Nov 20, 2012

Brandon Cruz and his Best Friend

Former child stars are subjected to all sorts of weird rumors.  Jerry Mathers of Leave It to Beaver died in Vietnam.  Josh Saviano of The Wonder Years donned deaths-head makeup to become Marilyn Manson.  Brandon Cruz of The Courtship of Eddie's Father became a punk rocker.

Wait -- that last one is true.

Kids on 1950s and 1960s tv were required to be emblematic of the establishment. No rebellion, no discussion of the social problems of the era, not even a Beatles moptop.  Some, like Billy Gray, grew up to savagely critique the racism, sexism, heterosexism, and materialism of their star vehicles. Others, like Tony Dow, leaped head-first into the counterculture.

Brandon Cruz, who was only ten years old when Courtship ended, has nothing but nice things to say about his co-star Bill Bixby, "a second father,"  and shrugs off criticisms of the show's conformist content: "I was a kid. I said what they wanted me to say."

Brandon continued to act through the 1970s, with guest shots on Kung Fu, Medical Center, and Police Story, an Afterschool Special ("Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid"), and several well-received movies, including The Bad News Bears (1976) and The One and Only (1978).

But his main interest was music.  He became involved in the punk scene of the 1970s and 1980s, performing with the bands Dr. Know (1981-2010) and The Dead Kennedys (2001-2003).

Punk resonated with many gay teens due to its anger, its refusal to conform to the conventions of mainstream rock, and its politics -- a welcome change from the "isn't heterosexual sex great?" lyrics of mainstream rock. In "Moral Majority" (1981), for instance, the Dead Kennedys savagely criticize the homophobic Religious Right:

You call yourselves the Moral Majority
We call ourselves people in the real world
Trying to rub us out, but we're still alive
God must be dead if you're still alive

And that's just the clean part of the song.

But Brandon is not all about rage against the machine.  He often performs "Best Friend," the theme song from Courtship, which sounds extremely homoromantic when it's not about a kid:

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend,
He's a warm hearted person who'll love me till the end.
People let me tell you bout my best friend,
He's a one boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.

Today, in addition to his music, Brandon is active in Paul Petersen's A Minor Consideration, dedicated to improving working conditions for child actors, and he works as a drug/alcohol rehabilitation counselor.  He is a strong gay ally, and happily acknowledges his gay fans.