Monday, 14 January 2008

57 - Fran Lebowitz: "The Primary Cause of Heterosexuality Among Males in Urban Areas: Yet Another Crackpot Theory"

in “Metropolitan Life”, 1978

The most commonly heard complaint among heterosexual women in New York concerns the dearth of heterosexual men. Should you hear such talk you would be well advised to direct the complainant to a Soho bar. For here she would be surrounded by such a plethora of eager gents that she might well wonder just who's buying all those plaid flannel shirts. Why, she may ask, is this particular quarter of the city so heavily populated by young men to whom the name Ronald Firbank means nothing? To this query there can be only one reply-heterosexuality among males in urban areas is caused primarily by overcrowding in artist colonies. This is a scientific fact. Here is how we know.
Scientists observed over a long period of time the behavior of a group of twenty rats living in an apartment with high ceilings ,and working fireplaces. All twenty rats were artists. All twenty rats were, as is normal in such cases, homosexual. Five of these rats were chosen at random and taken in a knapsack to West Broadway, where they were moved into a loft. They were joined there by ninety-five other rats who were also homosexual artists and had also been chosen at random from a number of other natural habitats such as doorman buildings and converted brownstones. All hundred rats had, when in their proper environments, exhibited absolutely no inclination, toward unusual sexual behavior. Once, however, faced with life in a neighborhood that contained so many galleries and so few decent restaurants, an alarming pattern began to emerge. First they stopped painting and started having concepts. Then they began consuming a diet heavy in raisins and the less expensive but heartier red wines. Finally, many of them displayed a decided, tendency to teach two days a week at the School of Visual Arts. Once this occurred they were past the point of no return and began seeking the company of female rats who had gone to Bennington in the late sixties.
The scientists, understandably horrified by the results of their tampering with the natural order, tried to stem the rising tide of heterosexuality by appealing to the rats' greatest weakness. They chose a small group of ,rats who had previously been the most hard-core of the S & M crowd. They led them over to the docks on the Hudson River. Here they attempted to stir old fires by tossing into the murky waters those accoutrements most cherished before the move to Soho. First they let dangle and then drop a black leather cap with metal orna¬ments. The rats responded with agitated tail movements but stayed put. Next they tried a pair of rugged boots complete with menacing-looking spurs. Still no action. Finally the scientists threw into the river a long, snaky leather whip. Their spirits lifted as several of the rats scurried to the edge of the dock. ,But instinct was overcome by conditioning, and they watched with heavy hearts and defeated eyes the rats desert the sinking whip.


Amongst other things a potted allusive overview of a certain type of social landscape in New York, probably circa 1977. Artiness, fagginess, kinkiness, and the Byzantine social codes of where and how you live in Manhattan. Again, we have the comic conceit that homosexuality is the naturally obtaining state. Although in NYC at the time, that might have seemed the case in certain circles. Whether the shade of Anita Bryant, with its supposed heterosexual revivalism, lurks somewhere in the background of this I shan’t attempt to guess. Oh yes, and a truly abysmal pun to round it off.

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