Max's Blog

How Pop Culture Leads and Misleads


Jessica Rabbit

I love this photo of a Barnum and Bailey circus performer in 1946. Isn’t she pretty? And her fur is as sweet as cotton candy. It reminds me of a photoshoot you’ll see in the upcoming WORN Fashion Journal No. 13. There’s more pics like these, and many others of equal interest, on the How To Be Retronaut blog. I have been wasting a lot of time there.

Hey McFly!

Read my post about Marty McFly’s awesome shoes in ‘Back to the Future II’ on the WORN blog. Great Scot!

Myles Sexton

Check out my interview with Model Extrodinaire, and my new friend, Myles Sexton on the WORN Fashion Journal blog. He talks about concealer, Lady Gaga and the Aztecs.

Casie’s Mandatory Birthday

Isn’t it funny how quickly times change? For one of my very first posts I wrote about our generation’s habit of over-documenting our lives with digital pictures, turning everyone into tabloid-ready celebutantes. Back in the late-00’s there was no event too small to warrant its own album on facebook. For some, it meant self-portraits in the bathroom mirror or falling down drunk during some random guy’s kitchen party. If you were more like me, your pictures would instead focus on your friends coming over to eat Oreos and watch ‘Fraggle Rock’ or Julie Andrews in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. To each his own.

But then we got photographed-out and put our cameras away for a while. I reached the point where I only wanted to take pictures of important events, like grand tours of India and Spice Girl Reunion Concerts. It eventually snuck up on me that I had almost no pictures of my lovely peers at WORN Fashion Journal. And, although we have our own flickr for cuddling launch party pics (as a group we’re not exactly shrinking violets) there’s something to be said for photographing your friends yourself. Maybe you’ll tangibly capture them the way they look to you. (You’re on dangerous ground there, Max.)

So here are the pictures from wonderful Casie Brown’s backyard birthday bash, otherwise known as Casie’s Mandatory Birthday Party, as the celebration was attached to a ‘mandatory’ WORN meeting before hand. (The quotation marks are to imply that we don’t take meetings that seriously, while not to suggest that the meetings are not in fact mandatory.) We all wore headgear, some home-made, which we in fashion call couture, and a good time was had by all. As you may notice, my photography skills improved as the night wore on and the drinks added up.

Casie’s Mandatory Birthday Pictures

Another Kind of Tea Party

Love this picture of a group of Wornettes enjoying some beers in a home-made tent (or “lean to”). Photo by Stephanie Fereiro.

Rose Wornette

Check out this amazing outfit on WORN Fashion Journal’s Rose. Click here for her thoughts on it.

Hello Dolly

or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stereotypes

One of the things I hated about doing queer studies at UofT (besides the esoteric discussions centred on some inane straw man of a theory, which nobody believed anyway) was the inability of students to get past ‘deconstructing’ things. The focus on every identity being ‘socially constructed’ (thank you, Judith Butler) has convinced a whole subset of young academics that ‘deconstructing’ identities is a worthwhile endeavor.  My professor, on hearing someone wanted to ‘deconstruct’ the traditional male, or the feminine wife, or whatever, would say “Okay, but what are you doing in a class room?”

Then there was that much-discussed but rather silly cover story in The Grid which, because some white, hipster queers don’t like rainbow flags, declared a new way of being gay. The author didn’t seem to realize that resenting stereotypes is as grand a tradition in the gay community as musical theatre and bath houses. Gays in the 1950’s didn’t like their stereotypes; same in the 1970’s. The only result is that new stereotypes are formed (which the cover photo suggested, what with its bearded, bow-tied, plaid-wearing homo’s).

Stereotypes are not always bad. They can help people find a place in the community and get comfortable with their identity. We fight for human rights so that we have the freedom to be whatever we want to be, not necessarily be reactionary and original.

I think it’s hilarious that as a refugee from academia, first fleeing to Ireland and then to WORN Fashion Journal, my first major article was not only about stereotypes, but celebrated them. And based on it and Sara Guindon‘s gorgeous illustrations, we created these wonderful paper dolls.

Through my article, I have ended up putting gay men into little packages based on socially-constructed identities. I wonder how Michel Foucault would feel.

Click here to check out the WORN issue with my article ‘Out of the Closet’ and click here to order these fabulous little guys.

Introducing Wilfred the Fairy: With his snappy suit, pink carnation and sidekick poodle, he wouldn’t be out of place tickling the ivories in a Noël Coward comedy. While his jokes may be dry and a bit cruel, he’s a sweetheart deep down who tears up when Judy Garland sings ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.

Don’t let Gunther’s tutu fool you. He’s a tough-as-nails Radical Drag Queen who doesn’t let gender binaries or police officers prevent him from marching in pride parades and high-kicking his magenta heels. By mixing femininity with masculinity (note the beard and hairy legs) Radical Drag Queens of the early 1970s forced people to question what, if anything, gender meant.

None of that gender-play for Lance the Clone. He likes his t-shirt tight, his green jeans tighter, and his moustache well trimmed. While Fairies of the 1950s had dressed like dandy aristocrats to escape the bourgeoisie, Clones of the 1970s embraced the icons of working-class manhood (cowboys, soldiers, construction workers) to show the world that just because you slept with men didn’t mean you couldn’t look like one.

Tobias the Leather Man has only one inspiration: the leather-clad biker. Gay men were into black leather for almost as long as the Hell’s Angels. He demonstrates his sexual interests with signifying keys on his belt or with a coloured hanky. But beneath his studded and studly ensemble, he’s harboring a secret: he’s got tickets to go see Bette Midler with Wilfrid next week.

Max’s Big Gay Article

It’s finally here! The WORN Fashion Journal feature that I brainstormed on this here blog oh so long ago has arrived fresh from the presses (and boy, has it changed a lot since then!). If you like my writing in pixels, just wait until you see it on paper. I’m so thankful for everyone on the team who made it possible: Haley for helping me research; Gwen and Serah-Marie for their editing and commitment in making the piece everything it could be; Casie and Stephanie for fact-checking my many words; and the rest of the WORN team for copy-editing, proofing and believing in my ‘big gay article’.

The entire issue is looking pretty spectacular. It’s the best of the world of WORN: insightful, witty and quirkily pretty.

How can I pick up a copy, you might ask. The best way to behold the glory of Issue 12 and supporting the magazine is to come to our Fancy Pants launch party tonight at the Dovercourt House, starting at 8.00 (but going quite late). I shall be there and wearing something awesome. (It’s a surprise.) Or you can order it online or drop by in person to these fine stores.

Keep chasing that rainbow.



I awoke this morning watching the gentle wisps of November snow out my window. A change in the weather, a click you can feel in the air, is much more important in determining the change of season than when stores put up Christmas lights or Tim Horton’s begins running those cloying tear-jerking ads.

I guess its winter.

Autumn went by in a blur.

My life had been on a seemingly-endless upward trajectory since coming home from Ireland, getting the WORN internship and meeting the Gentleman. Inevitably, you can only go up for so long, and in a period of a week everything seemed to crash; I didn’t get the writing position I had applied for, was broken up with in an email and quit my cafe job.  

I quit in order to spend time with my family up at the cottage but in hindsight, maybe that wasn’t the best idea as I didn’t find a new job for a month and a half (and, correspondingly, am now behind where I should be for India saving). But the break provided some breathing room and a fresh start in September.

Then, as they do, things happened very quickly.

I took on editing the WORN newsletter (you can sign up here), arranging a ‘Welcome to WORN’ zine for new interns, along with two blog posts and three book reviews. It got a little out of hand, especially when I found two new jobs. My weeks became perpetually booked up and it hasn’t slowed down since.

Looking back at my blog posts from this fall, a lot of the subjects are melancholy: the wrong person was elected Mayor of Toronto; the party of my favourite president got a “shellacking” in the US midterms; and a wonderful friend of mine passed away.

But there have been good times as well; I went to my very first fashion show (pictured above, with my famous editor Serah-Marie); I braved descending into the world of dating once again; and, surprisingly, especially to myself, I kept my promise to keep going out, dancing on Church street, attending art openings and embarrassing myself at pub trivia nights. This is may be why I have no money.

There was also the WORN Issue 11 launch party, which I went to dressed as the ‘Prom Queen’ complete with tiara and pink sash (pictures coming soon).

And speaking of which,  one of the most exciting things to happen in the little while was my gay men and fashion pitch (which I wrote about in its early stages here) got the go-ahead as a feature for the next issue of WORN. Two thousand words, four pages, illustrations. As Serah-Marie said with a smile, “Pressure’s on, Max.”

All this busyness has meant I haven’t been posting as much I as did in the summer. “I noticed there’s been less stories on ‘Max’s Blog’!” my co-Wornette Hillary complained at the WORN formal, referring to it with its formal name rather than “your blog”. I think, as a result, I have lost some of my regular readers.

But you keep going, for yourself and for others. I was recently told by someone that my writing had noticeably improved since I started, and another person (a friend who lives in Ottawa) went out of her way to tell me she followed the blog religiously.

On my to-do list when I get back from India is getting a ‘grown-up’ job (defined as one which pays marginally better than minimum wage, preferably full-time and where, on occasion, I actually get to sit down), continue doing as much as I can handle for WORN and pursuing freelance writing, in print and online.

Those are all my life plans as they currently stand. It’s kind of scary but kind of exciting.

It’s a new season.

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