Fancy’s focus on “plumber’s butt” throughout the Ages
In recent years, we’ve been exposed to a lot of ass crack. Not just the “point and laugh” ass crack. Sure, there’s plenty of that, but with the low rise trend on women’s jeans and men’s low waisted Hip Hop fashions of the 90’s, the long hidden coin slot has made a startling appearance in mainstream fashion. With all the staying power of a fat guy at an all you can eat buffet, this trend has hit Paris runways and infiltrated pop culture, as mall icons like Avril Lavigne, notorious for that wry vertical smile that’s always creeping out of her jeans, and gazillion dollar heiress Paris Hilton, who is more content to reveal her derriére’s ditch then her holdings, have helped cement the can’s open air status. So just when did it become fashionable for one to show ass crack? Traditionally, this simultaneously inappropriate and entertaining, but a faux pas nevertheless, slip of the drawers seemed to be strictly a blue collar signature. But it’s not just for the Norge repairmen of this world anymore. The purpose of this article is to probe this uncharted, fascinating transformation. The goal is to open a discourse that explores the nether regions of fashion and its new moon.
What’s acceptable in one culture may be shameful to another. So, while some are offended by the sight of another’s ass crack, some are entertained and/or titillated. Modesty and shame often dictate what is appropriate, however, the fact remains that these are constructs that are grounded in one’s subjective, relative reality. Thus, there’s no shame for some where others would dare not tread. Taboos serve to dictate acceptable behavior and reinforce this relative reality. Yet taboos are highly unstable, as a principle rigidly upheld today is abandoned tomorrow and soon forgotten. Reality is a flux; it evolves and each new era ushers in a new perspective. Aptly, as Grandpa Simpson once related to a young Homer & Barney, “I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you…”
Free your mind and your ass will follow
In the West, the over-exposed glute has long been a class specific oddity, generally associated with the working class laborer and specifically the plumber. This association no doubt has its roots in the fact that plumbers must bend down to get to the pipes under sinks, which inevitably causes the pants, often encumbered with a heavy utility belt, to sag and reveal more than a clogged drain (Side note: the most popular brand name of work pants is Dickies and one cannot help but wonder why they weren’t called Assies). Interestingly enough, the word “plumber” comes from the latin plumbum. It’s no wonder why plumbers have received this honor.
But not all male ass crack is shunned by society. Some men have highlighted their buns to great success. Iggy Pop has been flashing both his ass and his pelt for years during his live performances. Hell, we all know that is the only reason Bowie wanted to work with him in the first place. Not just superstars but local heros get in on the exposure too. The striped stocking wearing Brookline, Mass bad boys, Tunnel of Love, have resorted to ass-crack showing antics. And let’s not forget Brooklyn’s most over-exposed buns, that clown from the Shemps who is always begging for a slap on the ass.
Crack the bare truth behind the crack
Chris Larry asks, “I wanna know why there is a double standard? All ass crack is hilarious, but what’s with this good crack / bad crack?”
Well Chris, most people polled agreed: women crack good; men crack bad. The idea that women dress to attract a mate has been around since the crack of the dawn of man. The female (intentional) display of coin slot is alluring and fashionable. This is diametrically opposed to the notion of plumbers butt, with its uncouth reputation. There are social principles to consider when contemplating this male / female dichotomy. Women’s clothes are governed by what might be called the Seduction Principle, that is, they are sex-conscious clothes. Men’s clothes, on the other hand, are governed by the Hierarchical Principle, that is, they are class-conscious clothes. The purpose of clothes for women is to make them more sexually attractive, whereas men’s clothes function is to reflect social status. These principles developed thru time as a way of communicating and displaying to potential mates the desirable qualities one possesses. Adhering to this logic, it becomes crystal clear what each sex seeks in a mate. Women desire money while men are just lookin’ for a nice piece of ass. We have deduced two theories of why this professional signature has migrated from the geek to the chic. One being the main streaming of pornography, the other the “new cleavage”.
The Old Codger asks: Why do young folk now-a-days walk around with their ass hanging out and why are they as hairless as a baby squirrel? Any connection?
I don’t think it’s an accident that both trends happened simultaneously. Young people will always follow trends in an effort to attract the attention of the opposite sex. That will never change. However, with the mainstreaming of pornography, it’s our nation’s tastemakers that have changed. The internet has made pornography easier then ever to access, and porno tapes have elevated Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton’s celebrity status. Widespread viewing has changed the notion of what young people find alluring. Trimming the hedges is now de rigueur the way only legs and arm pits once were. And with todays knuckle heads raised on a steady diet of oiled up celebrities in Maxim, it takes quite a bit more flesh to turn heads. Low-rise jeans are the perfect way to show off the crack of the ass, sexy undergarments and over shaved nether regions. Pornography has quite literally lowered the bar on waist bands.
The New Cleavage: sexuality vs. repression.
A brief History of Line
The exposure of the ‘relevant fashion line’ started in the 15th century. The neckline is the first example of this line. Cleavage was an obvious result as the relevant fashion line plunged ever deeper. Obviously, as the trends changed, relevant fashion lines migrated south. The 16th century marked the enhancement of the bust line by corset. The corset evolved with society’s idea of sexuality as flirtatious. Hence cleavage became a taste of sin in an ever more religious society. In 1820 we see the invention of the mechanical corset and might note the metaphorical similarities between a woman constrained in a burgeoning industrial age and the puritanical society in which it was developed. Like a geyser or hill that sprouts up when two opposing tectonic plates collide.
Montana Brimstone provides:
The corset enhanced the look of the breast to make a woman more desirable. Oddly enough, this enhancement occurred during a period of subjugation on the levels of church, state and society which has since been unprecedented. As the idyllic enhancement of sexuality grew, so did societal constraints. The most obvious metaphor of the opposing forces of sexuality and religion is the corset. It was the Christians of the middle ages who demonized the flesh as sinful, changing ideas about the body all-together. The psychological implications of this repression are represented in the flirtatious concept of cleavage, anal or inter-mammary. These areas were deemed bad or immoral or at the very least, connected with some inherent sexuality that was considered conceptually alluring and quite manifestly sinful. These areas were so rife with desire that the very exposure of its intersection evoked carnal instincts, which Christians saw as calamitous.
New Dawn Sagging
Such restraints remained firmly in place until the 1960’s and 1970’s. Bra burning. No bra. The casting off of the fashion line and the enhancement of the “sinful” cleavage. This new, free society manifested itself and took hold in every form, including sex, drugs and rock and roll (yeah!). Hippies explored the notion of the ownership of one’s body and the classic hip huggers are probably the first obvious example of knowledgeable exposure of anal cleft. And who said the hippies were self-righteous good-for-nothings? Ten years after women are running around topless it’s not hard to see why the next shocking step of fashion would be to expose such an asset.
When did it creep to fashion forward?
High: fashion forward
In recent history the exposed bum was shown by English Designer Amanda Wakeley, who designed a halter neck dress with a deeply cut back in crocodile satin devore. That same year, Alexander Mc Queen introduced the Bumsters, a pair of pants which revealed a great part of the behind. The “Brazilination” of the posterior continued in South America, reappearing in 2003 on runways in Brazil .
Astonishingly, when investigating this fashion phenomena, our crack FANCY research team found a glut of examples reveling in the reveal of the rear, beginning with antiquity. The ass crack can be seen on Roman sculptures of women in Diaphanous gowns, the most famous being the “Venus De Milo” in the Louvre. Another illustration found in the “History of Costume” published 1902 shows a roman solider with the top of his bottom uncovered. It seems it was commonplace among French craftsmen of the late middle ages to expose a little crack, referred to as la fente du cul. In the 18th c., an adorned Italian king exposed his upper gluteus maximus when fighting a waring faction. His Heininess, Emperor Guido “El Culo” Culini defeated the insurrectors not knowing his ass was hanging out. It spurned a feverish fashion trend among his paison, as both sexes and all classes donned the assless look. It seems to have all but disappeared only to return in the 1960’s with the introduction of Ungaro’s open back pantsuit, which was followed by the “hip hugger” a year later.
The 90’s saw men getting in on this trend by challenging the waistline in hip hop fashion with the urban penchant of showing off tighty whities, boxers or both. It has been recently reported that ass crack is making quite an appearance at mess halls and the exercise yard. Plumber’s butt may have been receding back into obscurity for a brief time in 20th c. fashions, but it continued to be the muse of some great artists including Cezanne, Dali, Norman Rockwell and ad men (see the Coppertone Girl, who interestingly enough recently lost her ass crack).
But what about teenage girls? The low rise jeans are so ubiquitous that it is difficult to find anything but. Kathy S. of NJ confessed her perplexity of this trend. “It’s ludicrous. I was in church just last week and a 12 year-old girl has it hanging out. Her back business. The top part of her ass crack was visible. It’s church!” Well Kathy, we’ve seen the Stations of the Cross reliefs adorning church walls. Surely Christ, clad only in a loincloth as he dragged that big-ass cross uphill, must’ve flashed his business many times. Lo, he did not freak out, he merely turned the other cheek. Another mother, Anne, of Brooklyn, tells us that her 12 year-old daughter has a lovely, small derriere so nothing bulges out of even her lowest risers, but she doesn’t get the lowest ones out there. Bridgett and Ian, both 15 and from NJ, inform us that girls don’t wear low rise jeans to look hot. They wear them because it’s in fashion. “It’s pretty trashy”, they conclude.
Low: Fashion Faux Pas
The negative connotation or low class stigma goes way back. In Egypt, slaves wore little, while Pharaohs were heavily adorned, reinforcing the idea that less flesh being shown equates to high social status. It is customary in some traditional societies to remove articles of dress as a mark of respect. This is because, in such societies, nakedness is often a sign of inferior social status, subserviency or submission. There tends to be a positive correspondence between social rank and quantity of garment worn. So here we seem to be getting at the root of bad ass crack. In Barbara Tuchman’s excellent read “A Distant Mirror, the Calamitous 14th c.” it was reported in 1378 that a maiden, while in public, mistakenly revealed her upper crack region and was ridiculed for being a woman of loose morals. In Europe, non-clerical men in the 14th c. abandoned the gown for divided legs clad in tights. Knights and courtiers had adopted the excessively short tunic which, one chronicler complained, “revealed the buttocks and other parts of the body that should be hidden”, exciting the mockery of the common people. The latter example sees the lower class mocking the upper class, demonstrating the stigma of ass crack has no class. Simply ass is crass.
Is there good ass-crack? Most men interviewed claimed to be somewhere in the middle while admitting that a little butt exposed on an attractive woman has a pleasing aesthetic so long as it was not too much and incidental. Women interviewed had mixed reactions. Jenni Tull, 37, of NYC says there’s no such thing as good ass crack, but then reveals that it is always shockingly funny. Our Nana, 82, of AZ says “No good. All these young woman should not be exposing themselves. Don’t they know that they are attracting unwanted attention. It’s em-bare-assing. They should think more of themselves.” When asked about men, she replied “ Oh! it’s gross, but you can’t help but laugh. It’s frightfully entertaining.”
And what is bad ass crack? Too much exposure on any sex. A man with lots of hair who just doesn’t care was sighted as the number one culprit. “It’s just wrong” “ugh, put that away” and “gross’ were the most common responses we heard.
For or against?
98% of the people interviewed for this article agreed that the unexpected and unknown exposure of one’s crack is hilarious. Some folk don’t find this celebration of anal cleavage at all fashionable or laughable. Lawmakers in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Florida have all tried but failed to impose their ideas of acceptable derriéres dress. “Louisiana state legislators will soon have an opportunity to get a grip on one of those really serious issues. Not health care. Not jobs. Not criminal justice. Not education. If freshman State Rep. Derrick Shepherd (D-LA) gets his way, the state will soon criminalize — yup, criminalize — the wearing of pants too low. Shepherd filed a bill this past week that would make it illegal for a person to wear “his pants below his waist and thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing.” If the bill is adopted, violators would face a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail. “I’m sick of seeing it … The community’s outraged. And if parents can’t do their job, if parents can’t regulate what their children wear, then there should be a law,” explained Shepherd.
New Orleans Times-Picayune Apr. 2004
Overall, people agreed that intentional plumber’s butt is trashy, but many found the trends that stemmed from the low rise craze more offensive. For example, the tramp stamp, a tattoo in the lower back area just above the tush, was frequently cited as the least attractive. The thong, or T-back, and its constant over-exposure also raises the ire of our readers. Thong underwear, although around since the 80’s, rarely saw the light of day until the low rise takeover. Hold on, there seems to be another toxic coccyx craze sweeping the cellar. This newest attempt to improve on nature, the Butt-dazzler, allows one to be-jewel his or her fault line. It is really quite similar to the brow and nose ring. The company revealed that the product was developed from professional trade secrets, such as the plumber’s pencil holder, AKA the plumber’s pocket.