About Me

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I am a performance artist and style icon, a wannabe and a mightneverbe. I am 28 and on the cusp of reality. I am currently fucking up masculinity and redefining music. i believe that the music video is the perfect cultural form.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Men and Mirrors

Narcissism has never been considered a properly male characteristic despite Narcissus being the alpha male, the hetero-hunk so handsome he fell for his own reflection. Ancient Greek/Roman culture has given us lots of words and icons to describe men in physical and aesthetic terms (Adonis, narcissus, athlete, ‘Greek god’) , yet men just aren’t allowed to obsess over their appearance.

Compared to women’s toilets, men’s are utilitarian cubby holes where you are lucky to get a wizened bar of soap. So male vanity is a little less taboo than it was during the Victorian hangover of last century- it is still deeply uncomfortable to be caught gazing into the mirror by another man.

What makes a good toilet:
(1) Soft natural lighting
(2) Large heavy duty mirrors that don’t warp your reflection
(3) Dry floors
(4) Dry toilet seats
(5) Dryers that actually dry your hand
(6) Air con

I am a mirror connoiseur, and I demand that men get the same opportunity to be vain as women do. It's only fair. For gender equality to work, men must be subjected to the critical gaze too, and be told when they are scrubbing up well in public, I hope to banish the days when husbands had money and wives had beauty. What's the point of (body) fascism if it doesn't apply to everyone?

So, here’s my list of good mirrors in Sheffield:

  1. Downstairs toilet in Sheffield Hallam University Union (it’s the only place worth going there)

  2. Razor Stiletto toilets @DQ toilets

And Bad Mirrors:

  1. Showroom Bar toilets

  2. All charity shop mirrors: (especially Bluebell Wood in town and St. Luke's on Ecclesall Road)

  3. Halifax mirror wall near Town Hall (shudder)

  4. H&M 360 degree fitting rooms (unless you're having a really good day)
Feel free to add to or contest these...

In public toilets I look in a mirror for as long as I am alone: as soon as a cublicle door opens or someone comes in, I rush out of the door.
But what would happen if I stayed there, messing with my hair? Maybe nothing, maybe a muttered “faggot”, maybe a snigger or unspoken disgust. In a Foulcauldian sense (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discipline_and_Punish) I police myself: by imagining that other people would do something to stop me, I stop myself. This is how institutions of power (and gender is one) work, it’s a way to behave that we learn through education, themedia and social interaction. But I'm not being all conspiracy theorist about this, it's a trusim that CCTV makes social control easier, and it's is just another version of peer pressure that stops me from getting caught looking in a mirror.
But a few (usually gay) places allow men to blatantly check themselves out, but these are special places where majority masculinity is suspended or even ridiculed. In Razor Stiletto (RIP) you could take a break from being butch to fight for a place at the mirrors. The pressure there was not to stop looking but to be the best looking, to allow your reflection to pay homage to your beauty in true Narcissus stylee. In most pubs and bars, the reaction is more like to be "perfumed ponce"

I don't think that men can never have that communal mirror gazing that women do: we haven't grown up as sisters sharing our secret beauty rituals, and so we can't allow any man to see the vulnerable and hidden ways that we make ourselves presentable.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


My problem is that I'm never in the moment. I keep expecting summer to be happening soon, but we're halfway through already. Fuck it. I have been wondering what to wear this summer and here's what I'm liking:

SUITS...they've always seemed way to manly for me before, but now they really appeal. There has to be something flamboyant about them mind you...not for me the brown or dark grey. I like PASTELS and I like shoulder pads...
The colour and fit says a lot:
Pinstripe, or dark colour says serious, professional, bureacratic dullness
White suits say Jesus complex (think Martin Bell, John Lennon)
Colourful suits say 80s or joker (Steve Martin was the comedy suit man)

(1) 80s Duran Duran pastel suits (Rio video). Now some of these are so cropped and big shouldered that they are seriously feminine now while being hyper-masculine at the time. It just shows that gender is made by the culture around it. New Romantics are the closest we've come to mainstream transvestism, it could never happen now we are way too hetero.

(2) Simon Baker in The Mentalist. Smug, short-arse and pompous but strangely likeable. I love his surfer hair with a banker's 3-piece suit combo. Maybe I like the way his personality looks?

(3) 1930s gay aristocrat look. See last month's GQ fashion shoot 'Med Men' (referencing BBC's macho 50's Mad Men series, and the posh holiday destinations of yesteryear), this gives a modern take on Brideshead Revisited closeted toffs: cream voluminous trousers, nautical but nice double-breasted suits, jaunty panama hats, pastels off whites and navy blues. I am flamboyant, effeminate and terribly vain. What I require of a suit is that it makes me look handsome and pretty, funny and serious. I have never been part of a style tribe because I haven't got the balls to decide who I am one way or another. I drift around, not quite being 90s or rock or emo or camp, and so I never know who to be like because I haven't got a me to be. I guess you could say that I don't know whether to be a boy or a girl. This Summer I'm going to try being a Man, whatever that is. I'm going to be a 70s take on a 30s rake: Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby, Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, and as counterpoint to all this the brooding, I also want to look like Steve Martin in the Man with Two Brains !!

(4) Ariel Pink: american outsider pop star. He is all the way round Eddie Izzard's style circle, nearly into the 'looking like twat' side. He is a 70s hobo, the essence of naffness, wearing the beachwear of an 80s billionairre fallen on hard times, a grumpy glam pop star who wants to sell out (he told me himself) but can't find a buyer...

Are you gonna look after my boys is the video that got me hooked on Ariel. I loved his 70s-tijuana bum style and his mundane exhibitionism- what a great idea to get your hair washed mid song ... He is grungey, effeminate, retro, glam, a bit emo and a lot freaky. Just like me in fact. When I met him he was shockingly small and thin, like a grumpy teenage waif. Another hero it would've been better not to meet.