Friday, December 11, 2009

Seducing Gay Celebrities, Two Stories by Tim Jones-Yelvington

College friend Tim Jones-Yelvington has recently published a pair of stories about the fictional seduction of gay celebrities diver Matt Mitcham and singer Adam Lambert.

His narrator is a gay sociologist who keeps a blog record of his seductions, in a contemporary take on the epistolary format. "My research methodology: I have sex with gay celebrities and write about it," his character writes.

I’ve been stimulated by tete-a-tetes with David Hyde Pierce. I’ve appreciated Ian McKellan’s oral generosity. In my crowning achievement, I orchestrated a three-way with The Amazing Race’s Reichen Lehmukl and Queer as Folk’s Robert Gant, the most difficult part of which was getting them in the same room. The rest took care of itself. …who knew their fetishes were so compatible?

Much ink has been spilled on the cult of celebrity. Some say celebrities are role models. We look to them for lessons on how to (or how not to) live. This hero worship, so the story goes, is compounded for Queers, who grow up without examples for how to be ourselves.

But this doesn’t explain why some of us, especially those of us who have long outgrown the need for role models and have recognized gay identity as a cultural construct, a regulatory fiction, are still obsessed with famous gay people. Fascinated with asking “are they or aren’t they,” with wondering what they do and with whom, and with wondering whether they’d do it with us.

What does it mean to be showered with interviews, book deals, speaking engagements on college campuses, to be considered some sort of expert, an authority, to be vested with authority, not only because you call yourself gay, but because people also know you from Adam? What does it mean to be famous and gay?

In his blog, Perverse Adult, Tim explores what it's like to be the gay author of gay-themed fiction about the meaning of gay celebrity. Identities overlap in not entirely predictable ways.

As Tim wrote his story of sexual obsession with Adam Lambert, he writes that he became obsessed himself. "When I say I became obsessed with Adam Lambert as I wrote, I’m not exaggerating. Within about a month, he became the third most played artist on my profile, a profile I’ve kept for over three years. I really did create an Adam Lambert “mii” on my Wii, and one night a month or two ago, my partner was playing a flight simulator game, and our Wii stuck my Adam Lambert mii in a two-seater airplane with him, and for a moment I was legit jealous… of my partner. I was like, “Bitch, step back from my Adam Lambert mii.” I’ve got all the parts picked out for my Adam Lambert Halloween costume. I actually went online and ordered the same eye liner Adam Lambert says is his favorite. I’m probably incriminating myself more than I really want to here."

Tim's blog features famous photographs of Adam Lambert, paired with photographs of Tim dressed like him, imitating him, mimicking the glimmer in his eyes. Tim identifies with his character in more ways than this -- recently, Tim was banned from Kevin Spacey's twitter account after proposing to meet him in London with chains for a kinky sexual encounter. (Interestingly, Nathan Fillon seems untroubled by similar overtures.)

The stories play with weaving metafiction, too. The main character claims to be writing his blog real-time, reporting on conversations as he's having them, but also altering those conversations so that the reader has little perception of the fictional "reality". When his friend annoys him, he tells her:

“Just for that,” I said, “I’m putting you in my blog. I’ll cast you as your worst nightmare, the sarcastic black best friend who has no life of her own, but exists solely to advance the white protagonist’s dramatic action. And just to ensure you’re as subaltern as possible, I’ll make you a dyke.”

And sure enough, at this very moment, Sophia is landing Grade A pussy, which she will spend the night devouring with aplomb.

“Toldja so,” I say aloud (I really did. Just now, out loud).

Where's the line between reality and fiction? Where does real life identity intersect with fictional identity? What's the line between the mask of celebrity and the personal life of the individual behind it? Where does the celebrity identity intersect with the personal one? If sex is one of our most personal and private moments, does it slip past the mask of celebrity? But then again, isn't sex also about projection?

These stories ponder what the sex lives of celebrities are like based on their public personas. The narrator wonders whether Matt Mitcham will fuck like a diver: "I imagine Matt Mitcham as a power bottom. I will lie on my back, and he will straddle me, pull me into him as effortlessly as he enters the water, with minimal splash. Then he will make love to me from the inside out, active and open." Adam Lambert, on the other hand, is "an adept engineer of others' responses," so the narrator wonders "So how does one play the player? Perhaps Adam Lambert craves a sparring partner, an opponent equal to his calculations. Or perhaps I'll convince him I've been successfully played, have become, like countless television viewers, putty in his hands. Becoming putty, it occurs to me, might be kind of hot."

In the end, the sex scenes themselves are coy, leaving the stories to center on the concepts of gayness, celebrity, image and projection. These are questions without answers. Or, at least, questions whose answers won't come simply.

The sex scene with Matt Mitcham exemplifies the way that true private identities are never available to the public.

Maybe in bed Matt Mitcham was exactly like I said he would be, a power bottom. Or maybe he spun me around and took me from behind, quick and forceful. Maybe he wanted oral only, or maybe he’s the type of person that gets off on something else entirely, like watching another man spread grapes across the kitchen floor and squash them between his toes. I bet you’d like to know more. I bet you’d like to hear about the size and shape of his anatomy, what he can accomplish with his tongue ring, and what he sounds like when he comes.

Maybe this time, I don’t feel like sharing.

In the end, the sex scene is always offstage. What we see of celebrities is always their public face, by definition. It's the face they're wearing in public.

These stories accomplish more than I've discussed here, including subtle character development of the narrator, despite their brevity and epistolary format. Tim says he'll be writing more. I look forward to more insight into the serious, complicated issues of identity -- sexual and otherwise -- that this series raises. Read Seducing Matt Mitcham and Seducing Adam Lambert.

1 comment:

Tim Jones-Yelvington said...

Thank you for your thoughtful review!

I am a big fan of Timmi's short story collection, so it is a thrilled to be reviewed on the Aqueduct blog.