Jan 8, 2015

Knight Rider: Detective, Boyfriend, and Car

  Knight Rider (1982-86) was similar to many of the detective adventure series of the 1980s, especially  Magnum PI -- a sly antihero with a hairy chest and tight jeans solves crimes (mostly involving supermodels)  with the assistance of an uptight, gay-vague mentor.  But in this case the mentor is a talking car named Kitt (voiced by William Daniels).  Apparently the producers wanted buddy-bonding without any of those pesky gay subtexts, and what better way to eliminate longing glances than by making the buddy a car? And, indeed, during the first few seasons, longing glances are at a minimum as Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) rescues or teams up with ladies: con artists, thiefs, daughters of ranchers, ex-girlfriends, reporters, even a student at a bodyguard school.       It sounded far too heterosexist to even glance at, so I never saw a single episode.  Until I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, where it was a gay favorite.  Why?  Hasselhoff was cute, but he rarely took his clothes off, and he was surrounded by ladies.           It turns out that the talking car wasn't enough.  In the fourth season (1985-86), producers gave Michael a human buddy: RC3 (Peter Parros), an immensely muscular, street-smart mechanic whom Michael encounters fighting some bad guys.  He gets a job at Michael's funding organization, FLAG (Foundation for Law and Government), and spent his time yelling "Michael, help!" or "Are you all right?" or glancing longingly at Michael.           They went undercover together, took vacations to Chicago to listen to jazz, and got tied up by baddies side by side in muscle shirts.  Michael continued to court women, but RC3 displayed little or no heterosexual interest.  His devotion to Michael was total.          After Knight Rider, David Hasselhoff went on to the long-running Baywatch, a Playboy series about the breasts of lady lifeguards jiggling in slow motion (with an occasional far shot of a guy). He is rumored to be gay in real life, and his performed his nightclub act, "An Evening with the Hoff," at gay clubs.  Peter Parros starred in a revised version of Adam-12 (with a gay-bashing episode) before settling down to a career of taking off his shirt in soap operas.