attention whore (noun): an individual with an exhibitionist streak often rooted in low self esteem who will do practically anything to attract the notice of others. While ideally that notice should generate a positive response, the main objective of an attention whore is to get noticed, positively or negatively.
I should know. I’m an attention whore, always have been, rooted in a terrible adolescence where l was singled out as the class nerd, an experience that left being permanently emotionally scarred. To shove the shit right back in their face, I was a straight A student in high school and maintained a 4.0 average in college and graduate school, all while working part-time. I was a Type A all of my working years, driven by my determination to be lauded and recognized, and in gay life my need, no, my hunger for attention – more than the sex – led me to prance around wherever l could shirtless. For you see, l discovered early that the thick fur that enveloped my sturdy little frame and had caused me embarrassment in my high school locker room was my claim to fame in a world built on physicality.
A natural born iconoclast, l always went against the grain, doing papers in school on th atypical subjects, creating my own inhouse ad agency for the healthcare system l served at as its communications director when everybody else hired an agency instead; and when guys in the leather bars l frequented in the now gone West Village of the 1980’s-90’s New York, or in Chicago or L. A. or here in Fort Lauderdale would wear jeans and a harness on a Saturday night, l opted for a singlet, no shirt or designer underwear.
Just to be different, just to be noticed.
It was rather late in life – yes, not until my sixties – that l got over my low self esteem and had confidence in myself and let the rest of the world be damned. Like one ex fuck buddy told me in a huff, “You’re the only guy I know that says it like it is and doesn’t give a fuck what people think.”
Yet old habits die hard, and l continue my exhitionist behavior long after it was “appropriate” (for a 70 year old faggot) because, well, once an attention whore, always an attention whore.
Just recently l was walking over to our local dance club, Hunters, in a of pair of short shorts that showed off my muscular hairy legs, when l overheard a twink a few yards behind me say in a low voice to his cohorts, referring obviously to me: “l wouldn’t wear shorts that short in public.”
I slowed up just enough so they would catch up to me, then with a smile that would turn a pit in hell artic, l buzzed back, all folksy, “You think these are short? You should see the ones I wear when I go to the supermarket.”
In my latest work of erotic fiction, “For The Love of Samuel,” my protagonist Billy Veleber, once an aging Manhattan gay man, now gradually becoming young again thanks to the magical powers of a long dead Civil War soldier’s dog tag, visits the new Eagle, what is left of the City’s once colorful leather scene. There he encounters…
“In between the groupies are some of the oldest members of our clan,The Old Guard, usually alone because most of their cronies are already dead, and usually with enough keys hanging from their belts to rival a night watchman at the Chrysler Building, the fucken handkerchiefs hanging from their pockets, so Twentieth Century, or the best of them in faded, stretched out jock straps that should be on Antiques Road Show along with their owners. Yea it’s true, the older some of these guys got, the less they wore. For attention l guess.
Admired or ridiculed, it doesn’t matter; the greatest sin is to be ignored.”