As a child of the ’80s, one of our first encounters with erotically charged naked manflesh was the then ubiquitous Chippendales dancers. It seemed those glistening paragons of Reagan Era masculinity were everywhere, from sitcoms to talk shows to our late night wet dreams. We fondly recall a tradition of ’80s shopping mall outings: walking into B. Dalton Booksellers and sneaking peeks at the annual Chippendales Calendar.
As boys blooming into adolescence and nowhere near the legal age to buy porn, it’s not like we could walk into a shopping mall liquor store and buy a Playgirl magazine to see the naked men we instinctively longed for. We had to be quick as foxes to flip through the PG-rated beefcake calendars — the most explicit of which, to us, was Chippendales. We can look back at ’80s mullety, feathered, oiled up styles with a bemused smirk, but if any of these pin-ups from the 1987 calendar walked into our meager studio apartment right now, eyes glowing with desire, we’d pounce all over them in a New York minute.
’80s male sexuality was a curious blend of the highly processed, yet naturally raw. There is so much product in the hair that you could use the filmy residue as lube. And what’s with all the body oil? Yet, these men have naturally sculpted physiques from lots of cardio and moderate weightlifting, rather than the chiseled mega-muscles and rock hard abs glorified today. A couple of the dudes barely have pecs by today’s standards. Also: natural body hair! Untrimmed! Unshaven! (Mercifully, body hair is making a comeback today, even if kept groomed.)
Some things never change: the square jaw, pouty lips, and crystal light eyes that laser into your soul. Whatever the era, the hotness of man never goes out of style.
Here’s to a trip down memory lane, to our first ideas of male sexual fantasy. Crazy to believe we once thought these images were deliciously smutty. But moreso than porn today, they set our hormone-driven imagination off at 20-cylinders.
· Chippendales 1987 Calendar (justadream.org)