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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