City Paper is not for tourists
Nicholas Cassadine was sent to the Middle East to perform vulnerability assessment on U.S. military bases. He ended up designing an underwear line for gay men.
“I was in the mountains of Afghanistan and had a lot of time on my hands,” admits the 28-year-old naval officer. It was there, in Taliban country, that clothing company Disco Valante was born.
Cassadine says that Disco Valante’s model skivvies–like a skimpy brief with a star-shooting boom box printed on its ass–aren’t targeted exclusively toward gays. In a press release, Cassadine writes that the line aims to “speak to everyone’s sexiness,” but admits that “strength and interest would be more prevalent in the gay/metro-sexual community.”
With the catchprase “Style.Underwear.Lyfe,” it’s clear that Disco Valante aims to promote a lifestyle along with its underthings. The clothing line’s blog provides lifestyle tips including how to sculpt “killer biceps” to emulate tennis player Raphael Nadal, and “how to choose a great fitting T-shirt” (“if you have items not from Disco Valante, we recommend finding a local tailor and having him/her adjust your clothes to fit your body,” the website suggests). According to the blog profile, Disco Valente’s favorite music includes Michael Jackson, Sade, and George Michael.
The Village People‘s “In The Navy” notwithstanding, the lifestyle isn’t one that typically jibes with military culture. But “there’s no conflict,” insists Cassadine, currently stationed in Qatar. “It’s just business.” Still, his mock-up underwear designs have raised some eyebrows around the base. “Some people in the office, they can’t help but look over my shoulder,” he says. “When they see me looking at a picture of a guy with his ass cheeks hanging out of the bottom of his shorts, yeah, they can wonder what’s going on.”
So far, nobody’s asking or telling. Cassadine says his own heterosexuality has not been questioned. “It’s just the oddity of a young guy starting a clothing label,” he says. “A clothing label that’s mostly underwear.”
Following his return to the District this summer, Cassadine hopes to debut his first pair of briefs as early as September, with t-shirts and other graphic apparel rolling out later. Cassadine plans on selling the underwear for 25 to 35 dollars a pair.
Update: I give you “Sex Panther,” a mock-up from Disco Valante’s underwear line-in-progress.