Saturday, May 20, 2006

May 20, 2006
Kathy walked by my open sketch book yesterday and remarked, "Why is the Sultan of Sun City an old guy, but all the women around him young?" I smiled. "Because, in his mind all of the women his age still look like that to him." She didn't quite seem to believe this, but it's true. When I attended my 40th high school reunion last summer I was shocked at how sexy so many of my female classmates still looked. Then when I was talking to them and they talked about being a grandmother, I kind of did a double take and realized I'm like that old blind guy in John Couger Mellencamp's song ("Little Pink Houses"?) who thinks his wife can still stop a clock. Ha.

Speaking of what turns men's cranks, I have been studying the symbols that make women sexy in our culture and I think I hit on a strange phenom. I call it the "slack-jawed-look." Have you noticed the proliferation of models who let their lower jaw go slack and you can see their front teeth? It's rampant and certainly a cliche by now. But when I go back and look at Victorian art and photographs, it's not there (well, I mean as a symbol of sexiness, there are a few examples of classic art, Degas and the "Absinth Drinker" comes to mind, but he's illustrating how dumb she is!), and even up into the 1920s, it's not used. I first notice it with Marilyn Monroe, but it could be earlier. Maybe that famous Rita Hayworth, the WWII GIs went so crazy over, I seem to remember her mouth hanging open.

Anyway, the irony is, imagine a guy with that look? I know, I know, Billy the Kid has it in his only known photo (and maybe in some perverse kind of way, that's why we find him sexy). But, by and large, a guy with his mouth hanging open so the flies can get in, is a sure sign of stupidity (or worse).

I'm trying to capture this look in all of its nuances, so here's a page of sketches I did yesterday. And as I've signed it at bottom right, I intend to become "The King of the Slack-Jawed-Look."

"Sex appeal is partly what a woman has, but mostly what a man thinks she has."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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