Learning to appreciate surface manliness
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My friend Victor once told me that I never forget anything I've said. Not a compliment, an assessment of my self-absorption. Were he here to read it my journal would certainly confirm my old friend's opinion.
In an indirect way living with a woman gave me a keener appreciation of masculine beauty. Discovering myself able to make love with a woman made me inspect them with more curiosity.
Remember Bo Derek? She was one of the series of big-tittied, high cheekbone, blond women John Derek collected. Where the rating of people's sexiness on a scale from 1 to 10 came from I don't know. But Derek's extended pin-up 10 seem to fix it in the national semi-consciousness. It made Bo Derek the Woman or the Year (or Two).
Photos of her were everywhere and I'd scrutinize them with a clinician's eye. Handsome face (I think, I keep blending in Linda Evans, a similar member of Mr. Derek's collection). Had to agree she was a well-built construct but there was no … frisson. I don't remember any hot-blooded responses until after (ouch!) Siobhan left and I didn't have a woman anymore.
As a young queer I'd look at most male sex symbols and just tell myself people were stupid and had no taste. The premiere sex symbols of the 1970s were a blond (naturally) woman with improbable hair and Burt Reynolds. Fair to say that many gay men wanted him. A good chunk of them tried to look like him. (Did this help birth of the Castro Clone look?)
As someone down here in Redneck Land might put it I thought he looked like shit on toast.
When I found analyzing women's sex appeal the same approach to men followed. Tom Selleck seemed like Burt Reynolds's successor in machodom. I shook my head at this. Finally I saw him in something, maybe a bad horror movie. I realized his sexual charisma came as much from a kind smile and eyes that looked like they were really interested as well as the manly stuff. It was the mix.
I'm sure plenty of you learned that personality or at least persona can be as strong a part of sexual magnetism as the body and face long before I did. I was a long time in seeing the erotic power of a smile. (Surely not in responding but I was more aware of the power of a pout.)
Nowadays my sexuality is most drawn persona. A special genderqueer blend that is as much in voice and movement as facial harmonies. I like the pictures of pretty, twinkish boys that some folks have sent me. But a still picture never has the unique body language of feminine gay guy. A middle-aged 'queen' is going to arouse me more than any anonymous blonde kid.
Early on in my queer life I did fine a few very butch guys sexy. Very sexy. And very butch they were with the inevitable hints of menace. Those were, have been rare moments. Whether my love for nelly queer boys or my distrust of masculinity shunted me away from them I can't say.
During the months I spent looking at naked pictures online I saw lots of Playgirl models (Nothing is easier to find thanks to Usenet). What a bunch of well-scrubbed, clean-cut bohunks. The regular features, tidy, sort of masculine look that is popular now is one of those styles whose appeal usually defies my erotic empathy. (Sort of, I can find all sorts of people exciting looking if I choose to will it.)
There is a certain kind of butch look I've found attractive. Well, to be exact, I've found it twice: a combination of cheekbones at a certain angle, what I'll call a certain kind of 70s moustache and broad forehead. I've seen it exactly twice, the pangs it produced were too sharp to ignore or forget. Having seen it only two times but experience the pangs it produced I can only wonder what archetype is behind it.
This is my third attempt to play with a couple of ideas and each time they get away from me.