Jan 4, 2014

Jerry Quarry: Boxer with Something Extra

When I was a kid in the 1960s, my friends and I liked to read boxing magazines and watch boxing on tv.  Not because of the pummelling -- because of the beefcake.

Our favorite boxer was Jerry Quarry, the Bellflower Bomber (1945-1999).  He was big.  Not just famous -- big.  

A heavyweight -- 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, with beneath-the-belt gifts obvious to anyone who looked.








Want a better look?

Born in California to a family of boxers, Jerry won the Golden Gloves amateur boxing championship in 1965, at age 19, and then went pro, fighting such greats as Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (he lost to both, twice.)

He was all over tv, guest-starring on such kid favorites as Batman, Adam-12, Land of the Giants (starring bodybuilder Gary Conway)and The Hardy Boys.

He never gave up in the ring, no matter what -- he could take punch after punch forever. Sometimes the referee called the fight just to keep him from suffering any more injuries.

After retiring in 1975, Jerry tried several business ventures and ill-advised comeback bouts in 1977 and 1983, but years of pummelling took their toll in physical and mental decline.  In the end his brother had to look after him.  The Jerry Quarry Foundation is an advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness of pugilistic dementia.

Not a lot of gay rumors in the life of "ladies man" Jerry Quarry.  Sometimes you could be an icon for gay kids in the 1960s just by being big.  And never giving up.

Jan 3, 2014

Why You Should Visit Belgium Next July

When I was a kid in the 1960s, my boyfriend Bill's grandparents were Flemish, from Belgium -- his big brother Mike used to sing Flemish songs for us --so  I thought of Belgium as a "good place."

As an adult, I thought of it mostly as a one-night stopover on the road from Paris to Amsterdam: drop by the Belgian Comic Center, get hot chocolate in the Grand Place in Brussells, find the Manneken Pis-- a urinating child that's the town symbol.  Maybe hang out at Le Baroque, and then head on.

But if you're under 40 and don't mind mixed gay-straight venues, you might want to spend more time there.





Tomorrowland is one of the biggest music festivals in the world, with over 180,000 people attending from all over Europe and elsewhere (bring a flag from your country to wave).  It's been held every year since 2005 in Boom, about 1 1/2 hours north of Brussels by train.

Originally advertising electro music, it now features every type of dance and club music on 15 stages.

They haven't set their groups for 2014 yet, but past performers have included international gay favorites Armin van Buuren, Steve Aoki, and Mauro Picotto.



Very gay-positive, with lots of beefcake of the young, hip sort.















This year the festival will be held on two weekends, July 18th-20th and 25th-27th.  I suggest going between Fetish Week in London and Christopher Street Days in Munich.

Don't forget to check out the Manneken-Pis in Brussels or  Lange Wapper, the Phallic Giant of Antwerp.

Dean Geyer: Fundamentalist Plays Male Prostitute

Teen idol Dean Geyer was born in South Africa but grew up in Melbourne, Australia, where he received a black belt in karate and studied music.  He placed third on Australian Idol in 2006, and his single "If You Don't Mean It" reached #10 on the Australian pop charts in 2007.

In 2008-09 he played bad boy Ty Harper on the soap Neighbours, but decided to leave.  Word has it that the sexy storyline conflicted with his fundamentalist Christian beliefs.







But not to worry, fundamentalist Christianity has no problem with fighting or homophobia, so he had no qualms about starring in Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown (2011), about four fighters who band together to save their mentor. One of them, Case (Michael Jai White), has a sleazy gay dad, which causes the others to lambast him with homophobic slurs.  Nice.





Next Dean starred in Terra Nova (2011), a short-lived sci-fi series about people who escape the devastation of contemporary Earth by going back in time to dinosaur days.

And in 2012-2013, surprisingly, he appeared on the doddering Glee as Brody Weston, a student at NYADS who romances Rachel, but becomes such a close friend of Kurt that there are internet groups devoted to shipping the couple.  He moves in with Rachel and Kurt.  One episode shows him hanging around the apartment naked.







Wait -- didn't working so closely with a gay actor playing a gay person conflict with Dean's beliefs?

Later it is revealed that Brody is a male prostitute, which means his clients are men.

What fundamentalist church does he go to, again?


Jan 2, 2014

Philip Jose Farmer: Gay Sci-Fi with Muscles

When I was in college, you couldn't walk into Adam's Bookstore at the Augustana Student Union or Readmore Book World downtown without seeing a dozen sci-fi novels by Philip Jose Farmer (1918-2009) on display.  Bright, colorful paperbacks with amazingly muscular hunks on the covers, sometimes nude, and stories inside that sounded fascinating.

Sometimes they were.

There were three main types:

1. The World of Tiers: The Maker of Universes (1965), A Private Cosmos (1968), etc.  A man from our world is trapped on a multi-plane world occupied by various human, alien, and mythical beings.   He kills lots of bad guys and falls in love with a girl.  Yawn.




2. The Riverworld series: To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971), The Fabulous Riverboat (1972), etc. Every person who has ever existed wakes up on the banks of an endless river.  Richard Burton, Alice Liddel (the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), Mark Twain, a Neanderthal named Kazz, and other colorful characters search for answers.

The first book is great, but it takes three more before anyone solves the mystery, and then it's a complete let-down: "So this was what all the fuss was about?"

Still, it was nice to imagine every person who has ever lived standing around naked, including Genghis Khan, William Shakespeare, and my high school history teacher,

The 2010 tv miniseries added a new hero, a modern-day journalist played by Tahmoh Penikett.


3. I was most interested in the postmodern, self-referential mash-ups of fictional heroes: Tarzan meets Doc Savage (Lord of the Trees and the Mad Goblin, 1970), and Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of the Peerless Peer, 1974).  

The Jules Verne hero Phineas Fogg meets aliens (The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, 1973).  

Dorothy's son returns to Oz (A Barnstormer in Oz, 1982).









One of the first sci-fi writers to incorporate sexual activity into his stories, Farmer went wild, with graphic descriptions of multiple sexual acts.  But no gay characters that I can recall, though in A Feast Unknown (1969), Tarzan and Doc Savage find that they can only get aroused through violence, so they enter into a violent homoerotic relationship of sorts.  It was originally published as porn.

Also, in Flesh (1960), the good guy mass-murders a tribe of gay-stereotype Elves.


Fernando Lamas: Was the Latin Lover Bisexual?

Have you seen the tv commercials about a heterosexual kitchen sponge with a Spanish accent who says his favorite part of a woman's body is her hands?

I don't know the origin of the stereotype of the "Latin lover," a man who can win the heart of any woman with a sultry smile, but Fernando Lamas is a good bet.

The celebrity died in 1982, but his presence was so over-the-top that he's still being parodied today, in the characters of Fernando on Saturday Night Live and "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in Dos Equis beer commercials.



Born in Argentina in 1918, Lamas racked up trophies for amateur boxing, fencing, and swimming before coming to Hollywood in the early 1950s.  He starred in some movies, mostly about men seducing women: The Merry Widow (1952), The Girl Who Had Everything (1953), Dangerous When Wet (1953).  Mostly about him seducing his costar off-camera.

He wasn't particularly hunky, but he was handsome, suave, and sophisticated, the last of the old-style romantic leads.  Unfortunately, he was increasingly anachronistic in the era of Hollywood beefcake,when gay talent agent Henry Willson was flooding the market with massive pecs and bulging biceps.  By the late 1950s, Fernando was relegated to the wasteland of guest roles on tv Westerns.
But, like the Gabor sisters, his fame came not from his acting so much as for his hetero-romances: four marriages, innumerable liaisons, flings, and affairs.

Not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding in his performances -- the IMDB assigns the keyword "friendship" to only one of his projects, an episode of Starsky and Hutch that he directed.

Not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding in real life, either.  He preferred the company of women, even when he wasn't sleeping with them.  

What do you say about an actor who spends all of his time off camera with women?  Right -- you say he's gay.  Because of course, heterosexual men can't stand being with women.

The conservative Republican was not pleased with the gay rumors so he "disproved" them by sleeping with the rumor-mongers' wives.  

He's identified as bisexual on some internet lists, but no one is naming names.

His son Lorenzo started off his career playing gay-vague characters.

Dec 31, 2013

Christian Boeving: Fitness Expert turned Porn Star turned Movie Monster

With a name like Christian Boeving, you expect someone from Belgium or the Netherlands, but in fact the 45-year old bodybuilder was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Missouri.  He began posing for muscle and fitness magazines at the age of 18, and is one of the most photographed people in the world, appearing on over 400 covers to date.

He's also a fitness writer, consultant, and spokesperson for bodybuilding supplements, though he has lost status in the industry after admitting that he had been using steroids since age 16.









He broke into show biz with a gay porn video, Posing Strap (1994) and a tv pilot, the aptly named Muscle (1995).  

Guest roles in a number of tv series and movies followed, usually roles requiring musclemen: Prey, Nash Bridges, Malcolm in the Middle, and Sheena.

He also continued his porn career in the gay Coverboys (1996) and the softcore straight Andromina: The Pleasure Planet (1999).  






Although Christian starred in a man-mountain "let's rescue someone in Southeast Asia" movie, When Eagles Strike (2003), his most important roles have been in sci fi and fantasy:  The monster Grendel in Beowulf: Prince of the Geats (2007);  Jack Stone in Apocalypze Z, aka Zombie Disaster (2013); Andre in Legend of the Red Reaper (2013).

Not a lot of gay roles, except for the porn, but what do you expect for a bodybuilder?  Hollywood likes its gay male characters wimpy and wispy.

Dec 30, 2013

Goon: Canadian Ice Hockey, Beefcake, Bonding, and a Gay Brother

I hate sports and sports movies, but if I have to see one, it helps if there's beefcake, gay characters, and a gay subtext. Like the Canadian ice hockey movie Goon (2011).

Doug (Seann William Scott) feels out of place in his successful family  -- his dad and brother Ira are both physicians, and he's just a bouncer in a bar.








One night at a hockey game, a player calls his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel) a homophobic name, and Doug pummels him.

His brother Ira, played by David Paetkau, is gay, so he won't stand for homophobia).

As a result, Doug gets a job with the Halifax Highlanders as an "enforcer," aka a "goon," a player with the job of protecting his teammates against violent or dirty acts from the opposing team.

There's a substantial amount of homophobia on his team -- such as the scene where he refuses to let other guys sign his penis, and is therefore labeled "gay."  But a substantial amount of nudity and camaraderie, too.


He's assigned to mentor and room with troubled player LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), who is afraid of being hit after receiving a concussion from a "dirty player."

They buddy-bond; when another player hits LaFlamme, the protective Doug beats him up and is suspended for a game.






Meanwhile he butts heads and exchanges insults with Rhea (Liev Schreiber), who gave LaFlamme the concussion in the first place.   Rhea was a promising player, but his violence got him demoted to the minors, and now he plays for the St. Johns' Shamrocks, the Highlanders' rival team.

Of course, in the climactic game, Doug and LaFlamme work together to triumph over the evil Rhea.

There's a hetero-romance, but it's just there because every movie has to throw in a hetero-romance; it's completely irrelevant to the gay text and subtext.


The Most Homophobic Statement I Have Ever Heard

"What do they think causes it?"
I've heard lots of homophobic statements over the years, ranging from the ignorant (mostly from "friends"):

"Are you the boy or girl in your relationship?"
"What do they think causes it now?"
"If you've never been with a woman, how do you know you like men better?"

To the raving (mostly from preachers).

"The homa-sekshul would just as soon kill you as look at you."
"No nation that has tolerated homa-sekshuls has ever survived!"
"Homa-sekshuls are possessed by the Spirit of Evil!"

But the most homophobic statement I ever heard consisted of five little words:

"Oh, you mean that place."




Not Ralph in underwear
Mr. Manary was a young, hip teacher at Rocky High, who insisted that students call him by his first name, Ralph.  I never actually saw him in his underwear, but close scrutiny during lectures suggested that he looked like this: tall, thin, clean-cut, tight-muscled, and bulging.

During my sophomore year, I had Ralph for American History.  He wrote a book on the Quad Cities, so he had us investigate Rock Island during the 1920s, and learn about gangster John Looney and jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke.

When we got to the 1950s, we read some writers of the Beat Generation, including Allen Ginsberg's "Supermarket in California", and we watched the classic anti-Communist allegory I Married a Monster from Outer Space.  

Have you ever heard of anyone so cool?

During my junior year, I had him for political science.  We took a field trip to the courthouse to see a real criminal trial,  about a shooting that took place in the Hawaiian Lounge, Rock Island's gay bar.  One of the witnesses, the "swish  on the double date", helped me figure out what gay meant.



Eugene McCarthy
When we held a mock 1976 presidential election.  Jimmy Carter won by a landslide, but Ralph came out in favor of the liberal independent, Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy.

Ralph was the first person to encourage me to think about college.  He even got the head of the history department at his alma mater, St. Olaf College, to invite me to apply.

During my senior year, I had him for AP American History.  Sometimes he held study sessions at his house, and his wife made cookies.

We had to parse Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, about the oppression of the Native Americans.

Fast forward 20 years, to January 2002: I was living in Florida but back in Rock Island for the holidays, starting to research the book that would eventually become The Boy Who Loved Robbie DouglasSo I contacted Ralph, the local history expert.



Ralph's house
Now in his mid-50s, he was still teaching at Rocky High, still living in that small two-story house on 7th Avenue, with a white picket fence and an old-fashioned gas streetlamp.

We talked about Rock Island history:  scandals and floods and riots.  Local celebrities.  Iconic businesses.

Then: "What can you tell me about the Hawaiian Lounge? It was a Rock Island institution, and then suddenly it was gone, and JR's took its place.  Do you know how and when it closed?"

His eyes flashed.  "What lounge, now?"

 "You know, the Hawaiian Lounge.  Our poly sci class sat in on a trial about a shooting that took place there."

"Can't say I remember it."

I didn't notice his attempts to not know. He was a liberal, sensitive to minority struggles, and just plain cool, so why wouldn't he be gay-friendly?


That Place


"It was just a few blocks from here, on 4th Avenue.  You had to drive past it to get downtown...." I stopped short and stared.  His face was contorted into a mask of disgust.

"Oh, you mean that place."

He emphasized the word that: alien, other, stranger, savage.  Something wicked.  Something awful.  That place.

I quickly made an excuse and left, and drove aimlessly around in my sister-in-law's car for a long time.  I have rarely felt so depressed.

One of my childhood heroes hated me.

See also: Age Trumps Beauty.

Dec 29, 2013

Why You Should Visit Turkey Next July

I have always hated playing sports, but if I have no choice, I'll pick wrestling: no projectiles hurling at your head, no teammates to get all huffy when you miss a point, just you and your opponent in revealing singlets straining against each other's bodies.  Some of my first homoerotic feelings came when I was on the wrestling team in junior high.  Later, at Indiana University, I learned about bokh, or Mongolian wrestling.

When I moved to West Hollywood, Ivo, the Bulgarian bodybuilder who was insanely jealous of Michael J. Fox, told me that he played an interesting variation, common in Turkey and parts of the Balkans: yağlı güreş, or oil wrestling.  






The players, called pehlivan, are naked except for leather pants (kisbet).  They grease up with olive oil, and try to throw each other.

Since they're all greasy, the only way to win is by putting your hand inside the other guy's kisbet -- you know, where his sex organs are.

It's as if the sport was deliberately designed to be homoerotic.

Knowing the Ottoman Empire, maybe it was.

Guys of all ages participate.  You don't need to be muscular, but it helps.












I saw a local tournament when I was in Turkey, but not the Kirkpinar, the national tournament held every year in June or July in Edirne, near the Bulgarian border.  If you want to go, book your hotel room far in advance; the town fills up fast.

I can see why.

(But be careful; Turkey is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the Middle East, which means extremely homophobic by European standards, and for Americans, about as homophobic as the rural South).

The Triplets of Belleville: Jazz-Age Lesbians and the Androgynous M

In the animated Triplets of Belleville (2003), professional bicyclist Champion is kidnapped during the Tour de France, so his grandmother, Madame Souza, goes off to search for him.

In the bustling city of Belleville, she encounters the Triplets, a famous jazz act of the 1930s now fallen on bad times.   They eke out a living as a novelty "acoustic" band, making music with a refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and newspaper.  Madame Souza joins the act with a bicycle wheel, and eventually they become successful again.



Oh, and they rescue Champion in a colorful chase sequence.  The movie ends much too abruptly, with the now elderly Champion reminiscing about the adventure.

There is very little dialogue.  The characters are drawn grotesquely, so there's no beefcake.  So what's the gay connection?

1. No one expresses the slightest heterosexual interest, ever.




2. The Triplets, who have been living and working together for 70 years, can be read as a lesbian family rather than blood relatives.

3. Flashbacks show them performing in a Jazz Age nightclub, along with gay and bisexual icons like Josephine Baker, Glenn Gould, and Hoagy Carmichael.

4. Androgynous singer Mathieu Chedid, known as M, recorded a music video of the song "Belleville Rendez-vous."

He tells a psychiatrist about various ways to spend the last years of his life: in Singapore eating petit-fours, in Katmandu playing a "dou," and most significantly, in Acapulco, dancing with a gigolo ( a male prostitute).  

The English lyrics closet the verse to "dancing cheek-to-cheek."

But then he decides that he wants to be "wicked, twisted, swinging," like a Triplet of Belleville.

This irks the psychiatrist, who straitjackets him and gives him a tranquilizer injection.  That's the fate of those who try to escape gender and sexual confomity, like the Triplets of Belleville.