Q&A with Simon Doonan, Author of "Gay Men Don’t Get Fat"

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Simon Doonan photo by Albert Sanchez
Simon Doonan. Photo: Albert Sanchez

Simon Doonan (Twitter @simondoonan) has long rocked the window dressing for Barneys New York, where he is currently the Creative Ambassador-at-Large. Doonan--who is known as much for his wit as his fashion prowess--has appeared on Iron Chef America, America’s Next Top Model, and VH1’s I Love the 80s series and is a columnist for Slate.com. He is the author of the new book Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, (Blue Rider Press, $24.95) which is a twist on the 1970s book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche and the more recent book French Women Don’t Get Fat.

The book premise?

“There are only two food groups, straight and gay, and a balanced diet (and the concordant trim figure) means some of both.”

 Gay Men Dont Get Fat by Simon Doonan

His other books include Wacky Chicks and Eccentric Glamour.


The fashion phenom married his partner, designer Jonathan Adler in California in 2008, and the two reside in New York City. He told Bay Area Bites that “I cannot imagine living anywhere else, except maybe Fresno which people tell me is lovely in the springtime.” Doonan will be signing books at Barneys San Francisco on Saturday, January 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.

What are the rules for eating gay?
The trick is to balance your gay food and your straight food. It's about equilibrium. 
Straight men get fat because they eat too much lardy straight food. On the other hand, if you eat too much gay food you will.... Simply put: eat too many macaroons and you will probably go into a diabetic coma.
How do gay bear men fit into this?
Gay men do get fat and they are called BEARS. I have an entire chapter -- a chunky chapter -- devoted to Bears. It's called Operation Goldilocks. Guess who's Goldilocks? Oui, c'est moi!
...and what are the guidelines for eating straight?
Straight food is often thick and phallic and protein-rich. Think Burritos.

Lesbian food is organic and honest and peasant-y.  Think organic olive oil. Think trusty community tables. Think crusty whole-meal bread. 

What is your typical weekday breakfast, lunch and dinner (at home or on the go)?
For breakfast I eat very fibrous hetero granola with a handful of blueberries to add a little gay panache. For lunch I usually ingest a big bowl of soup. This has given rise to rumors in the Barneys office that I wear dentures and can only eat soft food. It's not true. For dinner we often hit one of our local glam eateries. Il Cantanori on 10th street is a fave.
Where did you celebrate when you were married in California in 2008?
We had dinner at Chez Panisse and Alice picked up the tab, which was incredibly sweet of her. I worship her. Her food is, and has always been, the perfect combo of gay and straight -- hearty protein with fluffy veggies.
Guacamole shows up on San Francisco taqueria menus everywhere. You say it’s a no-no...why?
Let me put it to you this way: if you were to get kidnapped in Mexico and they fed you on guacamole for a week, you would explode out of your holding cell. THAT's how fattening it is.
What are your favorite San Francisco food spots? How gay/straight are the menus there?
I love Zuni -- a perfect balance of gay and straight, ditto the clientele.
J'adore Boulette's Larder -- fresh and chic, with a top-note of lesbian.
And of course, Chez Panisse, where it all started.

 How did you come up with the book idea?
I thought it was time for me to take all my gay nuggets and nuances of wisdom and fling them at the straight world. I want to liberate the women -- and men too -- and show them how to live with the fearless stylish bravado of we homos...and weee homos like Me. 
I was scolded for asking for a beer at a SF fundraiser populated by gay men. The crowd was enjoying vodka and vodka cocktails. What are your thoughts on alcohol?
I am a tea-totaller. Alcohol scares me. When people get boozed up they start doing insane things and, worse still, eating everything in sight. Naughty naughty.

What can Bay Area folks expect at your book signing on Jan 21? 
I love SF and am always happy to come visit. I will be radiating gay positivity.

What’s next for you?
My Jonny (Jonathan Adler) has won a design award in Madrid and so we are zipping off to collect it in February. I have not been to Spain in decades. Am looking forward to assessing the gay-ness of the paella.