Yesterday I looked at the informal names for muscles abs, pecsglutes, delts, and traps. The last two of these might not be as familiar to most people (who aren’t in the fitness / bodybuilding world) as the others; here I’m interested in traps (the trapezius muscles) — for their name, initially, and then for their appearance on one man, the pornstar Ken Ryker.

From Wikipedia:

The trapezius muscle resembles a trapezium (trapezoid in American English), or diamond-shaped quadrilateral.

The traps, or shoulder muscles (along with neighboring muscles), in a rear view:


Wikipedia on trapeziums / trapezoids:

In Euclidean geometry, a convex quadrilateral with at least one pair of parallel sides is referred to as a trapezoid … in American and Canadian English but as a trapezium in English outside North America.

with an illustration:


Yes, the name of the geometric figure is the source of the word trapeze. The shape of a trapeze is that of an isosceles trapezoid, in which the legs (the non-parallel sides) are equal in length and the base angles are equal as well.

On to the hunky guy: Ken Ryker, with the traps of death. Previously on this blog, in “Today’s hunk” of 3/13/14. And on AZBlogX, in “The Ken Ryker files” of 1/10/13, in a full-frontal shot “showing off his 11 or so fat inches, his hunky body, and his handsome face”. Two more shots, not actually X-rated, showing his powerful traps (and his pecs and more):



Somatotypes. In my posting on somatotypes (or body types), “More television hunks: NCIS: Los Angeles” of 10/6/14, I looked at a popular typology of these types (into three ideal types — ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph), illustrating the three types with male actors from the television show, but arguing that as a scientific scheme of categorization, this typology fails, though it serves

to provide a feeling (however illusory) of understanding. Popular advice literature abounds in such attractive but unsatisfactory categorization schemes, usually involving ideal types.

For the purposes of providing a feeling of understanding, the three ideal types can be replaced by a continuum from slim / slender at one end to beefy / bulky at the other, and we can ask where a man falls on this continuum. Ken Ryker is clearly towards the beefy end of the spectrum, but not at the far end.

Several other physical characteristics (besides overall body type) are relevant here: height and degree of muscular development. Ryker is tall (at least 6′ 4″), with a long torso and long legs as well, and he’s certainly well-developed; some discussion in “A matter of size” of 1/12/13, with a photo of the man from the flick The Matinee Idol.

Personas and sociotypes. Now turn from the physical to the social, on variation in how people present themselves in social interactions or as classified by others.

The presentation of self (or selves) in social interaction has been especially pursued by Rob Podesva, concentrating on the personas presented by gay men in different contexts: a “diva” persona, a “caring doctor” persona, a “partier” persona. People are typically unaware of how much they shift in different contexts and have no vocabulary for talking about their behavior (so that the suggestive labels are supplied by an analyst). A crucial source:

Robert J. Podesva, Phonetic Detail in Sociolinguistic Variation: Its Linguistic Significance and Role in the Construction of Social Meaning. Stanford Ph.D. dissertation, 2006.

On Ryker’s presentation, from “Hammond organs” of 12/24/12 on AZBlogX (warning: very plain sexual language coming here):

The ubermanly gay pornstars [gay pornstars meaning ‘stars in gay porn’] — Mike Branson, Ken Ryker, Steve Hammond, Ryan Idol, Jeff Stryker, Rex Chandler — are hyper-masculine in appearance and demeanor, strict tops as far as fucking is concerned, and dominant in their sexual encounters. They cultivate the image of being basically straight, though they usually list themselves as bisexual, to make it clear that they do have sex with men — but only because they’re strictly gay for pay or because they’re fuck-any-hole-available omnisexuals. Their attitude towards the men who desire them is of superiority (because those guys are faggots, not real men), colored with pity (because of the faggots’ need for dick; poor bitches, they can’t help it) or even contempt (very clear in Ken Ryker and Jeff Stryker), though they can be generously appreciative of the services faggots provide for them (Jeff Stryker often thanks his bottom for the ride).

Note that this discussion is about the characters these actors portray in their films, which might align well or poorly with their real-world presentations.

On to sociotypes. The easiest examples here are types of people (specific to some social group, place, and time) recognized and explicitly named by those in the group, for instance the jocks and burnouts (and similar types) studied by Penny Eckert and the various gay types — twinks, bears, and so on — current in the gay community. Sociotypes are terrible systems of categorization, since a great many, even most, people in the group are not members of one of the types, and some of the types overlap. What the types do is pick out a small number of socially highly salient subgroups.

Not all the sociotypes have recognized names, though they are still socially real: MSMs (men who have sex with men — the term is from social work and sociology, but is not in general non-academic use), one of three classes of men who have sex with men but do not identify as gay (the others are the named types trade and gay for pay (G4P)); discussion in “What’s the word for this?” of 1/15/11.

When he was still in the business, Ryker was certainly G4P.

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