Looking no more

If you haven’t seen it, you need to see it, HBO’s Looking, a drama series following the lives of three gay men in San Francisco, is one of the best depictions of modern gay life I’ve ever seen on TV. Yes, even more realistic that Stanford in Sex and the City.

Barlett, Groff and Alvarez

Starring Jonathan Groff of Glee fame, Murray Barlett, Frankie Alvarez and even Brit, Russell Tovey of Being Human the story follows Groff’s character, Patrick, on his quest for love whilst living in San Francisco and working as a games designer. His friend Dom, a career-waiter, played by Barlett, is soon to be 40 and realising he needs to achieve his life’s ambitions sooner rather than later and Alvarez plays Agustin, an artist whose in a long-term relationship and experimenting with the parameters, which an open relationship could provide him and his partner.


What’s fundamentally amazing about this series is, quite simply, the characters aren’t “gay characters” they’re fully realised, three-dimensional modern men. No caricatures, no clichés, so much so that I shocked even myself when I thought I had Dom sussed as the ageing wannabe twink, sex-obsessed “responsible for the breakdown of modern America” gay when in fact he’s a lot more vulnerable, complicated, confused and scared than all that. Similarly, Agustin’s sexual experimentation isn’t so much along the anti-commitment narrative we’ve come to expect from representations of gay men in long-term relationships on TV, it’s something profoundly more realistic than that.

However, Patrick’s character, and in particular the relationship that’s struck up between him and Richie and the way that it’s explored is something never before fully realised in TV drama, Episode 5 is an eye-opener.


Episode 5 is on lock-down, it’s just Patrick and Richie and their getting to know one another. In bed, in person, in real life. We’ve moved away from the “this is what gays do” kind of TV representation circa Queer As Folk into something simply more in-tune to authentic gay relationships. The way gay men talk about first times, coming-out, what they want from life, marriage, families, what their mother thinks of them, what their dad things of them, are they top or bottom, or both; these are the things we don’t see on TV, these are the conversations gay men have with each other when they’re with each other and we’ve never had it on TV before in a way that wasn’t for the purposes of educating a hetrosexual viewing audience on what gay men do in bed/restaurants/on the sofa/in libraries.

We’re not at the zoo here, we’re among friends.

Airing on Sky Atlantic in the UK


Male virginity, a question?

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Although people hesitate initially when asked how one can tell whether a woman is a virgin or not, they usually end up remembering the hymen with a relived smile. Yet the hymen is a more elusive membrane than is commonly assumed, and its status as a sure sign of virginity is in fact doubtful.

Anke Bernau, Virgins: A Cultural History, (London: Granta Books, 2007), p. 1.

Virginity, as problematic a construct of sexuality as any other, is often a topic discussed specifically and exclusively in relation to female bodies and whilst the visibility and physicality of virginity is doubtful within the female body, as explored by Anke Bernau in her amazing book Virgins: A Cultural History, it cannot be denied that the idea of male virginity is a more difficult and less tangible thing to identify.

Clayton Pettet

What’s more, when coupled with homosexuality, virginity in any gendered body becomes evermore an elusive and slippery subject, a fluid and flimsy idea with little to stabilise it in the wake of scrutiny. Just what makes us a virgin in the first place? Is it a physical mark or form of our body, is it coupled with or actually exclusively belonging to our emotional and psychological being? Is it actually anything at all? 

A nineteen year old Central St. Martin’s student, Clayton Pettet, is also intrigued by these questions and in exploration of (or for) virginity, plans to ‘lose’ his, for art, in front of a live audience of 150 people at the Orange Dot gallery in Bloomsbury, London, on 2nd April 2014.

In a piece entitled Art School Stole My Virginity, the teen will set about losing his virginity to/with another man, inviting the audience to contemplate the idea of virginity by witnessing its supposed irreversible loss, right before their eyes. Despite the obvious physicality of Pettet’s piece, as a performance, the artist seemingly sits on the emotional side of the psychological versus physical argument on virginity; speaking to Attitude magazine, Pettet said: “virginity is subjective because it has no physical attributes. First experiences are real, and what you determine to be your first experience.” 


However, in deciding to explore and discuss the subject of virginity in this way, with a very physical performance of ‘virginity being lost,’ Pettet’s piece may already be loaded. The conclusion of Pettet’s discussion is predestined, he plans to, and supposedly will succeed in, loosing his virginity on stage. The 150 people will harbour their own conclusion as to whether their ticket was worth the expense, but when asked by a friend about their evening, will say that they watched a 19 year old boy loose his virginity to another man on stage. There is still room for discussion within this restricted conclusion, certainly, but nonetheless, there are certain truths that aren’t up for discussion. Pettet is a virgin, but he won’t be by the time the curtain falls. How or why that happens, we’re welcome to ponder, but whether it did actually happen, maybe not.

If virginity is indeed lost and found and traded within an emotional sphere, because there are no physical signs of virginity as a state of being, the audience of 150 may actually just be witnessing nothing more than awkward sex (first-time or not), totally oblivious to the invisible and emotional exchanges happening within Pettet’s head; “what you determine to be your first experience,” this, for Pettet, is a very personal introspective topic, something isolated to the artist’s own personal perception of ‘the first time’.

Can virginity be discussed through the mode of physical performance? Is this the only way we can discuss such a thing, a thing which has no physical manifestations? Can we only truly discuss virginity with ourselves, unable to articulate our own perception of what is and what is not new, who we are and who we have become because of X, Y, Z.

So many questions, but the first has to be, what was your first time?


Sexy butt fuck? Can acom.

Well, this ain’t for the faint hearted, but then again, neither is Grindr. For those poor (un)fortunate souls that aren’t au fait with the likes of Grindr, Scruff et al (if I use italicised French, it’s less gross), this is certainly an education.

When Steve Jobs launched iPhone, he probably didn’t realise he was giving horny gay men the world over a new tool with which to find, secure and geo-target their nearest shag. Yep, smart phone apps for less-than smart hook-ups, and here’s some of the more eloquent chats, read by happy lovely ladies. 

It’s like a school teacher reading your dream diary out loud.


What Londoners say about Manchester

I love a Londoner, (if the breed truly exists, it seems the capital is actually just full of people from elsewhere in the UK). They’re a simple set of creatures, who think the London Evening Standard is a national paper and that the Tube can take you to Torquay. But whilst this is all rather sweet, they can come out with some rather Northern-phobic sound-bites that would make you cry if you weren’t internally screaming whilst nodding and saying “Umhumm, yeah.”

In my years I’ve heard a few good one-liners and I’ve always intended on writing this post, I think it’s about time. Oh and thanks to those that contributed to the post via Twitter, their handles are mentioned!

Londoners, on Manchester:

  • “Oh my god, it’s like a mini London.”
  • “Oh I love Manchester, because it’s like a mini London!”
  • “Do you have the tube?”
  • “Will my Oyster card work on the tram?”
  • “Does Wicked play here?”
  • “Do you have theatres/museums/galleries/Starbucks?”
  • “Well, there’s nothing like this [generic B2B networking event] in Manchester is there?”
  • “We thought we should come up and host a [generic in-store shopping event], because Manchester doesn’t have that usually, does it?”
  • “Oh my god, why doesn’t Manchester have a fashion week?”
  • “Do you have Sainsbury’s?”
  • “Do you have WiFi, like, in Manchester?”
  • “So, the Northern Quarter is like a smaller Shoreditch?”
  • “So, the Gay Village is like a smaller Soho?”
  • “So, you have a China Town?”
  • “Do those Coronation St houses you live in have electricity?” from @ACETaxisBrixham 

              • “Oh I’m always in Manchester, Blackpool/Bolton/Glasgow is in Manchester, right?”
              • “So, where’s Coronation St?”
              • “How far do you live from Coronation St/Emmerdale Farm/Starbucks?”
              • “Does it rain in Manchester, like all the time?” from @missnspence
              • “I didn’t think you could get Mangetout in the north” from @ghostyltom 
              • “How do you get your news, your culture?
              • “You say tea, we say dinner.” from @SJ_Selina
              • “You’re more….. down to earth”
              • “Have you been to the Hacienda?”
              • “Have you been to Coronation Street?”
              • “Ohh, red or blue?”
              • Do you know Brooke Vincent/Helen Flanagan/Bez?” 
              •  “Oh I bet you love Oasis/The Smiths/The Stone Roses/Take That.”
              • “Oh, it’s grimm up north, ‘eh?, ‘eh?”
              • “Do you have an outside toilet?” from @ACETaxisBrixham 

              Any other gems, tweet me @jordanjmcdowell!


              The Nomad Barber

              So I got a rather lovely thingie through the post t’other day, a gift from LUSH in the form of a wooden keep-sake box filled with manly gorgeous things (is gorgeous a manly word?)

              The box contained all the bits and bobs a boy needs to preen ‘n keep himself looking dapper. It’s also, by way of no coinscidence, the type of pastes and putties that a Barber might need to keep his clients looking swish.

              Miguel Gutierrez

              Miguel Gutierrez is one such barber, but unlike some barbers, having a cheeky cigarette outside the shop, popping to Gregg’s on a Saturday morning before the first punter comes in, Gutierrez is taking his skills global.

              www.thenomadbarber.com documents this scouser’s trek around 5 continents in 12 months. Just him, a cameraman and the world. On his site it states that the aim is to, “use the social aspect of the barbershop to talk to people from all walks of life. He plans to set up his stool at any given opportunity offering haircuts, whether it is on the street side, in parks, on the beach or in other picturesque locations.”

              Now, before you go check him out, best I test out his skills ain’t it. What with him jetsetting around the globe, I can’t get a close shave from him personally. BUT, I can follw his handy helpful instructional video on shaving, which he made for LUSH!

              Step 1: Open one’s pours with hot water on a flannel. Simple enough.

              Step 2: Breathe in the cleansing and fresh scents of some powdery-leafy shit I got in a paper bag. (LUSH Dream Steam Toner Tab)


              Step 3: Rub-a-dub-dub that LUSH Prince shaving cream all over one’s mush.

              Step 4: Shave. With the grain now boys.

              Step 5: Rinse and give yourself the once over.

              Step 6: Dab your face with a cold flannel, to close those pours.

              Step 7: Spritz yourself with a toner like it’s Chanel No. 5. I used LUSH Tea Tree Water Toner.

              Step 8: Moisturise. I highly recommend LUSH Cosmetic Lad, it’s my favoruite moisturiser of the moment!

              Step 9: Apply fragrance. Gotta say, this is my first foray into LUSH fragrances and I’m so turned on by my own scent right now I can barely continue typing.

              Verdict: He knows what he’s doing that Nomad.


              14 reasons why Manchester is better than Liverpool

              The Liverpool Echo in a rather tasty attempt at sending content viral in a Facebook fuelled sharing extravaganza of rating increasing insanity, produced this: 14 reasons why Liverpool is better than Manchester.

              Lolz, we know. So, before sister-paper and fellow TrinityMirror publication, Manchester Evening News, can publish its completely planned PR-stunt of a retaliation, I’m stealing the traffic.

              14 reasons why Manchester is better than Liverpool

              1. It’s the birthplace of some the most culturally significant and scientifically innovative discoveries the world has ever seen. The modern computer was developed here, the atom couldn’t have been split without Manchester, Marxism was born out of a meeting in our post-code, the Suffragette movement pulsated from our streets, television had its first real and successful home outside of London, and continues to drag attention and investment from the capital.

              That’s just number 1.

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              2. We have the Gay Village, a world famous stretch of gay bars, clubs, pubs and venues with a culture and following that sparked Channel 4’s most successful TV drama of the year and even an American adaptation.

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              3. We have a history of musical genius, a time of musical past that is named after our very city. They still cling to The Beatles, who fucked off to America and left them behind as soon as they could. (Mind you, wish we could do that with Bez)

               photo john_rylands_library_01l_zpsd4d484d2.jpg

              4. We may not have as many Grade II listed buildings, but ours aren’t as flashy and, frankly, WAGgy. You can’t beat John Ryland’s Library for sheer breath-taking awesomeness and if you want older, how about the oldest public library in Britain over at Cheetham’s? 

              5. We have a business community of inspiring and innovative people from SMEs and digital start-ups, right up to the likes of multi-million pound retail businesses such as boohoo.com, JD Williams, JD Sports, PZCussons and even bloody LateRooms.com!

              6. We have the Manchester International Festival. ’nuff said

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              7. We have BBC North. ’nuff said

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              8. The University of Manchester is the most applied to University in the nation and rose from #33 to #26 in the The Sunday Times University Guide 2014. The University of Liverpool sank from #29 to #36.

              9. Our Harvey Nichols is bigger than there’s and we have not one, but two Selfridges. How many do they have? None. Yeah, basically, the shopping is better here. Plus, it’s under cover. Who do you think you are Liverpool, St. Tropez? Put a roof on Liverpool 1!

              10. You say the Mersey is better than our Ship Canal? But, we built the ship canal because we were all, oh, Liverpool has water and that’s all it’s got up on us, OK, we’ll start the world’s largest ever construction project (at the time) and bring the fucking Irish Sea to Salford!

              11. We have two world-class football teams. I won’t go into any more detail because I don’t know any more detail.

               photo MCFLogo_zps386526cf.jpg

              12. You say Les Dennis is a comedian? What about Peter Kay, Jason Manford? Bitch, we have a comedy festival we’re so fucking funny.

              13. The Guardian was born out of Manchester and its lefty activism.

              14. I live here.

              P.S. I’m just joking, Liverpool’s lovely, silly cow just needs to remember her place.


              The Prince of Pagodas, Birmingham Royal Ballet

              The Prince of Pagodas made its UK début on Thursday in a world exclusive rendition by the Birmingham Royal Ballet at The Lowry Theatre in Manchester’s Salford Quays.

              Now, I’m a fan of traditional dance, but this was a truly beautiful performance with some of the most innovative choreography and the most exceptional staging I’ve ever seen performed in a ballet. You can tell this is a world class piece.

              The piece is originally a Japanese ballet that seemingly inspired BRB’s Artistic Director, David Bintley, during his stewardship of the Tokyo Ballet. Together with Rae Smith of Warhorse fame, Bintley tells the tale of a young Emperor’s daughter and her twisted relationship with her evil (obviously) step-mother.

              So, Wicked Witch of Tokyo tries to get little Empress married off to a suitor, four princes from the four corners of the world attend a meeting to showcase their, well, pirouettes. They come from China, Central Africa, America and Russia, bearing gifts and culturally specific dance routines. Mr Africa’s tribal warrior jig was pretty convincing, I think I’d have become Mrs Congo after that.

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              Still, lil’ Miss picky isn’t playing ball and instead summons the courage to say no by remembering the love she once had for her long lost brother, by dancing with him in her head. Anyway, one thing leads to and step-mother ends up planting a belter of a bitch slap on her face and proceeds to dance gang-bang style with all four bachelors. Cheeky slut.

              Meanwhile, little Empress has ran away with a Salamander into the Salamander Kingdom…
               photo 26739_s_zps8701e6c9.jpg

              We now step through the looking glass into a world of dancing seahorses, a step-mother octopus and “The Fire Dance,” which is bloody amazing and sees Evil Mum and the four gents dance in red costume, flickering like flames! Oosh, it’s a whirlwind and eventually Salamander pops back up and reveils to her that he’s actually her brother! He was turned into a Salamander by the Queen Bitch so she could inherit the thrown (in some wierd law of succession). 

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              As you can imagine there’s a fierce battle to reunite Prince Salamander with his father and oust the evil Queen and all with incredible costume, dance and orchestral music.

              You can catch Prince of Pagodas in Manchester, London, Birmingham and Plymouth, book now!