Friday, January 13, 2006

Gayest (Closeted) Place on Earth

Some friends of mine from Europe recently came to visit the Big Apple. For their final day of sight-seeing, they elected to visit a bastion of American culture, Abercrombie & Fitch. Ever the consummate hostess, I joined them for this excursion.

For those unfamiliar with its wares, namely those living in Tibetan caves, Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the world’s premier purveyors of overpriced preppy clothes. Targeted mostly at suburban teens aiming to achieve cooler than thou status, Abercrombie has made oodles of cash hawking cropped tees and cargoes. If retailers were high school students, then Abercrombie would be the hunky quarterback of the football team. Which is why, it comes as a bit of a surprise, that the flagship store is so obviously…gay. The four floors are a veritable altar to all things homo.

Perusing through the darkly-lit corridors, loud dance music throbbing in the background, one gets the vague impression of being in a club. Upon closer inspection, one gets the solid impression of being in a gay club. The centerpiece of the basement is a life-size sculpture of a muscle bound hottie wearing what appears to be a thong. Behind thong-man, the walls are adorned with photos of gorgeous men in various stages of undress. Some of these men are sweaty, some are covered with mud, all are languidly draped across one another. The photographs are nothing though, compared to the store’s piece de resistance. Starting in the 50 foot open stairwell in the center of the store, is a large painted mural that sprawls outward onto each floor. Depicted in the mural are half-naked men at the gym, half-naked men at a construction site, and half-naked men in the park. Sprinkled amongst the half-naked men are what at first appears to be women, but upon examination, are really men (with Adam’s apples and all) in drag.

Waiting as my friends shopped, I felt the compelling need to document my discovery. It was like finding Joe Quarterback in flagrante delicto at a bath house. I discretely took a digital photo. Within seconds, sales associates swooped down on me. I was asked to “delete my photo” in front of them. Once confident that no piece of Abercrombieness would leave the store, the associates stiffly informed me that the store “has a policy of no photographs or videos.” There was no explanation of the policy, nor did they appear to find their militant enforcement a bit absurd. I imagined my experience similar to someone who discovers Tom Cruise in a lip-lock with his flavor of the week.

All of that said, I now feel the need to help Abercrombie out of the closet. We all had our suspicions anyway. It’s okay, Abercrombie, we’re here for you. You can finally admit to us what all the farm boys in your ads were doing shirtless in those corn fields. We’ll understand, we saw Brokeback Mountain. If that film teaches mainstream America anything, it’s the need for understanding and acceptance. That, and let’s face it, most straight women still find Jake and Heath pretty hot.

Ms. J


Blogger Berry said...

Finally...I thought you two gave up on the blog world. A&F has the strangest policies of any retail store out there. They stay in court over BS. Have you researched this so-called no photography policy? LOL!

12:02 PM  

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