Tag Archives: Ashton Kutcher

In defense of NSA (“no strings attached”)…sort of

They’re probably my three least favorite letters in gay life: NSA, aka “no strings attached.”

Even if I wasn’t completely over acronyms, I’d probably never actually use this one in everyday conversation. In the gay lexicon, it’s something considerably colder and less romantic than the straight version of NSA that inspired the Ashton Kutcher-Natalie Portman rom-com No Strings Attached, which was not about puppet love.

In the cinematic version of NSA (and, by extension, the straight one), there’s more of a human element. It’s a lot like the “friends with benefits” thing also documented in a movie (starring Justin Timberlake, whose former group NSYNC once released an album called No Strings Attached, and Kutcher’s future wife and Portman’s Black Swan costar, Mila Kunis).

Gay NSA is generally less personal or personable, at least as I understand it in Grindr-speak. Size (Hung?) and preferred position (Top or bottom?) are far more important than pesky details like names. Yes, it’s as incredibly unsexy as it sounds, but when you wake up horny craving sex for breakfast, it’s a pretty expedient way to satisfy morning hunger.

I presume the reason why the old, antiquated phrase “one-night stand” doesn’t apply is because the peak NSA hours tend to be right before and after dawn when gay men seem to be at their horniest. “Anonymous sex” is apparently also passe, probably because it sounds too brutal and unfeeling, and “casual sex” sounds like you’re watching a ball game at the same time. “NSA” may be direct and a little lazy (which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the sex), but it’s vague enough to almost pass for something people do in polite company.

I spent many years being wary of NSA under all of its names, and I still cringe a little every time I see those three letters on Grindr. Would it kill guys to pursue it without spelling it out? Shouldn’t it be understood that if you have sex with a stranger there won’t be strings attached?

What un-deluded gay man is dreaming of a white picket fence and mentally picking out matching wedding bands while riding home in a taxi with the boy he just met. Even in Buenos Aires, where porteño guys would often drop “Te quiero” (I love you) before the cab reached its destination, I knew better than to ever take them seriously.

All that said, I used to pride myself on never hooking up with anyone I wouldn’t be open to seeing again, even ones I met on holiday — or ones who were on holiday when I met them. Paolo, one of the two great loves of my life, was visiting New York City from Milan when he and I met. That our relationship (doomed as it was) ended up unfolding on three different continents over the course of nearly a decade is proof that anything can happen between two strangers in the night if both are open to it.

Then one depressing birthday (incidentally, the one after I saw Paolo for the final time), I decided to throw caution and moralizing to the wind and take the NSA plunge. I’m terrible at names anyway, and I rarely remember them, so would it kill me to not bother asking?

The experience itself was unmemorable, but I’ll never forget the way it made me feel — not cheap and dirty, as I was expecting, but strangely liberated and, well, clean. There were no messy emotions. I was able to turn off my brain in a way I couldn’t before when I was half thinking about the future. If I was never going to see him again, who cared what he thought about me? I could go way out of character for once and just live in the moment.

But once the moment was over, there was nothing, no future prospect, not even afterglow, which has always been my second favorite movement in the extended sex suite (my favorite being the dance leading up to the first kiss). That’s the downside of NSA, and as a cuddler/spooner, it’s a pretty major one. I was proud of myself for giving it a go, and I could finally say I understood why people do it, but it wasn’t really me.

It’s still not, but I have an even better understanding of it today than I did right after that mind-opening birthday. I think that for some, NSA is almost a form of armor, especially in a city like Sydney where, to quote the guy at the 2:19 point in this clip, nothing means anything. If he’s just a body, not a person, he can’t hurt you.

And if you’re after instant gratification — and in the Grindr age, nearly everyone seems to be? — NSA is the uncomplicated way to get it. You can turn off your mind and just enjoy now. Who cares if you don’t remember it an hour later? There’ll be another new NSA session soon enough, if you want it, because there’s always another hot guy “looking.” (And “hot” is key to NSA because if personality isn’t going to be a factor, the NSA prospect has only the physical to work in his favor.)

It’ll probably never be my thing because my brain is too pivotal to my turn-on process and living in the future is just part of my character. But now that I understand NSA, it’s easier to live with it. And if I do decide to go there, I know I won’t have to worry about making awkward conversation or how to delicately usher him out the door in the unlikely event that I want to skip afterglow.

By the time I think of an excuse why he can’t stay, he’ll probably be already gone.


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“I Don’t Regret Outing Anderson Cooper”: A Moment of Truth in Activism, Or Self-Promotional Rhetoric?

Walk-in or not, the closet can be a lonely, dangerous place, and not just for those who are afraid of the dark. It’s a treacherous domain, whether you’re hiding inside of it or standing on the outside, waiting in vain for someone you love to emerge. I’ve languished on both sides of that closed door, and believe me, nobody wins until it has been flung wide open.

But despite the pain of playing that waiting game, I steadfastly believe that only the person on the inside should have access to the key that unlocks the door.

When my best friend broke the news to me yesterday that Anderson Cooper had come out of his own closet (via an email to the Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan), I shrugged. Hadn’t that already happened ages ago? I blamed my misinformation on being a bit too plugged in when it comes to such matters and also to what has been called “the new coming out,” where celebrities like The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons acknowledge that they’re gay without announcing it on the cover of Time (Ellen Degeneres “Yep, I’m Gay”-style), or in the pages of People magazine, as Chely Wright and Clay Aiken did before public pronouncements were no longer a coming (out)-of-age rite of passage.

But getting back to Anderson Cooper, I, like many gay journalists in the know, assumed that everybody knew. Was Cooper living a lie? As far as I know, there were no “beards” being paraded about in public in order to maintain a squeaky-straight image. When he interviewed me on CNN years ago about Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s then-burgeoning courtship, the rapport between us was decidedly one of two gay guys gossiping. Years earlier, he’d briefly dated an acquaintance of mine. If there was any hiding going on, he was doing it in plain sight.

Then my friend, the same one who broke the news to me, sent me a link to a Guardian Op Ed piece in which Brian Moylan, a former Gawker staff writer, defended his “outing” of Cooper over and over, over the years. It pushed me into sad reality: Just because my gaydar is functioning at 99.9 percent, doesn’t mean the rest of the world’s is. I’m sure many of the same people who had no idea that Adam Lambert was gay until he made his own announcement are still coming to terms with the fact that the guy who plays Sheldon Cooper (no relation) on The Big Bang Theory is one of them — us, if you happen to be gay, too.

While I understand and agree with Moylan’s assertion that more successful and out people like Cooper could benefit young homosexuals struggling with their sexuality by showing them that sometimes, it does get better, I’m saddened by his lack of sensitivity regarding what is perhaps the single most important decision any homosexual will ever make. Coming out of the closet is something that should be up to each one of us to decide, and just because you are a public figure does not mean that you should suddenly have to forfeit that privacy. Even the word “outing” has such an aggressive connotation. It sounds hostile and angry, which used to be the opposite of “gay.”

By making such a big issue over how Cooper publicly acknowledges his sexuality, Moylan was and is, in effect, widening the gap between gay and straight people. Straight people never have to defend or explain whom they sleep with by announcing that they’re straight, so why should gay people be obligated to do so? I’m not talking about homosexuals who marry while having clandestine affairs with people of the same sex. They become fair game in much the same way that actors and actresses who lie about their age do.

But to suggest that a public figure who lives openly and honestly without publicly sticking a label on himself (or herself) is somehow doing his (or her) gay brothers and sisters a disservice is ludicrous. Especially when, as with Moylan, it comes down to not how a person lives his or her life, but which words one uses to describe his or her life, and the person he or she sleeps with. (Apparently, “companion” is not good enough for Moylan — it’s “partner” or out of the closet you’re pushed!) No one expects, say, Mark Wahlberg to appear on the cover of Us Weekly to call himself “straight,” and if he did, some would probably criticize him for not wanting to be mistaken for a gay man.

Furthermore, I fail to see who the big beneficiaries of Cooper’s coming out are, other than Cooper himself (complete freedom, at last) and people like Moylan who will use this story to promote theirs. Most young gay people struggling with their sexuality probably have never even heard of Cooper, and it’s not like people who oppose gay marriage will change their stance just because Cooper was pushed out of the closet. A change is gonna come, I guarantee it will. But if we’re looking for a celebrity to set it in motion, it’s going to take someone of Zac Efron’s or Channing Tatum’s stature, not a television journalist.

If we want gay people to be protected by the same laws that protect straight people, we can’t start enforcing a completely different set of rules on them. I don’t know Moylan personally, but I’m suspicious of his motives. It would have been one thing if he had revealed Cooper’s sexuality as a simple matter of fact (which is how the New York Times “outed” Parsons), and then let it go. But he had to make it an ongoing personal crusade (or so he says now) and then wave his rainbow flag in an editorial, inadvertently appointing himself the savior of the gay people and the judge of what words they should and shouldn’t use to describe themselves and their lives.

Kudos to Cooper, and congratulations, too, for finally publicly acknowledging that he’s a gay man. But shame on Moylan for sticking himself in the middle of Cooper’s personal journey and taking credit for doing something that’s not nearly as honorable as he seems to think it is.

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Raise your hand if you like ex-'Grey's Anatomy' star Katherine Heigl

Actress Katherine Heigl, who plays the lead ro...

Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife

Just as I thought. Not one hand up to the ceiling.

Honestly, I don’t think I know anyone who is crazy about the woman. In fact, most people I know — myself excluded — don’t really like her. Last year when I suggested on my other blog that I might be coming around to finding her tolerable, if not downright lovable, I almost immediately received the following comment.

I have to say, I despise Katherine Heigl. I used to like her — until she made a big stink about withdrawing her name from Emmy consideration and slamming the Grey’s writers ‘for not giving her a quality storyline.’ She looked like a selfish, self-important brat. And the thing is, in Knocked Up ANYONE could have played that role. The thing about Judd Apatow films is that generally, the female lead is an interchangeable pretty girl (Elizabeth Banks is the one exception — she has real comedic chops). Any pretty young thing could have played that role, I think. She just annoys me to no end. Plus, I swear she has three front teeth.”

So is it because, like her former Grey’s Anatomy character, Izzie Stevens, she’s an unbearably whiny shrew? Did Heigl’s behind-the-scenes divadom on Grey‘s, the way she bites the hand that feeds her by protesting everything a little bit too loudly, turn people off? In a 2007 Vanity Fair article, she called Knocked Up, the movie that launched her upward movie-star trajectory, “a little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight…. I had a hard time with it, on some days. I’m playing such a bitch; why is she being such a killjoy?”

Like Izzie Stevens? Or Heigl herself?

Maybe that’s it. Perhaps the lack of enthusiasm I sense toward Heigl as a personality has more to do with the actress herself, her certain brand of ice queeniness, that killjoy thing. She’s like the prom/Homecoming queen in high school who everyone pretended to adore because it was good social strategy but really hated behind her back.

Yet her star rises — and rises. Though she’s not in danger of being branded America’s sweetheart anytime soon, people can’t seem to get enough of her on the big screen. Aside from Meryl Streep, I can’t think of a single lady — current Hollywood queen bee Sandra Bullock included — whose last three wide-release films all made more than $20 million during their opening weekend. Not Jennifer Aniston. Not Cameron Diaz. Not Julia Roberts. Not Reese Witherspoon. Well, you get my drift.

Granted, as was suggested above, 2007’s Knocked Up probably would have made more than $30 million in weekend one with or without Heigl, but certainly audiences weren’t flocking to see 2008’s 27 Dresses ($23 million) or last year’s The Ugly Truth ($27.6 million) because of their respective male leads, James Marsden and Gerard Butler. Nor was it those stellar reviews or can’t-miss romantic premises. Which leaves a single draw: Heigl.

But why her? Is it leftover goodwill from Knocked Up? Most of her costars in that film have appeared in more movies than Heigl since them, but none of them — not Seth Rogen, not Leslie Mann, not Jonah Hill — has been as solidly bankable. And Heigl’s winning streak doesn’t seem likely to end with her next film, Killers, due June 4. This time her costar is Ashton Kutcher, a long-time box-office favorite who cedes top billing to Heigl in the romantic comedy and makes it practically a shoo-in for eventual membership in the $100 million club.

Which still doesn’t answer the question of how someone whose persona is not particularly likable, is better known as a TV actress than a movie star, and has a name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, propelled herself onto Hollywood’s A-list while no one was looking? It’s similar to what has happened over the past decade or so to Kate Hudson — another successful romantic-comedy star who doesn’t ooze a surplus of charisma. But while Kate usually has the benefit of big-draw costars — Matthew McConaughey, Owen Wilson, Anne Hathaway — since Knocked Up, Heigl has been pulling in moviegoers on the strength of her own name.

It’s the biggest unsolved Hollywood mystery since NCIS became a Top 10 show five seasons in and one that Jennifer Lopez, currently underwhelming in The Back-Up Plan, should be dying to figure out. If anyone has any theories, please let me know, because this time, I’m completely stumped.


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Julianne Moore Returns to 'As the World Turns' as… Julianne Moore?

Julianne Moore at the 2008 Toronto Internation...

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It may not have been quite the coup that the producers of General Hospital pulled off when they lured Elizabeth Taylor to Port Charles as Helena Cassadine in 1981 to make Luke and Laura’s marriage a living hell, but as daytime TV goes, it was certainly must see.

Yesterday, for the first time in 22 years, Julianne Moore appeared on the show where she found her earliest fame, the CBS daytime soap As The World Turns, in her Daytime Emmy-winning role of Frannie Hughes. She blew into town to celebrate the wedding anniversary of her TV mom and dad, Bob and Kim. Although it’s great to see an Oscar-nominated star pay homage to her daytime roots, is it me or did Moore seem less in character and more like Julianne Moore doing a quick walk-on to say hello to some old friends? (See video below.)

In the end, that she showed up at all is what really matters. Let James Franco do the heavy lifting, as he recently did during a short-term General Hospital gig. If major big-screen stars are what it takes to give a boost to a dying genre (As the World Turns — which debuted in 1956, making it the longest-running soap on TV — will last air September 17), then bring them on.

A number of major prime-time and film stars, from David Hasselhoff to Josh Duhamel to three of the Desperate Housewives (Teri Hatcher, Eva Longoria and Marcia Cross) launched their careers in soaps, while Taylor, Franco, Carol Burnett and, more recently, Patrick Duffy and Betty White have gone in the opposite direction.

One Life to Live may have the best star-making track record, if not the best ratings. Tommy Lee Jones, Tom Berenger, Judith Light, Ryan Phillipe, Al Freeman Jr., Jameson Parker and Marcia Cross all put in time there. Tuc Watkins, a currently recurring player, is on Desperate Housewives; Eddie Alderson had a pivotal role in the 2008 Clint Eastwood-directed film Changeling; and Brian Kerwin has had a long and successful career in film, on TV and, like numerous OLTL stars, past and present, on Broadway.

In honor of Moore’s daytime comeback, here is a quartet of the biggest stars to emerge from daytime.

Julianne Moore From 1986 to 1988, she played separated-at-birth twins Frannie and Sabrina Hughes, one American, the other British. She’s continued playing dual roles in film, scoring four Oscar nominations for serving up her screen specialty of desperate housewives (Far From Heaven, The Hours) and certified nut jobs (Boogie Nights).

Tommy Lee Jones He played duplicitous Dr. Mark Toland on One Life to Live a bit before I started watching with my mom as a kid (1971 to 1975), but since then, he’s been a major presence in prime time and on the big screen, even winning an Oscar for chasing down Harrison Ford in 1993’s The Fugitive.

Meg Ryan One year before Moore’s arrival, Ryan completed her two-year romantic arc as Betsy Stewart on As the World Turns. She went on to become America’s sweetheart, the new Doris Day, a role she hung onto for several years even after Julia Roberts stole her queen of romantic comedy crown with Pretty Woman.

Demi Moore John Stamos and Janine Turner were both General Hospital regulars during Moore’s time in Port Charles as Jackie Templeton (1982-83), and all three went on to Hollywood success. Though, like Ryan, her hot-stuff era is more than a decade behind her, Moore had a string of movie hits in the late ’80s and early ’90s, at one point being Hollywood’s highest-paid actress, and A-list marriages to Bruce Willis and current spouse Ashton Kutcher.

Could the next Meryl Streep or Matthew McConaughey be biding his or her time in Pine Valley, Port Charles or Llanview?

[youtubevid id=”rCf5giWB2zg”]


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We Interrupt This Unforgettable Moment for a Twitter Update

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The devil made me do it!

Actually, it was my friend Gaston. Yesterday, an invitation from him turned up in my Hotmail inbox, and faster than you can say, “status update,” I had officially joined the Twitter club (though I’ve yet to actually tweet).

In a way, this goes against everything I used to stand for. Before I moved to Buenos Aires three and a half years ago, I used the internet to send and receive emails, to search for information and to keep up on current events. I called people to wish them a happy birthday, believed socializing, like breaking up, was best done face to face, and mourned the death of the handwritten letter.

But folks here in South America are even more internet-addicted than the people back home in the USA. Before long, I was dabbling in online dating, instant messaging, watching TV on YouTube and, finally, reconnecting with long-lost friends (most of whom I don’t remember) on Facebook. No one could ever again accuse me of being inaccessible.

Or of keeping anything to myself. At the end of the day, Facebook, Twitter and all their relatives are more about self-promotion than communication, which isn’t necessarily such a bad thing. But does the world need to know — or even care! — that I am at the gym, that I’m going to bed, that I just flushed the toilet, or that I thought Lady Gaga’s Grammy outfit looked really… weird?

Well, maybe the latter. That is, after all, why I blog. But I adamantly draw the line at discussing bowel movements, which, come to think of it, I’m doing now. Jeremy, get a hold of yourself!

Remember the days when stars seemed to exist in a galaxy far far away from us mere mortals. The closest we were ever going to get to Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise was sitting in dark, chilly, crowded theater, watching them flash their brilliant smiles on a giant screen. Now we know every detail about Ashton Kutcher’s life straight from the horses mouth except what it’s really like to live with Demi Moore.

What a difference several years make.

We no longer buy our music in record stores (sniff!). Aspiring musicians break out of the basement on MySpace. Last year, YouTube launched a superstar who recorded the second-best-selling album of the year. We learn about the deaths of famous people — from Farrah Fawcett to Patrick Swayze to Michael Jackson — on Facebook. We’ve stopped living in the moment because we’re too busy tweeting about it in progress to our friends.

What’s next? We already fall in love online. Will we soon go on dates online, too? Will we party online? Be born online? Die online? Of course, what kind of death would it be if we don’t tweet our final words to all our “followers.”

“It’s been great sharing every meaningless detail of my life with you. Got to go now. See you in the next life. I’ll be sure to tweet when I get there!

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