Jul 27, 2015

Summer Beefcake at the Renaissance Faire

In 1963, Los Angeles teacher Phyllis Patterson and her husband hosted a week-long "Renaissance Pleasure Faire" in Irwindale, California, modeled after the "Living History" exhibits then popular in historic sites.  People walked around pretending to actually be living in the Renaissance, wearing the costumes, performing the crafts,  talking the lingo.

The practice gained momentum during the Medieval mania of the 1960s and 1970s, when thousands of hippies, organic food devotees, and Tolkien-philes longed for a cleaner, simpler, more colorful world.

Where gym-toned guys took their shirts off.

I'm not sure where in Renaissance Europe these dancers came from.

When I dated a guy from the Society for Creative Anachronism, they told me that their character could be anyone who could have been in Europe from 500 to 1500 AD.  So no Native Americans or Pacific Islanders, but East Asians and sub-Saharan Africans were ok.

Maybe these guys are from Renaissance India.

Renaissance Faires are not popular in Europe: when there's a castle on every hillside, and your house dates from the 16th century, you don't really need to evoke the Renaissance.  It's already there.

But there are hundreds in the United States.  Some draw as many as 500,000 visitors per year.

I studied the Renaissance.  They had lice and fleas, bathing was infrequent, dinner consisted mostly of bread, and the homicide rate was ten times what it is today.  You were likely to be burnt at the stake for being Jewish, Catholic, a gypsy, or a sodomite.

And without modern nutrition and bodybuilding techniques, there were few physiques like this around.

But the Renaissance Faires are about the Renaissance we wish existed.

They tend to be a bit on the heterosexist side, all about men and women gazing into each other's eyes (heterosexuals never believe that gay people existed in the past).  But they're worth it for the beefcake, the food, and the costumes.

See also: Codpieces

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