That’s the question Buzz Bissinger throws out in this GQ confessional. If you’re not familiar with Buzz Bissinger’s name, he’s the guy who wrote Friday Night Lights, a book about small-town Texas’ obsession with high school football. If you didn’t read the book, you may have seen the movie, which I always confuse with Varsity Blues, which starred the kid with the enormous forehead that was also on Dawson’s Creek. Which also sucked. There was also a TV series made from the book, and it ran for five seasons.
Anyway, Buzz is the architect behind this enormous success, centered around the rough-and-tumble manly sport of football, with healthy doses of skirt chasing thrown in. That’s some red-blooded All American stuff. So what kind of manly man builds an media empire around America’s manliest sport?
Ostensibly, the article is about his passion for Gucci clothing, which quickly morphs into a defiant apologia for dressing like fucking Ziggy Stardust on his way to Fat Camp.
It started three years ago. I have never fully revealed it, and am only revealing it now in the hopes that my confession will incite a remission and perhaps help others of similar compulsion. If all I buy is Gucci, I will be fine. It has taken a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, but Gucci men’s clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—rocker, edgy, tight, bad boy, hip, stylish, flamboyant, unafraid, raging against the conformity that submerges us into boredom and blandness and the sexless saggy sackcloths that most men walk around in like zombies without the cinematic excitement of engorging flesh.
That’s some unique imagery, Buzz. So’s this:
Wake up, Jimmy. It’s Rape O’ Clock!
Uncomfortable yet? It gets worse.
Some of the clothing is men’s. Some is women’s. I make no distinction. Men’s fashion is catching up, with high-end retailers such as Gucci and Burberry and Versace finally honoring us. But women’s fashion is still infinitely more interesting and has an unfair monopoly on feeling sexy, and if the clothing you wear makes you feel the way you want to feel, liberated and alive, then fucking wear it. The opposite, to repress yourself as I did for the first fifty-five years of my life, is the worst price of all to pay. The United States is a country that has raged against enlightenment since 1776; puritanism, the guiding lantern, has cast its withering judgment on anything outside the narrow societal mainstream.Think it’s easy to be different in America? Try something as benign as wearing stretch leather leggings or knee-high boots if you are a man.
“Our forefathers fought for our right to tuck our shit back and tart ourselves up like Thai ladyboys on vacation at Mardi Gras, and THIS is how we honor their sacrifice?”
Consider me properly chastised, Buzz. But still, I can’t help thinking that there may be something a little deeper than you just feeling hemmed in* by the strictures of contemporary American fashion. Is it really the clothes?
*unworthy, hackish garment-themed pun
I bought dozens of stretch jeans and leather leggings and leather pants that sculpted my lower body the way I wanted, with no room for speculation. I bought dozens of leather gloves that actually did fit like a glove. I bought dozens of boots, some with a flat or low heel that any man can wear, some with five-inch heels that only a man with real balls could wear.
C’mon, Buzz. Dude, it’s almost dinnertime.
I never fit the traditional definition of a sexy male straight or gay—tall, ripped, six- packs within six-packs. I wanted the power that sex provides, all eyes wanting to fuck you and you knowing it, and both men’s and women’s clothing became my venue.
I began to wonder about sex and sexuality and where exactly I fit in in the complex spectrum. I did go into the sexual unknown, and the clothing I began to wear routinely gave me the confidence to do it, to transcend the rigid definitions of sexuality and gender, just as I also know there were the requisite stereotypical snickers.
Was I homosexual because so much of what I wore is associated with gays? [No, it was because you were banging dudes - EoJ] I did experiment. And while I don’t think it is my sexual being, I can tell you that gay men as a group are nicer, smarter, have a shitload more fun than straight whites. Was I veering toward becoming a dominant leather master in the S&M scene, the leather fetish an obvious influence in most of the clothing I purchased and in much of high fashion itself? I did experiment. Was I a closeted or maybe not so closeted transvestite? Tom Ford makeup is divine; the right foundation and cheek blush and eyeliner and lipstick can do wonders for the pallid complexion. Thigh-high boots add to any wardrobe, although walking on six-inch stilettos for hours is just a bitch and therefore confined to the privacy of my house, seen only by the UPS man, who at this point could not possibly be surprised by anything.
Okay, so maybe I’m not hungry, after all. Seriously, though. In 6,000 words, we have to listen to 5,500 of them talking about how fucking fierce he thinks he looks in this or that item of Gucci leather. He thinks the problem is his “shopping addiction.” Undoubtedly, he has a compulsion, but the shopping isn’t a problem. He’s spent over $650,000 on Gucci, but he can afford it – he had a massively successful career and inherited a shit-ton of money. His three wives and kids did not lack for anything.
Except a dad who wasn’t fucking dudes and acting like we’re all a bunch of squares for not wearing stiletto heels. Because we don’t have the balls to wear thigh-high boots. And blow dudes.
And that’s what really pisses me off – this attempted mainstreaming of mental illness parading as “hipness.” You’re not liberated, Buzz. You’re not exploring anything. You’re a fucking miserable mess, and unfortunately, you have the money and the fame to get the occasional bully pulpit, such as your radio gig from which you were fired after only six months for being a screechy drama queen. You’re one empty, terminally unhappy dude, and there isn’t enough dick and Gucci to fill the hole inside you. I know you think you’re Billy Bad-Ass, Buzz, but I wouldn’t trade places with you if I were living out of my truck.
Sometimes it’s not everyone else, dude. Sometimes, it’s just you.