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Soldiers & Cadets Acting Gaily On Video (Again)

Here are the cadets of Ulyanovsk flight school, Russian Federation, relaxing in their dorm. With a special guest appearance by a banana.

This charming video upset conservatives, including the head of the college, but prompted a host of similar videos by Russian students in response to talk of disciplining some of the participants – and the intervention of the Governor of the Ulyanovsk region to prevent expulsions.

The Russian lads were performing a homo-age to this highly ‘satisfying’ British Army classic some years ago. Which is itself a ‘gender flip’ homo-age to the famously ‘objectifying’ Benassi ‘Satisfaction’ video,  in which these fighting men eagerly take on the role of saucy bimbos. (My money is on it all being the idea of the squaddie who opens the video mopping in a thong – and sporting the best buttocks in the barracks):

The Russian lads seem to have upped the gay-ante however with the addition of a banana and bondage gear.

Though my personal favourite of the genre (a rich one on YouTube: you could – and I have – spend hours browsing it) is probably this one by Royal Marines, originally performed to the strains of ‘Call On Me’ but apparently the owners of the rights to the song objected, the Philistines.

Note how meticulously researched and choreographed the gay porn poses are at the ‘climax’.

And here’s me explaining what it all means (don’t worry, there are more videos):

Why Straight Soldiers Can’t Stop Acting Gay on Video

 

Why Straight Soldiers Can’t Stop Acting Gay on Video

Way back in the last century, before the Interweb swallowed everything, my friend and accomplice in literary crime Steve Zeeland were visiting, as you do, Camp Pendleton, the giant US Marine Corps base in Southern California with some jarhead friends.

We spent the afternoon watching the Marine Rodeo – scores of grinning fit Texan boys in tight Wranglers and high-and-tights bouncing up and down on broncos and slapping each other’s butts. Perhaps you’ll understand why, after having seen this, the Details fashion shoot that was Brokeback Mountain left me cold.

We then headed to the enlisted men’s club for a much-needed and, I’d like to think, well-earned drink. While we were there, some Marines came in from a week’s exercise in the field, still in their combats, camouflage paint still on their young sunburned faces. They were in high spirits, enjoying their first beer of the week, and when the DJ played the opening fanfare of The Village People’s ‘YMCA’, like Pavlovs’ dogs they instantly and instinctively understood what was required of them.

They flocked onto the dance-floor, scrambling to outdo one another in their 1970s disco dance moves, and joyously spelling out the letters of the camp classic extolling the pleasures of getting clean and hanging out with all the bo-oys. ‘Hey buddy,’ one jarhead shouted to me, slapping me on the shoulder and grinning in my face, ‘you having a good time?’

Oh yes.

At this point Steve produced his mid 1990s, large, cumbersome and very, very obvious camcorder and started filming the jarhead hi-jinks. ‘Steve,’ I hissed in his ear, palms moistening. ‘Don’t you think this might, er, get us into trouble?’

We escaped unscathed – though we did hear reports a year or two later that the Commandant of Camp Pendleton had ordered, like an angry Old Testament God, that enlisted men’s club be razed to the ground because it was ‘a cesspit of sodomy’.

I needn’t have worried about Steve’s camcording. But the Commandant did have reason to worry – and his Biblical efforts proved in vain. In just a few years time, military boys would be enthusiastically filming themselves acting way ‘gayer’ than dancing to YMCA – and posting it on YouTube for the entire world to see.

You’ve probably already seen the video tribute to Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’ made by US soldiers in Afghanistan, which has gone virulently viral.  It’s part of a well-established craze by dusty, bored and stressed military boys letting off steam, taking time out from buttoned-down masculine norms and channelling a little glamour instead. Having a scream, in other words. But the fact they are videoing it and putting on YouTube suggests that, like most like most young people in a mediated world, they want to draw attention to themselves.

Way back in the Twenieth Century again I wrote, only slightly tongue in cheek: ‘The problem with straight men is they’re repressed. The problem with gay men is they’re not.’ In the metrosexual 21st Century I think it’s pretty clear that even straight soldiers aren’t that repressed any more.  While of course gays are getting married and becoming Tory MPs.

I don’t know about you, but the scene where the soldiers are standing around admiring one another’s home-made House of Gaga outfits will stay with me forever. There’s something about Lady Gaga that seems to make funny, flaming flamboyance – Gagacity – irresistible to men, women, children, civilians and soldiers and small animals. Gay or straight.

Quite rightly, hardly anyone has suggested that these soldiers being hyper and hilariously camp are ‘really gay’. Some might be, of course. But their appearance in a video of this kind doesn’t prove any such thing. Even the gay-banning US Army put out a statement approving the video, or at least trying to exploit its popularity.

Compare this with what happened a few years back when it emerged that some US paratroopers had been ‘acting gay’ on video for private consumption rather than YouTube. Gay porn videos made by a company called ActiveDuty. A global scandal erupted and several young soldiers were arrested, courts martialed, fined and dishonourably discharged.  A lot of people – particularly gays – seemed convinced that the soldiers ‘must’ all be gay because they appeared in such videos. When in fact many did it like the soldiers in the ‘Telephone’ video – for giggles, for fun, for a dare. And, in this case, also for the not inconsiderable sums money they were paid.

Like the discharged soldier said to the shell-shocked waitress who recognised him from the ActiveDuty website and demanded to know how he could have done such a thing: ‘It was no big deal. And besides, I got paid.’

If you think my comparison far-fetched, consider that the soldiers courts martialed for ‘acting gay’ on video (Certificate 18) were paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne based in Fort Bragg. The same elite unit that the chaps ‘acting gay’ in the ‘Telephone’ video (PG) are from.

The latest YouTube video of soldiers ‘acting gay’ called ‘The Army Goes Gay’ (below) has been curiously claimed by some gay blogs as an example of straight soldiers ‘ridiculing’ Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  There isn’t really any evidence for this reading however – and in fact it could be more easily read as an endorsement of the ‘Gay Bomb’ fears of the Pentagon.

Almost certainly it doesn’t have any  message at all.

It’s just soldiers being silly and naughty. And ‘gay’.

Sexual Outlaws: ‘Gay For Pay’ Paratroopers

This month’s Details magazine carries a letter (which Details strangely neglected to show to me) by veteran gay writer John Rechy, author of the cult 60s hustler novels ‘City of Night’ and ‘Numbers’, and the 70s plea for homo tolerance ‘The Sexual Outlaw’ (books I enjoyed as teenager in the 80s). He takes issue with my recent story on the gay porn scandal involving the 82nd Airborne.

After agreeing that it was wrong for the young enlisted paratroopers to be punished so severely by the mighty US Army for what they did in their own time and with their own bodies – literally out of uniform – he gets to the main business of his letter:

‘…Simpson is entirely naive when he upholds the absurdity that “straight” men who perform – for pay or otherwise – consensual gay sex are still straight, despite being aroused to the point of orgasm. This is strictly a lure by the cunning operators of these sites to their gullible clients who want to believe the fantasy. Those seven paratroopers should not have been prosecuted, but they should not claim to be “straight” either. By doing so, they compound the dishonesty of the whole situation.’

In other words, they shouldn’t be punished for appearing in a gay video – but they deserve to be horsewhipped in the letters pages for their ‘dishonesty’.

I’m grateful to Rechy for clarifying matters. For years I’ve laboured under the naive and absurd delusion that I was homo because I preferred males. Now I realise my dishonesty: how can I be homo? I’ve had sex with women! ‘To the point of orgasm’! And I wasn’t filmed. Or even paid.

It is perhaps too easy to make fun of his argument. Lots of people have difficulty today accepting the idea that when two males have sex with another this does not necessarily mean that, before the spilled semen has even had time to cool, they have to book their own float at Pride. Once upon a Kinseyian time, probably most male-on-male sex involved men who were otherwise heterosexual. In the 1940s Dr Sex famously found that 37% of his interviewees admitted to sex ‘to orgasm’ with other males. (Though he was of course attacked for this finding by those who claimed he was entirely naive and hadn’t interviewed enough ‘normal’ men.)

As recently as the 1960s, a panicked British Navy called off an investigation into homosexuality on Her Majesty’s ships because it was found that at least ‘50% of the fleet have sinned homosexually.’ Understandably, the authorities hastily decided they would rather have a fleet than kick out every man who had ever engaged in spot of sodomy, with or without the lash.

Though some gays seem unwilling to be as pragmatic or tolerant as the 1960s Royal Navy. They seem, like Rechy, to want to press-gang any man who touches another man’s penis into the gay identity. Or, as a fall-back position: ‘bisexual’ – in the sense of ‘nearly-gay’.

Obviously a proportion of ActiveDuty models must be gay or bisexual. After all, I appeared in an ActiveDuty video – and in fact not all of them are presented as straight. And of course a certain amount of scepticism is understandable, advisable even. As I reported, Mr Active Duty himself told me that he thought that quite a few of his models were probably ‘bi-curious’, and that ironically, appearing in his videos for cash was for them a ‘safe’ way of exploring this.

But what is remarkable is just how religiously certain Rechy et al are that these chaps can’t be straight. None of them.

My sense however, as someone who has actually met some of them – and er, performed with them – is that many of them are probably otherwise heterosexual. I can’t of course prove this, and perhaps it really is my gullible fantasy – but then neither can Rechy prove they’re not. And the onus of proof is with the prosecution. Besides, if you really do think that having sex with another male means you de facto can’t be straight, then you are effectively saying that any and all male-on-male sex automatically consigns you into a separate, abnormal species of male.

Alas, male-on-male sex is not some magical, irresistible ju-ju that robs hetero men of their preference for pussy should they ever experience it. Even when it’s me they have sex with (I like to think my dick is magical, but nonetheless…). For quite a few straight men, especially those who aren’t schooled in bourgeois niceties, like the country boys who become paratroopers, ‘cock fun’ is much less of a deal than it is for many gays. It’s just a naughty giggle. Or a quick way of earning some cash. Something Rechy should know from his hustler novels – though as I recall they were usually about hustlers who thought they were straight but eventually realised that they were actually John Rechy.

I suspect that part of the reason so many homos want to see straight guys having sex with one another – and will pay good money for it – is the paradoxical appeal of seeing innocence ‘corrupted’, and corruption rendered ‘innocent’. Straight gay porn, when it’s done right, looks like a fulfilment of the fantasy of much of gay porn: a carefree, smiling, laughing, rascalish discovery of masculine erotic pleasure – free of shame and pride, free in fact of ‘sexuality’. Tom of Finland drawings, pre 1970s, brought to life. Ironically, straight guys are sometimes better able to embody the gay ideal than gays.

Speculation aside, the ‘bottom’, slightly counter-intuitive line here is that the fact that someone appeared in a gay porn video, even with an outsized membrum virile in one or both of his orifices, doesn’t tell you what his sexual preference is. All it tells you is that he appeared in a gay porn video. And perhaps that he can take it like a trooper.

As one of the paratrooper models replied when confronted, post-scandal, by a shell-shocked Fayetteville waitress who’d recognised him on the ActiveDuty site demanding to know how he could have done such a thing:

‘It was no big deal,’ he replied laconically. ‘And besides, I got paid.’

A perfect response to the military, to offended/confused straights and gays alike. And to explanations in general. Foucault would have approved – even if it does somewhat undermine the need for three volumes of ‘A History of Sexuality’.

 

UPDATE

You can read the uncircumcised, uncensored version of the Details feature here.


 

Salon vs Details: James Collard of The London Times speaks to Salon.com editor Kerry Lauerman about his decision to spike Simpson’s original piece because it was deemed ‘too risque’ for Salon – two years before the Active Duty scandal became a major international story – and a major feature in Details magazine. [link removed as page no longer active.]


Mark Simpson’s Inside Story on the US Army’s Gay Porn Scandal

Details May

The current (May) issue of the proudly metrosexual Details magazine includes an ‘undercover’ exclusive by yours truly on the globally-reported gay porn scandal involving paratroopers from the elite 82nd Airborne, ‘America’s Honor Guard’. Billed charmingly on the front cover as:

INSIDE THE SORDID PORN SCANDAL THAT’S ROCKING THE ARMY‘.

A couple of years ago my buddy and The Queen is Dead co-author Steve Zeeland tipped me off to the existence of activeduty.com, the then little-known military porn website now at the centre of the scandal. Ever the over-keen observer of masculine trends, metrodaddy travelled to North Carolina to meet Dink Flamingo, the man behind ActiveDuty and find out more about straight men ‘acting gay’ – this time in the form of mansex rather than manicures.

For contractual reasons I can’t reveal more about what happened here: if you feel the need to know you’ll have to buy, beg or borrow a copy of the highly fragranced men’s fashion magazine to find out all the (slightly less fragranced) ‘details’. Let me just say that Dink is a real character and his military models real friendly.

The piece also looks at why mostly straight, in some cases married, elite military men would get involved in gay porn, despite the US military’s explicit ban on appearing in skin-flicks – not to mention your actual homosex. And why they might actually have less of a problem with it than straight civilian men.

Why, in other words, fighting men might not be pussy about dick.

It also reveals that there have been numerous gay porn scandals involving the US military since the 1970s, and uncovers evidence that the seven paratroopers charged by the US Army over the scandal have been unfairly scapegoated – that this has been going on for many years, probably with the Army’s knowledge, and involves many more than the seven paratroopers, ‘isolated to one unit’, claimed categorically by the Army as the ‘only ones’ involved.

Homos and soldiers, it seems, can’t stay away from one another. Certainly homos can’t get get enough of soldiers. It was Marcel Proust who observed a hundred years ago that:

“A homosexual is not someone who likes other homosexuals, but someone who on seeing a soldier immediately wants him for a friend”.

Perhaps in this less literary, less innocent, more mediated age this should now be modified to: “…immediately wants him for a porn star.”

UPDATE

If you are a Mark Simpson Patron you can now read an uncircumcised, uncensored and extended version of Simpson’s ‘sordid’ exclusive here

You can become an MS patron for just $1/month

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