1950s Bathroom / Bar Graffiti
December 31, 2012 8:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm helping the art director on a 1950s period webisode series. There are a few shots which are inside of a bar bathroom. We're interested in recreating graffiti that would have existed in that era and before, since the bar has been open about twenty years. I've come across references to 'Kilroy was here', but not much else. Can anyone help me out?
posted by edaptlab to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The favorite 1950s graffito I've ever seen referenced was this one:

My mother made me a homosexual.
If I get her the yarn, will she make me one, too?

Kinsey actually did a study of bathroom graffiti as part of his research into human sexuality; it was published in the early 50s, so if you can get your hands on it, it should be a great resource.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:18 AM on December 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did you come across the various articles on the Toilet Psychology book by Nick Haslam that were floating around not too long ago? Many of them quoted this part in particular:

Alfred Kinsey was one of the first researchers to enter the field, surveying the walls of more than 300 public toilets in the early 1950s and finding more erotic content in men’s and more romantic content in women’s. Later research has found that men’s graffiti also tend to be more scatological, insulting, prejudiced, and image-based, and less likely to offer advice or otherwise respond to previous remarks.

Theorists have struggled to explain differences such as these. True to his time, Kinsey ascribed them to women’s supposedly greater regard for social conventions and lesser sexual responsiveness. Psychoanalytic writers proposed that graffiti writing was a form of ‘phallic expression’ or that men pursued it out of an unconscious envy of women’s capacity for childbirth. Semioticians argued that men’s toilet graffiti signify and express political dominance, whereas women’s respond to their subordination. Social identity theorists proposed that gender differences in latrinalia reflect the salience of gender in segregated public bathrooms: rather than merely revealing their real, underlying differences, women and men polarise their behaviour in these gender-marked settings so as to exaggerate their femaleness or maleness.

More recently still, toilet graffiti seems to have gone into decline. Arguably in the internet age there is little point writing taboo thoughts on bathroom walls: why scribble for a meagre one-at-a-time audience when you can make equally vulgar anonymous comments on a public discussion board or chatroom?

posted by peagood at 8:19 AM on December 31, 2012

There are several books out there about the history of graffiti. This one looks comprehensive, and it also seems to delve into the graffiti of specific cities.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:55 AM on December 31, 2012

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