Slate style columnist and former window dresser dishes on everything from the sartorial to the sensationalist.
Doonan (Eccentric Glamour, 2008, etc.) may have dedicated his generous collection of humorous, autobiographical essays to “the straight women of the world,” but they’re definitely not his target audience. His commentary addresses the gay male community (“French women…with penises”) and often scorns their heterosexual counterparts upon whom, he writes, the arts of fashion, appearance, fine dining, culture and etiquette are completely lost. Doonan touches briefly on a wooly childhood in London, raised by a family “more Munsters than Partridge.” He was a compulsive youngster captivated by gossipy tabloids; in adulthood, he bungled several attempts at successful street hustling before finding a life in Hollywood. The “pixie-sized” author refers to himself as a “poofter” with a penchant for all things flowery. His “gay canon” of must-see media and a buzzword glossary complement a hilarious, fork-tongued chapter on gay and straight foods. Doonan offers precious perspectives on the unique companionship proffered by a “fag hag,” random lesbian life, divas worthy of gay adulation and the “car-crash recklessness” of overly flamboyant personalities like fashion maven Bobby Trendy (“Suzie Wong meets Caligula”). The outspoken raconteur reveals little on the subject of personal vulnerability (barring an episode of homophobia on the street), but he admits feeling intimidated by the hefty, hirsute “bear” subculture. Exploring more sensitive terrain would have balanced out the tartness of his visceral observations, though many are blisteringly funny. Just when the onslaught of arms-akimbo posturing finally starts to wane, Doonan delivers his best advice yet: “Don’t sit at home clutching your pearls in the dark.”
Nutty silliness best appreciated by its intended audience.