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January 2014

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New wave sexuality for female pop stars

Today’s female pop stars are embarking on a new wave of sexuality. With each new video, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the top female performers to stay relevant.  So, when being sexy and talented no longer makes the cut, they must achieve grander exploits to meet their fans’  twisted standards of entertainment.  As a result, female pop stars are reaching epic levels of sexuality in order to keep their fans interested.

Fans are no longer entertained by blond sex icons like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson, or the moody lyrics of Avril Lavigne. This is not enticing enough for today’s desensitized audiences. The girlish teasing and flirty lyrics that once filled our hearts with delight is now incredibly stale! We now embrace a world of mind-numbing commercialization filled with fanny-flashing, pseudo-lesbianism and subpar voices — the trademark of our current female pop stars. And so, we enter this radical wave of sexual sensationalism where Popstars like Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus seem to state a clear motto: Why simply seduce your fans when you can shock them?

Lady Gaga knows this motto all too well.  Since being sexy and talented is not enough, she needs to become outlandishly provocative  in order to entertain her fans.  After Lady Gaga’s MTV performance this past summer, a critic by the name of Aunt Jemima tweeted to Entertainment Weekly, “someone is getting….boooooo-ring !” This was tweeted despite the fact that Lady Gaga wore a G-String during the finale, underwent four costume changes and had intense choreography. Another tweeter by the name Ballerina wrote, “She doesn’t have the X-factor or wow factor.”  These tweets just reinforce how female pop stars are puppets for today’s easily-unimpressed fans.

We have to take a moment to consider how “far” we’ve come. When Madonna released the video, “Like a Virgin” in 1985, people nearly dropped dead from shock. All around the world, people watched Madonna  as she pranced around in a wedding dress, singing suggestively about virginity. Even though the singer was 26 at the time, people still considered the performance incredibly racy.

As Madonna passed the torch to Britney and the flame flickered out she was replaced by the new sensationalist Miley Cyrus. And the 21 year old singer has taken this role very seriously— simply ride a wrecking ball in the nude or make-out with some phallic-looking construction tools and you’re all set!

However, there may be some method to Miley’s madness.  As she is arguably the ringleader of this new wave sexuality, Miley’s exploits can be viewed as modern and, dare I say, feminist. Her new crotch grabbing trademark and shaved  head is a testament to this new wave sexuality. She has a bizarre and sometimes androgynous style of shock. Miley makes this very clear in her Arizona Iced Tea Ad as she mannishly holds a can against her crotch, and wears a red bodysuit which barely covers her lady business.  This mischievous persona seems to blatantly confront stereotypes around the classic female pop star. By making it clear that she is not a Katy Perry, Miley is setting out to make herself an object of spectacle as opposed to one of clichéd sexuality. Therefore, Miley is more than just meat for the male spectator — she’s reaching for an image that’s difficult to categorize — a symbol of unbridled extremity.

But Miley is not only shocking us, she’s setting a standard. As we eat up these exploits, we are also establishing norms for our female pop stars.

And why are men not subjected to these outrageous standards of behavior? Male singers still seem to be doing the same old routines that have always been popular among the masses. Justin Bieber is still romancing with models in his videos and Usher is still swaggering in his sunglasses . Yet, fans do not place the same pressure on these male artists to deliver mind-blowing entertainment.  On the other hand, if female pop stars gave classically girlish performances, they would be sent deep into the abyss of irrelevancy and low YouTube views.  For this reason women must work hard to push the boundaries  to keep their fans interested while male Popstars can simply cruise along with the same old tricks.

At the end of the day, I believe we are the problem.

 

Young professional women — where do we begin?

by Erin Nadler

With so many young professionals entering the work force and developing their professional image it is hard to know where to begin.  We all know that starting off on the right foot is essential and continuing that professional image is key to future successes.  Any female senior executive will tell you that developing their own corporate style did not happen overnight, but as a young professional where should you begin?  And with your eye firmly locked on a budget what items are a must?

Let’s talk essentials.  If you are going to invest these are the items on which you want to spend a little more of your budget.  First, a good quality, nicely fitting and classic straight or wide leg black pant.  Look for a fabric that you can wear year round, as it will give you the biggest bang for your buck.  Second, a fitted black blazer.  If you have the ability to purchase the black pant and jacket as a suit, you should, then not only are you able to wear them together for any potential job interview but by separating the items it allows for infinite mixing and matching.  Third, a classic and crisp white blouse.  I would not recommend you spend too much on this item as white blouses should be replaced every so often to keep their crispness. Lastly, a sheath dress.  Look for a dark coloured sleeveless solid dress with a rounded neckline which allows for something to be worn underneath as well as overtop.

So now that you know the essentials, where should you start looking?  Many mid to higher priced stores have sales throughout the year so don’t be afraid to go in and splurge a little when those big savings come around.  Beware of the less expensive stores that are geared towards the junior market.  A lot of times the dress or skirt lengths or style of tops and blouses they show are inappropriate for the workforce.  Always keep the question of whether this is office appropriate in the back of your mind.  Appropriate lengths are determined by the type of job you are applying for.  Just above your knee is always a flattering and appropriate length but you need to be aware of how high your skirt or dress hikes up when sitting down.  Stay away from the minis and other “trendy” lengths being shown in stores. A great classic wardrobe is always in style and will always be something you can fall back on.  Remember that you want to be hired for the right reasons and when starting your career showing a level of professionalism is crucial.

So you have your staple garments and you got the job, how do you spice up your wardrobe in order to keep it fresh?  One of the easiest and most cost effective ways is by adding accessories.  Adding a fabulous necklace, belt or scarf can really take your outfit to the next level.  As well when you mix more pricy items, like a simple black blazer, with less expensive items like a pair of shoes, belt, or pants it can also give off a more polished and classy look.  Very often you see successful professional women as well as fashion insiders mixing high-end with low-end and they do it so effortlessly.

If you remember only one thing it is to just keep it simple.  If in doubt look to how your boss is dressing and emulate her.

Erin Nadler is president of Better Styled. For more information you can visit her website.

‘Looking’ episode 1 recap: Everything you need to know about the new gay dramedy

Andrew Haigh is best known for his unflinching portrait of a gay couple who’s romantic tryst is limited to 2 days in his film Weekend. It was a sexy, raw, honest look at the relationship between two men that wasn’t a typical gay movie. Sure it had it’s man-on-man sex and a few scenes at a gay club, but it’s focus wasn’t about coming out to your parents or a vicious gay bashing, it had more to do with day-to-day aspects of being gay. It’s appropriate that he is writing and directing episodes of HBO’s new series Looking and bringing his fly-on-the-wall style with him. The show feels like a cleaner more mainstream take on this idea, slightly funnier and with just as much male eye-candy.

Patrick is played by the adorable Jonathan Groff (who happens to be in my top five list of celebrities I’m allowed to have a freebie with and my boyfriend — can’t complain). I fell in love with him when I first saw him in a production of Spring Awakening on Broadway a few years ago and it has only grown with time. Patrick is a 29 year old anxious video game designer living in San Francisco. The longest relationship he’s had is 6 months and he’s bouncing between looking for Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.

The episode starts with an awkward case of park cruising gone terribly wrong for Patrick when he tries to introduce himself to his new male friend and is told to stop talking while the bear’s cold hands make their way to his member. From there Patrick spends the next few days cruising somewhere a typical 20-something feels a little more comfortable: the internet. He eventually lands a date on OKCupid with a doctor who, after meeting for a glass of wine, decides that things aren’t going to work between the two. Watching Patrick on his bus ride home I was blushing just as much as he was when he was getting hit-on by Richie (Raul Castillo) who seems to be the new love interest for Patrick the show will (hopefully) explore.

Patrick’s roommate Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) is an artist with a partner named Frank (O.T. Fagbenle – I’ll refrain from making a joke). Things just got serious between the two of them and Agustin has decided to move in with him — it’s a little more than giving a key, and a little less than sending out a joint Christmas card. Later in the episode Agustin, Frank and Agustin’s assistant at his studio have a few drinks and things start to get steamy after the assistant shows the couple his new Dolly Parton signature tattoo on his chest (did producers know the premiere date would be Dolly Parton’s birthday? Happy Birthday Dolly!). Is this Agustin’s way of balancing the decision of moving in by doing almost the exact opposite of what that act typically means? The two reflect on it afterwards and Frank asks, “Are we going to be one of those couples?” a segue for what I hope will be an interesting examination of the committed couple’s evolution and what happens when one partner wants something the other may not.

And then there’s the sexy moustached SATC alum Murray Bartlett who throws away his Aussie accent to become Dom. The oldest of the three friends, he’s approaching 40 and has been a server for years and is still trying to figure out what to do with his life; especially since for the first time ever, a younger man rejected him. He has a hilarious roommate named Doris played by Lauren Weedman who I’m hoping is given more screen time to make us laugh in future episodes.

What I loved about the show is how funny it was by being rooted in reality. Lines like “Can we just stay in and watch The View?” something I know I’ve asked my roommates more than once and “Instagram filters have ruined everything and I can’t tell if this guy is hot or not”. Sure, it sounds shallow and easy, and it is, but I know I’m guilty of it. It is however, a reality that wasn’t available to gay men decades ago, something that has been fought for by previous generations. I know it wasn’t touched upon in the first thirty minutes of this new series, and maybe it won’t be. Maybe the show isn’t meant to be outwardly revolutionary like Queer as Folk was, and it certainly doesn’t paint its characters as safe, unoffending gays next door like Modern Family.  For now we can just wait, for more awkward Patrick, for Dom’s 40th birthday, and for what I’m hoping will be some hot sex scenes. This reviewer is looking forward to the next episode and to see where these characters take us.

See what I did there?

 

Follow Brett on Twitter at @AshleyBrett.

What do you think, will you tune in?

#TOpoli with Sarah Thomson, Conrad Black, Travis Myers, and Ashley Csanady: Black supports socialized auto industry

#TOpoli host Sarah Thomson is joined by political panelists Lord Conrad Black, Travis Myers of Women’s Post, and Ashley Csanady at Queen’s Park Briefing.

This week the panel discusses Ontario’s upcoming by-elections, the competence of the premier, power outages, along with Conrad Black’s support for the socialization of Canada/Ontario’s auto industry and the possibility of the government purchasing Chrysler.

Check back for more clips from the show throughout the week ahead.

Bugs, birds and the warm west coast of Costa Rica

It’s about this time of year that I start craving the sun and one place that we have always enjoyed visiting is Costa Rica. If you like nature, monkeys, and bugs that are the size of small birds  – this is a country that must be experienced. If you are lucky you can catch a charter flight direct from Toronto (Sundays) and the trip will take just over 7 hours. Sunquest offers “direct” flights but they often include 1 stop so read the fine print.

There are many different types of accommodation to choose from and we decided to try a boutique hotels for our first week and a private home for our second. We chose to stay on the southern west coast where there are many nature reserves. The natural surroundings and landscape along the Pacific coast are surreal. The Cerros de Escazúare mountain range stretches down along the west coast meeting the warm (80F) Pacific crashes against them creating rock outcrops, sand bars and small islands that add to the view.

Our first week was spent at Arenas Del Mar, one of the best boutique hotels I have encountered. IT is located in the town of Quepos situated beside Manuel Antonio Nature Reserve. The hotel is and “eco” resort, and was designed to have low impact on the rainforest park that surrounds it.

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Perched on the side of a mountain, views from the rooms are magnificent.Here is a video of the beach at the hotel beach. When I looked at visiting I couldn’t understand why they showed so much beach shaded by trees, but when you get there the sun gets so hot that by noon everyone has moved from the beach to  the shade under the trees. The design and layout of the resort is perfect. As well as a video of an early morning visit from some monkeys on the beach at the resort … The hotel can be booked here and they have a facebook page

 

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I recommend sunset and candle lit dinner on the beach – offered every Thursday night at Areans Del Mar.

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We always try to spend part of our stay away from the bustle and renting a home in Costa Rica is quite easy using VRBO.com The home we stayed in last year was beautiful with fantastic views and excellent décor. This video gives a great sense of the home with most of our time spent on the patio or by the pool.

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The home is located just outside the town of Dominical and can be booked here: http://www.vrbo.com/221637  The owners were wonderful, and their caretaker spoke English well and was there to help and suggested some terrific places to visit and go zip-lining. The only downfall of the home was the lack of screens on the windows. I like to fall asleep to the sound of the jungle but didn’t want to be covered by cicadas and frogs during the night so had to give up on leaving the window open. If you like the sounds of jungle, a warm ocean and the sun this is the place to go on your next holiday!

Book review: Where Chefs Eat

4/5 stars

Where Chefs Eat: A Guide To Chefs’ Favorite Restaurants is the ultimate foodie reference guidebook and is perfect for traveling. It is an easy read and very organized. You can read the book front to back or search a specific city. I prefer front to back since I discovered Morton’s The Steakhouse listed under Shanghai, but if you can’t travel, you can always find it in Toronto and use the recommendation.

The chefs are introduced with a brief biography and you are told the meaning of specific categories. For example, they define the budget for you. The chefs are well-known and established. They include Marcus Samuelsson, Daniel Boulud, Hugh Acheson, and many more. The book itself is divided by continent and a map is provided for each section. Every restaurant says who recommended it and they specify the area in the city for ease. In addition, they always provide the website and a reservation e-mail if it is needed. Each page contains a quote from the chef and mouth-watering food descriptions. The restaurants are not all well known and allow readers to discover hidden gems in their own city or abroad. Where Chefs Eat also comes with a yellow bookmark, which is a nice addition.

Although I was very impressed with this book, I wish that every restaurant had quotes from the chef and a brief description of the atmosphere, dishes and chefs. I feel that more detail would have improved the book.

Where Chefs Eat also has an iPhone and iPad app that was released in May. If you prefer to have your smartphone while traveling rather than carrying a book, this is a very practical idea. This is one of the few books that has an app.

Overall, I thought that this was a great book. At 643 pages, it is massive and features varied cuisine that is sure to fulfill any taste bud or craving while traveling. Instead of relying on internet reviews, the chefs have authority in the industry and recommend restaurants for any budget. They even include restaurants that the chefs wish they’d opened. This is the perfect travel companion for summer.

1. Going social – My epiphany

This article was originally published January 29, 2013.

How it was for me…

A few months ago, ‘Social Media’ was a foggy acronym for internet dialogue. I had used Facebook to reconnect with old classmates and distant family members. I even created a LinkedIn page, after being peppered with connect requests from business colleagues. I did not, however, blog, Tweet, Insta-anything, Pinterest or utilize any social media tools to promote my business interests. Not until I was given a little push.

My cousin was surprised to learn I was blog-less. “Who better to blog than a Mompreneur who is also a writer?” That push got me sliding towards my first blog.

The defining moment…

After decades of business writing, my creative writing skills needed refreshing. Three of my short stories had been published through traditional channels, but I needed a medium that offered full control over the topics and style. More importantly, I wanted the ability to collect valuable feedback quickly. Blogging seemed to make sense, but how did it differ from any other website content?

‘Blogging’ has a number of official definitions. The name ‘blog’ comes from the term ‘web log’, suggesting a journal of topical content on the internet. Over time, blogging has morphed into a form of business content marketing, enabling low cost promotion of a company’s products and/or services.

I began writing the blog to explore my voice as a writer, and gauge if blogging could become a new stream of revenue. In the planning process, I asked myself some key questions:

1. What do I have to say?

2. Who cares?

3. How do I reach them?

From researching other blogs, it became clear that I needed social media skills to pull readers to my content. ‘Going social’ would not only be critical in order to create a solid blog following, but an absolute requirement to return to my corporate marketing roots. I was surprised to learn about management positions called “CSO=chief social officer” and “SMM=social media manager”. These titles did not exist a decade ago when I was director of sales and marketing for a software company.

How it will be…

I began a strategy to create a social media presence. It is scary to dive into the unknown, especially on the internet, where words live forever in a cloud of privacy settings that can be particular and confusing. I’m focused on the knowledge that taking a risk can also be exhilarating and rich in rewards. Throughout my career I followed the mantra “better to make a mistake and learn than do nothing at all”. There can be no result without action.

It’s time for me to dive it and ‘get social’. My decades of sales and marketing knowhow are extremely valuable, but knowledge is stagnant without action. I take a deep breath and

…. I-go-social.

 

Next column: Adventures in Blogging

GAYPOST: Toronto’s Downtown Gays vs. Toronto’s Uptown Gays

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who accused me, and not for the first time, of being a “downtown gay.”

This label wouldn’t bother me – after all, I live fairly close to the Village and am in a relationship with another man — but it seemed to be loaded with judgment.  As I thought about where this judgment was coming from, I remembered my own mindset from when I lived, for many years, in the Yonge-Lawrence neighbourhood.

  • Related: 12 reasons you know you are a Toronto gay

Living uptown, I believed (perhaps subconsciously) that somehow I was better than those who lived in and around the Village.  I had a clear image in my mind of what I thought these gays were like, a caricature of the negative stereotypes surrounding gay men.  I, on the other hand, felt I was somehow holding on to more of my masculinity than they were by choosing to be outside that world, venturing in on occasion but never truly being a part of it.

I think this notion came from a part of me that deep down inside still felt unhappy to be gay; a part that felt being gay was something that would prevent me from being a man.  Of course, years later I’d realize that there is a big difference between sexuality and masculinity.

I’m certainly not accusing my friend as being a self-loathing homo, but in my conversation with him he made it clear that he saw me as “immersed” in the Village and that he, on the other hand, doesn’t “fit in with the downtown gays” and lives in a “different world” from me.

This judgment of the entire gay populous living below Bloor saddens me.  We, as gay people, have fought hard to prove to the rest of the world that we can take many forms — masculine rugby players, lithe go-go dancers, and everything in between – and that one little part of our lives is not what defines us individually.

Yet here is my friend, categorizing an entire group of gay people as a group of people he definitely wouldn’t fit in with; a snap judgment based solely on their location.  And he’s not alone in this outlook of Uptown Gays vs. Downtown Gays.  However, as an uptown- gay-cum-downtown-gay, I can tell you what has changed for me in my venture to the dark side.

I can now walk to the Eaton Centre, I seldom have to cab it home after the bar, and yes – I do now find it a pain in the ass to meet you for a drink at Jack Astor’s on Don Mills.  Apart from that, pretty much everything else is still the same about me and I didn’t magically end up with high heels and a coke problem by moving close to the Village.

So go ahead, call me a downtown gay, because that’s what I am.  But if I hear you say it in a way that suggests you think you’re somehow better than me, I will fill a sock with all the change I’ve saved from rarely having to use the TTC and I’ll hit you with it.

 

Follow Simon on Twitter: @ScottishGuy