Friday, August 24, 2007

Get Yer 1928 Male Archetype Here!

Trying to get a feel for the "guy types" you'd meet in New York during the late '20s?

Look no further than this handy chart, which I just found accompanying an advertisement for Brunswick Records (March 3, 1928). This company had been running ads in The New Yorker since its first year, all with the same schtick: they give a cartoonist the name of the new record they're promoting, and the guy -- who probably has never HEARD the record -- draws a cartoon to go with it. This cartoon is for "The Man I Love" (Ben Bernie and His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra), no doubt because "Show Boat" had just appeared on stage.

So click on the picture for a full-size image of all the "types." The only one missing is a collegiate guy in a raccoon coat. Here are some quick explanations and observations, in case you get lost.

A "Butter and Egg Man" was a rich patron at a bar. This phrase was famously coined by Texas Guinan, who -- legend has it -- asked a high-tipping customer what he did for a living. He said "butter and eggs." So it stuck.

A "Bootlegger" was the guy who sold you illegal booze during prohibition. A "Pugilist" was a boxer...he's no doubt on the list because Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney were so often in the news (and the society papers) at the time. Likewise "Aviator"...after Charles Lindbergh's famous solo flight, you couldn't swing a pug without hitting an aviator looking for some publicity.

And yes, you COULD buy an electric icebox in 1928...but most people couldn't afford one. So the "Iceman" still brought you your ice, and I think he continued to do so for a long time after, at least into the 1940s.


Morgan said...

i love that the Interior Decorator is stiking a fey pose with his limp

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Such swishiness! I know, it's an INCREDIBLY compact bunch of stereotypes. I notice the actor is a bit swish too, or maybe he's just putting his hand over his heart...