Romper buddies

Taking off from a delightful ad for Romperjacks on Facebook back in November and December:

Here I give you the ad photo, and inventory some of the things it inspires me to write about in future postings (several being themes from earlier postings on this blog).

— These are two good-looking guys: so, male beauty, in both face and body, but especially face.

— They are in fact two fine-looking light-skinned black men. (Here my non-U.S. friends ask, “How on earth can you tell they’re black?” — indeed, my man Jacques’s Mediterranean-French skin color was about the warm light brown of these guys’ skin.) Then: for complex sociocultural reasons, light-skinned black men make good models for selling clothes to American men (as here).

— They are smiling wonderfully, projecting niceness: so, smiles of pleasure and amiability.

— They are in a couple: so, male affiliation.

— They are bonding with each other through the arm-over-shoulder gesture, what I’ll call the buddy-arm — used especially by buddies (AmE) / mates (BrE), brothers, and fathers with their sons. Also used by male lovers, so capable of being misunderstood.

— They are wearing one-piece garments in a category that includes things known as jumpsuits, rompers, and overalls.

— Such clothing falls into apparel categories with commercial labels that include casualwear / casual wear, leisurewear / leisure weargymwear athletic wear, sportswear, and work clothes. Meanwhile, the Romperjacks claim that their clothing is “stylish for every occasion” is entertaining, but not even remotely credible.

— These types of men’s clothing have complex associations with social class and social context.

— Romperjacks clothing is genuinely beautiful menswear, and also characterizable as funwear. So: the role of clothing in constructing and projecting various masculinities, forms or styles of masculinity, and individual personas as well.

— Comparing Romperjacks (with stylishness and beauty as explicit selling points) with two of its competitors illustrates some of this complexity: Swoveralls (sweat pants + overalls) have comfort as the main selling point. Zesties, on the other hand, are for fun, and are marketed to regular guys, guy guys, bros, and dudes (using labels that pick out a variety of masculinities and personas).

I can’t now imagine how I thought I was going to get all of this into a single posting. Especially since I was also going to try to locate all these guys (with most of their bodies covered up by clothing, but check out those lean muscular Romperjack legs) within a larger world that includes the near-naked or fully naked men in my huge body of postings on underwear ads and gay porn films — with their buttocks, packages, and bare muscular torsos, at which we gay guys swoon (apologies to Sonnet 73).

In fact, I considered musing on beauty, in particular male beauty, as a vector of pleasure, yes, but also as a vector of power, even danger, inspiring not just attraction but obsessive desire. Altering “Beautiful Girls” from Stephen Sondheim’s Follies just a bit:

Here’s the home of
Beautiful guys,
Where your
Reason is undone.

(If you let me muse on a topic long enough — and this one has been simmering since last fall — I will eventually carry you by free association to strange and distant lands.)

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