How Don & Tom Made Top Gun So Steamy

I’ve been devouring – a little late – High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess, Charles Fleming’s page-turning and hair-raising 1998 biography of the late Hollywood producer and ‘bad boy’, who along with his ‘good boy’ partner Jerry Bruckheimer were the most successful independent producers in Hollywood in the 80s and early 90s. Inventing, or at least formulating and trademarking, the so-called ‘high concept‘ blockbuster – such as Flashdance (1983), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Crimson Tide (1995) and The Rock (1996).

Simpson, originally hailing Anchorage, Alaska, comes across as surprisingly compelling figure, in many ways monstrous and grotesque, yet strangely likeable, in all his human weaknesses and vanities: a kind of real-life, if slightly less believable, Bret Easton Ellis character – working right at the evil, cracked heart of the American Dream factory. 

While working as a producer at Paramount in 1980, before going independent, he crafted a ‘Paramount Corporate Philosophy’ paper, which is gobsmacking in both its honesty and clarity about what Hollywood is – and isn’t.

“The pursuit of making money is the only reason to make movies. We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art… Our obligation is to make money, and to make money it may be necessary to make history, art or some significant statement. To make money, it may be important to win the Academy Award, for it might mean another ten million dollars at the box office. Our only object is to make money, but in order to make money, we must always make entertaining movies.”

But you’ll understand why I particularly perked up when I came across an account of my namesake and Bruckheimer’s attempts to seduce a reluctant Tom Cruise into starring in a film they were producing that you may possibly have heard of, called Top Gun

Cruise and a hirsute Simpson on the set of Top Gun

According Admiral (Rtd.) Pete Pettigrew, the US Navy liaison they had hired to keep the USN sweet (Top Gun was made with the support of the Pentagon – who famously loaned them an aircraft carrier), it seems that those steamy locker room scenes the movie is now famous for, partly thanks to the dirty mind of yours truly, was Mr Cruise’s idea. He wanted the movie not to be about killing but about ‘sporting excellence’. 

‘At their first meeting, Cruise, who had just finished shooting Legend and still wore his hair shoulder-length, expressed his concerns. Primarily,… Cruise did not want Top Gun to be a movie about killing. He wanted to know about the “locker room” scenes and the locker room facilities at the Top Gun school, because… Cruise felt that’s where a lot of the action should take place. “He wanted to make this look like a sporting event, not about warmongering but about competition and excellence,” Pettigrew said…. Pettigrew expressed his doubts. The USN flying school at San Diego did not encourage competition…’

Disappointingly, the Top Gun trophy, central to the movie and the hotly contested object of desire for smouldering, slicked-back rivals Maverick and Iceman, was entirely the creation of the scriptwriters. It didn’t and doesn’t exist.

Despite the understandable reservations of Pettigrew, the idea was eagerly seized upon by Don Simpson – albeit for more fleshly reasons than those advanced by Tom. Pettigrew was overruled (as he seems to have been almost consistently) and his concerns over long-haired Tom’s yen for lots of locker room scenes were addressed in a typically blunt Simpsonian fashion: 

‘When Cruise left the room, Simpson told Pettigrew, “Look, we’re paying one million bucks to get him. We need to see some flesh.” 

And boy, did we. 

Simpson was hyper-heterosexual – and if he were still alive, his aggressive sexual behaviour would undoubtedly be the subject of a plethora of #metoo accusations. But he was certainly not blind to male beauty, not least because he was a producer who longed to be a movie star. He was forever trying to improve and enhance his looks and was a high-rolling, early-adopter of metrosexuality. On the ‘cutting edge’, in fact. 

In addition to his dandyish foibles (he would berate staff for pressing instead of fluffing his jeans), according to Fleming, between 1988 and 1994 Simpson had at least ten surgical procedures to enhance his looks. Including collagen injections in his cheeks and chin, a forehead lift and a restructuring of his eyebrow, to give it ‘sterner definition’; liposuction of his abdomen and a collagen injections in his lips and fat injection into his penis to make it bigger. 

This latter procedure was, as is usually the case, a failure – penis enlargement ops are essentially a very expensive form of penis mutilation. But because it was Simpson’s penis the op had to fail on a big scale. “It had turned all black-and-blue, and it was very painful”, a source is quoted as saying. “There was a lot of swelling and fever. In the end they had to take out whatever it was they put in there. You can’t believe how pissed Don was.”

In yet another glimpse of the masculine future, Simpson was not simply all about the phallus either. His masculine self-consciousness was versatile – he also had a ‘butt lift’ op. Apparently he was particularly disappointed in his natural buttock bestowment. 

“Every time I ever visited his office, he was always in there trying on jeans and complaining about his ass,” a friend of Simpson recalls. “He always thought it looked funny in pants.”

Simmo also struggled with his weight – binge-eating pizzas and entire jars of peanut butter, then switching to punitive diets. Essentially he was a constant work in progress, one fuelled by self-loathing and self-loving. And lots and lots of drugs, prescription and proscribed – particularly cocaine. The highness of his concepts was largely white-powder-fuelled.

A Top Gun sequel, called, Top Gun: Maverick, is due to ‘go ballistic’ this year and will star a Tom Cruise who, more than three decades on is still forever Maverick. Albeit Maverick with an increasing admixture of Sandi Toksvig.

The sequel will be helmed without Don Simpson, however. Like that other pop cultural, pill-popping over-consumer, Elvis, he died of massive heart failure on the crapper, in 1996, aged 52. Twenty one different drugs were found in his system, including antidepressants, stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers. Fleming reports that Simpson was spending $60,000 a month on prescription drugs alone.

The Elvis parallel doesn’t end on the crapper, either. Critic Peter Biskind argued in 1999 that Simpson was to “gay culture what Elvis was to black music, ripping it off and repackaging it for a straight audience”.

According to Biskind, Paramount, where Simpson started his career, was ‘the gayest studio’. While there, Simpson was instrumental in bringing American Gigolo (1980) to the screen. Produced by his future partner in crime, Bruckheimer, Gigolo is a definitively 1980s film that that even out-gays Top Gun.

This was because Paramount:

‘took gay culture, with its conflation of fashion, movies, disco and advertising… and used it as a bridge between the naive high-concept pictures of Spielberg in the 1970s and highly-designed, highly self-conscious pictures’.

‘High concept’, in other words, was highly camp.

Richard Gere going inverted

A version of this post originally appeared on Mark Simpson’s Patreon page.

Special thanks to Simon Mason for sending me Fleming’s bio of Simmo.

Boys on Film: An Anatomy of YouTube’s Pro Spornos

Mark Simpson examines some professional show-offs

I want to talk about Jeff Seid’s tongue.

I want to talk about what’s attached, so exquisitely, to the famous fitness model and aesthetic bodybuilder’s tongue as well. But, despite the rest of his body being so very good at talking, his tongue is probably the most eloquent part of him – without actually saying anything. Just by sticking it out in that signature way of his, Mr Seid communicates so much about himself, and about spornosexuality – second generation, body-centred, sexed-up metrosexuality.

Jeff’s 26-year-old tongue – he was born in Renton, Washington, in 1994, the same year as the metrosexual – appears to be directly attached to his biceps so that whenever he flexes them, out it pops. It’s a big, fleshy, generous tongue, that lolls over most of his square, dimpled chin. 

Perhaps that fleshly muscular organ used for tasting, licking and swallowing is promising ladies, or lads, a good time. Perhaps it’s just expressing an estimation of his own tastiness. Perhaps it’s a cheeky, boyish affront to the world. But what that big, lolling tongue definitely signifies is Mr Seid’s hunger. For it all. For everything he can get. For the money shot of fame.

There’s an early, amateurish Seid video on YouTube from 2012, as funny as it is scary, that everyone who wants to understand today’s generation of self-sexualising, body-commodifying young men should watch.

It stars an eighteen year-old ex-High School wrestler and just recently ex-football jock Jeff, pre Bieber-esque fringe, pre Mr Olympia Men’s Physique title, pre all those fitness mag covers, pre-sponsorship deals, pre-jetting around the world to appear at expos and pose for selfies with fans and wannabes, pre his own clothing line (SeidWear) and workout books. Pre a zillion professionally produced ‘inspirational’ videos of him working out topless with romantic lighting. And pre-3.9M Instagram followers

Before, in other words, he became a pro-sporno.

That’s to say, an online high priest of spornosexuality – whose body arouses fascination, envy and desire and helps convert other young men to the sexy cult. And thus converts into loads of filthy lucre. 

Jeff, whose dreams of a pro football career had not long been ended by an injury, has nothing at this point, except his hunger to be looked at. Wanted. His ravenous desire to be desired. And that tongue. Oh, and attached to that tongue, a body. Not yet quite the glistening, ‘totally ripped’, awesome ‘aesthetic’ (a key word for Jeff and other spornosexuals – but do they know it’s Greek for ‘beautiful’?), globally-monetised ‘pro’ thing that it is today.

But certainly one that can still stop traffic.

And that’s exactly what the cheeky scamp does, eagerly stripping down to his pants and fake bake on the sidewalk in Las Vegas, that tongue panting, as he flexes. Passers-by pose for selfies with him and stuff dollar bills into his pants. Which makes his tongue stick out even more. Appropriately enough, Jeff doesn’t really speak in the video, but a charmingly amateurish subtitling tells you: ‘I made like $50 in 20 minutes!’. Innocent days! (Seid is now estimated to be earning c. $1M/year)

In case there’s anyone in Vegas that still hasn’t seen this showboys’ abs and bis, the future ‘king of Aesthetics’ then stands up, somewhat precariously, in the sunroof of a limo which is driving around, a little too fast, in circles, while he furiously flexes and poses his body and his tongue – completely unbothered that a sudden brake could bisect him and his buffedness. Jeff is a mechanised, unstoppable young spornosexual, firing on all swole cylinders without, apparently, a shred of fear, shame or embarrassment anywhere in his flawless, shredded body.

We never stood a chance.

***

David Laid – apparently this is actually his real name, and not one made up to riff suggestively on Seid’s – doesn’t stick his tongue out very much. In fact, I can’t remember seeing his tongue. However, this 22-year-old does pull rather strange, twitchy faces in the gym, in his many, many and rather lengthy YouTube videos. If it’s true that the faces we pull when exerting ourselves in the gym are our ‘sex faces’ then Mr Laid would make for a somewhat distracting bedroom partner.

Then again, his extraordinary, other-worldly body would be much more distracting. And several hundred thousand people are already regularly distracted by it, regularly.

Mr Laid is a 20-year-old ‘influencer’ and YouTube star from Atlantic City with 1.4M Instagram followers. Seven years ago he was a 98 pounds and ‘an absolute twig’, as he puts it, who was bullied in school for being so scrawny. So he turned to YouTube videos for advice on lifting – including, it seems, Mr Seid’s – and began his ‘personal journey’ and ‘natural bodybuilding transformation’ into the 200 pound ripped, strangely ethereal and yet highly corporeal creature he is today. 

With inevitable logic in a social me-dear world, his own transformative YouTube videos have gained him 1.4M YT followers keen to take inspiration of various kinds from his ‘muscle journey’ – and lucrative sponsorship from the spornowear company Gymshark.

Laid lifts several hours every day and somehow finds time to devour nearly 5000 calories a day in between workouts. And of course everything is documented on video. In fact, voracious eating in what appears to be the kitchen of his (always unseen) parents’ big suburban American house seems to be a major part of his videos – and a lot of what he and his two sidekicks eat isn’t exactly what you’d call ‘clean’. Visits to MacDonald’s drive-thru feature frequently. Youth and high metabolisms are so unfair.

Actually, y’know, working out often seems to make up a fraction of his videos, which also include him and his buddies playing with a drone, losing a drone and then finding a drone. Or visiting a grocery store and buying a trolley full of pre-cooked bacon. As you do.

Maybe this is because what fans really want from a David Laid video is the sense of hanging out with him and doing fun stuff – he is more of a ‘personality’ than Mr Seid, who is more of a… tongue. Or perhaps it’s because watching Laid work out in his inspirational videos is remarkably un-inspirational. It may be down to his long limbs and goofy expressions, but he seems to struggle and wobble with weights like a new-born foal trying to walk. Bambi the bodybuilder. Especially when he does his idiosyncratic version of a dead-lift, with his long legs so far apart they’re almost around his ears.

Then again, perhaps I miss the point that it is inspirational that someone so non-jockish should have succeeded in turning themselves into a muscle ice sculpture. 

Stripped down to his pants and posing in the locker room after a pumping workout while other gym-goers pretend not to notice, Laid is a perplexing sight. The long, v-shaped torso, the vanishingly small percentage of body fat – Maccy D’s notwithstanding – the armoured abs, and the silver knight shoulders, beautiful and imposing yet flowingly pretty and willowy. It’s difficult to know quite how to respond. Laid looks less like a 20 year-old-from Atlantic City, NJ, who works out than an androgynous alien cyborg, crossed with an anime pre-Raphaelite painting. It’s almost as if he represents the next step in human development – after Jeff Seid (he’s three years younger – which in our accelerated culture now represents a generation).

His sidekicks are both cute and buff – and rather difficult to tell apart, save one has bigger pecs than the other – but shorter, less goofy, and more conventionally jock-ish: managing not to twitch and gurn and wobble when working out. They seem almost to have been selected to throw Laid’s startling appearance into sharper relief.

Actual, hormonal heterosexuality, as is often the case with these spornographic videos, doesn’t really raise its head – because spornosexuality is the sexuality here. The orientation or relationship that matters is the one the star has to his own body and our voyeurism of that relationship, even though our eyes are the mirror. 

In one video, shot as many are in a kitchen, surrounded by boxes of newly arrived Gymshark stretchy-kinky superhero style gym wear that Laid and his chums have been trying on, enthusing over the tightness and texture, he shows his sidekicks some selfies scantily-clad female fans have just sent him. “How does that make you feel?” he asks. They look, but don’t reply.

Which is also kind of my reaction to Laid.

***

You are probably thinking that YouTube pro spornos, low, meatish animal cunning aside, are not the sharpest tools in the box. Or, rather, hoping that. Because of course, if you don’t have a body like theirs you need to clutch at any consolation you can. I know I do. All that pumping iron atrophies your brain, right?

Well, their pumping of iron that in turn pumps our nether regions may atrophy the voyeur’s brain, or at least starve it of oxygen, but not necessarily the sporno’s. Who has, after all, figured out a way to make himself indispensable in our hypervisual culture – unlike the intellectual.

Allow me to introduce you to Pietro Boselli, someone invented to cruelly deprive you of your faith in sporno stupidity, albeit with a dazzling and entirely disarming smile. Boselli, is living, geometrically consistent proof that spornos don’t have to be dumb. And also that for all their self-sexualisation, spornos can be romantico. Angelic, even. Boselli With his cherubic facial features, those bucolic, rosy cheeks that belie his 31 years, and that smiley submissiveness – and 2.7M Instagram followers – is the thoughtful, studied, articulate – but no less shredded – reply to Seid’s impish tongue. Boselli is sensuous lips. And nips.

Oh, and a big buff brain. Dubbed the world’s ‘sexiest maths teacher’ by the press – or perhaps by his own cunning PR – Boselli has a PhD in mechanical engineering, and taught undergraduate mathematics as a side-line for a while to lucky engineering students at London University. One of whom according to Wikipedia, ‘took note of his physique and stumbled on his modelling career’.

Stumbled. I suppose you could stumble while hyperventilating and rushing home to Google ‘Boselli’ + ‘naked’ in the privacy of your own bedroom.

Boselli, originally from Verona, Italy, is no longer involved in the world of old-skool engineering. He is fully-employed nowadays in the new wave of engineering – designing his own machine-body and working as a fitness model, offering body-blueprints for others to copy or just lust over. And it’s a stunningly successful project. In fact, Boselli was a model long before he was an engineer: he was chosen as the face of Armani Junior campaign in 1995 when he was just seven.

The boyish face and the smoothly mannish body are slightly reminiscent perhaps of the young Marky Mark in Mr Klein’s underpants, sans the compensatory bad-boy rapismo. Boselli is a very good boy on the streets – but, we like to think, a very naughty one between the sheets. The bona from Verona. As a reminder that we’re talking about second generation male tartiness here, Boselli was just four years old when Wahlberg was grabbing himself on the side of buses.

In addition to magazine ‘spreads’, he has his own YouTube channel where we can dissect the secrets of his beautiful body (Pietro Boselli’s Exercise Anatomy), and also listen to him offering thoughtful, philosophical advice about bodybuilding, and beauty tips, including ways to keep your skin hydrated by “drying your clothes indoors”. Pietro is not just a fitness coach – Pietro is a way of life.

Though admittedly it can be a little difficult to focus on all those words. His genetics are very distracting – and anyway tend to undermine his message. Most of us are never going to have skin or abs or lives like him, no matter how much washing we hang up in our untidy apartments. Paradoxically, that’s why we’re sat there in our onesies eating pizza and drooling over his fitness and beauty advice videos. Or is that just me?

The Bona from Verona likes to wax philosophical about the Cartesian ‘mind/body dualism’ in our culture. One which tends to both assume/hope he will be dumb because he’s hot – but which has also made him even more famous than he would have been if he had just been a pretty face and studly body. Boselli gave a TED lecture called ‘How I survived as professor on the runway and model in the classroom’ – looking like he was on a catwalk rather than in a lecture theatre while doing so. There was certainly a lot of telephoto lens action from the audience.

Boselli also likes to post photos of himself on Instagram/Facebook etc. in his Speedos, looking lonely somewhere scenic – or looking scenic somewhere lonely – usually with a self-improving motto attached. Such as:

Learn to think. Embrace being alone with your own thoughts.

Pietro boselli

I’m not sure whether it’s down to the Cartesian mind/body split, but these uplifting messages – as is often the case with the self-help slogans that many pro spornos go in for when posting sexy photos of themselves – seem sincere, and also a kind of parody at the same time. After all, the thoughts that Boselli is mostly in the business of provoking already involve a great deal of lonely self-embracing.

A little bit like Laid, Pietro is a confusing/intoxicating phenomenon to behold. Not just because of his boyish, Dorian-esque head on his pumped, smooth, statuesque body. Or his near-androgyny: all truly beautiful things, as Sontag famously noted, are a mixture of masculine and feminine – like early Tom of Finland drawings, Boselli has a wonderful, firm voluptuousness to his ‘hyper male’ body. But also because – unlike say Mr Seid who has made it perfectly clear exactly what we’re supposed to do with him – we don’t know whether to put Signore Boselli on a pedestal or in a sling. 

His buff beauty, like his buff brain, is exquisitely discombobulating.

***

(Don’t worry, I’ve not forgotten Matt Does Fitness, who with 2M YouTube followers, he is possibly the UK’s most popular pro sporno. He and his assets deserve a scrutinising post all to himself – and will soon be getting one.)

A version of this post originally appeared on Mark Simpson’s Patreon

Grab Ass is Over

Strewth! What’s the world of team sports coming to? Horseplay has been sent to the knacker’s yard.

Australian Football League team Melbourne Demons gave star players Jayden Hunt and Christian Petracca a stern telling off, after the former playfully grabbed the latter’s be-shorted bum during a game against Essendon last September.

It seems that Petracca was not at all offended. Quite the opposite. When Hunt removed his hand, Petracca immediately caught it and placed it back on his butt. More… matily.

Pumped Petracca

Despite the consensuality – or maybe because of it – Melbourne Football Club management didn’t like it one little bit. They pronounced it ‘inappropriate’ and put out a statement that the players had agreed it was ‘not a good look for the club’ and had promised that it ‘won’t happen again’.

I don’t think this goes far enough. Melbourne Demons should have given those naughty boys a spanking. Televised, of course.

Actually, I don’t see what the point of AFL is if players can’t matily grab one another’s arses. This is the latest of a slew of ‘scandals’ around the shocking tendency of extremely fit young men in an extremely physical, very ‘bonded’ sport such as Aussie rules football to get physical with one another. Every time they happen everyone pretends to be totally appalled that such horseplay goes on in team sports.

The very thing that has helped to turn sports stars into sporno stars, the ubiquity of HD lenses on and off the sports field, along with the proliferation of social media (and blogs like this) to share, analyse and shame a momentary gesture, has also subjected their interactions on the field to total surveillance. Hunt and Petracca obviously thought their joshing around would be hidden in the group huddle. But as is always the case these days, a telephoto lens was in just the wrong position to tell tales.

Meanwhile the corporatisation of sport as a form of show business and ‘role modelling’, not to mention the dominance of ‘toxic masculinity’ discourse, means rough behaviour by rough boys has to be shamed as ‘inappropriate’ and penitent promises never to do it again must be extracted.

Hence the entire statement Melbourne Demons management had their captain put out is almost Pythonesque in its fulsome and pompous repudiation of the brief bum-touching:

“As AFL players, we are role models and have a responsibility to showcase the right behaviours to the wider AFL community,” captain Max Gawn said.

“On this occasion, we have clearly fallen short, and we own that this is not acceptable.

“Christian and Jayden know that this was an inappropriate act, which is not in line with our expectations, or that of the competition.

“As a playing group, we understand and respect the example we need to be setting, and will continue to reinforce this going forward.”

‘We are role models’… ‘we have a responsibility to showcase the right behaviours’… ‘we have clearly fallen short’… ‘inappropriate act’… etc. etc. The roll-call of cant that the modern team sports player – and multi millionaire – is contractually obliged to mouth nowadays.

***

Bootnecks are very swole but also very short

And while I’m moaning about the modern world, I should mention I only recently discovered that the very popular Royal Marine ‘Go Commando’ calendar, which featured hench bootnecks with their tops off, displaying their oiled guns, was banned a few years back by the Ministry of Defence, despite raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity. It was deemed to be ‘sexualising’. Apparently, this is a bad thing.

So Go Commando is now No Commando.

At least the MoD didn’t demand the bootnecks make a grovelling public apology. You can imagine how it would have gone:

‘We have a responsibility to showcase the right behaviours… we have clearly fallen short… this was inappropriate…. but it was also really fuckin’ hot.’

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Insta-Lovefest

The world’s most famous man this week became the first person to pass 250 million followers on Instagram. A milestone in human e-volution.

Already the most popular personality on social media, 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo is now just rubbing our noses in it. The Juventus star has 100 million more followers than all 20 Premier League clubs combined. His arch-rival Lionel Messi trails way behind him, in seventh place, with ‘only’ 174 million followers.

Obviously they’re not posting enough totally shredded topless pics.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is bigger and hencher than football. So, for a while, was his UK metrosexual prototype, David Beckham in his pretty early Noughties prime. But Ronaldo’s humongous fame has dwarfed Beckhams’.

Partly because Ronaldo really is the astonishing once-in-a-lifetime footballer that Beckham was imagined to be by those who didn’t really follow football. But also because the Portuguese chap somehow manages to be even more tarty than his hardly retiring Brit predecessor. (And was regularly queer bashed for it by the UK media when he played for Manchester United.)

Born into a modest, working class Madeiran family, his pride in showing off the shiny symbols of his extraordinary success – the pools, the houses, the yachts, and the shiny bod again – is also part of his willingness to share. He also includes lots of photos of himself with his girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez, his four children, his mother, relations and friends. But fame is necessarily a lonely business, especially at these stratospheric levels, so it is the photos of him alone in his Olympian palaces, nearly naked and tensing his abs and quads ready to receive our lonely gaze that are the most ‘Insta’.

He also is even more intimately and profitably connected to his fans than Beckham ever was: Ronaldo reputedly makes a cool $1m per Instagram post. Helping to pay for all those palaces.

Perhaps that’s because he knows exactly what he’s doing, is completely unashamed of his full-body vanity, and isn’t afraid to play with his desire for our desire of him. In one Insta post he poses in swimwear on his yacht next to a gorgeous sunset, with the caption:

‘There are only two options: the view or ME. I let you choose your favourite one?! ??’

There is of course no question. Ronaldo’s beauty eclipses the sunset.

Ronaldo is sporno to Beckham’s metro, digital to Beckham’s analogue, social media to Beckham’s glossy magazine.

And 2.0 to Beckham’s 1.0 when it comes to the insatiable, uncorked, totally ripped genie that is the male desire to be desired.

Further reading:

The Smell of Vinnie Jones

It’s that fragrant time of year again, and Brut are spraying the airwaves with a new TV ad, fronted by ‘ard man Vinnie Jones, the ex-footballer, ex-actor, ex-Guy Ritchie fetish object.

Jones seized his claim to fame way back in 1988 by squeezing (the much better) footballer Paul Gascoigne’s wedding tackle during a game.

This image obviously tickled Mr Ritchie, who cast Jones in his first two films, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000) in essentially the same ‘ard man role that Jones had cast himself in on the pitch. In Snatch he gave him a long, bizarre, pornographic monologue about balls, which included the line:

There are big brave balls, and there are little mincey faggot balls.

His last major appearance on British TV was on Celebrity Big Brother in 2012, where he came across as a bully and a bitch, laughably threatened by cross-dressing kickboxer Alex Reid’s youth and relaxed sexuality – literally running to the other side of the room when Reid said that he was ‘try-sexual’. Jones went into the house the favourite to win – and left to boos. Cross-dressing Reid, the real ‘hard man’, won.

Eight years on Jones appears in this Brut ad to be playing a psycho Alf Garnett, sans the tache and the gags. Or perhaps a Pound Shop Sgt. Major Williams. He’s on a mission to save the world from… men’s fragrance ads. And general poovery.

“OI! CUT IT OUT!”

Brut is selling to its strengths here – or making a virtue out of its weakness. In the UK the Unilever-owned brand is, like Jones, a dated punchline. You are never going to sell Brut as a metrosexual brand. You are never going to sell it as a sexual brand.

So instead you sell it as the ‘no-nonsense’ ‘straight’ brand. No lah-dee-dah poncey gay bullshit. It does what it says on the tin. Brut-al.

The problem however with the ‘no-nonsense’ Ronseal ‘what matters is what it smells like’ approach is that Brut smells like… Ronseal.

And Jones is so studiedly butch he’s screamingly camp. Though without any entertainment value.

Henry ‘Splash it all ovah!’ Cooper, the Cockney ex heavyweight boxer who advertised Brut in its 1970s heydey, with less inhibition and a lot more humour – and way more homoerotics – must be rolling in his strongly-fragranced grave: