With not a little trepidation, we venture into a murky, confusing place, a place of cliches and contradictions, decorated with crushed Bud Light cans, lacy red teddies and a sweet, lingering scent left behind by the Swedish Bikini Team. In the name of universal understanding, we enter into the dark realm of heterosexual male fantasy to confront an issue that cannot be ignored any longer:
WHY ARE GUYS so crazy about watching girls kiss each other?
We are talking here about kisses between ultra-feminine, straight-looking girls, usually with the help of alcohol and an audience, and often as a prelude to other, more naked activities. The girl-on-girl kiss is the stuff of spring breaks and frat parties, of late-night dating shows and reality television and, most recently, of the MTV Video Music Awards, in which a predatory Madonna seized one tender, coquettish Britney Spears and -- in a brief, oddly mechanical gesture -- proceeded to rock men's worlds.
What does it mean? Some of our efforts to understand this fascinating sociological phenomenon make plain that -- like the paintings of Pollock and the poetry of Pound -- many things worth knowing are not easily parsed. We ask Mo Rocca, a roving pop culture satirist on several cable television shows, how men explain this fantasy of theirs.
"You'll hear responses of 'Oh man!' to 'Damn, that's hot,' " Rocca says. "So there's a whole range of analyses."
We try another pop culture critic, a woman named Susie Watson, who waxes a little about taboos, and then starts laughing. She says, "My husband's over here rubbing his hands together like, 'Oh, yeah.' "
We ask to speak to the guy who's rubbing his hands. His name is Henry Godbout.
"A woman is great and two women would be even better," Godbout says. "Y'know, it's just a volume thing. And then if you have three or four women, it would be a party."
"It's pretty much Porno 101," Godbout says. "Not that I ever look at it."
Oh, yeah, a "party." This is a popular theme, as we will discover later when we ask a few experts on male fantasies who happen to be drinking beer at a bar in Adams Morgan. But before we get to that, let's define our terms.
We are not talking about the mainstreaming of gays into popular culture, or the lesbian chic of the early '90s, or even gay experimentation among young women in college dorm rooms. We are talking about girls kissing girls for the sake of male titillation, with any enjoyment on the part of the participants being wholly subsidiary. We are talking less about the movie "Kissing Jessica Stein," in which a straight woman sincerely experiments with lesbianism, and more about the MTV flick "The Real Cancun," in which kissing other girls is what girls on spring break do while wearing bikinis and drinking in front of cameras.
We are talking about dating shows, in which one girl kisses another girl in hopes that the guy will think her provocative, and we're talking about all those kisses between all those braless, shirt-raising girls in the "Girls Gone Wild" videos. We're talking about the young Russian singing duo Tatu, whose greatest claim to fame is their willingness to go at each other in any public venue. We're talking about the recent rumors in the New York Post about socialite Paris Hilton, who was supposedly seen kissing a woman, and then supposedly not. According to the newspaper, her mother blamed club promoters for trying to hitch Hilton onto the Britney-Madonna kissing wagon.
Whatever the case, rumors of a lesbian dalliance make Hilton seem more -- not less -- accessible to guys. This is one of the central contradictions of the fantasy, and it requires experts to explain. So we approach three young guys, friends since their recent undergraduate years at Georgetown, at the corner of the bar in Tom Tom, and ask them if girls have ever kissed each other in front of them, for show. They say they've each seen it over and over. ("Girls kiss all the time," says Raj Mohan, 22, a neuroscience researcher.) We ask what their reaction typically is.
"You're thinking, I can jump in and get in the threesome," says Greg Goldberg, 23, now a law student at George Mason. Of course! The fantasy is so powerful, says Goldberg, that "if you ever go on spring break and see a wet T-shirt contest . . . whatever two girls go up there and do the most lesbian activities are most likely to win."
We call Goldberg back later to ask if his fantasy has ever come true.
He hesitates. Um, no.
The odd thing about the girl-on-girl kiss is, it seems to be less threatening to men than a guy-girl kiss. The way guys think about it, if the girl is essentially straight, then she isn't "taken" yet; she's just getting warmed up. And they don't have to watch another man in an erotic situation, which could make them feel somehow icky. But there's another element here, and it has to do with the male fascination with female sexuality as a mysterious terrain with fluid boundaries. "Enigmatic," is how Goldberg terms it. Maybe it's that tired old madonna-whore notion, in which women are seen alternately as prim and as so libidinous they can't help but seizing whoever's next to them, man or woman. Just maybe, if they could lose their inhibitions, wild things would happen.
"I think a wise man once told me that no woman is more than five beers away from being a lesbian," Goldberg says.
And then there's another element. Guys love the idea of the performance just for them. There's an element of submission to it, maybe. We'll call it the stripper factor.
"They want to entertain you," says Graham Brock, 23, who works in real estate. "I think that's where guys get off, is girls doing something that's actually beyond their nature to entertain them."
On this particular night, the women we ask are uniformly disgusted by the prospect of kissing another girl in public. They think it's a trashy ploy for attention. They think it's pathetic.
"Not to sound like a big bitch, but I feel like our friends are slightly more classy than that," says one young law student with a group of her girlfriends.
But somewhere, on stages lined with high-heeled legs and wet-clad chests, girls are lining up to kiss each other, and crowds of men are readying themselves to cheer. And maybe the girls are thinking about Madonna and Britney (and Christina Aguilera, who also shared a girl-kiss at the MTV awards) and thinking this could be their ticket to . . . something.
And meanwhile, Joe Francis, the creator of "Girls Gone Wild," the video series that makes bundles off the average girl's exhibitionism, is doubtless rubbing his hands.
He prefers to film girls kiss girls as opposed to kissing guys. "There's something just much more pure about it."
And it all works out, he adds, because girls just like to kiss each other.
"I know very few girls that haven't made out with one of their friends," Francis says.
His spokesman, Bill Horn, who's also on the phone, jumps in.
"You should make out with girls!" he suggests gleefully to us.
"C'mon, you've never been curious?" Francis says, like he's the wolf to our Little Red Riding Hood. "When you were 22 or 20?"
"She's interviewing you," Horn reminds Francis.
"But I'm saying, c'mon," Francis says, sounding more and more like a man whose world is a constant string of topless 20-year-olds with roving tongues. Which is what he is. Which is every man's fantasy, after all. "Girls get curious," he says.
Source: The Washington Post Company