Monday, July 23, 2012
A Suntan Lotion of the Mind
It was, as you know, the opposite of sunblock, and your goal was to tan every bit of you that you could show out in public. Except the belly button. And that's where Sutra comes in. This stuff was supposed to "filter sun" while you tanned, and it was only going to take you one day to get a tan.
Too bad everyone in the ad is as orange as the background. Use Sutra and everything will turn orange, including you. Navel orange jokes can go here. I can't think of any, though.
Sutra was endorsed by the AMA, according to this 1947 ad, because it was the only suntan lotion to contain hydroquinone "the wonder sun filter of modern science." Hydroquinone was (and sometimes still is) used as a skin bleaching agent. Sutra was still being sold as late as 1964, but this is one of the few print ads I've seen for it. There's one other from the late 40s that's similar to this one - i.e., with grinning lady, and everything drenched in orange. But without the guy lunging in from stage right in what I sincerely hope are not his underpants.
Sutra sounds like something that the Beat poets might have used. I guess they had to go out in the sun sometimes, you know. Jack Kerouac in particular, was strongly influenced by the Diamond Sutra (you can read about that in his 1965 work, Desolation Angels). And Allan Ginsberg wrote a poem called "Sunflower Sutra."
It's hard to picture the Beats on beach towels at Coney Island, though. It's more likely that they would go to the Coney Island of the Mind. And you don't need Sutra Tanning Lotion there. You just need a Tanning Lotion of the Mind. As long as you didn't turn completely orange, it would probably be OK.