ROD NOW... THE SYNTHETIC MALE!
OR hou, I powdered my nose, donned my angora hairpiece and learned to smell more like a man
Women do it, men did it .. . and now they're doing it again - powdering, perfuming, coiffing and dressing to kill.
In broad daylight, too, just as if it were the Manly Thing To Do. Don't snickeryou might find yourself using a powder puff sooner than you think. All you need is the money-and guts
ROBERT THOMAS ALLEN
THERE’S BEEN an amazing trend in recent years to deodorize, perfume, coif and camouflage the Canadian male. It has reached a point where a man has to decide between the inescapable fact that he can now make himself look younger, handsomer, more attractive to women, and the lurking conviction that, if he goes in for adorning himself, his moral fibre will soften up to the texture of a tuttifrutti marshmallow sundae.
The decision will be strictly up to him, because he can go in for everything from a new' hairdo to using a scent of Oriental flowers without being whistled at, or having rocks thrown at him. Attitudes have changed. Men’s hair-dressing salons are so completely accepted that, J noticed the other day. a man now can get his hair set at Toronto’s Central YMCA. The same applies to the fancier forms of toiletries. A few years ago an English friend of mine came into the office one morning from an out-of-town trip, looking pale and shaken, and announced, “My God! 1 saw a man using underarm deodorant on the Montreal train this morning.” Yet a few days ago. when I was on my way to a toiletries show, I asked the cab driver, after a cautious and strategic approach, if he used an underarm deodorant, half expecting to get thrown out of the cab. He said that yes, as a matter of fact he did. and when 1 asked why, he said because sitting there smelling either himself or his passengers on a hot day was “not very nice.”
At the toiletries show (The Ontario Toiletries and Perfume Guild's 11th Annual Cosmetic Gift Show being held at the Seaway Hotel in Toronto in readiness for Christmas business), I talked to a lot of salesmen and retail buyers, almost all of whom went in for the new male grooming themselves. Most of the time I couldn’t help agreeing wdth everything they said about the reasonableness of the new male philosophy. Yet, while I was agreeing, I often underwent a sense of unreality, wondering what I was doing sitting there discussing perfume and hair spray with men, a
teeling complicated by the guilty knowledge that I've been sneaking squirts of my wife's hair spray ever since I discovered it was better than the Old Pioneer Hair Oil Eve been using since I was 18. 1 felt like a hypocrite, too. when I shied away from some guy who said, “Take me, for instance. 1 wouldn't feel right without my cologne," all the time knowing that I like the smell of scent so well myself that Em a secret vvomen’s-perfume sniffer on buses and subways.
A lot of the new trends make sense, but the trouble is that they're being pushed to ridiculous. if not downright decadent, extremes. You get visions of a future generation of Canadian men. say 250 years after we began pulling stumps out of this pioneer land, making appointments with the Avon man and borrowing one another's tweezers.
There are other things I would go in for myself if 1 had more courage — like the haircuts given by the new men's barber, who unfortunately. calls himself a "hair stylist.” As far as Em concerned he can't replace too soon the traditional sheep shearer who sets up shop behind a striped pole, a symbol of blood and bandages left over from the days when he was a surgeon, and who, after 20 minutes of telling you things like why Eddie Shack should be fired, leaves your head looking like a healing amputation and charges you a buck and a half for his butchery.
But whether or not you approve of the new groomed and scented man. he’s here, downtown, uptown, in the suburbs and villages, and causing a remarkable boom in the toiletries trade. Today’s men's items account for nearly a fifth of Canada’s quarter-billion-dollar toiletries and cosmetic industry. At the toiletries show I visited, something like half the displays w'ere for men’s items. Almost an entire room, for instance, was given over to the men's lines Yorktown, Teak, and Old Spice. In the exhibit for Dana, the makers of men's Canoe deodorant, talc and eau de cologne, one wall was for women’s products, one for men. Such companies as Helena Rubinstein, Fabergé and Elizabeth Arden all carry men's products, although they display them (so far) at a section of the counter separate from the women's.
One of the fastest-selling men's products is cologne. So many men want to smell of Jade East, a fragrance reminiscent of dalliance in a Persian garden, that shipments for the first five months of this year passed those for the first 10 months of 1965. At the Vancouver Cosmetic Gift Show, almost half of the 50 percent increases in orders for Fabergé products were for the men’s line. Brut. You can now buy a flight kit of Brut lotion, talc and soap, with an accessory compartment for such things as the new jew'eled tie tacks for which men are paying up to $500. There’s a more expensive travel set priced at $100. that comes in a custom-made leather attaché case for the man who can’t go without his Brut.
The toiletries industry, deliriously riding the magic carpet of this new business, is trying to
overcome any pockets of male resistance by strategic use of language, and other devices. It. at a toiletries show, you look at a box of men's after-bath powder and say. “By gosh, you mean men really use powder puffs'.'", the salesman says. “If you don't mind, will you call them 'applicators’?" Ehe Jade East people have fitted their powder nu*f with a holder shaped like brass knuckles to make a man feel more rugged when dusting himself. Colognes are given hairy-chested names suggestive of tough novels about karate and groin fighting — 1 iger Sweat. Douhle-O Seven, Split Decision.
While names are getting tougher, the products are getting more feminine. Right now at Simpson's in Toronto, a store that began by selling calico, pickle sealers and harnesses for plow horses, a man can buy, on the main floor, in broad daylight. Powers' On Guard, to counteract the effect of wind, water and what the Powers literature calls "the agony of that first deeply etched line." One item of the Powers collection is powder to take the highlights off bald heads and conceal stubble. The Pick Up Mask you leave on overnight. For a man who gets no closer to nature 50 weeks a year than the office air conditioner. Look Fit promises to provide the wholesome complexion of a Cape Breton cod fisherman. The day I saw the Powers products I looked at the saleswoman behind the counter and asked her if this stuff was for homosexuals. She looked at me as if Ed said a dirty word, but she said. “No. no! It's not like that at all. You’ve no idea how many men buy these products. Men won't go without them once they've tried them.”
The awful thing is that I believe her. Not only that, there's an awesome kind of logic behind the whole movement of male adornment. It really works. A man really can transform himself, if he goes about the business cold-bloodedly. He can cover his bald spot with a wig made out of Yak hair and Angora that's been woven into a silk cap — like one of those needlepoint mottoes people used to hang in their parlors with verses such as “Travel East, Travel West. After All. Home's Best" — and tack it to his head with three strips of adhesive tape that will hold in winds up to cyclone velocity. And he'll look 10 years younger. 1 saw this demonstrated before my own eyes by a man named Carlos Benlolo, a debonair. Spanish-born master wigmaker from Tangier who calls himself Mr. Carlos and has a shop in Toronto’s King Edward Hotel. He covers his own bald head with a wig. The transformation is absolutely amazing. He leaves his wig loose so that he can demonstrate it to customers. He stands in front of you, wig on, and looks around 30; reaches up and takes his wig off and looks 40; puts it on again without cracking a smile and looks 30.
Il a man still has hair but it's turning grey, he can get it dyed and brought back to the color it was in the days when he played a ukulele. According to the makers of RD Hair Dressing, he can re/ continued on pape 48
THE SYNTHETIC MALE continued from, page 17
It really works on women —but not the
store its original shatlc in 10 days or get his money hack. He can have his hair shaped and sculptured and set into distinguished waves, cover up his wrinkles with a South Sea tan. and give himself a squirt of some virile scent like Rust. Old Tar, Scissor Hold or Branding Iron, and come out into the world with a new keen, urbane air and looking like someone who still thinks there’s something over the horizon. I’m talking about a man making the best of what he has lelt. at, say, 40. I’m not talking about youth. You can’t duplicate that with anything you can spray on or hold up with adhesive tape. But a man who is beginning to get tatty around the edges can get just about everything new but honest blue eyes. He can please his wife, get more mileage out of his mistress and win admiring glances from his daughters and nieces by using cologne. Ibis stuif really works on women of all ages. It doesn't work the way it’s said to work by the advertising profession, which can intercept a singularly high quota of right ideas and run down the field with them the wrong way. Nearly all ads for colognes and alter-shave lotions now are slanted at men with the objective of a maddened November moose. On the TV commercial for Aqua Velva. Mamie Van Doren sings huskily about how she feels about an Aqua Velva man. in a way that leaves no illusion that she's thinking of a man to build her a log cabin. The ads for Old Spice (Live It Up With Lime) after-shave lotion show a girl peering around a palm tree at an expectant male victim. By George cologne says all it promises is that you'll smell like a man and the rest is up to you. Black Watch shows a girl taking a bite out of a man's ear, or at least looking as if she is about to. Brylcreem hair dressing shows a girl snaking out of a tube, whispering. “Are you man enough to try it?”, and giving every indication that she's ready to abandon herself on a tigerskin rug. This is apparently what advertising men spend their days thinking about, but in point of fact women don’t, and it's doubtful if there ever was a woman seduced by a male cologne, unless she was already 90 percent willing. What a woman really likes is a man who grooms himself, because it indicates that lies aware of women and takes them seriously, and the use of scent, which women do like, is one of the best ways to advertise it.
Men are apparently discovering this in great numbers. All perfume salesmen report that the increase in sales of men's colognes in workingmen's districts of cities such as Hamilton. Welland. Fort Colborne. Kapuskasing. which have high populations of steel workers, stevedores, bush workers and hard-rock miners, parallels the percentage increase for all areas. Many men claim that they simply like the smell of cologne and claim that the smell of cologne and the feel of bath powder are both refreshing. But if pressed, most admit that the main reason is that they know women like it and that they
often ask them the name of the scent they're wearing.
“Anyway, what’s wront’ with it?" I was asked by several men who pointed out that throughout history men have powdered, perfumed, coiffed and dolled themselves up, including the North American Indians as observed by Champlain. It’s hard to object
rationally to at least some of the things men are doing. There are a few hold-outs who claim there’s nothing wrong with the smell of good honest sweat, but there’s very little good honest sweat left in this world, and, with modern technology as it is, there's going to be less, and what’s left is something with which nobody
wants to get into a phone booth right after.
The problem about the new' male adornment is getting the sheer gall to go through with it. A man may increase his chances of another time at bat by sprinkling himself with any of the estimated 200 colognes now on the market, but he has to search his soul before he walks up to a woman's counter in broad daylight and says something like. "A bottle of Old Moss, please,” hoping to God nobody
THE SYNTHETIC MALE continued
There you are, a hair net on your head—feeling sheepish
he plays pool with happens to be within earshot. It’s liable to set up in violent reaction a desire to go home and rub himself with draft beer and onions.
To avoid the old-style barber, you often have to go through the demoralizing process of phoning for an appointment to have your hair done.
then spend half an hour or more in an environment where you’re apt to hear, as I did. a young man humming Two Sleepy People, which he did w'hile looking at the back of his head in a hand mirror. You have to sit there feeling like an old faggot with a hair net over your head, slumping a bit lower every time someone looks
in the window, while the hair stylists looks down at you and says he can’t get the blower to work if you keep sinking down lower than the teakwood wainscotting.
Some operators are aware of all this inner stress and have taken measures to offset it. A tall, amused looking Londoner named Pat Taylor, who
runs one of the best places in Toronto, called the Brummell Shop, has abandoned making men lie face up to get their hair shampooed, realizing that there’s something about this position that makes men panic. While 1 was there. I watched him eyeing a nervous car salesman who had come in to have his hair done. Finally Taylor said. “Look, chum. I’ve got news for you. You don’t become a homosexual by getting your hair cut." 1 knew how the salesman felt. I went into Carusoe’s one time thinking it was a regular barber shop, found myself being advised that there wasn’t a hair on my head the right length and that the shape of my hair was indescribable. 1 looked around in alarm and started to leave, then realized this was the route of sheer cowardice, and told them to go ahead and do whatever they figured I needed.
I went home looking at the ground, with my head twisted sideways, like someone being escorted into court for seeding a gold mine. And when 1 got home I sighed with relief and waited for my wile's reactions, wondering whether she’d go into hysterics. She looked at me and said flatly. “That's the best-looking haircut you ever had in your life.”
But 1 didn't go hack. Next time I needed a haircut. I went to a guy who put the thinning shears through everything he couldn’t figure out what to do with, and told me that the Leafs wouldn't draw the crowds without Eddie Shack. I tipped him and left, looking like a newborn porcupine, feeling that everything w'as back to normal. ★