Apr 11, 2013

Jonathan Ke Quan: The Goonies Grow Up

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) gives the whip-wielding archaeologist-adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) a modern-day English-mangling Sabu, the equivalent of the teenage-sidekick in the 1930’s serials.  But instead of a young adult playing a teenager, the gay subtext is minimized by making Indy's sidekick the prepubescent waif Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan, nearly 14 years old but looking around 10).

 Indy and Short Round display a great deal of affection, but always of the parent-child variety: Indy sleeps with the boy in his arms, and holds his hand while they are walking, but he is continually presented as a small boy, lest anyone think that when he says “Indy, I love you” anyone think he means something besides substitute father.  There is no rejection of the homoerotic other, except in a passage in the novelization about the “disreputable careers” that might befall a 13-year old boy on the streets of Shanghai; that is, if it were not for Indy’s intervention, Short Round might have become a boy prostitute.





Jonathan Ke Quan went on to star in The Goonies (1985) as the Asian nerd Data, who buddy-bonds in a rather aggressively physical way with fellow Goonie Mikey (Sean Astin).







And on two tv series: Together We Stand (1986-87), as a Vietnamese orphan adopted by an American family (his brother was played by the gay-friendly Scott Grimes); and the last season of Head of the Class (1990-1991), as Asian nerd Jasper Kwong.












Are you starting to see a pattern here?  Asians stereotyped as mathematical, nerdish, and asexual, so no romantic leads, no beefcake -- but, on the bright side, ample room for gay subtexts.

After playing adolescents with no heterosexual interest and intense buddy-bonding in the martial arts drama Breathing Fire (1991) and the comedy Encino Man (1992) with Sean Astin, Jonathan studied martial arts and went to USC Film School.

Since graduating, his only acting role has been in the Hong Kong movie Second Time Around (2002), which involves Las Vegas, time traveling, romance, and apparently gay characters.

He has also worked behind the scenes, as a stunt coordinator, fight choreographer, and cinematographer. No idea if he's gay in real life or not.