1982, Times Square: The Crotch Shot Heard Round the World
This was the moment when your relationship to your body, as a man, would permanently change. The trigger was a billboard towering above Times Square depicting Tom Hitnuas — a pole vaulter in the non-euphemistic sense — shot by Bruce Weber in Calvin Klein briefs against a wall in Greece. The image became iconic and was named as one of "Pictures That Changed America" by American Photographer Magazine.
And you could see the shape of his stuff!
Somewhere Jim Palmer sighed and hung up his Jockey shorts for good. Not that Jim Palmer didn't have his certain attraction. But he was like your best friend's father down the street. A big, nice, hairy dad.
But Hitnaus had the sheen of an Olympian bouncing off his young, young, young muscled flesh. His pose suggested rapture and surrender. A willingness to be worshipped and objectified. And of course there was outrage because of that.
Designer Calvin Klein is famous for many things: One of the largest fashion empires in the world, Studio 54 hijinks in the '70s, and an in again out again relationship with the closet. (Currently out.) But Klein's influence marks the beginning of a new consciousness about the male body, and in turn raised the expectations of a generation to muscular, youthful male perfection.
And the rapture over white briefs spread to porn as well. '70s porn was virtually underwear-fee. There was the novelty of a filthy jock strap here and there, but still riding the wave of the sexual revolution, gay porn performers free-balled their way through that decade.
Chuck Holmes, the owner of Falcon Studios might as well have been on Calvin Klein's payroll. Holmes had a thing for the boy next door who, behind closed door,s was the whore of your dreams. White crew socks and a pair of gleaming white CK-clad muscular cheeks were the standard. They were expected to be clean cut, tan, and mostly hairless. There were many speculations about Klein actually providing the product directly to Holmes, but they were not founded in fact.
Klein's underpants reign lasted well into the next decade. One of the crowning events in mens' foundation garments being APLA's honoring of Klein in 1993. After a breathtaking enfile of male models in the now-vast variety of Klein's briefs and jocks, Marky Mark came strutting down the runway, pants dropping below his knees to reveal tank-style briefs. The mostly gay male audience went berserk as Marky Wahlberg pawed and fluffed his semi.
Left, Kelland Lutz and right, Travis Frimmel
There is a chicken and egg aspect to modeling CK briefs: Were you already famous, or did you become famous for modeling?
Thus, a short, and arbitrary list:
Antonio Sabato Jr.
"Inventors of Gay" is our series on important people and cultural influences in LGBT history that helped create the culture we enjoy today.