vintage secrets: the sexual power of understatement

I recently posted an excerpt of the “subtle secrets of sex appeal” from Queen’s Quarterly Magazine published in December 1971. You learned all about the corpus delicious. May I assume your weight stayed “5 pounds under life insurance standards”? Just asking.

Today we’re learning about the “sexual power of understatement.” Writer Walter Norris is inspired by the decorating devise of trompe l’oeil which he says is a “fool of the eye… a tease because whatever the eye is directed to beyond it, or is diverted from by indirection, becomes all the more interesting simply because it is showcased.”


I’ve searched high and low for vintage photographs from the 70s to illustrate his observations. I can’t show the entire original photo illustration from the article because, well, it’s of four hot cowboys circa 1971 courtesy of Colt Studios who are wearing chaps with no jeans so that God’s gifts are on display for all to see. What, pray tell, is subtle about that, Mr. Norris? I ask you.

The Sexual Power of Understatement:

“A bit of a shock in dress — even a touch of the outrageous — is a valid and most interesting way of increasing sex appeal. This can be anything from really wild sunglasses or an ear adornment or a necklace of very bold and masculine design (preferably worn with an open shirt, and long enough so that the base of the necklace falls tantalizingly in the cleavage between your presumably sexily-outlined pectorals and bounces sensually from one to the other as you move)


or a leather vest worn without a shirt to reveal the full length of your muscular arms and your torso from nipple to navel


or a wide belt of strong and unique design that calls breathtaking attention to your sexy waistline… to iridescent buttons on the fly which blush from pussy pink to passion red as the eye is trapped like a bird –with unreleasable magnetism!


One or two of these build up a turbulence of sex appeal, but if carried too far, and if too many things are going on at the same time, the surprise/shock value quickly wears off and the entire scene becomes a camp.


Fool the eye … keep ’em guessing. As they ponder the “why” and “where” and “how” they will be irresistibly moved by the power of understatement which is tremendous.”

Text: Walter Norris, Queen’s Quarterly,
Volume 3, Number 6, December 1971
Cowboy: Queen’s Quarterly, 1971
Necklace Lad: Ciao Magazine, June 1975
Vest Guy: Ty Arthur, photographer unknown
Belt Bloke: via eliz.avery/Flickr
Mittens and Boots Fella: 1976, via glen.h/Flickr

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  1. By on October 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    vintage secrets: the sexual power of understatement – Woolf & Wilde


  1. stonesundial

    Thanks to you and QQ, whenever I see a male in mittens, I think, “there goes a mittens ‘n’ boots fella.”

    Posted March 24, 2011 at 4:42 am | Permalink
  2. Lyle

    Would you mind providing me with a link to that gallery of photos? Sorry to bother you after 6 years, but I’ve wanted to find those images for a long time.

    Posted July 29, 2018 at 5:26 am | Permalink

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