Abstract

Young and forced into celibacy during long months at sea, the sailor has become the archetype of sexual availability and a stable feature of popular culture and contemporary fashion. This article traces the emergence of the sailor’s uniform as a form of differentiation in the navy to the look of the hard muscular sailor’s body that has been made popular in the illustrations of Tom of Finland. Similarly, it will look at the sailor’s representation as a gay fantasy hero in the writings of Jean Genet and Thomas Mann as well as the sailor’s influence on contemporary fashion whose elements of design—striped of blue and white, cloth peaked cap, anchors and brass buttons have been translated into nautical themes by Coco Chanel, Kenzo, and Jean Paul Gaultier from couture collections to perfume.

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