Synopses & Reviews
What does it mean to be a man? Is it the size of your quadraphonic hi-fi equipment or the fit of your flares? The Male Mystique presents a swinging vision of the ideal male-dominated lifestyleat least, as seen through the looking-glass of men's magazine ads of the 1960s and '70s. This is Total Male Living as it was meant to be: a world of musk, whiskey, polyester slacks, "male comfort spray," and, of course, babes. With 150 swaggering print advertisements presenting an astonishing array of swarthy delights, crass copy, and surprise celebrity sightings, The Male Mystique is tribute to the time when testosterone was in vogue and Stay-Prest stayed pants at the ready. Ladies, please don't crush the velour.
"Boyreau's collection of 1960s and 1970s magazine ads center on iconic and outdated images of maleness the swingers, playboys, and cowboys of the post-war era scene. These days, ads featuring macho bachelors in tight polyester 'slacks' are far too silly to offend, even though the copy might say something like 'Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere.' (That's from an ad for Tipalet tipped cigarettes reads). An ad for Roberts stereo tape recorders contains 'A warning to bachelors!': 'A Roberts means that you are a man of quality ... who can afford to buy the very best! And ... that's the kind of man a girl likes to marry!' Meanwhile, an ad for A-1 Action Man Slacks depicts 'Lance Bradbarry, 28, ... renowned Notary Public' at a pool table surrounded by women. The visual centerpiece is, of course, his pants, and Lance himself, the ad assures, is an 'action man': 'Ask Judy, Courtney, and Inger, they know he's an action man because they're part of his action.' But there's more than just kitsch at work here. Taken together, the ads form a narrative of maleness in popular culture over two decades in which cigarettes, slacks, liquor, stereos, 'Score' hair cream and even male 'comfort spray' were sold via a language of hyper-masculinity, uber-independence and unabashed sexual conquest. In his sporadic (and occasionally abstract) commentary, Boyreau conveys a tongue-in-cheek sense of nostalgia, as if to imply that this antiquated gender identity is almost appealing in its simplicity and clear imperative. 'The Male Mystique elevates us to a force majeure of guyness,' he writes. 'Collectively upheld, detached from any one man, perhaps it is something to believe in.' Or just laugh at." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Following in the successful loafersteps of 'Trash', this book promises to reveal all the secrets of manhood through 150 print ads from the classic kitsch era of the '60s and '70s.
About the Author
Jacques Boyreau co-founded the half-bar, half-underground cinema known as the Werepad. His archive, Cosmic Hex, contains hundreds of cult, horror, and sci-fi films, as well as thousands of movie posters. He lives in San Francisco.