The August issue of Chicago magazine is out, which officially signals the end of my July-long reign as one of Chicago’s Top 20 Singles. And while you’d probably think membership in this elite club would bring me a lifetime of untold love, happiness and shoes, you’d be wrong.
In fact, it has brought me nothing but disappointment, embarrassment and random little tufts of hair on my back that my workout partner takes great delight in pointing out (they may just be a result of my getting older, though). And here, for your reading pleasure, are my final ruminations on the exciting process and the dismal results of the whole adventure:
Could it BE any more obsessed with gay stereotypes? (We got the drag and the (yawn) French lessons squeezed in there, but where’s the mention of the marathon training and the sky diving and the career accomplishments?) Could it BE any more inaccurate and misleading? (Paris in the fall? Since when is March in the fall? Not interested in finding a “song and dance man”? What part of “I’d love to find someone who’s as into musical theater as I am” is so hard to understand?) Could it BE any less appealing to potential suitors? (Apparently not, as you’ll learn further down in this diatribe.) And to add insult to injury, the online version is truncated to focus on just the REALLY gay stuff. Go me.
I hate it. My family hates it. All my friends hate it. People have either said it looks nothing like me, or—if they were feeling charitable—they merely said it looks “OK.” I decided to let the anonymous masses vote impartially on its appeal, so I posted it on hotornot.com a month ago—along with a picture I took of myself as the control. Here’s a comparison of photo shoots and results:
Their photo shoot
• Professional studio
• Professional lighting
• Professional hair and makeup artist
• Professional stylist who picked my clothes, steamed them and even fussed over their drape every time I moved
• Professional lighting-level checker
• Professional photographer
• Assistant to professional photographer
• Lady who got me a refreshing beverage
• Multiple cameras
• Two rolls of film equaling about 50 pictures
• One hour on a beautiful May afternoon
• Final selection by a professional photo editor
The result: This monstrosity, which bears a greater likeness to Grandpa Munster than to me.
Hot Or Not rating as of this post: 6.8
My photo shoot
• Studio = my bedroom on a sunny June morning, soon after I woke up
• Wardrobe = my favorite T-shirt, still kind of wrinkly but relatively clean
• No makeup
• Total bedhead
• Cheap digital camera perched on a book on a chair on my bed
• About 10 shots using my automatic timer, many of which looked pretty good, IMHO
The result: This picture, which I had to crop because my bedhead was worse than I thought, and since I wasn’t able to look through the viewfinder I was barely in the picture anyway. But I think it looks a lot like the guy I see in the mirror every morning.
Hot Or Not rating as of this post: 9.4
Point spread between low-reality, piss-poor-quality professional picture and my modest attempts at self-portraiture: 2.8
I rest my case.
The magazine set up a special email address for each one of us—and the editors specifically instructed us to check it every day because they said the mailboxes tend to fill up with marriage proposals and then the magazine has to field angry calls from potential suitors who can’t get through. They also told us that they get lots of letters for the singles, which they regularly forward to us in large envelopes. Furthermore, we were told anecdotally that potential suitors historically have found many featured singles in the phone book and inundated them with phone calls and flowers. One editor described the whole experience as “the heavens opening up and raining down men” on me.
Here’s how it really played out:
• 1 from a drag queen who can’t spell
• 1 from a guy I hadn’t heard from since we did a theme-park show together in Buffalo in 1988—he saw the magazine in his doctor’s NY office
• 1 from a neighbor who also saw the magazine in his doctor’s office
• A handful from a bunch of friends back in Iowa who were told about it via an email from another friend
• A buttload of spam
Packages of letters in the mail:
• 1 free book about finding my soul mate with a cover letter from the author that began, “As one of Chicago magazine’s Top 20 Singles, I wanted you to have a copy of my book … .” (Note to those of you who for some unfathomable reason aren’t irritated to the point of justifiable homicide about misplaced modifiers: The author was NOT one of the Top 20 Singles, but the way he muddied up this sentence CLEARLY stated that he was. And he’s a fucking WRITER. Who should KNOW BETTER.)
Let’s just say the dust levels in my vase collection are higher than they were before the issue came out.
Gay men are notoriously clumsy dialers. I’m sure the phone will start ringing any day now.
Maybe the cousin-fuckers in Missouri who just voted gay-marriage discrimination into their constitution discouraged all the marriage-minded men from contacting me. Maybe.
Being recognized by strangers:
Actually, this has happened a couple of times. A friend of a friend met me at a crowded street fair one night and then recognized me the next day in the magazine. And this guy recognized me on Friendster. So that was kind of cool.
You know how Charlotte on Sex in the City dreamed for so long of having a beautiful engagement picture in the New York Times and was so disappointed when it was printed with a huge Hitler-mustache smudge across her face? That’s kind of how I feel about the whole thing. It's not like I'm deserving of any level of attention and admiration—or like the "honor" of being picked to be a Top 20 Single makes one whit of difference in the world. But I was sooooo excited about the prospect of being profiled in a glossy, high-end national publication (and who wouldn’t be?) and I even let myself fantasize that this—finally—would be the catalyst for sending me on celestial trajectories of social excitement (dare I say validation?), career satisfaction and—yes—even True Love.
And when I saw the goofy picture and read the profile that clearly cast me as the token faggot in the Rich Straight White People Magazine, I was almost sick with disappointment, embarrassment and the realization that once again my life wasn’t following the Boy of Destiny path I’d been hoping for.
The only positive thing I’ve gotten out of the whole thing is the occasional praise from gay people who note that I’m the first Top 20 Single (apparently in the history of the magazine) who’s totally, shamelessly out. (Not like I had any control over the content of the profile, but I did tell the writer that I’m totally out in life and that I’m not afraid of bigots, so there was no reason to reduce my sexuality to mere innuendo. And for once, she listened.) And—on a side note—that deafening silence in response to the profile includes a welcome silence from the goat-ball lickers in the Christian hate industry who have been so quick to send me anonymous save-the-gerbils postcards when I've had gay stuff published in Time and Newsweek and other national newsmagazines. So either they’re threatened by publications with three-syllable titles or they know better than to fuck with me. Because since I’m still totally dateless (sigh) I have plenty of time—and unfocused frustration—to fuck with them back. And Christians vs. Faggots is one arena where I'm used to winning.