[Ads-l] Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay (UNCLASSIFIED)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 9 19:44:07 UTC 2015


It is not certain that Hammett meant "catamite" at all.

HDAS:

The earliest ex. (1910) clearly means "boy or raw youth."

"Catamite" appears in 1918.

"A stupid or contemptible fellow," 1932.

"Gunman," 1943.

A WW2 navy officer  told me in a bar (really) in the early '70s that he'd
frequently used it to mean a useless sailor because - wait for it - "a gun
*has* no sail." He spelled it "guns'l."

JL

On Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 3:15 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay (UNCLASSIFIED)
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> > On Jun 9, 2015, at 2:26 PM, Baker, John <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
> >=20
> > Yes, what the uncredited author of the Toni Gay/Butch Dykeman stories =
> did was similar to what Dashiell Hammett did with "gunsel" in The =
> Maltese Falcon (1929), when he used it to mean "catamite" but left his =
> editor with the impression that it was some form of "gunman."  The usage =
> was repeated in the 1941 movie, undetected by Hays Code censors.
>
> Yup, and no doubt Hammett enjoyed goosing the censors.
>
> LH
> >=20
> > "Gay," "Butch," and "Dykeman" were more defensible than "gunsel," in =
> that "Gay" and "Dykeman" are actual surnames and "Butch" was then a =
> fairly common male nickname.  However, "gay," "butch," and "dyke" have =
> since gone mainstream, so their use together is striking to the average =
> reader.  "Gunsel," catamite, is still unknown to the average person.
> >=20
> >=20
> > John Baker
> >=20
> >=20
> >=20
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On =
> Behalf Of Laurence Horn
> > Sent: Monday, June 08, 2015 3:32 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay (UNCLASSIFIED)
> >=20
> >> On Jun 8, 2015, at 3:15 PM, Baker, John <JBaker at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:
> >>=20
> >> Thanks, Bill, very interesting.  As Bill's link indicates, there were =
> even some attempts at establishing comics codes prior to the 1954 Comics =
> Code Authority.  However, these either were unenforced or applied only =
> to one publisher.  The stories featuring Toni Gay and Butch Dykeman were =
> published by Star Publications, which subsequently was to be singled out =
> for criticism in Seduction of the Innocent (although I don't think there =
> was any reference to these particular stories).  Effectively, despite =
> the increasing public criticism, comic books in 1949 - 1951 were limited =
> only by what distributors were willing to carry, and distributors saw =
> themselves as in the business of distribution, not editing.  (I've =
> written before about the very different situation with newspaper comic =
> strips, which were carefully edited by a syndicate and then received =
> editorial scrutiny again at many of the newspapers running the strip.)  =
> We don't see comic books from this period with explicit nudity or strong =
> obscenities, but distributors had no interest in combing through comic =
> books to spot inappropriate words like "butch" and "dyke" (or, to use an =
> example from Mad Comics that was disguised as a town name, "poontang").  =
> This relative freedom was to change radically in 1954 with the Comics =
> Code Authority, which did comb through books looking for inappropriate =
> material.  Star Publications did not survive the change. =20
> >>=20
> >> While I haven't done an extensive survey, I don't think that either =
> Seduction of the Innocent or any of the other criticisms of comic books =
> chose to mention Toni Gay or Butch Dykeman.  I see this as further =
> support for my assertion that the terms "butch" and "dyke," although =
> already extant, were still little-known, since the critics likely would =
> have seized upon this evidence if they had recognized it for what it =
> was.
> >>=20
> >>=20
> >> John Baker
> >=20
> > and what if they had featured "Butch Dykeman and his trusty gunsel"?
> >=20
> > LH
> >>=20
> >>=20
> >>=20
> >>=20
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On =
> Behalf Of Mullins, Bill CIV (US)
> >> Sent: Monday, June 08, 2015 1:49 PM
> >> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> >> Subject: Re: Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay (UNCLASSIFIED)
> >>=20
> >> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
> >> Caveats: NONE
> >>=20
> >> Thanks, fascinating post.  Despite having been a comics collector in =
> my youth, having worked in a comic book store, and having paid attention =
> to comics for just this sort of thing for 35+ years, I'd never heard of =
> Gay and Dykeman before.
> >>=20
> >> One minor comment -- people were paying attention to the potential =
> negative influences of comics for several years before SotI in 1954.  =
> The author, Fredric Wertham, wrote an article about how bad comics were =
> for kids in a 1948 Saturday Review of Literature.
> >>=20
> >> Here=20
> >> =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.seductionofthein=
> nocent.org_TheAntiComicsCrusade.htm&d=3DAwIF-g&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&=
> r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=3DNhtIPbdcFQuu3nqjtKA4e4=
> cyG69ZDTUFz6NWhICZcLk&s=3DUdIvXdkJkUpfWbAyf9yno0JEKUC0mDl0CmTb9NC8-jY&e=3D=
> =20
> >> is a timeline for such things.
> >>=20
> >>=20
> >>> -----Original Message-----
> >>> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> >>> Behalf Of Baker, John
> >>> Sent: Saturday, June 06, 2015 10:37 AM
> >>> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> >>> Subject: Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay
> >>>=20
> >>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header =
> ---------------
> >>> --------
> >>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> >>> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> >>> Subject:      Butch Dykeman and Miss Gay
> >>> =
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> --------
> >>>=20
> >>> I recently encountered the old comic book characters Toni Gay and =
> Butch
> >>> Dyk=3D eman, although it seems that these names have attracted =
> comment on
> >>> the Inte=3D rnet for years.  It would seem that the names adhere too
> >>> strongly to the sa=3D me theme to be coincidence.  Particularly =
> striking
> >>> is the story in Popular =3D Teen-Agers #6 (Jan. 1951), the first =
> page of
> >>> which is at =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__digitalcomi-3D&d=3DA=
> wIF-g&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRs=
> MFFaLQ&m=3DNhtIPbdcFQuu3nqjtKA4e4cyG69ZDTUFz6NWhICZcLk&s=3D43xvXHZ6AjNJ307=
> bq1nswdeOS4T0Gd0XIq2E4VKEzI4&e=3D=20
> >>> cmuseum.com/preview/index.php?did=3D3D5695&page=3D3D3, where a gym
> >>> instructor s=3D laps Butch Dykeman around for his bad posture. =3D20
> >>>=20
> >>> Toni Gay started as Toni Gayle, a "glamorous model with a yen for =
> crime
> >>> det=3D ecting."  She appeared under that name in comics such as =
> Young
> >>> King Cole, G=3D uns Against Gangsters, and Thrilling Crime Cases.  =
> Still
> >>> using the Toni Gay=3D le name, she was first paired up with Butch =
> Dykeman
> >>> in School-Day Romances =3D
> >>> #1 (Nov. - Dec. 1949), in which she was a student at the Venus =
> School
> >>> of Mo=3D deling and he was a student at the adjacent Adonis School =
> of
> >>> Dramatic Arts.=3D
> >>> The crime-fighting adventures were now done; Butch and Toni instead
> >>> were =3D comedic romantic figures, and some stories also featured =
> Toni's
> >>> romantic ri=3D val, Eve Ardor.  Without explanation, Toni Gayle's =
> last
> >>> name changed to Gay=3D  with School-Day Romances #4 (May - June =
> 1950) (or
> >>> possibly #3, which I don=3D 't see online).  School-Day Romances =
> changed
> >>> its name to Popular Teen-Agers=3D  with #5 (Sept. 1950).  Gay and =
> Dykeman
> >>> continued as a feature through Popu=3D lar Teen-Agers #7 (Apr. =
> 1951), and
> >>> Gay appeared without Dykeman in Popular =3D Teen-Agers #8 (July =
> 1951).
> >>> After that Popular Teen-Agers became a standard=3D  romance comic =
> that
> >>> did not have regular characters, continuing in that for=3D mat until =
> #23
> >>> (Nov. 1954).
> >>>=20
> >>> Comic books in the 1949 to 1951 period received little formal
> >>> attention, an=3D d there was considerable flexibility in what could =
> be
> >>> portrayed.  This was =3D to change radically in 1954, with the
> >>> publication of the best-seller Seduct=3D ion of the Innocent and
> >>> publishers' institution of the Comics Code Authorit=3D y, which =
> imposed a
> >>> rigorous system of censorship, but it was still an almos=3D =
> t-anything-
> >>> goes system for Butch Dykeman and Toni Gay.  These comics are no=3D =
> t
> >>> antedatings of "gay," "butch," or "dyke," but they are early uses =
> and
> >>> dem=3D onstrate that the terms were sufficiently little-known that =
> they
> >>> could be u=3D sed as names in a children's comic book.
> >>>=20
> >>>=20
> >>> John Baker
> >>>=20
> >>> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> The American Dialect Society - =
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=3Dhttp-3A__www.americandialect.=
> org&d=3DAwIF-g&c=3D-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=3DwFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsS=
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> V-9pXUosSaNh7vwwtz2cnDy7ZycAPX4jTDUNc&e=3D=20
> >>=20
> >> Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
> >> Caveats: NONE
> >>=20
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society - =
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> >>=20
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