2017, Australia, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Thoughts

My Ideal Day

If money was not an issue, what would your life look like today? How would you fill your days?

For me, if money was not an issue [as it would be if Utopian Socialism worked], I would fill my days with learning and trying to make myself better and improving myself. Yup, super cliche, I know. I would still try to wake up early and hit the gym, as it’s become a place that I enjoy going to and exercise something that has really helped me grow and become a healthier person inside and out. I know this sounds so self-indulgent, and typically self-entitled millennial of me, but really, without the need to work to provide for oneself, I would make my life about being better as a whole, and experiencing the most out of life.

I would go for nice breakfasts, maybe eat something sweet like pancakes [because why the fuck not] with coffee, sit outside al fresco if it was a sunny day, perhaps sit inside if it was cooler or wet. I’d have an Ipad loaded with paid-for subscriptions like The New Yorker or Time magazine, and I would spend an hour just reading, eating breakfast, sipping my coffee, and then planning my day ahead and what I wanted to accomplish, work on or get out of my time for the day. Maybe some days I would go to different cafes for a change of scenery, maybe I would have weeks or even months of frequenting that same favourite cafe that does coffee just how I like it, or cooks a great breakfast.

After reading through an article or two in New Yorker or Time, or perhaps a newspaper, I would take out my journal or perhaps go on Daily Page and start writing. Maybe I would be with Adrian, or maybe alone. I would then work out my day and break down what I would want to achieve or get out of the day.

Maybe one day would be spent reading, or playing computer games, or maybe having lunches with friends and loved ones. I might go visit my nonna and hang with her, or go for a drive up to the mountains. I know some days all I would do would be anything I want. Like even playing World of Warcraft for endless hours. Maybe I would simply while away the day in the sun at a park, or a beach or pool. I would try to gauge how I felt, and do whatever my heart desires. I’d like to think however that I would try to learn something or create something no matter how small each day. Perhaps a little blog post, or a journal entry. Maybe I would walk about the city and take pictures. I guess because currently with the need to work and pay bills and rent, I don’t have this luxury. I envy people who come from wealthy backgrounds as this has afforded them something more important than money, rather it has given them the freedom of time.  Many of these people take this luxury for granted and squander their time. I wish I didn’t have to work 9 hours a day five days a week. I wish I could emulate that archetype of the Renaissance era person of art and passion, and had the time to muse and delve into creating things.

If money was no issue, I would make sure to have my own workspace away from home as well. I would use this as a base for inspiration and production, as I tend to work much better when away from the many distractions of home. In my head, I picture my ideal work space to be a light-filled large converted warehouse room with high ceilings and tall windows that let in lots of light. It would be somewhere not too far from home, perhaps a ten minute walk, so I would have no excuse not to go, and maybe situated around the corner from a cafe, where I would grab myself a mid morning coffee. The walls would be a pure white, unadorned, and the floor would be either old and worn wood flooring, or polished concrete. I picture a desk set up in front of a window, with a nice large desktop computer, as well as plenty of writing materials. I would keep this desk as organised as my current desk is at home: everything would have its place. It would be here that I would write or create or build or work on something, at my own pace and in whatever direction I felt. I would have a large inspiration wall where I would pin anything that I found inspiring i.e. posters, prints, magazine clippings etc.

 

In the middle of the space would be a big old vintage work bench table, the ones that have thin long drawers underneath to put all your bits and pieces like stationary in. I would have stools set up around it, and I can imagine it being loaded with open coffee table books, magazines and all manner of bric a brac. I imagine myself spending time pouring over a new book I bought, or simply jotting down brainstorm notes.

Spread about the space would be studio lighting and equipment, and maybe some props as well, as I would hopefully be organising photo shoots when I could.

I would try to spend as many days as I could here with the intention of experimenting, exploring and producing anything that I was inspired from. I think that would be the sum of my days, working towards being inspired and prolific. But heck, the place could be sitting empty and unused for days on end if I felt like doing something else. I think that’s what I would want from my days: the luxury of freedom and abundant time.

Every month or maybe weekend I would aim to get away with my boyfriend, and we would do little trips and adventures. I see myself taking him on trips to the countryside and driving for hours on quiet roads and stopping in sleepy country hamlets and staying in quaint B and B’s. Perhaps every few months we would go away on longer trips further afield, and go places that we would never usually be able to.

My life would be one of contemplation, exploration, experimentation and joy. I’m lucky with life as it is to have some distilled and minute form of this life I picture. I’m able to have a small fraction of what I describe above, and I’m eternally grateful that I do.

If money were no issue in your life, what would your ideal day look like?

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2017, Australia, Gayblog, Life, Sydney

[De]Motivators

The biggest motivator that has been driving me lately has been time itself, and the fact that as every day that goes past that I don’t write or contribute is a day lost. I’m motivated lately by fear. Fear now, of looking back at my life and feeling shame at myself, for not trying hard enough and not working hard enough. I feel as though I am at a point where I really have to start pushing for myself, and to continue working with what I have and to make my goals a reality. In a month I turn 33, I’m no longer a youth. The days of being an aimless lout are far behind me. I’m supposed to, according to society, have my collective ‘shit together’. It still doesn’t feel that way. The last few years have seen me try to try to work out what it is that I’m good at, enjoy doing that will make me some money. The idea of ‘finding yourself’ can be cute and romantic, but not once you get into your mid 30’s. I’m not after fame and fortune, I’d rather just be comfortable and be able to have freedom to be able to travel, or perhaps one day own my own home. I can really feel the clock ticking these days, the nerves fraying, In back of my mind my own voice urging me to write more, contribute more, to take more of a chance, and to not let slip any possible potential opportunity that may come my way.

I guess sometimes fear of the future or of failure can be an immensely potent motivator, yet I also sense that it can bring ruination. As the flip side of this is the response of ‘well whats the use’ or ‘I’m doomed to fail anyways.’ It’s hard sometimes to stay focused and on the ball and to continue on when at times it all seems pointless. This has been something that I have definitely struggled with over and over again in the past. The smallest set back will trigger my confidence and morale to collapse. I picture it like an eagle posed, ready for flight, and when it takes that first sweep of its wings something goes wrong. It’s been a game in itself to keep my confidence up and in flight, it’s been an absolute disaster when my confidence and morale plummets. It’s something which takes time to re-balance itself enough for me to get back on my feet, dust myself off and try again.

It’s very easy to feel like a failure at life. Which is how I’m feeling at this moment. I feel that I’ve not accomplished enough, I’m not travelled enough, and I’m not doing enough in my life to bring me joy, happiness and yeh maybe a little success and prosperity. Success continually seems to elude me.

It’s very easy to place yourself next to someone else and consequently compare yourself to them. They might have all those things you desperately crave. A great job. Amazing looks. A great body. Lots of friends. People paying attention to them because of these things. In my world, it is easy for me to fall into this trap of envy. I find myself doing this more and more these days, and it worries me. Being in the Gay world of Sydney, as well as Melbourne, everyone seems to have something that they’re doing that brings them something quantifiable and desirable: money, career, attention or exposure. Everyone is to my eye out partying, doing photo shoots, getting great gigs, always at fun parties dressed up in crazy outfits. I get a little bit envious and down at times. All I seem to see is other’s displaying how fantastic their lives are, which isn’t even necessarily the truth. I feel sick about myself and insecure. If I’m not comfortable in my own skin at this point, when will I be? Does the act of me comparing myself to others work as a motivator, or de-motivator? What reason then do I want the things out of life that I do? For my own wellbeing and benefit, or simply so I can feel better about myself and what others think of me?

Motivation has to come from the right place, and lately for me it hasn’t. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to others, which is a toxic and unhealthy approach. I see people taking selfies at the parties, dressed to the nines, at the gyms showing their biceps off. All of this self-aggrandisement has an effect on others. An effect that needs to be monitored and contemplated and considered. I’ve also thought of myself as ‘too old’ for the things I want, and that I am over the hill. None of this might necessarily be true, as I have met some fantastically talented people who have come into their own later in life, and found the things that I have been searching for, yet lately this has been something to which I have given much thought to in my life.

Does everyone struggle with this, and finds themselves motivated for the wrong reason? Is it wrong to motivated through envy, or is it simply a case of the means justifying the ends?

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2016, Australia, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Folly Of Nationalism.

Pride in one’s nation can be a very dangerous thing. An accident of birth determines so much of one’s circumstances, whether being born as female or male, in differing socio-economic circumstances and geographic location determines one’s life to a substantive degree.

The fact that so much human misery and destruction, both to ourselves and to this planet we inhabit is due to what is in essence tribalism and factionalism magnified in macro makes me personally deride national pride. I know this may be a very controversial point of view, but I am against national pride, patriotism and nationalism as these concepts so easily lend themselves to the politics of hate and exclusion, namely right-wing political ideologies filled with hatred and racism such as Fascism.

Being a self-identified Social Democrat, my standpoint is one of inclusion, fraternity and opportunity for all, not to mention basic human rights that should be afforded to all. REGARDLESS of skin colour, gender, age and sexuality. Universal healthcare, education and welfare support to name a few. Luckily, I live in a nation that gives me access me these things, however we are facing a crossroads, one in which we can easily begin the long downward slide into rugged individualism, economic rationalism and 100% free marketeering. The aforementioned concepts of universal healthcare, education et al should not be a source of pride, they are EXPECTATIONS to me. All in all, I don’t want us, a post-colonial nation which has suffered from so much cultural cringe as well as a lack of identity, to become something akin to a 51st state of the USA.  The political, economic and social policies and goals of the current government, a conservative economo/finance-centric one, would have us simply become a facsimile of the United States. I know the likelihood of this is slim, but I find that some political factions in this country would dearly love this country to forgo and forget its important and indelibly widespread, and far-reaching social-based policies which have helped shape us as a nation. Policies, which established by the almost hallowed yet ultimately doomed and somewhat naive Whitlam government in the early 1970’s that have really become enmeshed and a vital component and makeup in our national identity.

Mateship, a buzzword so easily thrown around in a disparaging manner, especially with regards when describing the ‘true-blue ocker Aussie identity’, to me belies the sense of humanist spirit summed up in the classic phrase ‘egalite, fraternite, liberte’. The term mateship to me has a very real cringey self-involved aspect linking to the identity of the average Australian as a sun burnt, beer swilling tradie white Aussie battler, yet we all know this is far from the reality. It to me equates far more to the crux ideal that we are all in this together, that we are all a community and that in short, we are still affected by the plights and suffering of others.  We only need to look at how we have mistreated political refugees in recent years as well as the indigenous peoples of this nation not to mention the very real lag in progress for Gay marriage to see we have a long way to go. So, due to my political ideologies which have more concurrent concerns on the state and welfare of the human being as a part of a greater community than nationalist pride, I find this question, in fact the entire concept of national pride somewhat disturbing.

Australia has had somewhat a strange and if not at times quietly turbulent history. This nation was established on the plight, plunder and suffering of the indigenous populations and peoples that inhabited this land for many an epoch before the first European man set-foot on our shores. The colonies that formed the core of what would later become Australia in 1901 were established simply due to the fact that the British required pre-eminence and predominance in every aspect of society at the time in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Competition in trade, military strength and cultural influence was fierce between the imperial powers. Colonies were established simply to deny the other colonial and imperialist powers of the day namely France and Russia a foothold on this continent. Purposeless colonies established in order to restraining other nations from gaining a piece of this incongruous continent. A somewhat strange and wasteful notion. A continent with untold mysteries and clearly very misunderstood. For decades it was believed a large inland sea bisected the continent, where unbound arable lands were to be found. A localised El Dorado, almost. Water has always been much more important than gold here. The truth was, this land was and still is harsh; unforgiving yet also beautiful and compelling in its hardness and alien nature in comparison to Western Europe.

The European policy of Terra Nullius, or ‘Empty Land’, which essentially equated the British or any other European imperialist power having right and reason to plant a flag anywhere that was not according to them inhabited [Farming, structures], meant that this land was forcibly and unjustly stolen from the indigenous tribes that very much inhabited this continent.

Add to this the penal and convict legacy of this country, as well as prevailing casual racism, the mistreatment of immigrants as well as indigenous peoples, and it makes me hard to have pride in my country of birth. In many ways I’m very lucky to be born in a nation that has afforded many including myself so many liberties and freedoms. Of course this is undeniable. A dark side of our culture has come to the fore in the past, and I’m sure will continue to flash and flare in the future. The Stolen Generations, the Cronulla riots of 2005, the plight and abject suffering of the asylum seekers and refugees of Manus Island are some examples to name a few.

No nation is perfect, no nation-state to me deserves pride and patriotism invested in it. Our governments and politicians who are the apparatus and nervous system of all nations deserve to fear their citizenry and treat them with an accordance of respect and deference, as the citizenry are the nation, not the artifice of national identity. Nations are simply lines drawn on a map, the reality is often much messier and much more prosaic and obtuse. There is never black and white, but always grey.

Yes, I know I sound like a raving rabble-rousing left-wing Marxist ideologue apparatchik but the truth is, nationalist pride for me is a very perilous concept, one that can create competition, enmity and disparity which can lead to human suffering and bloodshed.

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2015, Life, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts

The Secret Life Of My Parents

 

Last year I had a mission put forward to me by my boyfriend, who wanted pictures of me as a kid and teenager for a slideshow for my thirtieth birthday back in February 2014. He wanted me to go get as many images of me as I could find.

Which of course proved to be somewhat difficult, as I’m part of a family where the term ‘family’ is a basic and somewhat ill-defined construct to describe what we are. I love my sister and parents, but a more loose-knit, independent ‘family’ couldn’t be found anywhere. It’s almost like we all just got lumped together by fate. Maybe it’s because my parents divorced in my early 20’s and before that were constantly feuding; maybe it’s because we all ended up becoming such fiercely independent people who had less and less need for close familial relationships. I’m not sure.

So in the end, nary a picture of me was to be found anywhere. It seems like the era before Facebook and smartphones has become some new ersatz pre-historic epoch without pictures, as a single image of me from the ages of 2 to 16 proved to be quite elusive to track down. Add to the fact that my mum left our family home when my parents divorced with essentially whatever she could carry, as well as the fact that my dad is quite possibly the messiest, chaotic and unorganised fellow I know means that there is a giant gaping maw of a black hole that’s swallowed any and all visual representation of us as a family. I look to my boyfriends family with pangs of jealousy and envy, as they have recorded so much of their lives together. Pictures inhabit dozens of photo albums, shoeboxes and tidy frames upon lintels or walls. Videos of recorded adventures and family gatherings lay neatly stacked in drawers and shelves. They love nothing more than taking pictures of each other, recording holidays and special events and sharing their lives. Why was my family so different, and so riven by secrecy, distance and division?

D-Day arrived as I took the train from Urbane Inner-City Redfern to Mundane Suburban Rhodes, a little slither of a suburb on a peninsula on the very edge of Sydney’s Inner West. This is the almost Stepfordish pleasant suburb where I spent my formative teenage years and early twenties, back in the golden heyday of the late nineties and early noughties. I stepped off the train, to the much improved train station compared to those heady days, walked up the quiet road, and through the forlorn looking iron gates of my dad’s large unkempt and rambling home, and dove right into the back ‘shed’, which resembles more a Italianiate granny flat in the back yard than an actual shed. What can I say, the Tuscan look was big in the late nineties. There I found photo album after photo album squirrelled away in this shed, the interior of which resembled a possible future archeological dig. Cobwebs, dust, dirt and a general patina of age clung to every single thing. EVERY SINGLE THING. It was like a macro version of a time capsule. Here were the remnants of my former life as part of a Nuclear Family. The leftovers and artefacts of a different time. It’s interesting how in life some of us have these distinct phases and eras, yet others have a long and continual link to the past. It was like a bomb had scattered us all into oblivion, leaving behind the detritus and remains of what once was: familial bonds, stability, a once positive vision of the future. All turned to junk and miasma.

I spent some time trawling through this wreckage, scouring the Mount Everest-sized mountains of junk to find every shred of visual records my family had. I repaired back to the house’s expansive lounge room, dumped the albums on the ridiculously ornate mahogany dining table that my dad insisted on buying when I was a kid and took a little sojourn into the past.

What I found in short is that my parents had a secret life. Like me they were once young. Like me they went on trips, went out, had jobs and careers, and generally had adventures. I feel like my dad especially led this elusively cool life before my sister and I came along. It felt like the images I discovered had become a portal that is indecipherably impossible to open and peer through, and the only way to have a peek is through the broken shards in the shape of the photographs, dockets, old airline tickets from now defunct airlines and general miscellanea that this guy kept.

I found pictures of my dad in what had to have been Papua New Guinea in the 1970’s where he worked in the copper mines. Pictures of him in London in 1969 with a cinema behind him, signs promoting ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ helping create a zeitgeist of an image. Kids with shaggy hair, thongs and wearing bell-bottom jeans smoking cigarettes on the step of an old corner shop in what had to have been the now otherworldy Sydney of the 1970’s. Pictures of my dad’s friends in Papua swimming and enjoying themselves on the beach; a pre ‘globalised’, much simpler skyline of Sydney with no Centrepoint Tower or few skyscrapers in sight. My mum in a full beehive do and gorgeously retro white mini-shift dress at her first job at a pharmacist where my parents first met. Was that the first day they met? I’ll never know.

In the vantage point of what I always thought of as ‘The Future’, [being anytime after the year 2000], the past and almost secret lives of my parents are akin to a Tolkien-like history steeped in a localised mythology abound in stories, parables and tales. That old film ‘Big Fish’ with Ewan McGregor springs to mind, as like Ewan McGregor’s character, my dad always had these grand tales that stuck in my mind. Always colourful and vivid, these tales were a part of my childhood, and my sister and I would always want to hear more. He had so many stories and fables to share with us about his life as well as his family, and a mythology grew up around these stories, much like in Big Fish.

Some stories that spring to my mind include the time when he was in the Italian Army as a Paratrooper, and once almost died when he jumped out of the plane on training exercises, only to land in a swamp outside Naples, to which a Neaopolitan fisherman just happened by and found him.

The story about him as a kid being bundled off to a rather third-rate church-run Summer Camp, only to have one pair of underwear and set of clothes the whole time due to his family being so miserably poor.

Or the story about how my grandmother used to have to hide relatives who were members of the Communist underground in her house from the Germans during World War 2.

The stories about his adventures in Papua New Guinea and Bouganville, where he worked as a young lad in the copper mines. Recounting this he would conjure up images of a younger moustachio’d shag-haired version of himself in PNG on the run from native tribes because he mistranslated a word wrongly in Pigin, or about life in Port Moresby.

Or the stories about his early days after arriving in Sydney in the early 1970’s, and how the place was so very different to what it would become. An instant classic is his tale about him having just arrived, [replete with his uber-mod Italian sensibilities and wardrobe], and literally being picked up off the street by two Australian girls who saw this young guy on the street when they were driving past and decided to simply get him in their car for God knows what.

He always left this lasting impression to us about the past being a colourful, vibrant place of nostalgia and naive innocence, as well as the ills and woes of life for an Italian in early 1970’s Australia. I’ll go meet dad out and his friends at a cafe and share espresso after espresso and listen to them recount stories of life in the early 1970’s, and how easy and great it was back then. One of them recently stated with a gleam in his eye that life was good and simple back then. There is so much nostalgia and romanticism bound in these stories of past times. These stories and pictures tie in with that ‘Australia-that-once-was’, as I call it; an almost mythical place inhabited by larger than life people, led by larger-than-life politicians [Gough Whitlam for one], a world filled with corner shops selling ice blocks and cigarettes to kids on a searingly hot Summer day where the roads would literally melt in the sun, a world with pubs filled with larrikins at every corner, of the sun beating down on the empty streets in Summer heat and no-where to escape. A place where these kind of adventures occur. A city and country on the tipping point of great change seeps through the fibres of these pictures that I found, as well as for my part a strange sense of longing and loss. All these images and stories transport me to those places in another time and place for a split second. A part of me is melancholic for not being a part of that world, or for experiencing life as it was then, tasting the food, speaking to the people, being out in the sun. I wish I could have met my parents back then, to see the people they were, and the lives they led.

Dad has made it that way, with his recounting of that time and place being akin to another world. A world that somehow exists at right-angles to the one we live in now, only visible in a few places for a fraction of a fraction of a moment. I wish I could step into these pictures and immerse myself into this past world which I feel still exists.

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2015, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Uncategorized

Male Objectivity And Fear Of The Peen.

Recently, acclaimed fashion designer Rick Owens [let’s be honest, I’d never heard of him before either], drew attention, astonishment and some ire from the indignant masses of the internet-bound public for sending out some of his androgynous, handsome and emaciated male models in garments that were cut right up about to the crotch, which meant that some ‘peen’ was slightly visible when said skinny-boy models trounced and hoofed down the runway. Slightly NSFW pics below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rick Owens : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2015-2016      Rick Owens : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2015-2016

 

Aforementioned ‘peen’ was briefly visible, sometimes dangling through the finely delicate folds of what is I’m sure very expensive material. I won’t lie, it was an oddly beautiful, unexpected display of male objectivity. A nice change if you will from the constant barrage of female bits on display everywhere one looks. Objectifying women is somehow acceptable as of course media is run by the SWM [Straight White Man], but once a man is sexually objectified, the floodgates are let loose. The blasé and uninterested looks on the chiseled-featured and hungry looking model’s faces as they purposely and confidently strode down the catwalk, combined with the flash of a bouncy dick was in a strange way attractive. Heroin chic mixed with a bit of kielbasa. Also, the scenario of male nudity in such a public space is always something that I find oddly fascinating. But of course, I’m gay so any tidbit of a sausage and two veg will get me excited.

Articles then made the rounds, were shared and discussed [most vehemently] in the most modern agora of discourse: social media. I myself shared an article about this show with a small comment relaying to how I’m looking forward to this ‘peeping penis’ look trickling down to the high street fashion retailers like Top Shop for next season. Much of the feedback of course was negative. Much of this negativity was linked with the penis being an inherently unattractive body part, something that should be tucked away, hidden and harmless, and not out for show.

Why is this? The penis itself is traditionally viewed as an instrument both of masculine virility yet also revilement. A dichotomy of sexual potency as well as potential violence. Going back through the annals of history, the penis has connotations with phallic symbology and discourse such as swords, knives and other instruments of violence. Closer to the present time and we get ‘Penis Envy’, where a man’s junk is an object to be both desired, coveted and yet reviled at the same time. Gay men whose main concerns sexually are the size of one’s business end are commonly referred to as ‘Size Queens’. Even more extreme is anti-nuclear proliferation proselytiser Helen Caldicott’s ‘Missile Envy’, which takes the concept of Penis Envy to an utmost exaggeration where both sides in the Cold War competed to build bigger, taller and more potently destructive missiles, a theory which was associated back to male strength and superiority in the Patriarchal-run world we live in.

So. We’ve all grown up with the penis being something associated with strength, virility as well as violence, and more importantly, underlining disgust.

In this case, it was a case of subtlety in context of fashion. Said penis was, like was stated in a recent Dazed And Confused article which can be read here, quote: ‘Discreet, tucked away, quiet – these aren’t the thrusting phalluses from Tom of Finland. Nor are they the cheery, candy-coloured penis shoes of Walter Van Beirendonck. And they’re most definitely not the questionable bulge of Justin Bieber’s Calvin Klein campaign.’ 

Enter the many comments, posts and shares with many a pun based on the good old reliable Dick Joke. It’s funny how the penis can be such a punchline for low-brow humour. And also how physically, without the constraints of underwear to hold everything in place, just how hilarious a penis looks bobbing up and down flaccid. As is evinced by all at the Rick Owens show.

Why is this the case? Does the penis have to be forever erect in order to be feared or respected? Visual imagery of the phallus has gone through many changes in history. Rick Owens himself responded to the complete shitfight that erupted about the little dick slips in his show. He puts it best when he stated: “I pass classical marble statues of nude and draped figures in the park every day, and they are a vision of sensuality — yes, but also of grace and freedom. As a participant in one of our most progressive aesthetic arenas, am I not allowed to use this imagery? Is it only appropriate for a Michael Fassbender movie? I thought this might be an interesting question.”

He’s absolutely correct. The penis or even just the hint of one is enough to get us all in a frenzy. Yet despite this it can’t be denied that the nude male form is one of beauty, admiration and sensuality, as Rick Owen stated.

Women have forever taken the brunt of sexually objective imagery and have always been the objects of the male gaze. Titillated over by men, stripped down bare and reduced to little more than sexualised imagery for the gratification of said men. They are forever the receivers of validation in our male-run, sexualised and sex obsessed culture. Why, then, was such a furore caused by just a subtle peek of peen? How many instances of female objectification occur on a day-to-day basis with barely any comment by media, traditional or social or otherwise, in comparison to examples of men being objectified? Let’s not forget the case of Halle Berry displaying her goods for a purported seven-figure sum for a diabolically terrible action film. this was of course a big deal for the time. Yet of course, it was made bigger due to the want and desire of the male gaze to see Halle Berry bare at any price. Or, as I was told by a fellow on Grindr who had a good point, characters getting their bits out on Girls, or the rampant sex and violence we see in shows like Game Of Thrones. Yes, Game Of Thrones differs slightly in terms of male nudity, yet it is always the female naked form which takes centre stage. Examples of male objectification are much more underground and generally not quite as high-profile.

The answer is, the male form and masculinity cannot be an endpoint of desire to be viewed as a proprietary sexualised identity. The man is a predominant figure in our society and must be seen as authoritative and strong. The male is seen forever as the giver, the active side whereas the female is the submissive receiver in this symbiosis. Can this change? Can the male form be seen as a touchstone of tenderness, softness and sensuality, without the need to militarise it in context of strength and dominance?

To me, what this fashion designer did was both not that crazy; not even that controversial, yet also a right step in the correct direction. Is a small amount of male nudity enough to really get people so riled up? Is our society reverting back to an approximation of the Victorian era, wherein social mores, values and ideals were stifling and stuffy? Is sexual and gender identity to be yet again repressed and banished from mainstream discourse? More male objectification needs to occur. The male body is a thing of beauty, grace and a virile raw strength, and yes, the penis is a part of that. Like ’em or not, dicks are here to stay, and to me both sexes should be objectified equally or not at all.

Male objectification seems to be a continually and cyclically touchy and controversial subject, something that I feel will take quite a long time for any change to occur, if it ever does. People’s perceptions to public dick doesn’t look to change any time soon, and will continually be viewed in twin frameworks of humour or revilement; yet as my friend on Grindr said to me, ‘it’s time to #freethepeen!’

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2015, Gay, Gayblog, Life, Sydney, Uncategorized

Success In Life [without being an arsehole]

I live in an increasingly gentrified and fast-paced part of town, which is quickly changing from a ghetto into a trendy, hip destination, and fast filling with equally trendy hip fancypants types. I guess I can’t talk much as I fit right into that paradigm. Most of the time this will involve the obligatory influx of dollar signs, mountains of followers on social media as well as endless line of selfie after selfie. Maybe six pack abs, pecs and a full beard if you’re a gay like me. With regards to selfies, who am I to say otherwise, I enjoy an almost self-mastubatory display of facial qualities as much as the next vain Gay.

The thing that gets me about growing up in this city has been the real, veritably concurrent theme of a ‘Dog Eat Dog’ environment. Whether you’re gay or straight, Sydney is what you make of it, and much of what this city is about has a lot to do with the theme of getting ahead in life, looking great. Getting what you want, and getting ahead of others, whether it be through a great career, money, fame or infamy. Everyone seems aware of each other, especially so in the Gay community. Everyone knows everyone else’s history. Someone knows someone who has done this that or the other to someone else. It can be quite difficult to get away from that sometimes. Especially when out socially.

This city sometimes reeks of success-obsession and ladder-climbing. There is an energy here which lends itself to the idea and conceit of individual success, and the way in which one goes about that. Physically, like many a Sydneysider, the city of Sydney itself is a wonder to behold: it gleams with an ephemeral brightness, an ethereal vibrancy, a pure clarity. It’s a gorgeous, sunlit metropolis filled with equally gorgeous people. It’s taken me a long time to be able to say that I love Sydney, and that I love living here. It’s a place that is singularly and serenely on show. Slightly aloof; slightly arrogant yet always, always full of style, and much of the time, full of itself.

Has it always been like this? I grew up in Sydney’s Inner West in a number of suburbs, starting with a formerly Italian-predominant suburb full of delis, pasta shops and little old Nonnas in 10 year periods of mourning, complete with neat black shift dresses and those little wheelie boxy shopping bags going to and fro. I ended up by my late teens in a particularly nondescript, generic and run of the mill spec of a suburb which became known for nothing more than having an Ikea in it. Not until my mid 20’s I began to sense a change. Whether it was in me, or the city, there was most definitely a difference in the air. Maybe my growth into a young adult made me more aware, or wary of life as I thought I saw it. Perhaps it was when I put down the Playstation controller and Sci Fi novels and started going out to places like Club 77 in the mid 2000’s. To be blunt, I live in a city where success is measurable by a few means, being, in the words of Macaulay Culkin in one of my favourite films, Party Monster ‘Money, Success, Fame, Glamour’:

We are living
In the age
In which the pursuit of all values
Other than
Money Success Fame Glamour
Have either been discredited
Or destroyed
Money Success Fame Glamour
For we are living in the age of the thing.

I’ve absolutely loved this film to filth since the first time I watched it back at college mainly for the complete and utter pandemonium, absurdity and total hedonism that is portrayed by the larger than life yet based on real people characters of Michael Alig and James St James in the mid-1980’s ‘Club Kid’ scene of New York. For me these words hold an almost prophetic warning that is applicable and relatable to what I at times feel and see today.

Can you be a success without this mantra of selfish egotistical bullshit? Is it possible to be successful without actually being an arsehole? Can you be one part successful, and one part graciously magnanimous in your success? Can you make your life the best it can be, without leaving a shit hot mess of people in your wake, who have been used for a purpose and simply left by the wayside on the golden road to success?  I’ve encountered enough people in my time here in Sydney to say that it is a really rare gem and diamond of an individual who can walk the thin [and usually powdery and white] line between the prosperity/success paradigm without the opposing ‘Arsehole/Self-Serving/Arrogance’ dichotomy. I’ve been on the losing side of this process, of outliving my usefulness for someone else’s gain, the endpoint of which is not hearing from that person again. Or seeing them out socially and awkwardness ensuing. Being a naturally introverted, emotional and almost sickeningly affectionate person, it’s infuriating and difficult for me to detach myself from others. It’s harder for me to assess someone down to their usefulness for me in terms of career advancement, for instance. I’m extremely lucky to have a very supportive network of friends and family, who are always there and ready to come to my rescue if I’m feeling flat. They are constructive with their criticisms of me, as well as understanding of my situation, and constantly up for giving good advice. Which I’m so so very grateful for. Help is always only a phone call away. On the flip side I feel that I work likewise with my close friends. I love nothing more than listening and helping a friend out. At the risk of sounding like a 1980’s self-help book ala ‘You Can Heal Your Life‘ [Still actually a perennial favourite of mine when I feel down], life is something that can’t be travelled through alone, you need the best travel companions you can find. I feel that now, after years of searching, that I have found some people who are genuine with their intentions, words and friendship. It has taken both my boyfriend and I years to get to a point where we both feel content with our friendships. We’ve both experienced the bitterness of failed friendships due to the fact that we both haven’t been enough of something or worthy of association. I’ve been acquainted with a number of people over the years who unfortunately haven’t fit within this cycle of support, and have exhibited all the things I’ve come to disdain, being self-absorption of almost Machiavellian scope and interested only in furthering their own goals and careers. In short, the person you know in the back of their mind is thinking, What can this person do for me? The means justifies the ends. If you have nothing to offer, then you’re simply not worthy of their time, and are found lacking. Nowadays, I’m savvy enough to steer clear of these types.

What is something valuable on offer from a person? Connections, wealth, looks, among others. Which leads me to my next point:

 

‘What Do You Do?’

 

Good Lord how I hate and detest this question when meeting people for the first time in a social setting. I don’t want to make out like I’m a keeper and defender of old-fashioned etiquette, but it’s so rude to ask or to be asked this question in an initial social meeting. It’s the proverbial dog-sniffing-other dog’s-arse/dudes comparing cock sizes scenario. It makes me feel ill, gross and uncomfortable. A friend of mine put it right when we were out on News Years Day at a party and we were chatting to a new friend: ‘It’s such a shitty question to ask, and I hate asking it, but what do you do?’ It’s an unfortunately necessary question that does get asked a lot, you may not like asking it like my friend or myself, but you’ll still find yourself on both sides of this showdown-like phrase.

Being on the receiving end of it, it’s easy to feel judgement and assessment arise in the questioner; being on the other side, it’s easy to feel a sense of measuring up, so to speak. Just to re-iterate, I truly do hate this question as it does summarise so many experiences I’ve had in recent years. If I have a crap job, you can see the someones disappointed reaction in their eyes. And if I have a great job you can see the opposite reaction. For instance, I worked at a chain stationery store for three years of my life. I didn’t love it, it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t very glamorous. I would cringe when someone would ask me what I did. I felt inadequate and insecure, and felt as though I had little to offer. Of course I’m jumping the gun as not everyone cares at all what I do, for some it’s merely a social nicety. Yet for others it’s a judgement call. You can feel the sense of sizing up. Why is it so important for some to care what others do? Obviously, networking and connections.

An example was when my boyfriend was at an even for his brother’s workplace, an industrial design studio. They were showcasing and launching a new line of product for a well-known domestic wares company. The crowd was very ‘designer-y’, everyone was in the same or similar fields and industries. The event was held in a very chic locale. Another of my boyfriend’s brother’s was there, who works as a Physiotherapist. A random fellow approached him, started chatting, and asked, ‘And what do you do?’ to which my boyfriend’s brother replied, ‘I’m a Physio’. Apparently this fellow muttered something like, ‘That’s great!’ then promptly turned aside and moved on. This, then is the ‘What Do You Do’ scenario of social networking size-up in play. As my boyfriend’s brother wasn’t a designer, he wasn’t worth F-all to this guy.

I wish I had the gift of the gab. The ability to network, to mix and mingle, to persuade and opine and get what I want from people. For some this is a naturally inherent talent. They swim like a streamlined fish that cuts through the water, with ease and dexterity. I’ve known this person. I’ve wanted to be this person. For others, it comes with a lot of practice. I wish it came naturally for me. I’m a slow-talking, awkward nerd. Being suave and charismatic comes after drinking a few beers for me. For years people have been telling me that ‘You need to network‘. Like it’s a shop you go to and hook your brain up to. Or like going to a gym. It’s akin to being told ‘you need to work out‘. I’m forever in a world of science fiction, fantasy and professing my love of Bbq Shapes. For me, the very concept of ‘networking’ is something that is inherently foreign to me. I can’t become friends, or at the very least, acquaintances with someone without actually liking them. Or just for what they can offer me. I don’t see the point of it. It makes me tilt my head like a confused dog when they get confused by something. In my mind, it’s inherently unhealthy and will build terribly a self-absorbed personality.

I understand, however, that I don’t live in a fantasy utopian-like village with quaint cottages under lush green hills where a wizened old man with a large crooked brimmed hat visits yearly and brings dragon-shaped fireworks with him. I still wish I did. Or maybe on Babylon 5. But I don’t. The world I live in is measured by how many Simoleons you bring in, your social clout, and yes, unfortunately looks. I feel that this is especially so in a place like Sydney.

So. Can you actually succeed without being an arsehole, or a dick?

The truth is, I don’t even know myself. In my heart, I think it’s a yes. I have met the rare one or two people who have done well for themselves, and yet are friendly for no other sake than being friendly, are warm and genuine and want to know you for who you are, not what you can do, yet are also willing to help if they are able to. This person exists, and this path is possible, but it just doesn’t seem as probable or as easy as what I call the ‘Dark Side’ alternative of scything and cutting through whomever necessary to get what you want. Maybe if we all treated each other with a little more respect there would be more of this archetypal person, or maybe we shouldn’t place individual success and wealth as highly as we do. Maybe we would be more of a meritocracy and less of an oligarchic and nepotistic society. Yet the fact remains to me that in order to have a good life with stability and success, someone else must inevitably fail in place of your success. Someone else misses out on the great job that could have catapulted their career, or doesn’t have that unlikely chance encounter with that person who will change their lives forever. The lesson I’ve learned is to associate with those you admire and wish to be like, not with those whom you don’t. For me, that someone who I would want to be like would be someone warm, optimistic, friendly, intelligent and savvy. Genuinely caring and willing to associate with those who find would enrich their lives fully, and not just in one area. Someone, like a friend told me recently, will challenge you in a respectful way. Someone whose very presence lends itself to growth.

I don’t have an amazing job or career yet. It’s something that is a work in progress, which I am focusing on this year. My job isn’t one thatother people seemed impressed by or envious of, or thousands of followers for this blog or other social media, and I’m not currently in an industry with connexions that others would want to use me for. I’ve come to the conclusion that I really wouldn’t want to know that type of person who would use me even if I did have the shit-hot job or career and was successful. Maybe I would be in a better position for myself if I was the person that could wheel and deal. I’m finding however that these people for me tend to be an anathema to my own happiness in life. But I know who I am, and being that mover and shaker really just isn’t me. As completely corny and cliché as this will sound, I shouldn’t feel any less worthy or ashamed of my position or status with regards to career success, or lack thereof, as I have success in other parts of my life.  I’m sure there are people out there who would die to be in a similar position to me: healthy, living in a great city with great friends, family and a life partner that I adore. Besides the dollars, what more could I really want or need? What more do we all really want or need?

 

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2015, Gay, Gayblog, Opinion, Sydney, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Why Do Gay Men Do Porn?

 

 

What is it with us Gay guys and Porn? Why do we become so drawn to it, and why do some of us take the leap and enter the Adult industry? Is it an aspirational thing? Is it something akin to a badge of honour in the land of the gays? This is something recently which I’ve been pondering about; mainly due to a couple events which got the gears in my brain whirring at top speed.

The first was at a Sunday night at the Beresford [don’t even ask me, I have such a love/hate relationship with that place]. When my boyfriend and I arrived, we ordered a couple drinks at the bar, checked out the scenery as you do, to which he turned to me in an excited twitter and told me that the almost perfunctorily clean-cut and perfectly handsome-in-a-generic-way person standing next to us was in fact a porn star.

‘Look, that’s *insert unimaginative porn name!’

Cue me looking at the fellow in confusion. He was nice looking, but not in any defining way. And just the right height, in between being a short hobbit like myself or a giant. I must have looked like a dog when they tilt their heads when a concept is far too great for them to understand and retain. I guess some guys are just more up to speed with the characters that inhabit that world. Don’t get me wrong, like many a Gay I have my favourites [Colby Kellar is a dreamboat], but my knowledge of the fine folks that work in that world is somewhat limited. Had it have been a long-retired actor from an abysmal sci-fi show from the nineties [Yes I’m referring to Babylon 5 which I adore thank you very much]  it may have somewhat piqued my interest, but in this case my brain began it’s inexorably analytical, self-questioning processes. Some Gay men and I’m sure the same will go for our Straight brethren out there, are much more in-tune with the players of this game. For me, people that work in the Adult industry become strange figures of fascination for the most part. I guess I look at porn actors the same way I would if, say, I was at the Uffizi galleries in Florence, looking at nude sculpture. I see them and am suitably impressed, but for the most part there is a separation and division in this situation and the rest of my life. They’re somewhat like live pieces of work. So many of them are so physically perfect that it can become a bit de-motivational. I have a tendency to over-analyse and deconstruct more than Derrida, and the way I interpret what porn actors do is akin to an amazing marble statue: they’re performing an art form, for other people’s benefit, or maybe their own. Never mind the copious amounts of monetary funding they would be receiving. [Possible new career?] The bottom line is that these people are, by their very nature going to be aesthetically perfect, or near-so. Or at least have an overly large penis. Which means, of course, that there would naturally be hordes of fans who would be interested in them, as well as following their work.

Some even may look at this odd and contrast-filled world and want in.

 

Which brings me to the next event that occured:

 

Following on from my boyfriend’s excitement at spotting this pseudo celebrity, he of course posted on social media that he spotted this fellow out at the Beresford to which a friend informed him privately that he knew him, and had, in fact, appeared in an Adult film with this fellow. This bombshell again had my poor brain struggling to make fact of it all. My jaw is still bruised from when it hit the floor in shock.

The friend of my boyfriend who moonlit as a Porn actor was quite possibly the most unassumingly polite, softly spoken guy that I’ve met. To the point of awkwardness as his puppy dog eyes had a tendency to stare straight through to your soul, and subsequently melt it into a puddle. Nice-looking enough and tall and wiry, I still find it hard to believe that such a person has worked in that world in the past. And yes, I did watch a few seconds of a video he was in till I got red-faced, flushed and embarrassed. I recently saw him out with the boyfriend, and I actually couldn’t look into his eyes. Why was I so embarrassed? Was I embarrassed for him? He obviously looked like he was having the time of his life while on top of ‘Generic Porn Star Guy’. It’s going to be tricky even saying hi to him in the future from now on. He seemed so responsible, with a respectable job that requires one to wear a suit in the city nonetheless. Does the fact that he may have dabbled in porn make him any less a good person? Of course not. I guess I always pictured Porn actors to look or be a certain way, to live in almost a separate world to the one I live in, or perhaps not much in the way of a conventional career. Like they all work at Adult stores or Supres. But that’s just me generalising. And of course, being a somewhat a paranoid Italian with family who have ears and eyes everywhere ala Looking For Alibrandi’s Nonna’s Spy Ring, my first thought was:

‘Is he not thinking about where he will be in the future, or what?’

How would this guy’s future boyfriend look upon this little secret, for instance? Would it be a turn-on [I’m sure for most it would be], or slightly sleazy and a massive turn off? What made him decide to go ahead with it? Was he in a fix and needed money, or was he looking for some gratification? Did he just go with the flow and say yes to it, simply because life threw it his way?

Is it just money that motivates men to do porn? Is there more to it? Are some truly exhibitionists, and not ashamed of doing porn? Is it more about experiencing the most in life, and this simply being a part of that experiential paradigm? In men’s eyes, a porn actor is a hero. Gay or straight. Gender roles are different in this respect. The act of recorded sex is a performance, and like a conventional film, it isn’t reality, and can’t possibly be. Dicks get floppy, people may not be in the mood for it, or the chemistry is lacking. I feel like the Porn Actor [especially Gay ones] are modern day athletes, and their sex is a sport to be watched, disseminated and assessed as well as enjoyed. The other extreme for wanting to join in porn is wherein one may not be proud or confident in themselves perhaps and need validation from others which could lead someone to do porn. It may make a person who has low-esteem feel better about themselves. Maybe this guy can’t get the attractive people he is after, but in the land of porn this person would get action with more attractive people than in real life. Plus lots of money. This comes back to how fickle our society can be, where it is easier to walk down that path of excess.

 

It seems that many Gay men have come to revere Gay Porn stars, to the point where they are looked up to as an almost heroic figure. I’m just as guilty of this worship and adoration. They are the new Adonis, Hercules, Agamemnon and Hector all rolled into one. They can play the role of any male figure in our world, whether it be the young guy next door, the tradesman, cop or firefighter, or older father figure. Almost reachable and real, yet to most of us, untouchable and existing above all in another realm, just like those mythic figures of lore. Biceps, muscles, clear eyes, strong jawlines and large phalli: the fantasy of porn is something that Gay men come back to again and again.

We ended up seeing the Porno guy we saw at Beresford again, this time at a chicken takeaway shop on Oxford St at 4 am. He looked a lot less slick this time. A little less presentable, a little less present. Devouring a chicken burger in the small hours of the morning isn’t a sexy look. Replace the fresh face with one that was tired, haggard and worn from a night of go-go dancing in undies. His eyes similarly looked weary, groggy and a little out of focus like he was barely there. A pang of sadness overtook me as I genuinely felt for this guy as I could only imagine what his night, or life was like for that matter. Some part of me wishes I had that excess and hedonism in my life, to be free of my inhibitions and experience all with an open mind. But my life is much more neater and conventional. And most of ours are.

To me, there is an obvious duality in the Adult world, and how one side is the packaged and presented product of perfection, sleek, bright and oozing sexuality; the very apex of attraction and in this case masculine beauty, and the other the darker, less seen side of addictions, short-career spans and novelty, a world where one is judged solely by looks, the girth and length of your member. I don’t live in this world, and I’m sure my thoughts on it are way off, but to me there is something intangible about that world.

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