BeSababa

Booty Calls Through the Centuries: A (Mostly Accurate) History

It’s 2am on a Friday night and your phone buzzes. This can only mean one thing: a booty call. 

A hookup phenomenon so common, even Merriam-Webster has released a definition. “A booty call is a communication where one partner is summoned for sex, usually in the form of a text message.”

But a booty call doesn’t just refer to the communication or text message itself. The term can also be used to refer to a person or relationship in which frequent booty calls are exchanged (ex: “he’s just a booty call”). Another main element of booty calls is that they tend to be unemotional, purely physical relationships.

The phrase has permeated the American lexicon, originating from black slang of the early 90’s. Although comedian Bill Bellamy is credited with coining the term in his 1994 set titled “Booty Call”, there are earlier documentations of its usage. 

Duice, a Miami-based rap duo, released their first album Dazzey Duks in 1993. The only charting song and the title of the album, “Dazzey Duks” pays homage to the denim shorts worn by Daisy Duke in the popular comedy series The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985) and has sold over two million copies. But the title of the fourth, less popular song on the album? “Booty Call”.

This is how the song begins:

        Hi, and welcome to the Booty Zone.

        It’s two o’clock and the club is closed.

        Suddenly you get the urge to make a booty call.

The existence of Duice’s song “Booty Call” shows that the phrase was most likely in use before Bellamy claims to have coined it. 

The term really shot to fame following the release of 1997 sex comedy Booty Call starring Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, Vivicia A. Fox, and Tamala Jones. The movie follows two friends as they set out on a mission to (you guessed it!) secure a booty call. 

The concept of “casual sex” could be considered more of a modern development, since widespread sexual relationships between consenting, unmarried individuals (and here’s the catch) outside of prostitution weren’t culturally normalized until recent decades in the Western world. Coincidentally, the past 100 years have also seen advances in contraception, birth control, and antibiotics, greatly minimizing the risks of casual sex. But of course, there have been historical exceptions. 

Although only given a name in the 90s, booty calls are in no way a new occurrence. Here is a look at “Booty Calls” throughout history.

Ancient Etruria (8th Century BCE - 3rd Century BCE Italy)

Fresco found in The Tomb of Bulls, or, my Tuesday night

The ancient Etruscan Civilization (located in today’s Tuscany) was known for their extravagant parties, liberated women, and open sexual customs. Many Greeks and Romans viewed the Etruscans as immoral, with the word “Entruscan” almost becoming synonymous with the word “prostitute”. Kind of like how one earring with a cross has become synonymous with  “fuck boy”.

Theopompus, a 4th century BC Greek historian, provides us with an account of the Etruscan lifestyle. And no, this is not just a description of Freshman Fall. 

“Sharing wives is an established Etruscan custom … It is not a disgrace for them to be seen naked. They do not share their couches with their husbands but with the other men who happen to be present, and they propose toasts to anyone they choose. They are expert drinkers and very attractive … The children live the way their parents live, often attending drinking parties and having sexual relations with all the women. It is no disgrace for them to do anything in the open, or to be seen having it done to them, for they consider it a native custom” 

Given Theopampus’ testimony, Ancient Etruria seems to have been a luxurious, fun-filled, booty call utopia.

Pompeii’s Dirty Graffiti (6th-7th Century BCE)

Ancient drawing of a penis, circa 70 C.E. Phalluses were all the rage in Ancient Rome.

These inscriptions include some of the earliest booty calls ever documented in human history (and no, these are not made up). 

Hic ego cum venti futui deinde redei domi : I came here and fucked, then went home.

This inscription exemplifies the “toot it and boot it” nature of booty calls, and could be evidence that a real-life booty call may have occurred in that very spot. 

Fortunatus futuet te inguine, Veni vide Anthusa : Fortunatus will fuck you really deep. Come and see, Anthusa. 

Clearly Fortunatus and Anthusa were ahead of their time (by ~2000 years) because this inscription follows the Webster definition of booty calls, as it is a communication where someone is being summoned for sex. It even has elements of persuasion. 

It’s difficult to say whether some of these inscriptions refer to casual lovers (booty calls) or to prostitutes, but the element of seduction in many of the inscriptions indicate a booty call. And while casual sex may not have been as common (or culturally accepted) in Ancient Rome, it would be tough to make a solid case against it considering the evidence found in Pompeii. 

The Tale of Genji (11th Century Japan)

Depiction of Genji, probably thinking about sex

Dating back to 11th century Japan, the world’s first novel was a wild, page-turning booty call adventure. The Tale of Genji describes eroticism as a central part of life for male nobility, outlining the many sexual encounters of Prince Genji, the womanizing title character. Genji’s skill for seduction allows him to be involved with fifteen different women throughout the course of the novel, all of varying social rank, appearance, and personality. 

Although most of his erotic interactions are with women, in one episode, Genji has travelled far and wide to visit one of his occasional booty calls, only to find that she is not available. Given the long journey, the late hour, and Genji’s high sex drive, he instead hooks up with her brother and is pleased to find that he is an equally satisfactory booty call. This example shows that you never know where the night (or your dick) can take you. 

In essence, The Tale of Genji follows a Heian playboy as he uses his charm, dedication, and adaptability in the pursuit of the booty call, and for this he is regarded as a hero.

The Balcony Booty Call (16/17th Century)

Before Alexander Graham Bell gave us the go-to tool for booty calls in 1875, people had to rely on methods other than a “you up?” text.

This is probably what it was like, right?

Following the true spirit of the booty call (i.e., late at night and in the moment) would be actually visiting the home of the one whom you wish to sleep with. I call this the “Balcony Booty Call”. This is bold, and probably pretty risky as so much could go wrong, but if it works out it could be super exciting.

 Take Romeo and Juliet, for example. These horny teenagers executed what has become perhaps the most famous Balcony Booty Call of all time. Whether or not it can be deemed “successful” is up for debate, but it sure was noteworthy. Now, obviously Romeo and Juliet are fictitious, but one can only imagine all the Shakespeare-inspired Balcony Booty Calls that went down in the 17th Century.

Did this really happen? We don’t actually know. But it sure is fun to imagine. 

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    1920s Youth Culture

    Young couple totally necking at Makeout Point

    The roaring twenties were a time of carefree partying and economic prosperity. Prohibition created a risque underground party scene with jazz clubs, masquerade balls, movie theaters, and house parties. Young people were expressing themselves, exploring their sexuality, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Premarital sex rates were increasing, and we see a drastic change in attitudes surrounding gender roles and sexuality. 

    With young people going out drinking, dancing, and mingling, came the beginnings of the dating game. Previously, the system of going on dates was more similar to parent-supervised courtships. But now, thanks to the freedoms granted by the automobile, young lovers could go out on their own. It was common for people to go out to the movies where they could be in a dark theater away from their families, or maybe even take it to the back of their Model T 😉 

    Sadly, this modernized, progressive culture was stunted by the events following the 20s: The Great Depression and WWII. Definitely a mood killer.

    Booty Telephone Calls (1920-1990)

    Ancient booty call initiation device

    The invention and popularization of the telephone has revolutionalized the casual sex game. Before, casual lovers would have to literally show up at someone’s house or make a sexy inscription on their city walls in the hopes of catching their booty call’s attention. Now, they just had to dial a number. But, it wasn’t always a foolproof system.

    Let’s set the scene at a college campus in the 80’s. If you wanted to make a booty call, you would have to call the fraternity/sorority/sports house/etc. and ask to speak to your booty call. The person on “phone duty” would then have to find the person in which you’re trying to bang and let them know you’re calling. This system makes it difficult to sneakily make a booty call, and the entire house could be all up in your business. Or, even worse, one of your other booty calls could pick up the phone. Now, you’re really screwed — no pun intended.

    In the 90’s owning a personal phone became much more popular. In Bill Bellamy’s set “Booty Call” from 1994, he explains how when he wants to make a booty call he refers to his Rolodex:

    Ancient booty call organization device

     

    “You go to your Rolodex. [Mimics whir of the Rolodex] Vanessa. Too many kids. [Whir of the Rolodex] Stacy. Damn, owe her money. [Whir of the Rolodex] Kim. Yeah. Let me call Kim. [Mimics dialing the phone number] [Mimics sound of phone ringing] Hello. Yes! What’s up? What’s up, Kim? How you doin’? I’m alright. You know, I was just thinking about you a little bit…”

    ‘Netflix and Chill’ (2014)

    Netflix and chill advice based on research

    Believe it or not, there was an innocent time when ‘Netflix and chill’ literally meant chilling and watching Netflix. In 2014, however, this phrase established a more euphemistic nature. In April of 2014, Urban Dictionary added the definition: “Code for two people going to each others houses and fucking or doing other sexual related acts.”

    You just knew if you got asked over to “watch Netflix and chill”… that’s a booty call.

    You go over to your booty call / FWB / Tinder date / whoever’s house. You’re sitting on a couch (or a bed if they’re balling with a TV in their room). You’re scrolling through Netflix, making some small talk, deciding on what to watch. But here’s the twist: you only watch the beginning! Weird, right? Well, this is where the ‘and chill’ comes in.

    Eventually, someone will give ‘the look’. Now, this isn’t just any look. This is a special look that has been in use throughout all of human history, a look so powerful that any person lucky enough to witness it will know exactly what you’re saying, without you having to speak a single word. Once the look is exchanged (and proper consent and boundaries are established) then the hookup shall commence!

    It’s often described as “you’re watching the show and then the show is watching you”… (and probably someone at the NSA if we’re being honest).

    The Modern Booty Call

    These all look familiar...

    The Modern Booty Call is the lazy person’s one-night-stand. You don’t have to leave your house, you don’t have to spend any money, and you don’t have to waste any time. The smartphone has made booty calls easier than ever before as they have allowed them to more easily be stripped of emotion, with no romantic gestures, and increased privacy.

    The main issue now is deciding who to text, what to text, and on which platform. There are countless tips on what exactly goes into an effective booty call. Do you go with the polite “Hey what are you up to tonight”? Or the classic “wyd”? You could even get creative with it and incorporate a bit of sexting. On the other hand, you could go super simple and stick with “hey” or even just an emoji (a true booty call would know what’s up). 

    What perhaps becomes the larger issue is when uncertainty surrounding the state of the relationship arises. Questions such as:

    • What’s the difference between a booty call, a fuckbuddy, and a friends-with-benefits (FWB)? 
    • What does it mean when someone you’ve been casually dating sends you a booty call?
    • Can an ex be a booty call? 

    These are all questions that vary in complexity and potential answers, we’d just say consult your friends… they probably know.

    Casual sex involves terms that are differently interpreted and constantly overlapping, and it’s common for partners not to be on the same page. It’s possible for a booty call to develop into something more, but booty calls are most often the outcome of a devolving relationship. Few relationships start with a booty call. 

    That being said, anything is possible and the “rules of the game” always have exceptions. The best thing to do is not to worry about the state of your relationship and to just go with what feels right, communicating with your partner along the way.

    And although this article has been a grand celebration of booty calls, remember that a “purely physical” relationship doesn’t always work for everyone- and that’s okay! And for those of us that do enjoy casual sex, remember that booty calls can be just as toxic as any other relationship (despite their supposed lack of emotion), so always be on the lookout for those indicators. 

    Now, next time you hit “send” at 2 in the morning, remember the trials and tribulations that humans have been facing for generations surrounding the art of the booty call.

    Sydney Thomas
    Guest Contributor | + posts

    Hi guys! I'm Sydney, a student at LMU studying Marketing and Business Law.