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Sunday, January 15, 2006

CAD: A HANDBOOK FOR HEELS

Cadwallader J. Cadd

Feral House published Cad: A Handbook for Heels back in 1992, and if the book didn't directly inspire so much of today's naughty revivalism (burlesque, cocktails, men's magazines, lad culture, etc.), it certainly presaged it.

Editor Charles Schneider subtitled the book "The Forgotten Lore of the Red-Blooded American Male," and this the world of men weaned on Russ Meyer, strip clubs, naughty cocktail napkins, and war comics. It's tough, cynical, mean-spirited, and gloatingly sexist. Articles include a look at tropical nude velvet painter Edgar Lateeg, a history of the rum trade, illustrations by Playboy (and Mad Magazine!) cartoonist Bill Ward, illuminated versions of antique bawdy songs, and a bevvy of photos of curvacious, semi-clad beauties.

Hewing too close to the book's worldview is likely to turn a man into an oblivious anachronism at best. At worst he might become genuinely despicable -- the dyed-in-the-wool, skirt-chasing, sodden, woman hating cad of the title. Fortunately, the book suggests that this unchivalrous persona might be adopted with a wink and a nudge, in the manner of an excellent naughty joke. As a result, Cad manages to make the world of nasty men seem positively irresistable.

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