I have never understood people’s objection to staring and being stared at. We are taught that it is not polite to stare at people, and people feel very uncomfortable and self-conscious when someone stares at them. Why is that? When we venture out in public, we should expect to be noticed by the other people in our immediate presence. Why do people get all dolled up in fancy attire and makeup if not to be looked at and admired? I look at it this way. If someone is staring at somebody, they must like what they see or find them to be interesting to look at, or else they wouldn’t be looking, would they? They should feel flattered rather than annoyed. ‘Take a good look, y’all. I know I’m fine!’
Given the choice, wouldn’t you rather be stared at than completely ignored or find that people are repulsed by your appearance? Your objection must be because of shame. If you cannot do anything about the way you look, don’t be ashamed. Own it. I think that people with physical deformities and disfigurements, especially, would agree. Sideshow freaks, after all, make their living by people gawking at them, as do models, strippers, athletes and entertainers. Maybe it’s because I am a performer myself and an exhibitionist and am used to being watched closely, so it doesn’t bother me in the least. (“You see anything you like, fella?”) From a gay person’s viewpoint, staring is a form of cruising. Persistent eye contact is how we know when somebody is on our case.
Being blessed with an innate sense of humor, I have never been one who has a problem with being laughed at either. In fact, I have made it my life’s mission making people laugh. I can find humor in any situation, whether it be frivolous or grave. Laughter is the shock-absorber of life. Have you read my blogs where I make fun of people’s religious beliefs? For me, there is no subject that cannot be joked about. Those performers who make comedy their life’s occupation most likely realized their calling when something that they said or did early on elicited laughter from those in their presence, whether it was intentional or not. Schoolchildren are often teased and taunted by their unusual appearance, perhaps, or because of the way they speak. But if there is something about you that provokes laughter, just use it to your advantage, whether it be Jimmy Durante’s bulbous nose or Marty Feldman’s pop eyes or Dumbo’s humongous “E-A-R-S,” for that matter.
Some insecure individuals are reluctant or afraid to try certain things because they don’t want to “make a fool of themselves” or are worried that someone will laugh at them. “I will be the laughing stock of the whole town!“ But so what if you are? If people are laughing, that means they are enjoying themselves, for whatever reason. No one laughs at something they hate. I would consider it quite an accomplishment to get a whole town to notice me in such a way. “Hey, guys, did you hear what happened to Cliff Townsend? No? That was so funny! Let me tell you about it.“
To bring mirth and merriment to large groups of people is a good thing, nothing to be ashamed of. If a person chooses to make fun of someone making an effort to accomplish something, whether they succeed or not, that says more about that person. If they think what the performer or artist is doing is so easy, why don’t they get up there and do it? I believe in the adage, “They who can, do; those who can’t, criticize.“ Then, too, their attention to any incident is only temporary anyway. It’s like topical news items. They will talk about it only until something else more noteworthy replaces it.
I don’t think that people should laugh at someone else’s inflicted pain or injury, unless they themselves caused it for our amusement, as in the case of slapstick comedy with actors falling down and getting struck with various items. Is it funny to see someone get bopped on the head with a bat? But we laugh when the Three Stooges do it, or when Chevy Chase used to take his signature pratfalls on “Saturday Night Live.” What I am saying is that people love to laugh and will laugh at virtually anything. So if I happen to be the object of someone’s amusement, I feel flattered rather than embarrassed, because if they aren’t laughing at me, they will find someone else to laugh at. So why not me, then?
I feel the same way about personal publicity. We can’t really stop people from talking about us, and to me, what’s worse than being talked about is not being talked about. As long as it’s true and you haven’t hurt anybody, I don’t think that any publicity is bad. No matter what it is they are saying about you, even if it’s unfavorable, at least you know that you are on somebody’s mind. Don’t you think that the public attention that some celebrities elicit is intentional? They know that their lives are no longer private, and unless they are entirely alone, anything they do or say is going to be witnessed by somebody. As long as their name is in the news, it doesn’t matter what they do. That’s why these stars have publicity agents. It’s their job to keep their clients’ names in the media.
When up-and-coming starlet Marilyn Monroe posed nude for a calendar in 1949, it created such a scandal for her movie studio, at least on the surface. But Marilyn did not shy away from it but rather embraced the situation. It is rumored that it was Marilyn herself who orchestrated the release of the pictures. She explained that she needed the money when she posed for them, and she was not ashamed of her body. In fact, she was quite pleased that the pictures were a megahit and gave her worldwide exposure, literally, and they helped make her the star that she was aspiring to be. Similarly, Rob Lowe’s scandalous porno film certainly did not hurt his career, did it? And Vanessa Williams has not suffered as a result of her photographic indiscretions that came to light during her reign as Miss America. The time when Michael Jackson was filmed dangling his baby boy off a hotel balcony, he never imagined that people would be talking about it for weeks and months afterwards? Come on!
The recent news story about Kim Kardashian getting robbed in Paris, I smell the proverbial rat in that. If that was not a setup, I don’t know what was. First the bitch took a picture of that expensive ring of hers and released it via Twitter to the whole world to see. Then she told everybody where she was staying. She has around-the-clock security and personal bodyguards, but on this particular night, she sent them all on a mission somewhere else, so she was alone at the time. Come on, doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? Why didn’t the robbers kill her? She just surrendered the ring without a fight, as I would have done. So you know the whole thing was all pre-arranged. I am pretty sure that her ring is insured. I suspect this is an insurance claim scam. Just because someone is rich, it doesn’t mean that they are not greedy and always want more. And how do we know for sure that the couple does not have financial problems? Even the very wealthy tend to get themselves in debt, whether it be gambling debts, perhaps, or bad investments, whatever. And look, she’s in the news again. That was probably the main point in all of this anyway.
As I condone truth and honesty, I don’t like it when the tabloids make up stories about famous people, some having no basis of fact whatsoever. But if the persons in question did it, they should be willing to own up to it and just accept the fact that people are going to talk about them. The group I used to sing with, The Flirtations, once got a mention in that trashy tabloid, The National Enquirer. Didn’t we love that?!
I feel that you have arrived when they start making up public jokes about you. Richard Pryor used to put his own tragic misfortunes into his standup routines. He joked about his near-fatal heart attack and even about the time he set himself on fire while freebasing. He told his audience, “I’ve heard the jokes you’ve been telling about me.” He got out a match, struck it, then moved the lit match along his arm and said, “What is this? Richard Pryor running down the street. Y’all tacky!” Of course, people laughed, but he didn’t care. When you can laugh at yourself and not take yourself so seriously, then it shouldn’t bother you if other people find you amusing as well.
I’m always hearing from people how as adolescents, like when they began discovering their sexuality, for instance, and specifically when they acknowledged that they were or might be gay, many of them harbored feelings of alienation, thinking that they were “the only one in the world” with those feelings, and making them feel like some kind of freak or something. I have never understood that. With as many people in the world as there are, how can anyone think that they are the only one anything? How self-centered can you get? Yes, we all have our differences, but we are not unique as far as general feelings, thoughts and emotions go. I couldn’t be the only queer if my boyfriends were doing the same things that I was. And if there were we, then it follows that there must be others somewhere else as well. How could I possibly believe that the only faggots in the entire world resided in a five-block radius in South Bend, Indiana?!
I think that humans, in general, have a problem with non-conformity. I’m always hearing about someone being picked on or ostracized by their peer group because they’re “different.” Different than what, I ask? By whose ken do we measure human difference? Every living creature is different in some way. There are no two people exactly alike, not even so-called identical twins. So in reality, everyone is “different.” And since everybody is not the same, then, who are you trying to be anyway? If everyone were exactly the same, how boring would that be? We wouldn’t have our own distinct identities. How could we tell one person from another? That’s one of the arguments against genetic engineering and human cloning. And who should be the prototype on which everyone is modeled after? Whatever one they pick, it would destroy all human diversity and our freedom of choice for different types. But I’ll bet that people would behave the same if members of a group each were told to wear different kinds of shoes, let’s say, and one guy comes in wearing a pair exactly like another person’s. They would probably then get on him for not being different. You know, it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. You can’t win sometimes.
Dr. Seuss cleverly addresses the issues of human difference and even imagined superiority with his allegorical story, The Sneetches. It’s about a race of generic, beach-dwelling creatures—his drawings depict them as some biped, birdlike rendering—that all look exactly alike. The only difference is that some of these Sneetches have a green star on their belly and some do not. The Star-Belly Sneetches somehow have gotten the notion that their star makes them superior to their fellow Sneetches that don’t have one. They walk around with their noses up in the air and won’t even socialize with the Plain-Belly lot.
So one day a traveling mountebank, named Sylvester McMonkey McBean, happens by and tells the Plain-Belly Sneetches that for $3 apiece his special machine will put stars on their bellies and make them like the others. Of course, they all do it. But now this upsets the original Star-Bellies, who then ask McBean to use the machine to remove their stars, which he does. So although the situation is now reversed, the group that now don’t have stars on their bellies still think they are “the best Sneetches on the beaches.” Thus nothing has really changed.
Then the confused frenzy begins. Everybody is either putting on stars or taking them off, trying to distinguish themselves from the other group. McBean doesn’t give a shit about any of them, because he’s raking in the dough left and right. Not until the Sneetches have spent all of their money on this stupid nonsense do they finally give up. They are all so confused now. Nobody can tell anybody apart. They don’t know who had what where or which when. They have finally come to the realization that they are all the same after all and that no one, by their mere being or appearance, is better than anyone else. The con man rides off with his newfound riches chuckling to himself, “When will they ever learn?” Indeed.
I think that just to be yourself is the way to go. Frequently on film and TV, and I’m sure it occurs in real life as well, people are always misrepresenting themselves or trying to be somebody else in order to impress someone–a potential date, a client, an employer, their friend’s parents or family members, whomever. They will make up histories and backgrounds about themselves, disguise themselves, change their name, age, even gender to impress somebody. Do they hate themselves so much to go to all that trouble and give up their true identity? I have never done that or considered ever doing it, because other than being dishonest and deceitful, it always proves counterproductive. If you make yourself somebody else, you have to keep up the charade. One lie leads to another and more and more until it will eventually catch up with you. And then often they discover that the other person was doing the same thing to you. So neither one of you knows the real you.
How and why would you maintain a relationship with anybody under false pretenses? How do you know if they are attracted to you or to whom they think you are? And what makes you think that what you are trying to be is what that person is looking for? I want people to regard and assess me as I really am. And I, in turn, would like to know with whom I am dealing. When someone meets me for the first time, they know exactly who I am, as I am always myself. It may take them a while to get to know me, but no one has ever told me later, “Gee, Cliff, you are a totally different person than I thought you were. You sure have changed.” Nope, this is me. What you see is what you get. It must be my unbridled honesty. I always provide truthful responses to anything asked me. I don’t lie about my age or my past or my feelings about something. If you ask for my honest opinion of something, I will tell you. If you don’t like what I have to say, I will remind you, ‘Well, you asked. I did not volunteer that information.’
Let me tell you something else about myself. I could never be a victim of blackmail or ever resort to it myself, even as poor as I am. A person can do to you only what you allow them to do. Some people just don’t seem to get that. They complain about people doing things to them that they don’t like but don’t do anything to stop it. If you don’t like the way you are being treated by someone, then do something about it. Besides not having anything of great value, including a lot of money, to give to anybody, there is nothing that I have ever done that I would pay someone to keep secret. My life, literally, is an open book. How can people do such shameful or despicable things that they later regret? If they feel that way about it, why did they do it in the first place? I don’t do anything that I will have that much remorse about. It must be that I have no shame. I often make mistakes in some of my life’s choices, but I am always willing to accept the consequences of my actions. So if you know something about me that you think is newsworthy, go on and tell it. I don’t really care.
We are hearing of late that the internet is far from private or safe. Anything on our computers can be accessed by others. I do have personal items on my home computer, like pictures and documents, but nothing that is absolutely for my eyes only. If I want to read something or look at it, I should expect someone else to be interested in them as well. Yes, I even have nudie photos of myself and others for my own perusal and enjoyment, but if you want to look at them, too, feel free. You are welcome to share them, no need to blackmail me about them.
I suggest that if someone threatens to blackmail you, just call their bluff. All they really want is your money. Telling what they know is not going to benefit them monetarily. If you don’t pay them, they will find other means to get some cash. If they do decide to expose you anyway, out of spite perhaps, then so be it. Just own up to what you’ve done. It might not be as bad as you think it is, short of murder, that is. I don’t get the wisdom of trying to blackmail a murderer. You have knowledge that somebody you know has killed somebody and you proceed to blackmail them? What makes you think that they won’t kill you, too? Even if the person you are blackmailing has not killed anyone yet, they may start just to keep you quiet and not have to pay you. There is a first time for everything, you know. I’m just saying.