boat train

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


The first statue I wanted to have sex with was a bronze statue by Uli Nimptsch at the Tate in London. Actually that's putting it too unambiguously. My desires were disorganized and muddled: I wanted it with more than my eyes and the thing turned me on. I was embarrassed by this chaotic longing, chiefly because I was sure it was written all over my face, and since the statue is of a woman I figured my fellow museum patrons would know by looking that I was gay. The unexamined question is, why would desire for a piece of bronze in the shape of a woman signify gay?

(This reminds me of a conversation on Dan Savage's old radio program. A guy called in to talk to what he figured would be an understanding audience about his love of his horse. Dan wasn't all that sympathic to the interspecies love that dares not speak its name, and was a bit confused as to why this guy was calling from somewhere in the midwest to a gay call-in show in Seattle. I guess the guy figured, sodomy, bestiality, same thing. Nevertheless, Dan was game for a conversation and started asking questions.

Dan: "So is it a female horse?"
(shocked silence)
Caller: "Of course it is! I'm not gay.")

Anyway, I started thinking about this on my way between the downtown YMCA and the library where there's another statue that always turns my head. I'm almost shocked by the nudity of this piece of bronze because to me it just screams sex. I can barely look at it -- my desires make me feel exposed again, more looked at than looking.

It makes me think about the scandals of the moment on TV or in the movies that leave me scratching my head, like Janet Jackson's boob or Nicolette Sheridan's towel. To a casual observer, the interracial thing pops out in both instances, but clearly, what makes the images scandalous is not the images themselves, but the fully engaged viewer's internal juices rising chaotically in response. Both interactions were so staged, commercial and bloodless that my Id barely took notice, but to some people, the family values crowd, these images were hot, hot, hot. It's funny they declare it so openly, sermonizing on the Sunday morning talk shows, but I guess they don't have the wit to imagine that not everyone shares their deepest, taboo-laden desires. Still, they try to make us complicit in maintaining their boundries of acceptable sexual expression. That way they can have their moral outrage and be aroused by it too.


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