"Hello, sailor" is a sexual proposition made to a sailor, presumably by a prostitute or promiscuous woman supposing the sailor to be male and sexually frustrated after a long time at sea. This usage has become a camp catchphrase, implying that sailors stay away at sea so long that they cannot tell the difference between a hooker and a man in drag, or a play on the common conception that many sailors are homosexual. Hello, Sailor in this usage is also the title of several books, including one by Eric Idle and another about gay life in the British merchant navy, as well as a 2007 Liverpool museum exhibit about gay sailors.
"Hello, sailor" is used as a running joke in the interactive fiction-text adventure Zork universe.
Instances in computer games
A note from Frobozz Magic Boat Company in Zork I begins "Hello, Sailor!" (In other Zork games, instructional documents that accompany interactive vehicles often begin with variations on the phrase, such as a hot air balloon that comes with instructions that begin "Hello, Aviator!") Also, it is included in the invocation the player uses at the Gates of Hell in order to gain access. In Zork III, the adventurer must say "Hello, Sailor" at the Flathead Ocean when the Viking ship appears to obtain the vial containing an invisibility potion. The player can elicit an easter egg in Beyond Zork by saying "Hello, sailor" to the old sailor with the painting. In Return to Zork, every time the player returns to visit Ben, Ben greets the player with the variation "Hiya, sailor". The Encyclopedia Frobozzica states that the official motto of Antharia is "Hieya wizka," which translates to "Hello, sailor"; it also states that commandment #12,592 of The Land of the Dead religious sect strictly forbids speaking the phrase "Hello, sailor". In all other Zork-related games, saying "Hello, sailor" merits the response "Nothing happens here". Zork I is also featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops, and can be played by invoking a command named "hello", with "sailor" as parameter.
In the Nintendo DSi downloadable game Pinball Pulse: The Ancients Beckon, the Sirens say "Hello, sailor" when the first ball is locked.
In the second episode of the game Tales of Monkey Island, a character named Anemone is introduced as one of the sexually ambiguous mer-people. She constantly greets the main character, Guybrush Threepwood, with "Hello, sailor!", until he asks her to stop.
In the adventure game Grim Fandango the protagonist Manny can say "Hey, sailor" to the captain Velasco.
In Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, clicking on a Naga Siren unit will often prompt them to say "Hey, Sailor".
Additional references in popular culture
In the Gilmore Girls episode "Presenting Lorelai Gilmore," the promiscuous dance teacher, Miss Patty, uses the phrase, "Hello, sailor!" while demonstrating the use of a focal point while spinning around in ballroom dancing:
- Now remember, one of the most important things in ballroom dancing is to remember to spot, otherwise you're gonna get dizzy. So, what you wanna do is you wanna pick out something to focus on. I usually like to find a lonely seaman. Then when turning, whip your head around and find your spot again. [spins around] Hello sailor, hello sailor, hello sailor. Now you try it.
- Article on the 2007 Liverpool Museum exhibit
- Unauthorized transcript of "Presenting Lorelai Gilmore" at OnlyGilmoreGirls.net
- Tyrangiel, Josh (2008-01-24). "Trouble Woman". time.com. Time. Retrieved 2014-03-20.