Decoding The International Male Catalog
By Nick Burns
Most gay men hear the name International Male and shudder. But they don't shudder out of shame. They shudder because the catalog is a guilty pleasure—a catalog of eye candy dressed up (in varying degrees) in mostly ridiculous clothes.
When most of our friends were drooling over Victoria's Secret catalogs in our adolescence, you were probably secretly coveting the pages of International Male—ogling the sculpted bodies in skimpy underwear and swimwear.
If you're not familiar with the company, International Male is the leading purveyor of clothes that were popular in gay clubs in the 80s and 90s. Think denim suits and vests, pimp-style shirts made of fabrics that aren't made by nature and in patterns that are mostly eyesores, skimpy thong underwear in neon colors.
How exactly you get on the company's mailing list is unknown. One day, you wake up and it calls to you from the mailbox. Somehow, it just finds you.
To the company's defense, they have improved their selection. It wasn't long ago that they offered pirate-style suits (complete with ruffled shirts and billowing sleeves) but they still offer 8 styles of leather pants, smocks, and "problem solving" underwear that adds some bump to your rump or a little more banana to your banana hammock.
Robert Verdi told the NY Times, "When you were a kid, this was actually erotica,” Verdi said. “A lot of
guys of my generation looked at it for that reason. Now there are still
a few pages of really tight stomachs and bad underwear, but they also
have some full-on fashion. It’s kind of pimpy, sleazy,
Eurotrash-guys-in-Vegas fashion, but it’s fashion.”
But really...is it fashion? or a fashion conspiracy? You decide!
For a look at the best of International Male moments, visit Jezebel.