Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Portrait Of Dorian Gay....

The pressure to remain young, nubile and beautiful on a gay man is just as heavy as it would be on any Hollywood actress (especially as our life as a starlet on the red carpet isn't always as well paid).
Buff hairless bodies, immaculate hair and spray on tans are not just de rigueur for the ambitious Angelina, this is also the uniform you need to don if you want to transport yourself into the higher echelons of fairyland.
The morphing of the gay man from the extreme masculinity and sexuality of the 1970's clone into the Bionic woman of 2011 has been a long journey and it's gone from being a particularly hairy and bumpy ride into a totally smooth and talcum powdered one.
When did it become the law for a man to wax and pluck, shave and sculpt, clip and contour himself into androgynous oblivion? The hair on a male body used to define masculinity but now our epidermis is interchangeable with a dolphins. All sleek, smooth and shiny.
I can think of many gay men I'd like to see dive down to the bottom of the ocean and not return until they've had a mouthful of fish but I wouldn't really want to climb into bed with a porpoise.

The new face of a gay man ( which is used in conjunction with the usual two faces) has two noticeable characteristics. They are both called eyebrows. If they have not been tweezed into a reasonable homage to the M you see at at a McDonald's drive thru then they are most likely to be found laying stunned in the middle of the forehead. Much like I'd imagine a very skinny shoplifter would look after being tasered by a policeman, these furry little creatures have been paralysed into submission by huge quantities of botox and now lay useless. Occasionally they may twitch but mostly they just wait for some feeling to return.
The best way to notice them is to wait until a Sunday afternoon when the owner of said eyebrows is doing the walk of shame home after not sleeping for a day and a half. It's at this time that the rest of the face will have dropped down to his knees but the eyebrows will still be on high alert, much like the belt used to hike Simon Cowell's trousers up to his chin.

The tan of a gay man must never interfere with his social life. In other words, it must not drip off in a sweaty dance club and must be able to withstand the searing heat of a sauna or steam room at 4am on a Sunday morning. It is never a good look to be throwing your best shapes to an audience on a dance floor only to find you're flinging fake tan in their faces. Even worse if you rub up against someone and it looks like you are reenacting a scene from Carrie's prom night.

This leads us to the final frontier of the modern gay man and it's not Selfridges or that fat free yogurt shop in Soho, it's the gym. A gym is no longer just "gay friendly". It's here that the lunatics can really take over the asylum. Nothing gets a gay man worked up quite as much as working out.

The gym is where you will find the gay man at his absolute butchest (unless he's in the cardio section). This is were the testosterone is so heavy in the air you can actually smell it and if you can't smell it then you can easily go into the locker room, buy some and inject it.
Any gym in central London will be just as busy of a weeknight as the clubs will be of a weekend (all the same drug dealers are there too).The only difference between the club and the gym is people will be wearing more clothes for a work out. The cardinal sin on the gym floor is to use it as a dance floor. "Gettin' into the groove" takes on a whole different meaning when you're bouncing on a Swiss ball. It looks ridiculous when the only thing bouncing about are your pec implants.

The cardio section in any gym frequented by a gay man is mostly just used for looking in the mirror and catwalking on the treadmill. You won't really see anyone "going for the burn" as cardio makes you sweat (which is like, totally not nice).
Fat can be removed much more easily by: 
An injection.
Two fingers forced down the throat.
A really heavy weekend.
Drinking a pint of raw eggs and hoping you'll get lucky.

I am not being judgemental or bitter in this post. I have tried many of the above (except the McDonald's eyebrows, liposuction, pec implants and bouncing on a Swiss ball) and I know it's time to move over for the younger and almost as pretty to have their turn. I've realised I don't actually have to be the starlet anymore. I can now put myself forward for more character parts. I can let my hair grow grey, maybe eat a little more than I used to. I don't have to varnish myself like I've just spent a week in a terracotta oven and I don't have to lift my eyebrows up to the sky unless I'm really, really surprised. 
So to all the young up and comers, I say this . . . . .

 "Let 'em come and may their star shine bright".

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

"If I ever bore you, it'll be with a knife" . . .Louise Brooks.

I read a biography many years ago of a (criminally) forgotten 1920's film star called Louise Brooks. She was the quintessential flapper and a true benchmark of all the beauty, hedonism and glamour of that age.She was also willful, impetuous, self destructive and an alcoholic. She was adored and courted by the famous and the rich but she threw it all away and found herself destitute, homeless and reliant on the kindness of strangers.
I still have the book (it's now out of print) with it's missing pages and torn jacket but the picture on the front still amazes me - it's just her with her blunt cut hair and sexy but murderous eyes. It looks as current as any photograph you would see today, except there isn't any one actress or singer that matches up to that face.

The reason I'm writing about her and the book is that I can relate to her story - not the exquisite beauty (I wish) but the personality, the defiant spirit and the constant need to destroy and move on - that's what keeps me coming back to her. She once said "I never gave anything away without wishing I'd kept it nor kept anything without wishing I'd given it away" which is a mantra for a sad life if ever there was one.

Her life as a movie star lasted a few short years but burned brightly. She acknowledged that she had a "gift for enraging people but if I ever bore you it will be with a knife". Most other actresses hated her and everyone else wanted to sleep with her. She was never late on a film set even if she had to be pushed on in a wheel barrow because she was still drunk from the night before. She married a millionaire and left him soon after but she left with nothing. She was never the gold digging or subservient type, preferring to up and leave when she fancied and far too uninterested in cash, trinkets or jewellery to take anything with her. In life it was her who bored easily. When she grew tired of Hollywood and of her husband she turned her back on both and didn't bother saying goodbye or giving a reason as to why. Gay icon? Much?

As for the mercurial personality? She never tried to reign that in even after she had lost her looks, her wealth and her fame. When she was largely forgotten she took a job in a department store called Saks (it's a good store but not one for a movie star to be stacking shelves) but had a habit of intimidating every woman who came in because "I'd do funny things . . .After they put on the dress, I'd just stand and stare at them while they waited for me to zip them up or something" and she actually lasted in this job for two years?
After leaving (she quit, she wasn't fired) Saks in 1948 she was offered a chance of an income by writing her biography. She had kept a journal for her whole life so it would have been an amazing, enthralling read but after finishing it she threw the whole thing down the incinerator. The reason? She didn't want to name any of her so called friends, enemies or lovers who were still alive.

I don't want to fill up this post with facts and quotes about Louise Brooks, that would be lazy. I just love the story of her. I love the dichotomy of her life.She never wanted to be an actress, never wanted to be rich and never thought she was beautiful but she had all of these things thrust upon her and instead of just accepting them - she fought against them. Most sane people would of course embrace all of this but much like the time a suitor presented her with a bouquet of roses in a packed restaurant, she picked up the gift that was given to her and hit the giver about the face with it.

I'm not applauding this behaviour but I can relate to it. It was said that she had a personal vendetta against herself but in her later years she did finally find some happiness and redemption (and this is why I love her even more) as a writer. All the talent, torture and the beauty that she'd had all her life finally came to some good and she ended her days doing the two things that she loved most, writing . . . . and drinking gin.

If you haven't heard of her then google her image. You can see the influence she has even today but if you really want to know about her, read about her.

 Louise Brooks - "No one ever burned more bridges or left prettier little fires".

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Why I love my Chopsticks.

I love my chopsticks. Every time I go to Wagamama I steal a pair. Much like people steal the pencils from Ikea, I have a compulsion to take an extra set of chopsticks. I know it's morally wrong but I always leave a big tip for my waitress and it's hardly the crime of the century is it? It's just chopsticks. I didn't don a balaclava and ram raid a cut price electrical store, I just picked up an extra pair of little wooden sticks.

Why do I love them so? Well, it took me a while to learn how to use them. The knife, fork and spoon I took to straight away but the delicate dance of the chopsticks took a lot longer to master, so I never take them for granted. They were an absolute bitch of a utensil to control to begin with and like most things in my life, the more difficult something is to handle, the more it gets my attention.

I have a pair in my hands at this very moment and they are amazingly versatile. In fact I'm going to try typing with them right now: I LOVE MY CHOPSTIKS  (OK, maybe not so good for typing).

Here is a list of things they are truly amazing for:

A book mark - if you don't split them they can easily fit between two pages and if you get the wooden ones then they may even have come from the same tree as the pages of your book. If I was a tree I still think I'd rather be a page of a book than a chopstick but you get my meaning.

A back scratch - I often get my chopsticks out on the tube and have a good old scratch of my back, my head, my legs, behind my knees, ears, etc etc. It's much more hygienic than using your own filthy paws after hanging onto that hand rail and you can also give anyone who won't get out of your way a short sharp prod.

A tickle stick(s) - As above but also excellent if you're at home and feeling all sexy and sultry with a new lover. I cannot tell you the surprise on some peoples faces when I whop out my chopsticks.

A cheer leading baton - OK, this is a little more difficult because people are not really impressed if you just twirl around a pair of chopsticks but if you set fire to the ends of them, tie tons of colourful ribbon to them or manage to juggle a couple of new born kittens with them, trust me, you'll get an audience.

A weapon - no one will mess with you if have a pair of chopsticks to hand. As in most things in life, size does matter (it is all about the girth) but I promise you, a swift chopstick to the eye will have your assailant running (blindly) for cover.

A hair accessory - many a drag queen wouldn't be caught dead without her make up or her chop sticks.

A tune on the piano - how many times have you been blind drunk in a bar / pub / piano shop and seen a piano and said "I can play, I know a really good tune". What the hell do you think that song's called?.

A lock picker - I haven't tried this but I think I've seen it in an episode of "Murder She Wrote".

An eating utensil - You can also pick up bits of food with these.

A catapult - as above.

So there we go. I hope I've made a compelling case for my love of Chopsticks. I suggest you all put down your knives (especially if you're in a teenage gang) your forks (unless you're a gardener) and your spoons (especially if you're a heroin addict) and pick up your Chopsticks.

Wagamama & Asian restaurants the world over - I apologise if you experience a glut of chopstick thievery.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

London's Burning . . . .

Just a very quick "post" this evening. I'm still trying to process everything that's been going on in London (especially where I live). I will be back to "normal" very soon (most probably tomorrow). This isn't an in depth look into the social reasons or why's as to what's been happening in London- it's just my stream of consciousness . .

I live in beautiful, historic Greenwich. Well, I live in Greenwich but not the beautiful historic part. It could be classed as within spitting distance - if everybody came out of their council houses and started spitting.
The area of Greenwich where I live is stuck between the Regency houses and greenery of the park and the modern wasteland that surrounds the 02 Arena. It's caught in a no mans land of asbo's and Hermes handbags. I guess it could be called "up & coming" or it could be called a breeding ground of unrest.
I call it home.

Of a weekend I am normally awoken by the sound of church bells which is comforting as I am sometimes lulled to sleep by the sound of broken bottles. I don't mind my surroundings. I like the juxtaposition of the "rich and the rough". Once I am indoors and the bolts and latches and locks have been secured I'm pretty content - but the last couple of nights have taken on an all together more sinister and lawless air.
It's no fun to be awake at 2am and watch shadowy figures in hoods running along the grass underneath your flat with arms full of stolen goods. It's a surreal thing to hear shopping carts being pushed along your street in the middle of the night and then see that it's gangs of youths with trolleys full of electrical goods they have just looted from the retail park near your home. I watched as my street was used as a convenient pick up and drop off zone. Cars pulled up and collected the goods and then the youths went back for more.

The thing I find most unnerving is that I am not a meek person and yet I watched this happen from my bedroom window and I did nothing. I would fiercely protect myself and my property from anyone who tried to take it from me but I felt utterly powerless. One lone voice against a group of hooded men / boys intent on taking whatever they please and doing as much damage as they can in the process is not going to have much effect. In the end I closed my windows and let them carry on and for the whole of today I have felt awful for it.

This morning began in the strangest way. I woke up at the sound of the alarm but had to actually talk myself out of bed. Everything took longer. The morning ritual of getting showered, dressed and eating breakfast felt strangely off, like nothing was going as planned. I had to go back to the flat for my wallet, the morning tube journey felt more claustrophobic than usual and people seemed to look at each other suspiciously or not at all. I know this is usual tube etiquette but to me everything seemed to be so much more intense. I looked at everybody like they were planning to steal my furs & jewellery or wait until I got off the tube and then go home and steal my flat screen.

I hate looking at people that way. I have never worried about or let the threat of terrorism stop me going about my daily business but the riots of the last couple of days have really unnerved me. This is a real threat from people who live on our street and it's from children who think they are above the law. The police were nowhere to be seen last night and I haven't seen one policeman in Greenwich this evening.What I have seen are empty streets and shops that have been boarded up.

 I could not wait to leave central London this evening and I cannot express how much I wanted to get home and lock my door behind me. I even took off my watch and jacket and put them in my bag as I walked from the station. I would normally be listening to my ipod or talking on the phone but I wanted to be as alert to my surroundings as I could be. It's an awful thing to be fearful but the walk home really set me thinking that if anything did happen would I "put up a fight or flee"?

 I'm glad to say that I still believe that I will always fight and I will not let the behaviour and mindset of many affect the way I live my life. I will still smile at people I don't know on the tube and I will still walk home listening to my ipod or chatting on my phone. I will still come home drunk late at night and I will still sleep soundly in my bed. I will wake up happy every morning. I will believe that the people I let into my life are good.
I am sure that I will still go home every night and bolt every door, click every latch and make sure every lock is locked behind me but more than anything I am sure that if anyone tries to take what's mine - I'm going to hit them, really, really hard and If they knock me down I'll just keep on getting back up.

As I write this there is a police helicopter hovering just above where I live and a police siren in the distance . . .
Sleep soundly everybody.