By Jason P. Freeman
For emulation, information and advice regarding contemporary culture and social sensibility, most turn to television, movies, magazines and music as the authority on what's hot and what's not. But when it comes to the complicated and competitive world of gay dating, do the men-loving men of media really know what it takes to succeed in the youth-obsessed, image-conscious, marginalized mayhem of M4M?
"The less you do to attract people, the better," says Village Voice
columnist and longstanding NYC scenester Michael Musto. "If you're too strong on the offensive, people think you're mentally unhinged."
Musto keeps the interest hot and happening by being alluring. "Not by any trickery," he adds, "but by actually being alluring.
"Being deeply insecure, most men don't trust someone who actually likes them. So you have to play it cool and act all passive and mysterious. I'm pretty shy and withdrawn anyway, so that totally works. People want to dig into my mind and find out what's going on-—and sometimes that involves them digging into my pants too."
Yet for Levi Kreis, confidence is key. The openly gay recording artist, who can currently be seen playing Jerry Lee Lewis in the Chicago Apollo Theater's production of "Million Dollar Quartet," suggests "genuine, approachable confidence-—the kind of confidence that has an inclusive, embracing nature. Confident enough to express camaraderie to all brothers in our community, and confidence enough to engage openly and honestly with your object of affection. Let the others sweat the stage show, cock block, and find reasons to hate each other. The embracing, down to earth confidence of a man who desires to be loved-—now that is hot."
Mike Wood, Editor in Chief of the national LGBT lifestyle magazine Instinct
, feels that making special time for that special someone is what keeps the love alive.
"My partner and I get out of Dodge once a month," says the Burbank-based editor. "That's a plan for us to keep our sanity and to reconnect in case the day-to-day just gets to be too much. I work a lot, he works a lot, he goes to school and time can get away from you. You just have to make a real effort to spend quality time together. Our commitment is to drop everything at least once a month and zip down to San Diego, up to SF or out to Vegas. It really doesn't matter where we go as long as we get to spend time together. We may be exhausted when we get back to work that Monday, but it's well worth it."
For some, these tips of the gay trade yield successful. The gay American dream of white-picket fences and LTR isn't just a fairy tale for Bob Witeck, the CEO and co-founder of the public relations and marketing company, Witeck-Combs Communications. Witeck has been with his partner—also named "Bob"—for 15 years, and he's still singing his praises.
"[Bob] is a remarkable and accomplished person," Witeck dotes.
"The spark for us is completely natural and spontaneous. We wake up early together and, every minute we're around each other, we are talking and laughing. We each discovered we have the unique gift to make the other one laugh harder than anyone else can. It can be a simple turn of phrase, a goofy look, an odd walk, or an epression that just makes us giggle. We sometimes end up laughing out of breath, just excited to be around each other ... Ours seems to be a marriage of mirth, and has kept us best friends and not just life partners."
Then there are those who, despite broadcast bravado, have fairy tales that have yet to be written. On transcribing a happy, gay love story, CBS reporter, for 365gay News on Logo, Itay Hod says, "Beats me."
As a TV news correspondent, Hod has been seen sitting between Rosie O'Donnell and Cyndi Lauper, flashing his armband tattoo and donning a kilt for Mardi Gras and eating rainbow-colored goldfish, but he hasn't been seen with a guy on his arm.
"Last time I had a date on Valentine's Day I think Bill and Hillary were still having sex. I'd like to say I hold on to [guys] with my winning personality and sunny disposition but, truth is, I couldn't hold on to a boyfriend if he came covered in Velcro."
And then there are those who, be them lucky or unlucky in love, simply don't subscribe to heart-shaped sentiment and candy-coated compassions.
"I'm not romantic," says OUT Magazine
columnist and indie film star and screenwriter Jesse Archer. "In fact, I'm anti-romantic. I think we should all get together on February 15th and do poppers in the back room."
What does Archer's boyfriend think about that? Maybe he'll answer with a post on Archer's blog at jesseonthebrink.com.
Michael Musto photo by Ivylise Simones