Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fun Finds: Jim Palmer's Way to Fitness

Life can be so strange. A while back, I did a “Fun Find” on Victoria Principal’s beauty and fitness book “The Body Principal” and one of my faithful readers mentioned in the comments section how a similar book, on the male side of course, had been a favorite possession back in the day. Not even a full four days later, I was out on one of my infamous scrounging trips through a large antique mall and stumbled into a book section. I saw the side of a large volume called “The Cup Down Under.” Well, that certainly caught my eye since the cups I had known during my days as a (terrible) football player were located down under in a terrific spot! You can imagine my dejection when I found that this book was about The America’s Cup while it was in the possession of Australia - “Down Under.”

Next, to it, though, was a similarly large-sized book that jumped out at me like a flash. Here it was, the book that was mentioned in that comments section!! “Jim Palmer’s Way to Fitness.” Depending on your age, Jim Palmer will mean different things to you, if he means anything at all! You young’ns will be hard pressed to even recognize the name. But to little burgeoning gay boys of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, he was a handsome, physically-exposed example of virile, amiable, sexy masculinity.


A pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles from 1965 to 1984, he earned a place in The Baseball Hall of Fame and is widely considered one of the 100 greatest baseball players of all time. Only two players rank higher than him in earned run average and no one ever hit a grand slam against him in his almost two-decade career. An All-American, wholesome sort of guy, he was the type of player and person that epitomized the classic, revered game of baseball.When, in the late ‘70s, Jockey kicked off an ad campaign featuring eight different sports stars in their (Jockey, naturally!) drawers of choice, Palmer was among them. The print ad, which looked something like a fantasy version of the credits of The Brady Bunch, only with no females and no Ann B. Davis, was more than successful. Several of the promoted undies were on the wild side, but Jim’s were easily the briefest of all. He was also one of only three participants to go shirtless. (Jo Jo White, in the upper right, arguably had the most impressive physique of all, however.) And whatever possessed Pete Rose to go with a Dorothy Hamel haircut?

Soon, Palmer was chosen to be the primary face, if that’s the word, for Jockey briefs. His scantily-clad body was shown in magazine ads and on the packaging of the product. This being a time when the mainstream focusing on men as half-naked promotional objects was new to say the least, the photos of him in his abbreviated underwear were more than welcome to admirers of youngish, hairy, daddy-types.


Looking at the freakishly smooth and rounded package of Mr. Palmer’s, I am reminded of my days as a waiter in a country club where I worked alongside a male model. The young man, whose name was Chris, looked almost exactly like John Phillip Law. One day, he went out on a shoot and then came to work afterwards where he informed me that it had been a catalog underwear layout and, in order to ensure that there would be no provocative bumps, bulges or delineations, he was given Wonder Bread (with the crusts removed!) to place in the crotch of his briefs! The spongy, soft, pliable bread (which, if the truth be known, always sort of grossed me out because of it’s bizarre texture) would form a mold around the genitals while remaining smooth and rounded on the fabric side. So now you know how that full, unusual look was achieved in the days before digital photo editing!


Anyway, Palmer’s newfound popularity as a model led to the publication of his 1985 fitness book. As shown above, he appeared shirtless and in some snug shorts on the color cover. Inside, the beefcake was downplayed, though there are dozens and dozens of photos of him. Sadly, he’s wearing a t-shirt in the bulk of the shots, but his shorts are tiny enough to show off plenty of leg. (These hilarious shorts would be laughed right out of most schools/gyms today, but they were great in their day, especially compared to the long, loose, almost skirt-like “shorts” that men wear today, most coming down to the knee!)

He’s shown in this outfit many times, demonstrating the various exercises that won him the body that he possessed at the time. He was not “ripped,” ‘chiseled” or “cut.” That sort of look was barely on the radar for most people in those days. Just having a trim, lean, healthy look was the ideal. I think it goes without saying that I prefer this sort of build myself and have little to no interest in the sort of anatomically-defined physiques that are sought after now. I’m a simple guy with simple tastes! But to each his own…

Check out these little white raquetball shorts! You surely wouldn’t see these on any court today. In weaker moments, I wonder what it would be like if one or two of his own balls popped out of these during play. Ha ha! When the togs are that short, anything could happen!Blessed with thick, dark lashes, it sometimes looks as if Palmer is wearing mascara even though he’s not! His lashes perfectly highlight that set of crystal clear baby blues.A rare full-on shirtless shot comes in the section where he discusses clothing and advice on dressing. Fans of hairy chests couldn’t get enough of Jimbo’s. Incidentally, he chats here about being a conservative person and even a shy one. You couldn’t guess that from his Jockey ads, but it’s that lack of ego that helped make him so accessible. He was did the Jockey ads until he was over forty, until the newfound emphasis on youth and more rippled looks came into vogue. His later pictures show evidence of (sometimes amusingly bad) facial airbrushing.Jim Palmer posed for an underwear poster that sold like hotcakes. Here, he is shown at an autograph session for the poster where a gaggle of skanky tramps are gathered, dressed in their own colorful underwear, even though no one cares! Ha! It should be noted that Palmer donated every penny of his proceeds from the sale of this considerably successful poster to The Cystic Fibroses Foundation, a charity that was close to his heart (and his wallet) for very many years. This photo on the left containing a depiction of the poster is the sole underwear shot in the entire 160+ page tome.

If you think, however, that I’m going to do a post about Jim Palmer and his physique and not include more than a few shots of him in his underwear then you must not come to The Underworld very often! I use every opportunity I can think of to accent my posts with beefcake. So here he is, folks… a little gallery of Jim’s Jockey ads. This, by the way, was long before computers could just change the style and color of the briefs. He had to put all of these on for each and every shot/pose. Click to make bigger!

If you think, however, that I’m going to do a post about Jim Palmer and his physique and not include more than a few shots of him in his underwear then you must not come to The Underworld very often! I use every opportunity I can think of to accent my posts with beefcake. So here he is, folks… a little gallery of Jim’s Jockey ads. This, by the way, was long before computers could just change the style and color of the briefs. He had to put all of these on for each and every shot/pose. Click to make bigger!



3 comments:

Topaz said...

Too funny! I can't believe you found the book! Truth be told, your recap and photos are much better than anything found between those covers.

TJB said...

Oh, daddy. One of my first crushes.

Glenn Drake said...

When I was a boy in the 70s and 80s, we didn't have access to gay porn like they do now with the Internet. So I would drool over the men in the department store catalogs in their tighty whities and crew neck t-shirts. The jockey ads always drew my attention especially the ones where Jim was wear classic white briefs and t-shirts. I cut one out that I saw in a magazine and hid it in my room as a source for masterbation. I still have a thing for guys in their classic briefs.