…The Spy Who Loved Me(n)

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Culture, Fiction, Film

Kiss kiss, bang bang. Has anyone ever counted the men James Bond has killed? Over the course of twenty-three films, about to be twenty-four, and twelve novels by Ian Fleming, several by other authors since Mr Fleming’s death, plus two collections of short stories, the answer is a lot, that’s how many. But that’s nothing next to his unbridled promiscuity. Woman after woman, he fucks them and fucks off, without knowing their name. But love and death are closely linked for Mr Bond. The women are often killed within minutes of him leaving, and he leaves pretty quickly. Shot, strangled, hit over the head, suffocated by gold paint not once, but twice! What are the chances of that? He didn’t much care for Pussy Galore and he wouldn’t go near Octopussy. He seemed to like Plenty O’Toole much better, excited that she may be named after her father. Does James Bond have something to hide?

Diamonds are for Trevor. Oh, what a big old queen is 007. The way his shirts have to come from Turnbull and Asser, the collar must be just so and only so much cuff can show. Tuxedos from Tom Ford, suits from Saville Row. His shoes are John Lobb, his cigarettes rolled by Morland and his kagouls from Mister Byright (maybe). Vodka must come from the right bottle and be chilled to the right temperature. Whisky has to be Talisker, rum, of course, is Mount Gay. His scallops have to come from the right Scottish loch, his salmon smoked with the right twigs.

He fusses and preens like a debutante and is as boring as one, too. How miserable would dinner with him be? Not a laugh for miles. Not a joke more subtle than Do you come here often, big wink on ‘come. He’d look at his watch and comment on its manufacturer. For a steely, unknowable mystery he’s awfully keen on product placement. He’s never had a conversation that isn’t about him, the man he’s stalking or his ‘mother’. (Almost every noun on planet 007 has inverted commas around it). Champagne for his real friends, real pain for his sham friends. It would have to be Tattinger, except he appears to have no friends.

James Bond’s hobbies:

  • going to the gym
  • looking in the mirror
  • buying clothes
  • drinking cocktails the way he likes them
  • searching for a man

None of them at all gay. Right.

Killer queen. In the second Casino Royale he falls for Eva Green. She dies, of course, while
a) betraying him and b) going down – literally! – in a lift in a sinking palazzo in Venice. Judy Dench, his controlling ‘mother’, tuts and worries. He spends more time protecting her than he does walking out of the sea in sexy trunks that hardly say Look at me, in my sexy trunks with my disco tits at all. I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but she – M, for overbearing Mother, of course – dies at the end of the most recent one, Skyfall. Bond will be angry in the new one. Glasses will be smashed. Smershed, maybe. (They’ve changed the name of the megalomaniac organisation 007 tries to foil from Smersh to the more menacing Spectre for the new film, I see. Less flirtatious. And, they’re all megalomaniacs, aren’t they. No one wants to have a big house on the Costa, they all want all the gold in the world or to kill everyone in it. Jeez Louise, calm down, dear).

Thunderballs. Have you read a James Bond novel? Awful. Don’t. He belongs on that unreadable-but-still-sells-millions shelf with Agatha Christie and Jeffrey Archer. If you want a good spy novel try John Le Carré. Philip Roth called a Perfect Spy the best English novel since the war. Mr Roth is a great novelist himself. There are other great post-war English novels – Midnight’s Children, The Raj Quartet, Remains of the Day, Earthly Powers – all about England’s decline. All rich and beautifully written. 007 is about a world-beating English industry, maybe England’s best, spying. England excels at espionage. Maybe it’s the lost empire, maybe it’s the fagging.

In Another Country, Julian Mitchell’s play about why the Cambridge five, mid-century, often gay, British spies, became spies. He argues that pretending to be what they werent was the perfect training for a life of secrecy and spying. In Skyfall James admits to some same-sex sex when he’s being tortured by his gay nemesis Javier Bardem. My twitter friend David Paxton reads that as a bluff. I’d say Get a room, you guys! I’d say there’s nothing James Bond wouldn’t do to get his man. He didn’t seem to hate the extreme ball torture he underwent in Casino Royale. I’m not saying all gay men are sadomasochists, but that James Bond is. The love that dare not speak its name has a very stiff upper lip. Also, why are so many Bond villains gay, walking into the sunset, holding hands, as they do in Diamonds are Forever

I’d say Daniel Craig is the gayest Bond, Roger Moore the least gay, but I’d listen to anyone who says different. When I talked to her about this, my friend Dani thought exactly the opposite. I think she’d be disappointed. They’re all gay, if you ask me. Even Sean Connery. Even the Australian one who married Diana Rigg, and who wouldn’t want to marry Ms Rigg. She gets killed quickly, too, of course, shot by another man’s gun. Or should I say ‘shot’ by another man’s ‘gun’. Are you pointing your weapon at me with lethal intention? asks Christoff Waltz in the trailer for the new film. I think we know he means ‘weapon’ and ‘lethal’. We also know the answer. And that’s why I love the spy who loved me(n).

My twitter-friend and sometime twitter-flirt Mark Simpson, the man who originally coined ‘metrosexual’, has written often about James Bond’s gayness. You can find what he has to say here, here, here and here. In the third of those he ranks Bonds by their gayness and their shaggability. Argue with him, not me. I hope he forgives me for having a similar idea, although he expresses it better. I hope he forgives me if I’ve plagiarised him at all, I didn’t mean to, honest.

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Photographer, writer, graphic designer, Londoner, blogger, tweeter, cakeboy.

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