From Wikipedia,

Polari (or alternatively Parlare, Parlary, Palare, Palarie, Palari, Parlyaree, from Italian parlare, "to talk") was a form of cant slang used in the gay subculture in Britain.
Polari is a mixture of Romance (Italian or Mediterranean Lingua Franca), Romany, London slang, backslang, rhyming slang, sailor slang, and thieves' cant. Later it expanded to contain words from the Yiddish language of the Jewish subculture which settled in the East End of London, the US forces (present in the UK during World War II) and 1960s drug users. It was a constantly developing form of language, with a small core lexicon of about 20 words (including bona, ajax, eek, cod, naff, lattie, nanti, omi, palone, riah, zhoosh (tjuz), TBH, trade, vada), with over 500 other lesser-known items.

Polari was used in London fishmarkets, the theatre, and the gay subculture. As Polari, it was used to disguise homosexual activity from potentially hostile outsiders (such as undercover policemen), but also because many gay men worked in theatrical entertainment where the lingo originated (including fairgrounds and circuses, hence the many borrowings from Romani in Polari). The almost identical Parlyaree has been spoken in fairgrounds since at least the 17th century and continues to be used by show travellers in England and Scotland. As theatrical booths, circus acts and menageries were once a common part of European fairs it is likely that the roots of Polari/Parlyaree lie in the period before both theatre and circus became independent of the fairgrounds. The Parlyaree spoken on fairgrounds tends to borrow much more from Romani, as well as other languages and argots spoken by travelling people, such as cant and backslang.

A glory hole (also spelled gloryhole and glory-hole) is a hole in a wall, or other partition, often between public lavatory stalls or adult video arcade booths for people to engage in sexual activity or observe the person in the next cubicle while one or both parties masturbate. The partition maintains anonymity.

The precise origin of the term is unknown, but it is known to have been used in Polari, the covert language of the homosexual subculture in London's dockland, amongst sailors, stewards, queers and queens who associated with it. In naval slang, the 'glory hole' was used in both the merchant and Royal Navy; in the Navy this refers to a place for general untidinesses, on passenger liners the Stewards' mess, and on coal-burning tramp steamers, the stoke hold.

There are many theories regarding the origins of the earliest glory hole. One common idea is that it originated as a spy or peep hole, and grew larger as men sought more contact, but only enough contact as to perform sex acts upon the genitals of other men.

From the mid-to-late 20th century glory holes could be found in public men's rooms in the United States including adult bookstores, and gay bars. When an institution (school, governmental or business) would replace bathroom stalls they often would upgrade to stainless steel to discourage creating holes as well as other forms of vandalism as wood walls were an easy target for such activities. Sometimes men who enjoy the erotic aspects of the activity will even create one for private use in their homes.



The following photographic essay is Re-Bloged from Around And Under, and that is all the information I have.





  1. LOL
    Varda the lallies on that
    Fucking fantastic man
    Nick XXXX

  2. According to a pamphlet I was reading on glass blowing, glory holes are "the openings adjacent to the furnace where glassblowers reheat their glass while working". They're generally set to a temperature of above 2100 F. Heh.

  3. Bill, you are correct. I use to spend time in the glass blowing studio at school. Not blowing glass, mind you, watching strong arms and sweat.

  4. Nick, man, glad to see your back!

  5. Hiya Flit,

    I really enjoyed this post. I am fascinated with accents, slang and the hidden vocabularies that often spring up. My childhood house was so tense and so full of friction that to speak in understndable english was often dangerous, especially when enquiring about our parents condition. As a result, my brother, ister and I, made up our own words and vocabulary that allowed us to express ourselves openly and without fear of consequence or reprisal.

    Thanks for the post and the Polari glossary, I'll be nicking that(not the post.. the glossary! ;)

    Best wishes Flit & thanks for the little message on the DC blog, I did see it. Shane. x

  6. Shane, man thanks. It is a honor to have you stop by here. You are nothing but kind sir.

  7. Yr glory hole post brings memoreis of my boyhood when i would haunt a certain mens room to have a vada at someone's johnson through the ole glory hole. I was only eleven but very precocious.

  8. I say life has been improved by your brilliant blog...thanks!

  9. Yes, within seconds you can easily adjust the height of your glory hole wall to accommodate.

    Glory hole