Between the lines

Meet the Metrosexual

Richard Burnett
Metrosexuals and metrosexuality is all the rage in swinging London, from the hit Brit TV series Metrosexuality to decidedly post-gay pundit Mark Simpson, who apparently coined the term metrosexual back in 1994. So I surfed to and looked up the term and wasn't surprised to learn a metrosexual is, well, VERY gay - "A dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle," the online dictionary states.
That's when I came across Simpson's entertaining essay "Meet the Metrosexual" which the online magazine published July 22.
"The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis - because that's where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are," Simpson writes. "He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference. Particular professions, such as modeling, waiting tables, media, pop music and, nowadays, sport, seem to attract them but, truth be told, like male vanity products and herpes, they're pretty much everywhere."
And the biggest metrosexual of them all? Well, the captain of the England soccer team at this year's World Cup, David Beckham, of course.
"You see, "Becks" is almost as famous for wearing sarongs and pink nail polish and panties belonging to his wife, Victoria (aka Posh from the Spice Girls), having a different, tricky haircut every week and posing naked and oiled up on the cover of Esquire, as he is for his impressive ball skills," Simpson notes. "He may or may not be the best footballer in the world, but he's definitely an international-standard narcissist, what would once have just been called, in the Anglo world at least, "a sissy." Hence in that World Cup game against Brazil that kicked England out of the tournament, Becks was the only English player not to be upstaged aesthetically as well as athletically by the Latins."
Simpson gets off some great lines in his Salon piece. "Gay men did, after all, provide the early prototype for metrosexuality," he rightly points out. "Decidedly single, definitely urban, dreadfully uncertain of their identity (hence the emphasis on pride and the susceptibility to the latest label) and socially emasculated, gay men had pioneered the business of accessorizing masculinity in the '70s with the clone look enthusiastically taken up by the mainstream in the form of the Village People. Difficult to believe, I know, but only one of them was gay and 99 percent of their fans were straight."
He later writes, "Many years ago, Norman Mailer described homosexual men as narcissists who occasionally bump into one another. Which was true, of course. But now that everyone's gone metrosexual it's also true of straights. Perhaps this is why straights are almost as promiscuous as gays these days: All those TV dating shows where marriage or even sending each other Christmas cards is the last thing on anyone's mind; all those youth holidays that appear to have become fortnight-long rum-soaked orgies, while Mum and Dad back home are taking part in wife-swapping parties in the suburbs.
"Sometimes it seems as if the only thing holding straights back from full equality with gays is the fact that most restroom facilities are not yet co-ed. Perhaps this is also why hetero sodomy has become such a hot topic of late: These days my straight male friends talk of no other kind of intercourse (though maybe it's because they think I'm an expert on it). According to the same straight men, the vagina was made not for their penis but for another female's tongue.
"Perhaps because it represents the definition of recreational sex and doesn't remind them of their heterosexual responsibilities but rather of their homosexual possibilities (the exhibitionism of male metrosexuality is literally asking to be fucked), or maybe because it's seen as a kind of extreme sport (it involves trusting your life to some stretchy rubber and taking the plunge), anal sex has become the unholy grail of metrosexual sex. The booty has become the pervey focus of so much fashion lately," Simpson winds down, "including those Engineered Levi's ads featuring men and women with their jeans on back-to-front, zippers over ass cracks."

Anyway, I was so enthused after reading Simpson's piece (and don't worry, I've quoted the best bits - the rest is trash) that I picked up the summer issue of Attitude magazine with David Beckham on the cover (I'd tell you which monthly issue it is but Attitude is too smartass to print that). The cover screams: "To Dye For - Beckham: A World Exclusive" - with a bottle-blonde Beckham staring lustfully at the camera, natch.

And then the only gay stuff - never mind metrosexual stuff - you'll read in the fluff piece is what he thinks about his big gay following.

"I get a lot of letters," Beckham says. "Each week there's more. I've got a big fan zone in the male area. I think it's a good thing."

Does it separate him from other footballers?
"I don't think it separates me from them but it's not... you know, I do think I get a sort of different attention. I don't mind."

No one ever said reading Attitude was rocket science. Then again, that's metrosexuality for ya.
Hell, even U.S. President George Dubya Bush is morphing into a metrosexual right before our very eyes.
New York Times columnist Elisabeth Bumiller wrote in her March 18 column, "President Bush said recently that the United States has a "fabulous" military. On other occasions, he has proclaimed himself proud of such a fabulous country, and of his fabulous cabinet. Texas and Alaska are both fabulous states. Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, is a fabulous senator.

"Laura Bush is doing a fabulous job as first lady, and Mr. Bush's father is a fabulous man. Last fall, Mr. Bush attended a fabulous World Series, and last summer proclaimed baseball a fabulous sport.
"That was around the same time that Mr. Bush said he hoped to make "some fabulous history" with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Last year, despite all the tragedy, was a fabulous year for Mr. Bush and his wife. He expects 2002 to be fabulous, too."

But wait - it gets better.
Writes Bumiller, "It is particularly noticeable when Mr. Bush uses the word alongside his trademark Texas frontier talk, or when he shouts it out, as he did last month at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, to a hangar filled with thousands of roaring American troops. 'We've built a fabulous coalition of many nations!' Mr. Bush said."

Texas columnist and longtime George W. Bush watcher columnist Molly Ivins tells Bumiller, "Fabulous is not a Texas word. Oh, man, where did he pick that up? It's time that boy came home for a little cultural retraining. 'Fabulous?' What is that? I never heard him use it down here. We would have noticed, I promise."
As have we. Now isn't THAT fabulous?

Richard Burnett's national queer-issues column Three Dollar Bill can be read locally in Hour magazine as well as on the web at and (click on the "issues" link and scroll down to Three Dollar Bill).