Jan 18, 2014

Two Broke Girls: Gay Guy Creates Homophobic Mess

I heard that Two Broke Girls was created by a gay man, Michael Patrick King, so I watched an episode to see if there were any gay characters or subtexts.

The Two Broke Girls are street-smart, sex-obsessed Max (Kat Dennings, left)) and elite, sex-obsessed Caroline (Beth Behrs, below).  They work as waitresses in a restaurant, where they talk about sex all day.  Max jokes about the 100,000 men she's been with, and Caroline jokes about how sexually frustrated she is.  Usually in graphic terms.

Ordinarily such discussions would be inappropriate in the workplace, but all of their coworkers and all of the customers are equally eager to tell everyone exactly where their penises and vaginas have been.


Oleg, the head chef spends most of his time making inappropriate propositions to Max, Caroline, and every other women he sees: " I have a new town car service and slogan: 'Lie back and I will ride you until you tell me to stop.'"

Sophie, a wealthy Eastern European immigrant who runs a cleaning service, is dating Oleg, but his penis is very small, so she is not sexually satisfied.  Not to worry, she has an alternative:

Caroline: What about sex?
Sophie: Nobody does me better than me.

The cashier, Earl (Garrett Morris), is elderly, and his penis doesn't work anymore, so he can't have sex as much as he used to.

The manager, Han Lee (Matthew Moy), is a throwback to the Asian stereotypes of yesteryear, constantly being ridiculed for his height, small penis, and lack of sexual attractiveness.

My disgust factor went through the roof after only a few minutes.  I didn't have time to wait around for Nick Zano (left) or Ryan Hansen as the duo's love interests.  Or to see if they have a lesbian subtext.

But I understand that some homophobic stereotypes swish in from time to time,  including a gay guy named Big Mary.  Really?

Ok, I'm confused.  Was this a program created by a racist, sexist homophobe in 1968?

Because I'm sure no one today, except maybe Seth MacFarlane, could possibly create this mess.

See also: The Amish Teenager

Jan 17, 2014

All About Eve: The Gayest Movie Ever Made

The Four Friends
All about Eve (1950) is gayest movie ever made with no "real" gay characters.

Bette Davis stars as Margo Channing, a renowned theatrical actress who just reached age 40.  She is dating director Bill Sampson (Gary Merrill), who is 8 years younger, and playing a 24-year old in a Broadway play written by Lloyd Richards (Hugh Marlowe).  Lloyd is married to Margo's best friend, Karen (Celeste Holm).

They're so very close that they're like a family.  Or, rather, a group marriage.  Each seems completely in love with each of the others.



Margo and her Lesbian Assistant
There are such strong, and obvious, homoromantic links between Margo and Karen, and to a lesser extent between Bill and Lloyd, that I was certain that all of the performers were gay in real life.

I didn't find any evidence, but Bette Davis's campy, over-the-top delivery made her a drag queen icon, and she was a gay ally in real life.

Margo also has a "companion," a protective mother hen named Birdie, obviously played as a lesbian by character actor Thelma Ritter.




Eve glares at Marilyn Monroe
And a colleague, the snarky, elitist theater reviewer Addison DeWitt (George Sanders), who is not only gay-coded himself, but frames the entire close-knit, insular world of the theater as queer:

"We all have abnormalities in common. We're a breed apart from the rest of humanity, we theatre folk. We are the original displaced personalities."

Into this close-knit, insular world comes Eve Carrington (Anne Baxter), an ingenue who presents herself as a naive fan, and so enchants the theatre folk that Margo offers her a job as her assistant. Eve's feigned adoration of Margo is overbrimming with breathless lesbian desire.

You know what happens next --it's been remade, revisioned, parodied, and ployed a hundred times since.  Even cannily works behind the scenes to take Margo's place, lying, cheating, manipulating, blackmailing, seducing, betraying.  She ends up in the starring role in Lloyd's new play, and achieves stardom.  But at what cost? She's lost all of her friends among the theatre folk.  She's an outsider among outsiders.

Enter Phoebe (Barbara Bates), a devoted fan who ingratiates herself into Eve's life....and so the cycle repeats itself.

Charles Busch as Bette Davis
Upon rewatching All about Eve, I was surprised by a moment of blatant heterosexism.  Margo has devoted her life to her theatrical career, but mourns "the things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster. You forget you'll need them again when you get back to being a woman."  Being a woman -- that is, defining herself through her relationship with a man.

Otherwise it's a marvelously bumpy night, with witty dialogue,  gay subtexts everywhere, an overarching gay symbolism... come on, somebody involved in this production must have been gay! Maybe director Joseph L. Mankiewicz? Producer Darryl F. Zanuck?  Cinematographer Milton R. Krasner

See also: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane

Jan 16, 2014

Fall 1986: I Bankrupt the Gay Porn Industry

On November 19th, 1986, my roommate Alan the ex-porn star, who kept trying to steal  my boyfriends, threw me a surprise birthday party. After the present-unwrapping and cake, he introduced Raul and me to an older, balding guy named Scott and asked "What do you think?"  .

"I'll need to see them in action, of course. But they certainly have the right look."

"Um...thanks?"  I turned to Alan for an explanation.

"Surprise! Guess what -- that pocket organizer wasn't your only present.  I set you up to star in  Scott Masters' new movie!"

He was the head of Nova Studios, a major producer of.... I reddened.  "You want me to do porn?"

"Alan recommended you and Raul," Scott said.  "It's a great script: funny and romantic, not just sex.  That's why we want lovers, to add verisimilitude."

"But...I'm not an actor."  I had a brief modeling career in college, but no nudity, and certainly no sex.

"You don't need to act.  Just do what you do anyway.  $800 a day for a guaranteed five-day shoot."  

The money sounded good (my three jobs were't paying enough to cover rent, tuition, and jaunts to Australia and Japan).  And Raul liked the idea (Filipino restaurants don't pay well, either.) So we signed on, and that Saturday we got up at 4:00 am to shoot some exteriors at the San Miguel Mission in San Luis Obispo.

The script didn't require a lot of memorization.  In old Spanish California, Rodrigo (my character), falls in love with Paco (Raul), an apprentice monk at the mission.

But Paco is secretly the kept boy of the homophobic Archbishop "Farwell" (a play on Jerry Falwell). There's a duel that ends with a three-way encounter.

A few days later we drove to a house in the Hollywood Hills to film some of the bedroom and pool scenes (yes, the old Spanish mission had a pool.).  I wondered who would be playing Farwell. Boomer Stryker?  Kip Noll?

I didn't find out until he walked through the door -- Alan!

Was this all just a set-up to trick with Raul?

"Hey, they needed a husky guy, and I'm a preacher, so I have the right vibe."  He grinned.  "Tricking with Raul is just a bonus."

We were going to shoot the Farwell-Paco first.  That meant I had to watch Alan and my boyfriend together!

"They're just acting!" I told myself over and over.  I started thinking of last September, when my date wandered into Alan's bed.  And a year ago, when Alan and I were dating, and he cheated on me with a Norwegian con artist.  And now he was with Raul.  They were kissing...and groping...and kissing...with obvious enthusiasm!

I couldn't take it anymore!

"Get off him!" I ran over and pulled Alan away. "He's my boyfriend!  You always do this!  Every time I meet a guy, you horn in...."

They looked up at me quizzically.

"No ad libbing!" the director yelled.



Flushed with embarrassment and anger, I stumbled away.  "I'll...I'll be waiting in the car."

Raul followed, saying something like "It's just a job, man..."

The aftermath:
1. The film was never completed, but we did get paid for two days of shooting.
2. Alan forgave me: "I know you have hangups about monogamy."
3. Raul and I broke up, but not over that. We stayed friends, and reconciled a few months later, after my celebrity boyfriend dumped me.
4. Nova Studios went bankrupt.  But surely that's not my fault.

The story of Raul continues here: My Latino Houseboy

See also: That Boy: My First Porn Film.

The Top 10 Hunks of "The Great Gatsby"

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel of the Jazz Age, is loaded down with gay subtexts.  Young aspiring writer Nick Carraway moves into a house on Long Island next to the mansion of the extravagant Jay Gatsby, and falls in love with him, supporting him through an elaborate scheme to win his former lover Daisy, Nick's cousin.

The 2013 Baz Luhrman film version ups the gay subtexts, eliminating any hint of romance between Nick and lesbian-coded tennis pro Jordan, making Nick's affection for Gatsby palpably romantic, and suggesting that Gatsby doesn't want Daisy so much as Daisy-and-Nick.




There's also a gay subtext that isn't even in the book: Daisy's husband Tom has a palpably homoerotic interest in Nick and other men.  They go to a wild party attended by a gay-coded man and several women, and when it turns into an orgy, Tom grabs a bellhop and strips him out of his clothes.

There are a huge number of hunky actors in the production.  Unfortunately, most are kept under wraps, or appear in undershirts.  Here are the top 10:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio (right) as Gatsby.  He's played gay characters many times.

2. Tobey Maguire (left) as Nick.  He and Leo have a real-life bromance going on, and their real-life affection certainly added to the gay subtext.





3. Joel Edgerton as Tom, Nick's college buddy who likes men and women.  He played half of a gay couple in Saturn's Return (2001).

4. Jason Clarke as George Wilson, garage mechanic whose wife is having an affair with Tom.











5. Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan as the evil gambler Meyer Wolfsheim.  He has played a number of bare-chested romantic leads in Bollywood.








6.-7. I'm not sure exactly who plays the bellhop who gets his shirt ripped off in the bisexual orgy scene, but my best guesses are hot model Milan Pulvermacher (top photo), cast as "Waiter at the Hotel Sayre", or Australian actor Stefan Mogel (right), cast as "Bellboy" (uncredited).

8.-9. The casting director apparently scoured Australia for physique models to play even minor parts.  Check out Conor Fogarty as Gatsby's Butler, or Alex Lissine as a Cocktail Waiter.



10. Or Kai Pantano as one of Wolfsheim's thugs. He's done some modeling and had some small roles in Australian movies and shorts.  I don't know where they found him, but I'm glad they did.










Jan 15, 2014

David A. Gregory: Shirtless for a Cause

Gynecomastia is a swelling of men's breasts caused by excessive estrogen production, usually occurring during puberty or old age.  Sometimes it requires corrective surgery.  And it can cause confusion, anxiety, and shame, especially in adolescent boys who are already concerned about their bodies.

They may be subjected to homophobic or transphobic bullying.

Aspiring actor David Gregory developed gynecomastia during college, and  and now works as an advocate to spread awareness of the condition.

It didn't stop his shirtless career.  The summer after he graduated in 2008, he was cast in a production of The Full Monty -- wait, I thought those guys were supposed to have mediocre physiques.

Then a series of commercials for Airborne Immune Support as a Fabio-like Latin lover.

That fall he played a gay ex-hustler on an episode of Law and Order.  







His biggest roles to date have been in soap operas: reality tv producer Robert Ford on One Life to Live (2009-2012) and Kyle Farrell on Deception (2013).  (His characters were straight, but in this shot he's being hugged by a gay man).

He won lots of soap awards for his physique, including Hunkiest Newcomer, Best Hunk, and Sexiest Man (and he was nominated for a daytime Emmy).






He's also appeared in How Do You Know (2010) and Excuse Me for Living (2012).  

I don't know if he's gay in real life or not.


Jan 13, 2014

J.C. Leyendecker: Your Grandfather's Gay Artist

In The Web and the Rock (1940), a classic American novel by Thomas Wolfe, the teenage George goes off to college, where he falls into star-struck, stammering love at first sight with Jim Randolph:

A creature of such magnificence that he seemed to have been created on a different scale and shape for another, more Olympian, Universe. . .he was all the Arrow collar young men, all the football heroes for the covers of the Saturday Evening Post...all the young men in the Kuppenheimer clothing ads, he was all of these rolled into one, and he was something more than all that.







In the early decades of the 20th century, George -- and many other gay men -- depended on advertisements for Arrow collars and Kuppenheimer suits for beefcake. They starred a handsome hunk known as the Arrow Man, drawn by J.C. Leyendecker (1874-1951).

Like Norman Rockwell and N.C. Wyeth, Leyendecker was a famous illustrator who drew hundreds of covers for The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, and other magazines. The two artists were friends -- Rockwell was a pallbearer at Leyendecker's funeral.  But their styles and themes could not be more different.

Rockwell:
Small, timid, humdrum lives in small towns.
Domestic spaces
Heternormative boy-meets-girl-themes
Probably heterosexual, though he sometimes crushed on his male models.

Leyendecker
Brash, bold, glittering lives in Manhattan, Hollywood, and Chicago
Homoerotic spaces
Endless beefcake and appreciative male gazes.
Gay, often used his lover Charles Beach as a model.






Leyendecker and Beach lived together for over 40 years, while he produced some of the most homoerotic art outside of Physique Pictorial.  

His work was coded so that gay audiences "in the know" would catch the homoerotic content, while heterosexuals stayed oblivious.









And it worked: heterosexuals never "figured it out."  When he died, his obituaries called him a "lifelong bachelor" survived only by his sister.




Rufus and Joel, the Gay Couple of Gasoline Alley

When you search on "Gasoline Alley" and "muscle" in Google Images, this is what pops up.  I don't know why, but I never pass on beefcake photos.

I already posted on Skeezix, Walt Wallet's adopted son in the long-running Gasoline Alley comic strip, who was something of a gay icon in the 1930s -- thirty years later, my father took to calling me "Skeezix" when I failed to express adequate heterosexual interest.

So I felt it was my duty to read some of the more recent Gasoline Alley strips.  I picked an anthology from 1963-65, when original cartoonist Frank King handed it over to Dick Moores.  Who presumably tried to modernize the plotlines.

I knew it wasn't a humor or adventure strip, more soap opera like Mary Worth.  But come on, there wasn't even any soap opera.

The stories were mostly about Walt Wallet's innumerable children and grandchildren getting bank loans to start a new business, introducing new products to the sales team, putting additions on their houses, buying a replacement valve at the hardware store, and balancing their checkbooks.  I'm not kidding.

No beefcake during the two year period -- there were some cute guys around, like Chipper, Walt's college-age grandson, but the days of Skeezix ripping off his shirt were over.

And everyone was aggressively heterosexual.  When they weren't discussing finances, they were discussing who was in love with who.

With two exceptions: Rufus and Joel, outsiders in this aggressively "normal" universe.  Drawn in caricature instead of the empty-eyed stylization of the Wallets, lower-class where everyone else was well-off, and quirky.

Other characters age normally, one day at a time -- Walt Wallet is well over 100 now, and Skeezix over 80.  But Rufus and Joel do not. They have no jobs, houses, wives, or children, so nothing connects them to space-time.  They are eternal outsiders, like the Wandering Jew of the Middle Ages.

The two live together, vacation, and embark on crazy schemes together. They are treated as a couple by the other characters: when one appears alone, they always ask about the other.

A gay couple in Gasoline Alley?



To see what they were up to lately, I checked the always reliable Comics Curmudgeon website.  And found a continuity in which Rufus must marry to get an inheritance, so he marries Bessie, Joel's donkey.

Sounds like a parody of the "slippery slope" argument against gay marriage.

Maybe Joel and Rufus are still a gay couple.

Jan 12, 2014

Spring 1989: More Turkish Bodybuilders and Culture Shock

After reading my post on my semester in Turkey, you may have gotten the impression that it was a homoerotic paradise, full of oiled-up wrestlers, bodybuilding contests, and cruising at the hamam.  But that's just the sugar-coded nostalgia version.  There were problems from the start.

1. Learning Turkish was a slow process, and outside of the university,not a lot of people spoke much English or French.

2. Everyone sounded loud and angry all the time.  Shopkeepers yelled at you.

3. No one had ever heard of waiting in line; they just shoved each other out of the way.

4. Ankara was dry, cold, and windy.

5. It was not important in the Ottoman Empire, so there weren't a lot of ancient ruins, palaces, or mosques, mostly just bleak brutalist concrete slabs of office buildings.









This has got to be the world's ugliest cage...um,. I mean building. It's a tv station.

6. You had to pay to use public toilets, and they didn't furnish toilet paper.  Sounds like a minor annoyance, but it's a surprisingly big deal when you're a half hour metro ride from home.





7. There were few direct flights from Ankara to anywhere else; mostly you were routed through Istanbul.  So flights took forever: 6 hours to Athens, 7 to Tel Aviv. Too long for a weekend jaunt.

8. Back in West Hollywood, I was very active in the Metropolitan Community Church, but Ankara had no Christian churches at all (don't even think about gay churches).  You could go to Anglican services in a kind of windowless crypt on the grounds of the British Embassy.

9. Most guys were open to same-sex activity, but not to dating or romance.  They had girlfriends; they planned to marry women.

10.  There was no way to find gay people: no gay bars, publications, or organizations of any sort.  It was like my year at Hell-fer-Sartain State University in far, far northern Houston, Texas, but with no gay ghetto nearby.

I left West Hollywood for this?

Bilkent offered me another year, but I said no. The moment classes ended, I got on a plane for a week-long detox in Tel Aviv, and then back to the United States.

But my semester in the Middle East helped me make an important decision: I'd rather drop out of grad school than take any more "gays are too controversial" guff from my my dissertation committee.

See also: The Penis Valley of Turkey