Appearances

Two recent items about men trying to look attractive (to other men): on the Kitsch Bitsch Facebook page today, 1950s physique model Mel Fortune festooned for Christmas (the image is entertaining but just barely not X-rated, so if such images trouble you, leave this posting); and a William Haefeli cartoon from the latest (12/17/18) New Yorker, featuring a pair of his upscale urban gay men negotiating a date / trick.

(Hat tip to Chris Ambidge for the Kitsch Bitsch treasure, with his note:

It’s approaching Christmas. The trendy word for decorating this year is “festooning”.

More on festoon below.)


(#1) [KB caption:] KITSCHMAS DECORATING TIP #22 … festoon your packages properly


(#2) “If you knew how many times I changed my clothes before coming here, you wouldn’t ask me to take them off.”

Mel Fortune and men’s eyes. (I should probably have resisted it, but I am weak.) First, the physique magazines: see my 7/17/16 posting “A remarkable website”, with a section on Bob Mizer and his physique photography in the 1940s through the 1960s. The photos were often pretentiously themed, but many were consciously antic, as in #1.

Then, Kitsch Bitsch (website here), who mines popular culture for kitschig images. From NOAD:

noun kitsch: art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way: the lava lamp is an example of sixties kitsch.

The image in #1 hasn’t yet been filed on KB’s main site, but there’s plenty of Christmas magic there, under the heading “Welcome to My Home … at Kitschmas!”. KB is fond of the verb festoon there. Two examples:

DECORATIONS GALORE! My decor is not limited to the interior or the front of my house! I dress the swimming pool in the season’s best! My guests gasp with delight at the sight of a Cotton Candy Kitschmas with sleigh and reindeer floating and festooned in pink toule and pink cotton batting! Swimmingly Sweet!

COCKTAIL TIME! The late-night gang will be stopping by at the cocktail hour! I change into a more festive skirt and shoes. I simply roll the smaller television set back in and festoon the larger televison cabinet with a tablecloth and sparkley garland! I ready the eggnog and jello molds, then hide the daytime decorations and lampshades! The night-time pals can cause quite a ruckus! But I do provide a lute to accompany the evening’s caroling!

[Festoonish digression. From NOAD:

(#3)

noun festoon: [a] a chain or garland of flowers, leaves, or ribbons, hung in a curve as a decoration. [b] a carved or molded ornament representing a festoon. verb festoon: [with object] (often be festooned with) adorn (a place) with ribbons, garlands, or other decorations: the room was festooned with balloons and streamers. ORIGIN mid 17th century: from French feston, from Italian festone ‘festal ornament’, from festum, (plural) festa ‘feast’.

Beyond these bare lexicographic facts: festoon is the object of word attraction — specifically, word amusement — for many people (of whom I am one). We find it giggly. So, obviously, does KB.

What I believe to be a complete record of festoon on this blog:

— first, in a memorable example from my dangler postings, starting with my 3/2/11 posting “Dangling advice”, about “Shawn walked on to the stage, festooned in well-wishing posters and blue and yellow balloons”; later references to the festooned Shawn / stage in postings from 9/25/13, from 4/15/14. and from 3/4/17

— then, in postings on playful Cahoon names (including the interior decorator Festoon Cahoon, who is, however, not actually mentioned in these postings): from my 7/16/16 posting “Morning name: Colquhoun”:

a letter of mine published in Verbatim some time ago [posted on this blog here], on several language games, the first of which took off from an Olive Cahoon who married a man named Cahoon and so became Olive Cahoon Cahoon. That set some of us off to playing with the family name Cahoon and its far-flung members: Monsoon Cahoon, Rangoon Cahoon, Pontoon Cahoon, and so on.

— in my 9/24/17 posting “A sapsucking planthopper”, with a straightforward festooned:

[on the coat of arms of Pennsylvania:] The state motto, “Virtue, Liberty and Independence”, appears festooned below [an array of symbolic images].

— in my 8/13/18 posting “The nacho cart”, in the mildly antic obit headline:

Joël Robuchon, a French Chef Festooned With Stars, Is Dead at 73

End of digression. Enough with the festooning.]

I dressed for you. Haefeli’s gay guys are dealing, not terribly well, with one of the complexities of romantic / sexual coupling: the trappings you take on to make yourself attractive to a potential partner may well become irrelevant when you reach the getting naked together stage — or even impediments to intimacy. The clothes (on which you might have spent considerable effort to choose them and to wear them just so) only get stripped off. Fragrances that are attractants at a distance might be unpleasantly powerful at ground zero. For men, taking off basket-enhancing clothes might reveal unexceptional equipment; and facial scruff that advertises your masculinity and toughness (note the scruff on both of Haefeli’s guys) might well just induce beard burn in your partner. For women, carefully applied makeup, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick, and so on can become messy annoyances in a passionate clinch.

For Haefeli’s guys, fretting obsessively over the way they present themselves is especially comical, because the two of them are pretty much cut from the same cloth, with only tiny differences distinguishing them. Of course, when differences are tiny, each one becomes that much more significant.

(On the theme of Like With Like in the gay male world, see my 7/26/10 posting “Like/unlike”.)

One Response to “Appearances”

  1. [BLOG] Some Tuesday links | A Bit More Detail Says:

    […] Zwicky considers the art of appearances, queer and […]

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