Sep 10, 2015

Two Boys and an Elephant: Jay North on Maya


In the movie Maya (1966), Terry (15-year old Jay North,  formerly Dennis the Menace) travels to India with his father, runs away after an argument, and meets Raji (14-year old Sajid Khan) and his elephant, Maya.  Not for the first time.  The white European or American paired with the Indian jungle boy is commonplace in post-War movies and tv, probably deriving from the work of Sabu in the 1940s.

After many adventures, nude shots, and buddy-bonding moments, including a scene in which the two literally hold hands, Terry and Raji  are reunited with Terry's father and go back to America together.

When the beefcake-heavy Flipper ended in 1966, its Saturday night timeslot was filled by a tv version of Maya  (1967-68).  It was retconned a little: now Terry goes to India in search of his missing father, and though he never displays a bare backside, he apparently forgot to pack any shirts.  He meets the androgynous, gay-coded Raji, who also owns no shirts, and they spend the next 18 episodes caring for each other, rescuing each other from danger, and gazing deeply into each other's eyes.

Gay kids were ecstatic -- it was like Jonny Quest and Hadji come to life, or Andy's Gang in color!  But producers must have found the homoerotic romance a little too overt.  In the next season, the time slot was taken over by the macho cops of Adam-12.

Sajid Khan looked like my friend Bobby in Rock Island: brown and firm-bodied, with soulful black eyes and full lips.  There hadn't been a South Asian in teen culture since Gunga Ram of Andy's Gang (and even he was played by a Caucasian), so Sajid got some play in the teen magazines.


After Maya, he tried his hand at singing, performing on It's Happening in 1968 and releasing a teen idol album in 1969.


He returned to India during the 1970s, starred in a few films there, and then retired from show business.











India is not known for being gay friendly, so Sajid was surprised to discover that there were rumors that he was gay.  In an 2011 interview with The Times of India, he acknowledged the rumors and said "I have not gone out and tried to change people's perceptions.  I have never done things to try to win brownie points in my life."













Jay North, tall, thin, and blond, didn't get much attention from the teen magazines -- they already had Dean Paul Martin, Davy Jones, and the Cowsills.  But gay boys still liked him.

After Maya, he moved into voice work, live theater, and The Teacher (1974), in which he seduces his older teacher (and if you look closely, you can see him getting into the scene).

Today he works with Paul Petersen on A Minor Consideration.  He has been married to women twice, but remains a gay ally.

See also: My Third Grade Boyfriend