Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Get your White Rocks off

In 2007, before I wrote yesterday's post about Subliminal Seduction, I wrote this post about an ad that seemed much more obvious than subliminal.

This is an ad from a 1946 issue of Life Magazine.

Remember Allen Funt and Candid Camera? In 1970 Funt released a movie, What Do You Say To a Naked Lady?, with hidden camera shots of guys suddenly being confronted by a nude woman. Apparently that's what is happening to this train passenger. Without the hidden camera, of course.

Were those postwar days more sexually innocent times? You couldn't have an ad with a near naked girl, even one with wings and a diaphanous skirt and not provoke someone's prurient interest. Those advertising people weren’t dumb. They knew exactly what they were doing. Millions of returning servicemen were looking at Life Magazine. Every guy would notice this ad. The title is “Holy Cow, where did YOU get on?” and it should be subtitled, "And will you get me OFF?"

So the ad seems to be about a naked — or near-naked — girl, Psyche, the White Rock Sparkling Water gal, enticing the businessman to have a few drinks. The next morning he’s getting off the train, waving to her, as if they spent the night together. Even after a few drinks he’s feeling “…fit as a gross of fiddles.” A “gross” of fiddles? “Gross” is not how he's feeling.

We can tell the man isn't just in some sort of drunken fantasy because the Pullman porter (referred to as “boy”)* and bartender apparently see her, too. That's dangerous, because in those segregated, Jim Crow days it'd be dangerous to look at a naked white woman. You wouldn't want to invite the KKK to visit.

*Pullman porters were also referred to as “George,“ after George Pullman, who created the Pullman car, natch.

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