Saturday, August 14, 2010


The New Asian Male

We live in a world that is perception based and, for better or worse, most of us have made a judgment about a person, or even a group of people built on a stereotype. The thoughts can be humor based and relatively harmless, such as all blonds are dumb, or they can take an uglier turn by involving race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or religion. When it comes to race and ethnic background, various groups have plenty of cause for complaint, but Asian stereotypes seem to move beyond personality and behavior and zero in on assumed physical inadequacies.

The biggest misconceptions paint a picture of small men with soft hairless bodies and feminine features. The emasculation digs deeper with the wide spread belief that all Asian men have small penises. And not just small in a “below average” sort of way, but small as in the tiniest phalluses of any other males on the planet. This is a very broad generalization that has made its way into comedy routines as well a feature films, usually accompanied by a visual that illuminates the other stereotype. We can ignore any evidence to the contrary, such as porn star Brandon Lee, who has a beautiful, well toned and muscular physique, or any number of the well hung males that appear in some Asian porn films because they are the exception, not the norm, much the same way as the black guy who isn’t well hung. I mean, all black men are hung, right?


The modeling industry has come to recognize that other races do have marketable beauty, and we have slowly begun to see more than just Caucasian representations on the runway, in commercials and print advertisement, yet the Asian male sex symbol still eludes us. Even the ones that do become famous, like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan are still relegated to roles that we are comfortable seeing them in, which in this case is as martial arts experts. They may be the stars of the films, but they fall short of being viewed as romantic leads.

Off screen, they occupy a similar niche market which is evident just by reading the personals ads that are gay themed. “No fatties, fems, or Asians”, reads one, implying that the idea of hooking up with one is just as undesirable. On the flip side, you see the ads looking specifically for Asians, usually accompanied by the description of small and smooth bodied. It is a fetish market of sorts, and I have yet to see an ad that seeks the masculine and muscled Asian male. But they do exist, as do their fans.

In much the same way that Brandon Lee helped to change the perception in pornography, Peter Le (no relation) has made huge strides on the more artistic side. And he is not alone. We have the two Tangs – Guy and Jeremy (they are not brothers, which has been asked, but Jeremy has a beautiful brother named Ricky who also models), Jeffierce, Rob Trinh and Eric Rensburg. We also have photographers who have always been keenly aware of the beauty of Asian men such as Ron Reyes, Don Pollard, Ed Freeman, Jay Plogman and Desi Arnez of Zedneram.

And, of course, BLISS which has strived to showcase a variety of different types and illuminate the reality that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. This month, we are proud to present Eric Rensburg who offers yet another example of the fact that it is not a new breed of Asian males that we are looking at, but rather a new attitude about what has always been there.

©2010 Sean Dibble

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David Costa