Tuesday, January 13, 2009

a new me (not really)

OK, so, as a part of my sabbatical project in San Francisco this spring, I decided to become the little match.com girl. It has been a bit demoralizing. First, the medium of internet search engine does not stoke me erotically: I don’t really know what height/ weight/ income/ religion/ eye color I would like my man to have. As Barbara Stanwyck says in The Lady Eve, I’d like my future husband “to sort of...take me by surprise...like a burglar....” Then, this morning, as I rolled down to the bottom of the profile of some boy whose picture was kinda burglar-cute, I found something a smidge abusive to my self-esteem:

Turn-ons: Brainiacs, Dancing, Erotica, Flirting, Money, Sarcasm, Skinny dipping.

Turn-offs: Long hair.

I know you’re not supposed to create a self-portrait based on the tickings of a match.com survey, but really, how can you not? What is this guy saying about me? That boys with long hair (like me) are dummies with no rhythm and no sexual or flirty or sarcastic sophistication who are on welfare and like to jump off naked into the Bay?

A bit dejected, I trolled a bit longer, eating my split ends between gulps of coffee and cigarettes. (Smoking is not popular also among internet daters, by the way.) Then I started encountering more and more of these long-hair-haters. The long-hair-phobic bachelors I’m going to share with you are actual profiles of gay men on match.com. I wish I made them up. There’s a lot more of them than four. But anyway, here’s Bachelor #2:

Turn-ons: Boldness/ Assertiveness, Brainiacs, Candlelight, Dancing, Flirting, Power.

Turn-offs: Body piercings, Long hair, Public displays of affection, Sarcasm, Skinny dipping, Tattoos.

And yet again, long-haired boys are dummies who can’t dance or flirt. What is it about long hair that signals automatic dumbness? With this guy, since I am tattooed, I am even less matched. For him, having long hair goes along with having tattoos and body piercings and kissing in public. Of course, this is another instance of gay men’s femmephobia. The femmeness of long hair is yoked to traditionally non-normative styles of body mutilation (piercing, tattos) and body exposure (PDA, skinny dipping--again). It’s no coincidence that out of the gazillion faggots on match.com, I’ve seen only a handful—OK make that three, including myself—with hair down past the ears. What’s crazy is how the simply physical aesthetic of femininity that is long hair is then set in conceptual opposition to these socially (over)valued qualities: “Boldness/ Assertiveness,” “Brainiacs,” “Power.” This is standard issue sexism operating as sexual preference among gay men. This is no surprise. Here is the surprise: Bachelor # 3:

Turn-ons: Body piercings, Erotica, Tattoos, Thrills, Thunderstorms.

Turn-offs: Long hair, Public displays of affection, Sarcasm.

Gone are the traditionally masculinized qualities of power, brains, and assertiveness. In this guy, they have been replaced by the fetishized markers of marginalization that were a "turn-off" for Bachelor #2: body piercings, tattoos. (For good measure, this one adds “Thrills” and “Thunderstorms.”) But now even these historically marginalized qualities (including bad weather!) are set as erotic against long hair, which is still linked in erotic negativity with “Public displays of affection.” What is that about? That femmes want you to kiss them in public? (We do of course—you better prove your fucking love!!) This guy, while seeming to be a rough-and-tumble thrill-and-twister seeker, still has a closet in his brain: to be seen kissing another male in public is a turn-off for him, and one that is linked to male femininity. At least this time, I am granted sarcasm.

But lest I begin to feel more justified in myself as some symbol of renegade sexuality, I encounter Bachelor #4:

Turn-ons: Body piercings, Boldness/ Assertiveness, Brainiacs, Candlelight, Erotica, Flirting, Public displays of affection, Sarcasm, Skinny dipping, Tattoos, Thrills, Thunderstorms.

Turn-offs: Long hair.

This guy loves everything, in everyone...except faggots with long hair. At this point—having run through too many profiles whose “Turn-ons/ Turn-offs” were exactly like Bachelor #4, I thought, Shit, is growing my hair long really worth the trouble?

Well, fuck yeah! I love my hair! But then I thought: Well, since my sexuality is, after all, homosexual, maybe I should start compromising a teensy bit, right? So in that spirit, I’ve created (as you see above and below) my new look for the new year:

-Hair pulled back: I’m not going to cut my hair. But I will scrape some Kiehl’s Clean Hold Styling gel (it has silk powders and Vitamin E, and has no alcohol but still holds like Elmer’s glue) through my hair, tie it in a knot and call it a day. Besides, when you combine it with...

-White t-shirt and light blue jeans: ...it’s very inmate in a medium-security prison, no? The shirt is vintage Meatmen concert tee. I’m usually decked out in black tees worn with dark indigo or grey jeans, so it feels fresh to do a white and light combination. These jeans are Acne Hep in “Beyond,” but I also have been loving Earnest Sewn Harlan in “Morrissey.” I’ve really been feeling light denim these days, ever since I saw a great picture of my friend Jackie H. as a teenager in the late ‘80s, with crazy Kate Bush-y crimped hair and white t-shirt with high-waisted light jeans. So inspiring. I want my future to be the vast history of girlhood.

-New tattoo: Bettie Page memorial:

I just got this tattoo over at Everlasting Tattoo. It’s my own design of Bettie Page that I drew early last year. This month, I added the tiny “B.P.” in her pubic area to memorialize her recent passing. All my tattoos are of girls I feel myself to be, but this one is the first girl who is topless. It feels quite sailor-macho to have bare breasts on my bicep, but not macho in a male way. I just finished reading Thing of Beauty, Stephen Fried’s surprisingly well-researched biography of the 80s supermodel Gia Carangi, and it was quite a style inspiration. In the book, Gia, who was a dyke, is alternately described by friends on one hand as “androgynous” and “boy-girl,” then as “the perfect homosexual” and “the purest lesbian I ever met.” I want to be the purest lesbian you have ever met.

-Dark brown/ plum lipstick: Because after all, a girl can’t compromise her femininity that much. It will be hard to give up, or at least timeshare, my regular Bettie Red. But this new shade—Shu Uemura BR 798—is so perfect. It’s certainly very goth, but also almost the same shade of lipstick my little sister wore in the nineties (she lined her lips with almost black lip liner of course). I love the idea of being in my thirties and looking like my sister at age 18. More of my future as the history of girls. Also, I saw a beautiful series of photographs of my living idol, Lindsay Lohan in the upcoming February issue of Interview magazine, in which she is wearing the darkest, plummiest lipstick ever. The pictures are in black and white, and her lipsticked mouth reads as black. I wanted lips that read as black if I were rendered in black and white.

I want to look like I drank goat’s blood. I want to look as if I drank a whole bottle of a 2005 Reynolds Family Winery Merlot in one sitting. I want to look as if I’d been gorging on chocolate covered cherries...or really dark, pretty poop.

So here I am, my long hair tamed and tucked under! Maybe now I don’t look as sarcastic-rhythmless-skinny-dipper-homeless-airhead! Come and get me boys!!!!!!!

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