Fans of Friday Night Lights won’t want to miss this new GQ essay from the original book’s author Buzz Bussinger, as it has all the drama of a high school football game. Except, here the underdogs struggling to assert themselves are Bissinger’s own, midlife-crisis-inflamed sexual proclivities, and the leather that’s being tossed around costs $13,900. Bissinger, a sportswriter whose favorite sport is not giving a fuck, wrote an article titled “My Gucci Addiction,” in which the man whose most famous publication is synonymous with the values of hard work and small-town humility waxes rhapsodic about the closet full of designer clothes the royalties from that publication have bought him—a collection of slick, studded leather that allows Bissinger to fully explore the rich, delusional dick within.
As he writes:
It has taken a while to figure out what works and what doesn't work, but Gucci men's clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—rocker, edgy, tight, bad boy, hip, stylish, flamboyant, unafraid, raging against the conformity that submerges us into boredom and blandness and the sexless saggy sackcloths that most men walk around in like zombies without the cinematic excitement of engorging flesh.
I own eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves.
The most expensive leather jacket I own, a Gucci ostrich skin, cost $13,900. The most expensive evening jacket I own, also from Gucci, black napa leather with gold threading, cost $9,800. The most expensive leather pants, $5,600. The most expensive jeans, $2,500. The most expensive pair of boots, $2,600. The most expensive pair of gloves, $1,015…. It wasn't until the preparation of this story that I actually took a detailed look at the items I have purchased from 2010 through 2012. I was afraid, quite candidly, although a total of a quarter of a million dollars would not have fazed me.
I was somewhat off:
But besides going a long way toward explaining Bissinger’s stumping for Mitt Romney during the election (in that he empathizes with having a lot of money and totally not giving a shit about those who don’t), and confirming that these photos of Bissinger sporting jeggings and nipple rings were not some sort of put-on, the essay is also about the author’s coming to terms with how his shopping addiction is a replacement for sex, with which he also seems to have some issues.
Candidly admitting that he and his wife stopped having sex “several years ago,” Bissinger muses on how his clothing is a “form of sexual expression”—and given that the expression is “Dad likes leather,” you may not be wholly surprised to learn that Bissinger has “always been attracted to S&M.” The fact that he “liked extreme feelings of restraint and taking pain” led him to “engage in a relationship with a dominatrix” for a couple of years, and lately it’s led to his current experiments with clothes and the different identities they can provide. Also, going to Asian “sex clubs.”
I began to wonder about sex and sexuality and where exactly I fit in in the complex spectrum. I did go into the sexual unknown, and the clothing I began to wear routinely gave me the confidence to do it, to transcend the rigid definitions of sexuality and gender, just as I also know there were the requisite stereotypical snickers.
Was I homosexual because so much of what I wore is associated with gays? I did experiment. And while I don't think it is my sexual being, I can tell you that gay men as a group are nicer, smarter, have a shitload more fun than straight whites. Was I veering toward becoming a dominant leather master in the S&M scene, the leather fetish an obvious influence in most of the clothing I purchased and in much of high fashion itself? I did experiment. Was I a closeted or maybe not so closeted transvestite? Tom Ford makeup is divine; the right foundation and cheek blush and eyeliner and lipstick can do wonders for the pallid complexion. Thigh-high boots add to any wardrobe, although walking on six-inch stilettos for hours is just a bitch and therefore confined to the privacy of my house, seen only by the UPS man, who at this point could not possibly be surprised by anything. But a dress or skirt just doesn't look good on me, and I can't ever do a thing with my hair. The look I was going for was more David Bowie androgynous. It wasn't successful.
I also went to Hong Kong and Macao with some friends. We went to sex clubs, many, many sex clubs with many, many women. We became tired. Four days seemed like four years.
Bissinger then concludes his luridly confessional humblebrag by saying, “Maybe what I really am is an extreme narcissist. I love looking at myself in the mirror when I buy something new”—a rather redundant revelation, considering, and immediately compounded by the admission that someone telling him he “looked like Bon Jovi [was] a compliment that at this point in my life means more to me than any piece of writing.” (This, despite the fact there’s a very good chance it wasn’t meant as a compliment.) Sidestepping the real, not-as-fun issues at hands, he makes the most passing of references to being “on medication for mild bipolarity,” before concluding on a happier note by celebrating the fact that he dropped $41,000 on a single recent trip to a Gucci fashion show—a typical indulgence that is his real medication, apparently.
Anyway, it’s a fascinating, sometimes infuriating read that will make you wish some fatherly coach would come put his hand on Bissinger’s ostrich skin-clad shoulder, and give him the tough-love talking-to of his life. From the sound of things, he might even enjoy it.