Posing

Posted by Madam Bubby

 

The word posing can evoke images of runway models and persons on instagram (including celebrities famous for simply being famous).

But there's more to posing than duck lips and giving the finger.

Posing has been an integral part of the bodybuilding world, a specific part of contests, and I might add, one can view many of these contests on youtube.

According to one source, these are the mandatory poses in bodybuilding:

1. Quarter Turns
2. Front Double Biceps
3. Rear Double Biceps
4. Front Lat Spread
5. Rear Lat Spread
6. Side Triceps
7. Side Chest
8. Front Abdominal & Thigh

 

Men's Classic Bodybuilding Poses
Men's Classic Bodybuilding Poses, source: https://www.ifbbsa.co.za/images/Criteria/men/men-s-classic-bodybuilding-2019.pdf

 

A quarter turn shows off the symmetry of the muscles as a whole. The lat is a large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides.

Specifically in relation to their function in a contest, the source clarifies that “a pose which is either optional or mandatory depending or the federation one belongs to is the most muscular. During any bodybuilding show, in the pre-judging portion, the bodybuilder will be called upon to complete the mandatory poses, often several times he or she is called back out and compared with their fellow competitors.”

 

Schwarzenegger and son posing
Schwarzenegger and son, source: https://theblast.com/c/arnold- schwarzenegger-joseph-baena-famous-pose

 

Yes, they are showing off too, but it's something they worked hard to develop, whatever their intentions. It reflects discipline. It's earned body show-off time.

Now, personally, I'm not into super, super bulked up guys; I am attracted more the attitude conveyed by these poses that combines both discipline but also dominance, even arrogance. It's like that male hands on hips pose on steroids. Or rather, the body and the attitude become one powerful image.

Overall, by watching some of these contests online, I discovered a perfect way to while away time in quarantine. It's ultimately voyeurism, and guess what, it's something one can do alone. Build muscles and pose alone, and then show off the glory to others who are alone digitally. Their invisible audience can participate in the glory, which in many cases, including mine, involves a glorious orgasm.

And tying into Bijouworld's mission of disseminating and analyzing the rich LGBTQ historical materials it carries, check out our extensive selection of vintage/retro/physique beefcake magazines from the 1900 through the 1970s, including the famous Physique Pictorial founded by Bob Mizer. Some are traditional bodybuilding magazines, but some, even though they do contain information about contests and bodybuilding tips and exercises, are really vehicles for coded homoerotic imagery that became more and more prominent toward the latter part of the last century.

 

Cover of Summer 1955 Physique Pictorial
Physique Pictorial, Summer 1955

 

You can also check out a 1987 San Francisco gay bodybuilders' competition presented by the Male Entertainment Network, available from Bijou Video both streaming and on DVD.

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Sunburn

In the olden days, and I am talking way, way back, it was a status symbol in European culture especially among women, to be “pale.”

Imagine fair skin, and not just naturally fair skin (that Swedish skin I inherited from my mother) or what some often term an “English” complexion (which means one burns easily in the sun). To show fair skin meant you were wealthy enough to not have to work outside like peasants and slaves.

And being white and, even more than white, pale thus frail, also implied that she was naturally above those darker persons whose job was to toil outside so you could stay inside.

Thus, a lady would powder her face (which action, in addition to trying to conceal blemishes with patches that could be interpreted as beauty spots, was really an attempt to cover up smallpox scars).

Now, the same physical and social dynamic might also apply to men. The urban “fops” (both straight and gay) in eighteenth century England did powder their faces. The more rugged guys (probably “rough trade” for the fops) probably showed tans, but again, a darker skin implied a lower social status.
 

18th century macaroni in pale makeup

By the 1930s, the standard of skin beauty had changed, especially in America which contained a state with a Mediterranean climate, California. And that state was producing movie stars who dictated to the masses new standards of beauty. If Joan Crawford praised sunbathing, the ladies of America (the few who had time to sunbathe, that is) would follow suit.
 

Joan Crawford sunbathing
Joan Crawford sunbathing

(It also helped that the poisonous arsenic-based makeup women used to create the illusion of paleness was a thing of the past by that time.)
 

Ad for arsenic-based soap claiming to improve skin health

Men started showing their torsos, especially after Clark Gable (Joan's long-time lover and compatriot) was the pioneer who dared to show off his hunky chest in It Happened One Night. By the 1950s, the tanned muscle bods of the California beaches were worthy of emulation. Beach Blanket Bingo, here we are.
 

Clark Galbe shirtless in It Happened One Night
Clark Galbe shirtless in It Happened One Night

1950s bodybuilder showing off

And a skinny pale boy, the victim of sand kicking, could become a tanned bronze god by following the Charles Atlas workout routine.
 

Vintage physique magazine, Demi-Gods
Vintage physique magazine

It seemed like a nanosecond since that time to the tanning beds, salons, and steroids embodied in that woman who literally burned herself in order too attain her goal of the ultimate tan. (Is she sporting the burnt toast look?). In her case, her pursuit of an illusion produced its opposite: an admittedly grotesque “hyper real” image.
 

The tanning mom
Tanning Mom

Porn is in many ways by its very nature hyper real. Yet even though there were periods where one look was the model of beauty, such as the gay macho Castro Street clone look (which Al Parker and Will Seagers naturally embodied), the genre was able to revel in a range of skin and body types, from Peter Hunter's pale skinny twinks to the ebony muscle of Joe Simmons and their social and sexual implications.
 

Al Parker and Will Seagers in Wanted
Al Parker and Will Seagers in Wanted

The cast of Peter Hunter's Puppy Tales
The cast of Peter Hunter's Puppy Tales

Porn star Joe Simmons
Porn star Joe Simmons

Beauty in in many cases skin deep, but I think the emphasis could be on deep, because it's hard to separate the largest and most visible organ of the body, the skin, from one's deepest social and sexual identities.

I am thrilled I got some compliments about my sunburn, but I'm not going to develop that look obsessively. I'm more than my skin. Much more.

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Father Ed writes to Grecian Guild Pictorial

Father Ed writes to Grecian Guild Pictorial

So what? What else is new? Many have heard about the lavender seminaries and the ephebophile (NOT pedophile; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephebophilia) priests, yes, all those scandals, scurrying out of a musty closet like a swarm of moths in the latter part of the last century (and still today).

 

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