So French women don’t get fat. Whoop-de-do. You know who else stays trim? Gay men. And they dress better, too.
They’re also far more entertaining, if Simon Doonan’s new book, Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, is any indication. While Mireille Guiliano’s 2004 bestseller French Women Don’t Get Fat was billed as a non-diet book, Gay Men is more of a non-book book, offering almost nothing in the way of practical advice as it flits from food to work to fashion to plastic surgery. It forgets to address its ostensible audience, straight chicks, for chapters at a time. And it is populated almost entirely by crude and savage caricatures. But that’s the fun.
Doonan is at his best when he’s being mean, often at his own expense. The author, columnist and Barneys New York creative director decorates his barbs like one of his famous window displays. On interns: “When I tell them that they will only find happiness when they lower their expectations . . . they look at me like I just fist-fucked Bambi.” He also shines when he lapses into memoir, which happens often. There is a grey childhood in England, coloured with the occasional dab of mental illness, a brief and less-than-fruitful foray into prostitution, and the shocking revelation, having handled Marilyn Monroe’s clothes for auction, that the actress was, in fact, teensy. There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, presumably. But that would be missing the point completely.
Xtra: What motivated you to write this book? Was it a desire to knock French women down a peg, or something less sinister?
Simon Doonan: I got this burning desire to share my accumulated gay wisdom with the world. I felt a compelling desire to take all my gay nuggets and nuances and fling them at the straight population. I also enjoyed having a dig at French women, who, let’s face it, are not nearly as groovy as American chicks or Aussie Sheilas.
How did you spend the £3 you earned as a prostitute?
I’m sure it went on booze. Like all English kids, I spent a huge amount of my youth in a state of dire intoxication.
Accounting for inflation, you earned closer to £30 in today’s terms. That’s almost 50 Canadian dollars. Surely that’s nothing to be too ashamed of?
Thank you for pointing that out. I feel so much less ashamed.
What’s been causing more controversy since the book came out — your revelation that Marilyn Monroe was, in fact, “shockingly and unimaginably slender” or your even more shocking endorsement of Ed Hardy?
My commitment to Ed Hardy is really freaking people out. I just bought six Ed Hardy boys’ size large T-shirts. I plan to wear them to NYC fashion week and give all my snooty fashion friends a collective stroke. Vive Ed Hardy!
Size 14 to 16 women have embraced Marilyn Monroe as something between a hero and a mascot. Do you feel at all guilty ruining it for them?
You’ve got a point. I have deprived them of a voluptuous role model. The least I can do is find them another one. How about Beth Ditto?
You’ve divided food into two groups: gay and straight. How do you maintain a well-balanced bisexual diet?
For every macaroon (gay), you must eat a slice of meatloaf (straight).
You’re a huge advocate of low expectations.
This is an important lesson for all you bitches. It’s important to create achievable goals in life. Everything else is a lottery win. My goal has always been to earn enough to buy fab stuff, like Ed Hardy T-shirts.