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1970-1975: Fastener Fascination
The Point of Collision
   Two major themes dominate the shrinking bikini throughout the 1960s and 1970s. One concerns the general narrowing and reduction of the bikini in general. This momentum to some extent drives the second, which is the mechanics of how the suit is fastened together in order to say on--and to be taken off of--the body. These elements include a rich tableau of soutien-gorge tying and fastening details. In fact, may of these style components persist well past the millennium and have sufficient worth to deserve their own page in Bikiniology termed fastenology.
   By the early 1970s, the declining waistline of culotte nombril, now precariously below the pubic bone and not always covering the buttocks, collides with the slower-rising legline. The emerging point of contact--the side of the bikini brief--provides the focus for a flurry of design creativity. The resulting silhouettes include culotte sidegather, in which gathers and bow ties narrow the sides of the culotte, culotte sidering, in which rings hold the front and back of the culotte together, culotte sidestrap, in which the side of the culotte is reduced to a decorative strap (with or without a fastener), and culotte sidetie, in which the front and back of the culotte are tied together at the side in a knot.
   The ultimate conclusion of these two developments is the the thinning of the strap to a pair of string cords which are tied at the sides of the culotte. This silhouette, which matures during the late 1970s, is commonly called the string bikini, and is one of the most definitive of all bikini silhouettes.

Culotte Sidegather
   As the dominant 1950s-1960s evolution toward a lower brief forces the sides of the culotte to become narrower, one way to accelerate the process is to attach a pair of elastic strings to the side of the brief so that the bikiniite may gather the material at the side and secure it into a narrow bundle (JJ7110, RS7601BS). Thus although the origin of the culotte sidegather predate the 1970s, it is not until this decade that the minimization pressures on the bikini propel the silhouette to mainstream center stage (HA7650).

Ring Bikini
   Closely allied to fastenings are rings--essentially a circle of steel or plastic which may be fastened to two or more pieces of fabric. During the 1960s and 1970s rings emerge in bandeau, bra and halter styles (WG7303), as well as the sides of the culotte, the so-called culotte sidering (FV6950, WH7250). Rings also emerge as a way to connect tops and bottoms of maillots (BZ6805, CK6810), and in one of the very first tangas (CB7501). Although their presence will ebb and flow, they will be a mainstay of bikini design for decades.

Sidestrap Bikini
   The progressive narrowing of material at the sides of the culotte and the narrowing of the halter straps bring straps into major bikini play, both in the top and the culotte sidestrap. The species archives full definition as worn by Cheryl Tiegs for Sports Illustrated in the annual swimsuit issue of 1974 (CT7410). For a young lady on a local beach, the sidestrap represents a natural and incremental raising the stakes of exposure (JR7301). The challenge is what to do when the waistline and legline fully intersect (PE7410).
   As with the ring, the strap returns to play a role in the post-minimalist era of the 1980s and 1990s. Straps work with with the rising legline v-kini as well as the tanga.

Culotte Sidetie
   The knot is a true alternative to the gather. Indeed, the knot in swimwear is well-established for bandeaux and halters; its use on the side of the brief to hold the front and back together in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s is a natural, novel and erotic development (RS7605-06). Obviously the sidetie is usually a component of the string culotte, popularized in the late 1970s, but it is also engineered into bikinis that do not have strings at the sides.
   In fact, the culotte sidetie had been established in pinup literature as early as 1950, but does not become mainstream until the side of the culotte narrows. Halfway between the nombril and string, sidetie represents an important erotic escalation, because, unlike even a narrow strap, the (bow) tie has the potential of being unfastened. Thus, not only is the bikini bottom perilously low, possibly showcasing the dimples in the small of the back and base of the spine, and perhaps a tease of pubic hair, but it is easily unknotted as well. "For better suntans," Vogue would announce, but a smart young woman would learn how to tie double knots, if not square ones, lease her own tease be turned against her.

Fasteners and Knots
   Topside, too, knots challenge to be kept closed--bandeau front or back, halters at the neck and/or back or front, and bras, usually either front or back (fig. 19-5).
   The very ability of knots to be transient invite suggestive deployment by the bikiniite. Partial striptease becomes part of the beach vocabulary (fig. 19-6). Fastening and unfastening one's suit while in public view at the beach or pool-side requires a disciplined skill. These performances include putting swimsuits on and taking them off underneath blouses and skirts and selectively untying halter and backstraps for the purpose of avoiding strap mark tan lines. Closely related are unusual wrap styles (SI7110).
   Gathers, rings, and straps place the side of the culotte into rich play, but the final element is the integration of fasteners into the side of the culotte. Over the years fasteners had included buttons, knots, snaps, hooks and eyes, zippers, and clasps, but the new generation of fastener is not buried in the garment but bold, distinctive, suggestive, provocative. Fasteners, both in the soutien-gorge and the culotte now become direct in purpose, acquired self-identity and part of the focus of the play of the swimsuit: not only is the bikini getting smaller, it is also getting easier to take off.
   Fasteners are a sufficently major topic in Bikini Science that they are accorded their own page, Fasteners and Fastenology.
   And not only in private, but especially in public. For there now exists a vocabulary of actions that empower the bikiniite in her very public seduction: partial public removals like strap offshoulders if not strapoffs, lying on ones stomach with the top backstrap unfastened, and retying a halter into a bandeau. And with the culotte there exist similar provocations.

Thongs, G-strings and Topless
   Although it remains a future fashion phenomena, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and early 1970s also contains hints of the future to come. In the 1960s Brigitte Bardot advocated the topless bikini and Rudi Gernreich previewed the topless maillot, now, in 1974, Gernreich attacks from a different direction, with his thong bikini (in both male and female styles) baring the butt (RG7410). By the following year the French fashion magazine Elle documents the full combination--a topless g-string--at the beach (E197501), while Christie Brinkley demonstrates a tanga for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (CB7501). That same year Gernreich creates the maillot tanga (HN7501, others). All together, this will pretty much wrap up the design space for the next 30 years.
Untieing becomes a real possibility.
   1970s--Cher bares her navel on the TV show the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, ending a ban on navel exposures on American TV.
   1970s--Brazilian TV begins producing soap operas where a lot of the action occurs on the beach. From this emerges the Rio mythology of small bikinis and a relaxed life style.
   1970--Brigette Bardot plays a nun in The Novices, and prays on the beach in a bikini to save the prostitute Annie Giradot.
   1971--Liv Lindeland becomes the first Playboy Playmate to show public hair.
   1971--Sexual frankness on American TV as Archie Bunker's son-in-law admits impotence in All In the Family. In another episode Archie rants against gays, unaware that one of his tough beer-drinking buddies is gay.
   1971--A nude Jacqueline Bisset plays a passionate lovemaking scene in the film Secrets.
   1971--Cybill Sherpherd joins others in a small town nude bathing party in the movie The Last Picture Show.
   1971--The film The Telephone Book sets the record for the most people in bed, with 12.
   1971--Ken Russell make a film, The Devils, which is violent, blasphemous, sexual, and sado-masochistic.
   1971--The Boston Women's Health Book Collective publishes the first edition of Our Bodies, Our Selves, a guide to women's sexuality and sexual health.
   1971--The first S&M support group in the United States, The Eulenspiegel Society, is founded in New York.
   1972--Jockey introduces celebrity endorsers into the underwear business, with Wally Cox wearing underwear in a national ad.
   1972--In the TV series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show the working single woman character Mary Richards admits to taking birth control pills.
   1972--The TV show Maude depicts a character who elects to have an abortion.
   1972--Anal sex is introduced to the big screen zs Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider practice sodomy in Last Tango in Paris.
   1972--The book The Joy of Sex is published.
   1972--Burt Reynolds appears nude in Cosmopolitan magazine.
   1972--Male-male rape arrives in Hollywood as Billy McKinney rapes Ned Beatty in Deliverance.
   1973--In Roe vs. Wade, United States Supreme Court establishes right of a woman to have an abortion.
   1972--Live nude girls peep shows surface in Times Square.
   1973--Hard core porno movies break into the mass release. Deep Throat, staring Line Lovelace and glorifying oral sex, becomes the first hardcore porno film to enter mainstream distribution and the highest grossing X-rated movie in history. Other successful titles include The Devil in Miss Jones, starring Georgina Spelvin, and Behind the Green Door, starring Marilyn Chambers.
   1973--The Supreme Court, in Miller vs. California, rules that any work with "substantial literary, artistic, political or scientific value" cannot be ruled obscene.
   1973--In another ruling, involving the Atlanta, Georgia screening of Carnal Knowledge, the Supreme Court opens up the concept of local standards in the issue of censorship.
   1973--Margo St. James forms Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE), an organization advocating the decriminalization of prostitution and a prostitute's right group.
   1974--The streaking fad hits America. The largest mass streaking involves 1543 people at the University of Georgia. One streaker flashes a peace sign during the televised Academy Awards.
   1974--Betty Dodson self-publishes Liberating Masturbation, a booklet on the female anatomy and how to masturbate.
   1974--Rudi Gernreich creates the thong bikini in both male and female styles.
   1975--First appearance of tanga and g-string as swimwear, by Elle in France, documenting topless g-strings at the beach, and by a staged Christie Brinkley for Sports Illustrated.
   1975--Rudi Gernreich creates the maillot tanga.
   1975--Chesty Morgan and her 73 inch breasts star in the movie Deadly Weapons.
Sidering Culotte Bikini
Late 1970s
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