In his spare time Penbo writes a column for the Australian Womens Weekly each month and this is his latest. It’s a bumper edition featuring an excellent recipe for roast chicken with tarragon, and a great interview with Anna Bligh.

There are men and there are men and then there’s Alby Mangels. Alby, you will recall, is the adventurer and film maker who became an overnight sensation in the 1980s when he travelled the untamed parts of the planet in an old Land Rover with nothing but a blue heeler, a compass, a bag of dried apricots and two dozen Miss Australia finalists.
 
Phwoar: this ape is all man.

Alby was related to some family friends of ours and, as a teenager, I had the privilege of going to his house to watch the unedited pre-release version of his World Safari film. It went for about 14 hours. I was glued to the screen, marvelling not so much at the adventures he had but the really hot women he got to have them with.

It didn’t seem to matter if he was wearing the loin cloth shorts or the mud-spattered Chinos, Alby was a veritable chick magnet. He famously shed the loin cloth in 1985 for Cleo magazine, saying enigmatically: “We come in with nothing, and go out with nothing, nudity is our truest form.”

Alby was by no means a trail-blazer in the nuding up department. This month’s edition of the AWW revisits the pioneering work of actor Jack Thompson who removed his strides for Cleo in 1972, recalling later that he had to “drape one hand decorously over the equipment” to avoid scandalising the more chaste women of Australia.

Blokes such as Alby and Jack hark back to a simpler era when being a man was much more straight-forward. In short it seemed to involve having stacks of body hair and doing absolutely nothing to prevent its untrammelled growth. The sight of Dennis Lillee pounding towards you at the WACA was no doubt made even more terrifying by the fact that he looked like a crazed disco dancer, a gold medallion bouncing around on a chest which could have belonged to a grizzly bear.

Fast forward to 2010 and we have cricketers such as Michael Clarke, who actually wrote on Twitter last year that nothing beats a glass of sauvignon blanc and a hot bath on a Friday night. Forget his form with the bat, if Clarke had said something like that 30 years ago he would have been dropped from the squad on principle.

In the course of one generation we have gone from the orthodoxy of men’s men such as Alby and Jack to this new crop of blonde-tipped, exfoliating, manscaping metrosexuals, and it’s kind of confusing.

All men are equipped with body hair to varying degrees and without going even remotely towards any kind of humiliating personal discussion, we’re not really sure what we should do about it. We’ve realised that it’s no longer the done thing to hit the town with our shirt undone to the navel, a la D.K. Lillee. Yet for most of us, the idea of popping out for a wax and then hitting The Body Shop to stock up on mango-scented shower gel seems too poncey by half.

The truly unnerving thing is that once a man enters the world of waxing there is no return - unless he wants to be covered with sprouting tufts of soft fluff, which from what I can gather isn’t really the look the girls go for.

The ever-increasing popularity of Movember, in which men grow moustaches to raise money for prostate cancer, suggests that maybe blokes would love to return to the golden ingoted-era of the 1970s. A formal waxing moratorium may be next, followed by a resurgence of the soccer perm and booming sales of Brut 33. It might have been a sillier, hairier era, but at least we knew where we stood, and it only took us two minutes to get ready to go out.

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54 comments

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    • Zeta says:

      07:06am | 02/03/11

      It’s when the wife/girlfriend/mistress says ‘I’ll wax if you do’ that you know you’re in trouble. As an impressionable young man who would have climbed over glass for a shag I’ll admit, I once took a razor to Thor’s Sack of Hammers. It was like shaving a cabbage. Then you just don’t know what to do with it. It’s like you’ve got Cafael’s head poking out through your groin so you shave the rest off, but where do you stop? Because youre legs are still hairy, your stomach is still hairy, it looks weird.

      It comes down to confidence. A man who lacks confidence will try to look like someone else because that way, he doesn’t need to self-define. A man with confidence will drop trou and unleash a manly bush upon the world.

    • LauraBoBaura says:

      10:00am | 02/03/11

      So THAT’s what my bf was thinking when he did it. Hmmm. A fascinating glimpse inside the male mind..

    • Jugg says:

      10:02am | 02/03/11

      Or the missus asks you too…I know what I would rather do…

    • deb says:

      07:31am | 02/03/11

      make mine normal,hair an all.i dont need to compete for the razor or the wax.

    • KH says:

      07:48am | 02/03/11

      Personally, I think men who wax stuff are not that attractive.  Whilst I like clean shaven faces, the rest should be what it is…........... grin

    • Tubesteak says:

      08:12am | 02/03/11

      Even back and shoulder hair?

    • LauraBoBaura says:

      09:05am | 02/03/11

      KH I agree - men should be, well.. men. I don’t like the idea of my boyfriend and I going to get a wax together.
      TubeSteak, it depends on the depth and thickness of the shoulder/back hair. If you could whippersnip it with minimal injury to the bloke, then it’s too much…

    • Sarah M says:

      09:07am | 02/03/11

      So is ok for women to stop shaving?

      My boyfriend used to complain because I would wax every four weeks, he wanted me to shave almost every day.

      Personally I like men natural, just don’t appreciate the double standard.

    • fairsfair says:

      09:46am | 02/03/11

      I can handle anything, but not really shoulder hair…. When you run your fingers through a bouffant of the clavicle you do dry wretch…. That said, if you really love someone you could sit up late at night chatting about the future and doing cornrows… Every cloud has a silver lining.

      Hair everywhere else is manly. I don’t understand why chest hair is considered repulsive. If you have muscles to show - yeah get rid of it if ya want, but good god average aussie male know that there are some women out there who just want to let you be yourself - hair and all.

    • BT says:

      09:52am | 02/03/11

      Totally agree KH. A smooth face is essential - having “pash rash” is embarrassing. Body hair on a guy is totally normal and I prefer it. The problems only arise when they are excessively hairy and begin to shed everywhere. I once went to a share house where one guy was a known offender. He left thousands of hairs wafting all over the bathroom flor. It was like I’d stumbled into a Yeti’s nest.

    • KH says:

      12:00pm | 02/03/11

      hehe - ok within reason then - perhaps not shoulders or to the extent of being chewbacca like…....but chest hair and stuff is AOK…....

    • Stephy says:

      03:00pm | 02/03/11

      Going back to Disbey era, remember the song by Gaston about himself in Beauty and the Beast? Remember the line “And every last inch of me’s covered in HAIR!” and he exposes his chest hair? Signs of being a man….

    • Bolz says:

      03:11pm | 02/03/11

      @KH

      How about when the chest hair migrates so far down that it becomes stomach hair?

    • whatahooha says:

      04:00pm | 02/03/11

      i know a farmer so hairy that his wife shaved his guernsy number into his back hair. That’s real hair, folks. Anything else is just by the by.

    • Jeff says:

      08:12am | 02/03/11

      Great article Penbo. We have a small game that we play during nights out where we challenge all in the group to spot the most whimsy, insipid and androgynous hipster at the pub. The rating system ranges from ‘can the dude change a light bulb’ right through to ‘can the dude fix a blown head gasket’. We don’t really want to go back to the dark days of brut 33 soap on a rope blokes, but the armani infused manscapping spa boys is just a tad too far. The ladies complain of a man drought, well the bloke is almost extinct

    • Markus says:

      08:18am | 02/03/11

      I’ve at least kept it short and trimmed downstairs since a former girlfriend told me she’d go down on me more often as it made it easier. She didn’t disappoint.

      I’d never let a razor or hot wax anywhere near it though. Apart from the whole social change that goes with being a male waxer, I’m more worried that there are too many things that could go wrong.
      What if I nick an artery? Worse still, what if it’s not just the wax that comes off when you tear the strip away?

    • Pete says:

      08:34am | 02/03/11

      ” I once took a razor to Thor’s Sack of Hammers. It was like shaving a cabbage.’
      Extraordinary use of language Zeta. Bravo!

    • BJ says:

      08:36am | 02/03/11

      Love hairy men.

    • Katie says:

      09:10am | 02/03/11

      Hm. I recall hearing that most women didn’t shave downstairs either in the 70s. Considering how much harping I hear from men on these sites about how they like brazillions on their women, or shaved, I think I’ll put this out.

      You want a woman waxed downstairs, you’d better be ready to do some manscaping of your own.

      There’s nothing worse than going down on a guy and getting a mouthful of hair. Or a man who pays some attention - not too much though! - to his appearance. You expect women to maintain their appearance to almost rediculous standards, you should expect to do the same yourselves.

      Yuck. Hairy men.

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      10:28am | 02/03/11

      “There’s nothing worse than going down on a guy and getting a mouthful of hair”

      the same goes for going down on a women.  Shaved makes the experience for the man much better since you don’t have to spit out pubic hairs after the act.

      I can also confirm that in the 70s males and females alike were very hairy.  You onlu have to watch a porno from teh 70s and ones nowadays and you can see the immediate difference.

      BTW no double standards here.  What’s good for the goose etc.

    • Zeta says:

      11:06am | 02/03/11

      I think you’ve just discovered an exciting new word. ‘Brazillions’.

      Like ‘There’s brazillions of hot Latin American girls on that beach.’ Or maybe as a reference to boobs. ‘I’m reading the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. I counted over 9000 brazillion breasts.’

      Not every man is obsessed with adolescent looking genitals. If I’m in the presence of a naked woman, I like to know she’s a freaking adult. I don’t think my ancient Athenian ancestors sat around the aquaduct bemoaning the fact they were forced to have sex with hirsute helenic babes. “Yo Agamemnon, you’re wack of if you think we’re invading Troy over hairy-ass Helena. Gonna find me some Ptolemic play hell yeah. Smooth like a sphinx boyeeee!”

      Man has been railing women with pubic hair longer than he hasn’t. Fact. The reason guys want it now is because all the women they’re fapping to in porn do it. You know why they do it in porn? It’s not too look good. It’s because of crabs. Simple OH&S. Also, in the early 80s VHS porn boom, shaved pubes got around censorship restrictions on depiction of pubic hair in Japan. It’s not any more attractive to the human brain than anything else. It’s just simple sexual conditioning. If you looked at a salt shaker every time you masterbated eventually your brain would be unable to distinguish wether or not you were aroused, or if the salt shaker made you aroused. Millions of men now preference a brazillian wax because their brain associates it with orgasm, making Nair millions in just a few short decades. 

      And if you’re getting a mouthful of hair going down on a man or a woman - you’re doing it wrong.

    • Fat Bastard says:

      11:13am | 02/03/11

      All good.  Would rather my wife looks like a WOMAN as opposed to a CHILD.  Will only do anything to my God-given hair if it’s on my head or if there’s a medical reason (surgery).

    • neil says:

      11:43am | 02/03/11

      Spot on Katie, I can say through experience that you recieves more oral sex when you are neatly groomed and reducing the volume of hair makes you look bigger.

    • Paul H says:

      01:31pm | 02/03/11

      Who says I expect women to maintain their appearance to ridiculous standards? I tell ya Katie nothing but nothing is more of an extreme turn off than a shaved woman downstairs. Give me a full beautiful bush to dive into any day -  a real lady. Keep the shaved women for the weirdo paedophiles or hard faced, siliconised, falsely tanned drug addicted stripper types.  Errrrr!

      Even a lady with hair under her armpits is sexy. However on her legs is a little bit much.  I am more than willing to shave my arms, legs and chest if hairless is your prefernce but keep the adult bits unkempt.

    • James says:

      01:33pm | 02/03/11

      Has it occurred to you shaven haven haters that perhaps so many men prefer it this way because its clean, actually allows you to see the anatomy and increses the pleasure for both parties? I much prefer it shaved, or at least well trimmed- I’m not into porn and I find the argument that it makes women look like ‘pre-pubescent girls’ offensive quite frankly. At the most its just a fashion trend, don’t read too much into it…

    • Bolz says:

      03:25pm | 02/03/11

      @Katie

      “Yuck. Hairy men.”

      Gee…thanks for confidence booster…NOT!

      Excuse me…I’m going back to my cave!

    • Chris L says:

      06:50pm | 02/03/11

      I guess Katie’s statement doesn’t apply to me, I like flossing my teeth on a patch of Tasmanian lawn. Don’t mind underarm or leg hair if she wants to take a break. I’m willing to do a bit of cautious, very cautious, trimming but shearing the bangers and mash just makes it look lonely.

    • Emma says:

      01:52pm | 10/07/11

      Zeta, you are awesome smile Your viewpoint gives me faith that there are real men still out there. loved your jibe about brazillions too. hehe

    • Mirror says:

      09:16am | 02/03/11

      I don’t think it your photo of Anna Bligh is very kind to her?  Was that before the airbrush?

    • rb says:

      09:23am | 02/03/11

      Just as we cut our head hair I don’t have a problem with a bit of a minor trim.
      Am looking forward to the responding article about hair-v-hairfree women.

    • Weq says:

      09:30am | 02/03/11

      I wear my chest hair proud, but i scape my beard, exfolitate, wear skinny jeans,  shave my downstairs, prefer to drink a single malt over watered down beer and have changed my fair share of head gaskets and turbo chargers. man evolves and adjusts to the times, gives himself the best advantage in order to reproduce. thats what makes a man.

    • Chinaski says:

      11:34am | 02/03/11

      I don’t know about the shaving downstairs, but in my friend group I’m one of the two guys who has a solid amount of chest hair and I wear it with pride.

      And don’t ever say “no” to waxing; every girl I have met has wanted to wax my chest. Not because they don’t like the hair, but for some God-unknown reason they are all fascinated by the prospect of ripping it out of your body.

      The current girl I’m seeing told me to stop trimming body hair (except my face) and it’s been prety liberating.

    • The Guardian says:

      09:55am | 02/03/11

      You really do tackle the hard issues don’t you Dave! Hairy stuff and AFL accompanied by the occassional right wing rant and spin.

    • LauraBoBaura says:

      10:01am | 02/03/11

      would you like some cheese with that whine?

    • Trude says:

      09:59am | 02/03/11

      Men should be men. If they have hair then they do. Personally these more effeminate men are a turn of. Shave your face if you want kisses, trim down below if you want more, but leave it at that wink

    • pete says:

      10:18am | 02/03/11

      well I’m gobsmacked, I thought Erick would have been into this one. Waxing,  you would have to be nuts.

    • stephen says:

      12:45pm | 02/03/11

      His girlfriend has hair between the toes and he’s using tweezers.
      (I’ve seen his girl, and he might be a while.)

    • Placebo says:

      10:20am | 02/03/11

      Shaved and smooth men… Ughh… What a turn off!!! Men and women are made differently on purpose… God made men hairy and rugged and he made women soft and snuggly. That is how things should be left to be. I personally dont like a ‘spa boy’ as my companion for a night out. What would i do if his arms were found to be smoother than mine!!!
      A well groomed guy is any day much better than a spa boy.

    • Lemonacid says:

      06:09pm | 02/03/11

      Or as Brian Molko would say…  Nancy Boy

    • Jugg says:

      11:38am | 02/03/11

      My only question is what would prompt you to visit a site where they had such pictures?

    • A.K.A. says:

      12:26pm | 02/03/11

      @Jugg

      I remember where I got the photo from now!!!

      It was actually a photo of a friend of mine and he had it on his facebook page, and YES, he did do it for Movember!.

    • Carl Spackler says:

      11:44am | 02/03/11

      Let’s face it, the best thing about Alby Mangel’s film was Judy Green getting around in a chamois bikini - or at least it was until she got mangled in that car accident. 

      Nowadays I prefer Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures.

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      01:14pm | 02/03/11

      I get them to adopt the Adolph Hitler look; and I agree with the pre-pubescent comments. Totally bald is unnecessary. 

      No underarm hair though.

    • fairsfair says:

      03:14pm | 02/03/11

      Look Tony, you’ve made me do it…

      I’m calling Godwins.

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      03:55pm | 02/03/11

      pmsl ...whoops

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      01:55pm | 02/03/11

      I should add that both Jack and Alby had several decorative females on tap simultaneously ....  just saying.

    • Emma says:

      03:10pm | 02/03/11

      I am lucky I guess as my blonde man has hair, but its not obvious. His arm, leg and back hair is there but its fine and soft so no issues there. His chest and tummy has a nice amount of darker hair and for some reason it smells fantastic.

      I do however insist on a clean shaven face and trimmed hair in the nether regions. I insist on the face as its more comfortable when he is sating my lusty needs and it needs to be trimmed in the nether region as I refuse to get a mouthfull of hair when I am trying to return the favour.

    • Samson says:

      04:31pm | 02/03/11

      I agree with Zeta, anyone having difficulty in the bedroom due to body hair is just not doing it right.  Your boyfriend does realise he’s meant to use his tongue, not his chin right?  raspberry

    • Shadow says:

      06:43pm | 02/03/11

      OR…

      She’s aware of more advanced techniques than you?

    • Gail says:

      04:11pm | 02/03/11

      I have a 17 year old son who is so self conscious of his hairy chest.  He wears t shirts under a shirt.  Gen Y girls don’t like hair apparently.  Very sad and confusing for these young men.

    • Turnips says:

      05:15pm | 02/03/11

      My boyfriend shaves everything but his legs because it irritates him. He’d shave his legs if he could. It’s a tad odd but I operate on the principle that it’s my body and that it is your body. Thus I shall do what I want to mine in the way of landscaping and you can indulge in whatever you want to do. In no ways am I an amazon of the jungle but I am lazy and hair removal is tedious.

    • Jim says:

      06:41pm | 02/03/11

      Doesn’t matter how hairy ones back is, when you can lick your own eyebrows that’s ALL the ladies see raspberry

    • david says:

      01:35am | 18/07/11

      am 18 years old lad and am hairy from my chest down to my manhoodand i would not shave

 

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