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16th century codpiece

A codpiece (from Middle English cod, "scrotum") is a flap or pouch that attaches to the front of the crotch of men's trousers to provide a covering for the genitals. It was held closed by string ties, buttons, or other methods. It was an important item of European clothing in the 15th and 16th centuries, and it is still worn today in performance costume and in the leather subculture. Through the same linguistic route, cods became a modern slang term for the male genitalia.


Codpieces in contemporary culture

Subcultural Attire

Codpieces are worn in leather subcultural attire to cover and confine the genitals of a man, sometimes while wearing chaps.

Heavy Metal Fashion

The codpiece crossed over from the leather subculture to become an established part of heavy metal fashion performance costume when Rob Halford, of the band Judas Priest, began wearing clothing adopted from the gay biker and leather subculture while promoting the Hell Bent for Leather Album in 1978. Notable subsequent uses of the codpiece include:

  • Ian Anderson, front man for Jethro Tull, wore a codpiece during his performances in the mid-1970s.
  • Gene Simmons of the American Rock Band Kiss often wore black and silver costumes with codpieces.
  • The lead singer of 1980s music group Cameo, Larry Blackmon, wore a large, bright-red codpiece in all of his performances.
  • Shock rock performer Blackie Lawless, leader of the group WASP, has been known to wear a codpiece that features a saw blade and is capable of shooting out flames and sparks.
  • Heavy metal singer King Diamond has been known to wear a codpiece as part of his performance outfits.
  • Electric Six lead singer Dick Valentine can be seen wearing a brightly flashing codpiece in the music video for the band’s 2003 hit single Danger! High Voltage.

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