Sep 11, 2013

Mr. Clean: Gay-Vague Advertising Icon of the 1960s

When you're a kid in the Midwest in the 1960s, you get your beefcake and gay subtexts wherever you can, even on household cleaning products.  I was always fascinated by Mr. Clean, the bald, bodybuilder genie with white eyebrows and a single golden earring (left ear), who burst into homes to show housewives how to shine up their kitchens.

I had a lot of questions -- did only women clean kitchens?  If so, why did they depend on a man to demonstrate the proper method?  Didn't the husbands mind that this big man was consorting with their wives while they weren't home?

And what about men who lived with men -- how did they clean kitchens?

And who was this Mr. Clean, who exuded not only cleanliness, but a raw sexual energy?  Yet never expressed any romantic interest in any of the women he assisted? Maybe he wasn't interested in women?

And why does this action figure have a blatant bulge?

Mr. Clean (by the way, his first name is "Veritably") was introduced in print ads and tv commercials in 1958.  Everyone thinks he's a genie, but according to his official biography, he's a sailor -- product inventor Linwood Burton had a ship-cleaning business, and was apparently entranced by a big, bald, muscular sailor in Pensacola, Florida.

In commercials he was played by House Peters Jr., who also appeared in Flash Gordon, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Target: Earth.

Real-life representatives have been appearing at public events since the 1990s.


  1. I think it's because of those ridiculous eyebrows. Hollywood made magical beings have really thick, uncanny valley eyebrows for a while in the postwar period.

    Brawny's also on the list, I'm sure.


No comments that use abusive or vulgar language or point out that a character is Not Wearing a Sign.


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