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17 disturbing quotes by Glenn O'Brien

Updated on June 8, 2013
Glenn O'Brien:  Writer. Artist. Philosopher. 50s man.
Glenn O'Brien: Writer. Artist. Philosopher. 50s man.

Known for his biting sarcasm and wry humour, Mr O'Brien is the current editor of GQ America, and the author of the self-help book How to be a Man, which is apparently "a guide for the modern (50s) man on how to behave."

Over the years, Mr O'Brien has said many things, and led a very "traditional" existence, to say the least. A self-confessed "renegade traditionalist", Glenn has spewed out some rather flamboyantly conservative things, that will rile your liberal sensitivities while tickling your funny bone. Compiled here are 16 of Mr O'Brien's most "troubling" (yet often unintentionally hilarious) quotes, which remind us why we should all be grateful that he is not running for politics.

Whether or not he glosses over episodes of Mad Men to remind himself of the good old days of traditional, clear-cut gender roles, or weeps while reading Charles Dickens by the fireplace to reminisce about a time when he'd belong, there's one thing that is certain - Glenn O'Brien is terrified of the 3 Ms! (Modernization, minorities and men's bodies)!

"I've always felt cheerleaders were a little obsolete. Are they trying to be gymnasts or strippers? Or are they trying to be both?"(Twitter)

"If you wear opera pumps with thick socks, you'll look like a lesbian."
(As if lesbians have to "look" a certain way?)

"Queer eye for the straight guy should be renamed "queer gil for the straight shill. Don't wear anything Carson Kressley wears. The man has no taste, and if he did, he would probably be directed by product placement dollars."
(Look what we have here; A so-called gay rights activist lashing out at flamboyant gay men)

"I understand the need to be fashionable, but that's not what formality is about. It's about deferring to your individuality and observing a traditional form. If you are not traditional, you are not formal."
(So.. Ellen Degeneres and Hilary Clinton are not "formal"? Neither of them wears skirts and dresses when they go to formals)

"It's our duty to elevate the (human) race."
(You mean by making everybody who's not white... Hyphenate... 1950s style?)

"Formal occasions are all the more reason for the enlightened crowd to savor traditional standards of attire. Creative black tie is anything but; it's so that people with nothing to say will have something to talk about. I say dare to conform! If every man wears exactly the same thing, guess who will stand out? That's right. Individuals."
(So.. Most women have "nothing to say, and nothing to talk about?" And he doesn't seem to have anything against cocktail dresses, even though they're not entirely "traditional")

"Women in habits kind of scare me. I cannot help but associate them with being rapped on the knuckles when I was a kid... And women shouldn't be forced to cover their hair. So lady, take of your hat."
(His stance on the Muslim headscarf)

"(If you're a man) Wearing a tank top to, like, dinner or to any other destination considered part of civilization is not okay."
(So... Gay clubs are not part of "civilization"?)

"If you (as a man) wear sleeveless shirts, you have journeyed beyond the threshold of embarrassment and into the arena of spectacle.

(Interesting. So women who wear sleeveless dresses have journeyed beyond the threshold of embarrassment and into the arena of spectacle?)

"One of my biggest pet peeves is when I see a woman in a pretty little black dress, her hair all coiffed up, with a guy skulking next to her in a T-shirt and acid wash jeans, I hope to God that they're not together. I hope he's like her gardener or something."
(Has it ever occurred to you, Glenn, that she might see something in him that you never thought of? Like... Kindness, affection, reliability, fidelity..?)

"We must have the courage to go back to the age-old tradition of ritual and dress code. We must have the courage to turn the shoddy away at the door."
(So... Should we also turn away Gandhi and Mother Theresa?)

"Women should also read How to be a Man. (His book) So that they can correct their husbands when they go wrong."
(Ironic that a man whose wife tells him what to wear should end up writing a book on "manliness")

"Women will succeed. They will surpass men. In a thousand years, there will be just a few men, and a lot of lesbians."

(You mean to say that "real men" are dying out. If you mean "real men" like Don Draper and gangster Guido Calleti are dying out, and giving way to gentler, more liberal, and compassionate men, then YES; real men are dying out. Oh; and FYI, feminine men and lesbians are two different things.)

"I must say that when it comes to built guys, I find a toned male body so much more impressive when it sort of suggests itself under clothing (ie jacket and long trousers), as opposed to flaunting itself to the world."
(Would you be complaining if a toned woman was wearing a figure-hugging strapless gown? Why, then, is GQ filled with images of women in cocktail dresses next to conservatively dressed dudes standing next to them like pimps, in their jackets and long pants? Really - We know you're a straight man. No need to flaunt your heterosexuality to the world.)

Don’t be afraid to take direct action (in getting your husband to "dress better"; presumably like a typical 50s man). If there is something he wears that you absolutely hate, my advice is: Throw it out. Secretly. Don’t put it in the trash at home. Take it out of the house and dispose of it, so as not to have witnesses or leave any evidence. Then, when it goes missing, deny, deny, deny. “I’m sorry, dear, you must have left it at the gym. I saw it just the other day.”
(Surely there are more intelligent ways to insult a man's intelligence, Glenn...?
PS I have 5 tank tops of the same colour and cut in my wardrobe. How would my partner propose to throw them all out and get away with it?)

"When I was growing up, I thought that most men... It wasn't like they were even attracted to women, it was like they were attracted to body parts. I'd rather.. Go for the whole chicken than the breast."

P.S. In Cantonese, the word "kai" means two things - "chicken", and "prostitute".

"Most of my close friends happen to be women. Women, I am sorry to say, are less likely to be assholes than men."
(Look who's talking)

As you can see, Glenn is an extremely colourful character who has said his fair share of funny things. Love him or hate him, he will always have a place in the heart of every socially conservative hetero-normative white male of this day and age. But as much as I appreciate his love for vintage outfits, sexy women and traditional values, I think Mr O'Brien might perhaps consider updating his Calender - By purchasing one that says 2013, as opposed to 1953.


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      hm... 3 years ago

      It seems counter-productive to nitpick every perceived problem in his statements. This was just a trivial article

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      quick2judge 4 years ago

      maybe take some time to do a little more research about someone before pigeon-holing them into some "conservative hetero-normative white male" stereotype. glenn o'brien was, believe it or not, a member of warhol's factory, the host of a diy television series "tv party" ( in the late 70s/early 80s, and extensively covered the punk scene of the 70s and 80s. definitely not a "mad men" type.