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Beefcake is a slang term that applies to erotic images of men, usually naked, which appeal primarily to homosexual men but are said, like Playgirl magazine, to appeal primarily to women. Usually only for homosexual guys, but a few fake lesbians say they like it.
Origin of the Term
Beefcake takes its name from the sausage casings that some men wear over their penises in a sophomoric attempt at humor that they believe may impress women. "I prefer cake," one woman told such a man, to which he replied, stealing a line from Marie Antoinette, "This is cake--it's beefcake!"
First Modern Occurrence
As a has-been actor, the no-longer-sexy, old-enough-to-be-anyone's-father and longstanding member of Small Penises Anonymous, Burt Reynolds, seeking some way to avoid declaring bankruptcy and forfeiting his multi-million-dollar estate (and trying to seduce actress Sally Fields), posed nude for Playgirl, covering his private parts with a thimble to avoid having his fans (mostly gay men in their twenties) observe how tiny his genitals are. The month that the "pictorial" of Reynolds appeared on magazine racks across America, sales plummeted. No one, it seems, including Fields, was interested in seeing Reynolds' hairy chest.
Past and Present Trends and Themes
In the past, most beefcake focused on the model's torso, showcasing well-developed pectoral muscles (i. e., "pecs") and well-sculpted abdominal muscles (i. e., "washboard abs"). The genitals were almost never shown, but, when they were included in an occasional photograph, the penis was almost invariably shown in its flaccid, rather than its erect, state. In more recent examples, the male sexual organs are shown about half the time and, about half the time that they are included, the penis is shown as erect.
According to the sexual fantasies of the gay male editors of such women’s magazines as Cosmopolitan, Playgirl, and Good Housekeeping, women have a sexual fetish for men’s buttocks. Consequently, photographers have more and more included beefcake that focuses on models' derrieres. As a result, the sales of such periodicals have declined among women but have increased among homosexual men. In the past, beefcake tended to depict a solitary male. Due to readers' demands (i. e., homosexuals' insistence), beefcake has come to include male couples or threesomes posed in what has been described by critics as "compromising positions," and, increasingly, male celebrities rather than anonymous models have been featured in such pornography.
Beefcake has no redeeming value, social or otherwise, being merely a gratuitous display of male nudity disguised as "art," which, were a similar display to occur in a public setting, would most likely result in the model’s arrest for indecent exposure.
Among straight men, beefcake is regarded as disgusting; among women, it is regarded as stupid or silly; among members of the so-called gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-gender community (GLBT), opinion is divided concerning beefcake: gay men regard it as being “divine,” whereas lesbians consider it to be “lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable, especially if it includes an uncovered penis.”
Those who study social and aesthetic trends predict that beefcake will be replaced by cheesecake, a soft core pornographic genre that features erotic images of women, usually naked, which appeals primarily to heterosexual men and lesbian women. As a result of this change, if it occurs, sales of and subscriptions to both men's magazines and women's magazines that feature such photographs are expected to skyrocket for the first time in decades.