Jul 19, 2014

50% of College Professors Think That You're a Deviant

Most colleges aren't as homophobic as The Fashion Institute of Technology, but still, sociology professors are very likely to think that you're a deviant.

In 2012 Franciscan University, a small Catholic college in Steubenville, Ohio, came under fire for a three-line course description in its catalog. Deviant Behavior, in the Social Work Department, listed homosexuality among its topics of discussion, alongside rape and murder (Brady, 2012).

After a media blitz and an investigation by its accrediting agency,  it deleted homosexuality from the course description, along with the other examples.

But Franciscan is not alone.  Hundreds of colleges include homosexuality as one of the topics to be covered in deviance courses.

At the University of Nevada, the course description for The Sociology of Deviance includes "prostitution, homosexuality, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence."

At Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, New York, Social Deviance covers "homosexuality, prostitution, suicide, and alcoholism."

The University of Pittsburgh pairs "homosexuality" with mental illness.

Even when the course catalog doesn't include "homosexuality" in its list of deviant acts to be covered, professors often include it in the syllabus.  50% of the syllabi I checked devoted class time to "homosexuality."

At the University of Utah, Sociology of Deviant Behavior devotes two weeks to it, just after violence, and before prostitution.

At the University of Wisconsin, Deviant Behavior devotes one week to "Homosexuality and Deviance."

Even Rutgers University devotes a class to "Contrasting Perspectives: Homosexuality."

How did gay people become so integral to deviance class?  I blame Howard Becker, whose Outsiders: Studies in the Sociology of Deviance (1961) invented the field.  He refers to criminals 8 times, the mentally ill 12 times, and "homosexuals" 42 times!

For the next fifty years, sociologists who needed a quick, easy example of deviance turned, again and again, to homosexuality, no matter what their topic.

They ignored, or didn't care about, Stonewall and Gay Rights Parades and Harvey Milk and Barney Frank and Lawrence v. Texas and marriage equality.





Today sociologists sometimes go through great lengths to "prove" that gay people are deviant. For example, the article on "Homosexuality" in The Routledge Handbook of Deviant Behavior offers four pieces of evidence: the slang phrase "that's so gay," ex-gay therapy, anti-gay hate crimes, and the homophobic protests of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Of course these suggest that some people are homophobic.  Some people are also anti-Semitic, but the presence of the slang phrase "jew him down," attempts to convert Jews to Christianity, swastikas painted on synagogue walls, and the "Jewish conspiracy" rants of Aryan Nation are never used as evidence that being Jewish is deviant

When the fall semester begins, thousands of college students are going to be enrolling in Deviant Behavior classes.  And they're going to be shocked to discover that they, their friends, their parents, and their state senator are including in the category of "deviants," along with the murderers.

Jul 18, 2014

Frank Frazetta: The "Good" Muscle Artist


During the 1970s, any comic book about Tarzan, Conan, or any other barbarian hero was likely to show him heavily-muscled, half naked, holding a sword aloft, with a naked woman clinging to his legs. There weren't any gay magazines yet, at least none available for kids in small Midwestern towns, so they became gay teen pornography -- it was easy to ignore the naked woman.

We didn't know who drew the covers, so we just called him the "Good" Muscle Artist.












Turns out that he was a Brooklyn-born bodybuilder tunred cartoonist named Frank Frazetta (1928-2010), who began drawing comics in 1944, at the age 16.  At first he specialized in "funny animal" and semi-naked lady titles, but in 1954 he went to work for Al Capp on the venerable L'il Abner.  








By that point, Abner was married to Daisy Mae, with a son and mostly domestic adventures, but still, they gave Frazetta experience in drawing heavily-muscled men and semi-naked women.  By the 1960s, his covers were re-invigorating the sword and sorcery genre, with Robert E. Howard's Conan and Kull and Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan and John Carter of Mars as musclemen.  Here's a Conan cover with a gorilla instead of a naked lady at his feet.

Although heterosexual fans believed that he was drawing for them, envisioning their dream worlds of having powerful muscles and naked ladies lying at their feet, he was an "equal opportunity ogler," adept at showing the erotic power of everyone and everything.





I've heard that he was bisexual in real life, and that he was homophobic.  Maybe he was both.

During his long partnership with Ralph Bakshi, Frazetta worked on several animated features, as well as album covers and posters for a dozen movies.

Late in life he opened a Frazetta museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, to showcase his fine art.

Most devoted to muscular barbarian heroes.

See also: Jim Steranko: Escape Artist Turned Comic Book Illustrator; and Boris Vallejo

Jul 17, 2014

The Red Band Society: Buddy-Bonding Teens in a Barcelona Hospital


The Red Band Society (Polseres vermelles) is a Catalan tv drama, based on the novel  The Yellow World (El mundo amarillo), about six residents of a children's hospital (where they wear red hospital ids on their wrists).  There have been two seasons so far, two years apart, and creator and writer Alberto Espinoza intends to wait a few more years for the third, so the characters can grow into adulthood.

In the first episode, Jordi arrives at the hospital after being diagnosed with cancer.  An older man tells him that every group of friends has six players, and his task is to find them.  Soon he gathers a group:

1. The Leader: cancer patient Lleó (Àlex Monner, left), who has lived in the hospital for two years.

2. His Sidekick:  Jordi (Igor Szpakowski).

3. The Girl: Christina (Joana Vilapuig), suffering from anorexia.


4. The Handsome One: Ignasi (Mikel Iglesias, left), who has a mysterious ailment.


5. The Smart One: Toni (Marc Balaguer), who is recovering from a motorcycle accident.

6. The Essential (without whom the group could not exist): Roc (Nil Cardoner), who has been in a coma for two years after a swimming accident.  He can communicate with Toni in a dream state.

Now they are ready to bond, support each other, and survive.




Aside from the life-threatening issues that one would expect in a hospital series, there are growing-up issues involving parents, school, friendships, and romances, both heterosexual and gay.

A boy named Roger (Marcel Borras) gets a crush on  Lleó, and tries to kiss him;  Lleó rebuffs the kiss, but the two remain friends.  There is also a subdued romance between Toni and Roc.



It is a popular throughout Europe and Latin America. An American version is set to premiere on the Fox Network in 2014, starring Griffin Gluck, Nolan Sotillo, Charlie Rowe, Brian Bradley, and Ciara Bravo. I imagine that the gay content will be obliterated for American audiences, although gay actor Wilson Cruz plays one of the doctors, and E! calls it "Breakfast Club meets Glee."

Jul 16, 2014

Hi, Honey, I'm Home: 1950s Sitcom Transported to the Present

Pundits think that people who watch tv can't tell fiction from reality; they're walking around in a daze, accosting soap opera villains in the supermarket and insisting that only NCIS lawyers take their case.  To capitalize on the presumed blending of fictional worlds, Hi Honey, I'm Home appeared during the summers of 1991 and 1992.

The premise: A family from one of the "perfect" black-and-white nuclear family sitcoms of the 1950s is relocated to the "real" 1990s.

The family consists of wondrously loving Honey and Lloyd Nielson (Charlotte Booker, Stephen C. Bradbury), who are home all the time to care for their obedient, polite, clean, tidy, and studious children, teenage Babs and preteen Chucky (Julie Benz, Danny Gura).

But next door is an overworked, flustered, fast-food-preparing single mom, Elaine Duff (Susan Cella) and her obnoxious kids, preteen punk rocker Skunk (Eric Kushnick) and teenage nerd Mike (Peter Benson).

Elaine does her best to befriend Honey and bring her into the 20th century. She can think for herself, take a class, get a job.  Their friendship is threatening to Lloyd, who wants to be "the man of the house."

Gee, maybe the 1950s weren't so perfect after all.


Mike, a fan of 1950s tv, is the only one who suspects the family secret (and eventually discovers it).  He has an obligatory crush on Babs, but it seems forced.  He hangs out with the entire family because he feels wanted.  The Nielsons need him to help negotiate the strange new world that they're trapped in.

A selling point of the series was the many guest stars, characters from former sitcoms: Gomer Pyle, Grandpa Munster, Alice from The Brady Bunch, Lisa Douglas from Green Acres, Sally Rogers from The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Mr. Mooney from The Lucy Show.

Erick Kushnick and Danny Gura (top photo)have both retired from acting, but Peter Benson is busy with off-Broadway plays, and Julie Benz went on to play Darla the ditzy vampire on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Stephen C. Bradbury recently starred in Off the Record, an adaption of the incident where Idaho senator Larry Craig was arrested for soliciting an undercover cop in a Minneapolis airport men's room.

The Chilean Bad Boy and his Boyfriends

George de Cuevas (1885-1961) was the son of a Chilean diplomat, but he wasn't interested in politics.  He wanted a Ronald Firbank life of opera, ballet, lavish outfits, opulent parties, and men.  Especially men

In 1920, he moved to Paris, where he met and fell in love with Prince Felix Yusopov (1887-1967), who helped assassinate the "Mad Monk" Rasputin, and now led a coterie of Russian expatriots.   Yusopov was gay, although married; he and his wife Irina founded a fashion design business, Irfé.   They hired George as their assistant.

But George was really more interested in the ballet.  Not as a dancer or choreographer, although he dabbled in both.  He wanted to be a producer, like Sergei Diaghilev, who founded the Ballet Russes in 1924, and showcased the muscular physique of his lover Nijinsky in The Afternoon of a Faun.

George got his chance when he met Margaret Strong, the granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, a bookish intellectual who had accompanied Howard Carter to Egypt for the famous King Tut expedition of 1922 (her second cousin, gay anthropologist Michael Rockefeller, died in New Guinea in 1961).

They married in 1927, and began throwing opulent parties, to which all of the Parisian glitterati were invited. In 1940, they moved to the United States, and divided their time between Palm Springs and Toms River, New Jersey.




George founded a ballet company and showcased young performers like André Eglevsky.  His productions didn't receive a lot of critical acclaim, but they were eccentric and flamboyant.



In 1958, ballet director and choreographer Serge Lifar became angry when George changed one of his dances, and challenged him to a duel.  Although 72 years old, George consented.  The duel went on as scheduled, although no one was injured (except Lifar hurt his arm), and the two ended up in an embrace.

He and Margaret continued to court handsome young men, such as the Dutch adventurer Jan de Vroom, who acquired several Ferraris, a Rolls Royce, a boat, and finally an airplane as they competed for his affection.




In 1958, Jan de Vroom (left) founded the North American Racing Team to promote Ferraris, along with his lover George Arents (not pictured), one of the founders of the Mattachine Society, the early gay rights organization.







George and Margaret's last lover was Raymundo de Larrain Valdez (left), a rent boy who claimed to be a marquis, and a scion of one of the richest families in Chile. Soon he became the director of the Ballet de Cuevas, where he helped Rudolph Nureyev (right) defect to the West.

 After George died in 1961, Margaret and Raymundo continued to compete over men.  They finally married in 1977, when he was 42 and she was 80.

See also: The Nutcracker; The Afternoon of a Faun.

Jul 13, 2014

Jim Thorpe: Native American Beefcake of the Jazz Age

When I was a kid in the 1960s, we lived down the street from a bar called Thorpe's.  To Nazarenes all bars were dens of abomination, so I never went near it, but it was hard to miss the lights and music, and the line of cars parked outside.

Years later, I discovered that the bar was named after Jim Thorpe, the first great Native American athlete, who was born into the Sac and Fox tribe, long after it was relocated from Rock Island to Oklahoma.  He was a multi-talented athlete, playing professional football, basketball, and baseball and semi-professional boxing and wrestling, as well as winning gold medals for the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Olympics.

During the Jazz Age, he was famous for his physique as well as for his sports prowess; he was even photographed nude so audiences could see the interplay of his muscles better.

He traveled in the circles of the 1920s glitterati, and was known to frequent the wild Great Gatsby-esque parties where same-sex liaisons were common, though I haven't found any evidence of same-sex activity of his own.






His career fizzled out during the 1930s.  He spent the last 20 years of his life struggling with alcoholism and poverty, and died in 1953.

Burt Lancaster played Jim Thorpe in Jim Thorpe -- All American (1951).












A town in Pennsylvania bought his remains and some artifacts and renamed itself Jim Thorpe, to the consternation of his family.  Jack Thorpe sued for the return of his father's remains in 2010.













He doesn't seem to be related to Ian Thorpe, the gay Australian swimmer.

Homophobia at the Fashion Institute of Technology

The Fashion Institute of Technology is at 227 West 27th Street in Manhattan, in the heart of Chelsea, a few blocks from the Eagle, the Barracuda, the Dave Barton Gym, and lots of other gay venues.

And it teaches fashion design, one of the most gay-friendly businesses in the world.

Who would have thought that I would encounter bare, biting, seething homophobia there?

In 2003?

I was living in Florida, and flew north to NYC for a sociology conference.


At conferences, you go to "sessions" on a specific topic.  Each has four or five presenters, who "read" their papers, actually just talk about their research projects (only the most boring actually read them).   It's polite to stay for the whole session, even if the presentation you're interested in comes first.

In  this session, I wanted to hear a paper on "The Sociology of Alice in Wonderland."  

But first, a presentation on dating.   The professor -- I'll call her Maxine -- tested sociobiology, the idiotic theory that we are attracted to traits that gave our ancestors an evolutionary advantage.  For instance, all men are interested in women with big breasts because they are able to feed more children, thus allowing our ancestors a greater likelihood of passing on their genes.  All women are attracted to men with big muscles, because they can fight off saber-tooth tigers better, thus giving them a greater likelihood of living to reproduce.

It's idiotic.  Some cultures don't value big breasts or big muscles. Here's Elmo Lincoln, the first movie Tarzan.  Not at all muscular, yet the "epitome of male beauty" of the era.

Even if the culture values big breasts or big muscles, some heterosexuals aren't attracted to them.

And...guess what?  Some women aren't interested in men at all, and some men aren't interested in women.

Sociobiology is hogwash.

But Maxine liked it, and so did the colleagues or friends who came to hear the presentation.  For her research project, she showed college men pictures of women with big and small breasts, and college women pictures of men with big and small muscles, and asked which one they would want to date.

My hand shot up.  "How did you determine that they were all heterosexual?"

She stared at me, not comprehending.  "Well...these were all college students."

"Some men are gay," I told her.  "Even college men.  They wouldn't be interested in dating either type of woman, right?"

"Well...um..." She had clearly never thought of the possibility that any of her research subjects might be gay, not until this moment.  "I just wanted to test sociobiology.  Men are attracted to women with big breasts because..."

"But what if they aren't into women at all?  What does sociobiology say about gay men?"

I knew full well what sociobiology said -- gay men are "mistakes," their brains somehow short-circuited, so they believe that they are women.

Yes, students are really being taught that, at real universities.

But I wasn't prepared for the vitriol with which the audience -- all professors of sociology -- informed me of the fact:

"Your question is specious. Homosexuality is a modern perversion.  It didn't exist in ancient times."
"Homosexuals can't reproduce, so they're evolutionary dead ends."
"And a waste of space."
"Even animals know the difference between male and female."
One guy just yelled out "They're freaks!"


At that point I left, not waiting around to hear about Alice in Wonderland.

I felt like I had gone through the looking glass myself.

And I suggest thinking twice before enrolling in Homophobia State...um, I mean the Fashion Institute of Technology

See also: 50% of College Professors Think That You're a Deviant.

Mark Lester after Oliver

Every kid I knew was forced to see Oliver! in 1968.  Our parents had the impression that musicals were somehow educational, and besides, it was Dickens.

Most of the kids I knew disliked it.  After all, it was a musical. About child abuse, domestic violence, and other fun stuff.   I found the heterosexist "true love" plot boring, but I liked the buddy-bonding between the streetwise Artful Dodger (15-year old Jack Wild, right) and the cherubic innocent Oliver (10-year old Mark Lester, left).



I followed Jack Wild onto H. R. Pufnstuf, but I heard nothing more about Mark Lester for many years. During the early 2000s, I was writing an article on demonic children in the movies, and I found that the cherub spent his pubescence playing violent or creepy, or both.  His characters seemed uncomfortable with their bodies, ravaged by uncontrollable desires, and obsessively heterosexual.

In Eyewitness (1970), also released as Sudden Terror, 12-year old Ziggy (Mark) witnesses a murder on the Mediterranean island of Malta,  and is pursued by the killer.  He goes on the lam, along with his girlfriend.

In Melody (1971), 10-year old Daniel (Mark) falls in love with a girl and decides to marry her. The adults disapprove of a 10-year old getting married, but it's the heart of the counterculture, and "true love" is always right.


In What the Peeper Saw (1972), also released as Night Hair Child and Diabolica malicia, 14-year old Marcus (Mark) is sexually attracted to his father's new wife (Britt Eklund).  She shares his interest, and they have sex. They conspire to kill Dad so they can be together. But is she really conspiring to kill Marcus? 

In Who Slew Auntie Roo (1972), 14-year old Christopher (Mark)  tries to rescue his sister from the demented Mrs. Forrest (Shelley Winters), who is holding her prisoner in the attic. 

Love Under the Elms (1975) was originally titled La prima volta sull' erba, "the first time on the grass." While visiting Italy, Mark meets a girl, and they have sex a lot. It ends badly, but if you want to see frontal nudity, this is the one.

Not many gay kids saw these movies -- they were all rated R for violence and sex

Mark strips down to a swimsuit or his underwear, or is accosted in the bathtub, in all of his violent/creepy movies, but with all the heterosexual longing going on, there's not much time for homoerotic subtexts. After Oliver!, I found one only in Senza ragione (1973), also known as Redneck. 

Lennox (Mark)  is kidnapped by two crooks, the evil Memphis (Telly Savalas) and the hunky Mosquito (Franco Nero, left).   Lennox bonds with Mosquito and they run away together, and spend the night, with rear nudity and a strong implication of sex between them.  But does Lennox really like the gangster, or is he plotting?  It ends badly.












Mark Lester also starred in some costume dramas that didn't require creepy sexuality.  He retired from acting in 1977, studied osteopathy, and opened an acupuncture clinic in England.