Nov 19, 2017

Academic Nudes: 18th Century Beefcake

It's a myth that the muscular modern physique didn't exist until the 20th century, when scientific weight-training and nutritional supplements bulked us up.  The muscular physique has always been a source of desire and joy.

In the 18th century, painters went to the Academy of Art to learn their trade.  To learn to draw figures, they drew nude male models.

Very buffed models.

This is not just artistic license: They were supposed to be drawing realistic "life" portraits.

Complete with penis (frontal nudity is legal on a G-rated blog if it's art).

There were flourishing academies in France, Spain, the Netherlands, England, and Italy.

Usually there is no background, but sometimes mythological themes are added.

I wonder what these models did in real life.  Were they workmen?  The lovers of the artists?  Both?

Here's a print of the Academy of Arts examining a male model.

And a rather more buffed one.

Some of these guys would not look out of place in a bathhouse today.

The Midnight Hookups of Philadelphia


I'm back in Philadelphia, where I lived for an execrable nine months.  It was ugly, dirty, crowded, expensive, dangerous, and it had the most unfriendly gay people anywhere.

My horrible flight lands at 2:00 pm.  I check into a hotel about 6 blocks from my old apartment.  It's even worse.  A grim, grotesque pageant of self-absorbed yuppies and homeless people sleeping on air vents.  My crappy hotel is costing me $300 a night.  I can't go a block without being panhandled.  Giovanni's Room, the oldest gay bookstore in town, is gone.

And it's impossible to find a decent guy to have sex with.

Club Philly is only a block away.  When I lived here, it was a gym and private rooms.  You had sex in the steam room and sauna.

Now the gym is gone!  A rack of free weights!  Plus no steam room, no sauna.  They have a glory hole maze now, but it's deserted.  4 floors, rickety stairs, and there's nobody there.

I meet a very hot black guy in his 20s with a slim muscular physique,  So far so good.

 A young Hispanic guy motions me into his room.  He seems to be mute -- he motions rather than speaks.  He motions for me to screw him.  I refuse.  He motions aggressively.  I leave.

I talk to a couple sharing a room.  An elderly guy, chubby, with red scaly psoriasis all over his body, and his boyfriend, elderly, slim, who doesn't speak and seems a little off. 

I go on Grindr and find that there are 3 guys within 20 feet, in the same club.  I say "hello" to them.  Nothing.

So much for Club Philly.

Chinese food for dinner, then back to my hotel.  I put an ad on Craigslist Philadelphia, "hosting downtown."  Nothing.  Not one response.  Back home I'd have 20 guys by this point.

Back to Grindr. There are like 300 guys within 30 feet.  I say "Hi" to about 20 of them.

Nothing.  Crickets.

As a last resort, I put an ad on Craigslist: hosting downtown.  Back home, my ads get 10-20 responses.

Nothing.  Crickets.

Bob calls.  He went to work, then hung out at the gay-friendly coffee house.

A gay-friendly coffee house?  Sigh.

The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Nov 18, 2017

David Cassidy

The oldest of a show biz family (his brothers are Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan), David Cassidy got his start on The Partridge Family (1970-74), about a family of pop singers who tour the country in a psychedelic bus (Danny Bonaduce played his younger brother). It aired on Friday nights in a block of gay teen "Must See TV," including The Brady Bunch, Room 222, and The Odd Couple.

His character, Keith Partridge, was interested in girls, but never portrayed as a absurdly girl-crazy, like most teenagers on prime-time in the 1970s. And, although pop superstars were presumably dream dates for every girl on earth, Keith frequently encountered girls who disliked pop music, who had never heard of his group, or who simply did not find him attractive. This self-deferential parody, a teen idol who can’t get a date, destabilized the myth of universal heterosexual desire; if some girls are not attracted to Keith, perhaps some boys are.

In “Days of Acne and Roses” (November 1971), Keith teaches a shy delivery boy named Wendell (Jay Ripley) how to date girls. He demonstrates the “yawn, stretch, and arm around” maneuver on Wendell, and then pretends to be a girl so that Wendell can practice his pick-up lines. Keith is remarkably unself-conscious about the physical contact and the mock flirtation, and he is not the least worried about someone overhearing and thinking that he is gay. When most of his fellow television teens recoiled in heart-pounding terror at a buddy’s touch, Keith’s nonchalance seems aggressively gay-friendly.

The teen magazines went wild with shirtless, swimsuit, and towel-shots, revealing David's slim, androgynous body, but in this case they were justified in praising his talent: his music was good.

And gay-friendly.  Songs credited to The Partridge Family (studio musicians except for David and his mother, Shirley Jones) almost entirely eliminated the incessant “girl!” that deadened most bubblegum pop lyrics in the 1970s. In the emblematic “I Think I Love You,” David awakens to the disturbing realization that he is in love:

I just decided to myself, I'd hide it from myself
And never talk about it, and [so I] didn't go and shout it
When you walked in to the room.

Why does he “never talk about it”? Heterosexual teenagers in love do nothing but talk about it. In 1971 I concluded that there must be something more to “a love there is no cure for,” perhaps a love that dares not speak its name.

David’s solo numbers also eliminate almost all gender-specific pronoun or refrainsof “girl!”  For instance in“Where is the Morning,” he laments a failed hookup that could be with either a boy or a girl:

I can’t sleep tonight. I found someone.
You smiled at me and said you were free. And I was alone.
Would you meet me again? 

My friend Derek claimed to have dated him, but David doesn't mention any same-sex relationships in his memoirs, C’mon, Get Happy (1994).

He does graciously acknowledges his appeal to gay boys: “I had a pretty strong gay following. I kind of liked it. Gay publications ran pictures of me; I was named gay pinup of the year by one. I’d get fan letters from gay guys saying things like ‘I can tell by the look in your eyes that you’re one of us.’”

And in a sense, he was “one of us,” an ally, demonstrating that same-sex desire was not only possible, but valid and worthwhile.

Today David lives in Las Vegas. He is still writing songs, still performing, for audiences of both men and women.

See also: Derek and the Pop Star.