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No more mixed signals with Gaydar

Wednesday, March 01, 2000

By Gene Collier

Friends, has this ever happened to you?

You're in a social setting, a crowded room, or maybe a bar, and suddenly it hits you: Hey, I have no easy way of determining who within 40 feet of me is gay, and have neither the time nor the energy to find out via sometimes misinterpreted conversation.

Me neither.

But in a gloriously open society, it happens, and the reason you know it happens is that yonder comes a solution with a price tag on it. You betcha. In the free market's interminable mission to fill every human need with goods and services, and to create the perception of need where none exists, we have reached Gaydar, not a distant planet mind you, but a trade name for gay radar.

Now how could I make that up?

Gaydar is a keychain-sized electronic device that you can program to activate similar units within 40 feet, effectively, or at least somewhat effectively, ending the guesswork over the sexual orientation of the unfamiliar people in the room. Or even of the familiar people. Of course, you might not want to be there when Gaydar accidently turns off the hockey game.

I read about this in USA Hooray the other day. In the purple section. Gaydar, it said, is being billed as "the first portable interactive electronic icebreaker/matchmaker for gay men and lesbians."

As though similar devices had existed, but they were not portable. You remember those days. You had to physically take the stranger of indeterminate sexual orientation home with you, rig up some electrodes -- oh, it was just such a fuss. But now, thanks to Canadian distributor Michael Borer, Gaydar will likely be available by summer, just in time for the Tiki Bar season.

Borer was the guy behind Borer's LoveGety, a similar device marketed to heterosexuals in Japan, where he sold more than a million units. Undoubtedly, the anticipated success of Gaydar will lead to some products and revenue streams the distributor probably hasn't even thought of yet.

Smadar, the first portable interactive electronic icebreaker/matchmaker for sado-masochism enthusiasts, and Bidar, the first portable electronic icebreaker/matchmaker for bisexuals, the people who for whatever reason just can't pick a team and stay on it, are two obvious possibilities, but the potential for larger markets exists as well.

Gays and straights alike can enjoy the effective technology of Naydar, which sends the unmistakable electronic signal that you just want to be left the hell alone. The beauty of Naydar is that it adapts to the customer who, perhaps after several refreshing beverages, isn't so unapproachable after all. Naydar then converts its signal to what industry insiders still haven't come up with a name for, although Laydar and Roll-in-the-Haydar are the early favorites.

Analysts are also keeping a close watch on the prostitute-finding potential of Paydar, the first portable interactive electronic determinator of which people in the room expect to be paid for sex.

In any event, Gaydar, the story said, will sell for $29, proving that merchandisers feel gays are just as goofy as anybody in a country where surveys show people are more likely to buy a product that costs $49 than one that costs $44, because the "9" makes them feel they're getting a bargain. If someone had the courage to put a $30 price tag on something instead of $29.99, I'd buy it on principle. I'd buy Gaydar.

But at the risk of sounding like the Unabomber, Gaydar is merely the latest little slice of evidence of how feckless technology helps destroy the culture. Not only does it encourage the disposal of meaningful activities, conversation and relationship-building (just off the top of my head), but Gaydar in malevolent hands could easily be used to lure gays into dangerous situations. If only everyone could resist that $29 price tag.

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