Green’s Dictionary of Slang

hot tamale n.

also tamale
[hot adj. (8b)/hot adj. (1c) + Sp. tamale, a Mexican dish consisting of corn husks wrapped around a variety of fillings; note hot tomato under tomato n.]

1. (US, also hot tomale) a clever person, often used ironically.

[US]J. London ‘’Frisco Kid’s Story’ in High School Aegis X (15 Feb.) 2–3: Yer ants ter ast me a few questions? Den fire away. I’se yer red hot tamale.
[UK]Nottingham Eve. Post 30 Oct. 2/5: A comrade said of him [i.e. a policeman] ‘Oh he’s a hot tamale he is! He’d arrest anything’.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ John Henry 42: I had to get gabby and make Clara Jane believe I associated only with Torrid Tamales.
[US]‘O. Henry’ Roads of Destiny 102: [name of a horse] Lonny mounted Hot Tamales, the accomplished little beast prancing with fire and intelligence.
[US]H.C. Witwer Yes Man’s Land 26: Trying to find that tamale in Hollywood was like trying to find prohibition there!
[US]J. Wilstach Under Cover Man 114: You’ll have to make an example, quick, of any of these hot tomales.

2. (US, also hot tomolley) an attractive, sexy, young woman.

[US]Ade Pink Marsh (1963) 197: ’At Belle’s a hot tomolley.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Down the Line 56: Every once in a while he’d stop trying to whistle ‘Sallie, My Hot Tamale’ and he’d look over at Clara Jane.
[US] in E. Cray Erotic Muse (1992) 310: A dago from I-taly / Was walking down the streets of Rome / A-selling hot tamales.
[US]Robert Johnson ‘They’re Red Hot’ [lyrics] Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ’em for sale.
[US] advert for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film Look 18 Sept. 4: Lina Romay, a hot tamale.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 119: The memory of that four-slat tip out of the fin sent the ‘tamale’ skidding to me.
[US](con. 1916) G. Swarthout Tin Lizzie Troop (1978) 25: They could get [...] a hot tamale in a white blouse for a song.
[US]Maledicta VII 24: The ‘Anglo’ boys in the Southwest in the 1920s and the 1930s drooled over young Mexican-American women with the witless puns hot tamale and Mexican dish.
[US](con. 1960s) G. Washington Blood Brothers 90: She was hotter than a Mexican tamale.
[US]G. Phillips ‘Slicers’ Serenade of Steel’ in Pulp Ink [ebook] That’s just [...] what a man would do with a hot tamale like you.

3. (US gay, also hot enchilada) a Hispanic homosexual man.

[US]Moses Mason ‘Molly Man’ [lyrics] Molly man’s coming / I hear his voice / He’s got hot tamales.
[US]B. Rodgers Queens’ Vernacular 29: hot enchilada [tamale].