Aug 10, 2014

Rex Smith: Not Gay, in Spite of the Outfits

When I was in college (1978-82), I still read teen magazines; they were the only place to get beefcake images in the small-town Midwest.  And this was the image I saw most often: Rex Smith, a gleaming, smooth chest in a brown leather vest and highly bulgeworthy leather pants.

Tiger Beat is not good at background information on its fave raves, so I learned nothing else about him.  Although I assumed that such a flamboyantly feminine guy in a leather catsuit must be gay.

Turns out Rex Smith was a pop star in the midst of a 10-album career, with several charting singles, including "You Take My Breath Away" and "Never Gonna Give You Up." I often heard those songs playing in the distance, along with a steady diet of Neil Diamond, But I didn't make the connection.  At the time, I was busy listening for Gay Subtext songs like "Physical" and "I'm Coming Out."

His Broadway career began with the role of Danny Zuko in Grease in 1978, and went on to The Pirates of Penzance, The Human Comedy, Sunset Boulevard, and Annie Get Your Gun.

He has done some work on television, including some tv-movies about finding love, a two-year run on on the soap As the World Turns, and Street Hawk (1985), a Knight Rider clone about a cop crippled in an accident who gets a super-motorcycle.

And the movie version of Pirates of Penzance, for which he wore another pair of extraordinarily tight leather pants and buddy-bonded with Kevin Kline.

Currently Rex and his son Brandon are starring in the reality webseries Smith & Smith Unlimited, about father-son Hollywood producers.  You can see a clip on his official website.

Apparently not gay, and maybe even homophobic.  The entire country of the Philippines was up in arms when singer and gay icon Charice Pempengco was rehearsing for a corporate event in Cebu, and Rex , also performing at the venue, stormed in, told her to "stop doing what you're doing," and allegedly used a homophobic slur.

See also: Rod and Al Stewart: Coming Out in the Year of the Cat.