Saturday, February 8, 2014

The "stretchy-seat" paradox

There's this weird, oh, I don't know, thing. This paradox. We generally assume, most of us, that being gay in the 1950s was horribly stigmatized, even persecuted, something you had to scrupulously hide in case you were "found out".

You had to be "manly", meaning devoid of any sort of attraction to your own sex. The pressure was enormous. You had to line yourself up with movie stars like Rock Hudson (oops) and Raymond Burr (double-oops), who were then believed to be rampantly heterosexual.


These are men's underwear ads, presumably from the 1950s, in which men are in such blatantly homoerotic positions that it just makes you wonder. Is this just  "oh, surely not", or a "hey, they're just joshing around" kind of thing?

But think about it. Back then we had male comedy teams like Martin and Lewis, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. (Crosby and Danny Kaye, later "outed" as gay, even appeared in drag in White Christmas.) We had singing duos who came on Ed Sullivan - what the hell was the name of that duo? I'll have to look it up AGAIN, even though I've looked it up 27 times before. (Sandler and Young.)

But none of them appeared in these kinds of poses, like the one below, with the guy on the left just waiting to be serviced by the other guy, who seems to be getting down on his knees. This ad must have been designed by somebody like Sal Romano from Mad Men, who had to sublimate his illicit passions into his artwork.

Maybe people were gay-blind then. Or they are now, when looking back. Surely it meant something else to bandy about terms like "stretchy-seat"? We just assume everybody was clean-cut and devoid of any non-Doris-Day-humping impulses back then. In fact, if these ads are any indication, it looks like there was lots of very public boy-on-boy action going on, and it was considered completely OK. Stuff that today would make people squirm.

Like this.

These are ads for a sort of one-piece spandex jumpsuit/panty-girdle for men, with legs in it. Presumably there was a fly in them somewhere (there's some mention of a horizontal fly, a bizarre concept if ever there was one, reminding me for some reason of a sideways vagina), or maybe you just wriggled them down like women did. They had a patented "stretchy-seat" in them (no kidding!) that presumably gave a little testicular support during spontaneous wrestling matches on the living room floor. This was strong enough to contain the most explosive fart, and could not (presumably) be penetrated from the outside. I don't know if the one-piece "union suit" design ever caught on - it's hard to believe that a man would render himself that inaccessible, unless dry humping was the preferred method.

(Transcript of dialogue)

"Old Flappy-Pants-Pappy Himself!"

Pete: Can the comedy, will you? These suit me, and I like 'em. . . get it? They're Munsingwear "BREEX". They're bias-cut, with as much room and comfort behind as anybody needs. . . and what about that stingy little number you got on?

Mac: Stingy, my eye! You mean streamlined, modern. . . what a getting-around guy needs. Munsingwear, too. . . these SKIT-Shorts, with the new, easy "Stretchy-Seat" that stretches up and down.

(Transcript of dialogue)

Fred:  Gladiator! Stick to your putting! Nothing could be more comfortable than these SKIT-Trunks! They're brief enough. . . without making you look as if you'd joined a nudist colony!

Pete: Oh, yeah? Well. . . next to my skin I like air. Look at the leg-room here! And these give mild support, too!

It's strange, because I can't imagine the gayest man in the world (Elton John?) discussing "leg-room" and "mild support" (not to mention "stretchy-seat") with ANYONE, even the cutest pool-boy in the world. It's just so. . . not even gay - it's something else - just. . . disturbing.

Yet it's obvious it isn't meant to be gay. I mean, they wouldn't. I mean. . . would they?

I swear, this guy's butt looks like something out of an old Playtex girdle ad from the 1960s. Unless he has a thigh problem, and men don't usually have cellulite, I just don't get the shorts-like design of these. In fact I don't see how ANYONE could wear one of these, except maybe Ed Wood in his Glen or Glenda phase. He might get in a car accident, after all, and the doctor pronouncing him dead would see it.

1 comment:

  1. "...strong enough to contain the most explosive fart." Margaret, have you ever considered a career in advertising?