Above is an interview with Simon Doonan that I did a few weeks ago. I love him. In order to make this coherent as a piece (and not, you know, 45 minutes long, which was the duration of our chat), a lot of our back-and-forth couldn't be included. Things we talked about that weren't included were: Showgirls, his hanging out with Kitten Natividad, his bumping into Erica Gavin when she became a buyer for Barneys (using a pseudonym because she was ashamed of her days as a Russ Meyer girl!), Tyra (I expressed my dislike and he told me not to be jealous!) and that he is stopped on the street by girls praising his ability to make ANTM Cycle 2's Catie cry by telling her to go down to the docks, take in what the hookers are wearing and avoid it. A true classic stays with you for life.
What is included is mostly about his book, Gay Men Don't Get Fat, which is somewhat controversial (especially among people who haven't read it) as a result of its several sweeping generalizations. You don't have to look further than the title for one of those, but if you do, you'll find things like, "Straight conversation has no common denominators with gay conversation," and "We poofters strive to make life jolly and cute, like a chic cinematic anti-depressant." What a strange sensation it is to read about yourself and not relate whatsoever! It soon becomes clear, though, that Doonan's exaggerations are part of a device he uses to tell the truth; through his generalizations about how things are, he talks specifically about himself. (He totally knows that gay guys do get fat, hence the chapter on bears.)
In that respect, his book couldn't have been published at a better time, in this advent of shit-said shit, which also employs generalization as a medium. Conceptually, I think this is a very clever way to express your truth to an audience that will be talking back. Immediately, whenever a, "Shit Xes Say," video pops up, people look for themselves in it. Those videos' comments sections are full of, "OMG, I soooo relate!" or, "That is wrong, fail." By positing these personal observations so generally, one leaves his experiences and impressions open for debate, signaling an embrace of the fact that not everyone was going to agree with your argument, anyway. That's wisdom, whether the creators of this stuff know it or not. It's a way of making universal what is often a solitary medium that goes further to promote narcissism (we all know that the Internet is a breeding ground for that!). The effect is magical.
For that reason, I recommend listening to Doonan's opening words in the video above, because it is there that he gushes about the art of exaggeration. He's really charming, as is his book. Believe me, as someone who's stretched the definition of chunky with my actual waistline, I went into it thinking I would hate it, but it totally won me over.
Just a few more links to things I've done for work recently that were particularly satisfying: