LIKE A SECOND SKIN AND HOT AS HELL – The History of the Jockstrap

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The jockstrap, originating in the 1874 “Bike Jockey Strap” for cycling comfort, evolved from a functional sports garment to a symbol in the gay community. Initially designed for cyclists, particularly during Boston’s cobblestone rides, the “Jockey Strap” by C. F. Bennett of “Sharp & Smith” introduced a thong-like cut. In 1897, the Bike Web Company mass-produced it, marking the start of the jockstrap’s journey. Functionality trumped design, serving athletes with a cotton elastic-banded pouch for support.

By the early 20th century, jockstraps gained popularity among athletes, adapting to different sports’ needs. Baseball incorporated hard plastic cups, football added padding, and wrestling preferred thin variants. The association between the garment and an athletic, masculine physique grew strong. In 2002, Russell Athletic acquired Bike, continuing production under the “Bike” brand until 2017. Recent developments saw the brand’s website reopen in 2021, offering a modernized version of the classic “No. 10 Jockstrap.”

Jockstraps also made their mark in early 20th-century medicine, with the invention of the “Heidelberg Electric Belt.” Today, they find use in sports, medical situations, and post-injuries.

In recent years, jockstraps experienced a resurgence as fashionable men’s underwear, transcending their sportswear function. The term “Jock” originated from “Jockey,” signifying any athlete in the 19th century, not just those on horseback. Jockstraps with hard cups expanded their utility in 1927, offering genital protection for various sports. However, their prevalence in Europe never matched that in the USA.

The jockstrap entered gay culture in the 1950s, aligning with the garment’s popularity in athletics. As gay fashion embraced masculinity, the jockstrap became a symbol of fitness, masculinity, and an athletic body. Manufacturers prioritized style over function, introducing a variety of colors and styles. By the 1970s, jockstraps were integral to gay culture, featuring in bars, promotions with “go-go boys,” and even in the porn industry.

The 1980s and 1990s witnessed a decline in the jockstrap’s popularity, both in sports and gay culture. However, a resurgence occurred in the 21st century, spurred by events organized by Daniel Nardicio. These underwear-themed parties revitalized interest, making jockstraps a popular choice for gay men showcasing confidence and pride in their sexuality.”

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