Sep 21, 2013

Fall 1977: My Workout Buddy and the Deplorable Word

I love weight training.  I would love it even if weight rooms weren't crowded with guys with spectacular physiques.

No hurling projectiles, no complicated scoring, no spectators stomping "We Will Rock You," just the clack of barbells in the early morning light.  Zen-like in its simplicity.

I discovered the weight room at Washington Junior High, when I went out for wrestling    and the Jump Quiz. At Rocky High, when I was working as an athletic trainer, I hung out in the weight room during practices.

But it was hard to find a regular workout buddy.  I wouldn't work out with someone I was dating, so Verne the preacher's son was out.

Darry would go nowhere near a gym; he insisted that "Girls don't care about muscles; it's what's beneath the belt that counts."

Aaron, the rabbi's son who didn't know he was gay, joined me a few times, but working out with him was embarrassing: he kept staring at guys' muscles -- and my crotch.  I had to keep telling him "Look up here!"

In my senior year, I finally found a regular workout buddy: a sophomore, my brother's age, but taller than me, with broader shoulders and bigger biceps.  To the surprise and perhaps the dismay of my lunchtime crowd, he was Black.

The rest of the story is on Tales of West Hollywood

Why You Should Be Watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia"

And this isn't the only reason.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has been airing on FX since 2005, but since it has less than half of the number of episodes of an ordinary sitcom, it's only up to about 100 episodes to date.

The premise sounds like many sitcoms:  Five friends run a bar together, and engage in various wacky schemes to make money or improve their social standing in the community:

1. The Ivy-League-educated but underachieving Davis (Glenn Howerton, far left).
2. His twin sister Dee, an aspiring actress.
3. Davis's roommate, muscular martial-arts enthusiast Mac (Rob McElhenney)
4. The dimwitted Charlie (Charlie Day, right and above)
5. Davis and Dee's crooked millionaire dad, Frank (Danny DeVito, not shown).

But it's not like any other sitcom on television.

First, there's a lot of improv.

Second, there are complex interconnecting storylines, a la Seinfeld.

Third, the characters are sociopaths: manipulative, egotistical, amoral, sexist, completely oblivious to other people's feelings, even willing to betray each other to further their own agenda (although there are occasional  glimmers of affection).

Fourth, it's comedy genius.

There is no homophobia (although in one episode Mac feigns homophobia to win back his transsexual ex-girlfriend).

Gay characters appear frequently, and gay subtexts abound.

Actor Glenn Howerton states that he plays Davis as "ambiguously gay," longing for the attention of both men and women.  Davis and Mac are roommates and homoromantic partners who go out to a nice dinner every month, "just the two of us."

Frank and Charlie are obviously lovers.  They live together, sleep in the same bed, and play naked games with unspecified rules.  They get married, and later file for divorce, but decide to stay together when their divorce lawyer points out the "love between them."

When Frank begins dating Charlie's mother, Charlie devises a wild scheme to break them up, and then yells "Don't try to steal my man again!"

They go out for an anniversary dinner, and Frank begins a speech: "Meeting you has changed my life..." before he's interrupted.

All of the guys have respectable physiques, and there are substantial shirtless and semi-nude scenes.

Did I mention that it's wildly funny?

 The actors are all gay allies.  Rob McElhenney (left), who plays Mac, was "partially raised by two moms."

Enough talk -- go to Netflix or Amazon and start watching, already.

See also: Trailer Park Boys

Sep 20, 2013

Fall 1967: The Marvelous Dollhouse

Fall 1967, second grade at Hansche School in Racine, Wisconsin.  A girl -- I think she was Pam, who officiated at my wedding to Doug last year -- asked me to come over to her house after school to play.

Boys and girls didn't usually play together.  The teachers at school didn't even like us talking to each other.  We were herded through separate doors in the morning and to separate tables in the cafeteria, and at recess the boys had to play dodge ball far off in the grass, while the girls jumped rope and played singsong games in the shadow of the school. I liked to jump rope, but the teachers often shooed me away. Once when I was just sitting on the steps nearby to avoid the glare of the recess sun, a teacher screamed wildly at me to move away, as if deadly danger lurked there, against the cool bricks.

But Pam had a legendary dollhouse, so I agreed.

It was enormous, the biggest I had ever seen.  It opened up to reveal three floors, all with precisely detailed furniture. You could see plates on the dining room table, and tiny folios of sheet music on the piano

.  We spent hours exploring, hosting a music recital in the ballroom, cooking a rich kid's supper and serving it to 100 guests in the gold-draped dining room.  Then, because it was almost supper time for real, Dad arrived to pick me up.

During the five-block drive home, Dad kept turning and grinning at me. “Pam, Pam, Pam,” he repeated, as if trying to memorize the name for future reference. “Is she cute?”

I didn't understand the question.  Girls could be mean or nice, smart or dumb, brave or scaredy-cat, but how could they be cute? Only boys were cute. Maybe he was talking about her outfit? “It was ok, I guess.”

He laughed. “You guess. . .I’ll bet you guess!” He reached over to squash me on the shoulder as if I had won some prize. “Did you ask Pam to come and play with you tomorrow?”


 “Well, why not? You have to be quick. If you’re not careful, some other boy will horn in, and then where will you be?”

At home, Mom asked the same questions --  is Pam cute? Did you ask her to come and play with you? Well, why not? And my brother Kenny, a roly-poly kindergartner, burst into singsong: "Pam and Boomer-y sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g!”

“Knock it off!” I exclaimed. “We weren’t kissing!”

Giggling uproariously, Kenny lay on the floor and kicked his feet in the air and continued: “First comes love, then comes mar-riage. . . .”

“Knock it off, or I’ll pound you!” I yelled. “I’m not marrying Pam!”

Kenny leapt to his feet and ran from the room. He called back: “When are you gonna kiss your girl-friend?”

“I don’t like Pam!” I yelled. “I don’t like girls!”

Mom laughed. “Then why did you go to a girl’s house, Mr. Smarty-Pants?”

But now, finally, I understood. When a boy went to a girl’s house, it always meant that they liked each other. And not just a shy, casual liking – everyone thought that they wanted to get married!

That must be why Dad had only men friends. If he made friends with a lady, Mom would think “He wants to get married to her instead of me!”

That must be why the teachers kept boys and girls from playing together.  They were too young to get married!

After that I carefully avoided playing with girls, however fun their jump ropes, jacks, and dollhouses seemed. I didn’t want anyone thinking I liked girls, not boys.

It didn't work.  To this day, my parents insist that, whatever happened later on, in second grade I was heterosexual -- after all, I had a girlfriend!

See also: Why Brother Hanson Got a Divorce

Shane Harper: Closet Heterosexual

Shane Harper has been bouncing around the Disney Channel for a few years, guest starring in Zoey 101, Wizards of Waverly Place, and Good Luck, Charlie.

He just had an album released, so I check out the heterosexism: the number of songs that shout "girl! girl! girl!," thus proclaiming that every relationship is heterosexual and invalidating the desires and relationships of LGBT fans.

Not much heterosexism.

His beefcake photos, like this one with the effeminate rings, flashy color coordination, and pretending to grab his...., give off a gay vibe.

I immediately think: this guy must be gay.  Or trying to draw in gay fans.

Yeah, I see the cross.  So what?  Lots of religious guys are gay or gay-positive.

Not this one.

God's Not Dead, which is coming out in 2014, will star Shane as a college student who discovers that God's not dead.

Please -- The Death of God  (1961) was a book complaining that modern society had lost its sense of transcendence, the magical in everyday life.  The author didn't mean that the actual Supreme Being was dead.  Besides, that was 50 years ago.  Why are fundamentalists still upset about it?

It will also star former Hercules Kevin Sorbo as an evil college professor who forces his students to write papers stating "God is dead."  Fundamentalists think this happens all the time, but college professors don't force students to accept any point of view. They say "6% of the U.S. population is atheist" or "Atheists use three arguments..."

Kevin Sorbo is a big-time homophobe who has starred in a number of "Christian," gay-, women-, and Muslim-bashing movies, such as The 12 Biggest Lies.

In an interview, Shane states that he only takes "wholesome" and "uplifting" roles. He would be ok with playing a murderer, as long as the movie established that murder is wrong.

Is he being offered many roles in movies proclaiming that murder is right?

But he wouldn't be ok with playing a gay character, or with giving fans the impression that he is gay in real life.

Too late.

Sep 19, 2013

Lloyd Daniels: G-A-Y Nudity

Music competition programs like X Factor and American Idol tend toward the heterosexist: judges' comments regularly assume that gay people don't exist, and when a candidate is a bit androgynous, the criticism is harsh and unyielding.  Gay candidates typically remain strictly closeted until after their 15 minutes of fame are well over.

Lloyd Daniels was more open than most, when he appeared on the X Factor in Britain in 2009.  At age 16, he was the youngest finalist to appear on the program.  Except for the odd "Suburbian Girl," his songs were rather obviously about male-male love. Plus he posed in the shower.

He's still posing in the shower.  There are about a dozen nude photos on the website.

Now he is a regular performer at the G-A-Y nightclub in London.  He has appeared in the gay-subtext horror comedy Love Bite (2012),  about a werewolf who preys on virgins -- with male but not female nudity.

Last summer he toured with the musical Up 4 a Meet?, about gay men looking for love with a Grindr-like dating app -- and getting naked on stage.

That's lots of nudity.

Oddly enough, some of his fans keep posting  things like: "He's not gay!!!!!  Get a life!  Just because he's hotter than you, you got to be a hater!"

And he actually hasn't made any public statements like "Yep, I'm gay."

Do people really need to do that anymore?

Sep 18, 2013

Fall 1977: I Become My Boyfriend's Best Man

Verne and Boomer
In August 1977, just before my senior year at Rocky High, I helped Verne, the preacher's son and my sort-of boyfriend, pack for his freshman year at Olivet Nazarene College. We hugged, and I waved while he drove away with Brother and Sister Tyler.

Three weeks later, everything ended.

On September 12th, a Monday night, Brother Tyler called and asked to talk to Dad. This was disturbing in itself -- preachers never called, they preferred unannounced drop-ins.

After a long, solemn conversation on the phone in the kitchen, Dad returned to the living room and said: "He asked if I could get Verne a job on the assembly line at the factory."

"But Verne's at Olivet!" I protested.  "He just started two weeks ago.  Why would he..."

"He's going to drop out.  He needs to get a job."

I still didn't understand.  "No, that's impossible.  He's going to become a preacher.  We're going into the ministry together.  Is Brother Tyler losing his job, or. . . ."

Dorm at Olivet
A few moments later, Verne called from his dorm at Olivet.  "Hey, I know this is going to be a shock, but I'm getting married a week from Saturday, and I'd like you to be my best man."

No, that's impossible!  "Um. . .ok, congratulations, I guess.  I'll be happy to be your best man.  But why are you. . .I mean. . .who's the girl?"

"Kristie Davis." (Not her real name.)

She was a senior at Rocky High, saved along with her parents at the fall revival last year.  She had come along on two or three of my dates with Verne, an "arm dangler" to keep up appearances, but...

Yesterday at the evening service, she ran up to the altar while Brother Tyler was still screaming. Perplexed, he ended his sermon in mid-scream and announced an altar call.  I wondered a bit about her howling sobs and the wads of yellow Kleenix crumpled in her hands, but theatrics were quite common at the altar, so I didn't think any more about it.

Now I knew: Kristie was pregnant!

Modern guys. Note the superfluous gang sign.
That's why Verne sneaked off in the middle of our dates, to have sex with the girl, Kristie or whoever!  And later, when he asked “did you get any?”,  he meant did I have sex!

Sex! And  intimacy, and passion, while all I got was an occasional hug!  And all that talk about pairing up at Olivet and then working in the same church forever – he meant a business partnership.  He would be sharing his real life with a woman!

The next Sunday, Brother Tyler announced the upcoming wedding, and his resignation -- he couldn't stay in the pulpit after the scandal of having his son get a girl pregnant.  He and his wife moved to Kansas City, where he took a desk job at General Headquarters until the furor died down, then found a new congregation far away from Rock Island.

After he had odd predicament of making his boyfriend his best man, Verne went to work in the factory, and eventually became an electrician.  He and Kristie stayed in the Nazarene Church for awhile, defiantly occupying a pew in the married-couple section of the sanctuary in spite of the glares of church members, but by the end of the year, they couldn't stand it anymore and dropped out.  We tried to stay friends for awhile, but we no longer had anything in common, and eventually we lost contact.

Now we're Facebook friends.  He's divorced from Kristie, and living in the Washington, DC area, very near the gay neighborhood of Dupont Circle.

Summer 1977: The Gay Ghost of Davenport House

Darry: always standing beside me
11th grade was so crowded with new friends and boyfriends - - the preacher's son who liked nude horseplay, the rabbi's son who didn't know he was gay, the boy I slept with at music camp, plus others I haven't posted on -- that you may think I dropped Darry, my best friend in junior high.

But he was there every day, by my side through all of the events at Rocky High, steadfast in his loyalty and affection. He accepted my interest in boys without question, though he often tried to push me toward girls as well.

One night in the summer of 1977, shortly after I returned from Switzerland, Darry took me to a stand-up comedy show at Augustana College.  Afterwards we drove onto Arsenal Island, to the Davenport House, where Colonel Davenport, the first European settler in the Quad Cities, was murdered on July 4, 1845.

"What are we doing here?" I asked. "The Davenport House is closed at night."
“I work here, remember?” Darry said. He had a part-time job as a docent.

It was a two-story clapboard facing north to-ward the dark-flowing Mississippi, with green-shuttered windows and chimneys on each end. From the front porch I could see the lights of downtown Davenport, with the Centennial Bridge spanning the river.

When we climbed onto the porch, Darry pulled out a flashlight.
“I’ve been here before,” I protested. “Lots of times."
“Have you ever seen the room where Colonel Davenport died?”
“No – that’s always closed to the public.”
“Closed to the public, maybe. Not to us.”

Darry led me through the parlor, now a museum, past the gift shop and the dining room to the kitchen, which had mostly modern furnishing, including a new refrigerator and stove. An old servants’ stairway led up to the second floor, to a narrow hallway.  The banister staircase on the other end led down to the parlor.

Darry  pointed his flashlight beam down the hall. “They found him in his wife’s sitting room, there by the banister, and carried him to his bedroom, here, where he died.” He opened the door on the east end. It was sparsely furnished, with an old four-poster bed, a wash basin with an old-fashioned pitcher, a dresser, and two round red-upholstered chairs. One window looked north, onto the dark yard with the Mississippi beyond, 

Darry walked over to the dresser, creaked open a bottom drawer, and retrieved a pile of magazines. He climbed onto the bed -- not the one Col. Davenport died on, I hoped -- and sat propped up against the pillows. I climbed up next to him. The bedspread smelled of must and lavender room deodorizer. He began leafing through one of the magazines  –Playboy, I realized, shocked.
“Hey, that’s porn!”

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood

Gay Characters in an Arabic Movie from 1978

The last thing I expected was to find gay characters in a movie from the Middle East, produced in 1978.  But there they are, in Alexandria...Why (Iskanderija...Lih?), directed by Youssef Chahine.  It is set in Egypt during World War II, when Allied troops are occupying Alexandria and German General Rommel is at the door.

Chahine, who died in 2008, was rumored to be gay, and you can tell immediately: the movie is full of men, lying naked in bed, swimming in the Mediterranean, their shirts ripped off during fights, all beautifully filmed, but juxtaposed with images of Hitler's troops and appalling violence.

There are three interconnected stories, each of which could make a full-length movie all by itself.

1. Yehia (Mohsen Mohieddin), a student at the elite Victoria College, spends his time at the movies.  He is obsessed with Hollywood and all things American, even preferring to speak English over Arabic or French.  I thought he was the gay character -- he's soft, passive, pretty, and uninterested in girls -- he keeps refusing when his friends want to go look for girls, and when they find one, he doesn't participate in the sex.

He eventually gets a girlfriend -- with sex scenes displaying male but not female nudity -- but when he wins a film competition, he leaves her to go to America.  The last scene shows a grotesque Jewish-stereotype Statue of Liberty grinning at him as barbarous Hasidic Jews wait with open arms, suggesting that he's made a mistake, that American is occupied by "the enemy."

2. In spite of the offensive antisemitism, Yehia's neighbor and confidant is a middle-aged Jewish woman, in love with a Muslim man.

3. You can get anything on the black market, and Yehia's wealthy uncle (Ahmed Zaki) likes to buy Allied soldiers, rape them, and then kill them.  But he feels sorry for his latest victim, a brawling British soldier (Gerry Sundquist, British teen idol who played Karpenko in Meetings with Remarkable Men), and lets him live.

They embark on a dominant-submissive romance that mirrors the Western dominance of the Middle East, especially the habit of wealthy gay Europeans of taking homoerotic holidays to have sex with Arab rent boys.  It's not portrayed as a positive relationship, but at least it's open, not requiring a subtext.

It is a bright, bustling, vibrant, colorful movie tinged with horror.  It's also disjoint, overpacked with irrelevant events, losing the main stories in detail. And antisemitic and homophobic. But definitely worth a look.


Sep 17, 2013

Henry Brandon and Judy Garland's Husband

Born in Germany in 1912, Henry Brandon had a long career as a character actor, playing villains of every ethnic group.

Silas Barnaby in Babes in Toyland (1934).

Chinese mastermind Fu Manchu in the well-known serial, Drums of Fu Manchu (1940).

The evil Indian chief Scar in The Searchers (1956), who runs afoul of John Wayne.

Acacius in Auntie Mame (1958), who runs an avant-garde, pro-nudity school in Greenwich Village.

Very few leading roles.  Maybe he was too "ethnic."  Or maybe he was too "confirmed bachelor," as his wikipedia biography euphemizes.

In the 1960s Henry met the young actor Mark Herron (born in 1928), formerly the manager of Judy Garland, and her husband, briefly, in 1965-66.

She feigned shock and disgust after finding him in flagrante delicto with a male actor/model; but really, shouldn't she have had a clue when the marriage was unconsummated after eight months?  

Or when he had an affair with her daughter's husband, Peter Allen?

Mark and Henry remained together for nearly thirty years, until Henry's death in 1990 (Mark died six years later.)

Oddly, you can find lots of photos on the internet of Mark and Judy, but none of Mark and Henry, who were together 40 times longer.

Kostja Ullmann after Summer Storm

You've probably seen Kostja Ullmann in Summer Storm (Sommersturm), the amazing German movie (2004) about gay people who aren't trapped in a pre-Stonewall world of angst, homophobia, and silence.  The 28-year old actor has been a fixture of German tv and film ever since, usually in projects that require nude or semi-nude shots.

 Not a lot of gay content, but some atypical sexual situations that lend themselves to queer symbolism.

He reunites with Sommersturm costar Marlon Kittel in The School Trip (Klassenfahrt, 2004).

I haven't seen The Ode to Joy (2006), about German prisoners of war in Japan during World War I, but POW movies always have strong gay subtexts.

What's going on in this episode of Dona Leon entitled "The Girl of His Dreams"?  It's about an inspector trying to solve the murder of a Gypsy girl.  Maybe Kostja is a suspect.

In Hounded (Verfolgt), aka Punish Me (2006), a troubled teen named Jan (Kostja) begins a destructive relationship with his middle-aged probation officer.  She's a woman, but Jan's androgyny gives the move some strong gay symbolism.

Stellungswechsel (2007) is about five guys who set up a male-escort service.  All female clients, but still....

Sep 16, 2013

Spring 1977: The Rabbi's Son Who Didn't Know He Was Gay

 During my junior year in high school, I was acting the Johnny Nazarene, going to all of the church activities, going to the altar, and planning to attend Olivet, our Bible college on the prairie.  And dating the preacher's son, sort of.

At the same time, I became obsessed with all things Catholic: I read The Little World of Don Camillo and The Seven-Story Mountain, saw Brother Sun, Sister Moon, even bought a small crucifix (which I had to keep carefully hidden from my family, of course).

And I became obsessed with all things Jewish.  I read the novels of Chaim Potok, watched Lanigan's Rabbi, and occasionally broke through the crowd of girls surrounding Aaron, the rabbi's son, to ask him a few questions about kosher laws or Hebrew School or his bar mitzvah.

We had a sizeable Jewish community in the Quad Cities, mostly Russian, some Polish.  There were three conservative Orthodox synagogues, a Reform synagogue, and the Tri-City Jewish Center, where Aaron's father worked.

Aaron was Reform -- he rarely wore his yarmulke, unless he wanted to make a political statement, and he didn't keep kosher.  But he was constantly looking out for Christian incursions into his religious freedom.

In orchestra, he refused to play selections from Jesus Christ, Superstar.  In Spanish class, he refused to read a story about "La Natividad."  When the English teacher assigned My Name is Asher Lev, he kept raising his hand to point out that the novel was set in a very conservative Hasidic community -- all Jews weren't like that.

Naturally, we became friends.

Aaron was always surrounded by girls, friends and admirers, but he never dated them.  Instead he was dating a Lutheran boy named Mike.

He didn't know that he was gay yet.  In fact, he was exceptionally homophobic.

One day in May 1977, just after  my naked conversation with Verne, we were walking down the hallway when a passing senior invited us to the Drama Club Spring Play, Tom Stoppard's Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead.

“And don’t worry, it’s safe to come,” he added. “We deleted lines implying that  Rosencranz and Guildenstern are. . .you know.” He flashed a limp wrist.

He walked on.  I asked Aaron "What lines imply that they’re. . .you know?”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea!” Aaron exclaimed “I never saw it, and you better believe I’m not going to! Are you?”

“Of course not!" I said.  "No way am I a Swish!  I would never go to a play about them!"
"I would never read a book about them, either!"
“Well, I wouldn’t even touch a book about them!”
“I wouldn’t even touch a book that mentioned them just one time!”
“Well, I wouldn’t even be in the same room with it.”
Eventually Aaron won by declaring that he wouldn’t be in the same universe with a piece of paper that had the word "gay" written backwards,  in Bulgarian, in invisible ink.

But we had to end the contest.  We were meeting our boyfriends for lunch.

The uncensored story is on Tales of West Hollywood

TKKG: German Boyfriends Who Solve Mysteries

Radio dramas about TKKG, a group of German teen sleuths like the Three Investigators or The Famous Five, first appeared in 1981,and are still going strong, with episodes like "The Treasure in the Dragon's Lair," "Fear on the Autobahn," and "The Murderer from Another Time."  They are arguably the most popular juvenile pop culture icons in Germany, with novelizations, comic books, cartoons, and video games. And, of course, movies: Drachenauge (Dragon's Eye), 1992, and TKKG und die raetselhafte Mind-Machine (2006).  

TKKG is named after the initials of the teens:

1. Tim (previously Tarzan), age 14, the leader and the jock of the group (played by Jannis Niewohner in 2006).

2. Karl, the gay-coded, androgynous brain (Jonathan Dumcke, left).

3. Dumpling (Kloschen), the chocolate-loving fat guy (Lukas Eichammer)

4. Gaby (Svea Bein), the girl who keeps being told "stay here where it's safe."

The radio series has some gay subtexts between Tim and Karl, making them veritable boyfriends, and gives none of the characters significant heterosexual interest.  But the 2006 movie drops boyfriends and girlfriends all around.  Although Karl remains gay-vague and androgynous.

Jonathan Dumcke died in August 2013, at age 22, while on holiday with his family in Italy.  No word on whether he was gay in real life.

Jannis Niehwohner became the standout star, going on to fame in the young-love Summer (2008), the girl-power comedy Freche Madchen 2 (2010), and the time-traveling fantasy Rubinrot (2013), plus the upcoming tv movie Heroes (2013), in which two brothers "become soul mates" as a black hole threatens to destroy the world.

Maybe he'll finally get another soul mate.

Sep 15, 2013

Kimba, the Italian Tarzan

I'm a devotee of all things Tarzan, including the original novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the movies, the tv series, the comic books and comic strips, the Big-Little Books, the pastiches and parodies.  And the imitations.  Dozens of unauthorized Tarzans and barely-disguised Tarzan clones swung through the trees.  There were French, German, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Chinese, Hindi, and even Swahili versions.

I thought I had seen them all.  But I just found another.

Not to be confused with Kimba the White Lion, Kimba, re del'Africa nera ("The King of Black Africa") was an Italian photo-comic book series of the 1970s.  It's not listed in the Grand Comics Database, so I don't know how many issues came out, but I know that there were versions in French (Kimba, Roi de la Jungle) and German.

Here he is battling a masked villain who looks like the Phantom, but is actually Il Ragno (The Spider).  And yes, you saw right -- it's a guy trapped in the spider web.

From what I can gather, Kimba rescued men as often as women.  Here he's fighting what looks like some Vikings in pink dresses.

His comic book was unique in that it was not drawn.  Every panel was a photograph of a live-action scene.  Sort of like screen shots for a movie that was never produced.

The model for Kimba was Vito Fornari, who also starred in a photonovel comic series about a psychopath named Killing (translated into Satanick in France and Sadistik in England) and his dominatrix companion Diana.  Vito seemed to be mostly involved with the rescue of ladies in bikinis from the nefarious couple.

In the 1980s Vito moved into sex comedies: Gift Girls (1980), W la foca (1982), and Adam and Eve (1983).  His last credited role was in Il giuoco dei sensi (The Game of the Senses, 2001).

It seems an appropriate end to his career.

Summer 1969: Why My Parents Took So Many Shirtless Pictures

Got enough evidence yet, Mom?
I keep getting asked for more shirtless or preferably nude pics of Verne, the preacher's son who liked nude horseplay, or Todd, who I spent the night with at music camp, or Bill, the reformed Mean Boy.

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot, and most of those that I have were already posted on my other blog a few years ago, so you've probably seen them before.  I have quite a lot of me alone as a teenager or college boy with a pretty good physique -- my parents kept snapping pics, especially when I mentioned a guy I liked.

 Were they using muscles as evidence that I wasn't gay?

When I don't have enough shirtless pics to illustrate a story, I substitute a modern pic of someone who looks like the guy.  It's easy to tell the modern ones -- piercings, tattoos, gang signs by people who aren't Crips, Hollister t-shirts, plastic bracelets, and cell phones.

I have no pics of my Uncle Paul, so his story is illustrated by two pics of random guys.

When I was a kid, I knew that a boy who liked a particular girl called her a "girlfriend."  But no one gave a name to a boy who liked a particular boy.  It wasn't "boyfriend" -- I tried that, and got corrected.  Superman called Jimmy Olsen his “boy pal."  On My Three Sons, Robbie Douglas called the boys he liked "buddies."  But I found out the real word in the summer of 1969, just after third grade, when we went to my parents' home town of Garrett, Indiana to watch my Uncle Paul get married.

Uncle Paul was my favorite uncle because he was still a teenager, in high school, and he wanted to be called "Paul," not "Uncle" anything.  When I visited, we did cool things, like going swimming or catching frogs or playing hide-and-seek in the cornfield.  He drove us to movies (my parents didn't know) and to the Blue Moon Drive-In, where he bought us milkshakes and introduced us to all his high school friends.

There was no bathroom in my grandparents' house, so you had to use the outhouse or pee into the wind.  Paul taught us how, giving me my first glimpse of an adult penis.

 But in the summer of 1969 (the same summer I saw the Naked Man in the Peat Bog), Paul was a grownup, and like all grownup men he had to go to work in the factory and get married.  He was marrying a petite girl with small hands and freckles, who said we should call her Lana, not "Aunt" anything.

At the wedding, five men and boys lined up on the little stage next to Uncle Paul, and five women and girls lined up next to Lana. My Cousin Buster, only one year older than me, got to stand up there, but not me; I had to sit in the wooden pew next to my parents and little brother and baby sister.

“Don’t worry about it,” Mom said, noting my disappointment. “Someday when you get married, you can have anybody you want standing next to you.”


“Sure. He can even be your best man.”

I beamed. When Mom said boys don’t get married, she meant they didn’t have wives, they had best men! So when I grew up, I would stand on that little stage with my best man, Bill or someone like him, and we would get married while all of our friends and relatives clapped.  Then we would go on a honeymoon trip to Hawaii to look at muscular surfers, and afterwards we would move into a house together.

Nearly a years passed before I discovered that "best man" meant something else altogether.  But I still used it as code, calling the boy I liked my "best man" through high school.

Meanwhile, my parents kept snapping those pix.

See also: Dad STILL Thinks I Like to Look at Girls

Andre Kinney: Disney Teen Star, Gay Without a Doubt

In Armored (2009), 19-year old Andre Kinney played Jimmy Hackett, the younger brother of security guard Ty Hackett (Columbus Short, left), and the object of his last-minute rescue and fade-out hug.

In Relative Stranger (2009), about a father (Eriq La Salle) trying to reconnect with his family, Andre played the gay-vague best friend of the teenage daughter.

Andre was a Disney teen on the first season of Hannah Montana (2006-2007): He played Cooper, the gay-vague best friend of Hannah's older brother Jackson (Jason Earles).  Disney pulled out every trick it could think of, other than Saying the Word, to indicate that Cooper was gay.  

He had feminine leisure interests, drank "fruity" drinks, and had a blatantly intimate, physical relationship with Jackson.  After the first season, he was written out; Jackson was becoming increasingly gay-coded himself, and giving him a gay-coded best buddy would be a little too obvious, even for Disney.

In 2003-2004, he had a recurring role on NYPD Blue as Michael Woodruff, a boy who witnessed his father murder his mother, now living with Detective Jones (Henry Simmons, left). Hollywood Reporter Nancy Mills, unaware that gay men exist, states that the unveiling of Detective Jones "created a major flutter among female viewers with his sculpted-by-Michelangelo physique."  But he also caused a flutter in Michael Woodruff.

Before that, as an 11-year old, he starred in the short "Sonny Listening" (2002) is about a young boy "finding his heart in an abandoned boxing gym."  I haven't seen it, but it stars Andre Kinney and Art Evans, Bruce Willis' boyfriend in Die Hard 2, so I can imagine.

Last February, Andre posted a picture of himself, his killer abs, and his boyfriend on Instagram, and asked "Any questions?"

Although the media tried to get some buzz going with headlines like  "Disney GAY SHOCKER," no one was actually shocked.  10 years of  roles as gay-vague kids and teens who get crushes on hunky men -- was there any doubt?