Because we publish both this blog and the "hard copy" magazine, White Crane, we get on a lot of press lists for various publicists in the entertainment, publishing, recording and fashion business. The sheer stereotypical nature of the kinds of press releases we receive is stunning, really. The only metric that seems to make any difference whatsoever to whoever is sending out the press releases is that they see the word "gay" somewhere in the search, and their feeble little minds automatically assume "fashion" "sex" "consumers" "vacuous dance music" and the most superficial kind of idea of "beauty" imaginable. In fact, using any variation of the term "imagination" in the same sentence is a stretch. Actually having looked at a copy of the magazine, or exploring our website to determine something of what our interests might be seems to be too much to ask.
This morning was a perfect example of the stark dichotomy of choices with which we are presented virtually every day. In yesterday’s mail we received the first run of Mark Thompson’s newest book, a beautiful book of his own photography. More on this in a moment.
[Full disclosure: White Crane Institute helped with the production of this book, and we have been sponsoring a touring exhibit of some of the photography in the book, providing it to LGBT communities around the country.]
We were also in receipt of a press release…the second one, now…about some pretty boy cranking out monotonous "dance music" (I love to dance, but what passes for ‘dance music’ these days is, quite simply pathetic.) Shirt open to his six pack, sexuality ambiguously alluded (I’m not big on "sexual allusion" myself…Rosie O’Donnell "alluded" to Tom Cruise for years…and that’s just too weird for words).
Anyway, silly me, I decided to give it a listen, since the publicist (a little more full disclosure here…yours truly was a publicist in the music industry, and a band manager at one point, no less…so I have a soft spot in my heart — not my head, though — for music publicists, and artist trying to break into the biz) had gone to the trouble to send a MP3 file.
The lyrics say it all: Hey…you remember when / I read your mind? / Thoughts of you run through my head / and make me want to touch myself / The odds are so right / I know you know I’m the special one…Let’s make love like / we’re strangers…
Like strangers. Wow. Great. With HIV/AIDS making a comeback like it’s a viral Taliban, I hope they use a condom. What a great musical message to put out to young Gay men…a population that is seeing a significant uptick in sero-conversion, we should note. What really burns my admittedly senior citizen ass is the marketing of this cookie-cutter pretty boy, all pumped and smooth like every other cookie-cutter pretty boy, draped in female flesh (used like skin props) and expecting that just because this fellow is (debatably) a) young and b) attractive, that every red-blooded Gay man is going to run right out and buy his drivel music because he has digital abs. Let’s be clear here: his voice is unremarkable. The music is indistinguishable from any other cut on just about any other current "dance music" disc. There is nothing about this–and I use the term very loosely here–"singer" that recommends him other than his shaved body. If you like that sort of thing.
Look at the photos accompanying this post…one is the cover of Mark’s book, Fellow Travelers: Guides & Tribes [Fluxion Editions, 2008] and "the Stranger" with the models who are so weak from hunger they have to lean on him for support. Tell me…which huddle would you want to be in? You want to "make love like we’re strangers," like this bimbo (I really think "bimbo" ought to be the male version and "bimba" the female) suggests? So OK…maybe you don’t want to get all muddy…but those are definitely not "strangers" in that picture. You might actually connect with someone…your own self, for instance… your own history as a queer, like Mark Thompson is documenting in his beautiful book Fellow Travelers?
I hesitated to even talk about the singer, who shall remain anonymous here. Why give shallow exploitative product placement any kind of publicity at all? But the contrast between this dreck, and Mark Thompson’s new book was so dramatic to me, I thought they ought to be thrown into contrast. Mark’s Fellow Travelers book is available in limited edition at http://www.markthompsongayspirit.com/
The empty nutrition of the mess of potage with the six-pack is available…anywhere. In a word: feh.