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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bimbos and Bodies

A friend gave me some back issues of gay mags the other day. DNA, Attitude, Gay News etc. All choc-full of images of beautiful men. Men who obviously spend hours every day in the gym and live on wheatgrass juice, tuna and rice - I know, I know, they're models, but even so, they're held up to us as the image of what a gay man is supposed to be. These images are powerful, and their common-place use to depict gay men tells us something about our world, and I'm not sure I like it. And really, let's face it, these guys are our equivalent of busty blonde bimbos for straight guys. Hasn't Gay Liberation been a great thing? Baby, we've come such a long way...

So many muscles and such sharp definition that the split in their abs starts to look like a vagina, a friend noted. Ridiculously slim waists. And, with one exception, no body hair. So even though they're supposedly what gay men aspire to be like, if we're not already there, they actually look more like perpetual teenagers, stuck in early pubescence forever. They don't look all that masculine to me. I'm not immune to the charms of youth and beauty, but this sort of airbrushed perfection (and let's face it: these shots will have been enhanced) leaves me cold.

And what is wrong with body hair? On the one hand we have people prattling on about "nature" and "being Green" and then they rip their hair off with wax and look totally unnatural. Did you know you can buy "green" hair removal products? Why? Yes, I am hirsute. So I do have a personal axe to grind on this one. I like my body hair. And I like hairy men, I think they can be very sexy. And yes, so can men with very little body hair and all the gradations in between. I just don't get this desire to pretend that men don't have chest hair, hair around our cocks and balls, hair on our stomachs ( I just love following a treasure trail down ) facial hair, even... hair on our shoulders and backs! I just can't measure a guy's hotness by his hairiness, or lack of it, which is the image the magazines keep pushing.

As I look at the ads for the next dance-party, or the photos used on most gay websites, it gets harder and harder to find a piece of body hair, or a body that doesn't make Michaelangelo's David look flabby. Look back at some older porn or erotica and well over half the guys that were thought sexy in the 50s, 60s and 70s just wouldn't make it today. Instead we've somehow ended up with this hyper-muscular baby-bottom smooth twenty-something as our icon, and I'm not quite sure how it happened.

I'm old enough (here we go again..."The good old days") to remember when the gay media contained a level of self-critical reflection and political awareness that didn't simply centre on our right to imitate straights by getting married and having kids. I know, I know, consumption is everywhere and we've been swallowed up by it. These gay mags tell us about how to spend money to fit into certain social groups. And they all assume we have a disposable income, live in the city, are under 30 (or idealise youth) and are happy uncritically taking part in a political system that is, actually when you peel back the veils, not exactly on our side. We've had to fight hard and long for the rights we've gained, they weren't simply a gift by a benign system, and now we've been swallowed up by it. Yeah, I'm on a kind of a doom and gloom kick.

These images might be pretty, they might be hot, they might handsome, but what they also do is exclude a lot of us. Look around a gay bar or club, and the number who fit that images is way smaller than those who do. But the number of people trying to fit it and not making it is often quite high. And it just looks a little sad and a little wrong when some guy in his mid 50s is trying to look like a 29 year-old and not pulling it off (err, the look I mean, you dirty-minded filth).
What those of us who don't fit into these dominant advertising-driven models of gay bimbos get told is we're not quite up there, not as good, not worth as much. "Here is an image of what a gay man is supposed to be if he wants to be successful and loved" these ads say. "Ooops, you don't fit, so you're not going to succeed", is the hidden message here.

So remind me now, who else has to put up with relentless Body-Fascisim, pressure to look "right" and bimbos in ads showing them up all the time? Oh yeah, straight women. That's what we fought for, isn't it, to be just like them.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Michael Stevens: Sexual Consultant?

I was at Urge again the other night and noticed a poster from The Basement. for those who don't know, The Basement is a sex-club. Anyway, the poster read something like "Thursday Night is Fetish Night at The Basement".

I looked at it and knew I wouldn't go. I just don't think I have any fetishes these days.

I used to. The feel and smell of leather used to be a fetish. Hairy chests used to be a fetish. B&D and role-playing used to be a fetish. Actually, without boasting, there are few things that men can do to each other sexually I haven't tried, and only a few of those I haven't really enjoyed at some stage in my life. Not that they were all fetishes I guess. But now, I just don't seem to have any. I know guys who just about cream their pants when they see a guy in the right sports kit. For some it will only be Adidas, never Nike or any other brand. Others are just into sports-kit in general. Other guys get all hot and bothered over tatts, or facial hair, or cigars. And some fetishes we just won't mention in public...

When I was 24 and living in NY, The Mineshaft, the grand-daddy of all gay sex clubs was still open. The things I saw there, the things I did, the things I was! Happy memories. Couldn't be bothered now.

No particular item of clothing or set of actions, no childhood memory or adult-inspired one gives me that sudden tingle and automatic sexual rush that fetishes do. I feel a little deprived. After all, I used to have them.

Is it just middle age? Well, I know guys older than me who are happily playing and exploring their fetishes still. Some quite a bit older than me - lucky bastards. Am I just blase? Jaded? Maybe I am. I listen to other people describing their fantasies and fetishes and mentally tick them off in my head, and then get the "Can I be bothered?" reaction. Not a good sign when an exotic night of sex seems like too much work.

And there are so many wannabes, who don't have the experience but they have the fantasy. A friend of mine once hooked up with a guy on line, and this was back before broad band when pics online were a rarity, who seemed experienced and into the wild and kinky side of extreme leather and role-play my mate likes. My friend was all dressed up ready, and opened the door to see this plump, blonde-bouffant, pink cashmere cardigan wearing 50-something all a quiver on his doorstep, saying "I've never actually done this before". My friend slammed the door in his face. never lie about your experience to a serious fetish-player.

A few years ago, chatting online, as one does, and this guy got in touch, saying he was training to be a hooker and needed some guys to practice on. Seriously. he was interested in me because I was both HIV+ ( something he needed to feel happy working with) and (b) experienced in fetishes. So I volunteered, after all, he was very hot. Beautiful sexy body etc. I thought to myself "Could this be a new line of employment : Michael Stevens, Consultant to Hustlers". It wold make a great business card, but I haven't put it on my CV. By blogging it have I just put it on my CV?

The session wasn't that great, again, in spite of my years of experience, it just didn't click for me, nor for him I think. He was a really nice guy though - I ran into him on the dancefloor at Urge a few years later and he reminded me of the whole episode. He hadn't gone on with the career change, figured out it wasn't for him after all.

It's not that I don't think about sex - I do. And I have it as well. And enjoy it - a lot. I look at hot guys on the bus, as I walk aorund town, in bars and clubs, everywhere, of course. Bring on summer and scantily clad sweaty men - wait - is that a fetish? But I can't see myself heading down to The Basement for Fetish Night any time soon. For those who do, I hope you enjoy it!

But what a shame I can't turn this into a career path. All those years of experience, so much to offer, so much to teach, maybe I should get the cards printed after all.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mating Rituals

Why is it that so many wonderful men that I know are single? And, for that matter, why am I ? Not that I am necessarily all that wonderful.

Is it the pool of men around? I mean, I have so many friends in Auckland, but I can't see myself falling for them, not when we've been mates for so long. And then you look on-line and see, well, all sorts of guys, some, let's admit it, seem just a bit sad and desperate, or wildly unrealistic. Guys who post entire shopping lists of desired characteristics on their profiles are not going to be my choice. I mean, how could you ever live up to it?

A few weeks ago an 18 year old messaged me on NZD and asked if I wanted to do cam-sex with him. I mean, really - 18!? Do his parents know what he's getting up to in his bedroom at night when they think he's studying? Shit - imagine if they walked in just as we were reaching the point of the whole thing. But most parents of teenage gay men have no idea what their sons are up to, let's face it.

I pointed out the age difference (nearly 30 years) and said no thanks, he didn't even look like he shaved yet, and he replied "Hey, I'm horny and it's just cam-sex mate."

Somehow I didn't find that flattering. Though I guess he must have found me attractive if he wanted me to jerk off on cam with him. An idea that I must say I really don't find erotic. I know some guys get off on cyber-sex, or cam-sex, but for me - nope, it doesn't float my boat.

So if not online, well, what about out on the town? The thing is, Auckland is just too small: it often seems that we all know each other, or at least, have heard about each other.

Every now and then I think "Maybe if I got in better shape, worked out, lost the gut etc... or changed my hair... got my eyes lasered... " but would that make that much difference? I might get more roots, but I don't think it'd get me true love, or even a semblance of it.

If all the gay men from NZ who've moved away came back to Auckland, just imagine what that would do to our social world. We'd be the gayest little city in the world if all those kiwi fags who moved away to live in a big city came back, if they all left SF, LA, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, NY, Sydney and Melbourne, and came back here, just think! Or just dream - I guess they did leave for a reason. It is small here, and the pool is limited.

But even though there is this pool of smart, sexy, desirable, employed gay men out there, why are so many of us single? I guess part of is habit. As I get older it seems more and more difficult to imagine combining my life with someone else's - difficult but not impossible (to any future husbands who read that and got put off please note the "not impossible" bit). I mean, I have all the furniture I need, I have somewhere to live, I have my routines - do I want to risk unbalancing all that for another guy? Well, yes, to some extent, I do. Because sharing life, love and all the day-to-day hassles it brings with someone else is fun and rewarding. I know, I've done it before, and I expect I'll do it again before I die.

Till then I 'll keep looking around at all my eligible smart, sexy single friends, and wonder why they're like that, and why I'm like this, but hey, life is basically good, right? I can wait. I'm happy.