MTV guidos Ronnie, The Situation, and Vinnie adorn the cover of the Village Voice shirtless. No big deal, right? Apparently the boys didn't know it was for the "Queer Issue." They may not agree, but that couldn't be more true.
Though reality television has brought them mainstream attention, the cast of Jersey Shore couldn't be more queer in the broadest definition of the word. Just like gay men and lesbians, their culture operates outside of the mainstream. As we learned from the most important sociological experiment of our time, they have their own ways of dress, standards of beauty, mating rituals, cultural mores, music, gathering places, and hot tub etiquette. Seaside Heights is no different from Fire Island's all-gay Pines neighborhood, except the boys in Seaside are on the prowl for casual sex with ladies instead of other muscle-bound hunks. Just think about it, the guido lifestyle and appearance sets them apart from the Gap-wearing, mini-van-driving, suburb-dwelling majority of Americans, a good portion of which thinks they are filthy and disgusting.
Yes, Jersey Shore is queer, even though no one in the cast engages in homosexual acts—at least on camera. But there is still something gay about them. The story The Situation and company's photoshoot illustrates is about guidos secretly having sex with men. But there is something that the article only touches on that makes the cast of Jersey Shore gay: it's their look. The bloated muscles, the flat abs, the assistance of steroid, a maniacal devotion to the gym, the love of house music, the tribal tattoos, the designer sunglasses, the fake tans, the heavily groomed hair, the waxed eybrows, the designer jeans. Sometimes it's hard to tell if you're watching Jersey Shore or walking up Eighth Avenue in gay old Chelsea in the '90s.
It's not like guidos grew up looking at gay dudes on their way to take ecstasy and grind with their shirts off at The Roxy and decided they wanted to be just like them (though we'd bet DJ Paulie D has popped a pill and doffed his shirt on the dance floor more than once). But as often happens with gay culture, it trickled down and was changed and diluted on the way to the outer boroughs and our great neighbor to the south. The circuit party ideal from decades past has morphed into this new macho aesthetic. Yes, the Ed Hardy is their own addition (there are some things that gay men would never allow) but the rest has been co-opted from the men-who-love-men that came before them.
No, we don't think The Situation, Ronnie, or Vinny suck dick, but there couldn't be a more appropriate set of coverboys for the state of queer America and the power of gay culture. And we have a feeling they won't mind the attention, homo or otherwise.