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When You Check The Mirror On The Way Out – & Decide To Stay In With Yourself

From ‘Box Menswear’ Facebook Page.

Spain Spammed By Spornosexuals

A feature in yesterday’s El Pais, the main Spanish daily, by Marita Alonso on the ‘plague’ of spornosexuals (or ‘espornosexuales’) in gyms, on reality TV and dating shows – and the triumph of spornowear (alias spray-on ‘clothes’).

I get the blame for it in the first line. Quite rightly.

h/t Begonya

Love Island – ITV’s Primetime Spornotopia

Mark Simpson on this Summer’s smash-hit dating show: ‘a comedy of compulsory heterosexuality’.

(Telegraph Men, 18 July, 2017)

Utopian fantasies have long gripped the human imagination. Famous, brainy – but sadly, not very buff – thinkers such as Plato (in the 4th Century BC), Thomas Moore (in the 16th AD) and HG Wells (in the 20th), sketched out what an ideal society might look like. But their philosophical visions were never realised.

It wasn’t until the early 21st Century that someone finally had the brilliant idea of ditching ethics for aesthetics, taking a sun-drenched island, covering it in decking, astroturf, pools, lip gloss, and steel-reinforced, musical double beds. And then adding cameras. Lots and lots of cameras, to catch all the love-hate action between the goodly, beauteous creatures that inhabit this brave new world. And who mostly speak with an Essex accent.

I coined the phrase ‘spornosexual‘ to finger second-generation, body-centred, ‘hardcore’ metrosexuals – those buffed-up, barely-dressed young men kindly sharing their porny selfies on social media. Now ITV2 has given them a dream home – Spornotopia. Otherwise known as Love Island.

Love Island is the ratings hit of the summer; a socio-cultural phenomenon. It’s essentially a very expensive porn set, where babelicious women sit on beanbags discussing the size of their own silicone beanbags – while young spornosexual men and their shaped eyebrows labour in the outdoor gym to inflate their meat beanbags. And in the evening, everyone ‘recouples’. All sponsored by Superdrug.

I’ve seen the future, and it works out. And waxes. It also shags a lot – but perhaps that’s because the porntastic islanders are not allowed access to porn. In an exquisitely horny paradox, Love Island is a world based on porn in which porn doesn’t exist. Save the really exploitative, emotional variety.

Hence we don’t see any action – just c**k-blocking duvets. This is primetime, so phallic ice lollies and single entendre games with sausages have to do a lot of symbolic work.

Then again, maybe instead of bumping uglies, really bad acting by really beautiful people is what porn is.

In this perfect society – or society of perfection – everyone is a glamour model. But the men are more glamorous than the girls. They and their auto-airbrushed bodies are the tarty stars of the show (as the pectastic Love Island ident advertises).  They are, as they never stop telling us, ‘the total package’. However, this can lead to problems in paradise – where everyone’s true love is their own reflection, and ITV2 is their selfie stick.

“The boys are more vain than the gels,” one of the young women [Chloe Crowhurst, 22, Essex] complains. “They come in the dressing room, take up all the mirrors, all the hairdryers and straighteners. They shave and wax everything, including their arms and fingers! Even I don’t do that! Kem spends 40 mins a day just blow drying ‘is ‘air!”

Kem Cetinay, 21, Essex, is a powerful figure on the island and a seminal figure for our time: not just because he’s pretty and buff and funny, but because he’s a hair stylist. He keeps the lads’ sharp cuts sharp, and they love him for it: “The fact that Ken is a barber makes my life a dream,” confessed Dom Lever, 26 – who himself gave the lads manicures.

“We’ll do anything to look good. We’re not embarrassed about that,” says Kem.

Though some of the women try to make them. Hence the protests when Alex Beattie, 22, a buff, already absurdly attractive Geordie, receives a beauty treatment from Kem and his best friend andprettiness peer in the villa, Chris Hughes, 24: “They’re literally grooming him!” “It’s like a cult! That we’re not involved in!”

Eventually, as Alex is having his toenails painted, the girls stage an intervention, bursting in on the scene and screaming: ‘What the f*** is going on!!’. But Alex doesn’t want to be rescued, and is more interested in admiring his fetching new toes. The girls retreat in confusion: “We came on Love Island to find MEN! What have we done??”

Love Island is probably the gayest and certainly the campest show on telly. Something only compounded by the fact that no one on Love Island is actually, or at least officially, gay. It’s a comedy of compulsory heterosexuality – if you don’t couple up, you get kicked off. Much like life. And it hardly needs me to say this – because the knowing, fabulously catty narration by Scottish comedian Iain Stirling perfectly articulates all the on-screen camping around.

Gone is the formal objectivity of Big Brother’s date stamp in a Sunderland accent. Love Island’s voiceover archly pokes fun at the promiscuous fidelity of the contestants, their hair-flicking contests, and professions of undying (self) love. And even at the concept of the show itself.

“As we all know, this is love Island, not Friend Island” explains Stirling. “But there is one very important loophole. The bromance. And Kem and Chris are exploiting it to within an inch of its life.” The dreamers! Kem: “If we end up not coupling up you reckon they’ll let you and me couple up?” Chris: “I hope so. I wouldn’t mind coupling up with you.” Kem: “I’d share a bed with you.” Chris: “All day and every day.”

Cue a montage of them spooning and showering together and Kem cutting Chris’ hair – which is the real sex on Love Island. Chris, who apparently has the largest penis on the Island, reassures Kem, whose penis is apparently smaller: “It’s nice – and when it gets going it really gets going. Are we showering again this evening?” They even try to clipper each other’s initials into their pubes.

Compared to the Darwinian official heterosexuality of the show, bromance can seem sweetly spontaneous and loving. Even if it may be, as Stirling suggests, simply another ploy.

Either way, it’s indicative of how many straight young men are impressively unafraid of appearing ‘gay’ these days – only 50 years after male homosexuality was decriminalised. All the fears of those who opposed the law change seem to have come true. Beautifully.

And if Kem really is in love with Chris, it’s only to be expected in Spornotopia. “Every single person in this house fancies me,” sighs an exhausted Chris to himself/us at one point. He’s not bragging or exaggerating.

Gymder – The Spornosexual Social App

Finally! Spornosexuals no longer have to run the risk of socialising with people who don’t work out, own no Lycra, and think that whey isolate sounds absolutely vomitous.

Now, thanks to a Munich-based company, spornos have their very own ‘social’ app that will allow them to find, locate and interact with other spornos in their vicinity. Which of course is likely to be someone sweating on the machine next to them in the gym they spend their lives in.

Gymder, as it’s called, is billed as a free location-based app designed to help you find “mutually interested workout buddies nearby right when you need them”. Apparently it “uniquely connects people in a fitness context – thereby users can find each other and train together anytime, anywhere.”

It may seem a little silly that people who go to the gym every day need an app to find people who go to the gym, but hey that’s the kind of ‘social’ world we live in now. After all, everyone at the gym is now either staring at their phones between sets (sometimes during sets), or wearing huge, DON’T TALK TO ME earphones that look like they belong to 747 handlers.

Of course, phrases like “mutually interested”, “right when you need them”, and “anytime, anywhere” do rather suggest, like the name itself, that Gymder can serve as a Grindr for spornosexuals. That, like the Olivia Newton John song, it helps you get physical, in more ways than one.

The fact that the website states it isn’t a dating app is neither here nor there. To be successful even as a fitness dating app, Gymder probably needs to officially assert it’s not about dating but about fitness. And besides, because humans are human, everything social can be sexual – even something as desiccated as LinkedIn.

The potential for Gymder to be used for hunky hook ups sent Gizmodo and Mashable off the deep end of disapproval last week. They both worked themselves into a spectacularly prudish lather, ranting about how “creepy” and “nefarious” this app is.

Gizmodo went so far to described Gymder as a “terrifying development” – because an app for people interested in the cultivation of beautiful bodies might be used for getting to know people who cultivate beautiful bodies better?

Clutch the weighted pearls!

Gizmodo’s concern was partly directed at some of the app’s permissions, but the main offence here is sexualising something already sexualised. We are solemnly informed that “gyms are not appropriate places to find dates” and that “any normal person probably wants to be left alone and suffer through their workout without a stranger ogling at their beautiful body”.

Yeah, a ‘normal’ person just wants to suffer at the gym. A ‘normal’ person isn’t thinking about sex, at all. A ‘normal’ person would hate to think that someone found their honed and toned body attractive. And yeah, a ‘normal’ person treats the gym as a sacred place of solitary, miserable, Protestant penitence – which is why Gymder isn’t just creepy, it’s sacrilege!

Well, dude, you don’t have to download it.

But then, Mr Gizmodo and Ms Mashable do seem to be complaining about a spornosexual party they haven’t been invited to.

GYMDER TRAILER 2016

The ad for the app certainly presents a party vibe – an adamantly hetero one. Most of the ‘interactions’ presented are male/female: a prize, pumped sporno male takes a selfie with ladies literally hanging off him, his large tongue hanging out. Men are seen touching each other – but only through a punch, or a fist-bump.

There’s an implicit disavowal of anything ‘gay’ about Gymder in the ad, which is why we should treat with the same caution as the disavowal that it’s not a dating app. What better way to meet other male spornos on the down low than on a dating app that isn’t a dating app and isn’t gay?

Originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph 16/05/2017

Cristiano Ronaldo The Electronic Sex Doll

This ad starring Cristiano Ronaldo flogging body exercise electrodes called SIXPAD – or SEXPAD? – has been airing UK television for some months now, but every time it comes on it still makes me gape – pardon my French.

It’s both funny and disturbing, and in truth I had avoided writing about it until now because I hoped it was just a bad dream (I usually glimpse it on late-night TV). But it isn’t going away.

Body Revolution – SIXPAD Featuring Cristiano Ronaldo / AIBI Official

The ad itself is incredibly camp. Or kitsch. Or cheesey. Or all of the above. Likewise the voiceover intoning ‘Bwody Rewolution!’ It’s almost as if the ad seems to know that its premise – you can get a body like Ronaldo’s and grow yourself a six-pack by spending £350 on a souped up vibrator and not moving a muscle – is hilarious and just decides to go with that.

But all this is eclipsed by the crazy campery of Ronaldo apparently playing the part of a Japanese sex robot – wearing only his own brand designer underwear. Or a male Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager. Though this is perhaps the uncanny valley where spornosexuality is taking us.

Unlike Seven of Nine however, Ronaldo is entirely passive. Animated only by the pulses of electricity from the black leathery things that seem to have attached themselves like a kinky Sci-Fi leech to his abs and bis. The pulsing of his muscles in time to the music is kinda creepy – but also kinda sexy. There is something sex toy cam-show about it all.

The (post) money-shot is the bit where he wipes his abs down and grins at the camera. Or maybe he’s just advertising his easy-maintenance qualities.

Some might describe Ronaldo’s performance as ‘wooden’ – or possibly ‘silicone’. But his acting is still better than David Beckham’s in ‘King Arthur’.

And some might cite this ad as more proof of Ronaldo’s egotism. But I would rather take it as evidence that he’s a good sport.

For the right fee.

UPDATE 28/05/2017

It seems SIXPAD read this blogpost and decided to actually go ahead and make a Ronaldo sex doll. Albeit one that looks like Pietro Boselli: