The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

Tag: Speedo (page 1 of 1)

Big Poulaine Energy: Medieval Men & Their Brazen Ways

“It’s a time when tunics are getting shorter and young men would have been showing off their legs…. So low-cut shoes would have accentuated and elongated the leg, all down to that long point.”

Men in fifteenth century Europe, their thighs and calves so swole and shapely in their medieval compression pants, were crazy for ‘crakows’ or ‘poulaines’ — a must-have pointy accessory for any young male keen to draw the eye.

Probably originating in Krakow, Poland, they were, according to an fascinating feature in Atlas Obscura, ‘long, carrot-shaped shoes that tapered to impish tips, some as long as five inches beyond the toe.’

This crakow craze was no short-lived fad — it lasted most of a century. In the middle ages people made the most of trends, since they didn’t have much in the way of media and advertising generating new ones.

A manly, strappy poulaine recovered from the Thames.

Their impracticality and their expense seems, as is often the case with fashions, to have been part of the appeal of these stupendously silly shoes.

However, their probing phallicism seems to have been the main attraction — and what ultimately prompted a crackdown on cracows, in a manner reminiscent of the Speedo Phalliban of Cape May, NJ.

Eventually, the English crown felt the need to intervene, in part because of the lascivious connotations that the increasingly extended toe-tips carried. “People thought the longer the toe, the more masculine the wearer,” Shawcross says. “But some people weren’t keen on that connotation.” Parliament equated wearing the shoes to public indecency, and stepped forward to put limits on a variety of racy fashions…

A sumptuary law was enacted in 1463 which sought to control the flaunting of ‘piked’ footwear, restricting them to a decent, Christian length of two inches — and also draw a veil over the shameless display of genitals and buttocks in tights:

“No person under the estate of lord, including knights, esquires, and gentlemen, to wear any gown, jacket, or coat which does not cover the genitals and buttocks. Also not to wear any shoes or boots with pikes longer than two inches…,” the 1463 law reads.

The killjoy sumptuary clauses didn’t however ban such male indecency outright. Rather, they made it the prerogative of position. Lords and above were still allowed big poulaine energy — and to show off their noble bums and packets.

I followed the link to the 1463 law and found a fascinating essay called ‘Gender & History’ by Kim Phillips, which lists the various sumptuary clauses of medieval England, and includes an explanation of the mention of genitals and buttocks:

‘These clauses reflected the contemporary fashion among young men, trends which in the case of the short jackets neccessitated the invention of the codpiece to cover the part between the two stocking legs and met with howls of disapproval from clerical authors. This had been most vividly put by Chaucer almost a century earlier, in the voice of his Parson: ‘Alas, some of them show the bulge of their shape, and the horrible swollen members, that seem like the malady of hernia, in the wrapping of their hose; and also the buttocks of them looke like the hind parts of a she-ape at the time of full moon’.

I had forgotten that passage from Chaucer, but not of course the Parson, who is a timeless figure of fun. How naughty of Chaucer to have his goodly Parson admitting that he sees the buttocks of young men in tights transformed into the hind parts of female monkeys at the time of full moon.

As Philips explains, the ban on suggestive footwear and provocatively high cut jackets and coats, was strictly for the lower orders.

‘Scandalous and sexually suggestive items of male clothing were reserved by the English sumptuary texts for the aristocratic elite, implying that their rank exempted them from the morality applied to lesser mortals. Sartorial excess and blatant sexuality were permitted as a marker of elite masculinity.’

Presenting yourself as a ‘sex object’ was clearly associated with power in the middle ages.

Philips also points out that ‘the realm of high fashion and sartorial adornment was not primarily focused on women until the “great masculine renunciation” of the early 19th century.’ Which ended up with the boxy bourgeois uniform of the suit replacing all that display and adornment — and women now required to be beautiful and sensual on men’s behalf.

Unlike their Italian or Scottish counterparts, medieval English sumpturary legislators were relatively unconcerned about the dress of women: the focus for them was very much on men and what they were and weren’t allowed to wear. It’s also worth bearing in mind that in a homosocial world such as England in the middle ages, the sexually suggestive clothing, the presentation of buttocks and packets, was for the most part for the enjoyment or attention of other men. (Excepting, of course, Parsons.)

Much like today’s spornowear, in other words.

I’d like though to end this trip into the middle ages with Philips’ citation of an Italian woman’s inspiring protest against attempts by the sumptuary laws of that country to control feminine apparel — and deprive women of the intoxicating power of being looked at.

‘Most illuminating is the Bolognese noblewoman Nicolosa Sanuti’s ringing conclusion to her humanistic defence of the virtues of women and their rights to sumptuous clothing: “State offices are not allowed to women, nor do they strive for priesthoods, triumphs, and the spoils of war, for these are the customary prizes of men. But ornaments and the decoration, the tokens of our virtues – these while the power is left us, we shall not allow to be stolen from us. Amen.”

Amen, sister.

Rio Sporno – When Male Stripping Became An Olympic Sport

Mark Simpson on some happy, warm – if scantily-dressed – memories of 2016

Last Summer in Brazil a tiny island in the South Pacific took on all the major sporting superpowers – and won the Olympics. Before a starting pistol was even fired.

When the flagbearer for Tonga, Pita Taukatofua, 32, made his sensational appearance at the opening ceremony in Rio, wearing just a grass skirt, a gallon of baby oil and a saucy grin – while gripping his massive flagpole with both hands – he melted Sugar Loaf Mountain and fused the internet. The Tongan’s torso glistening in a thousand spotlights. And billions of hot stares.

It was an historic moment. Finally, after all these years of hoping and praying, and all those letters I’ve written to my MP, male stripping had – at last! – been recognised as an Olympic sport.

Yes, the very nicely-put together Mr Taukatofua was nominally representing his country in the manly martial art of Taekwondo. But hardly anyone c ared about that. The slutty sexualisation of the sporting male body – what I have dubbed sporno – was the hottest, most popular game at the Rio Olympics.

And thanks to the wonders of modern telephoto lenses and HD widescreen technology – and the widespread use of lycra in modern sportswear – there was no end of money shots for the avid sporno fan. Wrestlers grappling each other’s groins.

Pole-vaulters poleaxed by their… poles.

Speed cyclists flashing their superhero thighs.

And decathletes like the Sweden’s (Christian?) Bjorn Barrefors going dramatically commando. The gaiety of the Games!

But it was men’s swimming and diving that proved to be the most spornographic event. Of course, Speedos are sporno anyway – not only because they’re skimpy but because they advertise the delicious versatility of the male body: offering us buns and lunchboxes at the same time. Decisions, decisions!

Spain’s men’s Olympic swim team/dance troupe

And if you think this is just down to my dirty mind, a meme widely circulating online mocked the placement of results banners on TV screens covering the swimmers’ swimsuits, claiming it made it look like they were porn stars. (And I wasn’t responsible for it – honestly.)

David BOUDIA/Steele JOHNSON in hot flip-flop scene (though it seems their studio can’t decide what size their Johnsons’ are)

This Perfectly-Placed Banners Make These Olympic Swimmers Appear Naked | NowThis

Or perhaps the TV companies were providing an electronic fig-leaf for the almost starkers statuesque young men. After all, this was the year Team GB’s swimming trunks seemed to have been replaced by thongs. While it may have appeared like a salute to the host country’s famously brief beachwear – and pubewear – it turned out to be down to naughty Tom Daley’s doing. The British diver had advised Team GB designer Stella McCartney that the trunks he wore at the London Olympics in 2012 were ‘too big’.

His concern was entirely practical though. At least according to Tom: “They have to be small because everything has to stay in place,” he explained. “If you’re spinning around the last thing you want to do is have something come out of place!”

I’m not sure the viewing public entirely shared Tom’s concern here, but either way the ‘end’ result was that there was even less fabric to come between the voyeuring public and  the divers. And even more opportunity to admire Olympic ‘obliques’ – or ‘cum gutters’, to give them their medical, Latin name.

Tom Daley & Daniel Goodfellow watching the playback & realising just how brief their new swim briefs are.

Which brings me to the spornographic climax of the actual Rio Olympics as opposed to the opening ceremony – the synchronised 3M springboard men’s diving. British divers Jack Laugher, 21, and brunette Chris Mears, 23,  inseparable – and straight – best pals (they live together as well as train and compete together), were the hottest, loveliest diving pair to goggle at.

And since diving is perhaps the most aesthetic Olympic sport of all, it was a wonderful affirmation when they turned out to be a golden pair in every sense – making the best dives technically as well as aesthetically, becoming the first British divers ever to win Olympic gold.

Watching Jack and Chris’ bubble butts, v-backs, and curved thighs spin around in perfect, Speedo-synch was actually so sexy it was beyond sex. Compared to this perfection, actual shagging is just a big fat belly-flop. (Though I still would, mind.)

Likewise, their spontaneous shared happiness for one another on winning gold, Jack jumping into the arms of Chris – hams, quads and glutes agogo – looked as orgasmic as it was Platonic.

Stella McCartney personally painted on Jack Laugher’s Speedos. Wouldn’t you?

I should probably give a shout out here to the Olympic hot tub in Rio. It gave us viewers many hours of pleasure, in addition to keeping divers supple between dives. It’s a nice warm feeling to know that, thanks to anti-steam camera lens technology and also lowered inhibitions, we the viewers can nowadays join Olympic divers rinsing off in the showers after their splash and also sit with them in the steamy hot tub, relaxing and waiting for their next ‘go’. Much as you might at a gay sauna.

Gymnastics is the one sport that can give the aesthetics of diving a run and jump for its money. Whether on the pommel horse, flexing those triceps and tightening that butt, or doing ‘ringwork’ and flaring the lats, it offers viewer-voyeur a body-weight bodybuilding show that displays the form and balance of the perfectly-developed human frame – defying gravity. In much the same way erections do.

 

But gymnastics has a problem. Gymnasts wear too much. Way too much compared to today’s swimmers. In addition to over-modest singlets and criminally baggy shorts, they often have to wear full length pants/tights. And these are definitely not the kind of compression pants that the lads in my gym wear these days that leave nothing to the imagination while they do lunges.

Even the Rio skyline is aroused by the US male gymnastics team

No wonder the highly aestheticised Sam Mikulak captain of the US gymnastic team captain at Rio suggested just before the games began: ‘Maybe we should perform with our shirts off’ so that people could see ‘how yoked we are’.

Sam Mikulak showing Rio his bis, tris and jacked hair

Although he was ostensibly suggesting ways in which male gymnastics could become more popular in the US and step out of the shadow of women’s gymnastics, he was also expressing a timeless truth about his sport and the Olympics itself.

‘Gymnastics’ derives from the Ancient Greek for ‘exercise naked’. Greek gymnasia were full of naked male youths – being admired by Greek men. As were the Ancient Olympics at Delphi – though here the stitchless athletes could be gawped at by maiden women as well as men (though definitely not married women). Sport for the Greeks was starkers.

So in a sense US silver-medallist gymnast Danell Leyva was giving us a history lesson when he took his captain at his word. During the gymnastics gala towards the end of the Rio games he danced on the parallel bars and coquettishly peeled off his top, to loud audience whoops, and then performed half-naked, in a kind of aerial Magic Mike routine.

Or rather, an aerial version of the tarty flagbearer from Tonga.

This post is based on a piece by MS published in XY Magazine, Nov 2016

Sexy and I Show It: Parading Cadets (& Olympic Divers)

Last year metrodaddy declared the LMFAO dance hit ‘Sexy and I Know It’ an anthem  for the Jersey Shore/Geordie Shore/The Only Way is Essex/The Hunks/Men’s Health Magazine generation of metrosexy young men and the metaphorical (and not so metaphorical) spangly Speedos they’re flaunting themselves in.

But I have to say I was a tad ambivalent about the heavily ironic hipster promo video.

Fortunately, it’s been remade by non-hipsters. In shape non-hipsters. Cadets from the USAF Academy, no less. Now, in case anyone objects that this is conduct unbecoming future officers (and apparently some killjoys have) perhaps we should remember that one of the lesser known meanings of ‘cadet’ is ‘pimp’.

Though here of course they’re pimping their own bodies. Like the rest of today’s young men.

I'm Sexy and I Know it – BANNED 2011 USAFA vs. Army Spirit Video

Not to be outdone, US Navy cadets have also taken up the challenge (see below). Which do you think is sexier? And which one knows it most? Air Force or Navy? Or neither? So far I haven’t been able to locate an Army or USMC version – but something tells me it won’t be long.

Tip: Roger Clarke and  Towelroad

And here’s the British Army version – ‘Squaddie and I Know It’

Squaddie and I know it

UPDATE

UK Olympic diver Tom Daley and his chums have recorded their own Speedo-tastic version (I especially like Tom’s Carmen Miranda moment):

Tom Daley & Team GB – Sexy And I Know It (LMFAO Lip Sync)