Callipygian in his Levis

(About the male body, in particular, men’s buttocks as objects of male sexual desire, and, eventually, about sexual acts between men, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

Two things from Pinterest recently: a vintage Levis ad prominently focused on the model’s buttocks:

(#1) My caption: fanning the flames of desire around the campfire with butt-flattering jeans

and a link to a comic piece “How the West Was Worn” (from 9/18/14, by Christopher Harrity) on the Advocate magazine’s site, about the history of callipygian men in Levi’s ads, with mocking captions added to the ads. (Note: the Advocate provides news and features for LGBTQ readers.)

The excellent word callipygian, from NOAD:

adj. callipygian (also callipygean): rare having well-shaped buttocks ORIGIN late 18th century: from Greek kallipūgos (used to describe a famous statue of Venus), from kallos ‘beauty’ + pūgē‘buttocks’, + –ian.

From the Advocate piece, but without a mocking caption, these happy callipygian skateboarders in a Levi’s ad:


Then, the main text of the Advocate piece, plus two vintage ads with jokey captions (from the Advocate) highlighting the male buttocks as objects of male sexual desire.

The most important fashion item of the 20th century — Levi Strauss jeans — based their appeal on slim-hipped cowboys in a fun-loving, all-male environment.

The patent for denim pants with copper rivets to reinforce seams was secured in 1873. Thus was born the most perfectly comfortable, indestructibly durable, supremely ass-hugging pair of pants ever made. If you held on to them and wore them for a few years, they became sensuously soft and molded to your body. The worn patches defined your shape. They had to be the first piece of clothing that became more perfect as they dissolved.

Early Levi’s ads were historic and fairly xenophobic. But the ads reached a peak of manly appeal in the 1950s, when the visuals focused on the man’s butt with the signature red tab and portrayed an all-male world of bunkhouses, group showers, and horseplay. Small wonder that in the late ’50s and ’60s, both the underground biker culture and the underground gay culture (and yes, there was overlap) adopted Levi’s jeans as the de rigueur uniform.

Since then, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and hundreds of others have jumped on the jeans bandwagon. But it was Levi Strauss and Co. that made the market what it is with its charming, frisky, and perhaps unintentionally sexy ads.

Two captioned examples:

(#3) (caption) That’s it, buddy. I just want to get a picture of you looking into the canyon. OK, clench a little?

(#4) (caption) I am very, very aware of the seams on Levi’s.

Jeans ads in their larger context. Iin particular, on the ads as art works — commercial art, in this case — focused on the male buttocks. From my 7/18/20 posting “Buttocks III: (mainstream) art, male art, porm”:

A follow-up to two earlier postings …, about art works of various kinds focused on the male buttocks. The first, “Buttocks display” was largely about men’s premium underwear ads celebrating male buttocks — work by professional photographers (using professional models), carefuly posed and lit, and often very artfully framed, but also clearly attentive to the sexual desirability of the models’ bodies. Art with a homoerotic eye. One brand of what is known as male art. (For a collection of books on the genre, see the Page on Male art on this blog.)

The second posting, “The art of the buttocks”, looked at some mainstream art — notably, paintings by the early 19th-century artist William Etty (who specialized in nudes of all sorts).

And then there’s frank (gay) porn, in which buttocks play a central role (because anal intercourse does). Covered very extensively on this blog (see the Page on pornstars on this blog).

The first thing to be said on these distinctions is that you can’t tell just by looking; you might need to know quite a lot about the context in which a work appears, to judge the intentions of the creator and, especially, to judge the work’s place in the social worlds surrounding it.

An early stab of mine at making some distinctions in this area: my 3/19/13 posting “Porn/art”:

I’ve often reflected on the line — not at all clear — between gay porn photography and male [primarily homoerotic] art photography. The easy delineation has to do with intent: gay porn is intended to get guys off, male photography is aesthetic appreciation of the male body. But of course motives are mixed: porn can be artfully done, male photography can be arousing. There’s no one reading of an image.

A case in point from recent advertising in my e-mailbox: this DVD from the Cocky Boys studio:


Now focus entirely on the image of the two men and put it in a different context, as a moment in a modern dance work about an intense encounter between them; both have their muscles tensed to their limits, while the man on the right is drawing the other man to him, either to rest in his embrace or to submit to his power (like a wrestler conceding to his opponent). Their bodies are beautifully aligned in an oblique angle; the whole thing could be nicely captured in a metal sculpture.

Of course, in the actual encounter, the man on the left isn’t merely drawing the other man to him for closeness, but is in fact fucking him (though you can’t actually see his cock in action). We know that because we know this is a cover image for a Cocky Boys gay porn DVD — but remove that information from the cover, and you’ve got a nicely composed abstract arrangement of male bodies.

The point is that if even when you go back and put the image back into its porn context, it is still a nicely composed abstract arrangement of male bodies. The artfulness remains, even if you’re going to use the image to jack off to.

On the DVD. From the Cocky Boys studio: Rough & Ready, released in 2016; directed by Jake Jaxson; starring Angel Cruz, Flex Xtremmo, Allen King, Damien Crosse, Gabriel Clark, Ian Torres, Marco Gagnon.

Breathless summary from the studio:

Rough & Ready sees Angel Cruz leading a cast of hot, horny, and very hung guys who just like to fuck without abandon. Joined by Allen King and Damien Crosse in the sultry city of Valencia [in Spain], these hunks are always ready to get down with each other – anywhere or anytime. It has to be rough though – because they are more than ready!

[Note the flexibility of the sexual verb do. In Angel Does Valencia, Angel fucks men from Valencia; he takes the insertive role in the act. In the straight porn film Debbie Does Dallas — the title is clearly the model for Angel Does Valencia — Debbie (mostly) gets fucked by men from Dallas; she takes the receptive role in the act. In Tom did every single guy at the glory holes, Tom sucked off the men at the glory holes; he took the receptive role in the act of fellation. But in In an act of extraordinary endurance, Tom did three cocksuckers in a row at the baths, Tom got sucked off by three men; he took the insertive role in the act of fellation. (Do is primarily used for a fellator, but it’s possible for a fellatee.)]

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