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The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

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Category: metrosexy (page 2 of 4)

Ciao Bello! Mark Simpson interviewed by Italian mag ‘Studio’

English (unedited) version of Q&A with Mark Simpson by Michele Masneri for Italian cultural  magazine Studio in which he talks about the Italian roots of sporno, the next stage of metrosexuality – and the Silviosexual

Studio: What do you mean by the word “sporno”?

Mark Simpson: The place where sport and porn get into bed while Mr Armani takes pictures. Beckham and Ronaldo’s bulging packets rammed down our throat on the sides of buses. Dolce & Gabbana hanging around the Italian football team’s locker room. That kind of thing. So once again we mostly have Italia to thank.

Metrosexuality, the male desire to be desired, has become so normal now that it’s pretty much taken for granted. So in order to get noticed you have to go hardcore – and promise the viewing public a gang-bang in the showers. Hence sporno.

Is Italy the most metrosexual country?

In a sense the wave of metrosexuality that swept the globe in the last decade or so was really just the rest of the world catching up with Italia and becoming a little bit more Italian.

Male narcissism is at the heart of metrosexuality – and in Italy unlike in the Anglo world this has never really been properly repressed. Italy, home of Michelangelo, Marcello Mastroianni and Dolce & Gabbana, never seriously pretended that ‘beauty’ was a word that couldn’t sit alongside ‘male’, and pat its well-formed knee.

In Italy, particularly Southern Italy, young men often have an almost swishy but entirely assured way of walking that few Anglos can ever hope to match. And if we try, it just ends up a silly sashay.

Nonetheless, I think full-throated metrosexuality does break down traditional or official ideas about the sexual division of loving and looking even in Italy by undermining machismo and ‘outing’ the queerness of it all. The way that women look at men and men look at other men – and how men get very turned on by all the attention.

Do you know the Fiat-Chrysler CEO, Sergio Marchionne? Is he hummersexual or retrosexual?

I’m afraid I had to look him up. Are you sure he’s Italian? He looks like Jeremy Clarkson’s dad. Do you think he has a wardrobe at home with 365 identical shapeless jumpers and shirts?

Hummersexuals are guys who over-emphasise their masculinity with ‘manly’ accessories in a way that makes you wonder what they’re covering up. Retrosexuals are merely pre-metrosexual.

Sergio seems more retrosexual than hummersexual. Partly because Fiat cars aren’t terribly popular with the US military or Hollywood action heroes  – too small and ‘faggy’, I expect – but mostly because he reminds me of my old chemistry teacher.

And how about former Prime Minister Berlusconi?

He’s quite something, that Berlusconi! But at least, as he keeps reminding us, he’s not queer. Even if he does look like a drag queen.

I don’t think any of the categories really fit Silvio. He’s far too special. He’s in a category all of his own. Silviosexual.

Mind you, his old chum Tony Blair, our former PM and rock star manqué, shared the same drag queen smile. But ultimately Silvio is a reminder to an Anglo like me of the mysteries of ‘machismo’. How something so camp can imagine itself something so butch.

Perhaps we need to go way back in time to locate Berlusconi’s painted, dyed, stretched, terrifyingly cosmetic look. Back to the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt….

Is David Beckham still the epitome of the metrosexual?

Yes, albeit the ageing metrosexual. In English we have an expression, ‘mutton dressed as lamb’…. But then there are lots of men his age and older who also don’t want to give up their sex-object status – so they look to him for inspiration. Though he’ll have to offer them something a lot sexier than those daggy H&M pants and vests he came up with recently.

Beckham’s metrosexual crown has of course been usurped by younger, prettier players such as Cristiano Ronaldo – who also famously stole his Armani undies. At the same time you have a new generation of tarty male reality TV stars, such as Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and his ‘gym tan laundry’ metro mantra from Jersey Shore. And at the movies you have stars like Tom Hardy, with those pouty, Brando-esque lips, muscles and his openly admitted bi-curious past telling us ‘Don’t be a afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.’

Is metrosexy the “next stage” of metrosexuality? The word ‘metrosexual’ was born in the Nineties. What happened to male narcissism since then?

Funnily enough Justin Bieber was born the same year as the metrosexual. They’re both sweet seventeen. In other words, metrosexuality is still waiting for its voice to drop.

That said, men’s narcissism has become much so mainstream and accepted in the last decade or so, to the point where it is often taken for granted, especially by the younger generation who has grown up with it. Hence the word itself is likely to become defunct at some point in the not too distant future. To some extent Metrosexy is about a post metrosexual world.

However, there are still reaction-formations and kinky backlashes against metrosexuality, particularly in the US which, because of a passionately Protestant history and an equally passionate denial about its own screaming gayness, continues to work out her issues. E.g. those hummersexuals….

Essentially ‘metrosexy’ is the tarty male sensibility that metrosexuals have injected into the culture. Metrosexuality has gone from being a ‘type’ – ‘the metrosexual’ –  to be spotted and pointed at, to being a pervasive ‘feeling’. A way of seeing and being seen.

Also, a glance at the newsstand, the billboard, the TV, and the queue at the bus stop tells us that with many young men the desire to be desired and embody male beauty has taken an increasingly physical, sensual form: their lovingly, painstakingly sculpted and shaved muscles and their elaborate, expensive designer tattoos.

Following the cues of sporno, many seem to aspire to be sexual athletes. Hustlers. Porn stars.

What’s the relationship between hipsterism and metrosexuality?

Although most hipsters would probably rather die than admit it, hipsterism is a form of metrosexuality. But a very middle-class and enervated – or ‘ironic’ – one. It’s patently narcissistic, but usually regards the body and ‘sexiness’ as ‘vulgar’. Which it is of course – if you’re lucky.

What’s the “gay bomb”, Abercrombie & Fitch or American Apparel or Apple?

Abercrombie & Fitch were perhaps the detonator – Apple and iPhones were the explosion. iPhones are of course the ultimate vanity product – they’re really MEphones. The app that comes gratis with every smartphone is dumb self-obsession. And they’re also a great way to take a picture of yourself topless in the gym changing room mirrors to upload to Facebook, or perhaps a more ‘discrete’ ‘social network’…

Are the social networks, i.e. Facebook and especially Twitter, a form of a sublimated metrosexuality?

Inasmuch as they’re all about MEEEEEE! yes. They’re where people compete for attention and try to turn themselves into brands and commodities and market themselves, a hallmark of metrosexuality.

In the case of Facebook, often the metrosexuality isn’t even very sublimated. Young men can and do upload hundreds of topless pictures of themselves, apparently auditioning for that Men’s Health cover.

You’ve written that “in some ways Obama is the first US President to be his own First Lady.” Is there any metrosexy candidate in the Republican party?

Not in the current line-up of hopefuls. Though Mitt Romney does look like a mannequin in the window of a particularly boring department store.

Aaron Schock on the other hand, the Republican Congressman who stripped off for Men’s Health magazine positively drips metrosexiness – for a politician. He’ll probably end up President one day. Him or Justin Bieber….

Mark Simpson’s Metrosexy is available for download from Amazon.

 

 

David Beckham’s ‘End Result’ – Can You Handle It?

Better order some industrial strength lip balm and practise suppressing the gag reflex.

Shameless sporno star and uber-metrosexual David Beckham is ramming his eye-popping lunchbox down our collective throats again. This time with a media ‘offensive’ for his own line of men’s undies – and strangely shapeless vests – from Swedish-owned high street fashion chain H&M.

“I always want to challenge myself and this was such a rewarding experience for me. I’m very happy with the end result and I hope H&M’s male customers will be as excited as I am.”.

It’s true, you do look very pleased to see us again, David dear. But I worry that my ‘end result’ might not look quite so excited/exciting in your pants.

But Beck’s own palpable, prominent excitement is entirely understandable. He saw the humongous wads of cash Mr Armani was covered in when he brazenly pimped Beck’s designer cotton-clad tackle to the world a few years back. Becks was paid very handsomely for his services himself of course, but seems to have decided he can make even more filthy lucre by designing his packet himself and flogging it to the global punter (H&M is the second largest retailer in the world).

Last year he explained:

“I have had the idea of doing a bodywear collection for some time now. The push to do something of my own really came as a result of my collaboration with Armani. They told me that their gross turnover in 2007 was around €16 million, and after the campaign in 2008 it went up to €31 million, in 2008. It proved to me that there is a real market for good-looking, well-made men’s bodywear.”


Whether or not his finished pants and vests are that kind of bodywear I’ll let you be the judge of. Bear in mind they are a lot more affordable than Mr Armani’s. I think proud-father-of-four Goldenballs is here going for ‘volume’. Metrosexy dadwear. Hence the emphasis he puts on comfort.

And as we’ve seen again and again in the last few years, there is definitely a real market for good-looking, well-made, famous, well-packaged men’s bodies. Advertisers, reality TV and Hollywood have practically had our eye out with them.

Regardless of his advancing years (he’s a frighteningly well-preserved, carb-free 37 this May) and consequently fading football career, Becks will always be fondly identified with that metrosexual revolution and will very likely get his money shot yet again.

He and his endowments, natural and Photo-shopped, always seems to wangle a way to attract the eye. Whatever you may think of his vests.

 

Still Ill: Narcissism is Sick Again

Terrible news! Call off the Xmas Party at Men’s Health magazine! Cancel the male strippers and the buckets of (low-fat) blancmange!

Self-love isn’t going to be rehabilitated after all. At least not by the shrinks. Professionally speaking, it will remain the love the dare not speak its name — even as the culture screams nothing else.

According to this piece by Jennifer Allen in The Sunday Telegraph, in the face of strong criticism, the American Psychiatric Association has backtracked on its plan to remove Narcissistic Personality Disorder from the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Allen suggests the reason they tried to de-list narcissism in the first place was not down to any recognition of how ‘normal’ narcissism has become in the world outside the consulting room, but because of the American psychiatric trend to biologise mental illness (‘Baby, I was born this way’) and prescribe drugs instead of the ‘interminable’ talking cure.

Allen isn’t impressed though by the APA’s backtracking:

I find the volte-face dismaying, not because I’m for prescribing drugs and against talking cures. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist to see that narcissism has shifted from a pathological condition to a norm, if not a means of survival.

Narcissism appears as a necessity in a society of the spectacle, which runs from Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes of fame” prediction through reality television and self-promotion to YouTube hits.

Well, quite. But then, I would agree as I’ve been saying this for years, darling.

Perhaps, being somewhat cynical, the objection to de-listing NPD was driven precisely by the ubiquity of narcissism. It’s certainly a growth market.

I don’t doubt that NPD, or something akin to it exists, and can be an extremely unpleasant experience both for the sufferer and those they come into contact with — here in the UK we’re only just getting over Tony Blair. But even before the advent of Big Brother, Facebook, iPhones and Immac for Men the symptoms of NPD were vague and common enough failings to be applied to almost anyone who had anything about them.

Or, to quote Gore Vidal, anyone better looking than you. According to the DSM ‘narcissists also tend to be physically attractive on first impression, giving them advantages when first meeting people’.

Here’s the full list of NPD sins provided by the DSM:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
  • Requires excessive admiration
  • Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

If you thought that just five of these symptoms might apply to you, then you may have NPD. If you found that they all apply to you then you’re probably in prison serving a very long stretch indeed or have your own TV cookery show and supermarket endorsement deal.

Though I suppose a psychiatrist would probably say that someone with NPD would likely not be able to recognise those traits in themselves. At any rate, that’s what I’m telling myself.

So if you found that none of these traits applied to you then you’re probably Jesus Christ. Or Barbara Streisand.

Review of ‘Metrosexy’ at Italian literary blog ‘Finzioni’

GP Leonardi at ‘Finzioni’ reviews Metrosexy. You can read it here.

The MetroseXY Movement

Hip hop has its own Andrej Pejic. The rapper DPhill Spanglish Man is rebelling against the rap-ismo dress code with something he dubs the ‘XY Movement’ which according to this report, ‘encourages men to get in touch with their feminine sides by donning lipstick and other items, like floral print tights, typically worn by women.’

“A lot of people feel like a lot of colors or tight clothes is homosexual. I feel like it’s more of an expression of me,” said Philips, adding, “The only obstacles are in your mind, that’s the way I feel. I had to break down those barriers in my mind to where I was just confident enough to do it.”

And Philips’s girlfriend, Joy Nguyn, is just as confident, even though she hears negative comments all the time.

“I get mostly negative comments, ‘Oh, he gay… That’s not cute. Guys shouldn’t wear lipstick or tights,’ but I really don’t care,” she said, adding, “It’s fine. I wear lipstick. He wears lipstick. We share lipstick.”

Or as Pejic put it:

“It’s not like, ‘Okay, today I want to look like a man, or today I want to look like a woman,’?” he says. “I want to look like me. It just so happens that some of the things I like are feminine.”

Tip: Paul