Monday, July 26th, 2010
102

Footnotes of 'Mad Men': The Bikini, the Ham, the Firm and His Hooker

DON'S BIG DAREYou know what hitting an emotional bottom sounds like? It's the open palm of a hooker's hand making contact with stubbly face in a darkened room on Thanksgiving as she joylessly rides you! That's what it sounds like: slap, slap, slap, welcome to the fall of 1964! This is the moment for which three seasons have prepared us: the cool and muted extended twilight of the Eisenhower patriarchy has at last gone pitch-black.

Decency is being traded in for freedom, divorce, bikinis and soulless PR campaigns used to drum up consumer excitement over something as mundane as congealed canned ham-remember the gals are paid to fight, then they actually do fight, but every one buys more ham. The good news is that with the burgeoning state of kooky consumerism, we have more access to the market and other store-bought (or by-the-hour) indulgences, so it becomes easier to simulate pleasure. The things we buy, the story we tell ourselves and others, is more in our control as the caste system dissolves in a deluge of consumer goods.

Our stories even become commodities. Or to put it more politely, as hero Bert Cooper said, we are "turning creative success into business."

THE AGENCY

• Selling your self-mythology is a craft. All the ad-men of the golden era (Ogilvy, Lois, Burnett, Daniels) wrote autobiographies. Not only are they all quippy and dishy (they are, after all, creative folks) but the self-made machismo makes them disarmingly charming. You root for each one of these businessmen as if they were saving a village of orphans when really they are selling cigarettes and canned corn. They are always the visionary, always the underdog, always the one with the balls to grab the advertising world by, well, the balls! Here's my favorite, as told by Draper Daniels about Leo Burnett:

By now everyone in advertising must have heard the story of the friends who sneered and told Leo [when he gave the news he was starting his own company] he'd be selling on apples on the street corner in six months. Undaunted, Burnett replied, ‘the hell I will. I'll give them away.' If you haven't heard it before, you have now, and you know why there's a bowl of apples in every Burnett reception room.

Who knows if this story is even true? To date, the firm has spent zillions of dollars to have fresh apples in each of their offices.

BURNETT

• Stan Freberg, another ad man/personality (question: where is our favorite rebel with Wellesian scowl and beard, Paul Kinsey?) popped up on the show. The "John! Marshaaaa?" bit that Peggy and her new dreamy art boy keep doing is from a soap opera satire that Freberg released on a comedy album-first as a single, later in compilation.

Freberg also popularized the "abnormal" and "absurd" radio commercial. Ad Age named Freberg one of top 100 most influential men of all time. You can trace the Bud Lite Real Men of Genius commercials and the Old Spice commercials to this one quirky Jew and his microphone! (Update: Or so you might think! "Freberg" is Swedish, and his father was a minister.)

• Don's Glo-Coat commercial comes from a real life campaign.

You can see the difference in tone between the pre-revolutionary style of the light-hearted, virtue-heavy spot that aired in the late 1950s, featuring housewives and families gliding across a slick floor to the homespun, narrative simulated by Loretta Lynn. This comes from the notion that a compelling story behind the product will make people will want in, even if it's utterly phony.

The thinking goes, if you put a sign up that says FREE KITTENS, maybe a person or two will pick up a pussycat. Put up a sign that says FREE AMISH KITTENS and they'll all have homes before sunset.

• Bikinis: score one for freedom over decency! Here's an example of the chaste image the family men of Jantzen were looking for from 1964. Here's Sears for Jantzen.

BETTER LIKE THIS

Don's implied topless ad-which featured photography instead of illustration (miss you, big gay Sal)-could have come from a fashion world scandal that rocked 1964: THE TOPLESS BIKINI.

MANNEQUIN 3

THAT BIKINI HAS NO TOP!On the runways of Paris, designer (and Mattachine Society co-founder!) Rudi Gernreich and his model Peggy Moffitt debuted a bathing suit with a bikini bottom and straps that went up over your shoulders and that's all, folks! Breasts, fully exposed. "Once you get over the shock," a writer for Life magazine said of the suit in July, 1964, "which takes about ten minutes, the new suit begins to strike you as the most absurd garment since those two rascally weavers manufactured the emperor's new clothes." It's no good for swimming, or sunbathing because of "disastrous straps." The bare-breasted suit was only good for "connoisseurs of pop art, for aficionados of the absurd, and especially for a high fashioned laugh. (One funny thing about toplessness is that it doesn't really have to do with breasts. Breasts of course are not absurd; topless swimsuits are. Lately people keep getting the two things mixed up.)"

The difference between the image and the authentic are going to remain mixed up for a very long time. Though we all know now that the real difference between a bikini and underwear is just what we call it.



Previously: The Footnotes of 'Mad Men'

Natasha Vargas-Cooper is the author of Mad Men Unbuttoned. You can always find more footnotes here.

102 Comments / Post A Comment

saythatscool (#101)

Just ordered the book Natasha. Can't wait to read it. Your Amazon rankings are quite impressive, btw.

Chazerim (#532)

Stan Freberg isn't Jewish.

oudemia (#177)

Wikipedia tells me: "the son of a Baptist minister."

keisertroll (#1,117)

According to Wikipedia Freberg's actually the son of a Baptist minister. But frankly, I think he belongs to the Church of AWESOME.

Ah, fuck it, we're claiming him.

David Cho (#3)

JOHNNNNNNNNN

cherrispryte (#444)

MARSHA!

David Cho (#3)

JOHNNNNNNNN

I actually said to The Honey last night, "I can't wait for Natasha to explain this bit to me tomorrow."

My mom is named Marsha and my dad was named John and they used to always laugh about this when I was growing up. Makes me smile to see it referenced now.

MikeBarthel (#1,884)

The Freberg "Old Man River" sketch got quoted a lot around the Barthel household, as did the "Dragnet" parody.

keisertroll (#1,117)

The teeny-tots must love their scallions.

mathnet (#27)

"Believe me, Henry; everybody thinks this is temporary."

deepomega (#1,720)

I did like a triple take on that one. Layers upon layers!

karion (#11)

That was my "oh shit" moment of the night.

I said "zing!" like, twice.

Sally Draper is going to be a cutter :(

ParkerBenchley (#6,355)

Zing! Henry Francis also doesn't like the dog – keeps wanting Betty to put him outside for the night, even in November.

ayellis (#6,131)

I have never missed anyone or anything more than big gay Sal.

:(

mikki halpin (#5,603)

Amen. And (NERD ALERT) I think Big Gay Sal would want us all to note that the correct term for Gernreich's creation is "monokini."

keisertroll (#1,117)

I have never been so inclined to create fan fiction than to just have Sal Romano move to Miami Beach and ride the rest of his life smoking Cubans and illegally importing cigars from Havana.

mikki halpin (#5,603)

Can we add to this picture by making him a sexual outlaw archivist, ala this guy?

LotaLota (#1,703)

The inherent absurdity of Rudi's monokini is that while it set the breasts free, it still played to the conservative set by covering the navel. Navels were considered to be risque well into the 1970s.

ParkerBenchley (#6,355)

I bet Big Gay Sal is by now a top commercial director. I hope we cross paths with him again. Hell, maybe he did Glo-Coat for SCDP. Maybe he's divorced, living in the village, and taken to wear ascots. :)

mathnet (#27)

Also am I stupid, or was Don's Jantzen ad just stupid?

keisertroll (#1,117)

I'm pretty sure they gave Don the same operation they gave Eric Matthews before the second season of "Boy Meets World".

Yeah, I kind of felt like it was an insidery joke about their own office, which, why would would be effective advertising?

There have been theories that Don botched the pitch on purpose.

I think Don was off his game. The ad WAS great but everybody knew that's not what the company wanted. I think, and I'm psycho-analyzing here, but that whenever Don is in crisis he usually pull through in a pitch. I think this is an example of Don under fire.

Also, I think what he said was true, there was a huge shift happening so the choice was either be risky and rich or comfortable and dead.

But all of that could have been presented in a better way. It's true that Don generally only gets pissed when he does exactly what a client says and then they junked it. In this case he pretty much ignored what they said.

Louis Fyne (#2,066)

I'm frankly surprised by the debate, purposefully botched to cast his new image for sure.

mathnet (#27)

@Louis I don't understand how that would work. Writing a bad ad that the client didn't want, and then throwing the client out of the office, would improve his image how?

bb (#295)

I thought it was supposed to be a statement of how he was not going to compromise? But that does not answer whether the ad was supposed to be stupid/boring or not. I think we are in for a lot of new kinds of ads that we might not get, and which NVC will explain to us.

ParkerBenchley (#6,355)

I also think the ad was a deliberate snub to the client – "This is how a creative agency works, hope you enjoyed looking in the window."

There was so many not-so-subtle references to prostitution throughout the episode (Pete's Expense Account, Don's date the wench-courtesan-harem girl, and Ms. Ride-n-Slappy), I sort of saw the Janzen presentation as Don's manifesto announcement that he wasn't going to keep whoring himself out creatively to firms that don't appreciate his true talents.

I suspect we'll see some more Don domination ahead – curious to see what transpires with Mr. Lucky Strike Jr. next week. 71% of SCDP billings give him power, but Don knows about his extracurricular tastes, so it will be interesting to see how a power struggle would play out. :)

Flashman (#418)

This is what I thought too. "So well built we can't even show you the second floor"?
That just doesn't make any sense in any context. The Jantzen people were totally right to reject it, not for prudery but because it doesn't work.

Will Messmer (#6,377)

The second floor reference in the pitch was in regards to the fact that their new office has no second floor, and he's intentionally acting the bad boy (in the pitch and in the WSJ interview) because he knows that that's what will stimulate the hoi polloi and improve the agency's business. (And I think he's tired of feeling bad for himself/being everyone's whore.)

LondonLee (#922)

What a crowd-pleaser that "intro" to the SCDP offices was. And there was Joanie in her own office! They nailed the proto-Mod, pop-Art vibe, seems like it was edited a lot quicker too.

May take me a while to adjust to the new liberated Peggy though, sitting on her desk with a drink in her hand.

Absolutely loved that segment. I was irrationally giddy watching it.

Joan having her own office was a definite highlight (along with Don asking to get slapped around, which…just wow), and put a smile on my face for the rest of the episode.

Yesssss. Delicious chum. Nom Nom Nom.

Peggy in full blossom was a bit tougher to swallow!

joshc (#442)

Given the snap and shine of SCDP, why (beyond SYMBOLISM) was Don's new apartment so wretched? You'd have thought Joan would've found him a place with at least a little light.

ParkerBenchley (#6,355)

I'm trying to draw up a floor plan from what I saw. Loved Joan in her own office, and loved Peggy's creative room – reminded me a lot of the layout room on an old newspaper I worked at back in the 80s.

gumplr (#66)

I don't know if I have the emotional fortitude to withstand the Sally Draper plot line this season. That is going to be heartrending.

mathnet (#27)

WORD. UP. Is it just Kiernan growing up, or is Sally supposed to have an eating disorder?

oudemia (#177)

I was thinking the same thing. Jesus.

mathnet (#27)

(or simply be depressed)

oudemia (#177)

In trying to figure out how old Sally Draper was supposed to be, I found some article saying that Kiernan grew several inches in the off season.

keisertroll (#1,117)

Five bucks says Sally dies fighting in 'Nam.

City_Dater (#2,500)

@gumplr:

I hope there will be some reason Don has to bring her to the office for a day and Peggy and/or Joan will give her some smart-mouthed lady advice so she'll realize she isn't doomed to grow up thwarted, mean, and useless like Mommy.

She's 10 in real life, and I think she's supposed to be 12 on the show? I looked this up because I was trying to figure out if she'll be old enough to run away to San Francisco in a couple of seasons.

@math: Take a look back at seasons one and two; do you even for one second see Betsy Draper put a single bite of food in her mouth? Also, there was some foreshadowing of an eating disorder when Betsy says, "They're never too young to start worrying about their weight" or something along those lines, while chatting with her friend at the riding academy.

LondonLee (#922)

I think she was 6 last season.

I have been wondering about Sally so hard! She is as at the mercy of all of the Draper manias, Betty's mood swings, indifference of the universe! We must all ready ourselves for some serious tween angst!

bb (#295)

after the preview of next week I was kind of wondering if Sally is going to end up moving in with Don? I know that is totally unrealistic for the times, but a girl can wish..

KenWheaton (#401)

For the record, Ad Age never had a reporter with a fake leg.

LondonLee (#922)

So they could afford a whole reporter?

keisertroll (#1,117)

So he WILL be able to play golf again.

mathnet (#27)

The fact that Don was with a hooker and Bethany last night–does that mean we're really free of Suzanne?

Jared (#1,227)

Bethany is a hooker too, of course. No sorry: a courtesan. (Was that supposed to be subtle?)

YAYAYAYAYA!!

I think that's the same lady-of-the-night Roger used?

mathnet (#27)

"Candace" is played by a Ms. Erin Cummings. HEH, OF COURSE. And she's only credited with a total of two Mad Men episodes–both in Season 4. Roger's lady had more petite features, I think.

Fucking Suzanne.

ParkerBenchley (#6,355)

Way too many whore references for it to be subtle. Talk about painting with a broad brush!

Maevemealone (#968)

I totally got my hopes up that the car sexy time/late return home meant Betty and Henry had asphixiated in the garage. Alas…

mathnet (#27)

ME TOO!

gumplr (#66)

yup

LondonLee (#922)

Me four.

Crantastical (#4,127)

That was such a tease!

joshc (#442)

YES. I thought it was Don's entry into single parenting.

barnhouse (#1,326)

Me seven.

mathnet (#27)

She's 11, and I think Sally is 10.

mathnet (#27)

(obvs meant as a reply to the Kiernan/Sally thread above)

La Cieca (#1,110)

The JFK assassination episode established that Sally was in fourth grade in November 1963, so that's easy: she's exactly my age.

mathnet (#27)

Who's Jeff Atherton?

mathnet (#27)

Oh! And was Don just making his bed in anticipation of bringing Bethany back to his place, or was that scene about letting us know that he's obsessed with control during all this upheaval?

I think the former (seeing as how pan-ethnic maid was like, "your shinebox was in the middle of the floor" etc. Don thought he was just gonna bag her. etc.

mathnet (#27)

Love Rosie Perez's mom as the maid!

Smitros (#5,315)

It took me until just now to figure this out, but Don's Jantzen ad is also an oblique reference to the firm's non-existent second floor.

tulip (#3,010)

Foreshadowing perhaps?!

mathnet (#27)

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG NVG! YOU ACKNOWLEDGED ME!

mathnet (#27)

Nobody talk to me! I have to read it again!

YAYYAYAY!!! I've been waiting for this *magic* moment!

mathnet (#27)

I have nearly outed myself as Mathy several times today by accident IN SHEER GIGGLY JOY!

mathnet (#27)

Did you know your name is Natasha Vargas-Gooper!

That's my slave name!

LondonLee (#922)

Finished the book yesterday (excellent of course) and discovered we have a mutual friend in Ben Schwarz. I used to work at The Atlantic where I designed the book review section.

Haven't spoken to him since I left when the mag decamped to DC, say hello to him for me.

Patrick M (#404)

I was also happy Peggy got rid of: (1) her bangs; (2) Duck Phillips. In that order.

OMG! OMG! You're right! I've been team Duck since '62

asIremember (#6,323)

are Betty and Henry married? is now Nov (Thanksgiving) 1964? I miss Sal also!

Yup. You know they're married because his mom(?) tells him that he could've gotten "what he wanted from her" (or the only thing she's good for, or whatever) "without marrying her."

mathnet (#27)

Plus his wedding ring was visible during the Thanksgiving dinner scene. HENRY REMINDS ME SO MUCH OF THIS BROBAG I WENT TO HIGH SCHOOL WITH AND I REALLY WANT TO PUNCH HIM IN THE NECK

either i'm bored out of my mind or this was a HELL of an episode. anytime someone gets slapped by a hooker on thanksgiving, it is a win for all.

Matt Grieser (#6,333)

Who can translate the shorthand notes the reporter had on Don?

funnylady1956 (#6,337)

Natasha, While we'd LOVE to claim Mr. Freberg as "one of the Tribe" if one did a little bit of what was done in the 1950's and 60's, a thing called RESEARCH, you would find what more than a few posts here already said. He's a Baptist. It is good to see Stan's work out and about to a new generation of fans, however.

Yes, mam'. Sorry to have offend.

kat (#6,338)

Do you think Roger is really writing a book (as he mentions to the reporter at the beginning), or was he just making conversation/a joke? It would be interesting to see what kind of mythology/manifesto he came up with, since he didn't seem too thrilled sitting it meetings where it was all about Don and his "vision."

Also, the dynamic between Betty, Henry and his family made me realize how absurd it was that he said he wanted to marry her after only meeting her about 4 times. How much could they possibly have known about eachother? And she somehow felt secure enough in that to leave her husband for him. Does anybody know if this is realistic for that time?
That Thanksgiving scene almost made Betty and Don's marriage look good…

dansj (#6,340)

Re: the Jantzen ad …

I don't think it was an intentionally bad ad. I think it was an ad resulting from a conflict between the client's wishes and the creative team's instincts.

But on MM, no ad is created in a vacuum, so it also represents Don's slow realization of the type of firm he wants to be running. He's let others define/represent SCDP for the past few weeks (Ad Age, Peggy) without him weighing in in his own defense.

Jantzen's premise is stupid on its face. You can't get a little bit pregnant. Either embrace the naughtiness, or stop making two-piece bathing suits. Same with Don – you can't go around angry at what everyone else is doing when you can't even answer a basic question of identity.

dansj (#6,340)

kat – Roger's book is going to be called "Sterling on Steling" – it's a callback to Ogilvy's book, "Ogilvy on Advertising", mentioned in S3.

Also, I don't think it was unusual for Betty to jump into Henry's arms. MW has said that their intention is for Betty to have gone through all she has learning absolutely nothing. So far, mission accomplished.

Dave Bry (#422)

I am late. Because I missed Sunday night's airing and had to wait til 11 o'clock Monday to watch. But I loved the episode and wanted to say that I'm very happy to this column back in my life.

Also: Don's botched Jantzen ad, I think, was mostly meant to show that Don was truly bottoming out. Letting his personal life, his sexual thoughts (when the hooker offered to take off her bra, he didn't let her) effect his creative work. To a losing effect this time.

I am also late! And I kinda wished that Don would've shacked back up with that Bohemian wannabe who lived in the Village from Season 1.

ParkerBenchley (#6,355)

Yeah, I always thought Midge was the right one for him. Of course, they way she was introduced in S01E01, we all thought she was his significant other. Betty and the kids came as a surprise at the end of the episode.

Dory Kornfeld (#6,359)

And so what do we think about Don living at 6th ave and Waverly? That seems awfully close to the bohemian happenings of the Village for Don–it's a mere block from where the photo was taken for the cover of "The Freewheeling Bob Dylan," in 1963!

hi Natasha,
fantastic site and I plan to get your book soon. (found you via your facebook ad)

I cover Mad Men and interviewed the cast on the red carpet at the premiere. I hope to keep in touch; I'll ping you on my site, please ping me back and let's tawlk Mad Men.
http://bit.ly/cZXkSB

-Dan
http://TelematicDan.com
http://MadAboutMadMen.com

Post a Comment