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Thursday, November 12, 2020

Bruce of LA Tan Lines


When I was doing some recent sorting for desert themed photos, I notice how many of Bruce of LA's models had nice tan lines.  So we'll look at some of them today, starting with John Weidemann.

 

8 comments:

  1. The tan lines emphasize his great build!

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  2. A man mountain...love to see him move..

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  3. Another classic tan line provided by the "box-cut" trunks popular in the mid- to late-Fifties, which provided for full cover in the seat and a modest "male contour" to the front - just how coy does it get. The "box-cut" was in fact a regression to the 1920s, which saw the streamlined modernization of the Victorian swimsuit, what we would today call a singlet, but was, at least in England, called a leotard, after the Victorian French acrobat Jules Léotard who wore a one-piece, figure-hugging costume for his act (he was the original "daring young man on the flying trapeze"). Puritanism is very much a phenomenon of Northern Europe, Latin cultures being historically far less bothered by male nudity. (I have a photograph from the 1930s of a man on a Dutch beach being fined by police for not wearing a "reguulation" full-cover swimsuit.)

    To the consternation of many, the French engineer Louis Réard "reinvented" the modern female two-piece swimsuit in 1946, which became known as the "bikini" (after a Marshall Islands atoll and the site of an American A-bomb test of June 1946). What today we would call a male bikini was in fact readily worn in late Victorian times as gym wear, indoor five-a-side football (soccer) being played in what today we would call a three-quarter seat micro-bikini such as bodybuilders now wear while demonstrating, which used the new rubber-elastic at the waist and leg to stay in place - and keep everything else in its place. The 1870s saw the invention of the "jockey strap" and was also often the only attire worn for gymnastics and games. Nude male swimming in public endured until the late 1970s, early '80s, when the Zeitgeist of equality of the sexes brought it to an end.

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  4. Gymnasia - a Latinate form of the Greek γυμνάσιον (gymnasion - with a hard "g" from γυμνός (gymnos) meaning "naked" - were male-only spaces in an age when everyone was very knowingly thought to be heterosexual, where modesty was not a consideration. That was reserved for the public domain. There were gymnasia in France and Germany as well as Britain, where full nudity was obligatory and in both private and municipal swimming pools - the YMCA in the English-speaking world a case in point - where the sexes were divided for swimming sessions and male nudity was compulsory, ostensibly because fibres from the wool swimsuits clogged the filters, although other psychological factors were clearly at play.

    For all their horror for some, the 1930s was a decade that saw the overturning of much of the Victorian prissiness and moral cant in respect of at least the male body, both Fascism and Communism in fact leading the way. The 1930s saw the introduction of what is now the standard pair of swimming trunks - and they were surprisingly brief. Torsos were bare.

    Inevitable reaction to the horrors of WWII and the paranoia of the Cold War saw the Western world retreat into perceived "Christian values" and the 1950s proved to be a decade of imposed conformism and rampant social conservatism, when homosexuals were persecuted and, in America, unbelievably in the wake of the Holocaust, there was a wave of antisemitism. Men had to cover up large, modest trunks became obligatory for public wear. Only liberal Hollywood bucked the trend with a succession of "swords and sandals" films which celebrated the Classical male physique, while bodybuilding - such a manly pursuit - came into its own as just about the only permitted expression of homo-eroticism.

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  5. In contrast with and doubtless in reaction to the enforced public modesty, the decade saw the explosion of brief male underwear, often one-ply and sheer to see-through, using the new Nylon and other man-made synthetic materials. Fashion is as cyclical as it is the expression of its times and with the return of Edwardian male styles, the early 1960s saw the narrow-cut trouser and what became known as the "bum-freezer", high-cut jacket. Bikini underwear was perfect for keeping the family jewels in place under the tighter trouser, Jockey launching their line of "Skants" - a conflation of "pant" and "scant" - in 1958 and which was to prove the best-selling style of male underwear until Calvin Klein cornered the market in the early 1980s.

    The reaction to this bigotted and needless oppression was long and loud and resulted in the social revolution of the 1960s. The more liberal times saw the even briefer "racer" or "Speedo" accepted for public wear. The Speedo was designed and initially manufactured in Australia where male bikinis - Aussiebum included - are known as "budgy smugglers" with that wry Austrian sense of humour without which the world would be a poorer place.

    Some 20 years ago, Princes William and the hapless Harry were spotted on the beach at Rock in Cornwall - where the scions of the great and the good strut their stuff - and were initially not recognized outside their usual coterie of hangers-on. Some of the hooray Henrys immediately started sounding off about them being "gay" because they were wearing Speedos rather than the preferred board shorts which remain the favoured style for the young man-about-beach. The pendulum has swung again and the younger generation are now more conservative than their parents. What is of note in this social shift, is that the more the boys are expected to cover up, the more the girls undress in a society obsessed with "gender" equality. Once again, bikini underwear has made a come-back and I am told by a young friend that a number of men, irrespective of their sexuality, are taking off the Lycra and compression shorts to wear a jockstrap for daily underwear beneath their jeans and chinos. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the great history lesson. I find it sad that young men are so ashamed of their maleness to the point where they no longer even shower after gym class. When I was young, we swam bareass at the Y, and our high school swim classes were buck naked. And don't let "coach" catch you skipping a shower. And somehow, we survived unscathed. I saw an article in which a (female) psychologist claimed that fathers should not "traumatize" their sons by being naked around them. My Dad would have told her what to do with herself and where she could go to do it. Guys, bare 'em when it's legal and safe, and let the big fellas hang free!

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    2. This actually creates a bit of irony. I have old Teen Titans comics from the 80s, and Dick Grayson (who wore a leotard for years, and was the star basketball player and swimmer in high school) is not comfortable with nudity. (It's kinda funny, the fan base thinks he's a thot, but he's really inhibited.) So, less than a decade after the nudity ended, people were already forgetting.

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