You, expensive reader, are a lot too younger, little doubt, to recollect the little strings of Burma Shave indicators that proliferated alongside US highways till in regards to the time Eisenhower arrange the billboard-free Interstate Freeway System. The indicators introduced verses in successive strains of two to three phrases, typically in couplets, normally rhyming.
This apparently profitable promoting gimmick lasted from 1927 to 1963, a lot beloved by households, particularly the youngsters, on trip street journeys. I nonetheless bear in mind how my siblings and I might sing out as we demonstrated our positive studying expertise:
EVERY SHAVER/ NOW CAN SNORE/ SIX MORE MINUTES/ THAN BEFORE/ BURMA SHAVE
HER CHARIOT SAILED/ AT NINETY PER/ THEY HAULED AWAY/ WHAT HAD BEN HUR
There was nothing no matter homosexual about these verses, however, they had been, in quite a lot of respects, extremely gendered. Burma Shave was a person’s product, typically purchased by the wives. As one of many first shaving lotions to hit the market, this new invention needed to be bought to each women and men on the premise of its superior ‘softening’ energy for wiry beards, its comfort, and most significantly its wiping out the necessity for getting or cleansing a separate shaving brush.
Homosexual males of that earlier and, in some methods, extra harmless period had been hardly ever catered for by the promoting business. Though I do suspect that there was at the least one homosexual advert man on the Burma Shave Firm roster.
And so, it ought to come as no shock that homosexual males (and girls?) already effectively practiced within the positive artwork of the double entendre, ought to discover a lot in these verses to take pleasure in. Gendered pronouns simply give rise to the type of ambiguity of interpretation a lot liked in some homosexual circles.
And metaphors for the shaving brush had been manifold (because it had been), referring to both male or feminine elements, because the case would possibly demand.
Take into account, as an illustration, these juicy ones, although I can’t think about how the advert writers thought it might enhance their gross sales:
SHAVING BRUSHES/ WET AND HAIRY/ I’VE PASSED YOU UP/ FOR SANITARY/ BURMA SHAVE
FOR PAINTING COWSHED/ BARN OR FENCE/ THAT SHAVING BRUSH IS JUST IMMENSE/ BURMA SHAVE
SEVERAL MILLION/ MODERN MEN/ WILL NEVER GO BACK/ TO THE BRUSH AGAIN
LAWYERS, DOCTORS/ SHEIKS AND BAKERS/ MOUNTAINEERS AND UNDERTAKERS/ MAKE THEIR BRISTLY BEARDS BEHAVE/ BY USING BRUSHLESS BURMA SHAVE
I’m unsure about that final one however a good friend of mine insists that simply itemizing the normal male occupations (whereas alluding to their ‘bristly beards’) would ship the typical homosexual male into paroxysms of ardour. Right here’s a couple of extra that you just would possibly take pleasure in, even if you happen to’re not inclined to see the suspiciously homosexual interpretations.
SAID JULIET/TO ROMEO/IF YOU WON’T SHAVE/GO HOMEO
HIS FACE/WAS LOVED/BY JUST HIS MOTHER/HE BURMA-SHAVED/AND NOW — OH BROTHER
LETS GIVE THE/ CLERK A HAND/ WHO NEVER PALMS OFF/ ANOTHER BRAND
SUBSTITUTES/ WOULD IRK A SAINT/ YOU HOPE THEY ARE/ WHAT YOU KNOW/ THEY AINT
MY MAN WON’T SHAVE/ SEZ HAZEL HUZ/ I SHOULD WORRY/ DORA’S DOES
HE HAD THE RING/ HE HAD THE FLAT/ SHE FELT HIS CHIN/ AND THAT WAS THAT
IF CRUSOE’D KEPT/ HIS CHIN MORE TIDY/ HE MIGHT HAVE FOUND/ A LADY FRIDAY
WE’VE MADE GRANDPA/ LOOK SO TRIM/ THE LOCAL DRAFT BOARD’S/ AFTER HIM
TRAIN WRECKS FEW/ REASON CLEAR/ FIREMAN NEVER/ HUGS ENGINEER
MY CHEEK SAYS SHE/ FEELS SMOOTH AS SATIN/ AHA SAYS HE/ THATS MINE YOU’RE PATTIN’
BURMA SHAVE/ WAS SUCH A BOOM/ THEY PASSED/ THE BRIDE/ AND KISSED/ THE GROOM
THE HOBO LETS/ HIS WHISKERS SPROUT/ IT’S TRAINS — NOT GIRLS/ THAT HE TAKES OUT
HIS BEARD/ WAS LONG/ AND STRONG AND TOUGH/ HE LOST/ HIS CHICKEN/ IN THE ROUGH
SINCE HUBBY TRIED/ THAT SUBSTITUTE/ HE’S ONE THIRD MAN/ AND TWO THIRDS BRUTE
WE DON’T KNOW HOW/ TO SPLIT AN ATOM/ BUT AS TO WHISKERS/ LET US AT ‘EM
A SCRATCHY CHIN/ LIKE BRIGHT PINK SOCKS/ PUTS ANY ROMANCE/ ON THE ROCKS
BURMA SHAVE/ IS FUN/ NO SOONER SPREAD/ THAN DONE
NO PUSHY/ NO PULLY/ SMOOTH SHAVY/ FEEL BULLY
SAY, BIG BOY/ TO GO THRU LIFE/ HOW’D YOU LIKE/ A WHISKERED WIFE
MY NECK WAS SORE/ IN FRONT BEFORE/ AND ALSO SORE/ BEHIND BEFORE/ BURMA SHAVE
IF YOU AND WHISKERS/ DO HOBNOB/ SOME SAILOR GOB/ WILL STEAL YOUR SQUAB
WITHIN THIS VALE/ OF TOIL AND SIN/ YOUR HEAD GROWS BALD/ BUT NOT YOUR CHIN
I wager that each homosexual man who reads this listing can have one or two favourites. I confess that the next is mine. Very probably no straight man or lady on the planet would have a clue as to why homosexual males would fall about laughing over it.
HIS FACE WAS SMOOTH/ AND COOL AS ICE/ AND OH! LOUISE!/ HE SMELLED SO NICE