The Column of Lasting Insignificance: November 13, 2010
Recently, John interviewed Leslie Carbaga, author of Topless Summer Love Girls: A Gentleman’s Guide to Women, Relationships, and Breasts.
JW: Leslie, your book, Topless Summer Love Girls is an almost overwhelming cornucopia — or maybe “pornucopia” is a better word — of ideas and images. Every page contains another delightful surprise. But would you mind telling me what it’s all about?
Leslie Cabarga: Sure, well the book started 20 years ago when I first visited the topless beaches of France and, like most American men, was just amazed that it was all out there; all these tits and it was all innocent and normal and… free! As a man, I’ve struggled, perhaps all my life, with some degree of embarrassment over staring at girls and my attraction to porn. Finally, I realized that if the majority of men share these interests — which I believe they do — then what is actually typical masculine behavior can’t be “wrong,” even if it is not approved of by women; or thought to be sexist or objectifying, and so forth.
So one of my slogans for the book is, “The book that is helping straight men come out of the closet.” A guy I know wanted to buy a copy but was afraid to because he knew his wife wouldn’t allow him to have it. Can you imagine that! Men willingly subject themselves to female rule! I think that’s one of the things the book is really about. So at the same time, the book has dozens of really sexy photos of topless European girls on the beaches, it’s also inviting the reader to ponder the nature of his attraction.
I also satirize Playboy and the nudie magazines we all grew up with; sneaking them past our mothers and wives. Same with the article on pornography in the book: I’m investigating the appeal, and the reasons porn exists — I blame it mainly on religion for having suppressed our sight of the wondrous human body — and I’m discussing the good as well as the harmful effects porn can have on guys. Like the mollification of the sexual drive: instead of going out to create real relationships with real women, we’re home in our pajamas jerking off to porn, which is less frightening but also less rewarding.
JW: But I also see features in your book on bras and makeup. Even circumcision.
LC: Yeah, I’ve got some funny articles in there about bras. I say that I hate them because they cover up my view of breasts, but I go on to point out that many doctors now are finding that bras, which cut off lymph gland circulation, are causing breast cancer. Same with the use of make-up containing mercury and toxic heavy metals, that can sicken women over the long term.
Circumcision is a crime against men, although most of us never think about it because most men my age don’t have a foreskin. But I point out that while men are often accused of being insensitive, the first caress of the penis is with a knife. So the book gets into some really serious subject matter but doesn’t remain serious long. It’s full of cartoons and funny illustrations and sidebars.
I must have read 200 books researching TSLG. I read men’s books and all the classic feminist books, and many relationship books. I conclude, in my article on Marriage, that it’s a raw deal for men, and I make a strong case for not getting married. And in my article on feminism, “In Defense of Brilliant Women,” I point out that throughout history — at least in the past 200 years or so — many strong, brilliant women managed to surmount male obstacles. I even quote feminists like Simone de Beauvoir and Germaine Greer who explain how they personally never suffered from male oppression. So apparently they were just trying to protect the weaker women who weren’t as smart as they. I applaud brilliant women throughout the book. I maintain that it’s the less self-aware, less self-sufficient, and angry women who make men’s lives into hell; haranguing us for looking at other women, nagging us, withholding sex to gain power over us, and ultimately suing men for divorce and taking our money and children away.
JW: At first glance what one notices in Topless Summer Love Girls are all the breasts.
LC: I created a fake study of breasts containing all these photos and this made-up information that is presented in a totally straightforward, believable way, and I designed it all to look retro. I created pseudo-scientific names for parts of breasts that actually have never been named before. The weird thing is that although it’s all a joke, much of it is really valid. Like I also created about 18 pages (some of them appear in the toplesslovegirls.com website) of breast categorizations in which I identified and named every style of breast I could find. You know how many women have one breast that hangs lower than the other? Did you know it’s most frequently the left one? That’s actually true. But there’s no name for that, so I made one up: “asymmastosis.” It’s a totally legitimate word! And I created an article that looks exactly like it came from a 1956 newspaper that explains how doctors suspect that the pledge of allegiance causes asymmastosis because the developing girls are putting pressure on the left sides of their chests as they pledge. The end of the article states, “School officials are considering suspending patriotism indefinitely until the matter can be studied further.”
JW: No kidding, I thought all that stuff about breasts was real!
LC: Well, I leave it up to the reader to decide what is real and what is clever Photoshop fakery. I was an illustrator for many years — I painted covers for Time, Fortune, Newsweek, Business Week, and many others — and I specialized in reviving old 1930s, 40s, and 50s illustration styles. For TSLG, I’ve drawn over a dozen illustrations and cartoons all in different retro styles that most people, I think, would believe to be authentic period pieces. I also created a guy named Ludwig Von Dangler, a kind of poor man’s Hugh Hefner, who published “DANGLERS, for the Urban Sophisticate Big Bust Lover.” I’ve created period photo spreads that look like they came out of girlie magazines from the 1950s. They’re really funny, they’re satires on the naivete of those times.
JW: Well, the book is a feast for the eyes and full of laughs!
LC: Yeah, it is funny throughout. I’ve got a sidebar called the “20-year transition period” in which a woman suggests that women should just start baring their breasts on the American beaches until all the current pervs die out and toplessness comes to be thought of as normal and unremarkable. At the end of the piece she writes, “So when it comes to rude stares we will have to remain above it all, because remember girls, all true progress starts from the top down.”
Topless Summer Love Girls: A Gentleman’s Guide to Women, Relationships, and Breasts by Leslie Cabarga is available via the website www.toplessLoveGirls.com