Weekly Wire
Nashville Scene Gaydar for Sale

Looking for love with an interactive key chain

By Walter Jowers

MARCH 13, 2000:  You've heard about it, you've read about it, you may even have experienced it. Now, thanks to the twin miracles of modern technology and marketing, it's getting ready to roll off a production line near you.

I'm talking about Gaydar. Not the old-fashioned, intuitive, Yep, that one looks gay to me gaydar. I'm talking about a key chain-sized hickey equipped with a blinky-light, which will start flashing and/or beeping whenever a second Gaydar unit comes within 40 feet. Although Gaydar units aren't actually out yet, word is that there will be a vibrator feature for the extra-discreet. Word also has it that Gaydar units can be programmed to tip off users not only to the sexual preference but also the particular interests and proclivities of the owner of the responding Gaydar unit.

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I think these things could add a whole bunch of fun to people-watching at airports, ballgames, restaurants, and the like. Not unlike the time that I went to a local Thai restaurant and ordered some new soup that ended up tasting like, well, sorta like a woman, if you know what I mean, and I think you do. (Best I could tell, it had to do with fish oil and cilantro.) Anyhow, it was the soup of the day, and everybody was having it. I had the best time watching the other customers' quizzical faces as they tried to remember where they'd tasted something like that before. It was especially fun watching the women knit their brows and tilt their heads. But I digress.

In case you're wondering how I found out about Gaydar (not that there's anything wrong with me finding out or you wondering): I read an article about it in the Funny Times, a newspaper full of cartoons and funny stories. Then I did a Boolean search on the Internet, for "gay radar" and "key chain." This caused an ad to pop up, offering to take me to a Web site where I could see "Fraternity Meat, Camping Buddies, and Bareback Jocks." Turned out to be the Playgirl magazine home page. Anyhow, I followed a few links, and I found all kinds of stuff.

While I was surfing, I found out that there's Gaydar software available for Palm Pilots. But it's just a fun thing, like the Magic 8-Ball. You ask if somebody's gay, and it'll say something like, "It is decidedly so" or "Signs point to yes."

The problem with Gaydar: The little blinky, beeping key chains will be one more trifling annoyance in our lives. A year from now, I'm sure I'll go to my daughter's dance recital, and the mistress of ceremonies will announce, "Please, no flash photography. And please turn off your cell phones, pagers, and Gaydars." Of course, audience members will ignore these instructions, and besides all the flashing, whirring, ringing, and beeping, I'll have to put up with a pair of Gaydar units going off right when it's time for my girl's solo.

There could be a serious and dangerous downside as well. Not everybody scanning sexual-preference key chains will be looking for a date. Some of 'em will be looking for trouble. Consider this: Some people attacked Tinky-Winky--a penis-less little Teletubby--because they thought he was gay. Clearly, there could be fearsome repercussions for walking around with a key chain that broadcasts what you like and who you like to do it with.

That said, I see some swell uses for the technology. For instance, if we Jowerses go out looking for a new pet dog this summer, I'd love to be able to go to the pound and pinpoint all the well-adjusted, tail-wagging, Frisbee-chasing dogs. Likewise the trembling, house-peeing, puking-in-the-car dogs.

Back in high school, I could've saved myself some pain and suffering if I'd been able to identify the cold-hearted, fickle-minded girls. When I was in the rock 'n' roll guitar-player business, I would've welcomed a gizmo tuned to target chronically late, substance-abusing drummers. And I know my last drummer would've killed for a Dope-Holding Slutdar device.

The list goes on: We could surely use such devices for corrupt politicians, lying lawyers, shaky-handed surgeons, hard-drinking jet pilots, knucklehead builders and remodelers, aluminum siding salesmen, telemarketers, and Yugo drivers.

But for now, we'll just have to settle for Gaydar, brought to you by Canadian distributor Michael Borer--who's also responsible for LoveGety, a Gaydar-like device being marketed to heterosexuals in Japan. Right now, there are about a million LoveGetys beeping and blinking in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Gaydar will debut this summer in big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. You online shoppers will be able to get your Gaydar from http://www.gaygety.com. Projected retail price is $29--almost cheap enough for a gag gift.

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