Advanced body hair? Yeah yeah.
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.
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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