With knitted brows

(Significantly about sex between men, often in street language, so thoroughly unsuitable for kids and the sexually modest.)

On 5/1, e-mail from HUNT magazine (which hawks gay video porn) featuring a new bareback release, Show Hard, all about t-room / tearoom sexual encounters — a recurrent theme on this blog (there’s a Page on postings about sex in public, especially focused on t-room sex). I’ll take up the flick (and its name) later in this posting.

But on viewing the still from the first scene of Show Hard in the mailing — muscle hunk Beau Butler getting pronged on a mensroom sink by equally hunky Sean Maygers — what really caught my eye wasn’t the sexual action, arousing though that is, but the expression on Butler’s face. One that is so common that we have a name for it in English: knitted / knit (eye)brows. It turns out that there’s more than one physical gesture that is so called; and also, unsurprisingly, that this family of gestures can convey a variety of affects. Also that there are a number of other closely related gestures, with a collection of vocabulary that refers to them; it’s a rich domain of meaning.

The Raging Stallion ad. As it came to me in e-mail (but with Maygers’s cock and balls fuzzed out, for WordPress modesty):

(#1) Note the playful alliteration in ANAL APRIL (although this ad didn’t come to me until Mansex May)

(Note on commerce. RS Studios has filmed a DVD with an overall theme and a series of five scenes on it, but you can’t send them money and they’ll send you the DVD. Instead, you have to become a member of their club (at $7.50 per month, which is $95.40 per year), which will give you electronic access to the content of this DVD (and others in their catalog), for as long as you continue your membership.)

knit(ted) (eye)brows: Butler’s expression in #1, blown up:


The affect conveyed by this facial expression (the inverted-V variant of knitted eyebrows) is hard to read; many observers see the expression as worried (worry should probably be viewed as its default affect), but here it’s associated with intense emotion — in this case, sexual pleasure, even ecstasy, at being fucked, marked also by Butler’s slackly open mouth, but especially by his passionate cries of “Fuck yeah! Fuck yeah!” while Maygers fucks him (which, of course, you can’t hear from looking at the photo).

On the linguistic expression, from Merriam-Webster online:

knit one’s brow/brows: to move the eyebrows together in a way that shows that one is thinking about something or is worried, angry, etc.

(Note that M-W reports a variant with sg. brow, despite the fact that two eyebrows are involved.)

The M-W entry suggests concentration, worry, and disapproval as three affects associated with knitted eyebrows; anxiety, intense emotion (especially of pleasure, passion, or ecstasy), puzzlement, and surprise are four others. Like paralinguistic gestures (vocal qualities, loudness, pitch, etc.), kinesic gestures (including facial gestures like knitted eyebrows) are multifunctional, having a variety of associated affects in particular contexts; as a result, they are often inscrutable.

In addition, kinesic gestures come in families of variants. In particular, moving the eyebrows together can be achieved in more than one way. The knitted eyebrows family of gestures comes in at least three variants: inverted-V, V, and flat. In the inverted-V and V variants, one end of each eyebrow is raised: the inside ends in inverted-V, the outside ends in V. Raising one end of the eyebrows, or raising the whole eyebrows, almost always produces forehead furrows (or brow furrows): horizontal creases across the forehead (visible in #2).

— illustrations for the inverted-V variant: #2 above; and the photo below, from the Donders Wonders: On Brains and Science site, “Eyebrows don’t lie” by Martina Arenella on 4/19/21:

(#3) The inverted-V variant combined with an eye gesture, wide eyes (conveying surprise, intense involvement, seductiveness, queerness (think of Randy Rainbow), etc. Note the forehead furrows.

— illustration for the V variant: a Hugh Jackman photo:

(#4) Raising the outside ends of the eyebrows here isn’t enough to produce forehead furrows; but moving the eyebrows together in knitted eyebrows necessarily produces frown lines: vertical creases between the eyebrows — very pronounced above

— illustration for the flat variant: a photo (whose ultimate source I haven’t been able to track down) from several pages on forehead furrows:

(#5) Combined here with a mouth gesture I don’t quite know how to describe (much less name)

Note on the inverted-V variant. There are people for whom this facial expression is their “natural” expression, the one their face assumes at rest.  I’ve come across two such people in my life.

The first was an intro linguistics student of mine at Ohio State. I scan the facial expressions and body language of my audiences for clues about their responses to what’s going on, and this student seemed to be perpetually puzzled or worried about the first few classes. So I asked her (after class) if there was something about the material that she was concerned about, she seemed to be worried in class. Then she told me that that was just the way she looked, pretty much all the time, people kept asking her about it.

The second is a friend on Facebook who posts a great many pictures there, including selfies. When I first saw his postings, I thought that he was neurotically inclined to worry, but then I realized that the expression was his natural state; he had to work to counteract it.

Ah, now you’re wondering about Beau Butler. But no, he’s like most of us, and gets knitted eyebrows only by working for them. Since he’s now a pornstar, and was a male model before that, there are tons of photographic evidence. Just one posed face shot (and you get the huge biceps for free):

(#6) His everyday face, at least with regard to his eyebrows (but his eyes themselves are narrowed, in one kind of cruise face); #2 is his sex face (or one of them)

Vocabulary notes. In the domain of facial expressions involving the brow and the brows. The two primary bodypart names, historically related to one another, are ripe for metonymic transfers from one to the other (due to their proximity), and also for confusions, thanks to their meaning relationship and their homonymy. The NOAD entries:

noun brow-1: 1 [a] a person’s forehead: he wiped his brow. [b] (usually brows) an eyebrow: his brows lifted in surprise. … ORIGIN Old English brū ‘eyelash, eyebrow’, of Germanic origin. Current senses arose in Middle English

noun eyebrow: the strip of hair growing on the ridge above a person’s eye socket: he had eyes of blue beneath bushy eyebrows.

Then there are the horizontal facial creases. The historical sources of the primary everyday English vocabulary — noun and verb furrow —  are agricultural, metaphorically extended. The NOAD entries:

noun furrow: [a] a long narrow trench made in the ground by a plow, especially for planting seeds or for irrigation. … [c]  a line or wrinkle on a person’s face: there were deep furrows in his brow.

verb furrow: [a] [with object] make a rut, groove, or trail in (the ground or the surface of something): gorges furrowing the deep-sea floor. [b] (with reference to the forehead or face) mark or be marked with lines or wrinkles caused by frowning, anxiety, or concentration: [with object]: a look of concern furrowed his brow | [no object]: her brow furrowed. [c] (with reference to the eyebrows) tighten or be tightened and lowered in anxiety, concentration, or disapproval, so wrinkling the forehead: [no object]: his brows furrowed in concentration | [with object]: she furrowed her brows, thinking hard.

For the vertical creases, the compound frown lines seems to be current in the cosmetics industry and to be working its way into more general use, though it doesn’t (yet) appear in the OED, NOAD or AHD.

Show Hard, the gay porn video. The beginning of the Raging Stallion description:

When you’ve been out on the road for a while and need an intense release, you can find a seedy roadside rest stop, where the men inside ‘SHOW HARD’ [show their hard-ons] to signal they’re ready for some hot, raw action. Award-winning director Tony Dimarco captures the raunchy bareback chronicles of spontaneous public restroom sex with eight hung and horny men eager to bust a nut. Beau Butler stops for a bathroom break and ends up getting his ass pounded deep by Sean Maygers … [on through 4 more scenes]

[Note on the sexual slang show hard. An abbreviated imperative (written on a mensroom stall partition) to ‘show your hard-on’ (through a glory hole in the partition) if you want to engage in cocksucking; who blows who is then settled through (usually) nonverbal signals in the customary code for such things. The acts themselves are performed through a glory hole or under the partition. Through spoken exchanges or written messages passed under the partition, the men can then opt to share a stall for face-to-face sex, either sucking or fucking, as they negotiate.

I was surprised to discover that none of the slang dictionaries I consulted — even Urban Dictionary — had an entry for show hard (but then I’m long familiar with the milieu of t-room sex).]

The detailed account (on the Raging Stallion site) of the Butler-Maygers scene:

Needing a release after being on the road for a while, Beau Butler pulls over at a rest stop. While he’s in the stall, Beau hears Sean Maygers getting some action at the urinals. Sean catches Beau trying to peek and heads in the next stall to slide his cock thru the gloryhole. As soon as Sean’s thick cock emerges, Beau is on his knees eagerly tasting Sean’s meat.

(#6) Butler on his knees, sucking cock. Note the missing stall doors, so that the action is visible as in a stage production, with a transparent fourth wall

After sucking through the anonymous glory hole, Beau gets off his knees and backs his hot ass up on Sean’s cock. They decide to ditch the barrier and take the action outside the stall. Beau gets bent over the restroom sink, so Sean can lick his hairy hole. Beau begs for more, so Sean mounts up and slides his thick meat inside Beau’s hungry ass bareback. The cock sucking, ass eating, finger fucking, and pounding continues until Beau sits back on the sink and gets his ass pounded. The action hits a fevered pitch sending Sean over the edge as he pulls his cock out and shoots all over Beau’s hole before pushing it back in. With his ass loaded up, Beau strokes his cock while Sean fingers him until Beau erupts all over his stomach.

A conventional closure: top comes first, on the bottom’s body; then the bottom comes, in his own hand or on his own body.

Fucking on a urinal, mensoom sink, or toilet tank is a fairly common stunt in gay porn — the first two especially transgressive (hence hot) because they are completely visible publicly. Like fucking in the open space of a mensroom is, but with the added attraction of a challenging athletic performance. (A fair number of mensroom furnishings have been reported as being wrecked in the filming of gay porn flicks. The bottom and the facilities both take a pounding in these fuck stunts.)

Bonus: Beau Butler displays himself. A just barely WordPressable performance showing off his muscle-hunk body right down to the base of his 8ʺ cock (clearly outlined in his pants):


Butler seems to be generally labeled as versatile, but on the evidence of the films of his that I’ve seen discussed that should probably be versatile bottom (specifically, a bottom who does flip-fuck scenes). The man does love to be fucked.

3 Responses to “With knitted brows”

  1. Rod Williams Says:

    I wonder if #5’s expression could be called a moue?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I actually considered that, then decided my idea of a moue might not be other people’s. (NOAD describes it as a pouting expression used to express distaste or annoyance. I balked at “pouting”. Then I realized I’d never actually *used* the word. And that I thought it was moué. So what do I know?)

  2. Robert Coren Says:

    The second is a friend on Facebook who posts a great many pictures there, including selfies. When I first saw his postings, I thought that he was neurotically inclined to worry…

    As you probably know, I’ve met him in person, and it is indeed true that what you call the “inverted V” is his natural resting-face expression.

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