The gay scene is often, and rightly, criticised for its obsession with physical appearances. As a group, we worship the terminally hot and disregard the average-looking.
It’s all a bit fucked, of course.
But here’s a funny thing: it ain’t necessarily the hot dudes who get all the sex in this town.
Indeed, I reckon that a guy’s pick-up rate and his level of physical attractiveness are almost (but not quite) mutually exclusive things.
Obviously handsomeness counts for something, but other factors seem to be important when it comes to strike rates. The amount of pick-ups or win-ons that a man gets seems to have more to do with his sex drive, his sense of confidence, where he hangs out and his preparedness to respond to sexual situations.
How do I know this? Well, I don’t -“ it’s not as if I’m one of those triple-A-list hot dudes who seemingly everyone wants to fuck. It’s just my sense of how things are.
And it’s one of the things I really like about Sydney’s gay scene. In this city, we have a very visible scene dominated by some extremely hot men. The guys at the centre of this milieu -“ the ones whose faces get splashed over the social pages every other week -“ seem to epitomise 21st century gay desire -¦ but I don’t think they epitomise gay action.
Let me put it this way. It’s not the shirtless buff podium dancer who’s having all the fun (even though most of us, I suspect, believe that he is); it’s the guys on the periphery -“ the down’n’dirty types who are too busy rooting each other to worry about whether they’re the prettiest boy in the room.
I like this fact; it’s reassuring. Sometimes the gay scene can seem like a ridiculously shallow place in which the only measure of worth is attractiveness, and it’s nice to be reminded that not all of the good things are reserved for the triple-A-list hot dudes.
Plus, Sydney is big enough for other sub-scenes to have reached a critical mass. If snaking lines outside the Oxford Hotel on a Friday night are any indication, the Harbour City Bears are thriving. Then there’s the Manacle crowd, the Phoenix crowd, the suits brigade and the sporty scene, to name just a few. The signs of diversity are stronger than we might sometimes think.
And the reality of sexual desire is far more complex than the products of the gay scene sometimes make out. Advertisements directed towards us tend to pre-suppose one type of attractiveness, one type of sexual desirability, as if we’re all programmed to respond in the same way to the same stimuli. It certainly feels that way sometimes (for example, I don’t know anyone who didn’t find the cover model of last month’s DNA totally gorgeous), but it’s really not the case: desire works in weird ways and activates all kinds of kooky triggers in our individual subconscious.
And there’s something else on top of all that which governs desire and strike-rates: the x factor. Austin Powers called it his mojo; Jerry Seinfeld called it the kavorka. Whatever it is, it’s mysterious and it’s inexplicable. It can be dreadfully unfair and hilariously karmic in nature, or just plain random. It resists analysis, and it makes the world go ’round. It can make the most average-seeming guy a rooter of legendary proportions. There’s something really great about that.