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Category: Phalliban

Viennese Gag on Big Strudels

A poster campaign advertising ‘Nude Men’ (“a long overdue exhibition on the diverse and changing depictions of naked men from 1800 to the present”) at the Leopold Museum in Vienna seems to have aroused the passions of the local phalliban.

I thought the Austrians, like the nut-brown Germans I spied on in Corfu when I was on a family holiday there as a kid, were very laid back about nudity. But it seems, like the organisers of the exhibition, I was very much mistaken.

From Time’s newsfeed:

“We didn’t realise that many, many people would be really upset or really angry in a way that we are also afraid about security, about protection of the visitors of the museum” explained Klaus Pokorny, a spokesperson for the museum, as quoted in Reuters. “Many people told us that they wanted to or had to protect their children,” he added about the response to the naked advertisements. “Some had warned that if we won’t cover it they would go there with a brush and they would cover it with color. Already somebody did that.”

The museum has capitulated and agreed to cover up the big strudels with red strips of paper – in other words, to deface the images themselves. Including a famous photo by Pierre & Gilles called Vive la France, which shows three football players wearing socks in blue, white and red and… big grins. (An image which for some reason Time doesn’t reproduce – so I’ve done so below.)

“We are not really happy about the situation,” said Mr. Pokorny about the changes. “You always hope that we have made progress, that we are now in the 21st century.”

 Tip: David S

Adam Sandler Fights the Phalliban

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It seems that Adam Sandler is striking a blow against the American Phalliban — in his next movie he tries to out-Speedo Daniel Craig.

Looks like he’s succeeded, at least waist-down.

All in all, taken in both hands and examined admiringly, even though it’s made of plastic it’s almost enough to make me forgive him his last outing: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

Well, almost.

Firemen’s Big Hose Sets NY Ablaze

By Mark Simpson

(The Guardian, 8 Aug 2007)

The Phalliban, America ‘s killjoy campaign against the male body’s, er, maleness, strikes yet again.

The 2008 Fire Department of New York Calendar of Heroes, the eleventh in series of snaps of buffed young firemen stripped to the waist which produces mass hysteria on the streets of NY on its release every year – along with large amounts of cash for the FDNY – will be the last.

Why? Because it might make the good people of New York think of firemen’s hoses.

Calendar cover-boy 22-year-old Michael Biserta (above) has caused a scandal because he briefly got his semi-erect hose out in the video Boys Gone Wild in 2004 – some time before he even joined the FDNY.

For the sake of research, you understand, I’ve viewed the clip (it’s because in the Net Age images never go away that this scandal has happened). And let me just say that Biserta’s fire-fighting equipment will have no trouble extinguishing the tallest flames.

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta is not impressed, however, and has ordered the scrapping of future calendars. Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, himself a former fire commissioner (and, judging by his penchant for double entendre, also an avid fan of Are You Being Served?) agrees, telling the press straight facedly: ‘You can’t allow anything that tarnishes the reputation of the people on the job.’

Not being American, I’m not sure how the fact that a fireman flashed his large axe to consenting adults before he became a fireman tarnishes the reputation of the people ‘on the job’, or anywhere else.

Unless you’re just jealous. Or penises frighten you. (Admittedly, Biserta’s is slightly scary.)

And, Captain Peacock, isn’t a spot of polishing, French or otherwise, the usual way to deal with tarnishing?

I could understand if the FDNY was worried that Biserta’s hot body might be starting more fires than it puts out. Instead it seems like just another example of the puritanical American Phalliban trying to turn back the commodification cock that American consumerism started ticking.

In the UK its difficult to imagine that a topless fireman calendar would be banned because one of them had once got their big pump out on video. Instead, they’d probably be given their own TV show. Over in France, the Dieux du Stade calendars featuring starkers professional rugby players covered in baby oil with their balls out sells like hot croissants – and no scandal erupts.

The US clearly has a different attitude towards the male member, even if many people are convinced it’s currently led by one. Recently the city council in Kaiser, Oregon was forced to promise to remove some traffic bollards because people complained they looked ‘too much like penises’. In other words, bollards. During the filming of last year’s Superman Returns the biggest production preoccupation was how to keep Superman’s Spandexed bulge from… bulging.

This year the posters for a film called Pride about Philadelphia ‘s first black swim team were nearly banned by the hawkeyed American Motion Picture Association because they were convinced that the package of one of the black swimmers in the background had been ‘digitally enhanced’. (It hadn’t, and it wasn’t even particularly ‘proud’.)

I realise that post 9-11 the FDNY has been sanctified. That they are now all ‘heroes’. But nowadays amateur porn stars can be heroes too. Especially if they’re hung as heroically as Biserta.

The real problem here is that Biserta’s showing-off before he became a fire-fighter was a little too explicit. The fact the cover-boy had got his actual cock out instead of his symbolism outed the pornolizing of the male body going on in the culture that the FDNY calendars themselves are part of. Which freaked out the top brass who probably never liked those faggy calendars anyway.

Many of the glossy images in the calendars, like the one on the cover, are deliberately phallic and fetishistic. Look at the way a ‘pumped’ and ‘ripped’ Biserta is holding his big shiny red fire axe with both hands, over that huge butch metal clip apparently keeping his utility belt and flies together.

Even the Statue of Liberty, looking on, has erected her arm – which has, understandably, burst into flames. Unlike the old grey men who run the FDNY, she’s an American who knows how to salute a prodigiously well-equipped young fireman when she sees one.

You can see that incendiary Biserta clip on Xtube here.

This essay is collected in Metrosexy: a 21st Century Self-Love Story

Rugger Buggers & Swinging Dicks

In the Middle Ages, sodomy was thought to be caused not by hair whorls, but by drunkenness. As this spornographic clip shows, they were absolutely right.

The post-match beery bonding of the lovely lads of Sandbach RUFC – which, be warned, includes very male nudity, heavy petting and male-on-male snogging – made me feel faint with jealousy. And also faintly redundant.

These straight lads’ eagerness to perform their manly love for one another in front of UK TV cameras (for an instalment of an ITV2 series last month called ‘Generation Xcess’) does away with the need for my:

  • essay on hazing, in which I argued that male bonding is deeply homoerotic, but that despite this it is not a ‘gay’ thing – it’s a ‘guy’ thing
  • pointing out the size queenery of straight men.
  • explaining how little purchase the Phalliban has in the UK – compared to the US where it has a tighter grip than Captain Tim’s team-mates have on his ‘massive cock’
  • arguing that homoerotic fantasy that Sporno advertising sells us is not entirely baseless
  • responding to those who adamantly refuse to believe that straight men could get naked with one another on camera and play with each other’s dangly bits when offered lots of cash. (These ones did it for a few beers.)

Instead of all my scribbling, I just needed to take a video camera to a pub in Sandbach on Saturday night and buy a few rounds. It would have been a lot more fun too.

Funny that this should have surfaced around the same time as this spornographic ad campaign for Paris – which after the salty mantics of Sandbach RUFC now looks like a slightly coy promotion for a copycat programme featuring a less attractive, less ballsy team. Perhaps the most ‘touching’ part of all this groping is the way this (highly successful) team of rugger buggers refuse to be embarrassed by the naughty clips the programme makers make them watch in the cold-sober light of day. Instead they seem quite proud.

But then, they have much to be proud of. Especially their Captain. Alas, I suspect that some – gay and straight – spiteful members of the Great British Public who saw the doc did their best to make these young men feel ashamed for being ‘gay’ with one another – to make them feel ashamed, in fact, for being fit, boisterous lads full of life, laughs, spunk and puppyish enthusiasm for masculinity.

Actually, the more I think about it – and what I’m missing – I’m beginning to feel spiteful too…. Criminally though, the clip ends before the programme does. Anyone have the final segment? Or a better quality version? As the completely unabashed grinning donkey-hung, bubble-butted Captain Tim says, ‘We should watch that again.’

Update: I’ve just been informed that a better quality clip is available, along with rather a lot of other athletes showing off their, er, sporting prowess, at the premium adult site: www.ruggerbugger.com

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Pillars of the community – the Phalliban pops up again

 

In the latest example of the prudish power of the USA’s rampant Phalliban, outraged residents of Kaiser, Oregon, have demanded the removal of some newly installed safety pillars.

Apparently they are too reminiscent of male genitalia. What a load of bollards.

Although I’m no expert on American penises, I’ve seen a few in my time – and I don’t recall any being made out of four feet of reinforced concrete. And I think I would have noticed.

I suspect the good women of Kaiser (and it does appear to be women in the report doing the complaining) are just bragging.

And if you’re talking offensively penis-shaped eyesores, humongous 4x4s like the one pictured behind the cheeky bollard – whose hefty momentum the pillars have clearly been designed to protect pedestrians from – look much more phallic to me.

The city council, eager to placate the American Phalliban, plans to modify the appearance of the pillars with metal collars and chains. Though why S&M pricks should pass without comment where vanilla ones aroused a storm of indignant protest is unclear.

If this approach fails, the council has pledged to remove the pillars. Perhaps they should dynamite them like the Taliban did with the Buddhas of Banyan.

Surely though the cheapest way to disguise the phallicism of pillars like this in the US would be to give them foreskins? Or just make them wear really baggy board shorts?

Tip: Steve Zeeland

Black Speedos, black pride and the American ‘Phalliban’

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Following my recent ‘Speedophobia’ feature for OUT about the American Phalliban, it seems the terrifying outline of male genitalia is still striking fear into the hearts of our Colonial cousins – even in movies set in the tight-fit 1970s.

According to Rod 2.0 the American Motion Picture Association of America was so alarmed by the Speedo-clad silhouette of Evan Ross’s packet in a poster promoting ‘Pride’, a film about Philadelphia’s first black swimteam they accused the film-makers of digitally enhancing his, erm, pride and refused to approve it. (Ross, Diana’s son no less, is the first unclothed Speedo-wearing swimmer from left to right.)

Now, at the risk of sounding like a jaded size queen it doesn’t seem to me to me to be that big a deal. It’s definitely, reassuringly there, if you know what I mean, but not in a tremendously ‘enhanced’ way. Besides, he’s part of the background and the two men in the foreground are fully clothed. One is even wearing a hat.

So what was the AMPA thinking of? Well, perhaps they weren’t thinking but day-dreaming. The (probably mostly white) board saw a black phallus in black Speedos titled with the word ‘PRIDE’ and got all steamed up. Either way, they wanted a closer look: they demanded the film-makers provide them with the original artwork.

Remembering though the titanic trouble the makers of last year’s ‘Superman’ went to to get his package ‘not too big’, ‘not too small’ and ‘not too pointy’ – apparently it was the single most ‘pressing’ costume concern – it’s clear that whitey has to be smooth and tidy too. And wear red-alert containment pants over his kinky blue Spandex all-in-one.

Both penis-panics ‘point up’ something rather ticklish about the US phalliban – in its haste to shield America’s honour from the jaw-dropping, mind-reeling horror of the silhouette of men’s bits it merely reveals that Uncle Sam is thinking rather a lot about cock. Black and white and all the delicious shades in between.

‘Pride’ opens in the US on March 23.

Speedophobia: America’s Fear & Loathing of Budgie Smuggling

Mark Simpson undresses the tortured relationship between American men and their swimsuits

(Out, February 2007)

PROHIBITED… THE WEARING OF SKIN-TIGHT FORM-FITTING OR BIKINI TYPE APPAREL OR BATHING SUITS BY MALES OVER 12 YRS. AGE

If the stern, killjoy rubric of this warning sign, erected in the 1960s by the good people of Cape May, N.J., sounds like a way to rain on a gay beach party, that’s because it was.

Cape May, a resort town a few hours south of New York City by car, had become a popular gay haunt by the late 1950s, nicknamed “Cape Gay” by the cognoscenti. According to a 1969 article in Philadelphia magazine, “their public displays of affection, particularly among men wearing women’s bathing suits on the main beach… turned off the townsfolk.” The city council, eager to protect its flock from glimpsing the terrifying outline of adult male genitalia, was moved to pass a law forbidding bikini bathing suits on males over age 12 – a “phalliban,” if you will.

The ban on ‘form-fitting’ bathing suits on males was officially lifted by Cape May in 2005. Arguably this didn’t happen because America now accepts male bumps and lumps but simply because it was now unnecessary. After all, these days everyone knows that male bikinis – or, to give them their trade name-turned-generic moniker, “Speedos” – are unofficially banned from all main beaches in the United States, whatever your age.

You may think them practical and sexy and iconic. You may consider them the single most perfect and pithy item of clothing ever designed for the male body. You may consider them the only thing to wear on the beach. You might even consider yourself slightly overdressed in them. But if you do, it’s probably because you’re gay. Or foreign. Speedos, otherwise known as “banana hammocks,” “marble bags,” “noodle benders,” and “budgie smugglers,” are apparently as un-American as Borat’s body thong.

Speedos on a nongay beach are the surest way to earn yourself angry stares, abuse, and plenty of room for your beach towel. As a result, Speedos have in the United States become a badge of gay pride and exclusion-as overt homophobia declines, rampantly overt Speedophobia is bringing U.S. gays and Brazilians together, huddling together at the far end of the beach in their Lycra.

Male celebs like David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Daniel Craig may now be nicely filling out their Speedos on their beach holidays – but none of these fellows are American. Speedos and even more revealing male swimsuits are popular in South America, Asia, much of Europe, and especially, of course, in the land of the pert-butted lifesaver: Australia, the place where the “Aussie cossie” and much of the beach lifestyle we know today was born.

The Speedo is more than just “gay” beachwear: It’s a symbol of sexual freedom and a rediscovery of the body after centuries of clammy Christian morality.

Bathing and swimming are undoubtedly pagan passions. The ancients invented the seaside resort and spent a great deal of gold on, and time in, their blessed public baths, where the men bathed and swam naked. Not because they were indifferent to nakedness, but because they esteemed virility. Every night was wet jockstrap night (without the jockstrap) at the Roman baths, and especially well-endowed bathers were likely to be greeted with a round of applause; during the reign of notorious size queen Emperor Elagabalus, those who hung low at the baths were promoted to high office.

Alas, neither swimming nor bathing nor size-queenery survived the decline of the Roman Empire. Medieval Christianity, with its ghastly suspicion of the body, rendered water – the sensual cleanser of limbs – suspect. As late as the 16th century, bathing was thought to be wicked, unhealthy, and, er, filthy. (Even Catholic baptism used only “holy” water, water that had been blessed, symbolizing the cleansing blood of Christ: Sin was the deep-down dirt that Christianity was angry with.)

The English were the first to rediscover the lost art of swimming, largely as a result of their exploration of Polynesia in the 18th century, where swimming was common amongst the blissfully naked natives. By the 19th century swimming in rivers, lakes, and the sea was almost as popular in England as it had been in Rome – frequently naked, males and females, sometimes at the same time.

Christian moralists, their influence having resurged in the late 19th century, were naturally incandescent at these displays of wanton happiness. They successfully campaigned for local bylaws banning daylight bathing, or insisting on the use of “bathing machines” that allowed the bather to enter and depart the water unseen, or requiring “neck-to-knee” bathing costumes (New York State had such a law until as late as 1938). A typical swimming costume comprised a pair of woolen knickers extending to the knees and a sleeveless jersey. Not a good look.

To their eternal credit, it was the Australians who struck the first blow against the 19th-century phalliban. With typical Aussie obstinacy, the men of the aptly named Manly Beach chose simply to disregard the pissy-prissy laws banning daytime bathing. Faced with this seaside insurrection, local authorities threw in the towel and lifted the ban in 1903. The rest of Australia followed (swim)suit, though precisely what kind of swimsuit was still contested. Many male bathers disregarded the neck-to-knee ordinances, either rolling their one-piece down to the waist or, wearing trunks, simply improvising.

Good Christian folk found this intolerable. There was a strident campaign by decent, upstanding, if slightly pallid, Christians to get male bathers to wear modesty-preserving bathing “tunics.” Protests by angry crowds of male bathers at Manly and Bondi Beach – wearing ballet skirts and sarongs – put an end to the Ozzie phalliban.

So it was in Australia, a warm country where most of the population tenderly hug the coastline and pay little attention to busybodies – perhaps because Australia began as a convict colony – that the bodily freedom of the modern beach lifestyle (“surfers rather than serfs!”) was invented, anticipating by decades the sexual revolution of the 1960s – giving men’s packets and asses freedom of expression. It was this, not Kylie Minogue, that was their greatest contribution to world culture. Australia, a country fond of casually abbreviating English, abbreviated the male bathing “cossie,” and with it Victorian morality.

The institution that did more to export this vision of a sandy, nicely rounded utopia than any other, smuggling millions upon millions of “budgies,” was originally called MacRae Knitting Mills after the family who founded it in Australia in 1914. Among the first companies to produce specifically “athletic” designs (i.e., swimming costumes that didn’t double as sea anchors), MacRae changed its name to “Speedo” in 1928 after staff member Captain Parsons coined the slogan “Speed on in your Speedos.”

In 1955, Speedo introduced nylon into its fabric for competitive swimwear (unwittingly inventing a whole new branch of fetishism). The 1956 Melbourne Olympics provided a sensational debut for the new sheer style of brief briefs when Speedo sponsored the medal-sweeping Australian team. By the time of the 1968 Olympics and through the ’76 games, almost every gold medalist swimmer wore Speedos. Naturally, men all over the globe wanted to enjoy the sensation for themselves.

Even in the United States. Up until the early 1980s, Speedos were a common sight here, both on the beach and at the pool. Everything was lovely and snug and nicely outlined. But then something horrifying happened. Sometime in the late ’80s men’s swimsuits began to grow in length and bulk. Year by year they crept down the thigh toward the knee-and beyond – all the while billowing clownishly outward. Now U.S. men wear, of their own volition, not even the knee-length woolen knickers that the Australian men of Manly heroically protested in the early 20th century, but bloomers – a voluminous form of female attire last seen in the 1850s (and generally regarded as ridiculous back then). In the water, today’s Speedophobic males are half-man, half-jellyfish.

Unfittingly enough, this tragic trend began with someone wearing two pairs of shorts at the same time. In the ’70s basketball shorts were skimpy (almost like Oz football shorts), but Michael Jordan popularized sexless long shorts in the NBA in the late 1980s. “He wanted to keep wearing his lucky University of North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts,” explains Australian academic David Coad, author of an upcoming book on sexuality, gender, and sport,” and decided to wear a longer pair to cover the shorter ones.” Because Jordan was Jordan, others copied, and thus baggy shorts became fashionable. It seems that this evil trend spread to male swimwear.

There was, I’d venture, another, weightier reason for this swimwear elephantiasis. The late ’80s was also when male obesity became a big trend in the United States. Baggy shorts hide baggy buttocks. They also wear higher, and their large profile makes a baggy stomach considerably less obvious than when hanging over the waistband of a Speedo. Moreover, “board shorts” hide the chicken legs of a car-centered society in which men watch sport (while eating) instead of playing. Is it simply a coincidence that when many young American men saw their bodies losing masculine definition they started wearing ladies’ bloomers?

The ’80s also saw the beginning of the rise of the male as appetizing, idealized media sex object. The bar for male beauty was being set higher and higher as the reality was getting heavier and heavier. The tyranny of “boardies” is an expression of male self-consciousness, self-loathing – and paranoia. Both of being “checked out” and of not measuring up. The ’80s saw a steep rise in the American male’s awareness of gays – and with it his desire not to be mistaken for one in any way by signaling that he actually had an ass and a packet. Baggy shorts are a deliberate and cruel affront to homos – but it’s nice to know that straight men are thinking about us so much.

Gays are, of course, frequently flamboyant Speedophiles. They are less likely to be overweight. They are more likely to be worked-out. Hence their wearing Speedos really rubs people’s noses in it – in every sense. Gays are generally more than happy to advertise the highly versatile sex-object status of the male body. And a Speedo screams COCK!! BALLS!! ASS!!… in any order or combination you fancy.

It’s as obvious as a badly smuggled budgie that despite the pagan passions of pop culture and an enthusiastic uptake of the beach lifestyle, the promise of sandy sexual liberation has come slightly adrift Stateside. The painfully unequal sexual division of labor on U.S. beaches, where women wear little more than eyeliner and men wear tents – without the pole – is a sorry testament to that.

The phalliban spirit of 1960s Cape May has triumphed.

This essay is collected in Metrosexy: A 21st Century Self-Love Story

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