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

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Category: metrosexual (page 3 of 33)

Why Men Love Shoes

‘Metrosexual goes mainstream as men outspend women on footwear’ announced a headline in the Daily Telegraph last week, dealing a death blow to yet another stand-up comedian gendered generalisation stand-by.

I have to admit that even metrodaddy was somewhat taken aback that men have overhauled women in the shoe fetishism department, and so quickly. But this may just be because I’m over 45 – apparently the one age group where men still spend less than women on footwear.

New research from the consumer analysis outfit Mintel shows 25-34 year-old males spent an average of £178 on everything from shoes to trainers and sandals in the past year, while women in the same age bracket spent £171. Among 16-24 year-olds the gender ‘reversal’ is even more noticeable, with younger men spending 15 per cent more than women of the same age. Men aged 35-44 also spent more: £157, against £138 for women.

The man from Mintel didn’t mince his words about what this all means:

Richard Cope, the market research specialist Mintel’s principle [sic] trends analyst, added the shock figures confirmed that metrosexuality was now “in the mainstream.” He insisted that younger men than are more worried than ever before about their appearance, are taking more time to “groom” and staring at the mirror.

He said: “Taking pride in and taking greater confidence from maintaining a well groomed appearance now defines what it is to be ‘a man’ in today’s society.

“Rather than being in a minority, men who buy grooming products to boost self-esteem or feel more attractive are now in the majority.”

He added: “Metrosexuality has successfully moved into the mainstream.

“We’re seeing men occupy previously ‘feminine’ space in the home – spending more time on housework and parenting – but also as consumers, embracing yoga, beauty goods, and the act of shopping itself.”

Quite so. Metrosexuality is about men doing and using and being things previously seen as ‘feminine’. About breaking free of rigid gender stereotypes and becoming everything – and buying everything and anything that makes you look/feel better. Why do young men love shoes? For the same reason women do.

But there’s a paradox here: Now that young men spend more than women on shoes, hair dryers, holiday clothes, gym membership and supplements – and almost as much as on clothes and cosmetics – they are also earning less than women of the same age.

Are they all living with their mothers?

I’d F*ck Me: Mirror Man-Love

 WARNING: hipsters and gay bears may want to watch this ad backwards.

I’m rather taken with this refreshingly direct ad currently airing on MTV for a Philips Norelco product that promises to ‘shave, style and groom’. And also you’d be forgiven for thinking, suck your cock.

I'd faq me 1

A young man approaches the mirror, face and chest hidden by unruly red hair. He reaches for his versatile buzzing buddy. After tackling his face fuzz, he despatches his chest rug, then his abs fur. As he ‘manscapes’ himself into something sexier (to beardist, hairist me at least) – something pornier – his confidence improves and he tells himself flirtatiously: ‘I’d catch some rays with me’… ‘I’d play beach volley-ball with me’… and the rather adorable: ‘I’d wear silly sun hats with me’.

Finally, by the time he’s reached the third head on his humming toy he’s openly turning himself on: ‘I’d f*ck me’ he says matter-of-factly gazing at his own reflection.

And so would I, dear. So would I.

The ad is funny and memorable largely because it confronts head-on what too much advertising for men’s beauty products, particularly ones for the American market, try desperately to disavow – male vanity and sensuality. Even as they’re exploiting them. It goes so far as to joshingly play with one of the scariest things for marketers about male narcissism – the way it can shade into male homoerotics. An eye for male sexiness, even your own, might just turn into male sex.

If Men’s Health magazine had been the client for this ad the final line would have been cut at the first script meeting, along with the silly hat moment (too gay and too funny), and a glamorous beard (of the female variety) would have appeared in the final frame. And judging by their pointlessly Puritanical covers of late, our chap would have had to wear a baggy dark grey t-shirt while shaving his chest.

Of course, it’s taken for granted that Philips’ young manscaper is talking about scoring babes – and his possibly slightly ‘douchey’ auto-flirtatiousness, like the silly sun hat, is meant to be taken as proof that he is secure in his (metro)sexuality. But equally, he’s probably secure enough to experiment with a ‘different head’ sometime.

Most of all the ad communicates the importance of self-love and self-care in modern masculinity. If you want to score with the babes you have to score yourself first.

Dutch-owned Philips have been a consistent trail-blazer in regard to men’s burgeoning desire to be desired and need to be in control of their man-garden – in the mid Noughties they introduced the historic Bodygroom. (I have one myself – with an extendable handle to reach my back: Oh, the horrors of middle age.) Their marketing campaign then was also humorous, but very coy – involving kiwi fruit and an ironically boring man in a big white dressing gown talking about the ‘optical inch’.


In less than a decade things have got a lot more explicit. Probably partly as a result of the HD porn that young men download so much – which is in turn why they are so shaved and trimmed down below anyway. Marketing this new combined body groomer, beard trimmer and shaver Philips clearly feel they can be much more direct about the male body and its intimacies.

Take a visit to their ‘I’d FAQ me’ website. You’re really getting right up close and personal as you zoom around and into this male model’s body.

Don’t know about you, but by the time I got to the end I felt I should have at least offered the guy my number. Or a Kleenex.


Tip: Dakrolak

Use Our Straight Acting Cosmetics – Or Everyone Will Know You’re a Drag Queen

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David Bowie’s Bisensuality

Mark Simpson on how Bowie, the 1970s progenitor metrosexuality, shape-shifted masculinity 

(Originally appeared in High50 magazine, March 2013)

The video for David Bowie’s first single in a decade, the melancholic, low-key ‘Where Are We Now?’ – featuring the faces of Bowie and an unnamed woman superimposed on conjoined puppets – is striking for all sorts of reasons.

For those who can remember such things, it is also a striking reminder of his 1979 Saturday Night Live US performance of ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, with Joey Arias and the late great Klaus Nomi on backing vocals, in which Bowie’s head was superimposed on a dancing puppet (this really happened).

‘Boys Keep Swinging’, released at the height of his own pomp, is a swaggeringly ironic mockery of machismo and male privilege: “Heaven loves ya/the clouds part for ya/Nothing stands in your way/When you’re a boy”. Slyly, he outed the homoerotics of masculine pride with the line “When you’re a boy/Other boys check you out”.

NBC stood in Bowie’s way: they censored the line. His lips moved but no sound came out. And much the same could be said for much of his pre-Let’s Dance career in the US. Bowie was way too gay for the God-fearing USA.

In the David Mallet promo video for the song (which RCA refused to release in the US) Bowie is backed by three bored women singers who turn out to be the singer in drag: Bowie as Katherine Hepburn; Bowie as Marlene Dietrich; Bowie as a brunette, gum-chewing Olivia Newton-John.

Like the videos for his new singles, ‘Where Are We Now?’ and ‘The Stars Are Out Tonight’, Bowie was telling us he’s both masculine and feminine. And neither.

Of all male pop stars – of all pop stars – Bowie has been the most in control and controlling of his image. He was like a studio system Hollywood starlet – but he ran the studio. No star of vinyl or celluloid understood and exploited the power of fashion and aesthetics and sexual personae in selling himself better. Bowie set out to make the world fall for for the man who fell to Earth, and succeeded, over and over again.

Count the ways we loved David Robert Jones: Major Tom. Ziggy. Diamond Dogs. Aladdin Sane. The Thin White Duke. Scary Monster. Let’s Dance. (Later this month at the V&A David Bowie Exhibition you can pay homage to all Bowie’s historic costume changes).

Although he probably hates the term, Bowie, despite his wonky teeth and mis-matching eye colour, is the late 20th-century progenitor of metrosexuality – the 21st-century male desire to be desired, the masculine appropriation of ‘feminine’ beauty and style.

Wearing a ‘man dress’ on the cover of The Man Who Sold the World he anticipated by 40 years Andrej Pejic, the male model who models women’s clothes as well as men’s. Appropriately enough, Pejic appears in the video for Bowie’s latest release, ‘The Stars Are Out Tonight’, along with his female doppelganger, Tilda Swinton.

That epoch-making performance on Top of the Pops of 1972’s ‘Starman’ – a song loosely based on Judy Garland’s ‘Over The Rainbow’ – in which Bowie, in a multi-coloured quilted two-piece suit, orange hair and white nail varnish, languorously draped his arm around his golden guitarist Mick Ronson, was a very calculated and inspiring gesture of defiance against masculine norms.

Only a few months previously, Bowie had told the world he was gay. (Angie, his wife at the time, famously quipped to him: “You could at least have said bisexual!”) The first UK gay pride march had been held just a few days earlier. Wind back another five years, and all sexual contact between males was illegal. As a million dads shouted at the TV “Get that bleedin’ poofter off my telly!”, a generation of kids decided Bowie was their star man.

Whatever the ‘truth’ of Bowie’s own sexuality, his TOTP intrusion into the living rooms of suburban England was the most powerful and provocative sexual liberation parade ever seen in the UK. He was later to beat a retreat from his androgyny and bisexuality in the Reaganite Eighties, perhaps in the hope that America would no longer censor him.

But the glamorous seeds he sowed back in the Seventies have borne strange and wonderful bisensual fruit, enjoyed by everyone, regardless of gender or orientation.

It was largely left to another working class DB from London who doesn’t sing and can barely speak to spread the high-street, off-the-peg version of his gospel: David Beckham, the footballer famously “in touch with my feminine side”. In a sense, Beckham has realised the massive, global fame that should have been Bowie’s, but which the world wasn’t quite ready for back then.

But thanks to Bowie’s swishy, bravura trail-blazing, even tongue-tied footballers today can be everything that they can be. While other boys, and girls, check them out.

Naked Boy Band Held Hostage In Woman’s Toilet

Once again, I’m very grateful that American feminists have scientifically proven (by looking at dusty back issues of Rolling Stone magazine) that men aren’t ‘really’ objectified, only women are.

Because it means that this eye-popping ad for toilet cleaner featuring a tarty boy band suspended beneath the rim of a toilet in cages, imploring ‘baby’ to pull the chain and flush them – slowly washing away their clothes – doesn’t really exist, and none of us need have nightmares about it.

And I don’t need to analyse it.

Tip: David S

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