It is only in frankly homo fiction and pornography that the locker room comes into its own. And the most important athletic equipment to be found there, Pronger writes, is the jockstrap, “often portrayed as the quintessential homoerotic garment.”
The jockstrap is a “ritual robe” that “enshrines” masculinity, and Pronger goes on about it in a passage that explains why The Arena of Masculinity is today a $143 cult classic, featuring the sort of dense scholarly writing that make our own attempts at purple prose strictly junior league efforts:
“The straps that originate in the top elastic circumscribe the buttocks and disappear in the anus, bringing us to that place where masculinity meets its mythic undoing. And so, as suggested by the versatility of Apollo, there are two sides to the jockstrap that symbolize the homoerotic paradox: the pouch in the front as the shrine of masculinity joined to the straps in the back framing its mythic violation.”
Mythic undoing? Mythic violation! Mythic, sure — we like turning our life into a Greek soap opera as much as the next Joe. But undoing? That’s a whole lot of jockstrappery to swallow. Let’s just say, professor, one man’s undoing is other man’s weekend in Provincetown.
Who has seen what I have seen?
I spent a decade in Hollywood during the Classic Age of Porn. It was also the Classic Age of Disco; the two went hand in hand. As the 70s crested into the 80s, I worked among the masters, the amateur photographers of nekkid (as they pronounced it) boys. Pornographers and great artists every benighted one of them.
I speak immodestly; I was a pornographer myself at the time. A graduate of the OUI editorial staff, a runaway from the Hustler offices in Century City, a journeyman practitioner of girl copy, boy copy and the judicious airbrush, I labored over a small gay magazine called In Touch, which, finally, I could make my own without interference.
As Disco and Porn collided, as Donna Summer ran out of coital moans, and Andrea True ran out of more, more, mores, I was there to catch the last gasp of the skin mags. VCRs had dipped below $1000 and began to conquer America, and just like that the death knell was sounded. Hard to believe now, but editing a porn magazine, not to mention a gay porn magazine, was considered a spectacularly vulgar career path at the time.
Toulouse Lautrec’s circle of can-can dancers and disinherited fops had nothing on the odd ducks who turned up daily on the doorstep of In Touch Magazine, where I worked. To the naked eye, they were what the world might generously call losers: ill-kept, out-of-shape, awfully amiable letches with flash cameras and but one burning desire: to get every boy in Hollywood out of his pants.