and women are becoming androgynous, although that is happening too, but because even the attempts to emphasize ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ with cosmetic surgery, designer tatts and beards, steroids etc. etc. tend to produce an ‘over-exposure’ which results in a kind of ‘transexy’ appearance. Sexiness has effaced sex.

Gender has become so artificial and so over-stated that we’re all Pammy-trannies now. Male-to-male and female-to-female transsexuals.

Who do you consider to be the most interesting, sexy, defiant and mythological public person of nowadays? Why?

That’s a tall order. I’m not sure I can think of anyone that really fits that description. But Tom Hardy was the best thing by far about ‘Inception’ and there is something quite inspiring about this pouty-faced yet ruggedly handsome Hollywood star’s open ownership both of his bi-curious past and his ambi-sexual persona. He looks like a good advert for metrosexiness: ‘Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.’

I think that’s an excellent motto for negotiating the metrosexy world we’re now living in.

metrosexy is available for your instant pleasure on Amazon Kindle

Metrosexy Capital

Mark Simpson in Time Out on how London had to be the self-regarding metropolis that gave birth to the metrosexual.

Paris Attacked By Army of Aberzombies – Surrenders Instantly

101 shirtless, hairless pairs of perfect pecs stop the traffic on Champs Elysees. All part of a shameless, highly successful ploy by Abercrombie & Fitch to draw attention to their new flagship store opening in Paris.

Back in Bushy, anti-American 2007, when A&F opened their London store I wrote about the ‘Frattish American Wet Dream Conquering the World’:

Dowdy Anti-Americanism isn’t, in the final reel, something that the world’s huddled masses actually want to wear. London will no doubt be a great, chest shaving, success for new Yankee imperialists A&F.’

But one that will be dwarfed, I’m sure, by the shrieking, fainting, hair-pulling success of any store they open in that supposed capital of America-hating – Paris.

 

Henry Finally Throws in the Towel

Much-loved British heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper died this week.

Unborn in 1963, the year he nearly defeated Cassius Clay (the Brits love near-winners much more than winners), I remember him for the curious Brut TV commercials he did in the 1970s that helped usher in the world of male product aisles in supermarkets and spornographic advertising we know today.

‘Enery’s ‘omely features and working class man’s man status, along with the ironic play on Brut/brute, guaranteed that there was nothing poofy about men using cologne as more than just an aftershave — ‘splash it on all ovah!’ Which was an important statement for one of the first mass market male colognes to make at a time when such vanites were generally still frowned upon in the rather pongy UK. In the Dick Emery, Are You Being Served? 1970s it was inconceivable that ‘enery could be ‘omo.

But the ‘omosocial reassurance that something isn’t ‘omo can look a lot like ‘omosexuality sometimes.

Here’s one of the happily married Henry having a sweaty workout, shower and towel-flicking sesh with footballer Kevin Keegan. Which is manly man’s man stuff, but with a surprisingly pronounced (intergenerational) homoerotic sub-text. The fact I still vividly remember it from my youth suggests that the sub-text was there all along, and not just something the filthy-minded 21st Century has projected on the past.

It even seems like they’re about to kiss at one point. But then, in the 1970s footballers did this to one another after scoring. Because again, it was inconceivable that they could be ‘omo.

Thirty years on, it’s hardly a surprise that Brut is no longer trailblazing. Brut, which was never exactly a ‘refined’ fragrance, is marketed in the US today as a slightly ironic retrosexual throwback.

Though maybe I’m mistaken. Perhaps the retrosexual at the end of the ad below is really a butch lesbian.

 

 

I Can. I Will. Be Bluetiful.

James Dean, the lost bisexual love-object of the 1950s, famously denied being homosexual, but explained that he ‘didn’t want to go through life with one hand tied behind his back.’

Probably it’s just because I have a weak spot for Lee Ryan, the cheeky blue-eyed Essex boy who sings in a dreamy falsetto – and I know this makes me deeply unhip – but I rather like Blue’s ‘I Can’, the UK’s entry for next week’s Eurovision Song Contest. I hear in it a kind of metrosexual anthem, about men expressing things and having experiences that they really weren’t supposed to until recently.

Untying that hand – and waving it around a lot in time to the music.

 

I can

I will

I know

I can untie these hands

Boybands played an important role in the spread of metrosexuality, with Take That most famously evangelising the male desire to be desired in the 1990s, turning a generation on to the charms of pierced nipples, leather harnesses and eager male sex-objectification. It seems none of Take That were, despite the many rumours, gay. But Take That as a band were very gay indeed. Their gay manager took the gay male love of the male body and sold it to millions of teen girls – and boys. All that baby oil helped loosen up ideas about masculinity.

London crooners Blue were in many ways the slightly more boring Noughties successor to the tarty Manc lads. Duncan James famously came out as bisexual a couple of years back, making him one of a very small club of out celeb bisexual males (so small I can’t think of any others off the top of my head).

But it’s not as if the others, especially Lee, are acting particularly hetero in this video for ‘I Can’. At the beginning Lee appears to be shagging Duncan from behind, though never losing eye-contact with the camera of course. And in fact a year ago he admitted/boasted to having had MMF threesomes with Duncan, whom he ‘loves to bits’.

When I first began writing about the subject in 1994 I talked about metrosexuality being the male compliment of female bi-curiousness (then called ‘lesbian chic), but quickly shut up about it when I realised no one wanted to hear that. And while metrosexuality did in some ways culturally stand in for male bi-curiousness – it’s his jeans not his ass I fancy – by encouraging an awareness of male beauty and attractiveness amongst men in general it ended up making the expression of male bisexuality/bi-curiousness much easier. ‘I can’.

Blue recently did a homoerotic, Du Stade type nude shoot for Attitude magazine (with Lee looking by far the most saucy), and have promised another one if they win Eurovision. Those hands have been untied already.

So much so that when the foxy ladies join them at the end of the video, and the heavens open, suggesting perhaps some kind of pan-sexual gang-bang, they don’t really convince as objects of the camera’s gaze – next to the full-wattage metrosexiness of Blue.

 

POSTSCRIPT

I’m obviously a bit slow this week. It’s only finally dawned on me what’s going on with the lady dancers in the video.

They’re Blue’s ‘feminine side’. All tied up in bondage at the start of the video they end up ‘untied’ and freely mingling/merging moistly with the boys.

Channeling Our Inner Princess


I resolved some time ago to avoid mentioning The Royal You Know What on this blog.

However, now it’s over – but is on some kind of endless media loop tape – I feel impelled to say that the main problem with weddings in the tarty 21st Century isn’t the empty promises and meaningless gestures. Everyone loves those. No, it’s the fact that the groom can’t be a bride too.

On the Big Day he has to channel his inner princess through his Wife-To-Be. Which is very traditional of course, but a bit unfair and not really what today’s narcissistic, pampered young men have been led to expect by advertising and Men’s Health magazine. Or, for that matter, feminism and ‘equal opps’.

On the one day in his life the average man gets to be treated like a celeb or royalty and travel by limo and be endlessly photographed and videotaped he has to wear a very boring standard issue hired Victorian frock coat that hides his gym body – or if he’s lucky enough to be a member of the Royal Family a pillar box red ‘dress uniform’ apparently made out of felt, horsehair, chicken wire and Gilbert & Sullivan props. His wife on the other hand gets to choose something modern, designer, sensuous and very expensive. That everyone will look at and talk about.

This makes for a rather ‘over-determined’ bride, poor dear. Who has to try to live out not only her own inner princess fantasies but those of her fiancée as well. You can imagine the arguments that go on in today’s bridal shops: ‘Look, Nigel, I TOLD you it would be better if you just went for another work-out or haircut and left me and my girlfriends to choose the bloody frock!’

Maybe it’s because the groom is still forced to channel his inner princess through the bride that Kate and her Tudor eyebrows looked a little like a post-op TS version of Wills.

For the sake of some kind of balance, I should also add that one of the reasons why gay (male) weddings can seem so redundant to me is because there is no bride at all – just two grooms. All the fuss and bother – and twice the suit hire – of a straight wedding but without the frocking point.

“I’ve had a lot of guys who aren’t homo but are effeminate”

Perhaps it’s his fagly beard and whiny voice, but Pastor Steve Anderson of Arizona sounds a lot like some gay bears I know who are always bitching about sissies and metrosexuals and where oh where did all the real men go.

“God made us to be men! We need to embrace being manly and not be pretty boys and cissified, effeminate little twinkies!!”

But I’m grateful to Mr Anderson and his Xstian fundamentals for making it quite clear where much of America’s problem with metrosexuality and the ‘gender neutral movement’ as he calls it (fingers interlocking, intimating the horror of a world of mutuality) comes from.

God hates metros.

Tip: Shirley Temple Bar

Public Information Film Warns Men’s Health Mag & Disco Blurs Desire & Envy, Making Men Dizzy

 

Tip: Andre Murracas

The Men’s Zone: Where Guys Can Feel Pretty

There are now so many ‘grooming’ – i.e. male beauty – products on the market in the US they’ve begun to introduce entire aisles in supermarkets devoted to men’s tartiness. Even in Texas.

Shoppers will find “more than 530 grooming products, including razors that sculpt beards, two shelves stocked with rinses to color gray hair, at least 15 body washes with names such as Swagger and Komodo, lotions that promise to smooth wrinkles, sprays to mask body odors, and eye roller gel to lighten dark circles.”

Called ‘Men’s Zone’ (which sounds, I can’t help but point out, like a gay leather bar) and apparently sponsored by cosmetics giant Procter and Gamble, the concept seems to be separating men’s ‘grooming products’ from women’s beauty products — so that men feel less anxious, and more manly, about their metrosexuality.

And buy even more beauty products.

Tip: DAKrolak

Copyright © 1994 - 2017 Mark Simpson All Rights Reserved.