The 20 Most Mortifying Parts of Buzz Bissinger’s Insane Leather Fetish Essay

buzz bissingerYesterday we witnessed the greatest piece of journalism in the history of GQ. Friday Night Lights author (and frequent insane sports commenter) Buzz Bissinger gave us a personal essay that was ostensibly about his haute couture shopping addiction and $500,000 Gucci habit. But the piece was really more about Buzz’s description of a midlife crisis that evolved into a bizarre S&M leather fetish. Most men his age just buy a Corvette, but not this guy.

Buzz himself says his downward spiral came about after his three kids went off to college. Since seeing your dad write a six-page exploration of his leather fetish is basically the most embarrassing thing ever, let’s rank the various parts of his essay from least to most mortifying.

20. Buzz admits that his family doesn’t want to be seen with him.

Lisa in general liked the rocker look. But there were times I was too outrageous for her taste, and she began to feel like she was living with a hoarder. The kids liked the flair, maybe, but there were times they seemed embarrassed, or simply stunned.


19. Buzz gets annoyed with the riff-raff at the Gucci flagship store.

The clothes hang like fantastic sex toys, but at this point I no longer bother with that. I am taken to a space at the back, away from the scrum that buys sunglasses and sneakers with the GG logo.


18. So that’s what dad is doing in the bathroom.

If there was an item that I had somehow warded off in the morning, I bought it. If something caught my eye, gave me the slightest rush, I hit the “purchase now” button. I bought with my cell phone while waiting to have lunch with someone, or dinner, or a drink. I bought while I was having lunch with someone, or dinner, or a drink, happy when they went to the bathroom so I could finish the transaction without interruption.

17. He won’t be saddled with debt, just daddy issues.

The approximate amount I spent on the four-day trip is $51,000. That is equivalent to roughly a full year’s tuition at my son’s college, Kenyon. I think about that. The self-indulgence is obvious. But it is my money, and I have paid his tuition for four years so he will not be saddled with any loans when he graduates this spring.


16. Buzz is sizzling now. Yeah sizzling, bitch.

I like turning around and seeing the poor lost souls in the gulag of the higher rows. I hope they hate me, chattering chipmunks trying to figure out who the fuck is this poseur, or however it’s said in Fashion Italian. Then again, I don’t see them dressed to kill, in an $8,000 Gucci pony-hair jacket that no one else in the U.S. has and wax-coated black jeans, shiny and sheeny and sizzling.


15. Some poor animal actually gave its pelt for this.

I hadn’t been to a dance club in thirty years. But I was revved up and decided to stay up all night, since the ride to the airport was at 5 a.m. I haven’t stayed up all night partying in thirty-five years. I was dressed in tight black faux-leather stretch pants, a black Gucci T-shirt, and a black leather Gucci jacket lined with shearling. I looked so hip that the owner of the club put us in the special VIP section overlooking the jammed dance floor.

14. No one who is actually edgy calls themselves “edgy.”

If all I buy is Gucci, I will be fine. It has taken a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t work, but Gucci men’s clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—rocker, edgy, tight, bad boy, hip, stylish, flamboyant, unafraid, raging against the conformity that submerges us into boredom and blandness and the sexless saggy sackcloths that most men walk around in like zombies without the cinematic excitement of engorging flesh.

13. Dad tries out his bolero-style leather jacket and knee-high Stuart Weitzman boots.

I bought an orange leather motorcycle jacket and matching orange leather pants from Alexander McQueen that made me look, well, very, very orange. The same went for a blue ensemble that made me look, well, very, very blue. I bought dozens upon dozens of leather jackets—bolero-style, waist-length, above the knee, below the knee—in which the gradations of difference were microscopic. I bought a pair of knee-length Stuart Weitzman boots and then two weeks later bought the exact same pair because I had forgotten I bought the first pair.


12. Dusters, because no one has ever looked silly in a fucking duster.

Then I see a leather jacket of red burgundy with gold military buttons. It goes to the waist. I like it, but it isn’t quite distinctive enough. Something is missing, until I muse to the Perfect Shadow how great it would look if it could be lengthened into a full leather coat just above the knee, almost duster-style.

11. Buzz is keeping close track of who compliments his outfits.

Before I started shopping with her at Gucci, I could count on one finger the number of compliments I got from strangers on what I was wearing. Now I get dozens, 99 percent of them from women and gays and African-Americans who appreciate go-for-it style. No wonder male heterosexual whites are aimed toward obsolescence, boring the rest of us to death.

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10. The skull rings really set off the look.

I began to seek sexual expression in the form of high fashion, men’s because I liked the hardness and women’s because I liked the sexiness. Blended together, it became a rocker look, particularly with the three skull rings on each hand to fit my usual dark mood.


9. Oh no, leave grandma out of this.

I had always been attracted to S&M, even at an early age, when I didn’t know what it was. My mother wore leather gloves in springtime.


8. It’s never good when Buzz refers to “the scene.”

I did engage in a relationship with a dominatrix after the failure of my second marriage. I left the scene after two years. But I clearly missed it, the trappings of leather increasingly irresistible. I liked extreme feelings of restraint and taking pain.

7. Buzz was never traditionally sexy. Got it.

I never fit the traditional definition of a sexy male straight or gay—tall, ripped, six- packs within six-packs. I wanted the power that sex provides, all eyes wanting to fuck you and you knowing it, and both men’s and women’s clothing became my venue.


6. Buzz tried to make himself gay but it didn’t stick.

Was I homosexual because so much of what I wore is associated with gays? I did experiment. And while I don’t think it is my sexual being, I can tell you that gay men as a group are nicer, smarter, have a shitload more fun than straight whites.

5. Buzz Bissinger, dominant leather master.

Was I veering toward becoming a dominant leather master in the S&M scene, the leather fetish an obvious influence in most of the clothing I purchased and in much of high fashion itself? I did experiment. Was I a closeted or maybe not so closeted transvestite? Tom Ford makeup is divine; the right foundation and cheek blush and eyeliner and lipstick can do wonders for the pallid complexion.

4. That poor, poor UPS delivery guy.

Thigh-high boots add to any wardrobe, although walking on six-inch stilettos for hours is just a bitch and therefore confined to the privacy of my house, seen only by the UPS man, who at this point could not possibly be surprised by anything. But a dress or skirt just doesn’t look good on me, and I can’t ever do a thing with my hair. The look I was going for was more David Bowie androgynous. It  wasn’t successful.


3. I really, really do not want to believe this actually happened.

I also went to Hong Kong and Macao with some friends. We went to sex clubs, many, many sex clubs with many, many women. We became tired. Four days seemed like four years.


2. Buzz spends $20,000 on faux-leather leggings BECAUSE AMERICA.

The United States is a country that has raged against enlightenment since 1776; puritanism, the guiding lantern, has cast its withering judgment on anything outside the narrow societal mainstream. Think it’s easy to be different in America? Try something as benign as wearing stretch leather leggings or knee-high boots if you are a man.

1. Not sure if serious.

I turn out every day in the rocker look that has become totally comfortable. During the Gucci trip a fellow invitee said I looked like “Bon Jovi,” a compliment that at this point in my life means more to me than any piece of writing.


Photo via CBS Philly

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