After 20 years of Oscar snubs that included performances as a drowning lover, an insane backpacker (aren't they all), Johnny Depp's brother, and a plantation owner who drinks from coconuts and bleeds actual blood, Leonardo DiCaprio has finally appeared as the protagonist in a piece of gay erotic fiction about an actor who is fucked onstage at an awards ceremony by a life-sized golden statue. Published as an ebook on February 10—just in time for Oscar season—Chuck Tingle's short story "Leonardo Decaprico Finally Wins His Award and It Pounds Him in the Butt" uses the cheesy conventions of erotica to create a searing yet sensual postmodern commentary on the nature of celebrity: Alongside a productive sex scene, Tingle suggests that actors' lust for praise is so strong that they are physically attracted to it.
Although Tingle is perhaps best known for the fantastical inter-species, inter–geologic period relationships he crafts in his gay dinosaur erotica and other so-called "tinglers," prehistoric poundings are absent from this relatively tame tale. Instead, the prolific writer—who is also, according to his Amazon author bio, a "Tae Kwon Do grandmaster (almost black belt)"—opts for character development, psychological analysis, and explicit references to pop culture and to the writer himself to tell the story of a long-suffering sensitive A-list actor who yearns to be honored by the Academy of Handsome Buckaroos for his work/beauty. The honor in question—designated for good looks, not good acting—and Tingle's frequent use of "buckaroo," an otherwise dad-like word, add canny dimension usually absent from short-form Kindle erotica.
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The story begins with Decaprico [sic] narrating the struggles of the rich and famous: While he "rarely [has] to make a reservation anywhere," he is also hounded by paparazzi, whose constant attention magnifies his "few failures" for the entire world to see. What's worse: Despite being a "well liked, talented and incredibly famous actor," despite being a man who can have anything he wants, Decaprico cannot get "the one thing that he truly needs"—an award for "most handsome buckaroo." Although he has been nominated "more times than [he] can count," he has always had his handsome buckaroo statue "snatched" away by a dark horse candidate.
This year, Decaprico is nominated for his work in The Revenass, "the harrowing tale of a handsome buckaroo lost in the snow for hours and hours after narrowly surviving a bigfoot attack." Although The Revenass seems sure to be the film to satisfy Decaprico's desire for recognition, he says he had largely given up his dreams while making this movie. "When we were shooting, the only thing on my mind was the question of how to make this the best performance that I possibly could. Forget the awards, what's it going to take to make this move great?"
Although I suppose one could argue that because the story is only 4,500 words long and takes place in a parallel universe in which Hollywood and the Academy revolve explicitly around gay sex, the actual fucking couldn't possibly come late, but I was nevertheless struck by the restraint Tingle displayed in outlining Decaprico's mental state in a pre-awards show monologue. Throughout are observations about fame and celebrity that would seem obvious if not for the context in which they appear, which lends them a sort of absurdist, purposeful candor. "People like their celebrities humble and thankful, which I certainly am, but that doesn't me[an] I don't yearn for this award at the deepest core of my soul," Decaprico says. "If I lose this award again, I don't even know what I'm going to do with myself. Honestly, I might quit being handsome all together." In this universe as in Tingle's, good looks feel inextricable from being recognized for those good looks.
I suddenly realize that, to my own dismay, I've found myself incredibly attracted to these beautiful award statues.
Inklings of the erotic performance to come only begin on the red carpet, where reporters "thrust their bulbous black microphones" into Decaprico's face, disorienting him as he nervously makes his way towards the fate he believes could change his life "forever." Shortly after, Decaprico admits that "honestly, there is nothing I have ever wanted more in my entire life, no craving that I have ever been so hell bent on satiating with every fiber of my being." Right before he makes his way inside, a reporter from Butt Entertainment Weekly asks him if he still gets nervous, even though he's been to so many similar events—and even though he's slated to finally win tonight. "There's a lot of really handsome guys nominated this year," Decaprico replies, deflecting. "It could be anyone's award at this point."
It is during the ceremony itself that the conceit first appears: "As the night continues, I can't help but notice something strange bubbling up within my mind whenever the awards are brought out on stage," Decaprico says. "Of course, these are objects of great desire to me so my attention is quickly drawn, my gaze lingering on their smooth, golden bodies under the bright lights of the stage.
"I suddenly realize that, to my own dismay, I've found myself incredibly attracted to these beautiful award statues."
Here the crowd "erupts" into sudden applause, a deft narrative maneuver; it's as if they're cheering for Decaprico's revelation, though in fact it's for the appearance of "Toms Cruz," the winner of last year's most handsome buckeroo award for his performance in Pounded By The Gay Unicorn Football Squad: The Movie. He's there to announce the winner. Matts Danon (nominated for Space Raptor Butt Invasion, which is, like the film Cruz was honored for, a postmodern nod to Tingle's works of the same names) is also in the running.
The actual announcement of Decaprico's victory, after all these years, is a brief moment, and a "relief." As he makes his way on stage, trying not to trip, we finally see that the statue is not meant to be, as I'd initially assumed, a pokey sex toy; rather, it is alive, mobile, and "about two inches larger" than Decaprico. As it "struts" across the stage to meet him, a "cute, boyish smile" on its metallic visage, it develops a huge golden hard-on.
The statue and its new owner quickly become involved in increasingly aggressive displays of affection on stage in front of the entire Academy, but the audience does not "gasp and look away from the sight of this brazen erotic display." Instead, "everyone can see the love that I have for this beautiful award"—perhaps the exact delusion an actor might have in this life-defining moment, that everyone is so happy for him that they want to see him expose his gratuitous pleasure on stage. Despite the years of anguish Decaprico has experienced as an awards-show loser, at this moment, finally, he says, "not a single [person] is judging me." As Cruz backs away to honor the "gravity" of the moment, Decaprico nuzzles the statue's shoulder and says, "I've wanted you for so long." The "whole world" then watches as Decaprico proceeds to manually and then orally stimulate his award.
Of course, as would any allegedly heterosexual actor confronted by the public, Decaprico is quick to note that this does not mean he's gay or something—"not that there's anything wrong with that."
"I've simply never found myself attracted to another man," he says. "However, a handsome award and a handsome guy are two very different things." The statue is rough with him, but Decaprico doesn't care: The difference lies in the weight of beauty and acknowledgment.
"I want to be punished by my award for most handsome buckaroo, I want him to let me feel the godlike vastness of his mighty power," Decaprico says. He removes his tuxedo, and just as he was—figuratively—in years past, Decaprico gets fucked by the award. Before his climax, however, must come an acceptance speech. "'Thank you,' I say, overflowing with gratitude and sincerity. 'Thank you for finally seeing what I can do as an actor and as a handsome man.'" The audience gives him a standing ovation "in respect of [his] thespian craft, as well as my anal prowess." The story ends with a "familiar orchestral piece" beginning to play. "They are playing me off," Decaprico realizes, with a wink, but it's still a happy ending. As he and his statue strut off into the after parties, the hubris we associate with A-listers finally appears in Decaprico: He vows to accumulate enough awards "for a gangbang."