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Male Impersonators

The book that changed the way the world looks at men

Why is bodybuilding a form of transsexualism? What do football and anal sex have in common? Why is Top Gun such a flamingly ‘gay’ movie? Why is male vanity such a hot commodity? And why oh why do Marky Mark’s pants keep falling down?

In his highly influential debut book Male Imper­son­ators, first pub­lished in 1994, Mark Simp­son argues for the vital cen­tral­ity of homo­eroti­cism and nar­cis­sism in any understanding of the fraught phenomenon of mod­ern masculinity.

A highly penetrating, ticklish but always serious examination of what hap­pens to men when they become ‘objec­ti­fied’.

From porn to shav­ing adverts, rock and roll to war movies, drag to lads’ nights out, Male Impersonators offers wit and reader-friendly the­ory in equal mea­sure in a review of the great­est show on Earth – the per­for­mance of masculinity.

Now Available on Kindle! * * * * * * * * * *


‘Simp­son pulls the pants off pop­u­lar cul­ture and wit­tily winks at the Freudian sym­bols lurk­ing beneath.’ (FOUR STARS OUT OF FOUR) – The Mod­ern Review

‘This set of high-spirited essays dis­plays more insight into the mas­cu­line mys­tique than has the decade of earnest men’s stud­ies that pre­ceded it. Simp­son has an unerr­ing eye for the inner logic and pre­tences of a wide range of mas­cu­line enter­prises and sym­bols. This is queer theory without the jargon and is a must for anyone interested in things male. General and  academic readers at all levels.’ – Choices

‘Mark Simp­son detects and dis­sects the myths of machismo and its atten­dant media cir­cus with refresh­ing gusto and wit.’  – John Ashbery

‘A brilliantly-positioned array of fire­crack­ers, ele­phant traps and banana skins designed to trick con­ven­tional male­ness into show­ing it’s true hand, or some extrem­ity. Simpson capers like Robin Goodfellow, stripping off the fig leaves with exuberance.’ – The Observer



‘Mark Simpson’s Male Imper­son­ators could do for male sex­u­al­ity what Camilla Paglia did for women, find­ing latent homo sub­texts to Marky Mark, Clint East­wood and Tom Cruise’s base­ball bat.’ – Melody Maker

‘Male Imper­son­ators quickly reveals itself to be dif­fer­ent and, arguably more insight­ful than many pre­vi­ous ‘Mas­culin­ity books’. Male Imper­son­ators makes a timely and exem­plary addi­tion to cult stud’s ‘Return to Freud’. It has an excel­lent read­abil­ity fac­tor com­pared to many oth­ers freighted with dull writ­ing.’  – Per­ver­sions


‘These smash­ingly provoca­tive essays by the spunky Brit writer Mark Simp­son det­o­nate myths, stereo­types and icons, gay as well as straight. The psycho-social line sep­a­rat­ing homo and het­ero male­ness, he ful­somely shows, is much fuzzier than Robert Bly and Pat Buchanan find it to be.’

– Lambda Book Report