Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beautiful, Cute, Sexy: The Three Species of Physical Attractiveness

            “Beautiful” is the most widely accepted, universally lauded standard of physical attractiveness. When Beautiful walks into a room we are awed. Generally speaking, the Beautiful is all about clean angles and clear lines: the square jaw and flat-plane abdominals of the Beautiful man, and the sharp cheek bones and delicate clavicles of the Beautiful woman. Facial symmetry and low body fat are also highly Beautiful. The prototypical Beautiful person is a high fashion model, whether male or female. This said, Beautiful inspires jealousy and breeds insecurity in others. Also, though powerfully attractive, those who are too Beautiful are often freakish, unsympathetic androgynes. (“Ice Queens” and “Pretty Boys”) When some pseudo-journalist or blogger describes a woman as “elegant” or a “classic beauty,” they are talking about someone in terms of the Beautiful. Beautiful is associated with glamour, privilege, and power. Drag Queens – when sufficiently fishy and fierce - are the quintessence of Beautiful.

            “Cute” is the G-Rated breed of physical attractiveness. Cute people delight us. When someone is Cute we have to stop ourselves from squeezing their cheeks, hugging them too long, and audibly likening their appearance to that of a baby, animal, or baby-animal. When you call someone a “puppy,” “teddy bear,” “lamb,” or whatever, you are experiencing Cute. Cute compels us, if at all possible, to add an “e” sound to the end of someone’s first name. For example, Daves who are Cute-intensive have a tendency to become “Davies,” whether they like it or not.  Cute features like apple-like cheeks, soft bellies, and circular, kewpie doll eyes have the same neotenous roundess that makes children so adorable. If we are “awed by Beautiful” then Cute just makes us want to croon “awwww…..” Conjuring childlike simplicity, Cute makes us feel safe and comfortable. We want to care for and nurture the Cute, and be cared for and nurtured by the Cute. However, by the same token, Cute is the least threatening species of physical attractiveness and, as such, is often inimical to carnality and respect. Cutes, although well liked, are also prone to being passed over, taken for granted, and/or condescended to. Often Cutes are the people who, when dumped or rejected, are told: “(But) you’re like my best friend/little brother/sister/cousin!”

           “Sexy” is the most dangerous species of physical attractiveness. Put simply, Sexy makes us want to fuck. Not marry. Not date. Not talk. FUCK. Sexy is all about over-pronounced secondary sex characteristics: large breasts and hips in women; and hairy, muscular chests and high, round, almost donkey-ish asses in men. Big lips in both sexes are highly Sexy. If Cute is the soft roundedness of childhood, then Sexy is the ripe, lusciousness of adulthood. Sexy is what inspires masturbation fantasies, and one night stands, and fetishes. If the Beautiful inspires deification/envy, and the Cute inspires adoration/condescension, then the Sexy gives rise to objectification/obsession. As a result, although people with lots of Sexy enjoy almost magical powers of persuasion and influence over those who want to fuck them, this influence is ultimately volatile and unstable. Those who are highly Sexy are called whores constantly whether by those who want to fuck them and can’t, those who wanted to fuck them and have, or those who don’t want to fuck them and hate that other people do. We lie to the Sexy to get them into bed, use them for sex, and then go hang out with the Cute and marry the Beautiful. Sexy is associated with spontaneous erections, one night stands, persistent fantasies, and all the things your parents wouldn’t want to see in your mate. Strippers are the apotheosis of Sexy.      

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Am Changing Everything Already.

Coincidence is the law of synchronicity. 
 Just yesterday, not a week and a half after I re-commit to this blog, a friend of mine who works in publishing made contact with me to suggest starting a blog as a method of launching my nascent academic career in literary studies. In his words, a tightly branded blog, with a clear theme, linked with like-minded blogs, would get me ‘involved in a conversation’ about an issue/field that I care about. This academic, career oriented blog, however, would have to be tighty focused in terms of subject matter (no stories about Grandma Arlene) and sport a professional tone. (No instant message transcripts where I use the word ‘tit’ . . . alot). So, this led me to the idea of producing not one but three, dinstinct, goal oriented blogs. . .
1. “The Honest Tease” would become the Sedaris-style confessional – where I tell funny stories, muse obnoxiously and wax hysterical about inconsequential stuff.
2. An academic blog with a focus on critical and cultural theory. I am thinking “From Zero to Theory” or “On The Shoulders of Giants” . . . Any suggestions?
3. And a nerd culture blog for my super-hero suff. This, of course, would have a lot of cultural theory involved. But, again, with a tighter focus on the Geoff Klock, Sequart, American Studies set. I was going to name it  “Crashed Carrier,” but than I went with something way less memory-friendly: http://cosmicutilityinfinityring.blogspot.com/
 Comments? Suggestions?


Dear reader, I’d like to share with you one of my latest encounters with Grandma-Eats-Puppies.
This weekend, I ventured to Staten Island to visit Grandma-Eats-Puppies. Over baked ziti and coffee (That is how we roll), Grandma and I somehow got to discussing one of my Grandmother’s favorite topics; her own imminent demise.
My Grandmother is not sick or anything. ‘Imminent’ is a relative term here; my Grandmother’s death, at least by her own estimation, has been “around the corner” for 15 years now.
Grandma took on the spirited, self-satisfied, will-to-power-is-a-will-to-plan voice of a 17-year-old coordinating the perfect “Spring Break” as she shared with me the price, size and location (“Right next to Grandpa!”) of her burial plot suggesting,  perhaps, that she might procure a plot for me next to for her.  
“Uh, no thanks,” I said.
“Why?” She asked seeming disappointed-on-the-verge-of-hurt which is, for her, only steps away from enraged-and-passive-aggressive. I rushed to make sure Grandma couldn’t take my answer personally and said: “I’m not getting buried.”
Whattayou nuts?!?” My grandmother erupted. Apparently, my Grandma found my plans for my own post-mortem existence worrisome and anti-social.
Why would I need to take up space when I’m dead?” I asked. “I don’t need a monument to myself, Grandma… I’m not a cave man or a megalomaniac or something.”
“Whattyamean, “Caveman?!?” A headstone is SO NICE! A tomb is NICE!”
I almost spit coffee onto my zitti. “A tomb?!?! Who are you? Fucking Lenin?”
“Whattyamean? What do The Beatles have to do with this? It’s just NICE that we all be TOGETHER!”
After explaining to Grandma that the ‘Lenin’ I made reference to was ‘Vladimir Lenin,’ the Russian Revolutionary infamous for the not-unimpressive-but-certainly-ironic opulence of his burial site and not ‘John Lennon’ the musician/songwriter famous for making The Beatles famous, I decide that the argument of “headstones and tombs are ‘NICE’ and therefore ‘unarguably preferable’” is air-tight as far as “Grandma-Logic” is concerned and that I have no choice but to relent.
“Grandma,” I said, “if you pay for it, I’ll lay in it.”
“Good,” She said with a triumphant smile. “Now where do we put your mother?”

Fitness Discrimination and Loving Our Oppressors

As enlightened as we like to think we are in the ultra-progressive 21st century; making homosexuality kind of legal and allowing racial minorities access to education and sometimes jobs, I was disheartened when, on a brief trip back to the Florida suburb in which I grew up, I came upon an egregious instance of fitness-discrimination. Of course, the first thing I do when visiting my mother is con myself a free pass to the local gym. “I just moved back to start my own taxidermy business” or some ridiculous shit like that, I say. I like to have fun with the lie, get creative. Once I said: “My boyfriend said he won’t do it in certain positions with me unless I am in better shape.” The awkward laugh that got was classic! But before the fun lying, you usually have to suffer a tour of the facility with some brainless fitness-baboon.
In scoring myself a free pass to my mom’s new local gym, LEVEL FIVE FITNESS (“But I’m barely a Level 3!” I said, pulling up in the car), I capitulated to just such a tour conducted by a completely awe-worthy though completely interchangeable “jock pretty boy” (gorgeous blue eyes, tattooed calf, tanned athlete’s body). “JPB” showed me the group fitness center where “Level 5” conducted it’s pilates classes. I asked if they had pilates towers in the studio. The fitness professional didn’t know to what I was referring, so I explained. They are the contraptions with tracked seats on which you lie and manipulate your own bodyweight by way of pulleys. It adds resistance to pilates practice.
“Oh, yeah, we have pilates towers.” He says using the term as if he coined it. And then starts to murmur: “in the “ladies fitness section.”
“Wow. Burn.” I thought. “You work at a gym with a ‘ladies fitness section,’ you white-trash-animal. Who do you think you’re playing?”
But being a much more circumspect kind of prick, I actually asked laughing: “So, am I allowed to use the towers or not?”
“Uh, I guess,” He said awkwardly. “But maybe you should ask first.”
“I’ll do that.” I said kind of smugly.
When I got home, I felt obliged to make my masturbation fantasy starring JPB a violent parable (Think “SAW” meets “TITAN MEDIA”) where I forcibly teach him the gender neutral value of pilates, how much I adore him and, best of all, humility.
A Kind-of-Related, Pseudo-Intellectual Side-Bar/Foot-Note Discourse on Beauty.
Above I manage to describe JPB as both “awe-worthy” and “interchangeable.” At first glance, this appears incongruous. But I think it is the singular condition (perhaps “ontological structure”) of “lust” that we are held in awe by that which we have learned to expect. Individuals are turned on by their particular “types.” Cultures are turned on by their “archetypes.” The psychoanalytic subject is turned on by their parent (and that parent’s likeness) All this amounts to the same thing; beauty is a sameness. Just as babies are most attracted to those faces they find familiar though slightly different, adults are best turned on by individuals (always “slightly different” even in so far as they occupy different space and time) that nonetheless fit categories. In other words, nobody wants to fuck a mutant; that which breaks continuity and defies category. They want to fuck a well-bred quintessence. JPB, who definitely had me feeling some kind of way, was just that; an amazing example of a ubiquitous type.   

Dance Floor Reflections: Memorial Day Alegria

This weekend I indulged in some circuit-style debauchery and attended Memorial Day Alegria. Much fun was had. Mostly the kind of stuff someone with as lady-like a reputation as myself would hardly admit to in mixed company. (Riding an anonymous daddy’s back for the duration of “Bad Romance,” Spitting water in Giggles McPartytime’s face when I tired of a seemingly endless story he was telling me – that kind of stuff.) But infantile adult-Rave antics aside, dancing all night intoxicated to whatever degree provides for some interesting “moments of clarity.” Here, numbered for easy reading, are a few philosophical gems fresh from the dance-floor at the world infamous PACHA Night Club.
1.Discussing the break-up of two scene queens, the less gainfully employed school teacher kicking the wealthy doctor to the curb after repeated arguments over “who pays,” I shook my head regretfully and solemnly aphorized: “Pride is inimical to happiness… ”
2. Taking note of the incalculable number of guys who have a baseball cap on wherever they go effectively “hanging the hat,” pardon the pun, of their physical presence on a “New York Mets” cap or somesuch, and how frighteningly cute I myself look in such head-wear, for a whole fifteen minutes, I was overcome with the fear that I am always just a backwards cap away from a completely different and frighteningly alien persona … “A Hat Personality!”
2a. When my friend, E.T. shows up looking devastatingly adorable in a perfectly askew baseball cap completely uncharacteristic of his mild-mannered, Ivy educated legal professional image, I share my fear with him allowing for the implication that he had drank the “hat personality” Kool-Aid. “But it’s so CONTINGENT,” he opined. I gave a sigh of relief. No Kool-Aid breath. Someone understood. Within 15 minutes, I am trying on the baseball cap and feeling exquisitely unlike myself.
3. I hear a guy tell his boyfriend he loves him over the music and, you know what? Perhaps it was the vacant, monotone way the guy said it, but I didn’t believe him.
4. Promises are usually just lies waiting to happen.

Mea Culpa - Youth Worship - What Ethnicity Are You? - Dick Shots on the Dancefloor.

When I re-vamped and relocated THEHONESTTEASE to Tumblr, I vowed to be a more dedicated and serviceable blogger. But just after I made that resolution, work picked up precipitously, and I matriculated in the Masters Program in English Literature at Fordham University where I have been taking “Sex And The Enlightenment” reading something like 875 pages of 18th Century Novel a week. To say I have “been busy” is an understatement. But now that work has slowed and my class is winding down, I want to catch up by relating to you an anecdote from Memorial Day’s Alegria I forgot to include in my last installment.
   But before I get on with that, I’d like to make a note as to the content on THEHONESTTEASE. At first glance, what you read here might appear transparently autobiographical with nicknames exchanged for real names for the sake of privacy. And while pretty much everything I have written here has happened in one way or another, I wouldn’t claim it is all “true” in the strictest sense of the word.
     The demands of privacy, the limits of memory and the dynamics of story-telling transfigure and remix a lot of my experiences to make the more digestible, more coherent wholes you read here. Some of the characters, like today’s “Dr. Mario” for instance, are not strictly “one person.” “Dr. Mario” is a condensation of at least two different, very charming people who I have had similarly cutesy interactions with. The single stories I relate are combined and collated snippets from multiple similar but distinct situations. So I guess you could say that the stories you read here are more “representative” of my thoughts and experiences than documents of any real, individual events. So don’t fact check or try to call me out. Just enjoy. That being said, without further ado, let me take you back to the dance floor at Pacha maybe about a month ago …
I am dancing with an old fuck-pal of mine when Dr. Mario appears next to me.
I made Dr. Mario’s acquaintance no less then five years prior on another dance floor 30 blocks down from where we are dancing now. Back when I had “a type,” Dr. Mario was it; short and built with a well-aged-but-persistently-boyish handsome-ness that suggests, at least aesthetically, that sex with this man amounts to “getting my cake and eating it too.” His not quite over-powering Superman-like jaw and slightly salted pepper hair all just below my field of vision (he is 5’5’’ish) was devastating to me before dating enough of his type finally inoculated me against their Napoleonic charms.
Dr. Mario knows my fuck-pal. They smile at one another, go in for a kiss on the cheek and Dr. Mario proceeds to dance in our loose constellation of bopping heavenly bodies. Feeling gregarious - I lean in and say: “Hey, Dr. Mario. I’m TonyEatsPuppies.” Dr. Mario is more than happy to talk to me and, so, shaking his hand I say: “We met, like, years ago at Victor Calderone/Evolve when it was at Crobar.”
“Was I an asshole?” He asks in conversation-propiciating self-deprecation.
“Notably so. You came up to me asked me if I was sixteen.” I was twenty three at the time.
Dr. Mario smiles. “Yeah, that sounds like me.”
“You one of those guys with an age thing?”
Dr. Mario lets his shoulders slump forward in theatrical defeat. “When guys are so young, they are just so beautiful.” He says with exhausting fervor.
I squint my eyes dubiously at Dr. Mario. Truth be told, I find something self hating or offensive in “youth worship.” We are all aging. Not to get all-Heidegger-about-it, but it’s our existential condition to always be older. Youth worship maligns that condition we all share. And what’s more, it objectifies people in a blanket fashion; we are all perishable and perishing, it implicitly says. Our value is always declining. We are always less. It’s too fatalistic for me to get into. Daddy-worship, as irrational and infantilizing as it can be, always gives you somewhere to go. If nothing else, it glorifies the human condition that is aging.
I should know by now not to share my opinions regarding men’s desires with men themselves, but I find myself saying: “That age-thing is lame. Have you had sex with a 22-year-old lately?”
He laughs. “Unfortunately not.”
“It’s dismal. Haphazard at best.”
He giggles harder putting his hand on my shoulder for support and nods forcefully.
“So you’re Italian?” He asks.
I strain to prevent a reflexive eye roll. Gay men love identifying one another’s ethnicity. Knowing one’s ethnicity allows gay dudes to impute all sorts of assumptions about one’s personalities (mostly stereotypes) and, more importantly, gauge love making style and penis size. Like one’s star sign, ethnicity services the illusion of knowledge (or perhaps even faux ‘intimacy’) without having to get to know someone.
“And Jewish.” I say. Disclosing my uncommon mutt-mix often disrupts the gay dude’s sizing me up by ethnicity. I can usually see the pin-ball-like thoughts inside their minds ricochet furiously back and forth as they think: “Big penis or small penis?! Big penis or small penis?!” But Dr. Mario’s pin ball doesn’t ricochet. It shoots straight through.
“That’s a good mix.” He says giving me the sense that he finds the accident of my birth pleasing.
“You’re Italian, I guess?” I ask trying to sound interested in the ethnicity-game.
I have to admit though, I enjoy the way Dr. Mario plays the ethnicity game. His probing is relaxed, playful and attentive. He elicits information, but doesn’t move to presume from it. He only makes sure to express his nebulous approval. This is a conversation strategy my daddy-obsessed narcissistic personality finds addictive.
“What do you do?” He asks.
“I’m a lawyer.” Kind of.
“Wow.” He rolls his eyes. “You’re a dream.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a doctor.”
I roll my eyes. “I should introduce you to my mother. She’d die.”
And she would. Looking at Dr. Mario’s boyish-Italian grin and taking note of all his positive Napoleonic socializing traits (He is gregarious, outgoing-but-always-polite and engaged), I can’t help but think my mother would find him incredibly attractive herself. I wonder for a moment if I have learned my taste in men from my mother. Or if, somehow, I want to please my mother with my dating choices. Or make her jealous. I think I would make a very dedicated psychoanalyst assuming, of course, I’d practice primarily on myself. And my mother.
“Of course. Mothers love me.”
“I can see that.” I say taking a swig of water. “You have a boyfriend, right?” I know I met the boyfriend, also named Mario, a couple of years ago.
“Yeah. You wanna see?” Dr. Mario shows me a picture of Big Mario on his I-Phone. Big Mario is 6’0-ish, lily-white (not Jewish or Italian) and has the kind of body that warrants being called a “physique:” Big, hard and kind of shiny.  “That is my 50-year-old boyfriend,” Dr. Mario says proudly.
“Do you think the youth-worship thing comes from having a guy older than you at home?”
“Maybe.” He says seeming to take the question seriously. And then toggling through his I-Phone, Dr. Mario says: “Here let me show you something else… “
I get an impassive but suspicious look on my face. I have gotten that tingling of my spider-sense when, on-line, dudes send me dick shots… which are never solicited. I find disembodied penis a turn off. “No dick shots, Dr. Mario! Let’s keep it classy!”
He laughs and passes me his phone. “Don’t worry,” he says. It is a picture of him, shirtless with summer abs smiling in a mirror. It’s one of his winning pictures, he knows it and I am won. “Ohhh,” I say. “That’s adorable.”
“Told you not to worry.” He says taking back his phone. “And you should know,” he adds making purposed, pointed eye contact, ”doctors don’t do dick shots.” And suddenly, it doesn’t matter that Dr. Mario is no longer “my type.” I swoon.

Tech-Sex: TonyEatsPuppies Sends Naughty Pics, Gets Unnecessarily Cerebral About It

I confess: a couple of days ago, feeling inspired and randy, I sent a somewhat suggestive photo of myself to an old beau. (“I’m a slut!” *giggle*)

Almost immediately after pressing “send,” I experienced the kind of guilt pangs I used to get when, as a pre-pubescent, I shop-lifted muscle magazines from Eckard (You did it too, Homo); I felt like a petty criminal who deserved the punishment I was certain I’d receive. I began to think paranoically: This was the sort of thing that, if it got out, potential employers would deny me jobs for, or, if I ever became a politician (what?), would de facto end my career. 

What I came to realize was I thought this way because I had been brainwashed. In the cases of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Anthony Weiner etc. etc. capturing oneself amidst the sex act, photographically suggesting the act, or even expressing intention to commit the act - really any intersection of photography, communication and sex - is objectionable. “Tech sex” is embarassing. It’s shameful. It’s disgusting. It demolishes men’s credibility (well, Ray-J never had “credibility” per se’), and for women seems to grant inexplicable fame that extinguishes any semblance of real dignity.

There is an odd jump that goes on in the discourse about tech-sex scandals. Elizabeth Hasslebeck of “The View,” decidedly anti-tech sex, never says exactly what the person did wrong or who they were hurting (barring a betrayed spouse). When Hasslebeck talks about tech sex, she immediately claims incredulity over “WHY” someone would photograph themselves “like that” when “they KNOW ‘IT’ could get out.” But it stands to question what exactly the “it” Hasslebeck is talking about really is. And what “it getting out” means.

The (recorded) sex acts themselves are not objectionable. We wouldn’t lambaste someone for having sex with their significant other. Nor would we object to them showing that significant other their naked body in an effort to entice them. But if those acts are captured on film or digitized suddenly the participants are the dregs of society. What is recorded, people having sex, is not REALLY the problem, and the public knowing that “it” occurs is not the problem either. We could all readily assume that [insert shamed celebrity’s name here] was having sex. It’s the fact of the recording, that there is a purposely produced materialization of those acts, that is the problem. It’s recording sex that is objectionable. Tech-sex is the crime that is only its evidence: nothing more, nothing less. But is tech-sex really wrong? Ethically? Morally? Is it a breach of taste? Why? No one seems to say outright.

Hasslebeck’s attitudes are coyly anti-sex generally. We know why people mix technology and sex. Voyeurism and exhibitionism are parts of sex. It’s hot to show off. Enticing a lover is a part of good foreplay. Sex is very much about communication. We use technology to communicate. So, inevitably, technology will be involved in sex.

In the cancelled but nonetheless brilliant TV show, KINGS, the princess of a present day Biblical principality (forget it, this is why the show was cancelled) engages in a star cross’d love affair with a war hero who is also, losely, the Bible’s “David.” Stealing away to an abandoned house, the princess and the war hero make love. There is reason to believe the princess - idealized but infantalized - is giving the war hero, also boyishly virtuous, her virginity. In the after-glow, the war hero snaps a few pictures of the naked princess with a digital camera. He says he’ll stop and delete. She asks him to keep going, and says to save the pictures to remember her by (starcross’d, remember?). Going over the pictures in bed, the war hero says: “God, see how beautiful you are?” The picture taking is a way for the war hero to allow the princess to see herself as he sees her: as a woman. For the princess, tragically, tech-sex is a way to give something of herself to the man she cannot give herself to. In the world of KINGS, tech-sex is romantic.

So why are WE so mad about tech-sex? I have a two pronged theory. Because I like to think in prongs.
First of all, our culture perceives a kind of hubris in recording one self having sex or in the nude. There is audacity and presumption in thinking one is worthy - beautiful enough, sexy enough etc. - of having their love-making immortalized. We are a fame worshiping culture. Fame is defined, more than anything, by one’s presence on a screen, one’s being recorded. When we record something we automatically (if unconsciously) deem it worthy of our highest esteem. When these recordings are leaked, our culture reacts by shaming those involved; it says those people’s love making is not worthy of immortalization. In the case of people who are already famous, public denunciation only underlines the fact that - even if the people are worthy of fame - their sex acts are not. Recording something is enshrining it. When we willingly record sex, we are exalting it. And when our culture punishes those who would enshrine sex, it is expressing a hatred of sex. Sex becomes a necessary evil: we all do it, and that is ok, but multiplying its image and immortalizing it, that is unnecessary, excessive, and deviant. We should have sex, but we shouldn’t be proud of it.
Secondly, seeing “tech-sex” inspires shame. Watching other people having sex can be hot. Duh. But also, when we walk in on the sex act, rip it from its fragile context of intimacy and plunk it down in ‘the every day’ of society, it makes us incredibly awkward. And it does so for a lot of reasons. One of them is that, most of the things we say and do during sex, the way we contort our faces and bodies (“fuck faces” etc), although hot inside the context of sex, are at best inelegant and at worst gross outside of it. And when we watch a sex tape (as opposed to porn which oddly idealizes sex), and we giggle at how awkward and disgusting the people deluded enough to think they are worthy of recording their sex acts are, we are subtly reminded of what we look like while we have sex, which, let’s be honest, is most often not so cute.  
When I feel paranoic about my own “tech sex,” and imagine getting fired from a job I don’t have if a naughty picture of me ”gets out” (to where? I’m not famous!), I am manifesting the social controls of hubris/shame I describe above. I automatically think of my sex act (if you can even call it that), from the point of view of someone who isn’t invested in it. I’m player hating on myself. And when we hate on people whose privacy we’ve impinged upon by watching their leaked “tech-sex,” we are hypocritically player hating on them.