The new issue of Germany’s leading gay magazine Manner Aktuell carries an essay on Sporno by yours truly (and yes, that’s my name on the cover but not, alas, my body).
Page 94 of 148
US Olympic swimmer Ricky Berens unveiled his new dashing new swimsuit during the 4x100m relays at the World Swimming Championships in Rome last weekend. ‘The Bruno’ caused something of a splash – and the US team, no doubt encouraged by the stirring vision before them – both of them – successfully qualified for the Finals.
Let’s hope other swimsuit designers adopt the asstounding aquadynamics of Mr Berens’ blond butt cheeks.
I’m very grateful to Mark W for reminding me of this highly apposite literary quotation ‘regarding’ the male derriere:
“The veneration I feel for that part of the body and the great tenderness that I have bestowed on the [boys] who have allowed me to enter it, the grace and sweetness of their gift, oblige me to to speak of all this with respect”
Genet- “Funeral Rites”
‘It’s you that needs to watch it. You go out reeking like that and people will start saying things about you!”
You were right, Pat, so right.
Thanks to Caleb Everett
By Mark Simpson
(Edited from a feature that originally appeared the Independent on Sunday in July 1997, titled ‘Now the end is near’)
Only a Michael Jackson gig could begin with a ten-minute computer-generated sci-fi video which obviously cost more than most artists can muster for an album.
The film beamed on to the three giant screens at Wembley, the first leg on MJ’s current tour of Britain, show a golden android getting into a capsule and then riding a big-dipper track at high speed through pop culture, art and the last thirty years of history – the moon landings, little Michael performing ABC, Nixon, hunger and war in Africa, tall skinny Michael in ‘Wannna Be Startin’ Somethin’’, the Berlin Wall coming down, macho Michael in Bad. And then, on the vast stage with a large bang and a flash, out steps the android and takes off his mask. It’s the King of Pop!
Michael Jackson, you see, is the present, the past and the future. He’s our connection with the looking glass world of media: he is the man in the mirror. His-story is our story. Michael Jackson is all human culture. Moondancing.
All the same, few things could be as uncool in Britain today as admitting you like Michael Jackson. You can wear slip-on shoes. You can watch A Question of Sport. You can even drink lager and black – but don’t ever, ever admit that you like Michael Jackson. American, inauthentic, corporate, sincere, tacky, irony-free and no sense of modesty whatsoever, MJ is the antithesis of Britpop – the great Satan to Britpop’s fundamentalism.
When uber-cool Jarvis Cocker made his now legendary stage invasion at last year’s Brit awards, interrupting the King of Pop’s ascension into heaven serenaded by a choir of angelic children during a vast performance of ‘Earth Song’, he was supported not so much by revulsion at the (dropped) child-abuse allegations but by a much stronger feeling: revulsion at an American taking themselves so seriously at the Brit Awards.
And yet, Jarvis’ mooning might possibly have been inspired by jealousy. MJ’s performance of ‘Earth Song’ (containing probably the best and most bathetic pop lyric ever: ‘And what about the elephants?’) did steal the show and really was a religious experience. Yes, it was astonishingly arrogant, tasteless, blasphemous and doolally, but then the best pop always is.
Brit-pop – despite its much-heralded demise – still has a stranglehold on British pop music, and is a highly reactionary music form, harking back to the Sixties sound of all-white bands like the Beatles, but surgically removing any of the R&B sound that informed so much of the ‘Fab Four’s’ music. Oasis are not the Beatles again: they’re the Beatles minus Chuck Berry. And MJ, despite his kabuki-mime pallor, is very ‘black’ in the sense that most of his music is rhythmically orientated.
Though of course the basis of MJ’s brand that he mixes his American blackness with American whiteness until you can hardly distinguish the two: ‘Black or White’ is as much a question as a statement – like asking how you like your coffee. (Funnily enough, it was probably precisely because his skin-colour changed that many white British critics felt able to attack Jackson.)
So I’d love to report that the latest show is brilliant – but in fact it’s an epic, grinding disappointment. The intro video was by far the best part of it. Anti-climax is probably inevitable when you go to see the most famous man in the world. But there’s also a kind of pointlessness to it. MJ is so fantastically plastic, so extravagantly synthetic that there is nothing really added by going to see him ‘live’ and watching him on a giant video juke-box with thousands of others in a sports arena. In fact, something is taken away. MJ is a simulacrum, a copy for which no original exists. The image is the man, not the tiny imposter jigging around on stage between the video screens the size of football pitches – and beneath the towering Stalinist statue of himself.
It’s precisely because MJ is so phoney, so artificial, so mass-produced, processed and pre-digested that he has been so popular. MJ is the Big Mac of pop music – scorned by faddists and know-betters but very popular with people who want something fast, fun, and nutrition-free that gives them a buzz. Most people are uncool, thank god, and quite happy that way.
But for all his popularity with the masses, the MJ brand, like Big Macs, is clearly in decline. This tour has failed to sell out and there isn’t anything approaching the ‘Jacksonmania’ that has greeted previous ones. His last couple of albums have been less than impressive and the kiddie-fiddling charges can’t have helped. But perhaps the real problem for MJ Inc is beyond the MD’s control. The world’s love affair with Americana has peaked. When the Cold War ended and the Stalinist statues were pulled down and replaced with McDonald’s golden arches, people stopped dreaming the American dream. It had become an inescapable reality.
Michael Jackson, the greatest embodiment of that dream, the creature of consumerism, individualism and aspirationalism, the most famous man who never lived, is also a victim of his own success. Hence the hubristic use of that blockbuster intro video and Ceaucescu-esque statues on the cover of the History album and next to the stage on this tour is eerily apt. Those who try to embody history usually end up victims of it: toppling over beneath the weight of their own contradictions. And besides, Jacksonism isn’t much of a replacement for Jacksonmania.
Put another way, Michael’s audience has grown up while he, valiantly has not. At Wembley, while MJ cavorted with some female dancers on-stage, a fan behind me shouted out: ‘They’re a bit old for you, aren’t they Michael?’
You really know the world’s changed when MJ fans get cynical.
© Mark Simpson 2009
By Mark Simpson (Originally appeared in Manner magazine)
“Do you have any HUNG mates? I want to be GANGBANGED by several DONKEY DICKS and just TOTALLY USED! Oh, and do you have a videocam to record it all? You see, I want my first time to be really special.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining, and probably I shouldn’t have Photoshopped the pic on my profile, but I seem to be hearing this kind of request more and more these days from young men online. Men who, like most of us penised people, have been watching far too much porn.
And it doesn’t seem to matter much whether the porn they’ve been watching too much is ‘straight’ or ‘gay’. Nor, in fact, does it seem to matter much whether they are straight or gay – tops or bottoms. It’s all the same now. When it comes to porn, all men are nymphomaniac size queens. Gargantuan, mortifying, Death-Star penises devastating tiny, defenceless chocolate starfish — in extreme, key-hole surgery close-up.
(Admit it, I’m turning you on, aren’t I?)
Xtube’s ‘Most Watched’, gay or straight, is just reams and reams of unfeasibly large pee-pees ramming relentlessly, pitilessly, where the sun don’t shine and where God definitely didn’t intend.
Even if men do occasionally find themselves having to settle for something slightly less apocalyptic on the rare occasions when they actually have sex instead of the real thing – i.e. watching porn – this is what is playing in their heads when they come. It certainly is in mine.
It was Edward Albee who famously said that when we are young we use porn to substitute for sex, but when we are adults we use sex as a substitute for porn.
Of course, this maxim is laughably out of date. Thanks to the internet, which has uploaded all men’s filthy, fetishistic thoughts, multiplied them by the power of IT, then downloaded them, no Vaseline, back into our sore, over-stretched little heads – and then uploaded them back onto Xtube, usually without password protection. In an Xtubed world there’s no substitution, or in fact distinction between sex and representations of sex any more. There is only pornsex.
In Woody Allen’s 1973 classic ‘Sleeper’ he postulated a future in which we would all have a machine called the Orgasmatron, that within seconds of using would electronically induce an orgasm. Well, we’re in the future already, and Allen turned out to be exactly right: the internet is after all the Orgasmatron, but with Windows Messenger.
Though Allen was exactly wrong to think that it would take a few seconds. While the speed of the technology and bit-rates get faster and faster, we’re getting slower and slower, spending more and more time not less in the Orgasmatron. Pretty soon, we’ll all have a chip in our skulls that will mean we’re permanently logged on with a lob on. But when that happens it will just be a kind of technical elaboration of where men, gay and straight – but especially gay – are at mentally already.
Is it humanly possible, I wonder, to summon up more energy/time/bodily fluids/eye-strain than we are already doing? Can ‘sex’ continue to bear the weight, heft, length and girth of our ever more penetrating gaze? Or will sex just decide to stay in and wash its hair instead, thanks for asking?
It’s almost as if we want to wear sex out. Use it up. Overexpose it. Leave it gaping, slack and flapping in the wind. Perhaps I underestimate the ingenious power of the male psyche – and also the suppleness of the human sphincter. We’ve all seen those Xtube clips of men taking ever-bigger traffic cones up their arses – over and over again. Maybe in ten years time they’ll be sitting on the London Gherkin. Who knows what’s possible with an early start, enough determination and really good poppers?
Or maybe the only way forwards is backwards. Maybe we will decide that when everything is permitted, and where you’ve literally seen everything, there’s no point in actually doing any of it. Maybe in a world of e-jadedness, repression will make a comeback. A clampdown, if you will. As the director John Waters once said, ‘Every day I get down on my knees every day and thank God I’m a Catholic, because it means I have really great sex!’
One of the truly wonderful things about repression is that you don’t need much friction to bring you off. A mobile phone set to ‘silent’ can do the trick, as opposed by the nuclear-powered jack-hammers required by today’s young men.
I suspect though that most blokes probably won’t find the idea of the His Holiness looking over their shoulder while they’re wanking online terribly appealing.
Unless, of course, the Pope has a REALLY BIG COCK – and some DONKEY HUNG Cardinal mates.