Jul 22, 2014

Fall 2004: The Ugly Guy Makeover

When I moved to Florida in 2001, I quickly discovered that the age restrictions of West Hollywood and New York were gone. I was in my early 40s, but regularly got asked out by everyone from 18-year old college water polo players to Bermuda-shorts-wearing retirees in their 70s.

The bars were age-segregated, but that didn't stop cross-cruising.

Bill's Filling Station was usually crowded with leathermen, cowboys, and miscellaneous bears, but the occasional Cute Young Thing who came in was an immediate hit.

The Manor, a multi-level bar, restaurant, and nightclub with flashing lights, throbbing music, and minor celebrities semi-naked, was too big and brash for me.  But when Yuri dragged me there, the Cute Young Things pushed and shoved to be the one who asked me to dance first.

So I was surprised to see the Ugly Guy standing by himself, propping up a wall by the bar.  Completely ignored by the Cute Young Things.

"See that guy in the corner?" I asked Yuri.  "I'm going home with him tonight."

"What?  There are a million hot guys here.  Why do you want the nerd?  He's not even your type."

True, he didn't have any of characteristics I find attractive -- he wasn't short, husky, muscular, or dark skinned.  But then, he didn't have any of my  Top 10 Turn-Off, either.  He wasn't too tall or too skinny; he wasn't wearing jewelry or sashaying around the room.

"He's lonely.  I like lost souls.  Like you, for instance.  When we met, you were going around saying 'I'm straight.'"

"Huh, huh!  I was not ever lost!  Just stupid!"

We inched forward to get a better look.  Then we discovered why he was getting Attitude.  He was ugly.

His head was slightly asymmetrical, his eyes were slightly askew, and he had acne scars.  Not attractive.

If he had a prominent bulge, a fabulous wardrobe, or a bubbly personality, the lack of handsomeness would not have been an issue.  I knew a perfectly hideous guy in West Hollywood who dated a different guy every week, simply because he was knew how to work a room.

But the Ugly Guy was wearing a plaid shirt with a white undershirt, he hadn't bothered to wear tight jeans or stuff a sock down there, and he didn't make eye contact with anyone.

Yuri and I approached and introduced ourselves to the Ugly Guy.  It was hard breaking through his shell -- he was rather bitter, and complained about everything -- but eventually we discovered that his name was Bob, he managed a supermarket, and he lived in Davie, Florida, about 15 miles away.

He was leery about going home with us -- "Oh, I'm nothing special.  You'll be disappointed."  But around last call he finally consented.

It was fun leaving with him, watching the jaws of the Cute Young Things drop in surprise as they scrambled to figure out what Bob had that they didn't.

In the morning, over breakfast, Bob confessed, "I've been coming to Wilton Manors every Saturday night for two years, and no one ever talks to me.  I think most gay guys are jerks."

"It's just a highly specialized environment, with its own rules.  You have to learn to play the game, accentuate your best features."

"It's like a job interview," Yuri told him.  "There are lots of guys applying, so you have to find some way to stand out."

"With what?  Nearly everybody there has more muscles than me, and better clothes.  And I'm Princess Tiny..."

"So work out, go shopping, and..."

"And pretend," Yuri said.  "You act like you're a horse, and they will be so horny, when they find out, they don't even care.  Did Jeff care, last night?"

"Yuri is an expert on male endowments," I said.  "If he doesn't know, it's not worth knowing."

We spent the next week giving the Ugly Guy a makeover -- everything from his name - it was now Robert -- to his haircut and outfits.  On Saturday we went back to the Manor.  Robert was wearing a black t-shirt emblazoned with a rainbow flag, tight jeans enhanced with a balled-up sock, and a gold chain.  Yuri led him by the hand onto the dance floor, and then sent him out to cruise, with the advice "Act like you're a horse!"

It worked.  Within ten minutes, Robert was chatting up a Cute Young Thing, and within an hour he was invited home.

It worked on Sunday at Bill's Filling Station, too.

And Tuesday at the Boardwalk.

And Thursday at the Depot.

Before I knew what was happening, Robert had a full social calendar.  Too full.  First he was too busy to have dinner.  Then he stopped responding to my emails.

A few weeks later, Yuri and I ran into him at the Manor.  He gave us Attitude.

The Gay Couples of "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag"

In some movies, you get exactly what the title says: Snakes on a Plane; Sharknado; Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997).

The heads are in the custody of mafioso Tommy Spinelli (Joe Pesci), who is transporting them across the country to prove to his boss that their owners are actually dead.  Unfortunately, the bags are switched at the airport, and the bag with the heads gets picked up by Charlie (Andy Comeau), who is en route to Mexico to visit his girlfriend and meet her parents for the first time.

Question: how did he get the human heads through security?

Question: wouldn't you notice right away that your duffel bag contained hard, round things instead of shirts and pants?

Trying to track down the heads, Tommy runs into Charlie's friends, Ernie and Steve (David Spade, Todd Louiso).  At first he tortures them in humorous ways (in their underwear), but then they bond, and agree to help him track down Charlie.

Humorous complications follow: Charlie loses a head, his girlfriend's parents think he's a serial killer, and so on. Tommy and Charlie bond, and the kind-hearted mafioso decides that he should give up crime.

But the hit men who originally killed the eight men (Anthony Mangano, Joe Basile) are upset over the "double cross," and put Tommy, Charlie, and the whole crowd on their hit list.

It's not very funny.  Most of the humor involves someone trying to keep someone else from realizing that he has a human head in his possession.  But there are gay subtexts everywhere in this movie.  Ernie and Steve come across as a gay couple.  So do the two hitmen.  Tommy, who keeps bonding with men, expresses no heterosexual interest, and could easily be read as gay.

By the way, Todd Louiso has an impressive physique.  Andy Comeau doesn't show anything here, but you can see his penis on tv series Huff (2004). 

Jul 21, 2014

Spike Island: Manchester Boys Bond at a Rock Concert

It seems that every year in the U.S., we see yet another movie about a group of high school friends facing the prospect of Growing Up: a heterosexist myth in which one abandons the exuberant buddy-bonding of high school for heterosexual romance, careers, houses, kids, and domesticity.

Usually it's set at an iconic moment in the filmmakers' life.

The British have their own versions, most recently Spike Island (2013), set during the heyday of The Stone Roses.  Yeah, I never heard of them either, but apparently they gave a famous "final concert" in May 1990 on Spike Island in Cheshire, and five working-class Manchester lads are desperate to go.

Not just for the music; they have their own band, so they have to get to the concert to give their demo tape to Ian Brown.  It's their only chance of escaping from their dismal working-class, married-with-children futures.

But they have no tickets, no money, and the concert's sold out. So they steal a florist's van and head out on the highway.

The main couple are Tits (Elliott Tittensor) and Dodge (Nico Mirallegro), who dread the upcoming end of their long-term friendship while competing over the same girl.

There's a lot more soap opera crammed into the weekend.  A dying father; an abusive father; a confrontation between brothers; a boy who doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps; etc., etc.  The characters are broadly-drawn cliches that we've seen a thousand times before: the jock, the nerd, the ineffective girl-chaser, the kid brother.

But there's also a lot of gay connection.  Both Tittensor and Mirallegro have played gay characters before, and they add a nice gay subtext.  Plus there's a lot of physicality in the boys' relationship, hugging, holding, hanging over each other.

And some semi-nudity.  Recommended.

See also: I Wanna Hold Your Hand