Monday, October 15, 2007

The Serious Issue of Straight Male Hairdressers

In the magazine business we have what are known as "fake issue" pieces. This is when a writer or editor creates a story about a supposed issue or trend that needs to be addressed, but the trend or issue doesn’t really exist: the magazine is only trying to create an issue in order to get people excited and sell copies. Or simply to fill up space or be controversial and get attention.

In gay terms, a recent "fake issue" was about "metrosexuals." Metrosexuals were straight men who were supposedly like gay men; in other words they cared about their appearance, were neat and fastidious, and wouldn’t need any help from those four Queer Guys on Bravo. The whole idea of metrosexuals was, frankly, as insulting to straight men as it was to gay men. There have always been heterosexual men who cared about their appearance – lawyers, politicians, any professional man – some even when they went casual on weekends. We used to call them "snappy dressers," or perhaps, in a long- ago era, dandies. Just as it’s ridiculous to suggest that every well-dressed businessman is gay, it’s equally ridiculous to suggest that every gay man gives a shit about clothes. I’m a complete slob and proud of it, and many of my gay male friends are just the same – and we are not by any means a small minority of the gay male community. Some straight men are neat and in fashion; many gay men are not. Let’s get over it. ["Metrosexuals" -- at least in its current meaning -- was coined by the New York Times, not the National Enquirer, although it should have been. Apparently the Times style editor borrowed the term from a British writer who meant it to describe how various modern-day grooming products were affecting hetero men or something along those lines.]

See, the whole "metrosexual"business, bolstered by a silly show like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which only perpetuated straight and gay stereotypes, was nonsense, a "fake issue" if ever there were one. Along the same lines, as far as gay issues go, was a short piece about "hasbians" in New York Magazine in 2003. According to the author, Amy Sohn, "hasbians" were lesbians who were no longer gay, who had once had female lovers but who were now with men. She seemed to think this was a trend but offered no statistics or sources; it sounded as if she were merely quoting a couple of bisexual or conflicted female friends -- a fake issue piece par shit.

Now we have – get this – The Secret World of Straight Hairdressers – an "inside story," no less– by Marisa Meltzer. Now, this one did not appear in New York but in Page Six Magazine brought out Sunday [10/14/07] by the New York Post, so naturally I didn’t expect anything intellectual. In fact, the "magazine" consists of virtually nothing but fake issue pieces.

First of all, there’s never been any doubt that some male hairdressers are straight – who cares? (And not because of that stupid movie Shampoo.) It’s a total non-issue right off the bat. And it’s no surprise that more and more male hairdressers may be at least identifying as straight. Even some of the gay ones may be sick and tired of everyone automatically assuming they’re gay. In this article the author, of course, naturally accepts that every one of the SMH [straight male hairdressers] interviewed is actually straight. I have my doubts, but that’s another story. Again, bisexuality and internalized homophobia never enter the equation. These guys are straight and that’s that. Like I say, I’ve no doubt there are SMHs as well as straight male interior decorators, just as there are gay football players, firemen, cops, and marines. But we rarely have stories about the latter group because so few are willing to come out of the closet.

Naturally, these SMHs can’t just say that they do hair because they like it and can make good money. They have to say that they do women’s hair because they’re straight and want to meet – or at least be around – beautiful women. Goodness – they certainly don’t want people to think they’re "fags." What – you have to become a hairdresser to meet attractive females? You can't just go to a singles bar? That’s just as ridiculous as a straight guy working in a gay bar so he can hit on the "sisters" of the gay men who frequent the bar. Surely there are easier ways for a legitimate straight guy to get a date! Most of the SMHs go out of their way to establish their hetero credentials. One of them, Emiliano De Pasqual (now that’s the name of a hairdresser if ever there were one), we’re told, assured his father that he was "totally the opposite" and describes himself – with great humility – as "good-looking, Italian, and very talented."Well... he’s not my type so who cares if he’s straight. [see photo above.] If you’re into Harpo Marx you might like Emiliano.

Meltzer does interview a couple of openly gay hairdressers, one of whom explains why gay men do better hair cuts, although she also mentions that he "giggles." Sure, there are girlish gay hairdresssers, but I’ve also known some that are butcher than the straight ones.

So here’s the rub. Once again, straight guys have entered a provenance identified rightly or wrongly with (some) gay males (ballet dancing, male modeling etc.), and then – in somewhat obnoxious fashion – do their best to disassociate themselves from the very men who made these professions acceptable for guys in the first place.

It would be nice to meet a genuine straight male hairdresser who – instead of barking about how straight he is – just says "I do hair because, just like my gay brothers in this business, I like working with hair, making people look good, and maybe creating something artistic out of tresses. Okay?"



Vampire Libby Hodges said...

People are so silly plenty of straight males who care about their appearance; just so idiots know 17 of the 24 fashion Billionaires are straight, married, men.

Bill Samuels said...

I don't doubt it. Thanks for your comment!