It is mid- March 2013 as I write this. Spring is late in coming, and the skies are
gray as a powdery snow falls gently from the sky. But I have gone to summer
in my mind—or, more precisely, to Boston about eight months ago, where
I attended Console- ing Passions, a conference on feminism and television.
While there, I heard my friend and colleague Alex Doty give a witty, funny,
and insightful paper on beefcake, a trope he traced from Jersey Shore to Spart-
acus to the Old Spice man. I did not take copious notes. I just leaned back
and listened to the flow of his ideas, looking forward to the opportunity to be
back in Bloomington, Indiana, where we could sit down together over coffee
at Rachael’s Café and talk more about the signifier of the mediated beefcake. I
began to practice how I might tease, cajole, and plead with him to include an
essay in this collection. I thought I had all the time in the world. But a week
later, in early August, we received the news that while taking his annual “end of
summer” vacation, Alex had been hit by a motorcyclist in Bermuda. He died
a few days later.
When it came to media, not a lot escaped Alex’s attention or affection. He
loved movies—the bigger and the brassier, the better. And he had a fine eye for
television. Pee- wee’s Big Adventure stands as the inspiration for one of the best
essays on queer theory and media representation ever written. I have no doubt
that the quirky topographies of Reality tv would have been part of Alex’s next
frontier, and if his observations on Jersey Shore’s gtl (gym, tan, laundry) and
six pack abs were any indication, we were about to receive a whole new in-
stallment on “making things perfectly queer” that marked Alex’s work as so
incisive. I cannot include his actual voice in this collection, but I can include
his memory. So it is with gratitude to his most excellent friendship, shrewd
observations, and wicked sense of humor that I dedicate this collection to him.
We miss you, Alex. A lot.
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