So, how about that Buzz Bissinger personal essay in GQ today, huh? The man loves beautiful and expensive clothes. His new lifestyle has been somewhat apparent for a little while now, popping up in a magazine profile (EW, May 2012: "With his metal-studded leather jacket, brown cowboy boots, and hoop earring, Buzz Bissinger oozes macho swagger...") and a NSFWish CBS photo gallery (complete with a pierced nipple!) last November. He was also wearing studded leather pants when he swung by Deadspin HQ last April.
According to Buzz, his addiction started about three years ago, when he decided to invest in pretty clothes. In short order, he amassed a wardrobe that "included 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." He spent lavishly, particularly at Gucci:
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. Gucci by far makes up the highest percentage of my collection.
He says he spent more than $500,000 on clothes. He also says he bought women's clothes because they're "infinitely more interesting and has an unfair monopoly on feeling sexy, and if the clothing you wear makes you feel the way you want to feel, liberated and alive, then fucking wear it." Elsewhere in the essay: "I wanted the power that sex provides, all eyes wanting to fuck you and you knowing it, and both men's and women's clothing became my venue."
The shopping addiction is only part of this story. Bissinger traces the origins of his love of leather pants and jackets to when his wife took a job out of the country and his youngest son left for college. His marriage (his third) had gone sexless and he began to fight with his wife the way that couples do when the sex goes. So she encouraged him to roam freely when she was away. And he did: He went to Hong Kong and Macau and tried out "sex clubs, many, many sex clubs with many, many women."
But then he also wondered where he fell on the Kinsey scale. He writes:
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.
That's when the story takes its weirdest turn. Buzz Bissinger's story about unpacking his compulsive shopping habits is really a story about a 58-year-old man trying to bring order to his sex life. But good for Buzz. Better to be free! And this story, as absolutely batshit crazy as it is, fits quite comfortably in the Bissinger oeuvre of unburdening himself publicly over the last couple of years, which at least softens our skepticism that this is some sort of over-the-top April Fool's prank by Buzz and GQ. To wit:
- I Was Wrong to Defend Lance Armstrong. "It still makes me cringe."
- I Was Wrong to Host Sports Radio. "This is not how I should be spending my life... I felt increasingly concerned that talk radio is fundamentally trivial."
- I Was Wrong to Write LeBron's Book. "Shooting Stars was far from the best book I had ever written; the compromises of such collaboration, written in the first person of James and subject to his approval, had always shamed me."
- I'm Sorry I Yelled At Will Leitch. "My apology to you stands; you should not have been treated that way."
- I'm Sorry for Betraying the Coach in Friday Night Lights. "The one person that I should've told much more about what was in the book was the head coach (Gary Gaines). I feel that I was wrong in not doing that."
- I'm Sorry I Didn't Betray Another Coach in Friday Night Lights Who Called Boobie Miles a Nigger. "I realize now that this was a mistake, because of the devastating impact his comment has had on Boobie."
- I'm Sorry for Trashing the City of Dallas Because of a Bad Review. "It's part of the shtick of being obnoxious."
And now we can add: