buzz bissinger shopping addiction

“Did you say… crocodile skin?”

Successful sports writer and author of Friday Night Lights, Buzz Bissinger (above) recently filed a stunning, fascinating piece for GQ‘s April issue, in which he recounts the extent of his so-called shopping addiction. And when we say shopping addiction, we don’t mean “owning more than two pairs of leather shorts,” we mean “Between 2010 ad 2012, [he] spent $587,412.97 on clothes.”

At some point in his career, Buzz decided he needed to overhaul his style, going from schlubby sports writer to… something more like Joe Simpson… with the help of a shitload of Gucci leather jackets. Bissinger credits designer clothes–particularly Gucci–with allowing him to finally dress as the person he longed to be (rebellious and sexy like Dane Cook, it would seem).

He says, of the label:

Gucci men’s clothing best represents who I want to be and have become—rocker, edgy, tight, bad boy, hip, stylish, flamboyant, unafraid, raging against the conformity that submerges us into boredom and blandness and the sexless saggy sackcloths that most men walk around in like zombies without the cinematic excitement of engorging flesh.

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. The self-expression feels glorious, an indispensable part of me. As a stranger said after admiring my look in a Gucci burgundy jacquard velvet jacket and a Burberry black patent leather trench, “You don’t give a fuck.”

I don’t. I finally don’t.

Yes, it’s all this stuff, all this flashy, sad, midlife crisis-y stuff that he credits with completely changing the way the world relates to he, Buzz Bissinger. But at some point it becomes more than that, an impulse he can no longer suppress. That begins when his kids leave the nest and his wife takes a job in Abu Dhabi:

I no longer felt like much of a husband; the 7,000-mile distance from Philadelphia to the United Arab Emirates hardly lent itself to weekend pop-ins. I also lost the one element of my life that had always sustained me and been constant, the raising of my three children. I felt alone. I was alone. Life with anchors keeps you moored. Life without anchors keeps you adrift, which eventually leads to some kind of trouble. Add in a life of extreme repression, and explosion is inevitable. Or maybe it’s implosion.”

Just when you think it can’t get any more outrageous–eighty-one leather jackets! One of which cost $13,900! $51,000 over four days shopping in Milan–it really goes off the rails. Bissinger muses he may be gay or a dominatrix or a transvestite; he loves Tom Ford makeup and his UPS man has seen him clomping around in thigh high stiletto boots! More astounding still, he takes it as a compliment when someone says he looks like Bon Jovi.

Oh, and sex clubs:

I also went to Hong Kong and Macao with some friends. We went to sex clubs, many, many sex clubs with many, many women. We became tired. Four days seemed like four years.

So… yes, apparently Bissinger is also a sex addict.

We’d like to give him credit for writing a candid, self-aware, insightful account of his shopping addiction–which is, perhaps, a Band-Aid for his sex addiction or a symptom of the same longing or maybe Bissinger just wants to spend money to feel less like himself (thousands on Cristal and Patron in a Milan club)… but the piece never really feels like the painful exegesis it should be, so much as it reads like a series of escalating figures and the constant reminder that Bissinger is simply an unfulfilled man of means who really likes designer shit.

Which is to say, he never much makes the case that this is an addiction, or something substantially different from the behavior of any super-rich and, frankly, shallow label worshipper?

Then again, Bissinger “doesn’t give a fuck.” Or, at least, his leather pants would indicate he doesn’t.