Aah, the boy-on-boy crush. Forget whether they're into redheads or blondes, little is more instructive as to what makes a man tick than a glimpse at the guys he secretly wants a piece of. Not in a sexual way, it's more of an aspirational, slap-on-the-back impulse. Let's call it a "bro-mance".
Annoyingly, this sort of insider information is usually classified. For a heterosexual male to admit he's got the hots for another bloke is, well, just not cricket. Even in these enlightened days of male moisturisers and manbags it takes a rare self-assurance for a man to admit which other man they would give their last Rolo to. Step forward the GQ Man of the Year Awards, which this week revealed who, in the fame game, British men most admire (I say admire, but envy and hero-worship work just as well).
The winners make a baffling mob, because they have little to do with who has performed best in this or that category over the past year, and everything to do with who GQ readers would choose as their wingman. Take Josh Brolin, who was crowned "International Man of the Year". Josh who? Not Brad Pitt, the doting father? Nor George Clooney, the Darfur activist? Not even Barack Obama, though he's otherwise engaged right now? No, it's the actor who appeared in American Gangster and No Country for Old Men and is as manly as a hunk of rock hewn from somewhere inaccessible, probably with Brolin's own bare, calloused hands. He was even arrested for brawling in a bar earlier this summer.
This leads us straight to the Sportsman of the Year, boxer Joe Calzaghe. Olympic fever has barely abated, yet there is not a cyclist nor a sailor clutching a gold medal in sight. British men want to wear shorts, it seems, not lycra. The other diamonds in the rough to take home awards included James Nesbitt, Gordon Ramsay, Steve Coogan and Chris Evans: sparky, sweary types, often seen unshaven, not unknown for being found oddly attractive by women.
Then there are the elder statesmen: Led Zeppelin got the gong for Outstanding Achievement, Tony Bennett was pronounced an "inspiration", Sir Peter Blake a "visionary" and David Bailey got the lifetime achievement award. Led Zeppelin – of course. Every guy wishes he could rock out at the O2, and not just in their front room when the kids are asleep. As for septuagenarian David Bailey, the world's most beautiful women line up to take their clothes off in front of his camera and have, in the past, frequently accepted his offer of a nightcap. Sir Peter Blake, meanwhile, will always bathe in the glow of that Sgt Pepper's record sleeve. But Tony Bennett, the ultimate anti-rock crooner? Bennett was 80 earlier this year. "Age won't beat me", this means.
So what do these choices teach women about the male psyche? Is the metrosexual dead and buried? Is our crème de la mer safe once more? Far from it. The choice of Noel Fielding and his sequinned leggings as Comedian of the Year more than redresses the balance.
Scratch beneath the glitter though, and the old stereotypes crawl back out. Fielding might wear make-up and pointy boots, but he also dates women much younger than him and sings in a punk band. Bumbling Boris Johnson, Politician of the Year, is a lust-have for many women with striking distance of City Hall. And the winner of the literary category, Joseph O'Neill – is he known for extra-marital dalliances or an enviable right hook? Well no, but then again his latest blockbuster is about cricket.Reuse content