Last night I watched an episode in which two vapid, muscular gay men were searching for a new home in the 'flats' of Hollywood. Guy #1 recently moved from his native Denmark to be with his... partner? (I hate that word. It's so businesslike.) He had highlights in his hair, tattoos all over his chest—visible in his cleavage—and an unmistakable air of diffidence about him—probably the consequence of being the 'kept man' in the relationship. Despite this diffidence, I still presume he was the top because the other guy, Guy #2, was more flamboyant (and catty) and discernibly less buff. Guy #2 also appeared to be older—by possibly five to ten years—so my guess is that he woke up one morning, saw his crow's feet, and decided it was time to buy a younger man. But this is all just inappropriate psychological speculation.
Guy #2 was a professional event planner. (Only in Southern California, right?) And apparently he found it too cumbersome to fight the traffic coming down from the Hollywood Hills so he wanted something in the flats, preferably a Spanish style house (yuck, by the way), with the potential for some remodeling projects so that he could put his personal stamp on the place. Now if you know the general formula of the show, you'd suspect that Guy #1 wanted a move-in ready house, and you'd be right. Nine times out of ten the two persons who are house shopping together want at least one thing that's diametrically the opposite of the other. (This builds tension and suspense!) Otherwise, Guy #1 seemed to have few opinions and basically just wandered around mumbling. (In fairness, his English wasn't perfect.)
Guy #2, on the other hand, had a strong opinion about everything—which is to be expected, I guess, considering that he was the native Angeleno in the couple and was probably footing most of the bill. Being a sort of stereotypical gay man, he wanted Spanish character, a lap pool, and plenty of room for 'entertaining.' (The people on House Hunters always talk about needing tons of space for 'entertaining.' I picture them putting on puppet shows or interpretive dance performances for a room full of appalled guests. Half the time, I talk to the set and say, 'Who are you kidding? You don't have any friends, asshole!' I'm the one talking to the television, but I'm accusing them of being friendless. Did you get the irony there?)
I'm going to digress from the Guys on this particular episode for a moment to talk about the typical wants and 'needs' of your average House Hunters purchaser. After awhile I get sick of hearing about these same things over and over and over again. (It just reinforces my hypothesis that Americans have no style whatsoever and they just want to have what everyone else wants to have—which is generally determined by vulgar upper middle class taste. But I digress within my digression.) What people seem to obsess over are 'open concept' homes; they despise old-fashioned homes that are chopped-up and have separate kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms. Most of them can't live without granite countertops—usually really ugly brownish-tannish ones—in their kitchens and bathrooms. If the realtor dares to bring them to a house with laminate countertops, they can barely keep themselves from vomiting all over the place. How dare you show them this petit-bourgeois trash! (And if there's vinyl flooring or fake hardwoods, you'll be lucky if they don't run out of the house screaming.) Americans also need LOTS of bedrooms. Even if it's only two people, they'll need AT LEAST three bedrooms. AT LEAST. One bedroom had better be a huge-ass master bedroom with attached bath that is in most cases larger than my first apartment. I don't understand the fixation with sprawling master suites. You sleep and you fuck in there. How much space do you need? Why do you need a 'sitting area' in your fucking bedroom? Don't pretend like you're going to wake up in the morning and sit in your bedroom sipping Earl Grey and eating cucumber sandwiches, Lady Higginbotham. You'll roll over and fart and then go out to the kitchen like every other human being.
But besides a cavernous master bedroom, any bourgeois couple worth their salt will need at least two other bedrooms. One they will use either as a home office or as a place for the wife to do her crafting and watercolors, and the other they will use as a guest room because—remember?—they love entertaining and having guests over. (Even though everybody hates them, including me.) Now, the couple would actually prefer four bedrooms if it were doable, in which case they could have separate home office and crafting rooms. And five bedrooms would be ideal because one day they are planning to spawn and inflict another upper middle class monster on society—so, natch, they'll need a nursery. (Did I mention that each of the five bedrooms should be huge? I mean, you should need binoculars to see from one wall to the other. And the bedrooms should all have closets as large as the bedroom I had when I first moved out of my parents' house.)
There are many things that the average house hunter hates more than pancreatic cancer. An abridged list would include 'popcorn' ceilings, master baths with one only sink (Oh, the humanity...!), appliances that are not stainless steel, carpeting in the living room, and brass chandeliers. Meanwhile, some of the amenities that elicit hands-free orgasms from most buyers are crown molding, vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors, a 'garden' bathtub (whatever the hell that is), recessed lighting, 'great rooms' that are larger than Rhode Island, and homes with 'character' (which the buyers will inevitably gut and turn into assembly-line suburban-style homes).
Let's return to Guy #1 and Guy #2 now and see how they're doing. The realtor—a very dry gay man seemingly with no joy in his life—shows the couple a corner lot a few blocks from the Sunset Strip. It's a pretty small house, but it's in the cookie-cutter pseudo-Spanish style that much of Southern California seems to believe has 'character' and old world charm. The Guys go inside, however, and the place is a dump. The walls are dingy and dirty. The kitchen has green vinyl tile and dark wood cabinetry from the 70s. The carpeting is filthy and old. In short, it looks like it might have been a drug den or a set for a Harmony Korine film some time in the last decade.
Now do you want to know how much this house was listed for? This little, dumpy house on a corner lot—corner lots are always undesirable—that would have maybe cost $80K to $90K where I live? It was listed for $850,000. Yes, that's right. A dump in a better area of Los Angeles will cost you nearly a million dollars. Needless to say, I was slightly enraged when I heard this, as any sane human being should be. And then Guy #1, finally voicing an opinion, said during the walk-through, 'Why don't we just get a house with a pool?' (This place didn't have one.) The bitchy realtor tilted his head and looked at him with a mixture of contempt and pity: 'Oh, you couldn't afford a home with a pool in your price point.' Seriously. You've only got $850K to spend? You might as well be living in a cardboard box on Hollywood Boulevard, dudes. I don't know what you're even thinking...!