"There is nothing more cute than a white butt." --Kathy Konkle, 1994.
The V-kini Influence Wanes
Although still very popular throughout the 1990s, v-kini design in the early 1990s comes under pressure from both the old and the new. The old includes pressure from the string. String pressure narrows the side (AM9410) and either squeezes out the microkini (Vero), or produces fusion designs (GO9165, GO9320, KM9410).
The Tanga Gains Momentum
The new rules turn cheeking from the casual/accidental to the mandatory. If indeed the string had been steadily lowering and baring the cleft of the buttocks, the v-kini changes that focus and bares the buttocks from the side, an exposure called buttage, seen in both bikini and maillot (JA9102) forms. The final result is the tanga and g-string, which dominate agressive exposures among the young throughout the decade, along with the corresponding one-piece, the maillot tanga.
The tanga, long a stable of strippers and dancers, emerges as swimwear after the late 1970s and early 1980s as models and starlets vie for attention, both in the bikini (PZ8202) and maillot (PZ8201) variations.
As we have discussed in the late 1980s, the first tanga bikinis emerge from media onto the real beach, and as the 1980s draw to a finish tangaites acquire more confidence. Examples include this brazen first-time full-fledged g-string who wanders down Ft. Lauderdale's main sidewalk to her towel (FL8710), while the first maillot tanga is spotted on the beach (FL8717). The bikini contest across the street at The Candy Store continues to attract flapped tangas (FL8705), while a beaded buckskin tanga woman walks along the ocean (FL8715).
By 1988 initial spottings of tanga are made in New York: At Riis Park these include an obvious European (RP8801) and pair of young beachwalkers (RP8803). On Fire Island older women explore a tanga variation which lies in rugage at the bottom of the buttock, but covers it higher up (FI8801A). Activities in tanga also emerge: paddleball, and girlfriends going for a beachwalk (FI8812). Rare sightings occur at Coney Island in 1989 (CI8901, CI8906), where the first maillot tanga spottings are made (CI9008). But despite these advances by an exhibitionistic few, tanga advances in New York are not more than one percent at the end of the decade.
Tanga in the Ninties
The early 1990s begin to witness a bimodal tanga penetration: rare at many locations (e. g. LV9102), but with significant and wide ranging concentrations at certain beaches, for example Cocoa Beach, Florida, perhaps because of its more urban nature. Cocoa Beach, with its bars and clubs, has more explicit behaviors: a very busty who sits on the rail at Coconuts (CB9002), a tanga with a bow tie in the back who lies on her side (CB9004), a buttaged halfback that is also backstrap untied (CB9005), the jetski girl (CB9001), a paddleball player (CB9003), and a twosome who walk on the street (CB9113-14). Way down the beach a middle-aged couple demonstrate they too can be young in spirit (CB9010J). And needless to say, the bikini contest at Coconuts is legendary.
But acceptance is by no means uniform. For many regions of the country tangas are still just a thought (NP9510).
On the resort scene outside of America, halfback pushes toward tanga at places like Club Med in Cancun or Eleuthera, where the line between halfback and tanga remains vague (EL9008). But even here bare butts remain scarce, and are often modified by flaps (C8908, EL9001) and g-strings than can be adjusted, even if they are not (C8909).
Tangas worn by men are particularly rare (CB9108).
At the turn of the decade the leadership in tanga is unquestionably held in Brazil, where over half the woman on the beach are bare-butted (RL9107, RL9116, RL9132). In Brazil cleavage is also often excessive, as with this microbra and tanga a popular combination (RL9114).
In largely topless environments, like St. Maartin and Guadeloupe in 1988, Cancun in 1989, and most significantly at Sesembra, Portugal in 1991, tangas are rare but when worn are worn topless (e.g. SM8813-14). Topless tanga acquires penetration as the decade progresses (1995-2000). In mixed topless/topped environments tanga remains a tool of both topped and topless women, for example, at Martinique in 1992, where tanga share remains around 5% for both groups.
Other New Silhouettes Emerge
New silhouettes also emerge, especially untaimed versions of the maillot including the pretzel (MF9001, SE9310) and the pretzel tanga MH0708BS, ZX3KD4BS), the slingshot (AE9510, AMK110BS), and the torpedo. The suspender maillot introduces bare-bottomed viability (BAA110BS), and the miokini minimizes and acquires sleekness (EM9210). Criss-cross halters play a role in some of these maillot designs and also in bikini (SM9416). Unusual halter designs emerge (AP9E16). Some of these are confined to the shake shack (PT9210), others migrate to the real beach.
As a new exposures, tanga is not without its opponents, and as always these include a collection of sin-merchants and hawk-eyed legislators eager to crack open their anatomy books, sharpen their pencils, and begin determining the appropriate rules for dress for women. These local ordinance provide the fodder for a People Magazine showing what is illegal in one locale but not another, and they enrage women (MP9310). When the city fathers of Clearwater Beach declare tanga illegal (CF199410), they designate that it is the responsibility of lifeguards, normally the protector of drowning people, to abandon their posts and verbally threaten women with arrest (CF1995).
Conservative backlash in America is also fought about social issues. The Supreme Court rules that the government may prohibit doctors who receive federal funding from discussion legal abortion, and restrictions are placed on the dissemination of birth control information in foreign aid. Vice president Dan Quayle criticizes the television character Murphy Brown for choosing to be a single mother.
Designers for the 1990s often reintroduce 1960s styles, especially the wide-sided horizontal waistline culotte and a tighter fitting shorts called boy shorts (GO9310). Looser fitting shorts also become a swimsuit complement (GO9330).
Maillots, especially the high-legged variety, also continue to play a role, provided they have an element of suggestion, like the front-zipper (Z94614).
During the early 1990s the conservative backlash is countered by a disarming liberal trend, much of it driven by the women's movement, to ensure proper thought about images and words of a sexual nature. In Pennsylvania Goya's painting The Naked Maja is labeled an object of sexual harassment, Snap-On Tools discontinues its annual girlie calendar, and The Miss America pageant struggles to determine if the swimsuit competition should be abolished. American OnLine filters the word "breast" out of every user's profile, a stupidity they have to reverse after thousands of women in breast cancer discussion groups are affected.
But while political correctness and political conservatism engage the energies of the elites, the masses show little worry. Lesbianism, homosexuality, masturbation, birth control, and porn on the cable and Internet titillate America. Betty Page is rediscovered, art bikinis invade Lollapalooza (RC9502-11), and high-fashion models like Victoria Secrets' Stephanie Seymour who crossover and get nude for Playboy experience no consequences except to get more famous, At the top of the heap is Baywatch star and Playboy model Pamela Anderson, who establishes that mainstream television and nude modeling can work together, and with very powerful results. Anderson's extension of the envelope with continue into the late 1990s, when she and her then-husband Tommy Lee star in a purloined and unadulterated hardcore video that goes beyond nudity.
1991--In Rust v. Sullivan the Supreme Court rules that the government may prohibit doctors in federally funded clinics from discussion legal abortion with their patients.
1991--In the TV show The Days and Nights of Molly Dood, a single professional woman decides to have a baby.
1991--The market research firm NPD reports that the most frequently purchased bra size in America has switched from a 34B to 34C.
1992--American Vice President Dan Quayle criticizes the television character Murphy Brown for choosing to become a single mother.
1992--The Topfree Nine conviction is reversed in the New York State Court of Appeals, which declares it is legal for a woman to go barebreasted in public, provided she is not behaving in a lewd manner and not performing for money.
1992--California swimsuit company Cole introduces the Top Secret, a bikini top with inflatable falsies built into the bikini top that allow it to be inflated just the right amount.
1992--Boston radio station WFNX has a rock show called "Atomic Dust Bin." In LA, a new hot restaurant is named Bikini.
1992--Model Suzanne Fawcett sues Playgirl magazine for publishing a 1989 Swimsuit International photo of her which is distorted as if in a fun house to make her 50 pounds heavier. A headline asks, "too 'fat' for sex?" Playgirl acquired the picture and the model release by acquisition in 1990 of Swimsuit International.
1992--Louisiana legislator Carl Gunter states that rape victims of incest should not get abortions because incest often produces racehorses.
1992--Mariel Hemingway takes her shirt off for an L.A. Law episode, but only shows TV viewers her bare back.
1992--Morgan Fairchild and Sandra Bernhard do a girl-girl kiss on the TV sitcom Roseanne.
1992--The TV sitcom Steinfeld features an episode on masturbation called "The Contest."
1992--Legendary 1950s pinup queen Petty Page is rediscovered to be alive and well and living in Southern California.
1992--The Catholic Church succeeds in banning a movie that treats the theme of sexual abuse of young boys in a Catholic orphanage in Newfoundland.
1992--A painting of the Classical semi-nude statue of the Venus De Milo is removed from a mall store in Springfield, Missouri because the shopping mall managers consider the topless masterpiece too shocking.
1992--Pennsylvania State University officials remove a copy of Goya's Naked Maja from a classroom wall after a female English professor calls it sexual harassment and says the painting embarrasses her
1992--Organizers of an exhibit of a symposium on prostitution remove dissenting opinions from the conference, including the opinion that prostitution should be legalized, and videotapes by artists which show the plight of prostitutes.
1992--The Canadian Supreme Court, writing in Butler v. the Queen, gives censors broad new tools to evaluate and condemn material. The decision permits any material that "harms women" to be deemed obscene. The first victims are feminist bookstores, as censors seize lesbian, gay, and feminist material.
1992--Gene Kasmer, in Minnesota, petitions the school board to ban the Bible from school classrooms and libraries on the ground that it is lewd, indecent, obscene, offensive, violent and dangerous to women and children. He complains about its Biblical references to concubines, explicit sex, child abuse, incest, nakedness and mistreatment of women. Lawyers for the Religious Right fly to defend the book, and persevere.
1992--Congress legislates that cable operators have the right to block "indecent" programming on leased-access channels.
1993--Victoria Secrets lingerie catalog model Stephanie Seymour poses nude for Playboy, again breaking the barrier between catalog modeling and pinup work. A small tattoo adorns her right ankle, breaking another taboo. The outcome is that she becomes a big-name high fashion model.
1993--The Roman Catholic Church refuses to eliminate gender based words from the newest edition of its catechism, claiming such changes would undermine church doctrine.
1993--Andrew Martinez, the Naked Guy, is expelled from Berkeley for going to classes naked. Shortly thereafter the city of Berkeley passes a resolution which prohibits public nudity, and which requires "an opaque covering which covers the genitals, pubic hair, buttocks, perineum, anus or anal region of any person, or any portion of the breast at or below the areola thereof of any female person." Nursing mothers, artistic performers, and children under 10 are exempted from the ordinance.
1993--Beach volleyball champ Gabrielle Reece and others make the sports bra and montante bikini the standard costume for the sport.
1994--Clearwater Beach, Florida councilmen declare tangas illegal.
1994--Beachwear Forecast International, an industry trade magazine files an oblique report on the demands of toplessness in Mediterranean countries: "molded cups that look so good in fashion shows are said to have been turned down by many women who like to roll down their one-piece suit for sunbathing."
1994--A Brooklyn judge rules that a dominatrix who was paid $100 for a spanking an undercover cop was not selling sex and not engaged in prostitution.
1994--A different Brooklyn judge rules that having sex in public does not constitute public indecency if the participants do it in the bushes, and voids a $6 fine.
1994--Robert and Carleen Thomas, who operate a computer bulletin board in California, are convicted of obscenity in Memphis after a postal inspector downloads images.
1994--Patricia Arquette parades a underwired uplift blue bra in the movie True Romance.
1994--Snap-On Tools discontinues its annual girlie calendar, terminating a 12 year old tradition featuring bikiniites displaying the Fortune 500 company's socket wrenches.
1994--Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin flees her country after being threatened with execution for writings that challenge taboos on female sexuality.
1994--Pop Singer Madonna gets her navel pierced, and models it on the cover of Esquire in September this year.
1994--Texas Congressman Steve Stockman introduces legislation banning federal funding of any sex education based on the work of Alfred Kinsey.
1995--New York photographer Spencer Tunick is arrested for photographing a nude man in public and charged with public lewdness.
1995--Sports Illustrated experiments with creating an Internet site to feature their swimsuit edition.
1995--North Beach Swimwear of Florida markets computerized body-scanning for women so that swimsuits may be custom fabricated in order to ensure the best fit.
1995--The Miss America pageant organizes a poll to determine if the swimsuit competition should be squelched. It isn't.
1995--In an attempt to ameliorate Congress, America OnLine filters the word "breast" out of every user's profile. Thousands of women in breast cancer discussion groups are immediately affected.
1995--The American company CompuServe, responding to a German investigation, blocks access to all picture and discussion news groups that deal with sexuality.
1995--The first Internet filters are introduced which block access to sexually explicit content.
1995--Courts in New York determine that it is subscribers who should request that sexually-oriented channels be scrambled, and that the cable company should not scramble them and the subscribers request that they be unscrambled.
1995--Under pressure from conservative Christian groups clothing manufacture Calvin Klein recalls an advertising campaign depicting trendy teenagers in underwear. The FBI makes veiled suggestions it's investigating kiddie porn.
1995--Christian conservatives claim that the Walt Disney Company is hiding subliminal sex messages and images in their animated films. In Aladdin a character allegedly murmurs "All good teenagers take off your clothes," and in The Lion King images of dust supposedly spell out the word "sex."
1995--TV show Baywatch, with its buff and buxom crew of California lifeguards, reaches an audience of one billion viewers in 110 countries. Contracts for star Pamela Anderson stipulates that the actress appear in a minimum of 15 cleavage shots per episode. Anderson proves the power of crossover appeal between nude modeling and mainstream television.
1995--The group National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM) claims circumcision is child abuse and attempts to develop techniques to restore foreskins.
1995--Mia Kirshner stars in the movie Exotica, a story set in a noirish strip club with stunning visuals.