The beautiful and endearing thing about fetishes is that they crystallise in the most inhospitable of places. Like boarding schools, or sporting fields. Or prisons. Or in my case, 1970s suburban Brisbane.
It began with the Saturday night movie, in particular Sean Connery in Thunderball. Back when Bond films were themed, Thunderball was the underwater Bond, with Connery running, diving and poncing about as manly as possible in a tightish pair of 1965 trunks.
This was soon followed by Gil Gerard as Buck Rogers: caught in the bath by slutty Princess Ardala, or stripped to the waist in the immortal episode Planet Of The Slave Girls.
Print media proved an even more barren desert, with but one annual highlight: the David Jones Father’s Day catalogue. The models featured inside, Sean and Gil, not to mention their entire Hair Bear Bunch, all shared the same eminently admirable, adult and sexyasfuck hairy chest. Before long I was praying (yes, praying) in the shower for the sprouting to begin. A late bloomer, my smoothness was a curse, an unfashionable blight that made me less than a man. Eventually my hair prayers was answered, and how. Before I could scream enough! the stuff was everywhere.
Like everything else, the hairy chest is a servant (at least within popular culture) to the master that is fashion. In the 70s and early 80s the welcome mat was de rigueur (with optional moustache accessory), proudly worn by dudes like Steve Guttenberg in Can’t Stop The Music and Tom Selleck in Magnum P.I. Gay porn of the era, leather or not, was shamelessly furry. Even glue-on chest hair wigs, called merkins, were available for the naturally barren. Thirty years later, with laser surgery promising to remove chest, shoulder and back hair permanently, chest pelts are only just creeping back into fashion.
And so to hasten this hirsute trend, please find below a guide to some (but by no means all) of the glorious variations of chest hair our sex has to offer.
In order of hirsuteness:
The Keanu Reeves
A kooky phenomenon, the Keanu has mysterious rings around his nipples, with no other chest hair apparent. The Keanu sits in between the worlds of Nair and Bear, with many finding the follicled equivalent of crop circles as erotic as the full-wax.
The Sternum Hugger
Especially noticeable on body builders, this single trail of hair dissects the body, cosily tucked in between the bulging pectorals in a way that makes one whimper quietly, in a moment of surreal jealousy (to be the hair, not the dude).
No, not goofy and lame, the Gilligan is instead an almost circular island of hair in the centre of the chest. This may be accompanied by tiny satellite islands of hair around the nipples (see the Keanu) but sometimes not, allowing for a focus as precise and lush as a Pacific Island.
Not so much chest hair as belly hair, the Lollipop forms concentrically around the navel, before forming the snail trail from button to bush. Difficult to spot in its natural state, as Lollipops often remove the head, opting only for the hairy stick, especially given the recent trend for pube-flashing in low-cut jeans. Now, slap me in period costume and call me Maggie Smith, but this still seems tacky, darling. Really, tacky.
No, not Christopher Reeve, and certainly not George Reeves. This slight variation on the Gilligan is bizarrely thick but with sharply defined borders. With the topography of a golf course, the Superman is often triangular-shaped (like Superman’s big S badge) and as thick as the Sean, but may miss covering the nipples entirely.
The Tree Of Life
The classic pattern, thick on the pecs, with a bushy trunk running down to the navel and below. For many the perfect dusting, the Tree Of Life is the version most often epitomised by erotic cartoonists and painted on the Action Man doll from 1981.
The Tom Selleck
Not so much a pattern as a quality of hair: extensive, short, thick and curly. Almost pubic in quality, the Tom Selleck has the special quality of bouncing back to bushiness reasonably soon after a dip in the Hawaiian ocean. Offering the briefest suggestion of extra dimension under a pastel Billabong T-shirt, the Tom Selleck is bouncy like an inner-spring mattress and seems to spread forever. See also Franco Nero.
The Sean Connery
As relentless in its coverage as the Tom Selleck, this hair is darker, straighter and looks more chaotic -“ like a field of grass blowing in the wind, rather than the tight, ordered curliness of the Tom. See also Alec Baldwin.
The Chuck Norris
Ever see any early Bruce Lee films with Chucky? This man is his own Halloween costume. The ultimate defiance of evolution, the Chuck Norris spreads indiscriminately from over the back and top to toe, swing your bear and do-si-do. An acquired taste or the manna from heaven, Chuck Norris is as irritatingly replenishable as the Magic Pudding, and utterly impervious to all forms of hair removal.
Any or all of the above, but artfully clippered. A daring step for some and a piss-weak compromise for others, Whipper-Snippers are usually perfectly groomed and have had a shot at the ol’ eyebrows while they’re at it. The hair here clings close to the surface, much like the images of fallen pine trees after the explosion of Mt St Helens (and is, for some, just as erotic).
Rare, and vaguely creepy, the Random has splotchy clearings among the greenery. Immortalised in The Blair Witch Project, about an hour before they’re all butchered. It’s uncertain whether the Witch preferred the Gilligan, for example.