Jun 22, 2016

Allan Kayser: the Bodybuilder of Mama's Family

During the 1970s, a series of sketches on The Carol Burnett Show featured the young Vicki Lawrence in old-lady drag as the abrasive matriarch of a dysfunctional Southern family.  In 1983 she spun off into Mama's Family as the elderly Thelma Harper, still grumpy but considerably nicer -- a champion of the underdog, fighting such social ills as illiteracy, nursing home abuse, and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Her family consisted of her conservative sister (Rue McClanahan, later of The Golden Girls), her dimwitted son Vint (Ken Berry, center, previously of Mayberry RFD), his sexually voracious wife Naomi (Dorothy Lyman, right), and his kids.

The son was played by Eric Brown, left, star of the sex farce Private Lessons.

After a season, the show was cancelled.  It returned in syndication in 1986, with the sister and kids gone, and Allan Kayser (left) introduced as Bubba, Thelma's juvenile delinquent grandson.

And the jaws of gay men everywhere dropped.  The 22-year old Kayser had a dazzling smile, a stunning physique, and an amazing bulge, and he knew it.  And the producers knew it.

In every episode, he was crammed into muscle shirts and sweatpants or painted-on jeans, and his body always got the limelight, even when something else was going on.

Mama's Family immediately became must-see tv.  It aired on Saturday nights, so we watched Mama's Family and The Golden Girls before going out to the bars.

The only gay content was Thelma's subtext friendship with mousy neighbor Iola (Beverly Archer).  Bubba's plotlines were standard teenage sitcom fare -- school projects, teams, dates --  with no significant male friends, except his Uncle Vinton, and that relationship was avuncular, not romantic.

But sometimes beefcake is enough.

During the 1980s, Allan also starred in a few B-movies that allowed him to show off his bulge and biceps, including Hot Chili (1985) and Night of the Creeps (1986).

When Mama's Family ended in 1990, he retired from acting, married, and moved to Missouri.  He has appeared in only a few small roles since.

He still has a stunning physique, and he is still gracious to his gay fans.

See also: The Golden Girls