You'd never guess it, but Buzz Bissinger is a fancy man who likes his fancy jackets. And he's finally letting us all into his fancy world and his fancy obsession with leather — particularly leather from Gucci, his favorite fashion house.
This is truly of the more absurdist missives ever put to print by an established writer of note: Yes, Buzz Bissinger, 58-year-old author of Friday Night Lights and convenient crusader against blogs and cyclists, has chronicled for the new issue of GQ how he became a "shoppaholic" and spent a total of $638,412.97 between 2010 and earlier this year on designer clothes. He favors Gucci over anything else, and he's hell bent for leather. But Karl Lagerfeld he is not. Bissinger buys so much Gucci clothing that the fashion house flew him to Milan's fashion week this year, on their dime, and put him up in a hotel, on their dime, so he could attend their runway show. He then bought about $50,000 worth of Gucci couture after the show.
Sports blogger Matt Ufford is right, even if it's a cliché: the whole thing reads like American Psycho. Apparently Bissinger, in the years since his wife took a job working overseas and the last of his three kids went off to college, took refuge in shopping. Here's how Bissinger describes the first few days of his new addiction:
Then I started looking at clothing, hot and beautiful and transformative, a new sense of self-expression that I finally had the courage to realize. I hated khaki pants. Clothing became the stimulation and attention I craved.
And it is certainly an addiction. At one point Bissinger says he had to ask his stock broker for more cash to buy clothes. He now claims to be seeing a therapist for sex addiction, because he gets off on buying the expensive leathers he likes to dress himself in. Here he is on what he feels when he buys new clothes:
I have an addiction. It isn't drugs or gambling: I get to keep what I use after I use it. But there are similarities: the futile feeding of the bottomless beast and the unavoidable psychological implications, the immediate hit of the new that feels like an orgasm and the inevitable coming-down.
Let's all take a breath, shall we? This was all very unexpected, and it's all a little much for a sportswriter who takes to The Daily Beast to vent, but, hey, it's been a while since the days of "Shattered Glass" and FNL. But this addiction thing gets worse, as the GQ story goes on, and it never gets better. Or maybe the superlatives should be flipped in Bissinger's case? It's all very hard to tell here. Anyway, these are the totals from his closet over the three years since he discovered high fashion was his new calling:
I own eighty-one leather jackets, seventy-five pairs of boots, forty-one pairs of leather pants, thirty-two pairs of haute couture jeans, ten evening jackets, and 115 pairs of leather gloves. Those who conclude from this that I have a leather fetish, an extreme leather fetish, get a grand prize of zero. And those who are familiar with my choices will sign affidavits attesting to the fact that I wear leather every day.
And this is how Bissinger describes a usual trip to the Gucci store on Fifth Avenue, where he has a personal sales associate whom he calls the Divine Stylist, and where he is allegedly treated like a God:
The clothes hang like fantastic sex toys, but at this point I no longer bother with that. I am taken to a space at the back, away from the scrum that buys sunglasses and sneakers with the GG logo. I sit on a couch and sip prosecco in a fluted glass while the Divine Stylist gathers up clothing she thinks I might like or items we have already discussed (she immediately texts me with a picture whenever something hot comes in).
So, should we have expected this? Did anyone know about this beforehand? There were clues out there, it turns out, that you could find if you looked hard enough. For example, Bissinger was profiled for Entertainment Weekly last year by Rob Brunner, who noted Bissinger's attire in his lede: "With his metal-studded leather jacket, brown cowboy boots, and hoop earring, Buzz Bissinger oozes macho swagger as he cruises around downtown Philadelphia in his black BMW convertible, weighing in on recent novels and muttering curses at an errant pedestrian." So, you might have picked up on it there, if you were watching very closely. But CBS Philadelphia, the affiliate in the town Bissinger calls home, were really the first to break the story. They have a gallery of Bissinger wearing his many leathers — his leather boots, his leather pants, his leather jackets — all fit snuggly to his portly, old man frame. He is a fancy man in his fancy clothes, a GQ man making Gucci look good even if he is really an average looking sportswriter, except for the picture where he is mostly naked, if it weren't for a small Speedo covering his unmentionables and some leather bracelets on his wrists. Buzz Bissinger has a nipple ring.
[Inset photos via CBS Philadelphia]