Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from thrift stores, estate sales, and flea markets.
Body Talk: The Science of Kinesics
Author: Maude Poiret
Publisher: Award Books
Discovered at: The Second Best Thrift Shop, Astoria, Queens
The Cover Asks: “Do you recognize the sex signals in this paragraph?”
The Cover Suggests: That being not quite able to wedge fruit into your mouth is a “sex signal.”
Do you stand with your buttocks pushed out prominently? Then you may have hostile sexual feelings. (page 126)
On the whole, people who win promotions seem to have erect posture with good muscle control. (page 112)
Like pretty much everything else in American life, the study of kinesics–which posits that the way we move and position our bodies communicates what’s going on inside of us–had gone from being a real thing to just another way to try to get laid.
Thus, the arrival of a book like Body Talk, whose come-on of a cover couldn’t be more aggressive: “Marketers and people who work at Esquire all know the secret,” it seems to be saying. “Wouldn’t you like to take advantage of people, too?”
Body Talk promises, on its back cover, to improve your sex and work lives, but the book is a disappointment in almost all ways. Its science is shallow, its advice ridiculous, and this is its idea of a healthy romantic couple:
Remember, for all that sex, the ’70s were also the decade of Ziggy.
Notice that it could not possibly be the people around her who are limp and uninteresting.
For a woman, the value of any individual moment of living is directly proportionate to how much any nearby men happen to be turned on:
Don’t think that your dessert is for you to enjoy!
This next shot offers foolproof advice for getting the attention of a good man:
Be stunningly beautiful. Wear teensy skirts. Force every interaction to be as hands-on-hands active as a performance of The Miracle Worker.
Because the ’70s were an enlightened age, Body Talk acknowledges that men, too, were obliged to make some effort. One hint: When seducing a woman, never dare look like you’re having a good time.
Smiling too big wasn’t a problem for women, though. I mean, really, what did they have to smile about, anyway?
“Faint” is the preferred setting for lady-smiles, but I bet that “wan,” “pained,” and “forced” all would be acceptable, too.
One surprise: The authors often seem to mis-read the body language in their own photoshoots. In the photo below, the one where he’s balled his hand into a fist and gazing upon her with furious disgust, does the problem truly appear to be her shyness?
Also, note the verb choice in the caption. It is the man’s job, in Body Talk, to “penetrate” her defenses. That unsavory metaphor becomes even more clear here:
But, ugh, all that is really depressing, so let’s move on to the book’s one non-invasive demonstration of the power of kinesics. Here’s how to ace a job interview, fellows. You tweeze your ‘stache, splash on cologne, and then–oh.
In the ’70s, there was no problem a man couldn’t lick by making women want to lick fruit in front of him!
Finally: Speaking of outdated, aggressive, performative masculinity, the thrift shop where I scored Body Talk is also selling this signed headshot:
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 16, 2013
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