Male Leather-Strutting Misplaced

Here’s something you don’t see in the streets of the Chinese People’s Republic every day. However, if the Beijing police have anything to say about it, you won’t ever be seeing this type of thing again.

What is going on? Is it perhaps a casting-call for a Chinese-studio remake of 300? No, as the accompanying RFI piece explains, this was a marketing stunt, by a Beijing restaurant called “Sweetie Salad” – a marketing stunt gone bad for those taking part, as the local police swiftly moved in and conveyed at least some of the make-believe Spartans to the slammer.

On the other hand, it was a marketing stunt gone good for Sweetie Salad – if you take into account that old maxim that no publicity is bad publicity – which according to this RFI report generated enormous on-line buzz about itself within China and was punished only to the extent of feeling obliged to post this message:

We have humbly recognized that, as a start-up, we lack a certain experience in the organization of large-scale events.

Where did all those buff foreign males think that they were – Amsterdam? In fact, the timing couldn’t be better: all they need to do is get out of jail (those to whom that applies), scrape up the funds for a half-round-the-world flight and find a hotel (admittedly a challenging proposition at this late point), and they then can all enjoy themselves royally this upcoming weekend at the yearly Amsterdam Gay Pride celebrations. They’ll feel right at home there, walking around Amsterdam’s streets in their Spartan suits (I assure you, that sort of get-up often verges comparatively on the tame side); yet they might very well impress the locals enough to be invited to join a boat for the infamous Canal Parade that kicks off this upcoming Saturday (August 1) at 1.30 PM CET.

They might also be joined there by refugees coming from points further East, as the Süddeutsche Zeitung relates here:

“Russia outraged over ‘mail mermaids'”: for the first time in the international history of the Olympic sport of synchronized swimming, males are now also competing. But there are at least two strange things about this:

  1. It’s Russia that is hosting the very same event – namely the World Aquatics Championships – that is producing these “male mermaids,” namely in the city of Kazan;
  2. Russia is the world powerhouse of synchronized swimming, having won the world team title every year since 2010.

Nonetheless, the arrival of male competitors to Kazan prompted these remarks from Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko:

There hasn’t been anything like this in the entire history of swimming sports! [He’s wrong with that “entire history,” by the way.] In my view, synchronized swimming is a sport only for women.

Now, it’s not as if men-only teams are competing; rather, they are teamed with women. And even though she herself has competed in this way in the past – with an American male synchronized swimmer, no less – perennial individual champion Svetlana Romashina is also not pleased at these developments. “I am categorically against men in our sport,” she declared for the newspaper, since according to her synchronized swimming is all about beauty and grace, and not strength.

In the end, these Russians have to live with what is going on because, even though it is on their soil, it is the international synchronized swimming federation, FINA, that is in charge. Going with that flow, Russian TV commentators have taken care to emphasize how the male competitors are of “normal sexual orientation.”

That’s fine, but it doesn’t matter if they’d like to take a break from the tension to relax and let fly whatever sort of freak-flag they possess at Amsterdam Gay Pride this weekend: all (who are open-minded) are welcome!

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