My way or the highway: Gay etiquette book trades on stereotypes and typos

The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, by Corey Rosenberg. (2011, Chelsea Station Editions) $15. 120 pp.

Oscar Wilde, as usual, said it best: “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.”

Corey Rosenberg’s current-day homage to homosexual decorum, The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, deftly seizes upon Wilde’s Victorian-era kernel of truth and expands it into a post-modern banquet of American gay, fast-food sensibilities.

More pamphlet, unfortunately, than book, Rosenberg’s opus would have benefited greatly from decent editing: Wise amelioration would certainly have gone a long way toward persuading Rosenberg’s readers to trust his voice. When he refers to himself in the preface as, “the consummate host,” the reader is absolutely ready to follow him down the path of how to do the right and proper thing; sadly, when he goes on to own up nobly to some “shear [sic] and vile behavior,” the reader is caught flat-footed by poor editing.

Unacceptable typos aside — even in a book professing to divulge proper gay etiquette — Chapter 1’s title alone, “The truth about ‘pleases’ & thank you’s’” is too littered with grammatical heresies for any person (say nothing of whether they’re gay) interested in learning proper behavior to take cues from this puffery of sheer syntax laziness; that said, Rosenberg is spot-on regarding why one should never forget to say “please” or “thank you.”

How this common-sense wisdom applies to gay men exclusively is not elucidated upon, except the dismissive assertion that, “attitudes of entitlement are a commonality in the gay community.” Bullfeathers! This reviewer, as a card-carrying member of the club himself, has a very difficult time accepting the cliché of all gay men being self-centered prima donnas.

The book is a puzzling

parade of mixed-message brevity. Chapter 3’s full 110 words, entitled “The Gym,” rather preciously proclaim, “Please remember that the only person you are meant to compete with at the gym is yourself;” yet, Chapter 13’s subject, “Being Attired Properly and Appropriately,” states, “A respectable gay man never wears a skimpy Speedo unless his stomach is tight, his skin is a few shades darker than a wintry shade of pale and he is under the age of 50.” Which is it: Are gay men only complete with themselves when they’re young and physically attractive to others; or are they only complete with themselves once they’re too old to pass for under-50?

At worst, Rosenberg’s guide to gay propriety is an innocuous piece of fluff, like bellybutton lint illuminated by a reflected disco ball’s ray upon your trick’s glistening, shirtless torso.

Rosenberg does offer useful visuals on how to loop a genteel bow tie knot, even if he doesn’t tackle acknowledging the difference between modern life and yesteryear: As he attests in Chapter 18, “Social climbing is a sleazy act of using people to quickly achieve higher rank or status within the community. A proper young man knows the difference between innocent social networking and skipping lines and climbing ladders.”

Here’s to all “proper” young men, then — past, present and future.

— Howard Lewis Russell

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Disorder in the court — again

Last week, all hell broke loose in the Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting when some folks angry over what was, in effect, the firing of County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbert decided to express that anger to the person they considered primarily responsible for something they saw as unfair: Commissioner John Wiley Price.

One speaker, Dallas lawyer Jeff Turner, a white man, used the term “chief mullah” in referring to Price, who is black. Price said he heard Turner say, “chief moolah” and considered it a racist term. Price, in term, noted that all the speakers criticizing him were white and suggested they all “Go to hell.”  He reportedly told the speakers to go to hell several times, and even said, “You too, fat boy,” to another speaker.

Today, though, County Judge Clay Jenkins was determined not to let things get out of hand. But some folks, according to this report by Dallas Morning News, went a little too far. DMN says Jenkins refused to allow any speaker to say anything at all critical about the court as a whole or any of the commissioners — something that those who got gaveled down by Jenkins considered to be downright unconstitutional.

What did Commissioner Price think? His comment was, “You wanted decorum, you got decorum.”

The Morning News also reports that the court has passed a new code of conduct for themselves, but didn’t say what the new conduct requires.

My favorite part of the whole thing though was this comment posted on the DMN story by a reader: “I miss [openly gay former County] Judge [Jim] Foster already.”

—  admin

An inconvenient woman

Rivers leaves no turn unstoned in frank, funny but standard-issue doc

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

JOAN DARK | Rivers does wrestle with demons; she just turns them into jokes in her act.

3 out of 5 Stars
JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK
Joan Rivers. Rated R. 90 mins. Opens today at the
Magnolia Theater and the
Angelika Film Center Plano.

Joan Rivers is both an enigma and exactly what she seems: A foul-mouthed comedian who has made a career pushing buttons and causing controversy without consideration for decorum. But then again, what drives her to “be that guy”? Is there something deeper, other than the quest for immortality and applause and approval?

We never quite learn the answer to that in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, a documentary culled from following Rivers around for a year or so around the time she won Celebrity Apprentice. Sure, we learn of the pain of her rift with Johnny Carson and the suicide of her husband and her fragile ego and her feelings about never being a critics’ darling.

But how did she make the leap to her brand of truth-telling? Does she have limits? Like getting to the center of a Tootsie Pop, we may never know.

What we do know from the documentary, though, can be fabulously entertaining. Rivers is upfront about her addiction to plastic surgery (although she avoids talking about her now-catlike appearance); she walks us through her joke file (and shares crass ones about Michelle Obama and Nazis); she tells us what current comedians she considers “brilliant” (Maher, Shandling, Tomlin); explains why she loves anal; and how she gives Kathy competition as champion of the gays. (“What’s the gay community like here?” she asks a cabbie in rural Wisconsin. “I don’t know,” responds her driver suspiciously. “Ask your wife’s brother,” she snaps back.)

There’s also the curiosity of seeing classic video of Rivers doing standup 40 years ago … and realizing that what was considered racy then seems Disney Channel tame by today’s standards.

Yet Joan remains endlessly fascinating. She’s a money, fame and attention whore who shouts down hecklers and takes no prisoners. “Can we talk?” she used to ask rhetorically.

I don’t know about “we.” But can she ever.

This article appeared in the National Pride edition in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010

—  Dallasvoice