The sexual revolution for women in the 1920s had its ripple effects among men. For the first time, women were able to express desire in public - and they did so, especially for movie stars. A movie star could basically subsist off his appeal to the opposite sex - a role that had been previously confined to the gigolo. Another profoundly frightening aspect of the male movie star was how profoundly feminine he was. The "man" that movie-going women seemed attracted to was powdered, lipsticked, and otherwise made up for the camera. The insinuation was that the "she-man" type didn't mind making up off-screen, either:

Do women like the type of "man" who pats pink powder on his face in a public washroom and arranges his coiffure in a public elevator?....What has become of the old "cave man" line?"
(Hansen, 263)

There was a sense that the silent movie star was not quite "all there" as a man.

Nowhere did this sense of "queerness" operate more strongly than in the case of Rudolph Valentino. Immensely popular with women, the male half of the American population virulently attacked him. Valentino seemed to embody all the sterotypes of the "she-man" - and American men built their own "Nordic" images (in a very race-conscious time) in opposition to the European immigrant. Even favorable (well, fawning) accounts emphasized Valentino's extravagence and his difference from other men. Louella Parsons, not someone to malign an interviewee, wrote that:

Rudolph Valentino is a very polite young man...Most of the other sex consider it a personal affront if they are kept waiting over five minutes, and few men can control their temper if they have to cool their heels for any longer time.
(Taylorology, v. 53)

What were American men "rebelling" against exactly? The "Latin lover" didn't help his own cause by marrying dancer Natacha Rambova. His loving wife gave him a "slave bracelet" and hung around the famous actress, spirtualist, and lesbian Alla Nazimova. (Hansen, 259) Outside of his personal life in Hollywood itself, Valentino's past came back to haunt him. Before going into films, Valentino had been a dancer for hire. This occupation, if not exactly that of gigolo, was close enough to get him classed as a "lounge lizard" and a "tango pirate" - a man who was "effeminate, will-less, and dependent on women for money." (Hansen, 259) Valentino also had a taste for flashy clothing, showing off in flashy spats, ties, custom-made suits, and of course the stunning slave bracelet.

valentino
Valentino undressed
Valentino's popularity created a backlash within the "American" male community, along with a spate of intense curiousity. American men were supposed to be modeled after the "cowboy" type - the American man was "real" in a way that his European counterpart in gender was not. In a holdover from the Victorian idea of separate spheres, the American male was (supposedly) attractive to the female precisely because he was aggressive, a go-getter. Art and literature were passive activites and therefore part of a "feminine" realm. (Fashion had been a "feminine" pursuit since the early 19th century - at least in the "superior" Anglo-Saxon culture.) Yet women were falling for a man who seemed to signify all the traits of - another woman! A cartoon in the fan magazine Classic depicts a group of women goggling at "Rudy" onscreen while their boyfriends sneer in disgust.

"The Nordic sneered at Valentino while his women-folk thrilled to this jungle python of a lover."
(Hanson, 260)

The American man struck back. The excerpt from the Chicago Tribune's "Pink Powder Puff" attack above exemplifies this method of attack. "A Song of Hate," by one Dick Dorgan, displays a lipsticked, shiny-toothed Valentino with, of all things, an huge, Christmas-ornament style earring. "All men hate Valentino," the rather tongue-in-cheek article declares. Yet Dorgan's claim to speak for "all men" goes unnoticed.

he REALLY hates him
The male response
Another way to subtly boost American masculinism was to suggest that American women weren't attracted to movie stars sexually - they wanted to mother them.

Why do girls love Rodolf so? The reason why - (they do not know!) Some of them may THINK they do...HOWEVER, for none of these reasons has he set the feminine heart palpitating and the feminine pulse registering above normal. Not at all. The cold, hard truth of the secret of his charm is that Rodolf Valentino appeals to the Maternal Instinct of EVERYWOMAN...What a woman really wants to do for Rodolf is to bandage his wounds; comfort him; stroke that well-brushed hair; spank him; proudly show him off.
(Hansen, 262)

Here Valentino's charms spark the same desire in woman that a pretty child or even a well-groomed pet presumably would. He is truly a kept man, but a man who is reduced to the status of a knick-knack. The "real" man still commands the sexual attentions of American women. This view is the one that comes closest to calling effeminate men actually homosexual - they obviously have no interest in conquering these women, just leeching off them.

Actors themselves traded in this stereotype. Adolphe Menjou stated in an interview that

"Now, the wise woman, the woman of the world, is not so interested in being out with a man as she is in being seen out with a man. She is aware that she can not afford to be seen with a man who appears ordinary. Only the sophisticated man realizes how important is the line of his shirt, and the choice of his collars and cravats, to the lady whose interest he could command. Clothes make the man as much as the woman. When a woman sees a man dressed correctly, she likes him. Not for himself. For herself. She wants other women to see her out with such a man. She knows that will raise her stock among her feminine friends."
(Silents Majority)

Despite the shrug-off, though, the "she-man" continued to be associated with the acting career. Whether or not the effeminate man was really a threat to masculine concepts of sex was a moot point - he was still a suspicious character, different from the "ordinary" American man.