Sunday, 30 September 2007

Love and war

There’s nothing that we Gays like better than a bit of melodrama, so you’re in for a treat tonight because your delightful narrator has just been Dumped. That’s right, cast adrift with the unwanted flotsam and jetsam of life. Ditched in the back alley with the rotting detritus of unrequited love. Flushed down the toilet with the discarded tampon of emotional dependency.

I know, I know, we’re missing a whole lot of background information here; you weren’t even aware that he existed. I restrain myself from writing about current beaus whilst dating them in the vain attempt to keep some things sacred. I don’t mind parading my other dirty linen before the beady eyes and scrabbling claws of the Online Masses, but some things should remain anonymous.

That said, you’ve actually already met him; he had a cameo in the last entry as The Hot Aussie. Tall, intelligent and bloody good at his job, he was quite the catch for little HW.

Now normally in relationships I don’t let them get close enough to do any damage. There are the peripheral defences to get through; trenches with wooden spikes, improvised pits with biblical serpents, and the odd mad lady wielding a cat-o-nine tails. Once through those you need to bridge the Moat of Doom and tiptoe through the Minefield of Broken Dreams before you’re even close enough to piss on the castle’s outer wall. I know I know; too much Sci-Fi as a kid.

Usually I date “Type A” (Mr Emotional Honesty). He’s great fun because I know I’m in charge. Brilliant. No one’s getting near the citadel here. The poor bastard doesn’t wear any armour, carries a bunch of dandelions in his quiver and treats me like a princess. I usually watch him flounder against the obsidian walls for a few months, wait until he is weak from exhaustion and then tip pitch on his head.

If I’m dating “Type B” (Mr Too-Cool-For-School) then it’s a whole different ballgame. Instead of an invading army attacking the defences we’ve now got two impenetrable fortresses with two blokes sitting in their towers looking at each other through binoculars. While pretending they’re not actually looking at each other. Or answering the phone. I mean carrier pigeon.

In the 7 years since I last had a decent relationship I have never dated a Type B. Well, actually there was one, but he was a weird mutant strain Type B237 whose castle had been under siege for so long it’s human inhabitants had eaten each other and then eventually died of starvation. The sex was fucking great.

The Hot Aussie was a Type B. Incredibly busy, in high demand socially, we managed to see each other about once a week. It was great fun for a while but eventually I got a bit sick of not know where I stood and decided to take action. I climbed down from my tower, asked my hunchbacked gatekeeper to drive me across town in the family cart, and knocked on The Hot Aussie’s portcullis. The result? A lavender-scented leaflet was dropped from the parapets with the immortal inscription “I’m sorry – you tick all the boxes but the magic’s not there”. I think I’d prefer the pitch.

Now I’m back safe in my citadel, nursing a nasty lavender paper-cut and knocking back the pink martinis. The great irony of this situation is that I used exactly the same line on The Maggirister back in June, and now Fate – the fat-arsed psycho that She is – has decided to teach me a lesson. I suspect that it’s something to do with relationships and warfare, or perhaps Glenn Close in the bathtub accompanying John Lennon at the piano, or about wearing stripes with dots. She’s a cryptic bitch.

Either way I refuse to learn anything, so it’s back to the little map with the flags and pewter soldiers in the War Room. Mr Right doesn’t stand a chance.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Schmooze with booze

Warning: this blog entry contains gratuitous name-dropping and an obsession with celebrity. Tofu-munching anti-consumerist liberals are advised to look away now.

Strange things have been happening in my life since I moved to London. I appear to be slipping up the social ladder rather than down (as is my usual wont), moving out of my BBQ-in-fancy-dress comfort zone and into a world where people talk about the best places to get renal surgery.

The most recent example of this was an invitation for my Boss, his Lovely Fiance, The Sister and myself to attend the after-party of the GQ Men of the Year Awards. It’s held every year at the Royal Opera House and attracts some impressive names; last year Justin Timberlake and Paul McCartney attended. How we got an invite is unimportant. What is important is that God wanted us to be there.

The evening begins with the four of us have dinner beforehand to discuss tactics. I reassure the hearing-impaired sibling that I will be by her side all night to provide support and drinks… unless of course we see Will Young. At which point I will dump her in the nearest lav with the lines of discarded coke while I win over that freakishly-chinned pop millionaire. She understands the score.

Our invites give us entry after 10.30pm, so we leave it to a stylishly late 10.32pm before approaching the crowds of people milling around the main entrance. I take The Sister in arm, puff my chest out, and imagine how my arse will look on the cover of Heat. She totters along beautifully beside me, her dress sparkling like the sun on morning dew, her cleavage a cantilevered architectural triumph.

We follow The Boss and The Lovely Fiance up the red carpet, pausing to soak up the adoring cries of our fans and to let the paparazzi feel the full power of my three-quarter profile. As we approach the glass doors the big bouncer whips them open in anticipation. Ah yes, this is how life should be. I’ve made it.

Disappointingly, the moment is marred somewhat by some hussy coming out of my door at the same time. She looks at me like I am the shit on her shoe. I look at her like I just coughed her up in my East London toilet. The crowd goes wild; “Jamelia! Over here! Jamelia!” they cry. Like. Whatever. Just get out of my doorway bitch.

The Jamelia Slut moves on and I pass my gold-on-black ticket to the bouncer. It is accompanied by my best look of withering condescension, and I try not to touch him. These people are below me now.

Bouncer: “You're here for the after-party?” Apparently it can read.

HW: [sigh] “Clearly.”

Bouncer: “Well then, you need to join that queue over there.” Indicates a queue for a side entrance that snakes around the block.

HW: “I’m sorry, I think there’s been some mistake.”

Bouncer: “No mistake buddy, you’re with them. Now, you gonna get off my red carpet or what?”

HW: [whimper].

It takes us like a billion hours to get inside but when we do it’s all worth it; Lily Allen is there to greet us. Well, it’s more she’s there to glance over us blankly, but you can see behind the glaze she’s pleased that I’ve arrived. I put her attentions on ice while I go to the bar where – you’re shitting me! – all the booze is free?! I order 11 martinis and 8 sambuca shots and hide them in a corner behind Elle just in case the bar tab runs out, and go back to find the others.

They’re outside on the verandah overlooking Covent Garden. The Lovely Fiance has done the rounds and updates me on who’s who.

Jamie Cullum is standing directly behind me. I limbo back discretely and overhear him say to his mates “…and then I came on her tits! It was awesome!” I’m assuming that the other consenting adult in this debauchery was not Sophie Dahl, given the logistics of wee Jamie actually being able to reach her tits let alone project onto them. Still, illuminating.

Next we pass Orlando Bloom, who has some hideous caterpillar attached to his upper lip. The Sister is deeply obsessed with this man, and toys with the idea of smashing a beer bottle over his head and raping him in a corner. Ha ha! Such hi-jinks! Such hilarity! A sideways glance catches her calculating the distance to the bar and Orlando’s projected velocity through the throng, so I move her on.

And so it happens. The crowd parts, I glance through the suddenly electrified air and see Him standing there, His ocean-deep eyes looking to my very soul. He has an air of hot sexuality about Him, a charismatic glow that says “yes, you ARE the one I have been waiting for”. As a sub-text, He is also fucking fit.

“Oh my GOD! Did you see?! Did you see?!” It’s The Lovely Fiance. “Jude Law just looked right AT me!” Ummm, hello? Is she blind? Steamy heterosexual men in tuxedos do not look at women like that. “Actually, I think he was looking at me.” What! Is The Boss similarly mentally deficient? And now The Sister. “Really? I definitely made eye contact with him.”

A rather unpleasant scene follows, which we shan’t go into. Needless to say the surgery has done wonders, and I’m very pleased with my new nose and bionic arm.

Now the problem with fame and celebrity is that once you’ve had a taster, you want more. A few days after GQ I overheard the head of our PR Agency discussing the launch of London Design Week. Pinning him in a corner I used my Powers Of Gay Attraction (normally reserved for Good deeds, not Evil) to extract a +1 invite from about his person, guaranteeing me unfettered access to the crème-de-la-crème of London’s design society. As my companion for the evening I chose The Hot Aussie, an old friend who endows the wearer with the illusory glow of wealth and power on account of his being a Hottie. Perfect for a bit of schmoozing.

We arrive at the Royal Festival Hall bang on time and are instantly descended upon by minions carrying champagne. About 5127 litres of the stuff. A quick check establishes that none of the staff are famous ala Prince And The Pauper, so I take their dirty champagne and swan on.

There are no famous people next to the Swarovski crystal display, nor are there any on the balcony. There is, however, a boy with champagne. I relieve him of it. Next, I check around the stage – none there – and then in a Crocodile Hunter-esque moment of inspiration I check at the watering hole. Nope, no celebs here, just more fucking Laurent Perrier. To calm my mounting sense of panic I take one for me now, and one for later. And a spare for The Hot Aussie. And another for me. Just in case they run out.

By the time the official proceedings get underway I am near-hysterical with panic; it is only by grabbing on to The Hot Aussie's rather beautifully sculpted arm that I am able to keep from screaming “You fucking frauds! Where are you hiding all the fucking celebs, you pathetic wannabes!” The Hot Aussie politely points out that both Ken Livingstone and indeed internationally-recognised architect Zaha Hadid are pretty famous, but his argument is undone when I point out that ‘celeb’ does not include the old, ugly or intelligent. Does he know nothing?

Eventually I have to admit defeat, and we turn to leave. We begin the descent to the cloakroom, and as we do so pass a familiar white-bearded face rising past us on the stairs. I gasp in astonishment; could it really be?

HW: “Holy shit! It’s Ross Lovegrove! It’s fucking Ross Lovegrove. Look look look look look!!”

The Hot Aussie: “Who?”

What I want to impart to The Hot Aussie is that this man is my design pin-up boy, the person I had most aspired to be as a struggling product design student. That his work is both sensuously beautiful, environmentally focused and fundamentally human. That he represents a key shift in late twentieth century design dogma away from the designer-as-superstar to a celebration of the Work. What I manage is:

HW: “Ross Lovegrove; he designed the lava lamp in my room!”

It is at this point that Ross chooses to turn around to identify which hysterical 13-year-old girl has been proclaiming him to the room. Instead his eyes lock on mine as I announce that his greatest design achievement is a trippy light with molten wax inside. I am the shit on his shoe.


Sunday, 2 September 2007

When Men Were Men

Welcome back folks; hope you’ve enjoyed the break. Today we are going to explore the late twentieth century Metrosexual movement, discussing whether it liberated or destroyed the social mores of the time. We shall end with a case study that I hope illuminates some of the points of debate.

It may come as a surprise to you all, but there was a time when you knew who the straight men were. You could identify them by their over-sized Metallica t-shirts, uncontrolled facial hair and the unique smell you get when you follow a 4-day pattern of wearing underpants forwards/backwards/inside-out forwards/inside-out backwards before washing them.

In this world the gay male moved as a beacon of style, emotional intelligence, wit and charisma. Women wanted to date them and steal their skin products, straight men wanted their rakishly bouffanted hair, and the elderly thought that anyone who looks that good couldn’t possibly do those awful things to each other. They were golden times.

Then came the Metrosexual, and suddenly the gay man was nothing special any more. Thorpedo wore a white Valentino suit and designed his own pearl jewellery while telling the world he liked the ladies. Goldenballs grew his hair long and announced that all men were allowed to cry at small kittens and eat haloumi. The universe was undone overnight.

In its place a new world of social anarchy emerged where no one was ever quite sure of the rules. To illustrate this point I have brought along a video captured in the late-Noughties. You’ll find the transcript in your lecture notes.

The video shows a gay male out with friends on a Hen’s Night in Brighton. He is able to flout the traditional male-female Stag-Hen division thanks to Metrosexuality, and also to enter a predominantly heterosexual environment unchallenged. As the video begins the subject is approached by a large man with a shaven head; you can identify the gay male by his elaborately detailed pirate costume and ravishing good looks.

Start of video

Rugby Thug: “Hey mate! Wow, cool pirate costume!”

HW: [Oh god, is this how it ends? Beaten to a pulp and left to die in a Walkabout, my precious life-blood mixing with the sheen of spilt lager, vomit and discarded dreams that lacquer its foul floorboards? Fie on't, ah fie, fie!]. “Ummmm, thanks.”

RT: “Where did you get it?”

[Recalling that – outside of London – conversations with strangers don’t necessarily precursor to a knife in the ribs]. “Ah, mostly I made it myself.”

RT: “Cool.” Pointing to the other clientele of the Walkabout dressed as pirates; “And are these your mates?”

HW: [No idiot, they’re my backing singers. What do you think?] “Yep.”

RT: “Nice. These are my mates here.” Indicates cast of Romper Stomper milling behind him.

HW: [Brilliant. GAY MAN DIES IN NAUTICAL HATE-CRIME. My mum is going to be so proud].

RT: “We’re out celebrating too. So, when’s your big day?”

HW: “Pardon?”

RT: “Mine’s in two weeks. I can’t wait. So, what’s the lucky lady up to while you’re out having one last go at it?”

End of video.

Yes, you’ll notice that the rugby thug thinks that the man dressed as a pirate, who is wearing a gold hooped earring, a pearl bracelet and mascara, who’s friends are 5 women and a gay man, and who’s pirate neighbour is wearing a 12-inch badge which says “Look out! Hen Night About”, is about to marry a WOMAN.

Social anarchy in its purest form.

And that’s all we’ve go time for. Leave your homework at the door on your way out, and tomorrow I want 500 words on Johnny Depp: how one man made seamen hot again.