Once, not too long ago, young Americans enjoyed gazing on the ample and very visible bosom of the White Rock lady, a curvaceous nymph on a soda bottle. Alas, they’ve painted her over.
But for sheer sexiness today, it would be hard to outdo current beer labels. Some are works of art, primarily by Belgian painters, but others are out-and-out Playboy style and show just how far the BATF has moved with the times.
Try the Belgian import, Rubbel Sexy Lager, which features a rub-off and see what’s underneath its classic label, also right out of another era. From America’s West Coast, gaze on Wanker, featuring a half-dozen Baywatch (rejects?) babes on the bottle. If you don’t know what Wanker means in England and Australia, ask one of your Brit pals. Australian owner Fred Van Urk exhibited his six-pack of pulchritude through a recent beer show and if Wanker wasn’t the most popular stand in the hall, it was definitely well up there.
From the prurient to the precious, there’s always real art, such as Belgian painter Raymond Coumans’ naked blonde warming the cockels of the beer god Gambrinus. Shelton Brouers, which imports that line, originally submitted the fully clothed blonde label to the BATF, brought in one shipment and then thought it might try the real thing. Fortunately, the original passed the label authorities as a work of art.
Speaking of aptly named, there is also Hoegaarden’s Forbidden Fruit, which shows Adam and Eve on the brink of succumbing to temptation in a glass, rather than an apple. That’s also a work of art as are the two versions of Belgium’s famed Mannekin Pis, a statue which graces the city of Brussels, giving visible evidence of what beer does for you.
The BATF seems to have been much tougher on wine. It literally cut the balls off a male painted by famed French artist Jean Dubuffet on a label for a Clos Pegase wine, the 1988 Hommage red. When the BATF vetoed frontal nudity, owner Jan Shrem, a noted art collector, shaved the label just above its private parts.
The BATF was more lenient with a pre-pubescent nymphet painted by Balthus for the 1993 Mouton Rothschild. The label, part of an ongoing series done each vintage by noted world artists for Mouton, was sanctioned by the feds, but portions of the American public called it prurient and so it never appeared in the States. If you want to see the Balthus babe, you’ll have to go to France.
The Greeks seem to have an affinity for unclothed femininity in art and on their wine labels. All of these are works of art and are almost enough to convert us to Greece’s tar-flavored wine, Retsina. Check ’em out at your favorite ethnic wine shop. They’re in the adult section.
by Morton Hochstein