Jul 24, 2016

Don Johnson and the Gay Community

Don Johnson had a close relationship with the gay community from the start.  In 1968 he dropped out of the University of Kansas to enroll in the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, and immediately landed the starring role in Fortune and Men's Eyes, a play about a teenager who is sexually assaulted in prison.  He moved to Los Angeles to play the lead in the 1971 film version, directed by famous gay actor Sal Mineo (who became his roommate).

And lover (according to the rumor mill).  But then, if Sal Mineo really had relationships with everyone the rumor mill said he did, he would have been too tired to act.

Don also played the titular character, who grooves on both men and women in  The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970) -- one of the songs, "Sweet Gingerbread Man," was covered by Bobby  Sherman.

And a boy at an experimental college, where he was naked and having sex all the time, in The Harrad Experiment (1973). Gregory Harrison played one of his classmates, also naked and having sex all the time.

And a boy traveling through a bleak postapocalyptic world in A Boy and His Dog (1975), who gets captured and used as a breeder in a crazy underground city where the men are mostly sterile.  It was re-envisioned in 2010 in Cartoon Network's Adventure Time. 

And so on through the 1970s, in vehicles that were sometimes gritty, sometimes surreal, but always emphasized Don's sexual desirability -- to both men and women.

As the counterculture waned, he found himself in conventional heterosexist roles in tv series like The Rookies, Streets of San Francisco, and Barnaby Jones, and tv movies like The Rebels, Revenge of the Stepford Wives, and Six Pack.  

He made something of a comeback in Miami Vice (1984-1990),about an odd-couple of vice cops making the scene with fast cars, stylish clothes, and lots of buddy-bonding.  Crockett (Don Johnson) was the good old boy who grew up in rural northern Florida and had a pet alligator named Elvis; Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) was the streetwise New Yorker.

The buddy-bonding  is not nearly as intense as in Starsky and Hutch a decade before, and interspersed with lots of heterosexual hijinks.  But during the homophobic 1980s, it was about all you could expect.

There are nude photos of Don Johnson on Tales of West Hollywood.

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