Nothing Queer Here
Perfect in every way ... and perfectly bland

Ikeep confusing Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner. My girlfriend said, "You can't keep your leading men straight." Well, it doesn't get any straighter than these two. Not a queer whiff about either one, rumors notwithstanding. In fact, they are so not queer, these two, that queers idealize them with eyes wide shut. I asked her: "What makes these two heterosexual mesomorphs leading men?"

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... by Andrei Codrescu
... in the Dirt section
... from July 28, 1999

"They're self-absorbed, they're physically strong, they fight for what the script believes in, and they know that they do it for the woman who will eventually capture them. And they look great in a uniform." She confessed that she didn't like either one of them because "they are too bland, like processed cheese." Indeed, America's leading human displays suffer from an unbearable glossy perfection that is the opposite of sex.

In the human world, scars are sexy. Imperfections are sexy. This is not the time to tell the story about the girl with the limp who rocked my world because I'm writing a novel about it. Suffice it to say that she wore no panties and when she lifted her skirt at the bar to show me her shorter leg and much else besides, there was no camera present.

Obscurely, the modeling establishment understands the hidden hunger of Americans for imperfection, but instead of the scars and limps that we crave, they offer us undernourished heroin addicts that bring out our worst sadistic impulses, if not outright compassion -- a surefire lust-killer. Powerless teenagers leafing through W, for instance, may find themselves aroused by the thin slices of humanity through which light shines as if through a curtain, but it is work for them. Their lusts are, as they have always been, for their mothers' friends, or for people they know who look like they might "do it." People who might "do it" are sexy because of -- not despite -- their imperfections.

Cultivated skinniness is a far cry from that natural thin look of 1950s waitresses about whom Neal Cassidy said, "I love skinny girls because they are all cunt." The models in W are all bones, and one shudders to think of anything else. So I wonder if the models and leading men of our overwrought visual culture are really objects of desire for healthy sexual beings. And if they are not, whose objects of desire are they?

The answer is that -- even though they are mass-produced and mass-distributed -- they are objects of desire for a small community of perverts in New York and Hollywood. A minority of jaded creeps really like perfect creatures that are out of reach for most people. The perverts can have them because they have the money to buy them, just as they have the power to create them. Give me a limp any day, and a home movie.

Andrei Codrescu was born in Transylvania and lives in New Orleans. His latest books are Messi@h, a novel (Simon and Schuster) and Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey (St. Martin's Press). He is the editor of Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Life & Letters.