Monthly Archives: November 2002

“When I first started editing GQ, it gave the impression of being, and in fact was, a gay magazine. There were female models in it and there were women on the cover, but the boys were always much, much more beautiful than the girls. There was never any eye contact between men and women, and never any tension on the page. What I wanted to do in repositioning the magazine was make it very clear very quickly that this was a heterosexual magazine. I’m sure we have a large gay readership, and I want anyone who enjoys the magazine to read it. But the message I wanted to send was that it’s not aimed at a gay audience.”

So says Gentlemen’s Quarterly editor-in-chief Art Cooper in a most amusing interview at Media Bistro.Com

If “the boys were much more beautiful than the girls,” wouldn’t this reflect on Mr. Cooper’s taste rather than the efforts of the editors who preceeded him? A fortiori his mention of the absence of “eye contact between men and women, never any tension on the page.”


We have arrived at the dark heart of that strain of heterosexuality forever at war with itself. Clearly it is male beauty that threatens Mr. Cooper, with the unspoken fear that finding men beautiful marks one as a fag. But he adds another wrinkle via his objection to an alleged absence of male dominence in the fashion spread mise en scene. Apparently “real men” are supposed to be not only less comely than women but perpetually demonstrative of their dominance over them — via ocular power. Inevitably one is reminded of “Pablo Picasso,” Jonathan Richman’s famous song (John Cale’s rendition being my favorite):

“Men try to pick up girls and they get called assholes,

That never happened to Pablo Picasso

He could walk down the street and women could not resist his stare,

Pablo Picasso never got called an asshole.”

The GQ male must Stare to Conquer. Yet even here Mr. Cooper has his misgivings:

“But I didn’t just add women to the pages via beautiful photographs of them, I added articles by women, expressing their points of view.”

Apparently such articles didn’t touch on the now two-decades old phenonemon of “Slash” fiction — underground gay porn written by women for women in which the characters of Star Trek (particularly William Shatner’s Captain Krik and Leonard Nimoys’s Mr. Spock) enjoy what Cole Porter called “the urge to merge with a splurge.” Someone should also inform Mr. Cooper of the fact that largest audience for Showtime’s Queer As Folk series consists not of gay men, but rather straight women who enjoy watching men get it on with one another a la Slash.

But I suspect this is a bit beyond Cooper who goes on to declare —

“Self-confidence is very sexy, as is wit and intelligence. A healthy appetite is something else I find appealing. “

And I also suspect that for their part women are looking for a man who “has a clue,” as the children say nowadays.