What is Handkerchief Code?
The handkerchief code, also known as the hanky code, the bandana code, and flagging, became popular in the 1970s. It was originally used by gay men, casual sex-seekers or BDSM practitioners to signify sexual acts and fetishes that they are interested in giving or receiving. Since then it has been adopted by queer and lesbian culture as well. It also has evolved to indicate and encompass many fetishes and BDSM subcultures.
Overall it is a color-coded system wherein a handkerchief is placed in specific side pockets. Putting a handkerchief on the left pocket indicates that one considers himself a “top” while wearing a handkerchief on the right pocket signifies that one is a “bottom”.
The Origins, Evolution, and History of the Code.
Men wearing bandanas originated in San Francisco after the Gold Rush. This happened due to the shortage of women and men dancing with each other in square dances. A code was developed wherein a man wearing a blue bandana took the male part while a man wearing a red bandana took the female part.
In the late 1970 or early 1971, Village Voice journalist simply joked about wearing different colored hankies instead of keys to indicate whether he is a “top” or “bottom”. Hence, the modern hanky code in New York City.
Some have also mentioned that the expansion of the red-blue system into the handkerchief code is due to marketing efforts by a San Francisco department store selling erotic merchandise in 1971.
Mr. S Leather founder, Allan Selby claimed that he is the first to create the hanky code in 1972. It was with his Leather n Things business partners when their supplier doubled their order of bandanas. The expanded code helped them sell the extra colors delivered to them.
Using the Hanky Code
The handkerchief code or flagging is not hard to do. One has to literally take a handkerchief, the color of his choice and put it in his pocket. One simply needs to put the handkerchief at the back right pocket if he is interested in receiving or bottoming a specific sexual act. On the other hand, if he is interested in giving or topping, he just needs to put the handkerchief at the back left pocket. There are some people who choose to tie a handkerchief around their necks to indicate that they are switching between top and bottom during the sexual act.
Popular Colors & Their Meaning
The color of the handkerchief indicates what sexual act one is into. The most popular colors are the most basic or broadest subcultures.
Black – sadomasochism
Blue (Dark) – anal sex
Brown – scat (feces)
Green – hustler / prostitute
Grey – bondage
Orange – anything goes
Purple – piercing
Blue (Light) – oral sex
Red – fisting
Yellow – watersports (peeing)
In recent years many more colors have been adopted and their use varies from region to region.
External Links/References/See Also