Columnists » Mickey Weems

Sexy White Trash

by Mickey Weems
Friday Nov 30, 2007

The waters of sexual kink are murky. What we dredge up from our own horny depths may surprise us.

I was going to my gym last summer when I saw a slim, bare-chested young Caucasian man waiting for the bus and cussing into a cell phone. He had unruly blond hair, a wife-beater undershirt draped around his neck, a naked woman tattoo, and a fuck-you attitude.

I was instantly turned on. He wasn't just white trash. He was white-hot trash.

I decided then and there to interview people in the gym. The Question: Is white trash sexy?

My gym is populated with Gay men whose looks range from suave nelly urbanite to rough trade. I asked 25 guys, and 22 of them gave me a cautious affirmative: white trash can be sexy.

One informant berated me for using the term. "'White trash' is a terrible stereotype!" he said. " It is degrading and insulting. I never use it for anyone other than my closest relatives."

Another man enthusiastically approved of white trash, but only for a quicky. "Hit it and quit it," he advised.

I spent the next three days asking people at the bars and on the street The Question.

There was no consensus as to what exactly is white trash. It is not the same as "narrow-minded, bigoted redneck." Otherwise, Alan Keyes is white trash. It is not synonymous with "poor" or "blue collar." Living in a trailer park does not make one white trash. Neither do missing teeth.

The only universally agreed-upon characteristic is that white trash must be White. But not all Whites can be white trash. Jewish people cannot be white trash (but they can pretend). An Italian American friend of mine cautioned me against confusing "white trash" with "Guido." And white trash should never be confused with Euro-trash.

As one informant said, "you know white trash when you see it."

When asked who the patron saint of white trash would be, the most popular answer was either Pamela Anderson or Kid Rock. The overwhelming favorite was Kid Rock.

Some Gays go through a white trash phase. One man told me he would listen to Kid Rock with his buddies before fighting in a gas station parking lot. But he wore A&F to the rumble, which significantly lowered his white trash index.

The phenomenon of sexy white trash is not limited to the US. I called some friends of mine in Canada and asked The Question; same result. "Gay men are so prissy aboot their looks," I was told. "White trash doesn't care. They would never pluck their eyebrows or get a manicure."

It seems that white trashettes can push Lesbian buttons as well. "It depends on how you work it," A cute grrrl told me. Another femme fatale said, "White trash should only be a fashion statement. It is unacceptable as a state of mind. I'm from Tennessee, so I know."

Metro straight people don't appreciate the white trash aesthetic as much as Gay folk.

In all honesty, "white trash" is an elitist, racist label. But none of my informants had a problem with its racist connotations. Class connotations were another matter. Putting people down because of lower socio-economic status made more than a few of them uncomfortable.

"White trash" carries a huge stigma. It is OK to admire guys who can fuck like Deliverance. It is not OK, however, to tell them that they are white trashy.

Case in point: I was in a leather bar when I spotted a stripper who resembled Kid Rock, only handsome and well-built. He was working the white trash look. HOT! The perfect person to ask The Question!

"I'm conducting interviews for an article," I told him. "Can we talk?"

"Sure," Kid said, flinging back his whispy blond hair.

"White trash," I began.

"EXCUSE ME?" he bellowed.

"Let me finish," I said. "White trash, sexy or no?"

Kid Rock instantly calmed down, and then launched into a five-minute spiel about the merits of white trash as masculine, rough, no-nonsense, non-manicured, etc. But as sexy as white-hot trashiness might be, he did not want the label for himself.

For Gay men, white trash implies the dirty, raw sexiness of the bad boy. It also signifies shameful disregard for societal norms and dangerous lack of restraint. Homophobic Christian fanatics (and Larry Kramer) describe Gay men the same way.

Why does it turn us on? Like attracts like.

Dr. Mickey Weems is a folklorist, anthropologist and scholar of religion/sexuality studies. He has just published The Fierce Tribe, a book combining intellectual insight about Circuit parties with pictures of Circuit hotties. Mickey and his husband Kevin Mason are coordinators for Qualia, a not-for-profit conference and festival dedicated to Gay folklife. Dr. Weems may be reached at


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