The Politics of Fur: After a Decade or Two in Which the Ideal Queer Body Image Included a Visit to the Waxing Salon, Body Hair Is Beautiful - to Some, Anyway. Are We on the Verge of a Fur Revolution?

Article excerpt

It's easy to follow the gay hairline of the past 50 years. In the '50s lean, hairless muscle boys posed for "health" magazines. The '60s gave us the Cockettes, who with their long hair, beards, and fuzzy bodies underneath pounds of drag epitomized the gay hippie look. The Village People ushered in the end of the '70s as a group of gay icons with the perfect amount of hair in the perfect places---hair as costume piece.

In the '80s and early '90s gay men in the initial years of the AIDS pandemic defied society's perceptions of their health by working out, tanning, and shaving their bodies with equal enthusiasm--thank you, Calvin Klein, for bringing Olympic pole-vaulter Tom Hintnaus, in your underwear, to the masses via that legendary Times Square billboard. Hard, smooth, and golden-brown became the ideal. But soon there would be the Hair Revolution led by the gay Cossacks, the bears.

Now over a decade old, the boar movement is largely responsible for putting hair back in, and on, the faces of gay men. "Bear Magazine made it OK for gay men to be sexy while still looking like regular working-class guys--unaffected, unfussy, less groomed and polished," says Scott McGillivray, 43, former editor of Bear and current editor-copublisher of 100% Beef and BQ magazines.

But boars aside, we're still far from a Hairy Gay Planet. Alyn Topper, one of the featured stylists on Bravo's Blow Out, is hopeful. "In West Hollywood, I wish that would come true. It took me months to get my boyfriend to grow his leg hair out." Hair fan that he is, Topper nonetheless preaches regular maintenance. "You need to take the Twirly Test. Take your pinkie and go to any patch of hair on your body. If you can wrap your fuzzy patch at least halfway around your little phalange, then you've tested positive for the Twirly Test, and you need to do some manscaping."

For nonmanscapers, what is it about hair in particular that is so appealing? "It's all about texture," theorizes Ray Kampf, 41, professor of graphic design and author of The Bear Handbook. "Smooth is nice for Tupperware, but the feeling of running your fingers through a pelt of chest hair is so much more aesthetically pleasing. …