Panties in a twist

Sexy skivvies aimed at gay men are an undercover phenomenon.

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JAILHOUSE ROCKS A new ad campaign from C-IN2 turns tightie-whities into a porn-inspired fantasy.

JAILHOUSE ROCKS A new ad campaign from C-IN2 turns tightie-whities into a porn-inspired fantasy.

Step into the Big Booty Bread Company on 23rd Street in Chelsea and you'll find a curious new sales item competing with the cupcakes and cinnamon buns: men's underwear. The black briefs, emblazoned with the image of the bakery's big-butted male mascot, seemed a better fit than an ol' T-shirt, say the owners—especially in light of the frenzy that seems to have gripped the asses of gay men across the city.

Step into the Big Booty Bread Company on 23rd Street in Chelsea and you'll find a curious new sales item competing with the cupcakes and cinnamon buns: men's underwear. The black briefs, emblazoned with the image of the bakery's big-butted male mascot, seemed a better fit than an ol' T-shirt, say the owners—especially in light of the frenzy that seems to have gripped the asses of gay men across the city.

"Gay men are celebrating their ability to shine and strut their feathers," says Susie Rochin, marketing coordinator for RIPS (rips.com), a North Carolina--based underwear maker that focuses on gay buyers, with products at local stores like Chelsea's Rainbow Station. "They are doing what's been okay for decades for women: wearing underwear that gets them attention, makes them feel sexy, puts them in a certain mood."

Greg Sovell, the gay cofounder of the New York--based C-IN2 (which features seriously homoerotic cop-and-perp photos on its website, c-in2.com), agrees. "I think men's underwear has evolved," he says. "There are so many more options today, and men are clearly taking more chances."

Though the trend has certainly gained steam in the past year or so, credit should be traced to the ad campaign that no man worth his shorts can forget: the Calvin Klein billboards of the early 1980s. "Since the first Calvin Klein billboard," notes Rochin, "the underwear industry has noticed the power of the gay market."

Today you can step into just about any city clothing shop popular with homos—the Starting Line, Universal Gear, Wear Me Out, even H&M—and find multiple brands of fancy underpants competing for space. "C-IN2 is a big seller," notes the Starting Line's owner, Gus Salce, referring to the brand that features "sling support" and comes in tasty colors like "coffee," "carrot" and "zinfandel." Salce adds that, in the past year, he's seen a sharp rise in the number of boys on the prowl for hot undies.

"When I hook up with a guy, I always look forward to dropping my pants," says Steve, a Chelsea boy perusing the offerings at the Starting Line recently. "I prefer RIPS drawstring briefs, very soft and sheer," he explains, declining to give his last name. "The Wax Brand Street Jock is hot, with a wide waistband. Wearing them turns me on."

One fashion designer who was quick to notice the trend is Jeff Danzer, founder of the NYC-based PLY (like play on a CD player) Underwear (playunderwear.com), which launched in 2005. "Wearing sexy underwear instills confidence in a man, gay or straight," says Danzer, who is the former marketing guru behind runaway success story 2(x)ist . "I think gay men are just more comfortable showing off that sexiness than straight men are."

PLY products play right into that belief, offering clingy briefs and jocks in Day-Glo colors like electric turquoise and tangerine, featuring a crotch-level inner pouch for stashing go-go tips—and hoisting a guy's best assets front and center.

Other popular man-panty makers include Wax Brand (waxbrand.com), which, with its barbed-wire logo, thick waistbands and camo prints, is designed for guys who fancy themselves rugged; a more whimsical choice is Aussie Bum (aussiebum.com), which hails from, appropriately, Down Under.

This lust for undies isn't confined to the five boroughs, of course. "As much as we New Yorkers like to consider NYC the center of the universe," says C-IN2's Sovell, "the world today expands past our boundaries."

"Definitely it's happening all over the USA, even Alabama," says Rochin. "And I figure if a men's underwear store can make it in Alabama, there's been a lot of progress down there."

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Toscan
Toscan

i want some of these(: