Sunday, November 6, 2016

Don’t Stop Dancing – A Reminder from Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance

The past usually tends to hold some mystery. In exploring what came before, our minds get a chance to dwell into the unknown of ‘what it would have been like.’ But what a shock historical reminiscing can be when we find that the past seems to be holding a mirror to the present. 

Dusting off a copy of Andrew Holleran’s 1978 novel Dancer from the Dance, the story unravels in an eerily familiar tale. Grant it, Holleran’s classic isn’t at all that old. Whether it can even already be called a classic may be debatable. Yet, few would argue that being gay in the 70s was anything like being gay today.        

Nevertheless, if you’re under 55, flipping the pages of this gay novel will feel like you’re taking a stroll down a sort memory lane that you didn’t experience, but know all too well. If you’re over 55, you perhaps lived it. No matter your age, what’s clear in reading Dancer from the Dance is that the ‘Dance’ is still going on.   

The novel is a direct window into the gay social scene of the 70s. Sure, the ambiance has changed a bit. Today we have Gaga and Guetta, Hugos and Aperols, skinny jeans and mixing with mainstream. But the dance, like the book’s plot line, rolls on. 

The story is focused around two main characters, an eccentric Andrew Sutherland and a disengaged Anthony Malone. The two make for an unlikely pair, hopping around New York’s underground gay scene, exploring the fleeting sensations of gay love and making their mark on Fire Island. But while decades have passed since their escapades were written, little has changed in the rituals they carried out. They may even have intensified. 

For sure, with a more accepting society, Sutherland’s eccentric personality and loose tongue are all the more prevalent. RuPaul’s Drag Race has even brought such hilarity and cattiness into our living rooms. And you could probably do a poll in any gay establishment in New York City today and find that there are a whole lot of good looking, broken-hearted saps searching for life’s meaning. While Malone reminds us that love is a common goal (all too often wrapped in a misleading combination of sex), he also warns that it cannot be our reason for being. Malones are still around, still dangerously beautiful, and still lost to themselves. 

Reading Dancer from the Dance makes today look like a redecorated and glorified version of the past. In a nod to ‘we are what we came from’ philosophy, the fictional book serves as a realistic glimpse at today’s gay culture. But, as the book is only the recent past, how long it continues to resemble the current gay scene remains to be seen.

The biggest difference between then and now isn’t the music playing in the background. It’s the connected technology in all of our pockets. And apps may slowly be killing the form of gay culture that not only defines this novel, but also defines us. 

Dancing the dance on Fire Island
While there are downsides (past and present) to our alternative ghettos, especially hedonism, materialism and drugs, there is also a huge positive – the fun, safe place. The reason Sutherland and Malone are flocking to Fire Island is because it is an uninhibited gay congregation zone. Key West, Sitges and Mykonos all hold similar promises. So do gay-labelled dance floors, bars and saunas. But what happens when that same promise – searching for fun, acceptance and belonging – rings in your pocket? Quite simply, places close down. 

That’s why Dancer from the Dance is a tale begging to be read (and reread) now. Malone and Sutherland are by far nowhere near what one would call role models. But if the gorgeous Malone ended up so discouraged in the real world, we can only imagine the loneliness of his counterparts online. 

Dancer from the Dance is a reminder of the dance that belongs to us. Let us not forget how to dance it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

3 Products to Get You Fit and Fresh this Summer

According to non-scientific, yet blatantly obvious climatic evidence, when the temperature increases, the amount of clothing you put on your body decreases. This skin showing phenomenon is mostly referred to as summer. And in Switzerland it’s just around the corner (at least, given the weather patterns, fingers crossed that it will soon arrive). 
With the year’s most sizzling months ahead, those with bodies chiselled like the Matterhorn and ripped like the waves on Lake Geneva have a lot to look forward to. But what about the workaholics who haven’t made it much to the gym or the procrastinators who are still putting exercise and beauty on hold? No matter if you are lazy Susan, gym queen or something in between, here are a three products to help you feel fit and fresh this season and build on whatever you have (or haven’t) done. 

Effortless abs
Slang has cultural biases. The beloved six-pack in America could refer to a favorite brew or to well-perfected abdominals.  In the chocolate-loving French speaking part of the world, they call sculpted abs a “tablette de chocolate.” Clearly, consuming either isn’t going to help much in the midsection.

Somatoline however, may just be a modern day miracle in a bottle. Backed by little evidence or medical proof – the maker claims proven results in clinical trials on a whopping 25 men – this product may be a gamble. But when it comes to shaping those hard to transform abdominals, a bet on something is always better than nothing. Reassuring any doubts, the neon bluish cream in the sport version gives a warming tingle on application that lets you know something’s reacting. For extra effect, there’s also an intensive night version that can be used in parallel. And it’s definitely not just the same thing with different packaging. The night cream is putrid green and carries a retched smell much more unpleasant than its minty day counterpart.  Day or night, start rubbing these on and if you’re as lucky as the guys they tested you could see yourself get 29% more toned in just 4 weeks. Not bad for simply slapping on a cream.

Picture perfect
Online or in an album, looking back at a summer well spent is always satisfying. That is until you get to that series of photos where unsightly underarm sweat takes all the attention away from perfect smiles. It can happen to the best of guys, especially those daring to wear bright colors or earth tones, but with the right product, there’s a way to dry up the body’s unsightly cooling system. Sudaxyl, offered in three levels of intensity is more than just a deodorant. It’s a sweat stopper. Roll this on under your arms every day for a week then just once a week after that and you’ll be picture perfect and worry free all summer long. Just remember this antiperspirant is an addition to your deo. It stops sweat, not odor.   

Plant power is proven. The vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, minerals and other benefits you can get from greens are mostly well known and documented. But have you heard of chlorophyll? In plants it’s a booster for absorbing energy from the sun, and in you it’s a booster for your immune system. An even bigger benefit for looking your best, dosing up on chlorophyll gives your body a cleanse that will leave your skin fresh and blemish free. While you can certainly eat it in spinach and salads, to maximize its powerful detox qualities, try products like Tisama’s Super Green Chlorophyll. Just a teaspoon of this powder extract in the morning will work to purify your face to perfection. Drinking it may take some getting used to. It’s thick, bubbly and green when stirred in water and tastes (not surprisingly) a lot like liquid grass.  But if that sounds too hard to swallow, it also comes in a pill form at most pharmacies. Combined with the vitamin D you’ll get from the sun, this is summer skin therapy from the inside out.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The book that confirms it: Gay Men Don’t Get Fat

Spring may be dragging, but we know what’s coming. With destinations like Sitges, Mykonos and Gran Canaria ahead, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat seems the perfect title to help bring in the spirit of low-rise beachwear.

Indeed, Switzerland’s plethora of Cailler croissants, Swiss apĂ©ros and cheese fondues make not getting fat a yearly achievement. But, before you get too thrilled about learning a gay man’s secrets to keeping slim, know this book is no dieting guide. Thought it rightfully promises calorie burning laughter, the book rather states the obvious. Gorgeous gays work hard at, well, being gorgeous. And yes, that does mean not dipping into globs of anything that looks overly delicious.

Aside from the catchy title, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat is a rather annoying (yes, you read it correct, annoying) read from the world’s most famous window dresser, Simon Doonan. The only thing is, you catch yourself laughing at loud and are rather forced to continue through the annoyingness to get to the punches. 

Let’s remember, the book is a collection of anecdotes from its author. And Doonan comes off as the kind of gay guy you’d likely only be able to tolerate in small doses. Turning the pages, you can almost hear the whinny screech in his voice rolling through every word. Surely, he’s the type who opens his mouth and a purse falls out. He’s pretentious, over the top and riddled in stereotypes. But the reality is, behind all his rants there’s a lot of truth and history on the inner workings of gay culture. And yes, that often coincides with fashion and pop culture. Understandably, you probably wouldn’t want to sit down and share a chardonnay with Doonan, but if you’re a gay man, his book is worth a read.

What gets a bit muddy is that he also targets (yikes) certain straight women – the growing numbers across the planet whom are finding themselves desperately single and downright drabby. We all know one or two of those, now don’t we? But, as Doonan points out, we do love a tragic girl. All the better if they can learn from a few queerboys!

Obviously, gay today isn’t like gay yesterday. For younger gays, Doonan’s rants may just be a worthwhile history lesson, sometimes overwhelming in outdated references. Yet with shout-outs to Ke$ha, Adele and the likes, he nicely bridges to the things that modernly matter. Through it all, he consistently colors his text with catchy French phrases. And, bravo, there are enough of them to make any Swiss Romand proud!

Now, if you are one of those rare gays that don’t dare to be seen ‘on the scene.’ This may not be a good read for you. Try Tucker Max's I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. It’s equally funny but opposingly oriented.   

Gay Men Don’t Get Fat promises a laugh. And in the end, that’s what it’s all about. Now, let’s believe we don’t get fat, and make it happen because we are queerboys!