Jun 21, 2014

The Tragedy of Man: Male Nudity and Hungarian Heterosexism

Maybe it's because they've suffered through one invasion after another, from Mongols, Turks, Hapsburgs, Nazis, and Soviets, but the Hungarians like their stories sad.  And heterosexist. And long.

The most popular movie in Hungary?  The Turin Horse (2011):  a family depends upon their aging horse for survival, but it dies.  134 minutes.

The most popular novel in Hungary?  Satantango (1985), by  László Krasznahorkai, about people scrambling to survive when their collective farm closes at the end of the Communist period.  It was made into a movie in 1994.  7 hours long.


The most popular play?  Az ember tragédiája, The Tragedy of Man, written by Imre Madách in 1861.  It's sort of like a more depressing version of Cloud Atlas: Adam, Eve, and Lucifer are reincarnated in various historical eras:

In ancient Athens, Adam is the chariot-racer Miltiades, Eve his wife, and Lucifer a guard.
In medieval Constantinople, Adam is crusader Tancred, Lucifer his squire.
In Paris during the French Revolution, Adam is revolutionary leader Georges Danton, Lucifer an executioner, and Eve is an aristocrat being executed.
In a future dystopia, Adam and Lucifer are drug dealers, and Eve is a worker.


Finally, in a distant-future ice age where the Earth is dying, Adam and Lucifer are themselves, and Eve is a destitute woman who begs them for fish.

Some of the stories center on the heterosexual romance of Adam and Eve.

Others center on the same-sex bond of Adam and Lucifer.




But Lucifer is only pretending to care for Adam; his real goal is to tempt him into committing suicide, thus destroying the human race.

Back in Eden, Lucifer almost succeeds.  Adam is about to throw himself off a cliff, to save humanity from a future of bloodshed, oppression, bigotry, and pain, when Eve tells him that she's pregnant.  Then, finally, he has the will to go on.

Heterosexual romance makes it all worthwhile.

Horribly, horribly depressing.  But at least Adam is nude a lot.

In Hungary all of the schoolkids have to read it, and it's performed all the time.

 There have been several film versions.

The 1984 version has Adam and Eve played by naked prepubescent children, discovering that the meaning of life lies in each other's arms.

The 2011 animated version took 20 years to complete, and is 3 hours long.  You can see the trailer on youtube.

See also: 13 Public Penises of Hungary.

Two Zombie Movies with Gay Characters

There have been 100,000 zombie movies, all with about the same plot: an accident or plague turns almost everyone into plodding, brain-gouging zombies.  A ragtag group of survivors hole up somewhere and try to keep the zombies out, and are dispatched in various gruesome ways.  Finally they all die, or else a heterosexual couple survives and forms an idyllic Adam and Eve new world.

You would think that surviving the Apocalypse would leave little time for hetero-romance, but there always is one.

And no gay people, ever.

Many zombie movies are based on graphic novels with gay characters, but they're always heterosexualized, or their sexual identity is not mentioned at all, which the director explains with the homophobic cliche: "I don't want to tell a gay story.  I want to tell a human story."

I am aware of only two zombie movies with gay characters:

1. Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009), a parody about a gay couple (Doug Fahl, Cooper Hopkins) and an Iranian woman trapped in small town full of zombies, homophobes, and xenophobes.












2. Remains (2011).  One of the five survivors trapped in a Reno, Nevada casino is magician's assistant Jensen (Miko Hughes, left), whose boyfriend is stationed at an army base nearby.  He is not only open, he gets to flirt with the hunky-but-evil Victor (Anthony Marks, top photo).  He dies halfway through, but so does everyone except for the last heterosexual couple.  It's not on DVD, but you can see it on youtube.

3. Stephen King's novel Cell (2006) has a major character, Tom, one of those "lonely confirmed bachelor" stereotypes who assists comic-book writer Clay in his goal of trekking through zombie-invested Maine in search of his son.  He never mentions a boyfriend or same-sex desire, and no one says "gay" until halfway through the book, but at least he's a gay character.

The movie version is scheduled to come out later this year, with John Cusack as Clay Samuel L. Jackson as Tom.  I'm guessing that they're going to substitute "black" for "gay."

See also: The Postapocalyptic Fade-Out Kiss; and The Walking Dead: Gay People Unwelcome at the End of the World.


Jun 20, 2014

Fall 1973: Have You Had a Squirt Today?

When I was a kid, whenever I had the flu or an upset stomach, my parents would force-feed me 7-Up, the carbonated lemon-lime flavored soft drink.

As a direct consequence, I hated all lemon-lime flavored soft drinks.  I wouldn't go near them unless I was sick.

I still won't.





So I have never actually tasted Squirt, the grapefruit-flavored soft drink that gave 7-Up some competition in the 1960s and 1970s, before fading to the obscurity of the "off-brand" aisle.

But when I was going to Washington Junior High, my friends Dan and Darry and I had some fun with the name.  We were just becoming aware of some other things that squirted, so we greeted each other with dirty-sounding questions like:

"Have you had a Squirt today?"
"Want a taste of my Squirt?"
"Little Squirty has a present for you."

Little Squirty was the advertising mascot, a small blond boy carrying an oversized phallic symbol...um, I mean pop bottle.



Was the company aware of the dirty connotations of its product?

Maybe. This ad is captioned "When taste grows up, Squirt shows up."

The nerd in the striped swim suit and lollipop likes those other soft drinks, but once you grow up, you get muscular and start looking at ladies (or, in the case of the middle guy, your male friends).

And you suddenly find yourself wanting a Squirt.







Little Squirty was quite attached to that bottle, wasn't he?

Maybe he was trying to figure out a way to get to the Squirt without a bottle opener.  Hint: treat it like Aladdin's Lamp.

See also: My Junior High Fantasies of Paul Getty Jr.; and He'll Eat Most Anything.

Jun 19, 2014

The Fabulous Bottoms Boys

The Last Picture Show (1971) starred Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges as high school graduates trapped in a small-town hell, plus Sam Bottoms as a mentally-challenged street sweeper.  There were hugs, longing glances, and gay subtexts all around.

Born in Santa Barbara, California in 1951, Timothy made his acting debut in Johnny Got His Gun (1971), a dramatic tour de force about a soldier who loses his arms and legs.  He was very busy during the 1970s, but mostly in serious dramatic roles that I didn't see: Winesburg, Ohio (1973), based on the Sherwood Anderson stories; The Paper Chase (1973), about first-year law school students; A Small Town in Texas (1976), about a grifter in a small town in Texas.





During the 1980s and 1990s, he played mostly characters in small towns or the wilderness who hook up with women.  However, he made up for it by taking off his shirt a lot.  And by parodying President George W. Bush three times.




Sam, born in 1955, was only 16 when he starred in The Last Picture Show.  He was also known for taking his shirt off a lot during the 1970s.  In Savages (1974), the evil Andy Griffith steals his cloths and strands him in the desert, so he's naked through the whole movie.

Unlike his brother, he has appeared in some gay-subtext vehicles: The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), opposite Clint Eastwood, Apocalypse Now (1979), opposite Marlon Brando, and Hunter's Blood (1986), a Deliverance clone about evil hillbillies threatening some city boys.

He died in 2008.

Timothy and Sam may be the most famous of the Bottoms Boys, but there are two more:

1. Joseph, born in 1954, appeared as a feral child in Stalk the Wild Child (1976), as a guy named Texas in the buddy-bonding comedy High Rolling in a Hot Corvette (1977), and in the buddy-bonding racing movie King of the Mountain (1981), opposite Harry Hamlin.

In 1975, he became the only one of the Bottoms boys to appear nude in the gay-themed After Dark.  

2. Ben, born in 1960, also appeared in Stalk the Wild Child, plus the anti-cult movie Blinded by the Light (1980), and a few more his brothers' vehicles.





Two or three often appeared in the same movies, but if you want to see all four together, the only place is the  tv pilot Island Sons (1987), about four brothers in Hawaii who display their chests and um...other things (this is an actual shot from the opening credits).

See also: The Fabulous Bridges Boys

Jun 17, 2014

10 Gay Things You Should Know About Cornwall

 Cornwall is a peninsula in the west of England, famous for King Arthur (whose Camelot was probably Tintagel Castle), and its long history of paranormal events, with stories of goblins, fairies, mermaids, mysterious disappearances, time slips, and ordinary ghosts.

But it has a long gay history, too.  Here are some of the highlights.

1. Daphne Maurier set the gay-subtext novel Rebecca in Cornwall.



2. Cornish folklore featured both mermaids and mer-men.


3. The Eden Project in Bodelva features biomes with plants from all over the world, as well as homoerotic and pan-erotic statue sets like the Rites of Dionysus.

4. This statue of a beefy Cornish miner is in Pendeen, Land's End.

5. Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta The Pirates of Penzance has a gay subtext-friendship between Frederic and the Pirate King, particularly as they are played by Christopher Atkins and Ted Hamilton in The Pirate Movie (1982).





6. The Cornish language, related to Welsh and Irish,  went extinct in the 19th century but is now being revived.  Over 500 people now state that Cornish is their main language. The Cornish Oafs on youtube, a rather muscular pair, offer language lessons.






7. In the Newlyn Art Colony near Penzance, painters like Henry Scott Tuke (1858-1929) celebrated the nude male form.  In 2013, Sir Elton John purchased "The Orange Jersey" for nearly a quarter of a million dollars.







8. Bob FitzSimmons was a wrestler who was the Heavyweight Champion of the World, but lost to Jack Dempsey.

9. In the famous series of novels by Winston Graham, 18th century nobleman Ross Poldark is in love with two women, plus young doctor Dwight Enys. The 1975-77 BBC TV series featured Robin Ellis as Poldark and Richard Morant and Michael Cadman as Enys.





10. Cornish Wrestling, or Omdowl Kernewek, is similar to Mongolian Wrestling: you use your raw power to push your opponent to the ground.  Except in this case,  you can only hold your opponent's jacket.  

Of course, the jackets often come off before the match is over.

There are junior divisions (by age) and senior divisions (by weight).  Gerry Cawley is currently the Heavyweight Wrestling Champion.



Fall 2001: The Police Cadets of South Florida

In June 2001, after completing my Ph.D. in sociology and meeting the Amish boy in red bikini briefs, I moved to Florida, on the invitation of my friend Yuri.  I immediately felt at home. It was like I had gone back in time 16 years, to when I first arrived in West Hollywood.

Yuri shared a small ranch house in Wilton Manors (the gay suburb of Fort Lauderdale) with Barney, an older guy who owned a gym in Oakland Park.  He reminded me of Derek, the fitness instructor-turned-insurance agent, my housemate in West Hollywood in 1987.

I had the choice of sharing Yuri's bed or moving into the small room off the kitchen that used to be the study of Barney's deceased lover.  I picked the study, although I ended up in Yuri's bed quite often anyhow: in Fort Lauderdale, like in West Hollywood: good manners required that you invite your roommate to "share" your dates.


We lived only two blocks from Wilton Drive, the Santa Monica Boulevard of Fort Lauderdale, with the Florida equivalents of everything I missed in West Hollywood:

New Age Books and Things (the Bodhi Tree)
Bill's Filling Station (the Hamburger Habit).
The Sunshine Cathedral (The Metropolitan Community Church)
The Ramrod (The Faultline)



The Courtyard Cafe (the French Quarter)

Plus the Clubhouse II Bath House, about 2 miles away, constantly packed with locals and tourists.

We went there quite often, until I started a monogamous relationship with Matt the Security Guard.

Even my jobs seemed to mirror those of West Hollywood .

1. From copy writer for Muscle and Fitness to fitness trainer at Barney's gym.  I taught the new members how to use the machines, and walked around to see if anyone needed help.  

2. From adjunct English instructor at Loyola Marymount to adjunct Communications instructor at Florida Atlantic University.  I taught "Introduction to Communication Studies" and "Popular Culture."

3. From juvenile probation officer to instructor at the Broward County Police Academy. I taught "Spanish for Police Officers" and "Juvenile Offenders."

There was only one problem: outside of gay neighborhoods, Florida was very, very, very conservative and very, very, very homophobic.

Especially my students at Florida Atlantic and the Police Academy, 18 year olds drawn from such redneck cities as Sunrise, Delray Beach, and Pahokee.

The morning of September 11, I was just getting ready for my class, when news of the World Trade Center collapse hit.  Their attitude toward 9/11: "Let's drop some A-bombs on Iraq!"

Their attitude toward gay people: "Let's drop some A-bombs on Wilton Manors."


After being out in grad school, I found myself closeted again.

But, on the bright side, I saw a lot of beefcake.

Jun 16, 2014

Henry Fuseli: The Gay Painter of the Romantic Era

Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) was born Johann Heinrich Füssli in Zurich, Switzerland.  He studied theology, but after publishing a pamphlet critical of the Swiss government, was forced to flee to Britain, where he fit in with the artists and writers of the Romantic Era, especially William Blake.

He specialized in mythological topics, including illustrations of Milton's Paradise Lost and Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, or Thor Battling the Midgard Serpent from Norse mythology (left).









Sometimes he seems to have quite a fetish interest.  Here the Germanic goddess Brunhilde has tied up a naked Gunther on their wedding night instead of having sex with him.

Ok, the scene happens in the Nibelungenlied, but still, it's a rather unusual topic for a painting, unless you're a bondage enthusiast.

Maybe Fuseli just wanted to show a naked guy not having sex with a woman.







He also drew pornographic drawings for private collectors, mostly of men having sex with each other, but sometimes of women together, and occasionally of men and women.















He often depicts men being accosted by predatory women.  Here Satan fights with the feminine Death (odd, because Death is a masculine noun in German, der Tod).

Gay in real life, Fusili put off marriage until he was 47, when he was too old to fuss with that "sex" stuff.  Later proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Women) got a crush on him, and proposed a "threesome" with his wife Sofia.  He refused and cut off all contact.






Fusili was neglected for many years, but today his work is in demand for its bold colors, surrealistic nightmare imagery, and gay themes.

See also: The Gay Romantic Era










Jun 15, 2014

Guys and Dolls:Musical with Mostly Guys

Instead of watching the execrable Chicago (2002), watch Guys and Dolls (1953), set during the same time period, but with gamblers instead of murderers, and a gay subtext.











It's about the friendship between gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) and Sky Masterson (bisexual actor Marlon Brando), triangulated by two very hesitant hetero-romances.

Nathan has been engaged to Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine) for 14 years, but has no interest in marriage, "old ball and chain." Sky is not interested in women at all.





So when Nathan needs $1000 to secure a garage for his illegal crap game (betting on dice), he makes a bet with Sky: Sky must seduce a girl that Nathan selects so thoroughly that she agrees to go to dinner with him in Havana, Cuba.  No way will Sky be willing, or able to do that!

Especially when the girl turns out to be the prim-and-proper Sergeant Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) of the Save-a-Soul Mission (a take on the Salvation Army).

Sky knows his way around a bet; he tells Sarah that he will fill her mission with sinners in exchange for the dinner.   She agrees, and naturally they fall in love -- you can't have everything.




Nathan, meanwhile, goes through some machinations to hold his crap game, and ends up agreeing to marry Miss Adelaide -- you can't have everything.

There is also a group of gamblers led by the corpulent Nicely-Nicely (Stubby Kaye), who display no heterosexual interest.

No beefcake, but the period costumes are great.  So are the songs.

The stage version is even less hetero-romance-bound.  Nathan Detroits have been played by Robert Guillaume, Bob Hoskins, Nathan Lane, and Oliver Platt, and Sky Masterson by Robert Alda, Peter Gallagher, Ewan McGregor, and Craig Bierko.

It's also a favorite of high school and college drama clubs.




Nosferatu: The First Gay Vampire

According to the IMDB, the Transylvanian Count has appeared in over 400 movies and tv series since the publication of Bram Stoker's Dracula in 1891.

The first, other than the lost Hungarian Drakula halála (1921), was Nosferatu (1922).  Director F. M. Murnau changed the names and some of the details when he couldn't get the rights to the novel, but he kept the dread and disgust.

This is not the romantic figure in cape and tails who enthralls his victims with the hint of sexual ecstasy.  The nosferatu is a monster who smells of rotting corpses and brings pestilence and death.  To portray Count Orlok, Max Schreck drew on all of the anti-Semitic stereotypes common in the era, from the hooked nose and bushy eyebrows to the blood libel.

And on homophobia.

F.M. Murnau was gay, so he filled his movies with the most attractive male actors he could find, and made sure that they took their clothes off at least once (left: Tabou, 1931).









 Here he cast Gustav von Wangenheim as Hutter, the real estate agent who must visit Count Orlok on business.  En route he stays overnight at an inn, and promptly takes his clothes off.










At the castle, Count Orlok tries his best to seduce Gustav: "Can we not stay together a little while longer, my lovely man?  It's still quite a long time until sunrise, and I sleep by day, dear fellow!"  He approaches, while Gustav cringes in horror.

The next morning Gustav doesn't remember what happened, but he is filled with disgust.

Next Count Orlok sets his fangs on Ellen (Greta Schroeder), Hutter's wife, who has "a lovely neck."  But when she gives herself willingly to him, he bursts into flame.  This is perhaps the first time in history where a same-sex liaison increases one's vigor, but a heterosexual liaison is fatal.

Shadow of the Vampire, directed by E. Elias Merhige (2000) recreates the filming of Nosferatu, with John Malkovich as an aggressively heterosexual Murnau.

Costume designer Albin (gay actor Udo Kier) and cinematographer Fritz (Cary Elwes) discover that Max Schreck really is a vampire, and Murnau knew it all along.  Unfortunately, they are both killed before the vampire exploes.  But at least Murnau got his movie.

Spring 2001: Are You Ever Mistaken for Gay?

In the spring of 2001, I was finishing my Ph.D. at Stony Brook University, in Sociology with a concentration in Gender/Sexuality (read: Gay Studies) and a dissertation on gay community strength (but my committee insisted that I excise the word "gay" from the title).  And I set out looking for an academic job in Gay Studies.

Problem: There weren't any.

Well, there was one, but it went to a Lesbian of Color who was doing research on Transnational Feminisms.

What about Gender?

Lots of those.  I sent out about 30 application portfolios --  but the jobs all went to women, preferably Women of Color who were doing research on Transnational Feminisms.  I toyed with the idea of changing my name to "Denise Davis" and going to interviews in drag. 
 
 By the end of January, when Gender jobs are usually filled, I hadn't had a single interview.

What about my minor field, Deviance/Criminology?

Lots of  jobs there, too.  I sent out my portfolio to about 30 colleges and got 10 interviews.

But deviance scholars and criminologists tend to dislike gay people.  Even at prestigious, liberal colleges.

Academic interviews usually last for two days, giving them many opportunities to find out if I was, in fact, gay.  Or else they made the heterosexist assumption that I must be heterosexual, which I found even more aggravating:

"Will your wife be moving with you?"
"How many kids do you have?"
"This area has lots of beautiful women, doesn't it?"
"Our department secretary is single.  Another perk if you come here, right?"
"Aren't you worried that, spending so much time around gays, it might rub off on you?"
"Researching gay topics, are you ever mistaken for gay?"


March, April, and May passed, with no offers.  Finally in desperation I applied for a criminology job at a college in a horrible town in Montana.  The nearest gay neighborhood was in Calgary, a 6-hour drive.

I got the offer, but I really, really didn't want to move to a horrible town six hours from the nearest gay neighborhood.

Then my friend Yuri, who helped me look for the World's Biggest Penis two summers ago, said.  "Why do you want to be a college professor, anyway?  It's dumb!"

This from a guy who finished his dissertation in 2000 and fell right into a cushy tenure-track position in Climate Science at Florida Atlantic University.





"Come down to Florida and live with me!" he offered.  "I live right next door to a lot of gay bars, and near to the beach.  More hot guys than you know what to do with!  And have you heard of Spring Break? Wow!"

"What about a job?"

"There are lots of jobs here.  Maybe you will teach as an adjunct when you're not on the beach, looking at hot guys."

So I turned down the Montana job, sent 20 boxes of books via UPS, packed up a rental car with everything else, and drove south on I-95 for three days.  It felt very much like my move to West Hollywood in 1985.

On the way I met an Amish boy in red bikini underwear.

10 Things You Should Know About Brandon Jones

Other than the obvious.

1. His first screen role was "Obnoxious Senior" on 90210 in 2009.

2. He's not the same Brandon Jones as the gay porn star.

3. In 2010, he appeared in the web reality series If I Can Dream, about five aspiring performers sharing a house.  He played the Pool Guy.








4. His CSI character, Charlie Russell, son of Ted Danson's character, was involved in the case of a murdered gay blogger.

5. On The Fosters, about a lesbian couple and their foster children, he played Liam, Callie's former foster brother, who was grooming his new foster sister for sexual abuse.












6. Although he plays jocks and prettyboys, at home he's a complete nerd.

7. He played Jebediah, the Amish boy denuded by the Two Broke Girls

8. In 2013, he starred in the sitcom Trainers, about the wacky employees of a struggling gym.  Only three episodes were filmed, but you can see them on youtube.








9. He will be starring in Cabot College (2014), a sitcom about the first male students enrolling at a women's college.  It will feature a gay character played by lesbian comedian Fortune Feinmster, plus gay ally Margaret Cho.

10. He's a gay ally.