Sex Archives

May 31, 2012

Bad Love High School strikes again

Bad Love Teacher, Erin Sayar

The wholesome, glowing bride in this photo is Erin Sayar, a 36 year-old English teacher at James Madison High in Brooklyn. She was removed from her classroom in January for allegedly having sex with an 11th grade student she was supposed to be tutoring. The story is familiar to anyone who follows the non-stop deluge of disastrous teacher/student relationships that fit the Bad Love criteria: an adult in a position of power, a kid who doesn't know any better, lots of sex, and zero judgement.

The story goes that Sayar and the student started having sex both in her office during the tutoring sessions, where they also smoked the weed she kept in her filing cabinet, and in her SUV, where she pulled up in front of his house late one night last fall. In addition to the student's confession that the two of them had sex 8-12 times, he also identified tattoos "on intimate parts of Sayar’s body". And then there's all the texts. For some reason, teachers who have sex with their students are also ferociously enthusiastic texters--Sayar and the student sent 3,856 text messages in 17 days--over 200 a day!

Note to self: if you have 200+ text exchanges with someone every day, whatever it is you're doing with them, it's probably ill-advised and/or illegal.

Somehow, they got caught. Actually it wasn't the kid's mom who figured out what was going on, it was his girlfriend. In an interesting twist on the usual formula, the girlfriend saw her teenage boyfriend flirting with a teacher and got suspicious, so naturally, she hacked his Facebook account. There she found messages from him to his teacher: "I love you so much", and the one that just about breaks my heart: "I always loved you, since last year."

When the adult in these Bad Love situations declares their love for the teenager they're sleeping with, I pretty much assume that they're emotionally crippled delusional creeps. But when the kid tells his English teacher that he's always loved her, since last year, I just feel awful for that poor misguided lovelorn 16 year-old, whose romantic fantasy is a married mother with glaringly obvious mental problems. And I might feel a little bit worse for his girlfriend.

We should point out that James Madison High was also the site of some hot girl-on-girl teacher action in 2009, when a janitor stumbled upon two drunk language teachers, Cindy Mauro and Alini Brito, going at it after school in a classroom, which was the most excellent Bad Teacher story of the decade.

Man, my high school was SO LAME.

May 11, 2012

Who's Hotter?™: The accused well-dressed groper or the actual one?

Ladies: if you're going to be groped by a random dude on the street, would you prefer your assailant to be the man on the left, Karl Vanderwoude, who was wrongly charged with a series of assaults on women, or the man on the right, the dude in surveillance images from the Chambers St subway station who grabbed a woman's crotch on Centre St?

NYC well-dressed groper, accused and real

[more hot groper images here]

It took the NYPD three weeks to realize these two are not the same person, which in my view is pretty obvious if you share my awkward but undeniable views on the superior hotness of the real groper, the guy on the right. Sorry. Sue me. Anyone interested in a momentary, unsolicited, one-sided makeout session with a strikingly handsome fellow might get lucky if they hang out on downtown sidewalks, proffering their ass.

The not quite as handsome non-groper, Karl Vanderwoude, was arrested on a tip by someone who knew him well enough to provide the police with his phone number and the name of his roommate, but he was released earlier this week and all charges were dropped. After his name and photo were plastered all over the tabloids and local news as the "well-dressed" groper. The Post has been referring to him as the "gentleman groper", I guess because a good-looking white guy in nice clothes who grabs women's crotches on the street somehow still retains an air of respectability and decency.

Another strange aspect of the coverage of this story is a piece in today's Times which compares the misfortune of Mr. Vanderwoude and his false accusation to that of DSK and the botched police work around his charge of raping a hotel maid, noting that both men made the same much-photographed perp walk. "The ghost of DSK was hanging in the rafters," said Vanderwoude's lawyer. The Times comments, "The next wrongly accused person might not have an alibi backed up by video and e-mails. Is the Police Department making any inquiry to see what caused this wreck?"

Both examples represent high-profile NYPD failures on sex crime cases, but DSK's actual personal semen was all over a hotel room and the maid's clothes, while this poor guy was a completely innocent person paraded through the streets as a predatory ass-grabber based on faulty information. It's a bad comparison, and I'd be pissed. At least Vanderwoude wins any comparison with DSK, even if he lacks the beguilingly, distressing chiseled features of the actual groper.

May 1, 2012

Tinker Tailor Soldier Dead Spy in a Bag

Gareth Williams, dead spy in a bag

You might have already read about the strange case of MI6 agent Gareth Williams who was discovered dead in his apartment last year, inside a duffel bag that was inside his empty tub. The inquest is happening now in the UK, and I thought I'd share some details surfacing about what is quickly becoming my favorite story of the year.

The Times seems to be enjoying the story, too, reporting from the inquest about the growing suspicion that Williams was not murdered as some sort of retaliation for his work at MI6, as his family suggests, but instead was part of a claustrophilic episode gone wrong. Attempts at recreating a scenario where Williams would have gotten himself closed up inside a locked bag all failed (see photos above), suggesting that other people were involved. And then there's this excellent paragraph:

Investigators also discovered that he had more than $30,000 worth of women’s high-fashion clothing, including Christian Louboutin shoes and Christian Dior dresses, in carefully packed bags in his apartment. Much of the clothing was brand new, but some of the 26 pairs of shoes had been worn, and a bright orange woman's wig was found over the back of a chair, along with a pair of newly pressed men's underpants, in Mr. Williams's otherwise sparsely decorated but conspicuously tidy bedroom.

"Sparsely decorated but conspicuously tidy." That is some beautifully insinuating journalism, there.

Williams had also visited bondage websites and his landlords report that they were once awakened by his screams. From his Wikipedia page: "Apparently he had managed to tie himself to his bed, and required assistance in releasing himself. The testimony was that Williams had claimed at the time that he had done it just to see if he could free himself and that he promised not to try this again. Nothing further had been said about the incident since, between Williams and his landlady."

The landlady reports that she and her husband cut him loose. "I said, 'Gareth, I can't have you doing this,'" she told the court. That was three years before he ended up dead in the duffel bag.

It just so happens that a friend of a friend wrote the book on claustrophilia. Cary Howie's book, Claustrophilia: The Erotics of Enclosure in Medieval Literature chronicles people's love of enclosed spaces and physical constraints through the ages. The Daily Beast tracked Cary down for an article on the case, since he's pretty much top dog in the world of claustrophilia theory. In explaining this predilection that maybe isn't as uncommon as you'd think, he says, "Imagine all the ways in which limitation produces or heightens sensation, from tight clothes to the formal constraints of certain kinds of writing, and then imagine how this works in space." Or in a duffel bag. Sexy!

The story also makes me admire the spies at MI6 for keeping up with the times. Britain's spy agencies, as the Times says, "are no strangers to scandals that have involved the sex lives of some of their greatest talents." Cold War-era spy novels, John Le Carré, etc., -- the sex lives of spies have always been a topic of fascination. If you were going to have a shocking secret sexual identity back in the '70's, it was good enough to just be gay. But times have changed, and the stakes are higher. Now you've got to own a bigger and fancier collection of women's shoes than any woman I know, be able to tie yourself to your bed, and, tragically, dabble in duffel bag enclosure.

Williams' body didn't show any signs of fear or struggle when he was found in the bag, so it sounds like he was cool with whatever was going on, until it all went horribly wrong.

March 23, 2012

Bad Love: Back with a vengeance

Bad Love, Hot For Teacher

A few years back, we started a regular feature called Bad Love to chronicle the endless cases of adults who start inadvisable romantic relationships with teens. The hallmarks of Bad Love include poor judgment, narcissism, lust, a kid who doesn't know any better, and an adult who really should. Common scenarios are teacher/student, volleyball coach/team captain, guidance counselor/troubled youth, and a few memorable instances of "cool mom"/son's friends. Bad Love had its own website for awhile, which was fun while it lasted, but deep down we knew we shouldn't be doing this.

Until today! I came across an article from a few weeks ago (tx ADM!) about business and computer teacher James Hooker, who left his wife and children for his 18 year-old student, Jordan Powers. Powers' mom found out about their relationship when she stumbled across 8,000 texts they'd written to each other over the past few months, though the couple claims they didn't have sex until she turned 18 in September.

Now the lovebirds have moved in together. James Hooker was banned from the school (where one of his kids is a student), and Jordan has decided to stop going to school, probably because all the other kids would tease her out of burning jealousy that she's dating her bald 41 year-old married computer teacher.

But what makes this such a classic tale of Bad Love is the textbook delusion case of James Hooker, husband, father, and erstwhile mentor for young minds. In an interview about his decision to abandon his family for a teenage student, he said, "In making our choice, we've hurt a lot of people. We keep asking ourselves, 'Do we make everyone else happy or do we follow our hearts?' I just kind of knew that she's the one."

She's the one! Yes she is. They're gonna grow old together.

Jordan's mom is understandably enraged, and has been waging an anti-Hooker campaign on Facebook. She says, "She looked up to him. [He was in the] position of an educator, [and you] don't seduce your student. Period. She's still in high school. She still lives at home. She has a curfew. That's not OK."

Don't worry, lady. Just wait a few more months until she realizes that living with her weird daddy-surrogate teacher Mr. Hooker is not cool or fun and she'd rather be at college doing Goldschläger shots like everyone else.

December 5, 2011

Shame and New York

Shame, Carey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender

You know how when you watch a Woody Allen movie set in New York, he always make the city look beautiful and sophisticated, but also personal and lived-in, and after the movie you might feel that, just by walking around the streets, this wonderful city belongs to you a little bit?

Well, Shame is like the exact opposite of that. Steve McQueen's new movie about a sex addict living in an expensively bland Manhattan makes New York look impersonal and bleak. His New York certainly doesn't belong to you, but you probably wouldn't want it to, anyway. A young Steve McQueen lived here for a while with his family, and briefly attended NYU ("hated it"), but seems to have retained none of the tenderness that other directors have for the city. Though he did find his childhood experience with the 1977 blackout "quite exciting. A lot of people were stealing."

"New Yorkers live and work in the sky," he said in an interview in Time Out. "You're always in the perspective of this metropolis, aren't you? Who are you, in the context of this city? It can make one feel very small. Maybe it's just too much."

That feeling of being lost in an overwhelming city fits with the movie, which isn't a complete success but is really good in some ways. Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a quiet, handsome, corporate guy who is uncontrollably addicted to sex. You could watch an interesting double feature at the movies right now, with Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung in A Dangerous Method, trying (and failing) to understand and control the interplay of sex and mental illness in himself and his patients, and Michael Fassbender as a sex addict in Shame, not even really trying to understand or control his self-obliterating behavior. He's great in both, and a lot nakeder in the second one.

Anyway, Shame's New York is a place where hardly anyone has normal sexual or romantic interactions. The married people cheat, the emotionally open people are also suicidal disasters who always fall for the wrong person, and everyone else seems to regularly have sex with strangers in public or is in fact a sex addict. Only the prostitutes seem to be totally fine with themselves and their sex lives. It isn't beautiful or glamorous; one of the movie's recurring locations is the Standard Hotel, a hulking grey slab that looks simultaneously ugly and expensive. In one hotel room scene, a character looks out the window and comments on the "amazing view", which is not anything like amazing. It's a dingy industrial wasteland, like this:

Shame, in the Standard Hotel


Another reason the Standard might not use scenes from Shame in its marketing materials is the hilariously rude exchange between McQueen and a manager of the hotel's roof bar, Le Bain, that the Times captured in an interview with McQueen and Fassbender.

McQueen was rather annoyed when a loud crunching bass line began pumping through the bar's speakers. It was 4 p.m., and the place, the exclusive celebrity-friendly Le Bain, was nearly deserted.

"Excuse me?" Mr. McQueen bellowed. "Can you turn the music down?"

He was met by a manager, clearly unmoved. "I have people coming in," he said, talking over Mr. McQueen's protests.

The director stayed polite -- "Look, I don't want to fight with you," he said -- only to be met with a smirk. "I don't want to fight either," the manager said. "Whatever," Mr. McQueen said, waving him off, but the manager persisted. "What does that mean?" he asked, in a mocking tone. "What is 'whatever' about?"

It was a bizarre, aggressive moment, and Mr. McQueen seemed to sour after that. He had lost track of his earlier point, and, as the manager walked away, he uttered a quiet, vigorous expletive.

That's New York for you. Sex addicts, hookers, and bitchy bar managers.

November 2, 2011

Justin Bieber's paternity suit, as reported by the girl's grandfather

Justin Bieber

The day has arrived: Justin Bieber's been hit with his very first paternity suit and, according to the AV Club, "is a man now." He's also getting mental high-fives from Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Lil Wayne, Tiger Woods, Mel Gibson, and Steven Soderbergh. Welcome to the club!

There aren't many surprises to this one (he denies even meeting her, girl says it lasted a mere 30 seconds--hey, he was a busy then-16 year-old with places to be!)

But my favorite part of the story is that some reporter wrote up an interview with the girl's grandfather. A 20 year-old woman in LA says she had backstage sex with Justin Bieber and gave birth to his son. The world wants to know: what does her grandfather think?

Here's what the grandfather Eddie Markhouse thinks, a beautiful example of how people have nothing but wonderful things to say about their family members even when they're in the news for allegedly having sex with underage pop stars backstage: "I don't know the whole story. But, from what I understood, she met him at a concert and he sent two security guards down off of the stage to bring her backstage to meet him. She said they partied, had some drinks and they indulged in sex … She's basically an honest good person. She's got a big heart. She's a good kid and she loves this baby."

June 15, 2011

Get creative, Democrats

Joe Biden lasciviously eats an ice cream cone

Democratic leaders are getting increasingly impatient with bad boy texter and proud chest-shaver Anthony Weiner and his apparent refusal to resign. It's been over a week since his press conference confessional. He's in some kind of de rigueur rehab right now, but so far, he's not stepping down.

What are the Dems to do? So far, they're just repeating, over and over, that they think he should resign. Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan said, "I think we should send a strong message to him that he should resign, and let's see what happens. The more of us who say it, the more telling it will be."

So far, that message doesn't seem to be strong enough. Personally, I think Weiner's continued service in the House is a matter between him and the people who hired him, the constituents of New York's 9th congressional district. But if Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues really want to get him out (due to sheer political terror, I guess) they need to try a different tactic.

Here's what I can come up with: go for some retributive justice. Let the punishment fit the crime.

He wants to send sexy texts and photos? OK. Congress should start inundating Weiner's phone and Facebook with suggestive text messages and lascivious photos from our playboy partier of a VP, Joe Biden. A few hours of nonstop invitations to an evening of salacious hot tubbing and Jager shots with Joe Biden, combined with crotch bulge photos and a few strategically-angled shots of Biden washing his Trans Am in cutoffs, and Weiner will be a cowering, pleading mess of tears and regret.

It's time to bring out the big guns.

UPDATE (6/16): Looks like Biden got the job done. Weiner will resign later today. He blew it, and his party really threw him under the bus.

June 7, 2011

Should have seen it coming, Weiner

Anthony Weiner comes clean

Today's coverage of Anthony Weiner's confession about his enthusiasm for online dirty chatting has quickly moved from reactions to yesterday's announcement to broader discussions of the issues the matter most to each media outlet. The Post has offered the most consistently explicit use of original source material, while the Times has provided analysis of the political fallout and the weird ongoing involvement of blogger and "perpetually sweating conservative trickster" Andrew Breitbart, who isn't really part of the story anymore.

But the most interesting related story I've seen is an unbelievably prophetic interview that the NY Times conducted with Weiner less than three weeks ago, which specifically addresses his fast and loose approach to Twitter. Even before we knew he was contacting his female followers with jockey bulge photos, he had a reputation for being candid and sometimes flippant in his tweets. So the Times asked him about the risks he was taking.

Here are some actual quotes from Anthony Weiner about his Twitter use:

"I know the risk. I've seen enough stories about the risk, and I've kind of kicked the line of the risk a couple of times."

"There's a certain amount of risk that you take. And I kind of forget them as I write them," meaning the Twitter posts, "but if I saw all of them lined up, I'm sure I could probably point to one or two and say, 'Oh that got a little bit close there.' But they're mostly pretty playful."

The interviewer asked him if he had any safeguards in place, like having a staff member read over his Twitter posts before he sent them out. "The answer is no. Maybe I should." He laughed and then added: "Point taken."

He then made a comment about the waitresses at Coffee Shop, where the interview was conducted, and how attractive they are. Watching one waitress walk by, he turned around "in an exaggerated pantomime" to eye her.

It's almost too on the nose. If the Anthony Weiner scandal was a movie, I'd criticize the interview scene as obvious, clumsy foreshadowing.

The scandal itself doesn't surprise me, I guess, but I am surprised that a politician as openly ambitious as Anthony Weiner would engage in such high-risk behavior that, if he got caught, would ultimately ruin his political aspirations. He did, and it did.

January 6, 2011

Crying and sex

Crying woman, Lichtenstein

A new study suggests that men become sexually un-aroused when they smell women's tears. Crap. Guess I wasted all that time I've been spending crying in bars trying to get laid.

It seems that all the data for the study was gathered by subjects watching movies. Scientists at Weizmann Institute in Israel recruited six women who were top-notch criers, plus a few back up auxiliary criers, in order to get a continuous supply of fresh tears. The researchers had them watch your typical tear-jerk movies, like Life Is Beautiful and Terms of Endearment, as well as some movies that look absolutely terrible, but are apparently still scientifically effective: My Sister's Keeper and When a Man Loves a Woman.

To measure sexual arousal, the men who sniffed these women's tears (and saline solution for the control group) had to watch a different kind of movie: 9 1/2 Weeks, "the more explicit European version, which has been validated as being particularly arousing."

Turned out, the tear-sniffers didn't get into all that erotic strawberry eating and creepy sexual humiliation as much as the other guys did.

As part of the baseline study, they also had the guys watch a sad movie, to see if the women's tears were specifically a sexual turn-off, or if they just made them feel sad. The men watched classic sports-themed father-son tear-jerker, The Champ, which is about down on his luck boxer Jon Voight and his lovable young son and first-rate bawler, Ricky Schroder, and involves a protracted final scene that is legendary for provoking tears in even the stoniest of men.

Here it is if you want to watch it out of context and see if it still works. I bet it does--it's got seriously all the triggers.

We've all got movies that reduce us to tears, and I often wonder how similar those lists would be from person to person. I've got my share of the predictable, obvious movies that make me cry (Brokeback Mountain, It's A Wonderful Life), those that are sort of embarrassing (Moulin Rouge, Deep Impact, Dead Poets Society), and those that I don't really understand (Mulholland Drive).

I love hearing about what movies have made other people cry, so if you've got some to share, I'm listening.

December 21, 2010

The Fighter and sexy foreign films

Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams in The Fighter

There are lots of good things about Mark Wahlberg's boxing movie The Fighter (Christian Bale's flamboyant crack-addled performance, the Ward/Eklund sisters' hairdos, Amy Adams' willingness to be less than likable, the boxing sequences) and some not as good things (Mark Wahlberg being so understated he sometimes got crowded off the screen.) The opening sequence was my favorite part--watching Micky and Dicky Eklund walking around Lowell hamming it up for the HBO camera crew was one of the most vibrant and energetic scenes I've seen in movies all year.

But one detail bugged me: on their first date, Micky and Charlene go to Lexington to see a foreign film, Belle Epoque. When they come out of the theater, Charlene wonders why Micky took her to see that one, complaining "There wasn't even any good sex in it."

I lived in a small college town in the early 90's, and I went to see pretty much everything that came to my little arthouse theater, including Belle Epoque. There's NOTHING BUT SEX in this movie. It's about a Spanish soldier during the Civil War who deserts and hides out on a farm. The old farmer has 4 horny daughters. The soldier nails all of them. One especially colorful scene involves the farmer's butch lesbian daughter, who I believe gets very drunk, figures "what the hell", and mounts the delighted soldier in a scene that culminates with her woozily playing a trumpet while on top of him. It's pretty much the definition of good movie sex.

The movie ends with the soldier achieving his final conquest with the youngest daughter, a super-cute Penelope Cruz. They fall in love, and the whole family's happy for them, which probably would only happen in a goofy little 90's European sex comedy like this one.

Also, this is the movie poster:

Belle Epoque

One other note about The Fighter. The movie character smackdown I most want to see is between the super mean Aqua-Netted Ward/Eklund sisters in The Fighter and the terrifying badass Ozark lady gang who beat up Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone.

December 15, 2010

This Christmas. Retribution. From a 13 year-old.

True Grit

Like everyone, except maybe the people who voted for the Golden Globe nominations, I'm really excited for the Coens' remake of True Grit. I've never seen the original, but the Coens say they "only dimly recalled" seeing it when they were kids, so I'm not too worried about not grasping the context. As my friend T-Rock said, the remake with The Dude and Jason Bourne is good enough for me.

There's starting to be some press about the movie's young star, Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the narrator and central character of the movie, Mattie Ross. A recent piece in the Times stresses how much time they put into casting that role. Joel Coen says, "We only cast her three or four weeks before we started shooting the movie, and we had been looking for a long time. But that was a crucial, maybe the crucial aspect of making the film."

I happened to meet the person responsible for casting Mattie Ross at my local old-timey bar, the kind of place that opens at 8 AM and offers its patrons free unlimited hot dogs. This woman had been in charge of extras casting for a couple of Coen Brothers movies, and if you think about the actors in memorable small roles that are such a great part of movies like No Country For Old Men (the "where does he work?" lady) or A Serious Man (all those swearing boys on the school bus), you know this is maybe one of the world's best jobs.

Anyway, she was charged with casting Mattie because of her experience in finding unknowns that have that certain Coen-esque combination of everyday familiarity and weirdo strangeness. Specifically, they wanted a girl who could ride a horse, act convincingly tough, and hold her own with really famous actors who tend to dominate every scene, like Jeff Bridges. And most important, the casting director said, she had to be completely devoid of sexuality or flirtatiousness. If there was any suggestion of creepy sexual tension between this actress and Jeff Bridges, it would be a disaster.

She told me they went through well over 10,000 actresses (the article says it was 15,000) over the course of 8 months of constant searching. The casting team basically moved to Texas and went to hundreds of rodeos and riding demos all over Texas and Oklahoma, introducing themselves to young riders and cowgirls and screen testing anyone who possessed the appropriate combination of badass and unsexy. They got videotapes of thousands of midwestern girls and local actresses. The Coens didn't like anybody. She said that finding a 13 or 14-year old who could appear to be unaware of her own sexuality was almost impossible.

Eventually they got a taped audition from Hailee Steinfeld, who's from LA and has an agent and has done some TV and commercials. So much for the real-life cowgirl. If you've seen the trailer, you can see how awesome this girl is. Apparently, regular 13 year-olds from America's heartland can act sexy on film, no problem, but finding a no-nonsense kid who doesn't look like she wants to hump Jeff Bridges while the cameras are rolling is basically out of the question.

Things might be changing for Hailee Steinfeld already. She's got a profile in Vanity Fair and the platform heels are coming out full-force for awards season.

November 16, 2010

Silent movies, Woody Allen


Crimes and Misdemeanors

Turner Classic Movies is doing a fantastic 7-part series on the early days of Hollywood and the American movie business called "Moguls and Movie Stars". It's on every Monday at 8:00, and Part 3 was on last night; it was all about the 1920's, and included the rise of huge movie stars like Clara Bow, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Greta Garbo, and the incredibly huge wealth created by the studio heads.

In this week's installation, we see east coast investors and government agencies slowly becoming aware of that crazy bunch of hedonist reprobates out in LA, drinking illegal booze, having orgies, and making money hand over fist. Hollywood attracted the attention of investors like Joseph Kennedy, who poured money into the movie industry and created RKO, and also had an affair with Gloria Swanson (the Kennedy men loved their movie stars.) Before the federal government could regulate the increasingly salacious output, the industry stepped in and created the self-censoring Hays Office, so that was the end of on-screen nudity and unpunished adultery for the next few decades.

We also learned about the created of the Academy and the first Oscar awards. The first Best Picture awards were given to two movies, Wings and Sunrise, both silent films. TCM aired Sunrise right after the series--a really incredibly good movie. It's the first Hollywood movie by F.W. Murnau, maybe better known for doing Nosferatu with alleged pretend vampire Max Schreck.

The storyline of 1927's Sunrise has been used over and over again in more recent movies -- I can think of at least 6 Woody Allen movies that use its ideas. Crimes and Misdemeanors (above), Husbands and Wives, Hannah and Her Sisters and a bunch of others all involve a bored married man who goes crazy for a sexy single woman, then things go wrong and he eventually comes to his senses and goes back to his wife. He might even try to kill someone along the way. If Sunrise were remade today, the husband would maybe be Adam Sandler or Paul Schneider (big-budget/low-budget), the wife would be Emily Mortimer or Drew Barrymore (the actress in the original looks just like her), the hot young temptress would be Kirsten Dunst or Mila Kunis.

I never realized it before, but this story we've seen a hundred times is taken straight from our silent classics. Just like in Sunrise, Woody allows his guys to run around with their young girlfriends, then come back home to their comely wives with basically no consequences--with the notable exception of Anthony Hopkins in his latest movie, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, maybe the only time it doesn't work out for him.

The Hays Code put a temporary end to scenes in Sunrise like the young single girl lounging in her filmy underwear and rolling around in a swamp with the married dude -- it's always a little bit of a surprise to see the stuff audiences were watching in pre-Code 1920's movie theaters. There's a reason we went from zero theaters to 21,000 theaters by 1916. To put that in context, there are 5,800 theaters and 39,000 screens today, and 3 times more people in the country.

September 1, 2009

Eliot Spitzer's self-regard vs. the public's memory

Eliot Spitzer's fall

The Post announced today that they've heard Eliot Spitzer is considering running for public office as soon as next year, maybe for state comptroller or even Kristen Gillibrand's Senate seat. Other sources say it's not true, but one described his state of mind like this: "He loves to be in the limelight. But he knows it can't happen."

Assuming the story is true, I was surprised that Spitzer would be talking to anyone about running again after reading an interview with him that ran in Vanity Fair a couple of months ago (which the Post article references) in which he was pretty believably humble and realistic about the permanent damage to his public image.

Are a few highlights from that VF piece:

I asked him why so many politicians are caught in insane sex scandals. "What is it with you all?"

“I’m not going to make excuses,” he replied evenly. “Let me ask you a question: Is there a difference between politicians and anybody else? Or is it that the lives of politicians are so very public?”

“There is a difference, Mr. Spitzer. You were elected to a position of public trust.”

“That’s right,” he conceded. “It’s why I resigned without delay. Some said I could try to ride it out. But I didn’t see it that way. What I did was heinous and wrong.”

The word that gets thrown around to describe his apparent attitude to lying and breaking the law and his failure to treat people with common decency is "hubris." In the interview, he says that's not it: "It wasn’t hubris or a death wish—but frailty, temptation, and common miscalculation."

Then he says he wouldn't run for Mayor for at least 20 years, and probably wouldn't run for any public office ever, to save his family from the agony they would obviously be put through.

These answers were probably well rehearsed, but there's a certain acceptance of how badly he screwed up here that I doubt is totally manufactured. At the end of the interview, he's asked if the prostitution scandal will ever go away:

"No. My obituary's written," he replied with shocking finality. "And that is a very hard thing to live with." When he turned away, I could see he was in tears.

Aww, poor Eliot Spitzer. Assuming any of this is real, the Spitzer in this interview sure doesn't sound like he'd be stumping for votes any time soon. Maybe he's testing to waters to gauge the public reaction, which judging from the Post's "Say it ain't ho!" cover headline doesn't look so great. His little sex scandal wasn't the worst thing a politician has ever done, but it sure was sleazy, and people are never going to forget it.

Maybe he should just become a Republican--at this point his image isn't really that much worse than anyone else in our joke of a state government, and the GOP voter base seems a lot more forgiving of its embarrassing political leaders.

February 17, 2009

Swapping spit

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman kiss in Notorious

[composite from Notorious by Solitaire Miles]

One of my favorite hilarious anecdote generators is: What was your all-time worst kiss? Everyone seems to have a good answer to this question, and the story they tell will almost definitely be characterized by some combination of surprise, embarrassment, misunderstanding, and physical repulsion.

And saliva. My research suggests some overlap between the worst kisses and the sloppiest, spittiest kisses, which brings us to an interesting study on Wired.

A Rutgers biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, spoke at a science conference about kissing as a process of mate selection and the chemistry that partially determines whether we like kissing a certain person or not. Yes, we assess each other by our spit.

And check this out: saliva has testosterone in it. So, Fisher suggests, men tend to like sloppier kisses because they are unconsciously trying to dose their dates with testosterone to get their partners turned on.

OK, hold on a second. While this chemically makes some sense--getting a boost of testosterone will probably get one's mojo running--there should be an urgent warning attached to any suggestion that one's kisses should be as wet and slobbery as possible. You can douse your partner with a bucket full of super-testosterone-spiked drool and your date might not become frenzied with lust.

Fisher talks about this concern:

One male reporter asked, "Should I drool more when I kiss? Are you suggesting men would be more successful if they passed more saliva?" he asked. "People will want to know that."

After Fisher first mistook "drool" said with an English accent for "drill" and asked if it was some sort of British kissing technique, she dodged the question saying she's not in the "should business," about what you should or shouldn't do.

But, she did offer the advice that "you don't want to turn your partner off."

Helen Fisher's other works look good too. She's got articles on the neurobiology of stalking and the science of love, lust, and rejection among college students.

February 6, 2009

She's just not that into this movie

He's just not that into you

This new movie He's Just Not That Into You, based on a book, based on a line of dialogue from a sitcom, looks just awful. I've been trying to figure out what is so loathsome about this movie, and Manohla Dargis's review spells it out: what kind of woman would be at all interested in watching a movie like this? It's ostensibly about the realities of women's dating lives, but the movie sounds like a unreconstructed male dating fantasy: dickheady guys are surrounded with gorgeous, available, and interested women who are also highly insecure and probably crazy. When they want to see these women, they do, and when they don't, the ladies have to go off by themselves and read self-help books to try to cope with the agony of rejection.

The problem here is that the movie is marketed all wrong. The target audience should be single men, not single women. If the writers had thrown in better jokes, some decent male actors, a lot more sex, and replaced all scenes in which women shop or get manicures together with scenes of guys playing video games and doing shots, you'd have a movie that would actually make sense.

Actually, I think the movie I'm envisioning is the last 6 movies produced by Judd Apatow.

Anyway, Manohla's review is great. She envisions what the movie would look like if it were successfully targeted to a female audience, by asking, "What Would Thelma and Louise Do?" after a character goes on a bad date with a drippy guy named Conor:

What would Thelma have done? Well, she might have bedded Conor with gusto (and no marriage plans), as she does a hitchhiker with miles of muscle played by the young Brad Pitt. (Her greatest lament: he rips her off.) And Louise? Given that her lover is played by the gruff and grown-up Michael Madsen, I like to think she wouldn't even have bothered with Conor. (That, or shot him.)

Adult women like Louise might pull a Mrs. Robinson on special occasions, though not if there’s a man like Mr. Madsen steaming up the room. But adults have become something of an endangered species in big studio movies, particularly in romantic comedies, where female desire now largely seems reserved for shoes, wedding bells and babies.

A good anti-HJNTIY is last year's Happy-Go-Lucky, in which a female character actually gets what she wants sometimes without being desperate, pathetic, or insane.

January 12, 2009

Ladies fall for "You Light Up My Life" every time

Jared Harris in Happiness

The Daily News has a story today about Joseph Brooks, a man who wrote the 1977 love ballad "You Light Up My Life", made popular by Debbie Boone and used as the title song in his show biz/romance movie of the same name, which Brooks wrote and directed.

These days, the 70 year-old Brooks is using his apparently durable fame to lure aspiring actresses to his apartment via Craig's List ads, promising to show them the Oscar he won for the song and give them parts in his next movie, then drugging and raping them. He's allegedly committed 5 such assaults over the past two years. Gross.

Maybe he was inspired by Jared Harris' use of the song in Todd Solondz's Happiness, in which his Russian cab driver character's acoustic rendition effortlessly sweeps a love-struck Jane Adams into bed.

Here's the video (involves sex, NSFW):

Here's a video of Debbie Boone singing the song at the Grammys.

November 25, 2008

New patron saint of Bad Love

Gina Salamino

Move over, Pamela Smart! Another ex-teacher has set the new standard for hitting the Bad Love jackpot: Gina Salamino, 37, a former 2nd grade teacher from Queens.

Salamino met her inappropriate love interest, Josh Walter, when he was 12 years old. When he hit 17, they started dating. Luckily for Salamino, in the intervening years Walter became a super-hot successful male model. Now he's 19, doing great as a Hugo Boss runway model, and lives with Salamino and their child. The dream can be yours!

Not only did Salamino get her teenage boy to engage in an actual, quasi-legitimate relationship with her (something most Bad Lovers never come close to achieving), Josh Walters is on the record declaring his affection for her, while sounding embarrassingly like a pretend rapper. From the Daily News story:

"I'm tapping that ass and there's nothing you can do about it," the teen responded, says the report from Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.

In a written statement to investigators, Walter said he considered Salamino to be "my shorty."

The lesson for would-be seductresses of impressionable children everywhere is this: get them while they're young enough that they'll be bewildered and enchanted by your amorous attention. You don't have to make your move until they've reached puberty, but plant that seed when they're definitely too young to know what they're doing.

While the world is wondering what an attractive successful guy like Walter is doing with an older, less attractive elementary school teacher who got fired as a result of their relationship (she's suing to get her job back,) the answer comes straight from Walter himself. In a video of models talking about their personal lives, he talks about his new career (in a wonderfully thick accent): "It hasn't really changed me that much. I'm still the same person that I was. I'm just in magazines and books and shit."

In other words: he's not tempted by all the other women he's met traveling around the world and doing fashion shows. He's still the same old guy from Queens, living with a older, sort of dumpy 2nd grade teacher/Bad Love mastermind.

Eat your heart out, Debra LaFavre!

November 19, 2008

Obama baby names, other than Obama

Barack Obama and crowdsurfing baby

[photo of the guy who crowdsurfed his baby over to Obama at a Montana rally]

I've spent some time in upper Manhattan first grade classrooms lately, and noticed more than one little kid with a "NEVAEH" nametag on their bookbag or cubbyhole. The Times reported on the heaven-backwards trend in baby names in 2006, when it was the 70th most popular name for girls, and the Social Security Administration says it's up to 31 as of last year. As a girl's name, that is. Makes me feel bad for the one little boy Nevaeh I met yesterday who ended up on the losing gender of that particular trend.

Right after the election, Chief Baby Name Correspondent Jennifer 8. Lee told us about parents naming their babies after Obama, though DC's little Obama Alhaji Kabineh Kabba seems to be leading the trend--he's already 6 months old.

Obama-loving expectant parents out there don't have to follow the crowd. And there might be a bunch of them soon--Newsweek reports lots of people got busy on election-night (HuffPost describes the phenomenon as "Yes We Did It".)

Those looking to commemorate that special night with a special baby name might follow the lead of P.O.D. singer Sonny Sandoval with his inexplicable backwards baby name and go for Amabo. It means "I will love" in Latin, which sounds sort of hokey and weirdly Biblical, and captures some of the messianic expectations people have for the real Obama these days.

Or how about Kcarab? The K is silent. Unfortunately that sounds like those carob-covered raisins and peanuts my mom used to buy as some cruddy supposedly healthy alternative to chocolate. Gross.

May 20, 2008

Almost-mythological R. Kelly child-porn trial is actually happening

R. Kelly at the Grammys

Over the past six years, you may have heard about successful and deranged R&B singer R. Kelly and how he was charged with having sex with (and maybe also peeing on) a teenage girl/girls, and taping himself doing so. Finally, the judge, the lawyers, and Kelly himself all showed up at the same time, a jury was selected, and opening statements are happening today.

Even though the judge in R. Kelly's case has forbidden access to sealed documents and closed hearings, there are so many weird details about this case, including all the other instances in which R. Kelly has had sex with underage girls, that the media is still finding plenty to talk about.

The Chicago Sun-Times published a long story in 2000 about R. Kelly having sex with teenage girls, and two years later, the incriminating videotape was sent anonymously to one of the authors of that story. The paper's website has has an incredibly thorough special section dedicated to the case. Recent headlines include "R. Kelly angrily hurls basketball at reporter at rec center" and "Potential juror: R. Kelly's 'not very smart'".

They also have a blog about the case, with a recent post suggesting that Kelly's brother might testify against him with evidence that R. Kelly tried to bribe him to say it was him in the infamous video. In an earlier interview, the paper quoted Carey "Killa" Kelly as saying, "And I say to America, the criminal justice system: If you let that n***** off, he's going to do it again, trust me. I bet my life on it."

The Sun-Times has owned this story from the beginning, but the NY Times has a good background article today, too. They interview some media and culture scholars about the case, with a few interesting conclusions. One of them thinks that since 2002, we've all gotten so used to sexed-up teenagers that this dirty video case seems like less of a big deal than it might have at the time.

The Times quotes a professor of black culture at Duke, Mark Neal, who notes that since the indictment, R. Kelly has continued to write songs about having threesomes and called himself the "Pied Piper of R&B", implying that he seduces children with his music. "Either he’s absolutely demonic or stupid or crazy."

Yep, probably. Or, as R. Kelly once attempted to explain the messes he's gotten himself into: "In life, you have people that love to party. That’s me. People that love God. That’s me. People that love sex. That’s me. People that love people. That’s me. And people that make mistakes. That’s me also."

Mm-hmm. Well, he also said at the time of his indictment that "Osama bin Laden is the only one who knows exactly what I'm going through."

I think I'm going to stick with demonic, stupid, or crazy.

May 19, 2008

NY Times on purity balls

Today's Times features a piece on purity balls, evangelical father-daughter dances in Colorado Springs that encourage abstinence in girls and interest in their kids' lives in fathers.

Considering the hokey and overtly sexist subject matter, the article is impressively open-minded and even has some positive things to say about these events. But the accompanying slide show of freaky ceremonial hooey suggests a different attitude, more like "Hey, check out these creepy lunatics!"

Case in point:

purity ball


purity ball with swords

Nice sword, dad.

The part of these events that focuses on fathers having good relationships with their daughters sounds great. But there's also the part illustrated above with the sword-arch stuff and the white roses at the foot of the cross. The fathers make the following pledge: "to cover my daughter as her authority and protection in the area of purity," like their main function as a parent is to act as a spiritual pair of granny panties.

One of the girls at the dance creepily confirms that slutty girls are just working out their daddy issues. She says, "Something I need from dad is affirmation, being told I’m beautiful. If we don’t get it from home, we will go out to the culture and get it from them."

I can just see "the culture" waiting right outside the event hall in the form of horny pantless 17 year-old boys who don't get to attend a ball, make any pledges, or have their pure genitals covered by their authoritarian moms.

November 27, 2007

Young Kenyan men enjoy same gifts-for-sex benefits young women have had for centuries

Charlotte Rampling in Heading South

Reuters had an article yesterday on the trend of older white English women going on vacation in Kenya, and while there, taking out hot young men, buying them clothes and expensive dinners, and having sex with them.

The white beaches of the Indian Ocean coast stretched before the friends as they both walked arm-in-arm with young African men, Allie resting her white haired-head on the shoulder of her companion, a six-foot-four 23-year-old from the Maasai tribe.

He wore new sunglasses he said were a gift from her.

"We both get something we want -- where's the negative?" Allie asked in a bar later.

Apparently the negative is that a lot of hotel managers and members of the Kenya tourism board are lumping these women in with other sex tourists who come to Kenya to pay 12 year-old girls or boys for sex.

Which is nuts. Old, wealthy sugar daddies everywhere have long enjoyed taking much younger women out, showering them with gifts, and having sex with them. Some might go so far as to marry them (Billy Joel, Donald Trump, Fred Thompson, Ben Kingsley, Les Moonves, I could go on all day) but plenty more just enjoy the arm candy for a while then drop them (George Soros).

At last, young men from poor countries with little opportunity for living in economic security get to enjoy the same temporary access to nice clothes and fancy dinners that young American women have been hustling to get their hands on forever! Why should sex-for-goods be exclusively a rich man/poor woman transaction? I'm so glad to see these enterprising young African men are finally able to exploit their youthful hotness with all the savvy of a midwestern high school dropout draping herself over aging producers at Hollywood parties.

22 year-old Joseph, a Kenyan man who says he has slept with over 100 white women, says:

"When I go into the clubs, those are the only women I look for now," he told Reuters. "I get to live like the rich mzungus (white people) who come here from rich countries, staying in the best hotels and just having my fun."

He could be half the girls in their early 20's who hang out at expensive Tribeca bars hoping to snag free drinks from an investment manager.

The movie Heading South came out in 2006 and featured Charlotte Rampling (in the photo above) traveling to Haiti to have sex with young men in the 1970's. A long article about the movie goes into all these complicated arguments about sex, economics, political power, gender roles, exploitation, and on and on.

Seems like the only new or interesting thing happening here is that the older, richer person in the dynamic is female and they have to go to other countries to find young men willing to do what many young women in rich countries have done basically forever. Yawn.

August 23, 2007

NY Daily News: Plan B a big success among tramps, jerks

Plan B ad

Barr Pharmaceuticals announced that one year after making their morning-after contraception pill Plan B available over the counter, sales have doubled, reaching $80 million! Judging from their predictions last year, this is better than they expected, but still isn't exactly a blockbuster drug (Viagra's at about $800 million.)

Doubling sales of emergency contraception is sort of a murky cause for celebration, though. It's great than more women have access to Plan B (unless, of course, they're under 18 or don't have any ID) and can prevent unwanted pregnancies, which is what NARAL and Planned Parenthood are stressing. But Plan B still has a lot of enemies among anti-contraception people and some pro-lifers, and they're looking for data that suggests that making Plan B easier to get encourages irresponsible sex.

"Over-the-counter access has not increased or encouraged sexual activity," says Traci Perry of Planned Parenthood of New York City. She stresses that emergency contraception is a method of backup protection such as when a condom breaks.

OK sure, but how do women use Plan B in real life? The Daily News has an article on Plan B's one year anniversary, which seems intentionally written to destroy the argument that access to contraception doesn't encourage risky behavior. It begins with this personal anecdote:

"When I started dating this dude, it was a hassle to get an appointment with the gynecologist, so I used it weekly for about a month," confesses Kendra, a 24-year-old New Yorker. "I'd have unprotected sex, then go and blow $60 on EC [emergency contraception]."

Whoa, Kendra, a whole month of emergencies! You or your dude ever hear about condoms? I can just see the Family Research Council's press office carefully clipping this article to add to their "Promiscuous Liberals" binder.

Later on in their article, the Daily News reminds us that even if Plan B is available to most women without a prescription, you still have to ask a surly pharmacist to hand it to you from behind the counter:

Phoebe, 25, recently asked for Plan B at her local suburban pharmacy. "A male pharmacist gave me the look down, then asked me how old I was. He was overtly unfriendly," she says. "Usually, they put it in a bag to respect the purchaser's privacy. He just handed it to me in front of a long line. It felt intrusive and embarrassing."

Yuck. What is going on, Daily News? Last year they published an editorial complaining that Plan B was "being held hostage to politics" while the FDA took forever to approve OTC sales, and now they make it sound like a humiliating drug for sluts. Can we get some Plan B pride, or at least one "I am so stoked not to be pregnant!" story?

August 16, 2007

Jim Naugle: scandal waiting to happen

Jim Naugle

If there's one thing that messy outings of conservative male political figures has taught us these past few years, it's that once you start going public with your promotion of anti-gay legislation and your personal views that homosexuality is a sin, your chances of being found to have had illicit/illegal sexual relationships with anonymous men, male hookers, or teenage boys go through the roof.

Jim Naugle is the mayor of Fort Lauderdale, the city with the highest concentration of same-sex couple households on the east coast. He's been quoted that he does not support gay rights, that homosexuality is a sin, and that ACLU stands for "Atheists and Criminal Lobbying Union". He also describes himself as being "extremely" conservative, though he is a Democrat.

Now he's in a fight with the local gay community over the issue of bathrooms at the beach--he wants to install single-occupancy bathrooms to deter "homosexual activity." When asked to apologize for making such an insulting statement, he agreed... then apologized to the families of Fort Lauderdale for not realizing "how serious the problem was of the sexual activity that’s taking place in bathrooms and public places and parks."

A grand total of 4 people have been arrested since 2005 for having sex in public bathrooms in Fort Lauderdale, and he's talking about a "serious problem" that compels him to be "concerned about protection of parks for our kids and saving lives."

Reading the Times coverage of Mayor Naugle and his bigotry, it's almost like the media is setting this guy up for some former Boy Scout to come forward and tell the world about his scandalous, possibly criminal, secret life. Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, former Washington state senator Jim West, even poor old Jim McGreevey--having such an anti-gay agenda just makes readers wonder exactly who's been spending so much time in those beach bathrooms.

Have you seen that clip of Ted Haggard telling his congregation about the Bible telling us not to be gay? [video]

June 18, 2007

This ad is too sexy

Trojan pig ad

Trojan, which already has a whopping 75% of the condom market, has developed a new ad campaign featuring a bunch of pigs trying unsuccessfully to hit on women in a bar, and one handsome man with a condom in his pocket who looks like he might get lucky. This is a picture of the print ad (the version that will run in women's magazines), and you can watch the TV ad at the Trojan site.

It's a cute ad, maybe a little hard on unprepared guys while not expecting that women should carry condoms of their own, but it's hardly salacious. CBS and Fox, however, both thought it was unsuitable for their viewing audiences. CBS said it was inappropriate even for late-night audiences, and Fox's prim little policy for condom ads is this: "Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy."

This is so funny, and so insane. If only there were some way to prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases without violating the precious culture of life so sacred to Fox viewers! The VP of Marketing for LifeStyles says, in a NY Times article about the ad, "We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can’t use sex to sell condoms." Fox had no problem with Paris Hilton selling burgers by washing/fucking a car in heels in the goofy-sexy ad that they aired during "The O.C." [video].

For the benefit of CBS and Fox's delicate audiences, let's keep promotion of condom usage on the same public health PSA level as having your cholesterol checked or getting a flu shot. Sex is for making babies, right? Just look at shows such as CBS' "Two and a Half Men" (Parents Television Council's Worst Show of the Week for a genuinely offensive episode last year.)

May 9, 2007

NYC's free condom campaign: public health threat

NYC condom campaign will get you knocked up

New York's Health Commissioner Thomas Friedman said yesterday that the city's NYC Condom campaign, launched on Valentine's Day, might be pulled if it doesn't get results. "If we find launching this brand didn't increase at all safe sex among the groups at highest risk, we may stop it entirely," he says.

Well, Dr. Friedman, let me tell you something about risk: an unscientific hands-on study has come to my attention that indicates a blood-chilling, knee-clenching 100% failure rate in those free NYC condoms, when used as directed. Those LifeStyles™ branded freebies are, unscientifically, unreliable. Condoms are products that consumers need to work, all the time. Like seatbelts.

Perhaps my study subjects aren't the only ones who have had trouble: the Post reports that "between March 15 and April 15, the city gave away 3.7 million of its transit-themed prophylactics. That's a sharp drop from the 5 million given away in the 30 days after the condoms' Valentine's Day debut."

Maybe the novelty wore off, maybe the bowl at McSwiggans was empty every time you checked (here's a full list of distributors), or maybe 1.3 million people who used a free NYC condom in that first month don't need to use birth control anymore, since they're now pregnant.

April 12, 2007

The nicest thing I will ever say about Paul Wolfowitz


A few things about Wolfowitz. He is: universally hated at the World Bank, wears socks full of holes (warning: gross), is apparently still married, but got his girl on the side a job at the State Department that is still paid by the Bank, to the tune of $193,500 ($10,000 more than Condoleezza Rice makes!), and is just generally a misguided corrupt ghoul. And I'll never get over that comb video.

But I will give him this: when the man decides to apologize for something, he actually gets around to apologizing, and does it in a way that at least sounds sincere.

"I made a mistake, for which I am sorry." He says that he will accept any remedies the World Bank's board proposes.

See how easy that is, politicians and talk show hosts across the land?

March 6, 2007

Ladies: set your vagina phasers on stunning!

Dr. Warner and his smiling wife/office assistant

[tx to T-Rock for the title]

Vaginal rejuvenation has already been available to women seeking a "youthful aesthetic look" for a number of years, but today's Washington Post dives headfirst into the industry because the city just got its first practitioner: Dr. Christopher Warner.

Dr. Warner (with his wife/office assistant, above, who says that she wants to get the surgery) says that the goal of his practice is to "empower women" by shooting a beautifying laser at their vaginas, which I'll just admit right now is a medical/aesthetic/health/sexual need that I don't think I am totally understanding. What I do understand is some naysayers, such as Dr. Thomas G. Stovall, a past president of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, who says "There is absolutely zero scientific literature that supports . . . the notion that firing a laser of any kind will tighten [vaginal] muscles," and calls the surgery "a ripoff."

But enough about that. The really fascinating character here is Dr. David Matlock, regular on E!'s "Dr. 90210", and world-class vagina rejuvenator and feminist crusader. Matlock has consulted with Dr. Warner and other fledgling rejuvenators across the country. In a related article devoted to Dr. Matlock, the Post details his devotion to women and their ugly, old, malfunctioning vaginas, his branding acumen, and his many legal troubles:

"In 1998 the Medical Board of California sought to revoke his license, charging him with insurance fraud, dishonesty, creation of false medical records and gross negligence in connection with his treatment of two patients." Matlock says that the resulting disciplinary action was racially motivated: "It was completely unfair, and I honestly think race had something to do with it," said Matlock, who is black.

He's also been sued for malpractice 10 times in the last 10 years. In response to the lack of studies proving any kind of effectiveness of vaginal rejuvenation surgery, he says, "Life isn't all about studies." What a maverick!

From Matlock's E! bio: "It's 100 percent about the woman. I'm here for the woman. One hundred percent for the woman. I want what she wants. I listen. All of these procedures have been developed as a result of listening to women."

Listening to women, huh? Hm. I wonder what that conversation was like.

Women: "Dr. Matlock! Could you please shoot some lasers at my crotch to make me feel young and attractive, or at least like I haven't given birth to 4 children?"

Dr. Matlock: "Sure, women! I'm here for you. Now please just sign this consent form detailing more than 40 potential complications, including incontinence and intractable pain. Let's get you empowered!"

February 28, 2007

New York Times: The math club president in the cheerleaders' locker room +

New York Times does Penthouse

Frank Bruni's review of the steakhouse in the Penthouse Executive Club is surely rocketing its way up the Times' "Most Popular Articles" list. I hardly know what to say about this thing, except that it's totally bewildering, and very funny.

When the Times runs an article about a somewhat distasteful, low-brow topic like strip clubs, they often assume a posture of the amused outsider, observing the unwashed masses and their unrefined pursuits (like the article about other papers' journalists, who often *gasp* go out drinking together after work!) When their restaurant reviewer goes to a strip club to eat their legendarily delicious steaks, he does so only while stressing how out of place he feels, how much he is really, honestly there for the steak, and intentionally comes off like a dork pushing his wire-frame glasses back up his nose. Even in the part when the strippers pour a buttery nipple cocktail and Reddi-Wip down his throat.

My favorite part is his exchange with a woman who is I guess is his waitress or hostess, who sits down with him and his friends at their table.

She introduced herself. I wasn’t sure I’d heard her name correctly.

"Mahogany?" I said.

"Yes," she purred.

I was getting my bearings. "Mahogany," I asked, "do you know where you’re going to?"

She didn’t miss a beat, noting the reference, summoning the singer, and moving on to another of the dreamgirl’s hits. "I’m ... coming ... out!" she sang, waving her arms, wiggling her hips. Mahogany and I would get along just fine.

Haha! Funny, but maybe trying a little too hard to show how down with the strippers Frank Bruni can be, and how he totally doesn't objectify these women but actually views them as intelligent and very, very friendly human beings. He even chats with another stripper about her cellphone! Plus, did he mention he really loved the steak?

Funny article, if painfully self-conscious, like the Times was trying to publish something "fun" that might be found in New York magazine, but ended up with something more like what you'd read in Stuff. There's also an interactive slideshow that features equal parts steak and tits. Even though Bruni swears that he and his friends weren't interested in the human flesh on display, somebody on the payroll clearly picked up on it.

UPDATE: Of course, all this makes a lot more sense when you take into account that Frank Bruni is gay. Of course! A group of gay guys eating steak "ecstatically" at Penthouse Executive Club on Valentine's Day with the Times picking up the tab makes the whole story so much better. I can't believe I didn't pick up on this right away, but at least Mahogany seems like she did.

February 12, 2007

NYT headlines

Yesterday's New York Times had an article on the popular recreational usage of Viagra among Spanish men, with a surprisingly Post-y headline:

"Spain Says Adiós Siesta and Hola Viagra"

Some old favorite Post headlines celebrating our Spanish-speaking brethren include a culturally sensitive piece on Bloomberg's efforts to learn Spanish:

Latin Lover

And the questionable announcement of Bill Richardson's plans to run for President:

NM Governor Throws Sombrero Into Ring.

Nothing wrong with using a few universally familiar Spanish words in a headline, but the subject matter of the Times article makes it sound sort of like an ad in the back of a magazine guaranteeing the erotic delights of spanish fly. The piece discusses how cultural shifts have affected the sexual habits of all those fiery, macho Spaniards, leading to increased popularity of... ok, I don't know if they made this up, but they claim that Spanish people call it "sexo azul":

The quest for Viagra was apparent on a recent day at a packed disco in Chueca, a bohemian district of Madrid, where a group of young men said they took Viagra because it increased sexual confidence. "No one wants to admit it, but everyone is taking it," said Santiago, a 32-year-old travel agent.

"We used to have a siesta, to sleep all afternoon, to eat well," said a spokeswoman for Pfizer. "But now we have become a fast-food nation where everyone is stressed out, and this is not good for male sexual performance."

Pfizer says it sold nearly one million boxes of Viagra in Spain last year, the equivalent of one box for every 17 men 18 and older. Globally, Pfizer earned $1.66 billion from Viagra sales in 2006.

And how about the señoritas? Turns out they're a bunch of insatiable hot tamales, too.

One such woman is Carmen, a chic, twice-divorced 45-year-old information technology executive and Sophia Loren look-alike, who complains that her sexual ardor intimidates most Spanish men. Frustrated by her boyfriend’s sexual performance, Carmen insisted that he take Viagra, which he obtained by making a fake prescription on his home computer.

The Viagra worked, she says, but she decided anyway to leave her boyfriend, an urbane 55-year-old psychologist, for a 32-year-old unemployed student athlete.

"Viagra is not the solution many Spaniards think it is," said Carmen. "I came to realize that the problem wasn’t my boyfriend’s sexual prowess. The problem was him." Now, she added, "I have sex six times a day, but I do miss going to the opera."

Whoa. Or, ¡Whoa!

August 28, 2006

Plan B ad campaign

Last week the FDA announced that Plan B emergency contraceptive will now be available over the counter to women 18 and over. Great news!

However, I was surprised to learn that Barr, the company that produces the drug, doesn't expect to turn much of a profit on Plan B sales, which it expects will be around $60 million per year after it goes OTC.

In an effort to make Plan B as lucative as possible for Barr, I've designed an ad to promote the benefits of Plan B. If Barr is really going to rake in the cash with this product, they've got to target those people who engage in less than 100% responsible sex. So for everyone who likes to just jump right in and keep their fingers crossed: Plan B is for you!

Plan B ad campaign

[Thanks Cushie]

July 19, 2006

Reuters photo essay on the Gay Games

This week, Chicago is the host city to the Gay Games VII, a sports and cultural festival open to all competitors. Basketball, hockey, figure skating, water polo, synchronized swimming--pretty much all the same sports are featured as in the regular Olympics. But which sport do you think Reuters chose to cover in their photo essay on the Gay Games?

Wrestling! And it's gay wrestling, right? The Reuters editors have made sure that every single photo is a crotch-shot, an ass-shot, or a flirtatious sweaty-embrace shot.

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

gay games wrestling

And as an added bonus: a Reuters photo of preparation for the women's Physique event.

gay games wrestling

July 10, 2006

Hookers in Hell's Kitchen

hookers in hell's kitchen

The New York Post has never been our city's most sensitive newspaper, but we can usually count on them to make the rich and entitled of New York look like jerks and take them down a few notches. But in today's "Hooker Hell" piece, it seems that it's perfectly OK to take a self-important attitude, as long as you're condemning prostitutes.

The stroller-pushing yuppies that have been moving to Hell's Kitchen in droves are shocked to find some hookers walking around early in the morning: "I walk out of my building in the morning to see these girls with their asses hanging out," said Kimberly Solop, 34, who shares a $3,000-a-month two-bedroom on West 48th with her husband and their 2-year-old son. "I don't want him growing up looking at that. It's a lot of money to be paying to have this activity going on."

So, Kimberly, your rent is too high, so you don't want any nasty whores on your sidewalks? Or maybe, like a resident of the fancy Clinton West condos on W. 47th St, you're frightened that these savage prostitutes are threatening your personal safety: "I'm scared," said a resident too afraid to provide his name. "I have two kids, and I live on the first floor, and I don't want anything coming through the window."

Like what, a stiletto heel? People, I understand that hookers hanging out outside your apartment at night can be noisy, but they're certainly no worse than the entire population of Jersey City that gets drunk in the bars on 9th Avenue every weekend, and they're less likely to puke on your stoop.

While they're complaining about prostitution in the neighborhood, residents might consider that many of our city's prostitutes are victims of human trafficking, homeless, live in extreme poverty, get harassed and assaulted by police and their clients, and have only minimum-wage jobs to consider as an alternative to working on the street. Prostitutes may have been part of Giuliani's "quality of life" problems, but I wish the residents of Hell's Kitchen remembered what these women's lives are like before deciding that their expensive rent should mean that they don't have to look at poor, vulnerable people.

Read more on the realities of prostitution in NYC on the Urban Justice Center's website.

May 31, 2006

Sweet Cherry: the immovable object of strip clubs

Sweet Cherry topless bar

The NY Times has an unbelievably extensive article today on a Brooklyn strip club, Sweet Cherry, that has been under attack by city council, local residents, and state politicians for years, yet refuses to close. Back in the '90's with the introduction of Giuliani's new "zoning laws" (aka rampage of sanitized Disneyfication,) a lot of strip clubs, topless bars, and porn shops closed down. Apart from a stretch of 8th Avenue in the 40's, most of the city's smut has been banished to industrial areas like 11th Avenue, and Long Island City in Queens.

But the intrepid Sweet Cherry just won't quit, despite an impressive criminal history. The Times says,

Sweet Cherry is a great champion, brazen and near untouchable. The authorities have documented an in-house narcotics trade, pronounced the club a brothel and charged the manager with rape. (He has pleaded not guilty.) Once, patrons repeatedly stabbed an off-duty police officer, who lost partial use of his right hand. Once, a manager of bouncers for Sweet Cherry was shot dead in his apartment.

But despite two civil actions by the Police Department, voluminous criminal charges and neighborhood protests, the club has been closed for a total of just six days this year. Eleven days after its latest reopening, two dancers were charged with breaking a beer bottle over somebody's head.

The bar is in compliance with zoning laws, so the city has tried to go after it for all its other, very plentiful violations. And failed every time. Now that some small-scale industry and more families are moving into the area, they're stepping up their consistently ineffective efforts.

The article is a great read, with exhaustive details on the many drug busts that have happened at the bar, the employment and possible harrassment of underage dancers, the off-duty cop who mowed down three people after leaving another strip club on the same street, and the dancers such as "Diamond, whose real name was Jennifer, and Chastity, whose real name was Chastity."

There's also an interesting map of the still-standing strip clubs, topless bars, and peep shows in the city that have also resisted closure. Still a few hanging on in Times Square/Hell's Kitchen. My favorites are Wiggles and Goldfingers in Queens.

May 11, 2005

An insightful psychological test

Some researchers at the University of Missouri recently investigated how alcohol would influence the sexual stimulation of a bunch of undergraduate boys. Because these are very clever researchers, they pretty much assumed that many college guys would tend to rate the attractiveness of college girls higher if they had a few drinks first. But what they decided to test in this study is if brief exposure to masked words that are related to alcohol would have a similar effect. Basically, could they get some guys to respond to women the way they do when they're drunk just by showing them words like "beer"? Even if what they were shown was actually "xdbeerilq"?

They sure could! [abstract of the article here] The researchers found that if men had previously indicated that they get a little extra romantic feeling when they've been drinking, they rate women as being more attractive than do men who claim no such lusty effects when they drink, after both sets of men are flashed with words like "rwqdrunkmi".

What does this mean? The researchers conclude only that "the effects of alcohol expectancies on behavior are remarkably subtle and far-reaching." Just thinking about alcohol, even subconsciously, seems to produce the aphrodisiac effects we expect to experience when we drink. What I wonder is if guys who self-report that they become more interested in women after they drink are just generally more girl-crazy than guys who don't, um... OK, I'm trying to avoid the term "beer-goggles" here, but it looks like I can't get around it.

So now I'd like to conduct a little test.

1) Please answer the following questions:

Do you tend to get that rogueish spark in your eye after you've had a few drinks?

Have you ever made out with someone in the bathroom of a bar that you would probably not even notice on the subway?

2) Now look at this:


3) Now look at this picture and rate the attractiveness of the women you see.

Yow! Pretty foxy right? No? Well, try doing a few shots of Wild Turkey, then repeat the test.

April 4, 2005

No one likes to do it

Don't worry, it's not just you. No one is having sex.

At a recent gathering of hot young women, ages 24-26, living the single life in Manhattan, the New York Times hosted a discussion of sex and dating. In the resulting article, the featured women are so averse to sex, serious relationships, dating, and pretty much anything other than maybe kissing acquaintances in a bar, that I can't imagine how anyone in this city is ever going to get any action ever again.

"It's not that people aren't dating," explained Jessica Rozler, co-author of The Hookup Handbook: A Single Girl's Guide to Living It Up (if by "living it up" you mean "going on a date or two then running home to worry if people think you're a slut.") She continues, "It's that there's this weird gray area. People still want to be in relationships, but they don't want to be settling."

OK, so single women in New York like to date lots of men and maybe aren't so into having serious boyfriends. Yet, these women also seem to shun having sex outside of relationships: "Most girls don't have one-night stands," one discussion participant said. "They might have one or two in their life."

"A lot of girls are not having casual sex," explained Andrea Lavinthal, the book's other co-author and (not surprisingly) an editor at Cosmopolitan, a magazine mostly notable for its advice on trapping rich men into marrying you.

So there's no casual sex, no serious relationships; the most these ladies seem to want is a few low-key dates here and there. Their alarming self-restraint is also well illustrated by their definition of the phrase "hooking up": "Most women at the club expounded happily on what a hookup meant for them. 'Late-night grinding on the dance floor, maybe a little groping' was one version, said Kate Kilgore, who is in public relations at Victoria's Secret Beauty. The few men who spoke up seemed to find the elastic nature of the term somewhat tiresome. 'There are so many definitions,' said Corey Zolcinski, a commercial real estate representative and disc jockey. 'Some people think that it means meeting for a drink.'"

I don't know about you, but when I was 24, "hooking up" to me did not mean meeting for a drink.

So what's the story with these people? Are those of us in the late-20's/early-30's generation just a bunch of licentious tramps in comparison to these Doris Days in their early 20's? And what about the recent trend among teenagers of having "friends with benefits", pretty much meaning random sex with casual acquaintances, often met online? ADM points out that the analog to teenagers' "friends with benefits" seems to be "boyfriends without benefits" among these early-20's people. It all sounds very bad.

In a piece about the sexually messed-up country of Japan in today's Guardian, we learn that there is a growing problem among Japanese married couples in which they don't have sex, ever. Like, not even one time. The Japanese birthrate hit an all-time low of 1.29 in 2003, and there are more and more women who complain that they have never had sex with their husbands, or do it less than once per year. Marriage rates are also falling, and the government is understandbly worried about what this will mean for the country's population in a few years.

[Note: I think we can all assume, as the article does, that Japanese men in these kinds of relationships are still having loads of sex with hookers. It's just the wives that get nothing.]

Unsatisfied with this deal, these women are starting to patronize a new kind of clinic in the suburbs of Tokyo, which offers frustrated wives a catalog of men for them to fuck. The guy who runs the clinic (I guess I should say "clinic", because it's really some sort of dating service) says, "The women who come to see me love their husbands and aren't looking for a divorce. The problem is that their husbands lose interest in sex or don't want sex from the start." After a counseling session, the ladies browse through photographs of 45 men, mostly professionals in their 40s, and pick one to go on dates with and then make regular appointments in hotel rooms.

"Mr Kim dismissed charges that his service was little more than a male prostitution ring. 'The men volunteer and pay half the hotel and restaurant bills, so legally there is absolutely nothing wrong with it,' he said."

I'm glad these Japanese women are finally getting some action, but it's a scary prospect for the chaste young ladies in New York: even after they get married and actually decide to put out, they still might not be getting any.

March 6, 2005

Straphangers Weigh In on New Bravo Season

Not since the great Osama/Kerry debate of fall 2004 have so many Sharpie™-owning citizens weighed in on a single topic. Is it the Iraqi elections that have Brooklynites so fired up? The privatization of Social Security? The new Ikea in Red Hook?

No, it is something far more contentious: Bravo's joint advertising campaign for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and new companion show, Queer Eye for the Straight Girl. Professional critics have also been divided on the issue: while Tom Shales calls Girl "moving", the New York Post dismisses it as "pathetically shallow." But the folks waiting for the Manhattan-bound F train have their own opinions:

queer eye poster

While some are concerned about religious issues,

queer eye poster grafitti

others are more upset about the shows' family values.

your mother's balls

Some offer inexplicable commentary:

queer eye poster grafitti
queer eye poster grafitti strange

While some go for the obvious:

loves the cock

And some people just have a whole lot to say:

queer eye poster grafitti

While the nearby FreshDirect posters and movie ads remain untouched, every day brings a new addition in the Queer Eye culture wars. If this is how the good people of Brooklyn respond to a simple makeover show, I can't even imagine what a subway ad for legalized gay marriage would look like.

December 9, 2004

Blade: Gay Vampire Slayers


Blade: Trinity, which was released last night, is not the best of the Blade trilogy. For the first half-hour or so, it's not even what you would call "good", at least in the strictest sense of the word. Blade II was better; the writer/director of this latest installment used some of the same stylistic elements that Guillermo del Toro developed, including that freaky bifurcated-jaw thing, on some of the vampires. But the movie gets better as it goes along, and if you would rather have fun at the movies than watch something artistically stimulating, the overall not-greatness of it won't matter a bit.

But if your movie-viewing decisions rest on how gay a movie is, then run, don't walk. Blade: Trinity is the gayest vampire movie I've ever seen, and I say that in the most congratulatory way possible. All those lesbian vampire movies of the '60's and '70's are cool, but obvious. Blade requires you to use your imagination, at least a little bit.

Let's start with the king of homoeroticism, Ryan Reynolds (who we discussed earlier as the new, younger, and better cut version of Stephen Dorff.) I would argue that the entire subtext of the movie focuses on Ryan's character being gay. You know those guys that you might have known in high school or college who make a lot of jokes about being gay or being attracted to men, or acting effeminate? But they do it all the time, and the jokes aren't really that funny? But after they make these jokes, they laugh uproariously and are like "Dude, I'm just kidding!" even though you've already heard hundreds of similar jokes from them in the past? And then, usually, you find out 5-10 years later that, in fact, that guy has come out as being gay? Ryan Reynolds is like that. His character is the jokey, comedic center of the movie, and just as an example, here is his first joke in the movie: When Blade asks him how he bankrolls his vampire slaying operation, he says, "Well, I date a lot of rich guys." After quizzical looks from other cast members, he says he's just kidding. You had us for a second there, Ryan! And it just goes on from there. Some of his lines are funny, but many of them are irritating, as this type of joke tends to be.

These kinds of guys that I referenced earlier, the ones with the constant unfunny jokes about being gay, also tend to sound very strained and nonsensical when they talk about women, like they are constructing an artificial image of heterosexuality. When the Ryan Reynolds character makes mention of a woman he used to be involved with, he says she has "fangs in her vagina." Yeah, that guy loves the ladies! I mean, he is actually talking about a vampire in this scene, but still.

Interestingly, the subtext of Ryan Reynolds' character being gay might actually be about Ryan Reynolds himself being gay. On a recent appearance on Conan that ADM told me about, he made jokes of the same variety during the interview, when he wasn't even in character or anything. Jokes like this: "So I'd come home from the set every day and be like, 'Well, today I shot a full load in a guy's face!'" There are obviously a lot of different levels operating here, but I can't speculate on whether this is a case of the actor putting a lot of his own characteristics into a character, or the actor adopting the homoerotic undertones of the character he plays.

So then we come to Jessica Biel, who plays the other new vampire slayer. I think Jessica and the character played by Natasha Lyonne are lovers in the movie, and this seems to be suggested clearly enough that it's not even really subtext (just plain 'text'?). Also interesting is that there is zero sexual tension between the two young new vampire slayers (even in scenes like the one in the photo above.) How many action movies involve male and female co-stars in which there is zero hint of romantic involvement? There are none, unless you count action movies in which both the male and female co-stars are gay, like this one.

Aside from all the interesting gay slayers stuff, another good thing about the movie is Wesley Snipes, and his improving skills in delivering the one-liner. This used to be exclusively Kris Kristofferson's territory in the Blade series, but Wesley has obviously been working on his comedy skills.

The RZA did the original soundtrack, and it's very good. Though in any future installments I would recommend not using songs during montage scenes that actually include vocalists saying "Daywalker." It's just silly.

December 3, 2004

List of Women Who Have Publicly Taken Off Their Clothes to "Advance Their Career" Since November 1, 2004*

Way to go, ladies. That'll show 'em!

*Actual stripping may have occurred earlier, but was made public since 11/1/04.

April 30, 2004

The Topic of This Post is Nipples. Round 3.

The most emailed photo over at Yahoo News today is this one, featuring an attractive and completely topless woman whose torso has been painted over with the colors of the European Union. I believe this is the first time that a full-frontal, unadulterated, double-barrelled picture of a woman's breasts has appeared on Yahoo News.

Quite some time ago, we commented on a surge in nipple-appearances at Yahoo News (though most of those pictures were indirect, or involved only one breast), and this picture seems to signal a renaissance of sorts.

But wait a second! I thought nipples have been prohibited ever since the Superbowl, aka "The 9/11 of Nipples." I guess nipples are ok in mainstream media when it's a cheery "ha ha! look at that funny foreign lady" kind of a context, but they aren't ok when...well, when what? When an African-American woman throws our denial of our sexual repression back in our face for .5 seconds in front of an audience of millions?

Granted, Yahoo News Most Popular Photos is not the same as the Superbowl, but in principle, it's hard to see the difference. Therefore, I propose that Congress repeal the "No Nipple" clause from the PATRIOT Act, and we all go back to being regular sex-crazy Americans again.

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