aussieBum, Shearing the Rams, and Slim Dusty

On our last visit to Australia (in “Bruce Bruce Bruce” on the 27th), we started out in Aussie underwear (the Daily Jocks AUS line), moved through Monty Python and Bruce as a  stereotypically Aussie name (and in the U.S., as a stereotypically gay name) and on to Barry Humphries and two Australian characters he created, with notes on the Aussie celebration of working-class masculinity (amiable crudity, matiness) and disdain for effete Pommies (Brits). At the end, a promise:

For a later posting, on Aussie masculinity (and class): aussieBum underwear, Shearing the Rams by Tom Roberts, and Slim Dusty.

Now’s the time. Looking ahead: two images of Aussie men in their aussieBum swimwear and underwear, a surfer and a jackaroo:



First, two linguistic notes.

Note 1, on Aussie, the national nickname, usable as (count) N or Adj. This is pronounced Oz-ee /azi/ by Australians, but often /ɔsi/ (from the spelling Aussie) by outsiders (including, I see, NOAD2), to the great annoyance of actual Australians.

Note 2, on the bum of aussieBum. In both BrE and AuE, this noun has the same ambiguity as AmE ass and BrE/AuE arse. Green’s Dictionary of Slang has ‘the posterior, buttocks’ and ‘anus, rectum’ (from the 14th century on). Then also:

in a sexual context, the vagina (from the 17th century on)

in s sexual context, the anus as a target for sodomy (from 1681 on); in this sense, used in a number of compounds (bum boy, bum bandit, etc.)

BrE bum (probably also AuE, though I have no cites for this) has been verbed, as a transitive meaning ‘to sodomise’. Two cites from the collection Green gives for this usage: the first, [orig. published] 1970 in Angry Young Man Alan Sillitoe’s A Start in Life:

(1979) 347: If he pansies after a young man he’s buggering his son [undersood as: then in his imagination he’s buggering his son] … If he gets off with an older man he’s being bummed by his father [same proviso].

and a harrowing quote from Mark Manning’s Get Your Cock Out (ok, it’s fantastical fiction):

(2000) 57: When I was seven the fucking idiot started using my arse like a dartboard, bumming me stupid every fucking night.

Interestingly, Green has various senses of transitive arse (a verbing of the noun) in BrE and AuE, but none in a sexual sense (in particular, no cites for a sense ‘to sodomise’), and also cites for the very common intransitive arse about, arse around ‘waste time, idly wander about (1984), ‘fool around’ (1973) etc., again none sexual.

Brief conclusion: otherwise very similar lexical items can go their own ways morphologically and syntactically.

aussieBum. Back to the underwear. From Wikipedia, in a rockily written entry:

aussieBum is an Australian men’s swimwear and underwear manufacturer.

All aussieBum products are manufactured in Australia with the business run completely out of the company’s headquarters in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt.

The company has achieved international recognition for several products such as the Wonderjock, and Essence underwear; which contains vitamins locked in the fibre which releases through the skin

… In November 2006, the Wonderjock was launched in the aussieBum underwear lines. Wonderjocks have been designed to lift and enhance a man’s genitals, through the use of a fabric cup used to protrude everything out instead of just down. 50,000 pairs of the new underwear were sold in the first seven days of being released. The name was chosen as a pun on [well, an echo of or allusion to] the popular Wonderbra line of women’s push-up bras.

Yes, push-up men’s underwear, a step above mere pouchwear. It’s All About (perceived) Size. Here’s an extreme variant, the Wonderjock Pro:


Then there’s the PocketJockIt, “a hidden pocket in your brief” (for condoms, lube, a cock ring, a small address book, a shopping list, or whatever, though it looks too small for a cellphone, so you’ll never have to say, “Excuse me, my briefs are ringing”):


And the LoverBoy special:


The aussieBum lines are sexy, playful, showy, outrageous (lots of cock-tease shots in their ads), and, most of all, high-masculine Aussie: cocky underwear (in several senses). You can watch a montage of their tv commercials in their video “My Australia”. And here’s the image from a famous ad campaign of theirs:


This is a take-off on the Tom Roberts painting Shearing the Rams:


From Wikipedia:

Shearing the Rams is an 1890 painting by the Australian artist Tom Roberts. The painting depicts sheep shearers plying their trade in a timber shearing shed. Distinctly Australian in character, the painting is a celebration of pastoral life and work, especially “strong, masculine labour” and recognises the role that wool-growing played in the development of the country.

One of the most well known and loved paintings in Australia, Shearing the Rams has been described as a “masterpiece of Australian impressionism” and “the great icon of Australian popular art history”. The painting is part of the National Gallery of Victoria Australian art collection.

(I can’t help imagining the expression shearing the rams turned into slang for sheepsex.)

And that brings us to Slim Dusty.

A while back, at a Saturday breakfast involving my daughter Elizabeth, my grand-daughter Opal, and me, we rambled into the difficulties of explaining war to little kids (think kindergardeners) who’ve never experienced war close-up or personally, and that somehow led Elizabeth and me to Australians and war (Opal’s dad is Australian, and she has relatives in AU, PNG, and NZ), and the fact that Australia has WWI memorials everywhere but relatively few WWII memorials — because WWI had a gigantic impact on the country, something like 30% of its young men having been killed in the war.

Elizabeth has been trying to educate Opal about her Australian heritage, and at this point in breakfast she was reminded of the iconic figure Slim Dusty, From Wikipedia:

David Gordon Kirkpatrick …, known professionally as Slim Dusty (13 June 1927 – 19 September 2003), was an Australian country music singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer, who was an Australian cultural icon and one of the country’s most awarded stars, with a career spanning nearly seven decades, the archetypical “Father of County Music”. He was known to record songs in the legacy of Australian poets Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson that represented the Australian bush lifestyle and also for his many trucking songs.


Australia has an official national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair”, but its unofficial national song is certainly “Waltzing Matilda”, a ballad cebrating the lives of swagmen (itinerant transient laborers) in the Australian bush. You can watch a Slim Dusty performance of the song here.

Then a trucker and beer-drinking song, “Pub With No Beer”, which you can watch here.

And finally, another comic beer-drinking song, ringing changes on Australian men’s names, “Duncan”, which you can watch here.

The lyrics for the last:

I love to have a beer with Duncan
I love to have a beer with Dunc.
We drink in moderation
And we never ever ever get rollin’ drunk
We drink at the Town and Country
Where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Duncan
‘Cause Duncan’s me mate, yeah

I love to have a beer with Colin
I love to have a beer with Col.
We drink in moderation
And it doesn’t really matter if he brings his doll
We drink at the Town and Country
Where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Colin
‘Cause Colin’s me mate

I love to have a beer with Kevin
Oh I love to have a beer with Kev.
We drink in moderation
And he drives me home in his big old Chev.
We drink at the Town and Country
Where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Kevin
‘Cause Kevin’s me mate

I love to have a beer with Patrick
I love to have a beer with Pat
We drink in moderation
And it wouldn’t really matter if the beer was flat
We drink at the Town and Country
Where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Patrick
‘Cause Patrick’s me mate

I love to have a beer with Robert
I love to have a beer with Bob
We drink in moderation
Just one more and back on the job
We drink at the Town and Country
Where the atmosphere is great
I love to have a beer with Robert
‘Cause Robert’s me mate

The song has high earworm potential.

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