Big, Bad Blonde

By Sean Kim

Illustration by Sukho Lee

How does one deal with it, the Blonde? Where lies the mystique?

We often hear the familiar clinical refrain that it’s a fetish, an illogical fixation on an object or body part made sexually potent. Feet, legs, stockings, panties, those little anime-girl statuettes, and the other strange collectibles where the focus of sexual energy gets pinpointed and shot into it like a laser. And we’ve all known that one white dude who always lusted after the Oriental Girl, driven by a desire to possess a demure yet sexually charged little exotic with the silky black hair.

But as it is true with the Oriental Girl, so it is with the Blonde, who exerts a clear sexual force of her own. Go to Japan and you can see her at work on the minds of men. She lurks somewhere in the dark recesses, amid the muck and swamp of the Asian male psyche, suddenly skipping into the light like a gold-prize dream. The white-skinned hotty-totty in a spring mini, with bouncing boobs, flicking that long mane of hair, and the ever-terrible quip, “Omigod!”

Once, a friend and I were on the bus and our eyes simultaneously caught sight of the one blonde walking on the sidewalk amid a crowd. We never saw her face, just the back of her head and the length of hair swaying with each stride. After watching a minute of this, my friend said, “I don’t care how great any girlfriend is. If she’s not a blonde like that one, in the back of your mind, you’ll always want one.” Facetiousness aside, there was something true about that.

So what is she then, the Blonde? Why the fuss? Why all the bottle-blond Asian girls for that matter? Or even the unkinked, blond-haired black girls? Is it about making yourself more white? Or is it about looking good, using hair color like a visual pheromone? Consider also that the Blonde is everywhere — on TV, in movies, lounging on Sunset Beach, littered across advertising, not to mention the porn world. Add to that a culture saturated with the Tease — where hemlines go just barely … and the limitless variety of bikinis … and again the porn. And what varieties there are: the shapes, the sizes, the thousand cultural manifestations. Where does one begin? Reese Witherspoon, Lisa Kudrow, Barbie, Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Harry, Cinderella, Blonde Dagwood, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sailor Moon. It’s endless. They are endless.

So depending on how you look at it, it’s either great to be a guy, or a most insufferably painful existence living with a constant barrage of Tease. Either way, the Blonde remains both anomaly and prize out together. Because, let’s be honest, we’ve all wanted one, if even as a distant curiosity. And we’ve had crushes on one at some time in the past, usually left brokenhearted, by my guess, and it may be that deep down we still desire her, or it, the Blonde. They are, if anything, fascinating creatures, like things from the deep, or beings from the far side of the planet, a complete other on the dividing ethnic line, an entirely other reality! Oh my god, the Blonde!

But there is no “who” being addressed here, only the “what,” the “it.” Just like Frankenstein and Dracula are imagined creatures, so is the Blonde. Take “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” a movie that makes some kind of feminist statement about the spurned woman, yet the movie is also an expression of what the Blonde truly is: a giant monster. (I say this knowing actress Allison Hayes was a brunette; I always get her mixed up with the remake starring Daryl Hannah.) Here we have the image of a giant woman grasping poor little man like King Kong did Faye Wray. It’s a classic reversal, and as a metaphor, so very true. The Blonde as an idea can take a life of its own and sometimes wreak havoc on a guy’s life. For example, take Rene Gallimard, the hero of David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly.” He was so possessed by the idea of his Oriental Girl that he didn’t realize until the end that she was really a he. And in the final scene of the play, he was left a dupe, a fool, a mockery of French high society, and basically turned into a whimpering little girl. Maybe this accounts for the fascination with prostitutes and drag queens, since what they present to us is the idea, the illusion of the woman, which always escapes reality. The virgin whore, the chaste good girl who likes it nasty, the sweet innocent turned naughty after dark, the hot bombshell blonde without an ounce of thought in her head — all of them ideas.

To throw in a little social critique, this might reflect a fear of women. That we need to cover them up in the clothes of our fantasies and make them fit those measurements. And it also says something about the time, where movies, the Internet and video games have so saturated our lives that the fantasy has not only challenged reality but it has actually become reality, to quote Jean Baudrillard.

That may be, but here’s what I really think.

Sure, yes, if your life is nothing but a mediation through images, then your relationship with people, with the real world, is stunted, and this isn’t healthy. But then what are you when the fantasy is totally eradicated? Honestly, you’re not much of a person at all. In fact, you’re less of a human being for it. People imagine that the ridding of obsession is the cure-all for male psychology, but it’s not. What is a man, if not riddled with guilt and obsession? So to rid these through therapy is an absolute good? If so, how boring would the world, if not the woman, be without them? You got jungle fever? Good for you. You have dreams of a little taste of Lolita? Who hasn’t? There’s even that rice queen thing with gay men. So big whoop, everyone, or at least every guy, has got some kind of fetish. It sounds shallow, but a little illusion and surface never hurt. If anything, it adds a little spice to life.

In my case, there’s only one blonde that I need mention: Nicole, from fourth grade. Blond curls and a sweet smile, very toothy, and blue-eyed as ever. She helped me up once when I fell on my bike. I’ll never forget her for it, and I’ve loved her ever since. She was sort of a 9-year-old version of Michelle Pfeiffer, that other devastating blonde I could not get over for years. So there you have it, the blonde standard has been set, and what a sad and disgusting and pathetic thing it is.

It’s no wonder white women still mess me up, and no wonder they remain at such a distance. I don’t know them at all, even when I talk to them and get to know them, and even become their friend. I wish I would learn my lesson and move on, but she’s still there, the lumbering beast of blond hotness way back in my head, or my groin. Shall I fight it, or give in? Well, in the past, it’s been my experience the more you fight against an impulse, the stronger it gets, until it eventually takes over. Instead, I’ll let it be; I’ll let it reign over once in a while to bounce around freely so it doesn’t wreak havoc from being caged up all the time. And maybe, one day, I’ll finally put away the XBox, lose a few pounds, shave and get out there to actually talk to some real, bona fide blond chicks.

Sean Kim is a writer and painter living in San Francisco, with short stories published in FaultLine and Dark Horses. He is currently working on a novel.