Jun 20, 2018

Summer 1981: Male Nudity in German Class

After the 1978 of Grease, my favorite Boomer summer was the summer of 1981. I went to an Italian Film Festival, moved into my own apartment, learned about the Canterbury Tales and the Beat Generation, and saw a dozen movies: Clash of the Titans, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Wolfen, Arthur, American Werewolf in London, Hell Night, The Chosen.  Not to mention TV: One Day at a Time, Alice, Taxi, Soap, Barney Miller. And  subtext songs on the radio.

Every morning I worked in the college library, checking out books and scouring the shelves for works that my American, British, and French literature professors left out. Everyafternoon, I took summer school classes: Chaucer in June-July and Culture and Civilization of Modern Germany in July-August.

When I took Introduction to German Literature a few months before, Dr. Weber tried hard to prove that Death in Venice had nothing to do with gay people.  But now the gloves were off: Homosexualitat absolutely, emphatically, did not exist in 20th century Germany.

Photographer Wilhelm van Gloeden (1856-1931) moved to Taormina,, Sicily, where he specialized in placing local men and boys in classical settings with pillars and laurel leaves, usually nude, channeling the homoerotic glory of ancient Rome. According to Dr. Weber, he was trying to evoke the military might of ancient Rome as a model for Germany's future. No Homosexualitat.

What about Stefan George (1868-1933), who became obsessed with an adolescent named Maximilian Kronberger?   When the boy died of meningitis on the day after his sixteenth birthday in 1904, George wrote a series of poems, The Seventh Ring (1907)which described their encounter as that of a mortal meeting a god (in Dante's Inferno, the seventh "ring" of hell  is inhabited by sodomites).  Eventually the "Cult of Maximin" drew a circle of gay artists and writers.

According to Dr. Weber, Maximin represented the symbolist quest for beauty for its own sake.  No Homosexualitat.

What about the physical culture movement, a celebration of the male body, often nude, a fascination with gymnastics, boxing, and track and field, arguably the origin of modern athletics?  (Franz Kafka, author of The Metamorphosis, was a devotee).

Dr. Weber: the glorification of male bodies was a remedy to the feminization of German culture among the symbolists.  No Homosexualitat.

At least he Said the Word several times.

He positively refused to discuss the gay symbolism of Steppenwolf, by Herman Hesse, or Der Eigene, the first gay magazine in the world, published from 1896 to 1932.  An offshoot of the physical culture movement, it had over 1500 subscribers and contributors like Thomas Mann and Wilhelm von Gloeden.

See also: The Gay Werewolf of Steppenwolf; and Death in Venice.

Jun 19, 2018

The Shea Brothers and Charlie Brown

In the 1970s, American mass media couldn't get enough of blond preteen boys.  Not toddlers, but boys in late childhood, old enough to be cast as adventurous, daring, and mischievous in "boys will be boys" roles.  And too young for the pubescent growth spurt that would turn them into yucky androgynous teenagers.

Christopher Shea, born  in 1958, is best remembered as the voice of the wise-beyond-his-years Linus in the animated Peanuts specials, especially It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966).

Linus has always been my favorite Peanuts character: witty, intellectual, rejecting Sally's advances (although he dates a lot of girls in later strips), a good friend to Charlie Brown.  And no other voice artist comes closer to capturing his inner beauty than Christopher Shea.

Christopher also did some television work, with guest spots on The Invaders, Green Acres, The Odd Couple, and Here Come the Brides, and a few movies.  His last credited role is A Little Game (1971), about a teenager (Mark Gruner) who plots to kill his stepfather.

He moved to Humbolt County, in northern California, where he died in 2010, leaving a wife and two daughters.
His brother Eric, born in 1960, did the usual tv guest spots: Batman, Here Come the Brides, Gunsmoke, The Flying Nun, Room 222 -- but he snared some more substantial movie roles, such as Lucille Ball's son  in the big-family comedy Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968) (top photo, the one in the pajamas.  The other one is Tim Matheson).

The younger brother of Ben Harvey (Beau Bridges), who gets involved with a clan of prostitutes in Gaily, Gaily (1969).

Kid kid genius Alvin, who solves Cooperstownes with the help of his buddy Shooie (Clay O'Brien) in two Whiz Kids movies (1974, 1976).   He also played the Spunky Kid in The Poseidon Adventure (1972).

His last credited role was in When Every Day was the Fourth of July (1978), about a lawyer (Dean Jones) defending a deaf man who has been accused of murder.

Eric has retired from acting and, according to the imdb, works as an electrical contractor in Los Angeles.

I have no pictures of Stephen, born in 1961, since he has only one live screen credit: "Small Boy" on a 1968 episode of Adam-12.  But he took on his brother's mantle and voiced Linus in all of the Peanuts animated specials from Play It Again, Charlie Brown (1971) to Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975).

So I'll give you a pic of one of the many other voice artists who has played Linus over the years, Corey Padnos

See also: Tim Matheson; and The Fabulous Bridges Boys.

More 1970s Saturday Morning Beefcake

During the late 1970s, I watched several live-action Saturday morning tv programs, like Space Academy and The Kids from C.A.P.E.R., but the 70s Live Action Kid Vid website gives some details about many that I never heard of.  They vanished quickly, and left little trace on DVD, though you may be able to find uploads on youtube.  Here are the four that look most interesting:

1. Ark II (1976-77): a sort of futuristic trucker show about Jonah (Terry Lester) driving around in a post-apocalyptic world solving people's personal problems, accompanied by his teen sidekicks Samuel (Jose Flores) and Ruth (Jean Marie Hon), plus a talking chimp.  Terry Lester, who was gay in real life, went on to become a soap opera hunk on The Young and the Restless.

2. Dr. Shrinker (1976-77), a segment of the Krofft Supershow: the teens Brad (Ted Eccles) and BJ (Susan Lawrence), plus their goofy friend Gordie (Boomer MacKay), are trapped on a desert island with a mad scientist who shrinks them.

Child star Ted Eccles starred in In Cold Blood (1967) and My Side of the Mountain (1969), and muscled up to hug James Coburn in The Honkers (1972) and get terrorized by Scott Jacoby in Bad Ronald (1974).

3. Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977-78), another segment of the Krofft Supershow: Bigfoot (Ray Young) and his teen sidekick Wildboy (Joseph Butcher) roam the Pacific Northwest, solving people's personal problems.  Sounds like some interspecies buddy-bonding occurred.

The Krofft Supershow was a very busy program. It also featured musical groups like The Bay City Rollers and Michael Lembeck (center) as Kaptain Kool (with the Kongs).

4. Jason of Star Command (1978-81): Jason (Craig Littler) and his assistants (including James Doohan, Scotty on Star Trek) work to keep the evil Dragos from taking over the galaxy in this Space Academy spin-off.

Craig Littler performed in many movies and tv programs, including Blazing Saddles (1974) and Laverne and Shirley.  In the 1990s, he became the voice of Grey Poupon mustard in tv commercials ("Pardon me -- do you have any Grey Poupon?").


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