Tom Daley isn’t gay. But the bronze medallist Olympic diver and presenter of celebrity Speedo show Splash! – recently voted ‘World’s Sexiest Man’ by the readers of gay mag Attitude – doesn’t mind if you think he is. Last weekend he told The Mirror:
“I think it’s funny when people say I’m gay… I laugh it off,” says Tom… “I’m not. But even if I was, I wouldn’t be ashamed. It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest what people thought.’
Quite a few gay pals of mine know better. Not because of any special ‘inside information’ gleaned from the gay grapevine mind, but simply because they ‘can tell’. Because they’ve seen him on telly they seem to know his sexual orientation better than Daley does himself. Maybe it’s because he smiles a lot, takes care over his appearance, is well-mannered and loves his mum. Or maybe it’s because he doesn’t have a girlfriend at the moment.
But whatever the reason I suspect many of them might be rather less convinced – or interested in expressing an opinion at all – if Tom didn’t look hot in a pair of spectacularly abbreviated swimming trunks.
This kind of gay insistence about Daley’s sexuality (and other pretty boys in the public eye, such as the Olympic gymnast and Strictly star Louis Smith) isn’t malicious, in fact it’s meant very affectionately. But unlike Daley I’m not quite so inclined to laugh it off. In a sense it’s the ‘friendly fire’ version of the homophobic tweets Daley has experienced, and the bullying which made him change schools. Unintentionally it reinforces straight-and-narrow and increasingly obsolete ideas about what boys should and shouldn’t be – if they don’t conform to that then they ‘must’ be gay. Though in the snuggly sense of ‘one of us’ – rather than the phobic sense of ‘one of them’.
Perhaps, for the sake of argument, despite what he actually says Daley ‘really’ is gay, or bisexual. Perhaps he’s currently kidding himself, or us – or both. But so what if he is? He’s nineteen. People should be prepared let Tom be Tom and not project their own past onto his present.
Although gay people – myself included – often pride themselves on their ‘gaydar’, their ability to ‘spot’ another gay person, it’s a very imprecise instrument and getting more so all the time. Now that the streets are awash with pretty, moussed, moisturised, gym-toned young men in pastel colours that look like they’re auditioning to be in One Direction – and who, like boy band stars don’t mind showing physical affection for one another – the poor old gaydar is getting very jammed indeed. Perhaps it’s time to turn it off, or at least dial it down a bit. Particularly since Grindr is a much more accurate detection system.
In a world where being gay – or looking gay – is no longer such a big deal, a world that gay people worked hard to bring about, perhaps we shouldn’t make such a big deal out whether someone ‘really’ is or isn’t any more. Especially if they’re as generous with their fit body as Daley. (Who, by the way, was born the same year as the metrosexual.)
Like many lads today Daley clearly loves to be looked at – and he has way of showering after a dive in front of billions that is, shall we say, very sensual. It’s part of the reason he welcomes the gaze of gays. As he told The Mirror.
“I can understand why I have a massive gay following – I spend most of my life half naked in trunks on a diving board showing off my bare chest.
“I often joke I wear more to bed than I do to work.”
Being voted the sexiest guy in the world by a gay magazine (Daley’s aesthetic daddy David Beckham was runner-up) might result in your straight mates ‘gently taking the mick’ as Daley reports, but in this age of rampant male tartiness, in which almost every straight male athlete that doesn’t look like the back end of a bus has been on the cover of a gay mag in their knickers, they’re probably more than a tad jealous too.
I have something to confess. When I listened to Suede’s eponymous debut album last year I was disappointed. Disappointed that it turned out to be as good as the hype had trumpeted it to be. This was an album that went gold on its first day and sold 100,000 copies in its first week, by a group whose canny PR people secured them no less than nineteen magazine covers. Suede were everywhere, and everyone was hailing them as the greatest thing since The Smiths. So I’m sure you can sympathise with my frustration on discovering I couldn’t loftily dismiss them as paste imitations and actually had to admit that Suede, at once savage and tender, sleazy and sublime, was one of the greatest first albums ever.
Suede, the bastards, they had it all. They had the press; they had the material; they had the success. And to cap it all they had a dangerous, scandalous edge in the form of seventies androgyny queered up for the nineties. It was there in their songs—”We kiss in his room to a popular tune” (“The Drowners”); “In your council home he broke all your bones and now you’re taking it time after time” (“Animal Nitrate”)—and an album cover that featured two disabled lesbians snogging. Most of all, it was there in the sissy shape of front man Brett Anderson. With his irritating girlish fringe, weedy pointy shoulders, and pigeon chest, his swinging, childbearing hips (to which he insisted on drawing attention by banging the microphone against them), and his big-collared blouses baring a waspish waist and nibblesome navel, Anderson was the most offensively, delectably unmanly pop star since Morrissey. Damn him, damn them.
But I needn’t have fretted. Even as Suede were being feted, a backlash was brewing that would unmask them as fakes. What finally unleashed it was Brett’s remark that he considered himself “a bisexual who had never had a homosexual experience.” So Suede were frauds after all! All that mincing of hips and meeting of same-sex lips was phony, a sham! How satisfying.
Gay critics fired the first salvos, denouncing Suede as shameful exploiters of their culture. “Is there any real difference between what Brett from Suede is doing and what the Black and White Minstrels once did?” demanded one furious gay music journalist in Melody Maker.
Meanwhile, those straights who had been discomfited by the queerness of Suede, were given a green light to ridicule them for being big girl’s blouses, now that they had no fear of being called “homophobic.” After reading one gay critic’s attack on Anderson, “comedians” Newman and Baddiel included a typically witty sketch in their last tour that derided him for his poofiness.
Now, more than a year later, as Suede prepare to release their second album, Dog Man Star, they seem as cursed as they were blessed last year. Second albums are always a test, but after such a debut album as Suede, it becomes a trial. Gone is the honeymoon with the press, and gone also is Bernard Butler, the band’s guitarist and Marr to Brett’s Morrissey, in an acrimonious and very public separation. What does the Posing Sodomite have to say about that remark now?
“It was completely misread,” he says, the annoyance registering in his voice. “I was talking about the way I write and the way I generally feel about life. I don’t feel 100 percent akin to the male world or 100 percent akin to the female world. I was trying to express in a sexual perspective something that was more spiritual. Lots of things I write about are third person but written in the first person. Basically it was about not wanting to be pinned down.”
Brett Anderson is perched awkwardly on the arm of the sofa opposite, his body angled slightly away from me. Is he afraid of being “pinned down” as Someone Sitting on a Sofa? Is he, in fact, occupying some more artistic, ambiguous space between sitting and standing? Simon Gilbert, the band’s drummer, who came out as gay last year, is also here, facing me with his knees apart, apparently happy to surrender to the definite, fixed position of sitting on the sofa (albeit in the middle).
Brett continues in his fast-talking, surprisingly laddish South Coast voice: “I don’t think that anyone should have to be pinned down, even if they are definitely in a category—definitely gay or definitely straight. Because you happen to engage in certain sexual practices you shouldn’t have to be that and nothing more. I was trying to state something universal while everyone wanted to read something specific.”
He has a point. OK, so the refusing to be pinned down, “I-don’t- want-to-label-myself” thing is, in a sense, laughably adolescent. But isn’t that what pop is for? To be wilful, self-absorbed, self-important, pretentious? To refuse the definition, the certainty, the common sense, the maturity, the lifelessness of grown-ups? However hopeless such a resistance might be? But gays and straights did not appreciate Suede’s irresponsibility. Like most who advocate the possibility of a third position in the Sexual Identity War, Anderson was caught in the cross-fire between the two camps.
“The gay side thought it was a cop-out and the straight side weren’t happy with it either,” he complains. “Everybody wants you as a figurehead for their party: the world is just a series of tribes that want you to speak out for them but I’ve never felt myself part of any of tribe. I don’t intend to be a spokesman for any of them in particular. I’d like to think that individuals have got a bit more intelligence than to be happy with belonging to a glorified football team.
“I was seen as a whipping boy for people who wanted to be right-on as well. I happened to lay my defences open. Before I did people had thought: he probably is homosexual so we can’t criticise him on those grounds because we won’t be seen as right-on. Newman and Baddiel wouldn’t have dared do the same sketch about Andy Bell – although I’m sure they would like to – because they know they would have been slated as homophobic. I think men who are perceived to be gay but who aren’t actually don’t have the political defences to fall back on that gay men do.”
But then you were a rock star making this statement. Wasn’t it a rather cynical thing for someone in your privileged position to say, exploiting for your own ends the good old-fashioned “ambisexual” appeal of rock ‘n’ roll?
“Perhaps, but that would only be true if it were a charade. I think it would be impossible for me to act any other way. It’s not a ploy.”
So you refute the accusation that you were appropriating gay culture by “posing as a sodomite”?
“I wasn’t appropriating it – that sounds like stealing. I thought I had a kinship with it. My own sexuality aside, I’m quite deeply involved in the gay world because a lot of my friends are gay and because of this feeling of kinship. But like I said, I didn’t actually feel as if I was part of any particular group and didn’t want to be, so I didn’t feel a fraud at all. I wasn’t ‘posing as a sodomite’ – I felt completely justified in what I was doing.”
“I think it’s more to do with the way the press decide to portray us that caused the gay community to turn against us. In the NME there were cartoons representing us as limp-wristed Lord Fauntleroys. We weren’t trying to come across that way at all; that was the way the media decided to perceive us. Now I think we’ve gone beyond that – but that’s not to say that I’ve turned my back on what I was talking about then; it’s just the way my mind works.”
But surely you can’t just blame the press for your images as effete fops?
“Look, any pop band can get some success by wearing pink feather boas and some makeup – ‘Ohmygod, they’re outrageous‘ – we’re doing the opposite. We never felt we fitted into any categories. I think the music we make is a metaphor for everything including our sexuality, the way I’ve always tried to avoid barriers. Simon’s the same…”
“I have to say that I really sympathise with Brett’s position,” Simon chips in on cue. “I come from the other side of the fence if you like. I’ve called myself a bisexual person who’s never had a heterosexual experience. I never wanted to fit into the stereotypical image of what a gay person is. I think that it’s a lucky accident that brought me together with Brett because we really do share a similar outlook. Of all the bands I’ve been with, it’s only with Suede that I felt able to be honest.
“But I don’t want to be defined by my sexual preference, to be put in this category which is, to all intents and purposes, a clubby crowd. I never felt like I belonged in the straight world before I came out. After I came out I didn’t feel like I belonged in the gay world either.”
Actually, Simon doesn’t exactly look like he belongs in Suede. His hair – which is short, spiky, and an angry red-purple – is somewhat at odds with the louche Suede-boy coiffure. Apparently, people often think that he must be “the straight one” because he has short hair. As he continues talking, it becomes apparent where his image comes from. Like many young outsiders growing up in the late 70s, Simon had found a home in punk.
“It seemed to express something about me and I really enjoyed the ambiguity of the lyrics – like The Clash’s ‘Stay Free,’ which I interpret as a love song from one man to another. I’d never identified with politically gay bands and performers like Jimmy Somerville. I think that a song should speak to whoever’s listening without hitting them over the head with rhetoric that’s bound to turn some people off.”
But all the bands Simon had belonged to had displayed sufficient casual homophobia to persuade him to stay firmly in the closet.
“They all had their puerile antigay banter which I had to sit through without saying anything. Suede were different. One day somebody asked if I was gay and I just said, ‘Yeah.’ For a moment I thought, Oh shit, what have I done? I’m out of the band now I fact, the way everyone reacted was brilliant. It felt so right .ill that. I think it has a lot to do with the similarity between his outlook and mine.”
Have either of you consummated your “bisexuality” since last year?
Brett: “Not physically.”
Simon: “I’d say the same.”
What does that actually mean, though?
Simon: “It means that I can relate to a woman without actually getting into bed with her. In the same way as Brett does with men.”
So superficially there’s a neat symmetry between you in that you both want to avoid categorisation, aspiring to be something more and less than what you might be seen to be…
Brett: “… yes, there is …”
Simon: “. . . I’d agree with that. . .”
. . . but perhaps only superficially. Some might argue that you, Brett, were claiming a certain credibility without actually putting your iron in the fire or, probably more to the point, allowing someone else to put his in yours.
Brett: “Mine’s a kind of active statement and Simon’s is a kind passive statement? Yeah, I know what you’re saying. There’s a huge history here which I’m kind of attaching myself to, or port assume I’m attaching myself to. I don’t really see how to get away from it—I’m not saying that I never said it, but….
Now Brett is swallowing water. I throw him a line: Perhaps you were attacked for merely putting into words what has been the unofficial formula for truly great rock ‘n’ roll all along?
“Yeah, I’d agree with that.”
Does he think that his crime was more explanation than exploitation?
“Yes, I think that’s been my problem all along—giving too much away. It would have been very easy for me not to mention my sexuality at all and people would draw their own conclusions. I’ve been incredibly honest. I’ve never said anything that wasn’t true.” As a result of Brett’s honesty, some sections of the indie press slated Suede for being “inauthentic” poseurs—possibly the worst crime in the indie universe. Perhaps this had something to do with the notion among some sections of the music press that masculinity is equivalent to authenticity, and both are equivalent to working classness?
“Yeah,” Brett agrees. “Indie does have this huge emphasis on authenticity: everyone has to play and it’s a case of all the lads together. But the whole indie thing is so much a fucking fake itself!” he exclaims with real vehemence. “It’s actually the children of the landed gentry with guitars! I can name quite a few names—but I won’t—people with extravagantly rich parents who have decided to go for this scruffy image.
‘None of us have ever been part of that sort of gang at all. We made music from the other direction: we’re from a scruffy background and aspired to something much more . . . ambitious. I’ve always wanted to make pop music; I’ve always wanted to have hits; I’m always had a really pop ethic and loved the bands who were out-and-out Motown. These other people are the reverse: they’re coming from successful backgrounds and want to have this authenticity and avant-garde appeal by slumming it. I want to make pop songs that everyone can understand and really . . . shine.”
This is the moment to mention those lovable dog-racing cock-er-nee geezahs (or so they’d like you to think) who have risen to fame since Suede’s disappearance from the scene. Brett pauses at the sound of their name-—maybe bristles would be a better description. “Ummmm … I don’t really have anything to say about Blur.” He looks at Simon.
“No, there’s not much to say,” concurs Simon, almost spontaneously. “A lot’s been made of our supposed spat with them but it’s all crap really.”
Brett: “They do their thing and we do ours. The press make out that there’s this big rivalry between us, when there isn’t really.”
I try to explain that all I want is a kind of “compare and contrast” angle on Blur. Brett shifts uneasily, moving even more of his body line away from me, flicking nervous sideways glances in my general direction, head close to his chest as he speaks—like a painfully shy boy making his first pass or telling the police where he hid the body.
“Look, any of these bands that have been getting all this attention lately have made it because we haven’t been around [flick]. That sounds really big-headed I know, but I don’t think that anyone has had the track record that we’ve had. Most people only know our singles—that doesn’t reveal the depth to our musical style [flick]. Things like our B sides. We’ve never made a duff B side. Some of our B sides are better than our album tracks. Without being really, y’know, conceited [flick], I don’t think that there’s anyone who has produced such a body of work in such a small amount of time. Not even some of the great British groups of the past [flick, flick], I think that the next album will completely ground everyone else [flick]. I think.”
His speech over, Brett shifts his bony bum around on the sofa arm a teensy bit more towards me.
“I hate all this big-headed crap, y’know?” he confesses. ” ‘We’re the greatest,’ blah, blah. We’ve never gone around with this attitude”—now his voice is almost plaintive—”we just happen to think that our music is great and that it has real depth to it.”
Did he face away from me because he was embarrassed at having to sell himself; or was it because he was embarrassed by the “real” Brett Anderson—someone fiercely ambitious, competitive, and egotistical? Whatever the reason, there’s more than a certain amount of truth in what he’s saying. It wasn’t until Suede came along and showed that the body of pop wasn’t quite as cold as everyone had taken it to be that groups like Blur had any chance at all.
The few tracks I’ve heard off the new album suggest Suede have indeed taken a new direction. Toned down is the raw energy of the first album; anger is here replaced by melodrama, and, astonishingly, it comes off. Emotions are painted on a larger canvas with more unabashed extravagance than British pop has had for years. Some will denounce it as self-indulgent and pompous. But at least one track, “Still Life”—a ballad that grows into a breathtaking orchestral production—is going to be huge. It’s so expansive, so gorgeous that no one will be able to resist its goosepimpling embrace. It will be played on Radios 1 and 2; housewives will hum distractedly to its bittersweet melody in kitchens while their sons weep disconsolately to its wailing angst in their bedrooms.
“I think that we’ve successfully combined those things which we’ve always been good at before,” claims Brett. “We’ve always been able to produce those bubblegum singles like ‘Animal Nitrate’ and ‘The Next Life,’ and on this album we’ve been able to blend the cockiness of these with something more wistful. ‘Wild Ones,’ for example, is for me the most successful thing I’ve ever written. It’s incredibly catchy and poppy and at the same time, it’s something quite beautiful. I think,” he intones solemnly, “it’s really, really rare for pop music to produce something beautiful.”
Do I detect something of Ravel’s Bolero in the finale of “Still Life”?
“Yeah, we ripped it off a bit. If people just heard that track off the album they’d be quite misled because it is very orchestral. We wanted to go for something quite heroic. It’s very easy for a pop band to get a bit of money and pay for an orchestra to accompany them. I think that song justifies it because if you hear it on its own, as an acoustic vocal, it builds naturally anyway. The orchestral embellishments just suggest themselves.
“It is quite pompous, especially the end part. But pop music has always been about being pretentious—you can’t be worthy; there’s no point. That’s the crappy thing about the indie scene: it doesn’t go any further than a bunch of people slapping each other on the back going, ‘Yeah, that’s worthy.'”
Like the Manic Street Preachers, Suede are a pop group, who have that loyalty to pop music that most fans don’t have time for any more. Suede are from an era where there were only three TV channels; two were showing football and one was showing a documentary on fly-fishing. They are from an era of youth-club discos and smoking behind the bike sheds, when the idea of a good time was rattling around in a battered Cortina without tax or insurance, or beating up the local queer. It’s also an England that arguably no longer exists or, if it does, is fast fading away.
Simon disagrees. “Since I came out, I get a lot of letters and I can tell that life in small towns hasn’t changed much. People tell me about getting beaten up in the school playground and stuff. Mind you, Stratford, where I grew up, is really weird. The first time I went back to Stratford after coming out I expected people to be really put off about it—y’know, ‘Oh, here’s that fuckin’ queer.’ But not at all. People were saying, ‘Why didn’t you tell us when you used to hang around with us? It would have been cool.’
“It’s easy to say that things have changed sitting here in London as a member of the media elite. This world just carries on and on, no matter that there are smart people walking around with black briefcases. [Brett glances at my black briefcase.] There are kids out there who desperately need something to cling on to. Yeah, it is an old- fashioned idea, but it’s what we grew up with. I think it’s easy to talk about the advancement of society when you live in a big city, but I don’t think things have moved on from 1954 once you get outside it.”
But isn’t this a rather patronising view?
“Yes, it is quite patronising, but I also think that it’s quite true,” he says rather impatiently. “It’s patronising towards the people who inflict it on the ones who don’t want it. But they deserve it. Like all my family. They’re living in a different age. It’s all lino and corned beef, like something out of Look Back in Anger.”
Brett and Simon grew up in those corners of Britain where Thatcherism, satellite TV, and Sega Mega-Drives never happened. For Simon it was the tourist/rural limbo of Stratford-upon-Avon; for Brett it was Haywards Heath, a dormitory town north of Brighton. Both men wanted to be pop stars for as long as they can remember. “When I was about four I used to imagine being Paul McCartney,” confesses Simon. No wonder he became a punk.
I put it to Brett that yes, Britain is still dowdy and desperate—perhaps more so—especially in those forgotten corners. But the world that produced a passion for pop has gone.
“Yes, that’s true—the world has completely changed in that sense. That’s why I think the new album is a step forward because it is not as caught up with the inverted nostalgia. Where the last album was retrogressive; the new album is much more wistful and in love with the modern age.”
Brett admits, however, that his new optimism is somewhat stifled by certain local realities. “The Suede backlash was partly to do with a reaction against success. Anyone in this country who achieves success is struck out against. You’re allowed to go only so far and no further. This or that song will be dismissed as a ‘pile of shit’ because it’s not avant-garde enough, not because it’s actually any good or not. America’s very different—it seems to be more hopeful.”
But isn’t that part of the deal? That the melancholic, repressed twistedness that your music has fed off can’t be separated from the bitterness, envy, and narrow-mindedness?
“Yes and that’s where the dichotomy lies. This band is caught up in its own history and that’s what makes us what we are. Yet there’s that desire to reach a kind of spiritual state and shed your skin and go on to another plane . . .”
Isn’t this where you end up following in Morrissey’s steps, someone who also celebrates the mundane and the desperate in British-ness and yet tries to transcend it?
“I don’t think he’s expressed any desire to escape it,” replies Brett quickly. “After fifteen years in the music business there’s been no development in his intention, and I intend to develop. He’s found his niche and seems content within it. That’s fair enough; that’s the way he feels. I don’t want to come across like that. We want to do different things, and even over the space of the last two albums, I think we’ve made quite giant leaps.”
Brett seems rather keen to put some distance between himself and Moz. Maybe this is because he was mocked by the Glum One himself for his hero worship of Bowie and Morrissey. (Morrissey reportedly said, “His reference points are so close together that there’s no space in between.”)
But talking of “giant leaps” actually encourages the comparisons. The world gasped at the recent discovery that Morrissey liked a game of footie and now I can exclusively reveal that Brett was good at sport at school.
“Sport was the only thing I did. I held the record for the 800 metres at my school, Oat Hall Comprehensive, for five years,” he says in a studiously casual way, obviously enjoying the turbulence this fact creates in the wake of his Prince of Fey image. “They used to feed me a special high protein diet at school because I was the only one good at sport.”
Simon was not such a prized pupil. “I hated school for the first year but then I became a punk and got respect—perhaps because I was the only one in Stratford. I wasn’t any good at sport but I was very good at forging my mum’s handwriting on the off-games chits.”
Just before the end of the interview I ask Brett about his relationship with pigs. References to things porcine abound in his work, including the track “We Are the Pigs” on the new album. What do porkers mean to him?
“I don’t know really,” he says looking away with a half-smile on his face. “The cover of Animals by Pink Floyd is probably one of my favourite images in the world. It’s a metaphor for sexuality and brutality, stuff like that.”
I suppose that pigs are very . . .
Yes . . .
Absolutely. And in touch with their bodily functions.
“Yes. They’re supposed to smell but they don’t.”
And so the truth is out at last: Brett’s thing for pigs and pig culture is not so much exploitation as identification.
“‘Ere, Ron – The Sun want to know if you’ve got any smaller shorts?”
Britain’s best-selling newspaper The Sun has been working itself into a confused lather about our metrosexual footballers, again. Like me, it just can’t leave them alone.
In a long, hand-wringing – and graphically illustrated – article spread over the centre pages last Friday headlined ‘Preen Team’ they ask ‘What the hell is going on with our footballers?’
Led by the Premier League’s arch-metrosexual Cristiano Ronaldo, football has this summer gone camper than a row of tents.
This week Ronaldo continued his holiday tour by hanging out in a pair of tight silver shorts in LA – and had the world’s gay men coming over all funny.
Er no, it had The Sun coming over all funny. For much of the summer, TheSun has been stalking Portuguese Ronaldo, the best footballer in the UK and also one of the best looking, who is currently convalescing after an injury (hence the unflattering blue footwear), trying to exploit his current unpopularity – the result of his plans to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid, and his failure to keep them, like his hot oiled bod, under wraps.
Like a jealous, spurned suitor, The Sun (along with most of the Brit tabloids) has been bitching and beating him up over his dark (Portuguese) tan, his shorts, his good looks – and his lack of apology for them. And trying to imply he is girly and, what is the same thing in their book, homo.
And who can blame him for wanting to leave the UK, where the biggest paper behaves like a school-ground bully with sexual identity issues? They’ve even published pictures of him smiling at a mate (who appears to be his brother), telling us that he’s cruising him. And I thought I had bumsex on the brain.
In a familiar trick, they’ve given space to the editor of ‘Britain’s best-selling gay magazine’ to gush about what a ‘gay idol’ Ronaldo is. Otherwise known as guilt by association. At the same time as proving they’re ‘not homophobic’ because they let the king of poofs have his say.
Friday’s article goes one step further and seems to blame Ronaldo for making an entire generation of footballers gay. I know he has nice legs, but I doubt even those pins have that kind of power.
But a perfectly-waxed chest and budgie smuggling shorts are just the tip of the iceberg.
A sun investigation has found the manbag and grooming obsession is rife among our highly-paid stars.
As you may have suspected, it turns out that this ‘investigation’ is just another excuse for lots of pics of young footballers without much on. An excuse even smaller than Ron’s silver shorts.
Though I can’t help but poke fun at The Sun‘s hissy list of the metrosexual offences of our footie aces:
Chelsea ace Frank Lampard refused to go anywhere this summer without his salmon pink vest and matching shorts.
(Which we’ve Photoshopped to make look even pinker and gayer, just as we’ve done with Ronaldo’s tan to make him look even darker and even more of a girly dago.)
He has also been lugging around wife Elen Rives’ fuchsia handbag.
I think it suits Fabulous Frankie and he should nick it off her.
Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro actually SHAVED his mate’s chest and armpits on the deck of their holiday yacht this week in a show of shameless male bonding.
Actually SHAVED his mate’s chest and armpits? No! Well, I never! The shamelessness of it!
And Liverpool and Spain striker Fernando Torres spent most of last month by the pool with an Alice band in his hair while leafing through lifestyle magazines.
You can bet he wasn’t reading The Sun.
Ah, for the days of football when men were men and soap was never scented – or dropped. Right on cue The Sun wheels out 1970s footballer Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris, to whinge about how in his day he got paid ten bob a week, cut his own hair with garden shears, ate gravel, and beat up poofs on sight (or so you’d be forgiven for thinking). Interesting that The Sun didn’t ask retired ‘hardman’ Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock back to play this role, after he failed to deliver the poof-baiting goods in a recent previous Sun article bemoaning the gayness of today’s football.
How The Sun loves to keep coming back to this theme of metro V retro, pretending of course to be on the side of retrosexuality against, well, homosexuality. Partly this is because it imagines that retrosexuality is synonymous with ‘working class’ – traditionally the majority of this tab’s readership – because The Sun is now edited by expensively educated types who are faking it.
By posing as champions of ‘Chopper’ Harris they present themselves as connected to that stoic proletarian tradition they actually have nothing to do with, and today’s consumerist, sensual, closetted metro Sun is a million fake-tanned miles from.
I suspect readers under the age of 30 that they know they desperately need to attract if they are to have any future at all, let alone continue to sell millions every day, are mostly turned off by this confused and conflicted metrophobic bullying, however jokey it’s presented as being. Especially those from a working class background. Why? Because they will probably see it as directed against them.
When repeatedly adopting this kind of cor, strewth, look at the pooftahs footballers are today! tone, The Sun just sounds like their nightmare fat dad.
Intentionally or not, this time the space given to the editor of Attitude to twitter about fashion and male freedom and footballers showing the way makes that gay mag sound much more in tune with younger Sun readers than The Sun itself.
Tip: Dave Harley
Male Lib is Nothing to Be Scared Of
Notes on Hipsterism
While everyone else in the 80s wanted to look like they’d walked off the set of Blade Runner or Top Gun, Peter York looked and sounded like he’d stepped out of Dangerous Liaisons. […]
Sixth Form Boys Will Hug Boys
Why masculinity isn't 'in crisis'.
Invasion of the Driverless Cars
Mark Simpson on the headless horsemen of the coming ‘carpocalypse’
Pride & Prejudice
I think the time has come to share a secret about my past I’ve kept hidden for far too long.…
‘Love Island’ – ITV’s Primetime Spornotopia
Mark Simpson undresses the gayest straight dating show on telly
Cristiano Ronaldo’s talent & prettiness are intolerable.
Hairdresser Cars on Fire
Feeling envious or threatened by someone else’s motor? Unable to afford it? Resentful of the pleasure and joy it clearly brings them? Allergic to bold style, design, and nice colours? Never fear! […]
Get Hur! How Gay Subtexts Became Ancient History
We don’t really do subtexts in the see-through, digital 21st Century. Sextexts, definitely. Subtweets, possibly. Subtexts, not so much. Who has the time? Who can even be bothered with having a subconscious? Subtexts are so analogue. […]
Inside Spornosexual Pride
Mark Simpson goes to BodyPower, the UK’s biggest fitness expo, & tries not to stare too hard. Even though staring is…
Stripping Down the Male Body
Disability charity Scope have been airing a cheeky ad this summer designed to encourage people to donate clothes. It’s a…
Union Street Blues: Plymouth’s Last ‘Run Ashore’?
Mark Simpson goes in search of a drunken sailor in Devon's historic, salty Naval port. […]
1983: The Last Summer of Synth-Pop
From the gender-bending antics of Eurythmics and Culture Club to the propulsive synthpop of Depeche Mode, New Order, and the…
I’d F*ck Me: Mirror Man-Love
Top Gun Turns Thirty – How Did It Get So Gay?
Mark Simpson on the (self) sexualisation of today’s male body & why straight young men crave gay adulation
How young men fell out of love with the motor car
Captain Kirk’s Bulging Trousers
The pointed queerness of the original Shatner/Nimoy Star Trek series – & the PC limpness of all the spin-offs.…
From Metrosexual to Spornosexual – Two Decades of Male Deliciousness
‘Metrodaddy’ Mark Simpson on the evolution of male vanity
The Rise & Fall of Monosexuality
Ten Iconic Car Ads
Ten unforgettable car ads that transcended both cars and advertising and came to symbolise an age
You & Your iPhone: The Perfect Relationship?
Imagine the perfect relationship. Imagine a relationship so perfect that it will be the only one you need. Or have.
The Swishy Villainy & Psychodrama of Skyfall
Mark Simpson fondles the pecs and thighs of James Bond’s latest ‘outing’
Quentin Crisp & Hurtian Crisp
The Naked Civil Servant is the best and funniest TV drama ever made. And I’m sorry, but it’s a scientific fact.
How The Prostate Came Out of the Closet
Pietro Boselli – Spornosexual Philosopher
Mark Simpson sits at the feet of ‘The Bona of Verona’
Keyless Entry & Male Versatility
“I call him lollipop” The sexualisation of the male body probes new, perfectly-rounded depths
‘Bare Thrills’ Strips Masculinity Down To Its Skidmarks
Maybe I suffer from what Freud described as man’s tendency to devalue what he desires, but I find anything touched by TV…
The crusade against ‘fapping’ is eerily reminiscent of the anti-masturbation movements of the 19th century says Mark Simpson (Originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph 29 April, 2016) Those annoying porn ‘pop-ups’ are impossible to avoid these days. Especially when browsing serious newspapers. PORN HORROR! headlines zoom repeatedly into our sightlines, warning us that pornography is ‘addictive’ (despite an inconvenient lack of evidence), ‘ruins relationships’ and ‘rewires men’s brains’, turning them into sex zombie automatons. Whether or not it’s addictive for people who watch it, porn […]