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December 23, 2005

From a RuPaul doll to couples' advice

Which to get for the naughty and nice?

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Good Solstice!

Yes, it’s that time of year, the time when sleigh bells ring, the menorah is lit, the days grow short and the Nguzo Saba, or Seven Principles, are discussed.

Of course, in today’s consumer society, the most striking thing about the holidays is the detrimental effect they have on bank accounts.

The question is, what should one buy that special person, be they significant other, civilly unioned partner, spouse, friend, sibling, or other relative?

As usual, it’s generally easier to buy for a man, since men run most of the companies that make things that can be purchased for a gift. Cologne, underwear, ties--those are all things of the past. Nowadays, there are far more interesting things to give to loved ones.

For instance, what man wouldn’t want a nice copy of Locker Room Nudes: Dieux du Stade (Universe, $50, hardcover) or Self-Exposure (Universe, $39.95, hardcover)?

The former, photographed by Fracois Rousseau, is a bunch of nekkid photos of the Stade Français Paris rugby team, alone or with their teammates. It’s a rather startling contrast with American athletes, who would probably run screaming from such homoerotic photographs. The championship team seem completely at ease in their skin, and are almost breathtakingly beautiful.

Self-Exposure, edited by gay photographer Reed Massengill, is a compendium of work by 90 different photographers, all of which capture the photographer himself, even if it is something as incidental as an outstretched foot or a shadow falling across the model. The collection also includes some of the most notable gay photographers of the last fifty years, like David Hockney, Pierre et Gilles, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe and Tom Bianchi.

Yes, it’s a lot of beefcake, but to take it to the other extreme, there is the present for the little drag queen in all of us: the RuPaul doll.

With a tagline stating, “99% Plastic. 1% Woman,” it’s gotta be fun. Created by Jason Wu, who himself is an absolute doll, there are currently three designs available: Glamazon RuPaul, in jeans and halter top, Red Hot RuPaul in thigh-high red pleather boots, tiny bottom and bustier, and Supermodel RuPaul, in a big fluffy skirt and sexy top. Three more designs are coming out soon, but not in time for the holidays, unfortunately.

It’s a cute doll. The real thing is better-looking, but the 13-inch version won’t ever age. And thankfully, Wu didn’t go the route of the anatomically-exaggerated Billy dolls, because the world is not ready for a fashion doll with a tucked sausage.

On the more serious end of the spectrum, there are gifts that are actually helpful, too. For instance, Lesbian Couples: A Guide to Creating Healthy Relationships by D. Merilee Clunis and G. Dorsey Green (Seal, $16.95, paper) could be an invaluable guide to working through problems, creating a stronger bond with one’s partner, and not falling victim to any of a myriad number of pitfalls, not the least of which is the fabled “lesbian bed death.”

Cleveland attorney Joan M. Burda’s Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples (American Bar Association, $59, $45 for selected ABA members; paper) is intended mainly as a reference for attorneys, but it would also be a valuable tool for couples who want to familiarize themselves with the protections available to them. An accompanying CD also includes computer documents of the forms a couple can use to protect themselves legally.

A Name on the Quilt by Jeannie Atkins and Tad Hills (Aladdin, $6.99, paper) is a children’s book about a family making a AIDS Memorial Quilt panel for an uncle who died of the disease. It is a tender, appropriate way to discuss AIDS and mortality with children five and up, and a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book is being donated to the Quilt’s parent Names Project Foundation. The drawings are rich and warm, and make the book a welcome educational tool.

David Boyer has an interesting sociological examination of the bonding rituals ending the primary education phase of young adults in this country. Kings & Queens: Queers at the Prom (Soft Skull, $24.95, paper) looks at the experiences of a whole slew of gay men and lesbians, and what they did for prom, complete with really embarrassing photos. It’s warm, it’s funny, it’s cute.

Jenni Olson’s The Queer Movie Poster Book (Chronicle, $19.95, paper) covers the very early examples of poster art for gay-themed films, then goes on to show the best, and the worst, of the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and the current day.

Olson makes forays into early porn posters, lesbian exploitation films and others, and also pays heed to people of color in another section.

It’s like going to the coolest video store on earth, contained right on your living room shelf or coffee table.

And while DVDs and CDs are too plentiful to enumerate, and really rely on individual taste (should you get them Ember Swift’s Disarming or Amy Ray’s Prom? So Jealous by Tegan and Sara or Where You Live by Tracy Chapman or You Know the Rules by the Gay?), there is something that comes on a disc that is a must-have for anyone with an Xbox.

Fable.

Originally billed in previews as the most intricate role-playing game ever released for a home video game console, it didn’t quite live up to that hype. However, the release of Fable: The Lost Chapters as an Xbox Platinum Hits title, with a lower price, makes up for some of that unfulfilled hype, with more quests, more intricacies, and, best of all, it still includes sexual orientation!

Yes, your character (who, unfortunately, must be male) can be gay, straight or bisexual. You can marry another man, although it will still refer to him as your “wife.” And if you keep talking to him, flirting and giving him gifts, he will eventually ask if you want to go to bed!

Mercifully, the screen goes black when one answers “yes,” but the soundtrack continues with various combinations of three phrases being said by wifeypoo: “Oh gosh,” “Oh my,” and “That’s quite nice.” Oy vey.

So, while Microsoft may be in hot water over caving to demands from the religious right last spring, their video games are gayer than ever.

 

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