Wayne James’ Seasonings for Men–Coming in July!!!

Spices from the far-flung corners of the world are blended to create Wayne James’ award-winning dry-rub.

Fashion designer, former senator, men’s lifestyle influencer, and Manly Manners author Wayne James will unveil his new line of herb-and-spice blends and dry-rubs specifically formulated for the 21st-century man in July.  Called Wayne James’ Seasonings for Men, the line features five all-natural, no-preservatives, kosher-certified blends:  all-purpose, salt-free, seafood, vegetarian, and game/holiday.

“My aim was to introduce a line of ‘quick-fix’ seasoning-blends that enables the novice as well as the expert to prepare gourmet-flavored meals in a matter of minutes,” James said.  “The modern man is flavor-conscious, but he is also very busy. He therefore needs a product that gives him quick, easy, but excellent results. Today’s man wants a seasoning that allows him to effortlessly expand beyond the backyard grill. And if adding some sex appeal to each meal is part of the deal, then so much the better.”

Blended and bottled in Maryland, spice capital of the United States, James’ packaging is decidedly and distinguishingly masculine:  glossy black caps; minimalistic black labels with gold lettering; detailed ingredients and nutritional listings. “The packaging nods at quintessentially male products such as distilled spirits, shaving creams, cigars, and condoms.  I want men to instinctively reach for the bottles, whether on a supermarket shelf or in a kitchen cabinet.  The packaging looks manly—as if to say, ‘I am more potent than other seasonings,’ ” James said.

But James’ line of seasonings is not off-limits to female customers.  “I definitely see women purchasing the seasonings for the men in their lives—as gifts or to encourage them to demonstrate their masculine prowess in the kitchen.  I also envision women purchasing the products for themselves, perhaps out of curiosity at first, then because of the seasonings’ distinctive flavor-profiles.

All five blends are based on recipes that have been in James’ family since the mid-1700s and feature 18 to 29 ingredients. And the designer, a gourmand in his own right, is no stranger to the food industry:  In 1993, rather than launching a fragrance like most other fashion designers, James introduced the Carnival Seasonings line which sold in outlets such as Fresh Fields (now Whole Foods), Dean and Deluca, and in military commissaries.

Fresh herbs on dark background

“Our business model has now shifted to online marketing to meet the demands of the modern customer,” James said. “Wayne James’ Seasonings for Men will be available in a few key stores around the world; but for the most part, customers will have to purchase the product online on Amazon, eBay, and http://www.waynejamesltd.com ”

The History of the Polo Shirt

The Polo Shirt

For the more than two thousand years that the genteel team-sport of polo appears in the historical record, various garments have been worn by its players. In the late 19th century, for example, some British players would wear long-sleeved, turn-down-collar, oxford cloth shirts. But apparently the collars of those shirts would flap up into the faces of the athletes during the fast-paced game; so, eventually, the players started securing their collar-ears to their shirts by way of buttons.

Then in 1896 American John E. Brooks, grandson of the founder of Brooks Brothers, took the idea of the button-down collar back across “the pond” to America and started selling them at the store as “polo shirts.” The shirts quickly became, and remain to this day, one of the cornerstones of the establishment. Today, button-down-collar oxford cloth shirts are still called “polo shirts,” even though they have long been retired from the polo fields and are instead being worn primarily by businessmen and academics.

But for the most part, when a modern gentleman refers to a “polo shirt,” he is referring to the equally ubiquitous short-sleeved, cotton-knit (traditionally a piqué knit) shirt with a two- or three-button placket, a ribbed collar and sleeve band, and an extended tail (to keep the shirt tucked in while engaged in active sport). This modern polo shirt was introduced to the tennis—not polo—world at the 1926 US Open tennis tournament by Jean René Lacoste (1904-1996). Lacoste walked onto the court at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, New York in his new, short-sleeved shirt; shocked both the sports and fashion worlds; then five days later walked off the court with the championship trophy in his hands and what would become a fashion icon on his back. In an era where fashion ruled over function, Lacoste’s insistence upon comfort and practicality over form and tradition resonated with athletes in other sports—especially the sport of polo—which quickly abandoned its long-sleeved shirts with stiff, starched collars for the short-sleeved “tennis shirt,” so much so that the shirt would come to be called the “polo shirt” instead of the “tennis shirt.”

In 1933 Lacoste collaborated with his friend André Gillier, owner of a large French knitwear company of the day, to establish La Societe Chemise Lacoste (The Lacoste Shirt Company). Evidenced in its first catalog (1933), the firm produced the shirt design that Lacoste had first sported on the tennis court in 1926, as well as other shirts for sports such as sailing and golf, embroidering the company’s logo, a crocodile, onto each garment—thereby becoming the first company in recorded history to affix its logo on the outside of its garments. Then in 1951, the company decided to broaden its palette beyond classic tennis whites, adding a variety of colors. In 1967, American fashion designer Ralph Lauren established his fashion empire, “Polo Ralph Lauren”; and at its cornerstone were classic polo shirts—both the Brooks Brothers button-down-collar and the Lacoste knitwear varieties.

The Leather Scarf by Wayne James: Fashion’s Newest Invention

A Leather Scarf by Designer Wayne James:  Fashion’s Newest Invention

In the uber-creative world of fashion, where artsy types with their quirky ideas abound, St. Croix-born fashion designer Wayne James has done the next-to-impossible:  invent something truly new. And James’ invention is…: The leather scarf.

The “buttery-soft” accessory drapes and folds like silk. It measures 18” wide and 72” long and is made from one, continuous, seamless cut of super-thin top-grain cowhide. Unveiled in June of 2021, James’ leather scarf has already begun turning heads—and necks—in the world of fashion. It is available exclusively at the designer’s recently launched online Concepts Store, www.waynejamesltd.com  and comes in two earthy color options, a rich “cognac” and subtle “natural.” The heirloom-quality scarf, which is guaranteed to last a lifetime—and then some—is priced at $860.  A 20% discount is offered to qualified shoppers.

Leather has been used, from time immemorial, to clad the human body from head to toe: hats, jackets, belts, trousers, footwear.  But for some reason, designers have never thought of or figured out a way to create the leather scarf—despite its obvious capacity for providing warmth and protection from the wintery element.  In 2021, however, when James sourced an exquisite imported leather that flows like fabric, he jumped at the opportunity to execute an idea that had been on his drawing board for over 20 years, patiently awaiting the right leather.

“Anyone could have thought of a leather scarf.  But no one else did.  And that’s what makes this all so exciting and all so special. It is nice to be distinguished for creating something unique in an industry filled with creative geniuses,” James said.

Throughout fashion history, there have been only a few such “firsts” that could be definitively attributed to a particular designer.  The today-ubiquitous zipper was invented by Elias Howe in 1851; improved by Whitcomb L. Judson 40 years later in 1893; and transformed by Gideon Sundback in 1913 into the Y-shaped implement that characterizes zippers today.  But it was not until 1923 that American industrialist B. F. Goodrich coined the onomatopoeic word, “zipper,” to describe the invention. The 1920s’ concept of the bias-cut garment belongs to Madelaine Vionnet (1857-1956), and  Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel (1883-1971) is credited with the concept of “the little black dress.” In 1896, American John E. Brooks, grandson of the founder of Brooks Brothers (1818), noticed that British polo players would use buttons to hold in place the collars of the long-sleeve Oxford cloth shirts in which the fast-paced sport was played. And returning “across pond” to America, he began producing Oxford cloth shirts with buttoned-down collars and called them “polo shirts.” Jean René Lacoste (1904-1996) debuted the other type of polo shirt—the short-sleeve, cotton piqué, knit ones—at the 1926 U.S. Open tennis tournament, causing a stir and establishing himself as a fashion icon. The miniskirt is generally regarded as the invention of British designer Mary Quant (1930-present), the animal skins worn by mankind’s cave-dwelling ancestors notwithstanding.

“The common thread of fashion’s greatest inventions is that they all should have been obvious to one’s designer-peers but for some strange reason were not. Call it luck, serendipity, genius, who knows,” James said.  “This leather scarf is one such creation.  Scarves of all types and fabrics have been around forever—from Hermés’ iconic silk ones, to J.Crew’s 2020 cashmere ones, to grandma’s handknit Christmas gift ones.  Now, there is the Wayne James leather scarf.  And I think it is going to eventually take its place amongst the great inventions of fashion,” James concluded.  

A Leather Scarf: Fashion Designer Wayne James’ Newest Invention!

A Leather Scarf:  Fashion Designer Wayne James’ Newest Invention

Model Cameron Alexander in Wayne James’ Leather Scarf. Photo by Mark Jackson. Fall/Winter 2022 Collection.

Fashion designer Wayne James has launched his much-anticipated online Concepts Store, www.WayneJamesLtd.com. And the inaugural Concept is an extraordinary, exquisite, leather scarf made of an ultra-thin, über-supple, top-grain cowhide. Available in two earthy colors, cognac and natural, the “buttery-soft” scarf measures 18” wide and 72” long and is handmade in the USA of one, continuous, seamless cut of luxurious imported leather.  The Wayne James insignia—an interlocking WJ established in 1986—is discreetly debossed into one corner of the scarf, imparting the designer’s stamp of approval and mark of authenticity.

“A leather scarf is unique, even in the creative world of fashion,” James said. “There is nothing like it out there. And there has never been anything like it. It is truly a new concept, and I am happy to introduce it to the world. 

“The purpose of the Concepts Store is to debut cutting-edge products—things that even “fashionistas” and “style-influencers” have never heard of, seen, or dreamt of before,” James said.

The idea of a leather scarf was literally and figuratively on the company’s drawing board for 20 years—waiting patiently until James could source a super-soft cowhide that was wide enough and long enough to craft the scarf from a single cut of leather. Then, in 2021—just in the nick of time for the Fall/Winter 2022 Collection—James identified such a leather, a sanded, lightly buffed, top-grain hide cut to .78mm to 1.19mm (1/32” to 3/64”) thin. One of the cornerstones of the collection, the leather scarf is being unveiled as the online Concepts Store’s inaugural Concept.

“This leather scarf is the type of accessory that punctuates a wardrobe,” James said. “It is to a wardrobe what an exclamation mark is to a sentence, period. Whether paired with a wool crewneck sweater or Scottish tweed sport coat in the fall, or a suede or cashmere coat in the winter, the scarf makes a fashion statement:  that the wearer has a lot of confidence and personal style.

“And what’s great, too, is that the scarf mellows as it is worn and ages, draping around the neck like a second skin,” James said.  “This is an investment piece: It is classic and is therefore timeless. It’s the type of fashion accessory that becomes storied, that is passed from one generation to the next,” James concluded.

The leather scarf is available exclusively at www.waynejamesltd.com and is priced at $860 (less any applicable discounts).

Fashion Designer Wayne James Launches Online Concepts Store

Fashion Designer Wayne James Launches Online Luxury Concepts Store

Fashion designer Wayne James has launched his online Concepts Store, www.waynejamesltd.com, in celebration of the company’s 35th anniversary.  The online store will present James’ most cutting-edge design concepts, one concept at a time—from a silk-soft leather scarf, to a five-blend line of dry-rub seasonings formulated for male cooks, to a collection of belts with 18K gold buckles—each concept featured for three consecutive months before moving to the “Reserve Collection,” thereby making room for a new concept to be featured.  Only four concepts will be featured per year. And most of the products in the collection are made in the United States whenever possible:  an exquisite men’s robe made of imported Irish linen is made in New York City; a timeless white linen shirt made of the same Belgian linen used to make papal vestments is manufactured in Boston; and luxurious seven-fold ties made of Italian and English silks are hand-sewn in North Carolina.

“The aim of my Concepts Store is to simplify the online shopping experience,” James said.  “The internet is great; but it can also inundate.” The unique format of the store—believed to be the only of its kind—allows consumers to focus on the one item that is being featured.

“Shopping at WayneJamesLtd.com is easy and elegant,” James said. “And unlike other online vendors who simply pack their customers’ purchases into mailing-boxes and ship them off, no frills added, my online store keeps the experience upscale from start to finish.  Purchases are packaged in company gift boxes with company-colors tissue paper—just like the great department stores of yesteryear—before being placed into mailing-boxes for shipment. That way, each purchase arrives at your door as a ready-to-be-presented gift,” James added.   

St. Croix-born James established his fashion company in 1986 at the age of 24 and presented his first collection in New York’s artsy SoHo district two months before graduating from prestigious Georgetown Law in 1987. And within a mere two years, in 1989, James was being touted as one of the rising stars amongst young New York designers by the Washington Post and United Press International (UPI).

“I showed my very first collection at the Anita Shapolsky Gallery on Spring Street in SoHo in March of 1987, sold the collection to Bergdorf Goodman in April, and my garments were being worn on New York’s famed 5th Avenue by July of that year,” James recalls. “I was busy shipping my first collection of Ecuadorian hand-knitted sweater-dresses while my law school classmates were studying for the bar exam.”

Within the first decade, James’ collections had been lauded by fashion’s most venerated arbiters:  Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), New York Times, Washington Post, Elle, GQ, Ebony, Essence, USA Today, UPI, Daily News Record (DNR), etc. And his garments were being sold by fashion’s best—from Nordstrom’s to Bergdorf’s to Saks Jandel to Victoire’s in Paris, France.

Haute Couture model, Janice Joyce, in a 1989 Wayne James “Little Black Dress.” Photo: Amr Mounib.

“But fashion has evolved since the 1980s,” James said. “E-commerce has not only made brick-and-mortar merchandising almost irrelevant, it has also made the entire world your marketplace:  With a quick Google, Bing, or Yahoo search, a customer in Otavalo or Montescudaio can purchase one of my luxury products and have it delivered by courier across the globe. I saw it coming—from way back in the late 1990s.  And that’s when I started designing this online collection—way back then—patiently waiting until now that the average person is comfortable with online shopping. The designs in this online collection have been tested and re-tested to perfection.  I’ve been working on this for 20 years, and it’s now time for the roll-out of all these great products. It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. I have decades’ worth of luxury products in the roll-out queue, all ready to be featured in the Concepts Store at the appointed time. 

Upcoming “Celebration,” Wayne James’ Men’s Fragrance

And James, who will turn 60 later this year, is once again looking to the future. “I have recently begun laying the foundations for bringing new, fresh talent into the fold of the company—design graduates from schools such as New York’s FIT, RISD in Rhode Island, and the Savannah School of Design. The objective is to have the Wayne James label endure long into the future—as a label that is synonymous with timeless innovation,” James concluded.

Caribbean Whelks: The World’s Most Delicious Aphrodisiac

West Indian Whelks–The World’s Most Delicious Aphrodisiac

West Indies WhelksCittarium pica of the family Tegulidae (also known as “magpie shell” or “West Indian top shell”)

The cuisine of St. Croix, thanks to the internet—with YouTube cooking programs, “foodie” blogposts, and website articles—is finally taking its rightful place amongst the great culinary traditions of the world.  And one of the most esteemed dishes in the pantheon of Crucian recipes is “whelks in butter-sauce.” Not only is the whelk locally regarded as one of the most delicious fruits of the sea, it is also considered by many Afro-Caribbean men to be an aphrodisiac, capable of palatably endowing a man with the characteristic firmness of mollusk itself.

Even the harvesting of the whelk along the island’s shoreline during low tide is steeped in age-old beliefs:  that whelks, upon hearing the human voice, will release themselves from the shoreline rocks into the safety of the depths of the sea and therefore should be harvested in silence; and that whelks detect the scent of humans and should therefore be “picked” against the wind so as to avoid detection.  Whelks are so much a part of Crucian culture that they have even provided a local name for official fashion terminology:  What the rest of the world calls “cropped pants” or “pedal-pushers” or “Capri pants” are locally referred to—even if unflatteringly so—as “picking-whelks” pants.  

Spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) is today considered a delicacy; but a century ago, in the Caribbean, it was so commonplace that it was used as bait. And queen conch (Eustrombos gigas) has been regarded as a seafood staple for centuries. Not so, however, with whelks:

From time immemorial, this sea snail has been regarded as a delicacy on account of its compelling flavor, so much so that prior to preservation laws, it was harvested from coastline rocks to the point of extinction in several island-habitats. 

That whelks are highly coveted by Crucians is perhaps best illustrated in the following article which appeared in the St. Croix Avis in the immediate aftermath of the 1878 Fireburn, where a laborer invokes the “picking whelks” defense to explain away his presence on an estate to which he was not contracted to work:

St. Croix Avis, Wednesday, October 16, 1878

There is nothing new to report as to the state of the island since our last.  There are no doubt some runaways still hiding in the bush at Fair Plain and perhaps around Mt. Eagle and elsewhere. One was caught a few days since at Cotton Valley, and brought in by Mr. De Leon of Coakley Bay. He accounted for his presence in that neighbourhood by alleging his fondness for whelks, and protested that he was innocent.  It was explained to him that there was no objection to his taste for whelks, but that the question of his innocence must settled before the Policemaster in Bassin, and he was accordingly brought to the fort.

In another 19th-century article, a man’s survival on whelks alone is detailed:

Lightbourn’s Mail Notes, St. Thomas, Monday, June 17, 1889

During last week there were several disasters among the Fishing craft. At Savannah Island a boat was lost and one man drowned; the other was rescued from the island after several days’ hardship, during which he subsisted on whelks.  At “The Brass,” Cay off Estate Hull, there was also a boat lost, but the two occupants were saved—one having had to swim towards mainland for help for the other. Two more boats were cast ashore on the North side and totally wrecked, but fortunately without any loss of life. 

The West Indian (Caribbean) whelk, Cittarium pica of the family Tegulidae (also known as “magpie”), is a marine gastropod mollusk with a characteristic black-and-white shell. Pronounced “wilks” in the English-speaking Caribbean, it is known by different names in the rest of the region: “cigua” in Cuba; “quigua” in Venezuela; “bulgao” or simply “caracoles” (“snails” in Spanish) in the other Spanish-speaking islands. The species is not closely related to that known as “whelk” in Europe and the United States.

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 Believed to have a lifespan of close to thirty years, West Indian whelks reproduce each year, between the months of June and November, via external fertilization: Males release their sperm into the water, and females simultaneously release their eggs. The species is believed to be a herbivore, feeding primarily at night by actively scraping algal growth off coastline rocks. And it is in the dark of night, when the whelks attach themselves to the rocks at water’s edge in order to feed, that men harvest them (in a process called “picking whelks”), sometimes being washed away by the waves to their deaths in the process. In the case of Bermuda, where whelks were harvested to extinction, they have been reintroduced.

Fabled to be an aphrodisiac, whelks are boiled in their shell, then removed from the shell, cleaned, and prepared in various ways, the most popular being in a traditional butter-sauce consisting of butter, onions, lime juice, some of the stock produced during the boiling of the whelks, and salt to taste. The traditional complement is white rice. Whelks are also combined with shrimp, lobster, squid, cockle, octopus, onion, bell peppers, olives and/or capers, lime juice, and olive oil to make a classic, chilled seafood salad, typically served with avocado and/or sweet potato.

The History of Guavaberry–The Caviar of Fruits

Guavaberry—The Caviar of Fruits

When a Caribbean-born person ventures far and wide, one of the flavors he most craves is that of the guavaberry. And today, with next-day courier services routinely making intercontinental deliveries, it is not uncommon for a package destined for a Caribbean national to include a jar of guavaberry preserve. It is as if the fruit’s unique, spicy, sweet-bitter flavor is in the DNA of the region’s peoples.

Myrciaria floribunda, a member of the myrtle family, is a shrublike tree native to the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America. However, the species is most commonly found in the Lesser Antilles, especially on the Dutch/French island of Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the British Virgin Islands. The tree bears a diminutive fruit called “guavaberry” or “rumberry” that has been dubbed “the caviar of fruits”: It is tiny—about the size of a large fish egg or a pearl. The peeling-bark characteristic of the guavaberry tree is remarkably similar to that of its close relative, Psidium guajava, the botanical name for the guava fruit, which is also native to the region.  Myrciaria floribunda is also botanically related to the Jamaican allspice and the South American eucalyptus.  

Harvested around October, the guavaberry fruit is either blackish-red or amber-yellow in color; has a delicious, distinctive flavor, so much so that it is one of the defining flavors of the Caribbean; and is both rare and prized. And because the harvest years and times are unpredictable, the appearance of the fruit is regarded by the region’s peoples  as a special blessing from Mother Nature.

The historic record indicates that pre-Columbian peoples prized the fruit.  And in 1767 Christian Georg Andreas Oldendorp, in his capacity as inspector for the Moravian Church, journeyed to the Danish West Indies to report on the Moravian missions, which had been established in the islands 35 years earlier, beginning in 1732. Oldendorp remained in the islands for a year and a half, observing the islands and their peoples.  In 1777 he published History of the Mission of the Evangelical Brethren on the Caribbean Islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John.   And of the precious guavaberry he writes: “I must also make mention of another small tree which I have not at all seen, but whose berries—they are called guavaberries—I have eaten.  Like cherries, they are very round, black or yellow. They have one or two small kernels, a pleasant spicy taste, and are quite healthful. They are eaten in the morning on an empty stomach. When prepared in rum, they take on a strong, sweet taste.”

Guavaberry is related to the Brazilian “jabuticaba” (Plinia cauliflora) and is similar in appearance and flavor, except that the guavaberry is about one-third the size and has a flavor of about ten times as intense as its South American counterpart. Guavaberry is also closely related to another Brazilian native, Psidium cattleyanum, also known as strawberry guava or cherry guava, and like guavaberry, comes in two varieties, purple-red and yellow.

The guavaberry plant tends to thrive in sunny, hilly terrain with rich, rocky soil. Because the tree is more shrub-like than tree-like, the fruits are most efficiently harvested when ripe by shaking them from the branches onto a drop-cloth or net. The somewhat-astringent fruit, which tastes like lingon berry, but with undertones of juniper, is oftentimes eaten fresh. But because guavaberry is relatively scarce, it is typically preserved to ensure an annual supply. Held between thumb and index finger, the fruit is gently squeezed, thereby expelling its round stone, which is about half the size of the fruit. The juice, pulp, and skin are then cooked with sugar to make a preserve that is traditionally used to make open-face tarts and as an obligatory topping of one of the layers of the authentic Crucian Vienna cake. The preserve is also added to rum then filtered (typically through cheesecloth or a coffee filter) to make “guavaberry liqueur,” customarily drunk during Christmastime throughout the Caribbean, but especially in the Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten/St. Martin, and part of the Dominican Republic. “Guavaberry rum,” on the other hand—also drunk in the region during the Christmas season—is made by macerating the fresh fruit in rum, thereby infusing the rum (traditionally kept in a demijohn) with guavaberry’s unique flavor and reddish color, a process which takes at least a year. Stored in a cool, dark, dry place in a tightly sealed demijohn or glass container, guavaberry rum can endure indefinitely, improving with age. Unlike its liqueur counterpart, guavaberry rum is not filtered; it is poured directly from the demijohn, the objective being for each serving to contain a portion of the macerated fruit.

On St. Croix, Armstrong’s Homemade Ice Cream, founded in the year 1900 by Minerva Petersen, ancestor of the present-day Armstrong family of the town of Frederiksted, makes a guavaberry ice cream that is highly coveted. Offered only during the Christmas season and on the occasion of the island’s annual Agriculture & Food Fair in February, people queue up—as if buying tickets for a rock concert or a blockbuster movie—to get their serving of the locally famous ice cream. 

The guavaberry fruit is so esteemed in the Virgin Islands that it has been honored in folksong.  Every Christmas season, from time immemorial, Virgin Islanders serenade each other—whether in the historic towns or in the countryside—with the lyrics,

“Good mornin’, good mornin’,

ah come foh mih guavaberry,

good mornin’… [to you an’ yoh family].”

The lyrics suggest the customary right of the visitor to politely demand the holiday treat from the person whom he serenades.  

Beginning in the late 1800s, when Virgin Islanders seeking employment opportunities in the sugarcane industry would emigrate to the Dominican Republic, settling in San Pedro de Macoris and La Romana, they took with them their age-old guavaberry traditions.  And today, when there is scarcity of the esteemed fruit in the Virgin Islands, it is fruit imported from the Dominican Republic that fills the void. Likewise, in keeping with the custom of honoring the fruit in song, “Santo” singer Juan Luis Guerra, in his song titled Guavaberry, pays homage to the drink made of the fruit being enjoyed in the streets of San Pedro de Macoris.

Three Kings’ Day marks the closing of the Christmas holidays.  And it is the tradition of the Virgin Islands to celebrate the occasion with a glass of the islands’ most venerated beverage:  guavaberry rum or liqueur. Such has been the custom throughout four centuries of recorded Virgin Islands history.

The Antique Mahogany Four-Poster Beds of the Danish West Indies–The World’s Most Beautiful Beds

Danish West Indies 4-Poster Mahogany Beds

It is said that God could easily have made a more beautiful bed–but He didn’t…. In all the world, there is no bed more stately than the antique four-poster mahogany beds of the United States Virgin Islands, the former Danish West Indies. Certainly, there are beds more grand, more intricately detailed, more fancy and ostentatious. But in terms of sheer magnificence, that ever-delicate balance between form and function, and understated elegance, the beds of the Virgin Islands are beyond compare. To enter a room in which one is situated is to be drawn, almost instinctively, onto it. Wherever placed in the room, the bed becomes the center of the room—the navel of the space. And it is upon those great beds that families are conceived, born, and die, generation after generation.

In 1493, as Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the New World approached the Caribbean archipelago at its center-point, it is said that he remarked that the islands—some big, some mere rocks jutting out the sea—reminded him of the legend of St. Ursula and her 11,000 virgins who are said to have been massacred by the Huns near present-day Cologne as she, accompanied by her virginal retinue, undertook a self-declared pan-European pilgrimage prior to her marriage to the pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica. In honor of St. Ursula and her many virgins, Columbus named the idyllic islands “Las Islas Virgenes” (“The Virgin Islands”).

Almost immediately after the Spanish conquest, the Virgin Islands—especially St. Croix because of its strategic location within the Caribbean archipelago and its relatively flat, arable land—would become the object of desire for a long list of European interlopers and colonizers, from the English and Dutch, to the Knights of Malta and the French, and motley crews of pirates in between. But it was the Danes, towards the end of the 1600s and the first decades of the 1700s, that embarked upon comprehensive, sustained efforts at colonizing the Virgin Islands, namely St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

Apart from pre-Columbian Amerindian furnishings, very little of which has survived, much of the furniture-making heritage of the Virgin Islands occurs during the Danish era (1671-1917). By the 18th century, as a result of profits made from the slave trade and the sugar industry, Caribbean plantations had become infamous for their immense wealth, so much so that the adage “as wealthy as a Barbados planter” would become a part of the vernacular, and St. Croix would come to be dubbed “The Garden of the West Indies.” Mansions reflecting and celebrating that wealth were built and had to be furnished and decorated—typically with European luxury items. In the beginning, European planters would import European-made furniture constructed from European woods. But it soon became apparent that the local species of termites had a special appetite for European woods, in many cases leaving the intricately carved, gold-leaf Rococo furniture of the late 18th century so structurally compromised that it would collapse upon being touched.

Beginning in the early 1700s, plantation owners would ship termite-resistant Caribbean hardwoods back to Europe, the wood then used to make furniture that would in turn be shipped back to the islands for use in the plantation mansions and urban dwellings. There are accounts of exquisite mahogany and rosewood being shipped to Europe to be made into furniture that would then be decorated with gold-leaf to suit the tastes of the day, concealing, unfortunately, the beautiful grain of the tropical hardwoods in the process.

Reimert Haagensen’s Description of the Island of St. Croix in America in the West Indies, written in the 1750s and published in Denmark in 1758 states:  “The information will have to suffice on this matter for I must say something about the many rare trees that are found in such quantities there.  These have all kinds of names, such as Mahogany and others of equal value.  From these are made the best furniture to be had, namely writing desks, cabinets with mirrors and chests of drawers.  These would, however, are sold to outsiders since there is no one on the island who can do this work. Indeed, there are samples sent home to Copenhagen.”

By the early 1800s, however, the furniture-making trade was well-established in the islands, Afro-Caribbean craftsmen emerging as major participants. In the 1820s, Lieutenant Brady, in his Observations upon the State of Negro Slavery in the Island of Santa Cruz, published in 1829, writes:  “I visited nearly all of the negro houses at [Estate Manning’s Bay] and was agreeably surprised at the number of articles of household use, and of social comfort, which I met.  In most of them there was a bedstead, straw bed, pillow and blankets, several chairs, a table, sleeping bench, and chest. In some there were drinking glasses, and other decent table ware, and in one a pair of decanters.”  Brady then goes on to write several lines later that, “Few of these articles would have been found in a negro yard thirty years ago….”

The History of Mahogany

Swietenia mahogani is native to Cuba, Hispañola (Domican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica in Greater Antilles, as well as the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. The tree is believed to have been introduced to the Lesser Antilles and Central America during the colonial era, between the 15th and 19th centuries.

Popularly known as mahogany, West Indian mahogany, Cuban mahogany, and Spanish mahogany (the Spanish word for mahogany being “caoba”), it has for over 300 years been regarded as the world’s finest, most versatile, and luxurious furniture wood.

An upright-growing tree, able to attain heights of 150 feet under favorable conditions, mahogany is highly prized for its dense, tight-grained, reddish-brown wood, which is conducive to a high polish.

Mahogany was first introduced to the European market five centuries ago by the Spanish, the major colonizers of the Greater Antilles, but it was the English, who in the very late 17th century, made the wood a household name. One of the earliest mentions of mahogany in English newspapers occurs in the London Gazette of February 22nd to 25th, 1702. The first reference to mahogany in the statistics of imports filed at the Public Record Office is dated Christmas 1699 – Christmas 1700: “Jamaica. Wood Mohogony….” And it is generally regarded that between 1720 and 1725, the English began using mahogany in the furniture-making trade. The Daily Journal of May 26, 1724 reports what is undoubtedly the first recorded use of mahogany in the construction of doors: “His Magesty’s Ship, the Mermaid, which is coming from Jamaica, hath on Board from thence 600 Planks of the famous Mahoginy or Redwood, which grows in no Part of the World but the West-Indies, which Wood is to be employed, in making all the inner Doors in the new Admiralty-Office, now building at Whitehall; and to be used in Tables and other Purposes for the said Office.”

By 1774 Swietenia mahogani had become scarce in most parts of its natural range, and it was virtually extinct in Cuba by the end of the 19th century. Closely related to West Indian mahogany is Swietenia macrophylla, also known as Honduras mahogany or South American mahogany. Besides sporting a bigger leaf (hence its botanical name), the South American variety is less dense, less beautifully patterned (therefore less valuable as a decorative veneer wood), and less expensive. And unlike the West Indian varieties, which are enhanced by age (the Cuban variety becoming honey-brown when exposed to sunlight and the Hispañolan, which becomes darker with exposure), Swietenia macrophylla is known to bleach if confronted by sunlight over extended periods.

The reputation of mahogany, as unsurpassed for beauty and versatility in the furniture-making trade, has led to its commercial extinction in many regions of the world. Several countries, however, have come to the rescue of the species by enacting laws regulating its harvest, use, and export.

The Emergence of Mahogany as the Primary Furniture-making Wood in the Danish West Indies

By the 1790s and into the first decades of the 1800s, with the clean, simple lines of Empire furniture becoming all the rage and oftentimes replacing the ornately carved Rococo furniture of 50 years earlier, exotic tropical woods, especially mahogany, became prized since the simple line of Empire furniture lent itself to the beautiful grain and rich color of mahogany. And it was the convergence of simplicity of line and richness of wood that laid the foundation for what would become the Virgin Islands’ greatest contribution to the decorative arts: the four-poster mahogany bed.

When Africans were enslaved and forcibly shipped to the Caribbean to labor on plantations, they brought with them their culture, professions, talents, and skills. Highborn and lowborn and skilled and unskilled alike were equalized as manual laborers. The only outlets for artistic expression were in the performing and useful arts. Who otherwise might have been or become a painter or sculptor or poet in a free society oftentimes found him/herself—during the little free time allowed the enslaved—gravitating towards performance arts such as music or dance, or towards the crafts such as cooking, jewelry-making, or furniture-making.

Wood-working and carving, still a strong tradition in Haiti, had long been a part of West African tradition before the emergence of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the 15th century. So, in the early 1800s, when European plantation owners realized that it was more practical to have furniture made in the islands by local craftsmen than shipping Caribbean hardwoods all the way to Europe to be made into furniture, that furniture then having to be shipped all the way back to the Caribbean, plantation owners began utilizing the traditional and European-trained skills of free and enslaved cabinet-makers to produce furniture for local use. What is today stylistically categorized as “Colonial furniture” is the result of a merging of European and African aesthetics.

Afro-Caribbean Influences and Traditions

By the 1830s, during the Late Empire period, African and European aesthetics had converged, giving birth to the 4-poster mahogany bed (and also the elegant, caned Caribbean rocking chairs), arguably the region’s most distinctive and celebrated contribution to the decorative arts.

The necessity of mosquito nets led to the preference for beds with tall, massive, elegantly tapered, lathe-turned, hand-carved posts, surmounted by a “tester,” a framed canopy that, in the finest homes, would typically be dressed with hand-embroidered linen skirting. And the big, upright-growing, abundantly branched mahogany trees provided the necessary lumber for the crafting of the beautiful posts from which the nets could be suspended. Footboards with open spindle-work, a design feature that triumphantly distinguishes the beds of the Virgin Islands from all other beds of the Caribbean, allow the tropical breezes to flow, unimpeded, onto the beds, thereby cooling their occupants. The footboards also impart a certain “finish” and “balance” to Virgin Islands beds that is unmatched in other Caribbean beds.  Each headboard was more impressive than the next, craftsmen oftentimes having signature motifs, many of which were Afro-centric. Mattresses were high off the ground—as high as the typical windowsill, necessitating bed-stairs but also allowing for breezes penetrating jalousie windows to bring uninterrupted comfort on warm, tropical nights. The high-set beds were also infamous for wreaking havoc on the bones of careless sleepers!

The Ubiquity of the Bed

By the late 1800s, owning a mahogany bedstead had evolved as a rite of passage into adulthood for the average Virgin Islander. Most of the beds were made between 1830 and 1940—until the coming of ready-made American furniture. Modest families had “the family bed,” while more well-to-do families had a bed for each child, children typically carrying along their bedsteads when establishing their own homesteads. So much a part of the culture were the beds that a new bed would be given a “bedstead party” in order to celebrate its one-year anniversary: The bed would be dismantled and reassembled outside the home in a public space of the community so that it could be blessed by clergy and praised by neighbors. (At the end of the party, the bed would again be disassembled and then reassembled in the home.)

Virgin Islands four-poster mahogany beds are so esteemed that they are oftentimes bequeathed in last wills and testaments. It is not uncommon, for example, for a testator to dispose of real estate and cash then the bed: “And the mahogany bed upon which I slept should go to….” It is also not uncommon for a mahogany bed to be at the center of family discord and discontent: “Mama had always said that her bed should go to me….” And one of the most highly regarded gifts from a godparent to a godchild is a four-poster mahogany bed. So coveted are the beds that some are said to be haunted by their former owners, making for many a restless night for unapproved subsequent occupants. And many of the islands’ present-day prominent families—the families that produce the lawyers, doctors, university professors, clergymen, and, of course, artists, for example—descend from cabinet-makers who were able to command, on account of the cultural admiration for fine mahogany furniture, a respectable income in the decades following Emancipation in 1848, thereby acquiring private property and availing their offspring to higher education.

Though not as obligatory or ubiquitous as they once were, Virgin Islands four-poster mahogany beds are every bit as revered, locally and abroad. And on the rare occasion when they are offered at international auctions, they are known to command enviable prices.



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Bromosexual Subculture Explored in Upcoming Book by Wayne James

Wayne James, former senator and author of the critically acclaimed Manly Manners: Lifestyle & Modern Etiquette for the Young Man of the 21st Century (2016), has just penned an eye-opening, jaw-dropping blogpost titled, “Bromosexuals:  The Naked Truth.”

The ‘bromosexual’ is arguably the foremost emerging social phenomenon of modern men’s lifestyle,” James said. “It’s a masculine behavioral construct that is little-known and less understood. Even online slang dictionaries offer opposing definitions of the term.”

Men’s subculture, however, essentially defines the bromosexual as a man’s man:  the über-male who is so masculine that—ironically—he prefers the company of men over that of women. Not to be confused with “bromance,” which describes an intimate, but platonic, relationship between two men regardless of their respective sexuality, the term “bromosexual” is a mash-up of “bro,” which is the shortened form of “brother,” and “homosexual.”  Essentially, he is a jock-type who has intimate, sexual relations with other jock-types, his homosexuality or bisexuality hidden behind a veil of virility. The operative term within the term “bromosexual” is “sex.”

 “Mere men are Homo sapiens; but bromosexuals are Bromo sapiens,” James said.  “Metrosexualsneed not apply, and effeminate men simply do not qualify.  To be admitted into the ranks of the bromosexual, a man must appear unmistakably—and stereotypically—heterosexual:  the fireman; the construction worker; the Harley-Davidson leather-clad biker; the NFL player; the Wall Street womanizer. And he is oftentimes the most vocal critic of non-hetero sexuality. But looks are oftentimes deceiving, and actions speak louder than words.”

James’ groundbreaking blogpost traces the bromo phenomenon from its early manifestations in college fraternity houses, to its prevalence in prisons, to how it is camouflaged in traditions of “boys’ night out” and “men-only” fishing trips. 

“This is the opposite of Brokeback Mountain or Life on the Down Low,” James said.  “This is man-on-man sex in plain view, but behind your back. A bromosexual and his ‘bro’ workout together, eat together, party together, vacation together, are friends with each other’s wives.  To the unwitting, their relationship is a platonic bromance—just two friends ‘joined at the hips,’ “ James said.

Wayne James is currently writing a 300-page book on this emerging lifestyle. Based on personal observation, Bromosexuals:  In Plain View—Behind Your Back, is scheduled for a September 2021 publication.    

Bromosexuals: The Naked Truth

Bromosexuals: The Naked Truth

Wayne James, author of Manly Manners

ManlyManners2020@gmail.com

Overview:

A “bromosexual” is a man’s man—literally and figuratively. To the naked eye, he is not only heterosexual, he is the über-male, the embodiment of testosterone on steroids, the last man on planet Earth to be suspected of being gay or bi-sexual. Mere men are Homo sapiens; bromosexuals are “Bromo sapiens.” But, alas, looks are oftentimes deceiving…. The bromosexual espouses beards, babes, and barbells. But he adores his “Bro” every bit as much. And “ay, there’s the rub.”

If pressed, the bromosexual will admit that the exceedingly close friendship he enjoys with his special “bro” is a “bromance.” But all bromances are not created equal:  On one hand, a bromance is simply an intimate, platonic relationship between two men, regardless of their respective sexual orientation; bromance à la bromosexual, however, is an intimate, sexual relationship between two men who appear unequivocally heterosexual. And in the 21st century, bromosexual bromances abound—in front everybody’s face, yet behind everybody’s back. To put it more succinctly—even if admittedly more crassly—bromosexuals are cock-friends masquerading as jock-friends.   

By definition, every red-blooded bromosexual will vehemently deny—even to the point of resorting to physical violence—that there is a sexual component to his bromantic pursuits, even when, as is oftentimes the case, sex is the raison d’être for the friendship itself. The world of the bromosexual is one of D-words:   disguise, dares, disclaimers, and dicks.  In essence, he is “on the DL”—but in plain view. The unwitting observer is never to deduce that the bromosexual’s preoccupation with things masculine goes hand-in-hand with his preoccupation with males.

If there had to be a poster boy for the bromosexual, he would be swarthy, hairy, and brawny:  the fireman; the construction worker; a Harley-Davidson biker; an NFL player. But in reality, he comes in all shapes and sizes, from college jock to jockey to lumberjack. Prerequisite No. 1 for attaining “bromo” status, however, is a decidedly (even if stereotypically so) masculine persona. Therefore, metrosexuals need not apply, and femme-types do not qualify.  Essentially, a bromo (short for bromosexual), whether bi or homo, must appear 110% hetero:  He must be able to exist under the radar of gaydar. Prerequisite No. 2 is a wife or a long-term girlfriend and natural-born or adopted children/stepchildren. (Alternatively, a bromo must have at least one baby-momma.) These female counterparts are essential to the credibility of the putative platonic nature of the bromosexual’s bromance and are referred to as “cover-girls” or “beards.”    

The term “bromosexual” is a mash-up of “bro,” which is the shortened form of “brother,” and “homosexual.” The origin of the species seems to have emerged from the hyper-masculine iconic elements of gay culture such as Tom of Finland, wrestling porn, leathermen, and SMBD (Sado-Masochism Bondage and Discipline).

Despite Herculean advancements—such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the proliferation of alternative forms of sexuality in mainstream media—stigma persists vis à vis all forms of sexuality except heterosexuality.  And of all the various expressions that unfold along the continuum of human sexuality, it is the bromosexual who remains the most ensconced in denial. But that should come as no surprise since the goal of the bromosexual, by definition, is to appear super-hetero. Thus, unlike the other non-traditional expressions of sexuality that have taken up their posts in the trenches in order fight for change, acceptance, and tolerance, the bromosexual, despite his characteristic machismo, has not only hidden behind a veil of virility, but has oftentimes actively sabotaged the cause either through non-participation, or, worse yet, by aligning with the opposition via vociferous hate-speech, gay-bashing, and subterfuge.      

The Making of the Bromosexual:

Bromosexuals tend to thrive in three principal habitats: in fraternity houses on college campuses; in prisons; and in the gathering places for “boys’ night out.”

Fraternity Houses

For the young man who leaves his home and hometown to go off to college, his school becomes a ground-zero for self-rebranding. Away from family and friends, he is able to begin anew the journey towards becoming his own man.  And in that fertile environment of self-realization, a fraternity house is a veritable laboratory for sexual experimentation. In that hormone-charged milieu, the layers of sexuality are peeled away and dissected, uncovering and laying bare the young man’s true sexual anatomy.  Fraternity brothers are typically a ready, willing, and able test-group to assist in the probing.  

In Western culture, the university years are traditionally very forgiving years.  Young people are allowed, or even encouraged, to let their hair down and be free, the tacit understanding being that what happens in college stays in college—that upon departing the hallowed halls of academia, one’s slate will be wiped clean of all adolescent indiscretions. But while in generations past such unconventional goings-on would waft away on the winds of time into the recesses of oblivion, today, with the ubiquitous mobile device and surveillance cameras, engaging is risqué behavior can have life-long ramifications.  

But as the saying goes, “Boys will be boys….”  And everyone knows what happens when boys play house…. Enter:  the D-words:  a dare is ostensibly what prompted two  certifiably  heterosexual frat brothers to deep-kiss each other; the disclaimer “No homo!” is declared above the laughter when one frat brother pulls down his pants, pops out his penis,  and passes it across the lips of his sleeping brother; and drugs—from alcohol to pot to ecstasy—are the catch-all justifiers for a frat boy behaving outside the boundaries of heterosexuality. Anecdotal evidence is replete with tales of initiates being required to succumb (no pun intended) to the sexual demands of senior members; of en masse masturbation circles; of orgies where the number of males far exceeds that of females. At frat houses, in addition to all the “mooning” and “flashing” and “streaking” and “sizing-ups,” shower-room towel fights are almost obligatory. And where there are towel fights, there is nudity. But “pranks,”  “horseplay,” “roughhousing,” and “alcohol”—never bisexuality or homosexuality—are the scapegoats for such shenanigans.   Thus, the bromosexual is born. And to conceal his newly revealed sexuality, the bromosexual serial-dates college women or claims to be in a committed long-distance relationship with some phantom female….

Prisons

Sex amongst inmates is officially prohibited in most prisons the world over.  But it occurs. There are the men who form couples, and there are the men who engage in random or occasional sex-acts.  Regardless, prison etiquette dictates: don’t see; don’t tell. 

Male-on-male sex in prison is typically regarded as a fact of life behind bars. And those who, for whatever reason, indulge in such activities are generally afforded the requisite privacy. The inmates most likely to verbalize objection to prison sex, however, are the bromosexuals, for it is they who tend to have the greatest need to convincingly demonstrate their heterosexuality to fellow inmates. While gay and bi-sexual men tend to empathize or sympathize with prison sex even if they themselves do not engage in it; and while heterosexual men tend not to concern themselves with it, their focus being on returning to their wives, children, and girlfriends; the bromosexual inmate tends to be noticeably vociferous—and critical—about the sexual goings-on in prison.  Much of the sex-related gossip, gay-bashing, snitching, etc., in prison is perpetrated by bromosexuals, all the while engaging surreptitiously in the very activities they outwardly condemn. As the saying goes, “Show me a homo-hater, and I’ll show you a bromo-lover.”   

For the unwitting or novice, the bromosexual’s anti-gay/bi antics can be quite convincing, leaving the naïve observer believing that the bromosexual is the last person on Earth who would be gay. But for the inmate with an acumen for men’s motivational behavior, the bromosexual’s protestations are illustrative of his sexual ambiguity.  In essence, behavior is the barometer of the bromosexual. 

Once again, the D-words rear their ugly heads. The bromosexual’s modus operandi vis à vis prison sex is:  deny, deceive. delude. His bromosexual existence depends on those devices; his true sexuality must go undetected even to the most sexually intuitive.  As such, the bromosexual engages in behavior that is aimed at diverting attention from the sexual component of his prison bromance. 

Much of the bromosexual’s distractionary behavior centers around three activities:

a)- weight-lifting

b)- open-area visitations

c)-Spades

Weight-Lifting

Pumping iron is a metaphor of sorts for masculinity. It is high irony, therefore, for the weight pile to be one of the gayest sites in prisondom. Thus, it is there that bromosexuals congregate. Unlike other inmates, who, confident in their sexuality, find one workout partner, paying no attention to what other might think or say about the pairing, the  bromosexual, ever mindful to conceal his sexuality, typically works out in groups of three or four so as  not to give any definitive indication as to who is his primary workout partner.  For the bromosexual, there is nebulousness in numbers.

For the bromosexual, weight-training allows for male intimacy in plain view, yet disguised:  spotting affords the reclined bro an eyeful. Men who workout together monitor each other’s muscles; compliment each other on their physical progress;  greet each other with chest-thumping or shoulder-punching rather than a handshake or a fist-pump. They  massage each other’s muscles when the inevitable injuries occur; they enter[WJ1]  the shower room together after long, sweaty, workout sessions; they manscape each other’s hard-to-reach/see body parts.  Workout buddies cook and eat almost every meal together, ostensibly to ensure each other’s nutritional intake. Because of their mutual obsession with the prison pastime of developing their physiques, numerous opportunities arise for bros to spend time together—from early morning rendezvous to prepare and share pre-workout “breakfast sandwiches” to late-night hookups to guzzle down protein shakes before bidding each other a good night.  Arousal in the presence of a bro is explained away as “overactive steroids,” a “longing for female interaction,” or even a “penis workout.” (After all, the penis is made of muscles too!)  Anal penetration is not sex; it is a prostate massage. And late-night mutual masturbation in adjoining toilet or shower stalls is conducive to restful sleep and should not be interpreted as homo-erotic indulgences.  

Open-Area Visitation

There are men, who, despite being married or involved in long-term relationships with women, constantly boast about their various and sundry sexual liaisons with other women.  Those men oftentimes speak disparagingly about females, referring to them as “bitches” and providing graphic details about their conquests of the “pussy.” In prison, those men are almost always bromosexuals. And it is during open-area visitation that they seize the opportunity to prove their commitment to heterosexuality to both the female visitors and fellow male inmates.  Thus, it is the bromosexual who is almost always sanctioned for inappropriate sexual contact during visitations:  groping, fondling, intimate kissing, etc. And as they are carried off to the S.H.U. (Special Housing Unit) for misconduct, it is their “bro” who most grieves the violator’s absence, oftentimes becoming “asfixiado,” Spanish for “suffocated,” the term used by Puerto Rican inmates to describe the phenomenon whereby an inmate mourns the separation from another inmate.

Spades

The playing of Spades is a popular pastime of prisoners. Inmates align with each other and typically remain paired while successful. Otherwise, new pairs are formed, the idea being to learn new strategies from new partners, thereby perfecting each individual’s game. But Spades is also a perfect card game for bromo couples as it provides a pretext for a pair of prisoners to be together before, during, and after matches.  

Two teams of two players each compete. And because Spades is a game of strategy, teams comprised of two players who understand each other’s strategies have an increased chance for success. Typically, an undefeated team remains together, taking on new challengers.  But a team with wins and losses tends to eventually separate to form new partnerships, hoping to find success.  A team that remains together throughout wins and losses, never switching partners, is usually a team based on a partnership beyond Spades.  It is said that ”the Spades team that stays together is a Spades team of gays together.”

Boys’ Night Out

Married men and men in long-term relationships with women have managed to convince their female companions that the survival of the male gender depends upon “Boys’ Night Out”:  that in order for men to remain men after marriage and commitment to the fairer sex, they must be able to engage in all-male activities on a regular basis.  “Poker Night,”  “Beer with the Boys,” billiards, etc., have achieved sacrosanct status and are now inviolable.

At the foundation of “Boys Night Out” is the all-male “pack mentality” that manifests in the early teenage years.  For most men, it ends with their first profound encounter with the opposite sex.  But for other men, the pack mentality intensifies with age, enduring throughout life.  They are the men—typically in cliques of three to six or seven—who hung tight in college, were best-men and groomsmen in each other’s weddings, are godfathers to each other’s children, and are the nucleus around which their female counterparts revolve in collateral (and sometimes pseudo) friendships. Those are the same type of men who go away on those men-only motorcycle road trips, hunting getaways, fishing expeditions, and golfing get-togethers in far-flung destinations.  And it is on those “gaycations” that bromos express their “homones.” .    

14 Tell-tale Signs of Bromosexuality

1)-The need to view “heterosexual” porn before and/or during sex

Many men convince their female companions that looking at pornographic films, like the use of sex-toys, is an exciting accessory to sex.  When the films become a requirement, however, red flags should go up.  Not only are many women made to feel inadequate because they rarely resemble the porn heroines, but they are also oftentimes deceived by the bromo lovers who, unbeknownst to their female counterparts, use the films in order to achieve sexual arousal from the male actors. Then, to add insult to injury, few women are aware that there is also a genre of “straight” porn that is created for a gay audience. One way or another, porn as foreplay to sex is usually the preview of a tragic ending.  

2)-The tendency to date or marry bi-sexual women

Call it gambit or preemptive strike, bromosexuals tend to date or marry bi-sexual women, thereby neutralizing any complaints when the bromo’s bro becomes a “platonic” fixture in the marriage or relationship. 

3)-A staunchly professed inability to discern male beauty

Men in general—and bromosexuals are no exception—are notorious for claiming that they are incapable of seeing beauty in a man; only a gay man, they say, would describe a man as “beautiful” or “handsome.” Yet those same men—and bromosexuals even more so—are quick to declare another man “ugly,” without, apparently, ever stopping to realize the inconsistency.  

4)-The tendency to describe a man by the color of his eyes

Unless a man’s eye color is extraordinary to the point of being a freak of nature (such as a black man with blue eyes or an East Asian with green eyes), the color of another man’s eyes goes unnoticed by most heterosexual males.  Thus, if a man with an “all-man” appearance routinely describes men by eye color, that “all-man” man is likely to be a bromosexual.

5)-A passion for “alternative” nightclubs

A bromosexual is unlikely to attend a gay club in a locale where he is likely to be recognized; the last thing he wants is to be suspected as being gay. But he wants to have a bird’s-eye view of the goings-on of alternative entertainment. So, his preference is for entertainment venues where everyone and everything goes—clubs where there are straight people, gay people, transgender people, single people, coupled people.  At such establishments there might be female burlesque performers, male strippers, female impersonators, the full gamut.  And the bromosexual is able to relish in it all while safely maintaining his “straight” status.   

6)-An openness to “heterosexual” group-sex

Bromos tend to be game for group-sex:  “train-sex” on a girl during Spring Break in Ft. Lauderdale; a bromo and his bro tag-teaming a “bitch” in their hotel room while on a Harley-Davidson convention; an orgy. The common denominator of all such sex-acts is the presence of at least one other naked man.

7)-An openness to dating and/or marrying women of another race

A bromosexual tends to invoke “cultural differences” in his attempts to explain away his female companion’s attempts to make sense of the bromosexual’s friendship with his bro or an overall inability to perform.

8)-Becomes highly offended if asked about his sexuality

Calling into question a bromosexual’s sexual orientation oftentimes marks the beginning of the end of his relationship with the inquirer. A bromosexual’s social persona is carefully crafted to exude unambiguous heterosexuality. Consequently, any questioning thereof is regarded as a direct challenge to the bromo’s very existence.

9)-The use of cutting-edge “gay” vocabulary to “test” the waters

Most bromosexuals make it a point to keep abreast of cutting-edge gay culture so as to be able to navigate its subtleties without causing waves.  Using hot-off-the-press gay terminology enables the bromo to discreetly fish for ilk. In a prison environment, for example, he might throw out as bait the term “woof”—which, according to the Urban Dictionary, is an adjective used in the gay community to describe, upon encountering in passing, a masculine, sexy man—knowing that if an inmate bites the bait by indicating his familiarity with the term, the bromo would have hooked the inmate, hook, line, and sinker.  Likewise, a bromo might describe a fellow inmate as “trade,” knowing that only a gay man is likely to know that “trade” is used in gay lingo to describe a man who appears unmistakably straight but is, in fact, gay or bisexual. Then, once the bromo has reeled in the catch of the day with the subtle use of words, the rest is smooth sailing….

10)-The tradition of the annual, men-only vacation to faraway destinations with close friends

Bromosexuals tend to socialize in man-packs consisting of at least three—but sometimes as many as six or seven—bros, the specific bromosexuals couples within the pack camouflaged by the size of the pack.  For bromos, there is safety in numbers, for group-size enables gay guys to disguise.  And those annual getaways allow the bromo couples within the man-pack to unimpededly express their masculine intimacy.

11)-The desire to possess the iconic accoutrements of masculinity

Bromosexuals, in order to solidify their public male personas, desire objects that are quintessentially masculine:  a Harley-Davidson motorbike; the Cuban cigars; the Stetson hat.

12)-A vehemently professed repulsion by homosexual sex

Bromosexuals are typically very vocal about their supposed abhorrence of homosexuality. When questioned publicly, the bromosexual claims to be utterly, categorically repulsed by the very thought of homosexual sex, let alone the act. World hunger, genocide, global warming, domestic violence, and child abuse do not offend his sensibilities as much as homosexual sex. He publicly regards homosexuality as an abomination. According to him, homosexuals should be exterminated; and they deserve every bit of the hate-speech and gay- bashing they receive.   The bromosexual is a classic case of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

13)-The tendency to gossip about and expose the sexuality of other persons

A bromosexual relishes in gossiping about and exposing the sexuality of others.  Whether motivated by misery liking company or as a tactic to deflect attention from his own sexuality, the bromo seizes upon every opportunity—even at the expense of breaching the strictest of confidences—to “out” others, make disparaging remarks about alternative sexualities, and hypocritically condemn the sexuality of others.

14)-Regularly boasts about the numerous sexual encounters he has with women

Despite being married, being in a long-term relationship, or having at least one baby-momma, a bromosexual regularly boasts, while in the company of men, about his many sexual escapades with “bitches” and brags about the quantity of “pussy” he gets on demand.

Bromosexual Sex

A bromosexual presents and represents himself as the consummate heterosexual. Enter again more D-words:  delusion and deflection. His appearance and demeanor are honed to defy and belie his homosexuality or bisexuality.  The bromo’s aim is to convince others—by any means necessary—that he is straight. And his performance is so convincing that he oftentimes convinces himself.  Thus, when two bromosexuals engage in the act of sex, especially in the nascent stage of the relationship, their sex is never processed as “gay” or “bisexual” sex. It is whatever else they deem it to be.   

In the courting stage of a bromosexual  relationship, as a throwback to the college-age years, sex is typically preceded by one or more of the seemingly countless, sexually charged masculine activities such as wrestling, muscle-flexing, pectoral-pounding, biceps-bragging, shoulder-punching, jock strap-snapping, butt-patting, armpit-sniffing, penis-grabbing, etc. And when a less ambiguous approach is required, the sex-by-contest method is employed, where to the victor go the spoils. Bromo sex allows a man to be “all male” during sex with another man.  There is no need, as is the case in heterosexual sex, to express “feminine qualities” such as tenderness, affection, sensitivity, and passion.  To the contrary, bromo sex can be rough, hard, aggressive, forceful—the way real men like to do things.  After all, real men don’t cry….  Bromos relish riding “bareback” (with lots of butt-cheek slapping for good measure), and their lubricant of choice is saliva, for condoms and commercial lubricant suggest premeditation, and preparedness indicates intent, which spells g-a-y, “gay.”

In bromo sex, lovers speak the same language:  Manglish. And from that male-only language has emerged a lexicon (referred to as a “sexicon”), its aim being to heterosexualize gay sex.  As such, a bromosexual does not penetrate an anus, for that sounds too gay.  Instead, he penetrates a “brussy”(bro-pussy) or a “brogina” (bro-vagina).   Code-language for a bro’s ass is “brass,” (bro-ass), and bromo anilingus is referred to as “polishing brass.” A gay man gives his boyfriend a blowjob; but a bromosexual gives his bro a “bro-job” and rationalizes it as an all-natural, no-preservatives source of “brotein.”  Big difference…. And as an added perquisite, bros don’t need to call each other the morning after…  Only women fuss over such things….

A bromosexual, in the name of friendship, seizes upon every opportunity to participate with or witness his bro engaging in heterosexual sex.  Two bros sharing one woman is the ultimate bromo sexual fantasy, for it allows the bros to have sexual interaction with each other within the context of “straight” sex.  In such instances, they encourage double-penetration of the female, thereby allowing their penises to rub in the process. And whenever a threesome is out of the question, the left-out bro is oftentimes invited to perform as videographer or director. For bros, voyeurism is simply “ broyuerism.”  

Bromosexual sex is typically flip-flop sex, each man serving in both active and passive roles.  There is a lot of anilingus, fellatio, irumatio, and os impurum.  There is  arm-pit licking, nipple-sucking, cleavage-tracing, and old-fashioned deep-kissing.  Facing each other, bros rub their penises against each other. Bromosex oftentimes culminates in “breeding,” where the bros ejaculate in each other’s rectum. After all, there is no need to be concerned with unwanted pregnancy….   

Conclusion:

“Bromosexual” is an emerging term. Urban Dictionary defines it illustratively (albeit tongue-in-cheek) as follows:

“A guy who is a bromosexual is totally straight. In fact he will punch you in the face if you say that he’s gay.  He’s so totally straight that he has sex with tons of chicks…sure his bro might be in the room with him, maybe videotaping it (with lots of close-ups of the penis)…or doing the same girl at the same time…with their penises touching….

So what if he’s always slapping his broham’s ass…and always hangs out in the shower at the gym…and yeah, maybe he was in a few circle jerks in middle school…and sure he puts his penis and/or testicles on his friends’ faces every chance he gets when they’re passed out drunk… and sure that frat initiation thing was a bit weird, but…

HE IS TOTALLY 100% NOT GAY.

Dude:  You’re so gay.

Bromosexual:  Shut up! I WILL FUCK YOU IN THE ASS if you say I’m gay!!!

Other Dude:  Heh. Wait…What?

By contrast, Dictionary.com defines “bromsexual” as: 1. adjective. “noting or relating to a close but nonsexual friendship between to men, typically a heterosexual man and a gay man (usually used facetiously).”

                                                                                                 2.  noun.  “a man who has one or more close but nonsexual friendships with men (usually used facetiously).”

While the term “bromosexual” is still emerging and evolving, the Urban Dictionary’s definition is regarded as the more accurate and generally accepted, primarily because “sex” is an inextricable and defining component of the term “bromoSEXual.”  As such, definitions and literature that describe bromosexual relationships as nonsexual relationships are counterintuitive.

Despite the fact that the term “bromosexual” is so cutting-edge and subculture that most people today—even those entrenched in counterculture—have never heard of it, the term describes, ironically, an outlook on human sexuality that is exceedingly outdated.  The bromosexual may self-describe as the über-man or as Bromo sapien, but, in reality, his point of view on sexuality smacks of the Neanderthal, for inspite ofall the social progress of the 21st century—from Marriage Equality to Tolerance and Inclusion to Gay Pride to Brokeback Mountain—the bromosexual’s need to employ the D-words of deception, denial, deflection, etc., to hide his homosexual or bisexual identity is indicative of yet another D-word: dysfunction. And it’s all for naught, for the world has long moved on…. Isn’t it high time the bromosexual move on too?

In the age-old struggle for Equality of Sexuality, everyone—except the bromo—has contributed to the cause:  the fag the fairy the queen the queer the tranny the granny the dyke the chick with the dick. The big, strong, bullying bromo, however, rather than being in the frontline or in the trenches, where his brawn could be put to good use, has been at the gym, or worse yet, in bed with the enemy. The proverbial 64,000-dollar question, therefore, is:  What could a big, strong, bullying bromo possibly be afraid of? The “Brogeyman”?   


 [WJ1]