They prance and make references to Old Hollywood and cuts on the bias and shopping ’til dropping. Best of all, they’re non-sexual, non-threatening and completely work-safe! If they were people we knew in real life, we’d have drowned them in a Cosmo long ago, but we just can’t take our eyes off them on TV. Welcome to the new gay minstrelsy. Collect them all!
As the shrill, cringe-inducing center minstrel of Bravo’s first hit–known simply as Queer Eye after they branched out into making over straight girlfriends and slovenly gays–Kressley has managed in the show’s later years to become a caricature of his own caricature-like persona. He wears loud socks and blouses, “ad libs” all the show’s funny fag witticisms, and always manages to be the first of the Fab Five to end up uncomfortably in someone’s lap. We know, being the go-to Funny One is never easy. But every time we hear Carson shriek batshit things like “I Jennifer Love Hewitt it!” our internalized homophobia bubbleth over, and we long for the more palatable days of Paul Lynde pretending to be straight while mincing through an episode of Bewitched. Queer Eye aired its last episode a couple weeks back, but Carson has cemented his place as the gay Suzanne Somers in the world of has-been entrepreneurs having launched his own clothing line on QVC called “Perfect.” Soon he’ll also be hosting a ridic new reality show in which 18 mother-daughter teams compete to be Crowned the greatest in the land, and though we have no fucking idea what to expect there, we fully expect Carson to stay front and center on the lesser networks for the foreseeable future.
Look in his eyes. Perez is that kid in school who, responding to everyone’s taunts about being a nasty, fat gay ogre, decides he’s just going to pile on the pounds, and be willfully nasty to everyone (except Paris), to spite the cruel world that shunned him and to feel some agency in his ogredom. He’d just as soon gnaw your face off as chat with you. We don’t care to psychoanalyze any further, and we kind of wish he’d go away, or at least stay within the dark confines of the blogosphere. But he insists on growing his empire of embarrassment, calling himself The Queen of All Media (isn’t that Oprah?) and taking gay minstrelsy to new and heinous levels by recently appearing as a contestant on MTV’s Celebrity Rap Superstar. He performed Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It,” “Funky Cold Medina,” and a self-composed piece titled, “I’m the Queen.” Not ironically, he was booted off the show after his rendition of Big Pun’s “Still Not a Playa” failed to impress the judges. VH1 seems to have quietly canceled his new show What Perez Says, and all we have to say to Hollywood is, keep up the discouragement!
We suspect this Tyra male uses double-sided tape to keep his shirt attached to his pecs, and with each successive cycle begins to look more and more like Earring Magic Ken. Jay Manuel’s bright smile used to have some teeth, but nine seasons in, America’s Next Top Model Creative Director has become a cartoonish, buffoonish blow-up doll, the kind more likely to fight for state subsidized blue rinse than sexual liberation. He speaks with the eyes, but we fear that beneath his West Hollywood whitewash and his Tyra-tinged Stockholm Syndrome, this gay minstrel is dead inside. Sad face!
We know what you’re thinking, but despite the fact that Ryan Seacrest might not actually be gay (yeah, and maybe George Clooney wasn’t acting like a “diva” to Fabio), this hair-gelled metrosexual media demigod is still responsible for piping gallons of gayness into the average American household. He may be closeted but he’s still gayer than Ellen, and his constant denials and stern topic-changes every time he gets gay bashed by his coworkers (read: those closest to him) keep us all intrigued. Not only that, but his failed courtship of beard Teri Hatcher was the funniest thing on Defamer all year. Favorite pastimes of America’s host-of-hosts include tanning, shopping, tweezing, and teeth-bleaching. He’s tired of Paris, but eerily obsessed with Britney and Mariah, and actually sat as ‘Queen’ of the Halloween carnival in West Hollywood in 2005. If the tiara fits, we can’t acquit.
For the record, we love Tim Gunn, but that doesn’t exempt him from the gay minstrelsy. He may use expressions like “flotsam and jetsam” and marvel at how circuitous the staircase is at Parsons Paris campus, but he also cries actual tears when he gives Nancy Nextdoor her fashion “a-ha moment” while Veronica Webb tries desperately not to roll her eyes, and we’re absolutely sure that if he saw a spider he would shriek like Sarah Jessica Parker. Stereotypes aside, The Advocate named him “the sanest man in reality TV” and he seems to represent himself as a unique, quirky, moderately flamboyant oddball without alienating everybody in Middle America. Quit your day jobs, fellow minstrels (please, please, seriously)! We have a winner.
*SPECIAL NON-MINSTREL MENTION: J. ALEXANDER
Despite his twirls and swirls and ruffles and extensions, we love “Miss Jay,”and only include him in our gay minstrel roundup to highlight the difference between character and caricature. Unlike his “butch”counterpart, Mr. Jay, J. Alexander is a fully realized multi-dimensional gay man–and possibly is the only one on the Top Model panel who can breach Tyra’s otherwise impenetrable weave. While Jay Manuel plays the Good German and follows Tyra’s orders to create America’s Next Top Android, Miss Jay isn’t afraid of ugly and doesn’t have a problem acting disagreeable. Unlike the rest of our Vogues gallery, we get the sense that Miss Jay doesn’t care to curtsey to straights and sure as hell ain’t frosting her hair. Capes and castanets aside, Miss Jay isn’t a hollow parody, she’s the real deal. Work, faggot!
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Minstrelsy Alert: The J’s of ANTM Are Getting a ‘Fabulous’ (Read: Tired) Spin-Off
Mom Thought He Was Straight? Part 1: Charles Nelson Reilly
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