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Even though the cowboy originated in Mexico and the Hawaiian Paniolo predates the Texas cowboy by decades…
No vision of the American West is complete without the sexy cowboy.
The concept of the cowboy has been a favorite of gay men going back to their origins in the 1800s. The obvious virile masculinity and camaraderie among men in the field is quite the mental and visual fodder for fantasy and fables. The wide open spaces that the cowboy "works" lend a haze of freedom to the idolization. Add in tight pants, leather boots, chaps, ropes, muscles - sigh. You don't have to go too far on the web today to find fetish sites idolizing the cowboy.
In reality, the typical cowboy wore a hat with a wide brim to provide protection from the unforgiving sunlight. Cattle kicked up clouds of dust on the drive, so the cowboy donned a bandanna over the lower half of his face. Chaps, or leggings, and high boots were worn as protection from briars and cactus needles. But we do tend to idealize…
Hollywood has been bringing us versions of the cowboy from the start. Westerns were a staple of the silver screen in the 1920s through the 1950s. Bonanza and Big Valley were among top rated shows featuring hot cow folk and cowpokes. And, it's been 11 years since Jake and Heath brought the story of the forbidden and secretive relationship between a rodeo cowboy and ranch hand to the screen.
Oh, cowboy fantasy, I wish we could quit you!
Perhaps it's the way his low-slung jeans accentuate his abs or the way his hat creates a sexy or sinister shadow on his face. Perhaps it's the way the jeans tightly hug his butt or the way his chaps create a visual focus on his bulging package in front. Perhaps it's the way his legs astride a powerful horse brings naughty thoughts to mind.........
Cowboy imagery is quintessentially American, but many myths cloud the truth about what life was actually like for the man on the range.
A Little Cowboy/Paniolo History
The first myth to dispel is that cowboys originated in the good ol' USA. They actually are a product of Mexico. Then imported to Hawaii. Then, 30 years later, imported to the Pacific northwest, California and Texas.
In 1798, Captain George Vancouver gifted Kamehameha I with five black longhorn cattle. Since they were ill and weak from the sea voyage, the king set the cattle free to roam the Big Island. By 1816 the cattle had thrived and multiplied and numbered in the thousands.
That same year, a western advisor to the king, John Palmer Parker, was given two acres of land and began to wrangle the maverick cows. Within a year, with the help of Hawaiian workers, Parker quickly established a booming beef, tallow and hide business with visiting whalers and sandalwood trading ships.
In 1832, Parker went to California to hire cowboys who could round up wild cattle and teach Hawaiians cattle and horse handling skills. Three Mexican-Spanish vaquero (cowboys) began working on Hawai`i island, first breaking in horses to turn them into working animals, then rounding up and handling hordes of cattle.
Hawaii's cowboys became known as paniolo, a corruption of ESPAÑOL. The term still refers to cowboys working in the Islands and to the culture their lifestyle spawned.
Hawaiians quickly picked up horsemanship, roping and other skills. Hawaiians became paniolo before the territories of the American West had cowboy or ranch traditions (California and Texas cowboy traditions started in 1848).
The beef business boomed and Parker Ranch was born. Over the next century it grew into one of the world’s largest privately-owned cattle ranches: 150,000 acres raising 30,000 head of prime Angus and Charolais beef cattle.
Today, paniolo traditions continue at many island locations with the bulk of them on the Big Island. The Paniolo Preservation Society works to increase public awareness of the historical, present-day and future significance of Hawaii’s ranching industry, with emphasis on the roles and traditions of the paniolo. Here's a video about Paniolo traditions.
Trivia tidbit: Today’s paniolo often use all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) in open country.