Mar 11, 2013

Spring 1977: On the Brink of Busting Loose

In the spring of my junior year in high school, when I was starting to accumulate college catalogs from all over the country -- indeed, all over the world -- and hoping to get away from the oppressive influence of parents, church, and heterosexism -- a new sitcom appeared on Wednesday nights after Good Times called Busting Loose.  It starred the 20-year old Adam Arkin as Lenny Markowitz, a cute Jewish boy -- just as I was reading My Name is Asher Lev, and watching Lanigan's Rabbi, with their homoerotic Jewish subtexts.  And meeting Aaron, my first Jewish friend, who was gay but didn't know it yet.
Lenny tries to distance himself from his parents by getting his own apartment -- a terrible one.  The wallpaper has ducks on it.

He has a crush on his next door neighbor, Melodee (Barbara Rhoades), who dates for a living -- "I'm a great date!" she explains.  She's always saying things that sound like sex but really aren't: "Can I borrow some ice?  My date threw his back out."

But I was more interested in Lenny's close knit group of childhood buddies (plus a coworker), various personalities and levels of hotness: the nerd Lester (Danny Goldman), the bad boy Vinnie (Greg Antonacci), the hunk Woody (Paul Sylvan), and Allan (Stephen Nations), whom I don't rememer.

There were only 21 episodes, in the spring and fall of 1977.   No gay characters, no nudity.  You had to be there, just at the brink of "busting loose."

Paul Sylvan also embarked on a musical career, and posed naked and steamy for the cover of this album.

Stephen Nathan was in The First Nudie Musical (1978).

And Adam Arkin has had a long career, with many gay-positive projects, such as East of A (2000) and Kids in America (2005).