Between the LInes

The Amazon Complex

Richard Burnett
If you thought gay men are suffering from the Adonis Complex because of self-imposed body facism, remember all this began with a concerted drive by faggots rightly tired of being called sissies. So the hyper-masculine (gay) male was born, first typified by the iconic work of Tom of Finland and the Village People. Now everybody wants to be a macho man.
Well, the phenomenom seems to be spreading to dykes as well – and not because they all want to be macho men too. No, I’m beginning to think with all that lesbian chic stuff out there that perhaps they may succumb like gay men did to commercially-acceptable images of what a good lesbian is supposed to look like. These images invariably feature slim, sexy women who also attract heterosexual males who think chick-on-chick action is a turn on.

But would straight guys be as into lesbian erotica if the women were diesel dykes?
I don’t think so.
In her April 27 column in – gasp! – The Toronto Sun, Valerie Gibson repeats the well-worn fact that everyone from Madonna and Roseanne to t.A.T.u. and All My Children have used girl-girl action to boost sales and ratings.
But, Gibson notes, “The interesting aspect of all of this current trendy emphasis on lesbian activity is that it appears to not be aimed at getting the attention of or appealing to the female gay population at all. In fact, there is some annoyance among gay women who feel their orientation is being ‘sexualized’ and exploited as ‘young and glamourous’ instead of representing real life.”

Well, duh. Gay men – like their straight counterparts – have been guilty of this forever.
“I suspect that what we’re seeing at the moment is just the beginning,” Gibson winds down. “Savvy marketers have discovered that, unlike gay male images which generally appeal only to gay males, lesbian chic gets attention from everyone – not just from gay women but hetero men and women of all ages as well. It’s an edgy, sexy, marketing dream. Especially when they’re young, beautiful and half-naked.”
Gibson is spot on.

Except if the marketing script goes according to plan, and history repeats itself, then like the Adonis Complex literally reshaped gay men, what I like to call the Amazon Complex will also likely reshape gay women.

I discovered another fabulous gay writer last month, journalist Byron Beck of Portland’s alternative weekly Willamette Week (what an awful name for a newspaper).
In the April 16 installment of his Queer Window column titled “The Invisible (Gay) Man,” Beck writes, “It just so happened that a writer’s conference that I attended last weekend was held at the same hotel where I used to scrub toilets. Watching my past and present labors bang into each other forced me to realize something I’ve ignored for too long: Being a gay journalist is a lot like being a hotel maid.

“It’s not just because both of these jobs force you to deal with other people’s crap. It’s that when word is out you’re a queer at a journalism conference, some of your peers will go out of their way to ignore you – just like rich folks do to maids. While I knew my place as a houseman (stay quiet, or at least out of the way), I didn’t realize being a gay writer makes you just as invisible.

I couldn’t agree more. In my experience I’ve become TOO visible and that makes some people very uncomfortable, not necessarily personally but professionally.

In other words, having big-mouth faggot columnists (apparently ALL faggots have big mouths) will hurt the circulation numbers of daily newspapers, which is why journalists like myself and Beck are mainly relegated to the gay and alternative press where we won’t rock the heterosexual boat.
(Do I sound bitter?)

Of course, lesbian columnist Deb Price of The Detroit News is proof I should be wrong: Deb’s column is syndicated in over 100 newspapers across America.
But Deb is the exception, not the rule. And no gay columnist has yet had her mainstream success up here in the Great White North..

Who was it that said the United States is more puritan than Canada?

I bumped into Fashion 18 magazine’s features editor Leah Rumack at the Juno Awards in April at a BMG party where riff raff rubbed elbows the likes of Avril Lavigne; Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham (who arrived with a posse of boys who looked like they fell off a Pride float); former stripper, millionairesse and TV host Marlene Copeland (whom my Hour magazine colleague Jamie O’Meara noted was wearing a “black doily”); and Brian Orser, the Olympic silver-medalist.

(Orser once tried to keep his messy legal split from an ex-boyfriend under wraps for fear the publicity might adversely affect his professional figure skating career. So, in a December 1998 Three Dollar Bill column headlined “Figuratively Skating,” I lead off, “The only schmuck convinced that no one believed former Canadian Olympic champ Brian Orser was gay is, go figure, Brian Orser.” But I digress.)

Well, anyway, I bumped into Leah – a former Xtra! contributor – who told me about a fab piece she wrote for the April 14 issue of Now magazine called “Tailing Tighty Whities: Straight Girls Swoon Over Straight Boys of Queer as Folk.”

The piece is chock-full of laugh-out-loud anecdotes such as:
“Yes, Queer as Folk, the hugely popular queer, part soft porn, part soap opera, all fantasy material for fag hags, gaylords and filthy-minded perverts (yeah, us!) has just wrapped shooting its latest season in Toronto,” Leah writes. “Which, if you’re a fan, you will know the show’s been famously doing for three years now, featuring T.O. spots like Woody’s and the Queen West strip, giving every Torontonian a Queer-as-Folk run-in story and scores of the city’s actors an exercise in method acting. ‘I was on Queer as Folk,’ an actor once told me proudly, ‘and I did not have to eat ass.’”

In another nugget, Leah writes, “QAF’s graphic boinking and General Hospitalesque storyline – at least one overdose, 213 jolly rogerings, 107 ingestions of illicit drugs, one sperm donation, one gay bashing and (oh, yes) two lesbians who are married and have a kid and careers and um, OK, that’s enough about them – have created a rabidly devoted fan base of queer folk and a contingent of perhaps slightly unhinged straight women. (Yeah, us!)”

A highly entertaining piece by a highly entertaining personality.
Which brings me back to the Junos. In the media room after Tom Cochrane was inducted into the Hall of Fame, Cochrane, uh, rubbed Hour magazine’s Jamie O’Meara the wrong way.

“The Juno-clutching Tom Cochrane [was] spouting some kind of we-shouldn’t-talk-about-the-war-because-it’s-a-night-to-celebrate-crappy-pop-music-and-hug-chunks-of-glass-horseshit,” Jamie wrote in his April 10 Locals at Large column. “I get alot bugged and say so to Hour queer columnist Richard Burnett, seated next to me [who said], ‘Yeah, but Boy Inside the Man is still one of my favourite songs.’”

The letters are still pouring in.
Nuff said.

Richard Burnett’s national queer-issues column Three Dollar Bill can be read locally in Hour magazine as well as on the web at