Ball Play

By McLean, Gareth; Bernstein, Jonathan | Out, July 2006 | Go to article overview

Ball Play


McLean, Gareth, Bernstein, Jonathan, Out


CONRAD GATES MAY JUST BE THE MOST PREDATORY, UNDISCRIMINATING POLYSEXUAL FOOTBALL PLAYER EVER. TOO BAD HE'S FICTIONAL. LUCKY FOR US, BEN PRICE-WHO PLAYS HIM-IS NOT.

You could never accuse Footballers Wive$-neither the high-camp, deliciously soapy, utterly ludicrous show nor the venal, vengeful, manipulative, and mercenary soccer spouses it features-of shying away from controversy. Already, the players' lounge and changing rooms at Earls Park Football Club have played host to a topless model, a necrophile nurse, a hermaphrodite baby, and bed-hopping of a truly Olympic standard. There's been sex on a pool table, on a private jet, in a swimming pool, even in the occasional bed. There's been death by eating disorder, murder by champagne bottle, and-naturally-assassination by copious, Viagra-aided copulation. This is not, you will agree, the sort of thing you see on Lost. Or even Prison Break, more's the pity.

Having run for five seasons in the United Kingdom and now captivating audiences on BBC America (if you count slack-jawed and thrilled disbelief as captivation), Footballers Wive$ is shameless and sensational, unafraid of exploding taboos and challenging mores. It also pushes the conventions of the soap genre to such a degree-even in its most decadent days, Dynasty never got this deranged-it's tricky deciding whether it's a giddy celebration or a scathing critique.

Earls Park's hottest commodity is Conrad Gates, who-in addition to bedding Tanya Turner, a harpy in Versace, and his own wife, Hollywood star Amber-turns his attentions to a fellow player, the closeted Noah Alexander. As their relationship develops, albeit covertly, Conrad coaxes Noah out of the closet and becomes a mouthpiece for the antihomophobia sentiments of Footballers Wive$' head writers and producers (none of whom, you may not be surprised to learn, are straight).

Ben Price, who plays Conrad and whose first appearance on the show had him walking naked across a Thai hotel lobby, says he was determined that Conrad be proud of who he is. "I didn't want him to be apologetic, closeted, or ashamed of who he was," Price says. "Conrad is very confident about himself and his sexuality. He fancies men, he fancies women: I don't think he sees himself as gay or bisexual. He's just sexual, like a lot of people are."

Indeed, when he's not romping with Tanya or Noah, Conrad is with wife Amber, and they clearly enjoy reversing the traditional heterosexual roles in the bedroom-with the aid of an eye-wateringly substantial strap-on, which Amber brandishes for future use on her husband. Price says Conrad "doesn't have boundaries or embarrassments. He just loves being who he is. There's an exuberance and joy about him, and that's what I loved playing."

Of course, as well as providing the audience with some dildo-related humor-the likes of which there simply isn't enough on network television these days-discussion of Conrad's polysexual nature also has a more serious side.

Real-life football (soccer) in the United Kingdom is still blighted by homophobia, so Footballers Wive$' daring should not be underestimated. On the stands and in the locker room, bigotry is rife, and there's a near-institutional denial that gay football players exist at all. Although seemingly contradictory, given the displays of affection and communal bathing intrinsic to the game, the rampant homophobia underlines the determination of fans and players not to have their behavior mistaken as gay. Still, that hasn't stopped some commentators [see "Sporno," page 44] from ascribing footballers' penchant for raping or "roasting" young women in hotel rooms along with their teammates to repressed homosexual desire.

The first, last, and only openly gay soccer player in Britain was Justin Fashanu.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ball Play
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.