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March 2011

Men's Underwear Ads - No Ands, Ifs ... Just Sexy Butts




With underwear ads being so ubiquitous, you'd think that every man would own at least one great pair of briefs (and for men in New York, two pairs!); surprisingly, it's not the case - at least based on what I see in the locker room at the gym.  Obviously, not everyone is inspired by what they see on the printed page.  With that off my chest, here is ZeitGAYst's fourth installment of "Sexy Magazine Ads".   


  • Todd & Terry.  An Aussie brand, but the model here is American.  His name is Jack Mackenroth, 42 years old (in 2011), and openly gay.  A menswear designer who competed on Project Runway in 2008, he made headlines after withdrawing when he developed the serious bacterial skin infection known as MRSA.  Mackenroth's also a skilled swimmer, who's competed in the Gay Games, where he's won a number of gold medals.  Additionally, he's an AIDS activist who's open about being HIV+.




  • Jockey.  Jim Palmer is a Hall of Fame pitching great who played for the Baltimore Orioles in the 1960s and '70s.  I believe he is the first athlete to "drop trou" for underwear ads - the first attempt by Major League Baseball to turn gay men into baseball fans.





  • Dolce & Gabanna.  Another in a long line of Italian rugby players exuding their sexy, cocksure attitude for D&G.




  • Puma.  I've never come across Puma's underwear brand, but since this ad ran I'll believe that it exists.  (And I rarely see its athletic shoes in stores anymore.)  But it's a cute ad.  (If you can't read it, the copy says "i see london, i see france, i see daily underpants".)




  • Tommy Hilfiger.  This joins one of Marky Mark's Calvin Klein ads as one of the few in the genre with a sweet, smiling model (Jason Shaw).




If you haven't already seen them, I've published a number of other posts about men's underwear:

Aah ... Underwear Ads!

Joy to the World - More Alluring Men's Underwear Ads

More Ogle-Worthy Men's Underwear Ads























Stand-Out Covers From "The Advocate"



It goes without saying that The Advocate has been one of the primary vehicles to capture and report on the gay zeitgeist of the past few generations. The covers from the magazine that follow are from the past 25 years and were chosen based purely on my aesthetic sense and their pop culture value.



This cover story is from 1991, and it shows our 33-year-old Madonna at her lascivious best.  The issue hit newsstands shortly before her documentary Truth or Dare opened.





Eight years after the first TV movie about AIDS (An Early Frost), Philadelphia was the first mainstream movie to deal with the subject.  Hanks won the Oscar for Best Actor and gave a moving acceptance speech at the ceremony.  And the song Streets of Philadelphia got Bruce Springsteen an Oscar for Best Original Song.





No, this wasn't an ad for Absolut.  Rather, this BBC sitcom was a celebration of decadence and it came to our shores in 1994 via Comedy Central.  And AbFab's Patsy & Eddie became the patron saints of gay debauchery.





Everybody wanted a piece of Ricky in 1999 (figuratively and literally) as he appeared on the cover of most every mainstream magazine that year.  The Advocate jumped on the bandwagon as well, trying hard for a gay angle.  Ricky finally came out 10 years later.





Cozy domestic bliss is portrayed by this couple engaged in pillow talk on a 1998 cover.  A few years later the magazine published an article about the trend in couples introducing a third party into their relationship.  And in the past few years there has been a surfeit of articles depicting the joys of couples with children in tow.  Perhaps a cover story in the not too distant future will be titled "Monotony."





This 2006 cover captures a beautifully tender moment between Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis del Mar (the late Heath Ledger).  The movie pulled in mainstream audiences, and won Ang Lee an Oscar for Best Director (but Best Picture was not to be).





Before reading the cover story about him, I wasn't familiar with this adorable, openly gay Australian diver.  The issue hit newsstands a week before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and after reading it I was rewarded by seeing him win an unexpected gold medal.  And Matt got a second cover story the following year. 







From 2010, a lovely cover as well as an equally lovely profile of this "out" Tony Award winning, most famous for her role as heterosexual Miranda on Sex & the City.  A few years earlier an Advocate cover was given to the show's Kim Cattrall.



Capturing GQ's Evolution Through Its Covers




GQ began as a trade publication called Apparel Arts in the 1930s.  It was re-positioned as a consumer magazine in the late 1950s and re-named Gentleman's Quarterly; it was re-branded once again in the late 1960s when it officially became known simply as GQ.  Covers from the 1950s and 1960s featured a varied mix of celebrities (e.g., Rock Hudson, Joe DiMaggio, Robert Goulet), jaunty models dressed like dandies and artistic covers with no models present.  Then in the 1970s a change in style had covers mostly depicting couples - but with the women more or less in the role of accessory.  





Male models in close-up populated most covers beginning in the late '70s and continuing into the '80s.  Led by editor-in-chief Jack Haber, this was considered the magazine's overt gay phase and some say it peaked with the famous "New York Dazzle" cover.  (That was the first issue of the magazine I purchased.)


May 1978



"New York Dazzle", November 1978


After Conde Nast acquired the publicaiton in 1979, GQ's editorial content was broadened to cover other facets of a man's life.  This was done to make it more palatable to a wider spectrum of advertisers, especially automakers in Detroit.  (And to make it more appealing to heterosexual readers.)  When it pitched itself to advertisers, GQ more or less instituted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy as it pertained to its gay readership


During this era, publisher Steve Florio, and editor Art Cooper took heat from its gay readership for turning its back on its core readers by giving the magazine somewhat of a scotch-and-cigars sensibility.  (When I worked in the media department of ad agency Young & Rubicam, I had a gay boss who loved to make GQ's director of ad sales squirm by asking him pointed questions about its gay readers.)


Arnold Schwarzenegger, July 1986



Frank Gifford, February 1984



Donald Trump, February 1985



Over the past 25 years, entertainers and sports stars, both male and female, have monopolized covers. (Tom Cruise has been on the cover seven times.)  Actresses first appeared "unchaperoned" in the early 1990s (Julia Roberts being the first).  By the end of the decade, they were appearing regularly (three to four issues each year), wearing less clothes and showing more cleavage - most likely in response to "laddie" magazines such as Maxim - drumming home the point that "we're not just for gay guys anymore".  GQ (whose editor-in-chief from 2003-2018, Jim Nelson, was openly gay) was influential in transforming heterosexual men into metrosexuals.




Jennifer Lopez, December 2002



Penelope Cruz, February 2000


Here are some of my favorite covers from the old days (1980s): 


Jeff Aquilon, May 1982


Mikhail Baryshnikov, November 1985




December 1991



Here are some celebs in their younger, and then more mature, days as shown by their GQ covers.  First, Robert DeNiro in 1991 and 2007, and then Jeff Bridges in 1986 and 2010.


January 1991, at age 47


January 2007, at age 63


June 1986, at age 37


December 2010, at age 62



And the debonair Sean Connery in 1966 and 1989; Cary Grant in 1962 and 1986.


April 1966, at age 35


1989, at age 58



September 1962, at age 58


January 1986, at age 82


The magazine now has a metrosexual vibe throughout its pages and serves the 21st century interests of both gay and straight men fairly well. In closing, here are some "eye candy" covers from the past 20 years:


February 1998


December 1999


June 2001


June 2004


November 2004


September 2005


November 2010




January 2011


SF 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, Sept. 2013



















To review all of GQ's covers between 1957-2007: http://www.coverbrowser.com/covers/gq