Teenagers


I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that “twincest” is a neologism you don’t need to impart into your regular vocabulary, but it is raised in a recent Salon article on Milo and Elijah Peters, 19-year-old Czech twins who have caused a stir in the gay porn community.  The twins reportedly first showed up on the website of Bratislava-based porn distributor Bel Ami in the summer of 2009 in group videos, not touching.  Over a period of months, they progressed to mutual handjobs within a group scenario, then blowjobs, then oral sex, and finally (and hugely publicized), anal intercourse.

Thomas Rogers explains:

While the concept of twin performers is not new to the gay porn world, the Peters twins are notable both because of the extent of their popularity and the things they are willing to do with each other on camera. They French kiss; they perform oral sex on each other; they have anal sex; and most shockingly of all, they do it in a tender and romantic way.

“My brother is my boyfriend, and I am his boyfriend,” says one of the twins during a phone call from Prague (Elijah and Milo sound so much alike on the phone it is impossible to tell which one is speaking). “He is my lifeblood, and he is my only love.”

The twins’ astonishing lack of shame — and their willingness to do anything with each other on camera — has helped turn them into a gay porn phenomenon. Since they first began appearing on Czech porn studio Bel Ami’s website (NSFW, like all links in this story) in 2009, the company’s traffic has doubled to 1.5 million users per month, and Milo and Elijah have become the subject of breathless coverage on adult blogging sites like Fleshbot and The Sword. They’ve even been flown from Prague to the United States for a whirlwind tour of Florida gay nightspots. But their surprising popularity raises some disturbing questions: Who are these twins? What keeps so many people watching them? And what, exactly, are viewers getting off on?

Rogers doesn’t quite answer all these worthy questions in the article, but they are certainly worth a ponder.  First, the boys themselves:  they’re cute and twinky, no doubt about it, and either one of them on their own could likely make a small splash, but in combination?  Titillation dynamite.  They even have a YouTube channel to give their fans access to their lives (the video below, in which they talk about their upcoming trip to Florida, is SFW): (more…)

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pageantTo be honest, I actually have a pretty high threshold for people babbling about their kids.  I like kids, I used to work with them, and I genuinely find them fascinating and their parents’ sense of delight charming.  Kids are great.  I am interested in their first words, the playground throwdowns, and how their respective parents are tackling puberty issues.  I’m a good audience for kid stories in general.

What I have a lower tolerance for, however, is both the total overshare aspects of childrearing and the stupified superiority complexes exhibited by some parents, which is why I had to stay at work an hour late today to make up for the fact that I read every single entry in the STFU, Parents tumblr.  I was alerted to this blog courtesy of a Salon Broadsheet post, and it happily exceeded my expectations.

STFUParents is a lovingly-crafted wee gem that encapsulates (and takes to task) the smug and pedestrian tendencies exhibited by some folks the second they discover they’re about to birth their own “little miracle.”  Specifically targeting the mind-numbing and nausea-inducing Facebook updates people impose on their friends (and by friends I may mean people-they-have-not-actually-spoken-to-in-twenty-years) about their shitting, puking bundles of overachieving joy, STFUParents hilariously skewers obsessive parenthood, lack of awareness, and the self-satisfied “Supermom!”

What breed of parent are we talking about here?  Not necessarily the nice people you work with, who might bust out with a wry and exhausted anecdote about their firstborn teething.  Not your cool friends who have, yeah, experienced a life-changing event and share some of the joys and punishments with you, without losing their perspective or their ability to relate.  Rather, the blog tackles those folks who have taken the self-congratulatory and exclusive road by proclaiming things like:  “You can only relate if your (sic) a parent!!!! lol :).”  Or:  “Baby Cleopatra unleashed an atomic bomb today!!!  I didn’t know poo could explode out the back of the diaper and into the hair!  LMAO!!!” (more…)

friendsquizI want to talk about some of the pop-culture crap I am exposed to every day as a media-friendly Westerner, and my total disinterest in a shedload of said crap.  In this day and age, we are in a historically unique and privileged position to suffer from heretofore unseen levels of sensory and information overload, at least half of which is, as mentioned above, absolute crap.

Sometimes I feel like my brain has been peeled off the walls of my skull, drained out through my ears and nose, deposited in a jar of sugary Cool-Aid, shoved in a blender, and then filtered back into my head via a reverse-suction Slurpee straw.  By which I mean to say, almost every freshly-gleaned insight and hardwon smattering of knowledge I managed to retain over hundreds of years of schooling is being gradually eroded and sanded to nothingness by a constant stream of gossip that I am internalizing and remembering about the cast of Gray’s Anatomy, a show that I have never seen nor wished to view.

The criteria for a Pop-Culture Cop-Out are loose.  These may be things the general, idiot public seem to enjoy, or things that your peer group expect you to enjoy, be that enjoyment ironic, nostalgic, or genuine.  It has to be more than a movie that was inexplicably popular (like Wanted, which was so godawful I fell asleep on the couch in a self-directed mercy-kill), but, instead, a franchise that is well-regarded and continues to resonate with the populace, to your utter confusion.

Some cases of Pop-Culture Cop-Out can be attributed to snobbery; in other cases, it’s just that the phenomenon simply never connected with you.  In my call-outs, I’m not begrudging the enjoyment other people have experienced from these things (excepting Mariah Carey, maybe); I just want to list a number of pop-culture instances that never resonated with me, for one reason or another, and of which I work hard to maintain my willful ignorance.  I have only so many brain cells, and I have to fight for their integrity. 

These are things I feel I am meant to respect, but which fail to strike a solitary note of interest in my breast.  What follows is a non-chronological history of popular cultural phenomena in which I have utterly failed to participate: (more…)

 

starlingsI read Nina de Gramont’s Gossip of the Starlings on Sunday in a leisurely four or five hours, and strongly recommend it as a satisfying, lazy weekend read.  The comparisons to Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep are inevitable, since Prep shot to glory as such an eponymous pinnacle of prep school novels in 2005, but I enjoyed Starlings a great deal more.   I haven’t read Prep since it first came out and, indeed, recall reading it in almost one sitting, but have never revisited it due to my lingering frustration at central character Lee’s extreme passiveness and unwillingness to participate in her own life.  That said, it was a very well-written and clearly memorable novel, and Sittenfeld’s talent is not in question.

De Gramont’s Gossip of the Starlings takes place in 1980s northeastern prep school and aside from a few minor details (such as the school’s permissiveness with regard to students hitchhiking to town and the political structure of the Reagan years), could easily take place in any decade since.  The story concerns Catherine Morrow’s transfer to an elite girls’ school after her parents pull her out of her co-ed prep school when she is caught in bed with her boyfriend, John Paul.  Banished to Esther Percy School, Catherine is sought out for friendship by the luminous, famous Skye Butterfield, daughter of a popular Democratic senator.  Skye has been expelled from her own previous schools on account of her protest against a plutonium manufacturing site and because she was caught writing papers for a scholarship student.

But Skye’s seeming wholesomeness is begging for corruption, and she seeks out Catherine as a minister.  Starting from the first chapter, when Catherine and Skye snort cocaine in Catherine’s room and swear to tell each other about the afterlife when one of them dies first, the novel is imbued with a sense of dread countered by the timeless teenage conceit of immortality.  It reminded me, pleasantly, of Donn Tartt’s The Secret History, one of my favorite books, and captures a similar aura of freewheeling doom and contradictory, simultaneous adolescent certainty that this sparkling era will remain forever untouched.    (more…)

Normally, if you offered to show me a video of a high school kid doing his best Slim Shady in aid of his Student Body President campaign (and a kid from one of my local high schools, no less), my reaction would be… unenthused.

If you then told me that an Abraham Lincoln costume and a clown were involved, you might spark some interest.  If you further elaborated and said that the dorkily awesome kid uses no misogyny, fake guns, or cusswords, but sticks with humor and a truly solid beat, I would mull it over.  If you finally promised that he keeps it perfectly timed at a tidy two-and-a-half minutes, you’d have my full attention.  Behold, Andrew Edison for Student Body President in “A Vote For Me”:

You win, kid.  I would definitely have voted for you, and wanted you to be my senior prom date.  Call me.  On the telephone.

This is what I got as thanks for my nuanced and thoughtful narrative of yesterday on loathing and loss:

From: Mom (2:12 am)

I did NOT throw away that trashy old t-shirt!  You are taking literary license too far.

 mom xoxoxoxox

From: Me (5:25 pm)

You totally tried to throw it away once and I caught you.  No lie!

Consequently I will be BURIED in it.  Not really, I just like it because it’s so thin and soft, but I don’t really wear it outside the house.

From: Mom (6:10 pm)

I do not recall such an incident with that shirt although I really disliked it; you must have dreamed it.  I learned my lesson early, when you were about four, when you looked in the trash and saw that I was throwing away something that you weren’t ready to let go of.  I had already had similar discussions with your father who also likes to go dumpster diving.  You retrieved it and acted so hurt that I would discard something so precious to you.  Who knew?  I learned to put stuff in the bottom of the bags I dumped used kitty litter in – sneaky, huh?  I’m glad you still have the shirt if you love it so much, and if you die first, I will see that you wear it in your open casket and are then buried in it.

Please note the cunning use of Mom-guage (that’s like language, but with moms!  Think it will catch on?) present here.  In the first email, we see the harmless tee-shirt described as “trashy” (foreshadowing after the fact!).  I have also taken things too far, as in “give a kid an inch and she’ll take a yard, and then wear something slutty at the same time.”  Classic mom stuff.

In the second email, she denies memory of – and therefore responsibility for –  the incident.  She turns it on me nicely with, “you must have dreamed it.”  I am a confabulator, see, and my own memory is not to be trusted.  Next, we understand that I am an irredeemable packrat practically since conception, just like my father (again, denial of responsibility, due to a fluke of inferior genetics passed down on the patriarchal side.  You reproduced with him, Mom!  You knew what you were risking going in!).  (more…)

jon-1As a young adolescent, I wasn’t really one to fantasize about celebrities.  I didn’t see much point in crushing on pop stars who didn’t know I existed, preferring instead to crush on local, unfamous teenage boys who didn’t know I existed.  It’s a normal rite of passage for young girls to harbor elaborate daydreams about celebrities, a natural and unthreatening exploration of romance and sexuality safely confined to the daydreamer’s head.  Like practicing tongue-kissing with your hand curled into a fist or stuffing socks down your training bra, plastering your bedroom with ripped-out magazine photos of the Teen Idol du jour is a time-tested method of preparation for impending puberty and the confusing rush of hormones that accompany it.

Around the age of eight or nine, I recall my girlfriends obsessing over the New Kids on the Block – sadly, theirs was the first live concert I ever attended.  Fairly immune to the Kids’ charms and confused by the screaming fanbase around me, I spent the majority of the experience with earplugs in and my head between my legs, fighting a pre-pubescent panic attack.  It was my best friend’s tenth birthday and I feigned interest in the entirely New Kids-themed affair, including my party favor (a poster of Jordan Knight that was subsequently abandoned years later, still rolled-up and dusty in my closet).  It was a slumber party and the rest of the girls stayed up late into the night, high on excitement and Coca-Cola after the concert, eagerly chattering in the dark about which New Kid they’d most like to kiss.  I didn’t really get it, but I tried to fake it.

I don’t even recall what other celebrities were objects of pre-teen girl interest in those days.  I remember that Christian Slater was definitely considered hot (it doesn’t get better than Heathers), but most of my romantic fantasizing was centered around the few boys I actually knew and could chase around the playground, shrieking, after they stole my snap bracelet.  I didn’t watch television much and the only music I really listened to was Madonna, so I was fairly removed from pop culture crushes.  Or I was, until I discovered my one true love, the boy I was meant to be with, my soul mate, and the focus of every searing, devastating fiber of my yearning being.

Jonathan Brandis. (more…)

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