The International Gay I Mean International Male Catalog
International Gay...I Mean, International Male (The Catalog) - Don't Get Me Started!
I know this will shock many of you (as it has shocked me) that for years (yes, years) I have not received an International Male catalog. I almost thought they must be out of business. For those six people who are reading my blogs that are not gay my mother just sighed and said, "Is there something the matter with you that every blog has to be about the gays. Honestly, you know, not everyone wants to hear about that, you know? You know, gay doesn't mean "happy" anymore." Well for those of you who need the reference go to http://www.internationalmale.com/ to see what all the fuss is going to be about. You would think that having been featured in The Advocate and being on http://www.outzonetv.com/ that I would automatically get this catalog but alas I haven't received it for years (and to tell the truth, I haven't missed it). But the other day as I was taking out my mail from its box looked at the various bills and catalogs I thought, "Who is this gay with the great package in my mail? Oh (realization) I must be getting the International Gay...I mean, the International Male (The catalog) - Don't Get Me Started!
For as long as I can remember (which is pretty far back) the International Male catalog was the one catalog that every gay man not only got but knew every model in the book. I mean, how many catalogs do you know where they do a feature story inside about the model on the front page? A story that includes things like, "He likes water sports and isn't afraid to hold hands with the PERSON he's dating at the moment?" trying every way possible to allude to the model being gay by stating that they had a "person" and not a woman in their life. These catalogs were (and perhaps are) the only private gayness you can have publicly in your mailbox.
Not long after the International Male catalog came out they discovered that they needed to get some gravy on their meat and potatoes that they normally displayed so they created the Undergear catalog featuring their signature underwear. Now the underwear featured in International Male was usually only a few pages that contained a groin and six pack in a pair of briefs that only approximately six people in the world could wear and look like anything. More than the underwear were the ENORMOUS "packages" that were in the underwear. I don't know if these boys tucked, pulled up or just wrapped a twist tie from an old sandwich bag (with no Ziplock) around their business but the crotches seemed to be stuffed more than a ballet dancer with size 14 shoes. It was obscene and we all loved every minute of it.
I remember a dear friend of mine's mother used to deliver mail for a living. Well one day we got on the subject of the whole crotch thing in this catalog and she was telling me how she would deliver the mail and some people would come out to get their mail directly from her instead of waiting to retrieve it from their box (no comment). The older women on her route would laugh about the crotches in this catalog and ask her if she thought they were real. (You have to wonder what the husbands were like that received this catalog - wink, wink, nudge, nudge, down low) She asked me on more than one occasion about the crotches and I told her that I didn't know but from personal experience, it didn't matter how much I tried to bake it, roll it, "sculpt" my groin area with a "T" there was no way it looked like that, even on a good day.
But I digress. I don't know what these models are paid but I find it shocking (and more than a little distressing) that they have the same damn models in the same damn clothes that they've had for the last twenty years. At first I was taken aback (perhaps because I haven't seen one of these catalogs in so long) that I was not greeted on page two with the same guy with the 80's hair in the long trench coat with the naru collar and the boots pulled up over the black tucked in jeans. No more did I see the abdomen with the veins moving up the stomach that was flatter than an Ihop pancake with the "bootlegger" underwear - a pair of underwear that incidentally could never be worn under clothes, think boxer brief with a nautical sized drawstring around the waist. No, I was greeted by new, younger models that seemed to not have that same tongue in cheek (as opposed to other places) smirk as they modeled a skin tight shirt with a silver lame' dragon going up over the left nipple.
And so I passed the quarter page spreads of supposed men in white gauze overalls with no underwear underneath (just who the hell is buying this crap for $78?) and the silver "cuffs" with leather and a skull for around your wrist; flipping furiously just hoping to see someone I knew. Knew? I didn't know any of these people personally but when you see them every few months wearing the same clothes (for years), they become more familiar than the person in the cubicle next to you that hasn't had a date since Corey Hart wore his sunglasses at night. Finally I flipped a page, the heavens opened, Donna Summer moaned and there he was...someone I knew, wearing the same clothes from 1983 when I felt all tingly and naughty for seeing a catalog like this come to my house in my senior year of high school. And wait, I flipped the page and there was another model I hadn't seen in years. Somehow it was comforting. I could imagine myself at 18 again thinking that you could say you were looking at this for fashion when you were really staring at the bulge that almost leapt off the page, as if in 3-D without funny glasses.
It didn't take me long to start thinking about these men who were now way into their 50's and how they must feel having been paid about $500 at the time for a picture in their underwear that was still appearing and selling skivvies this many years later. In my mind I want to believe that they have kept their chiseled features and their abs that you could count on like an abacus. But the reality is that they're probably sitting there with their pot bellies cursing the day their agent Anton, ever told them to sign away their rights, shut up and pose. How must they feel as they look at these catalogs and stare at themselves frozen in time? Do they look at themselves in the mirror, sucking in their guts almost passing out to recreate their look of one leg up on the chaise and one hand on their chin? And what of all the "new" gays thinking that these men are still 18 as they appear in the catalog? Who would tell them what us "old" gays all ready know..."sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree?" No, don't tell them. Let the boys and the once boys continue to live in this glossy paged world of fantasy. Some of us will know better and as we see them stuffing their baskets with protein bars at Gelson's in Beverly Hills, we'll stop and wonder where we know these men from but not be able to place it and then as we get in our cars and turn on the radio to the "oldies" station, hearing Diana Ross singing, "I'm...I'm coming out!" it will occur to us who these older gentlemen are or were but we'll simply turn up the radio, sing along and when we get back home we'll look at them in their bootlegger briefs and imagine (as they do) that they are still 18 and in the International Gay...I mean, the International Male (The catalog) - Don't Get Me Started!
Read more Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com
NOTE: Since the originally posting of this entry, The International Mail catalog has changed their web address to www.undergear.com - enjoy!