Work Title: Chasing Adonis: Gay Men and the Pursuit of Perfection
Work Author(s): Tim Bergling
Harrington Park Press
8 illustrations, 31 charts, 297 pages, Hardcover $44.95, Softcover $16.95, 978-1-56023-509-5
Reviewer: Courtney Arnold
Gay, straight, or otherwise, anyone who picks up a fashion magazine or flips on the television once in a while is probably familiar with the "mainstream" gay male prototype: stunningly handsome, always fashionable, and eternally youthful. In short, he's an Adonis.
But how realistic is this stereotype, and what is its impact upon the very men it is meant to market to and represent? The author, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, television producer, and author of Sissyphobia: Gay Men and Effeminate Behavior and Reeling in the Years: Gay Men's Perspectives on Age and Ageism, explores these questions and many more. He surveyed more than a thousand gay men via the Internet, telephone interviews, and in person, about their personal experiences with the seductive and problematic ideal of male perfection. Beneath the perfectly sculpted surface, he found that though the ideal itself seems ubiquitous, if only thanks to Madison Avenue, its effects upon the lives of real people are wide-ranging and multi-faceted.
Bergling himself is the first to admit that his research wouldn't pass formal scientific scrutiny. Still, the attitudes and opinions of these real men represent a broad spectrum in terms of both tastes and cultural and self-awareness. Thanks to the relatively informal nature of the process itself (and the safety and anonymity of the Internet), their answers are not only compelling as data, but also as entertainment. Take Ryan, who consents to a disastrous three-way with a woman because he's in love with his straight best friend, or the...