America’s more innocent days … or were they? And what did they really mean by beaver?
Advertisers back in the day (1950-ish) did not have to worry about their ads being misunderstood and wrongly conveying sexual messages: double entendres, flirtatious drawings and so forth. It is not that people did not think about such things, of course they did, but that 1) many people indeed were closely about sexual messages – intended or not and 2) Madison Avenue did not worry because they gave Americans less credit to read anything besides what the “Mad Men” wanted them to and no one would be so crude (as were the standards) as to actually point out that that ad is actually kind of … gay.
The Huffington Post recently put together an amusing, I guess, list of the The Most Homoerotic Vintage Ads Of All Time. But none of these ads were targeted toward gay males. The audience is heterosexual males and the message is only unintentionally gay. But some of these are so gay that one was to wonder if the ad men (and back then they were all men) were really that oblivious or whether this was meant to also appeal to gay men and just coded as a straight ad.
Number one on the list of the most unintentionally homoerotic ads is a Munisingwear underwear shot which appeared in Life magazine and the ad reads: ‘STRETCHY SEAT’ is a Munisingwear exclusive. It is a special horizontal panel knitted to give up and down…Men find it so comfortable they keep coming back for more.” And these men look like they’d enjoy coming back for more:
Coca-Cola seems to encourage those men who never tire of those young fellas:
The ad reads: “Did I mention there’s something extra in yours to ensure you relax?” An apparent reference to a ruffie.
A Cannon (no pun intended) towel ad:
Why not have a skinless (some may say cut) Frankfurter?:
Another Cannol towel ad, also produced during WW2, promoting itself as the towel-of-choice for U.S. army and Marine soldiers. And they say the military has a problem with gays:
Seriously: putting aside how homoerotic this ad is, it is so blatantly sexual I am amazed it cleared the strict “morality” filters that existed back them.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with advertising directed toward gays. But let’s not kind ourselves and say that these ads were only made for straight men. Let’s just be honest and say that 1950s America was a lot gayer than anyone previously thought.
Now you know.