Jan 16, 2015

Every Gay Man Should Have a Pair of Lederhosen

Like the kilt, lederhosen has gotten mired down in cliches and stereotypes, blond people yodeling and saying "Yah" to each other, like that crazy Aryan kid  who sells "Toaster strudel."

But lederhosen simply means leather pants in German.  It was worn throughout the Alps, and especially in Bavaria, for hunting, farming, and other outdhoor activities.

Its popularity declined during the 19th century, when it was considered uncouth, "hayseed" clothing, like the hillbilly's overalls in America.  Today it is worn primarily at festivals like Oktoberfest.

There are many variations, but all lederhosen have suspenders and a side holster that shows off the pecs (shirts are optional).

The front flap, called a hosenturl, was designed to make it easy to take your penis out and urinate.  But the consequence of making you look especially gifted beneath the belt has not gone unnoticed.

Especially with modern men, who add special lining down there to enhance their size.

And add a lot of ornate embroidery to draw the eye to their crotch.

Some men like lederhosen so much that they are starting to use it for everyday wear.

Gay men especially.  Many of them already have leather outfits, so why not get custom-made black lederhosen?

See also: 10 Things You Should Know About Kilts.

Annie Get Your Gun: Beefcake and a Gay Couple

I have mixed feelings about Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 musical that was made into a half dozen movies, revived a dozen times, and remains a favorite of high school and college drama clubs.  Maybe because I got confused, thinking it was about a guy with his arms and legs blown off (that's Johnny Got His Gun).  

It's actually about real-life sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926), who joins Buffalo Bill's traveling Wild West Show in the 1880s and competes with the star, Frank Butler.

There's something to be said for a big, tough, rastlin' backwoods gal who can shoot guns, but why make her so all-fired eager to give it all up for a man?

I'm quick on the trigger with targets not much bigger than a pin point, I'm number one.
But my score with a feller is lower than a cellar- Oh you can't get a man with a gun.

Wait -- I know the answer.  Heteronormativity.

But she goes even farther, proclaiming it as universal human experience, "doin' what comes naturally":

My tiny baby brother, who's never read a book, knows one sex from the other --
All he had to do was look!

And the object of her affection is rather a cad, leaving a chain of seductions wherever he goes:

There's a girl in Tennessee who's sorry she met up with me
I can't go back to Tennessee -- I'm a bad, bad man!

The kicker: Annie is a better shot than Frank, but in the big match, she deliberately loses, so he will like her.  What kind of message is that for young heterosexual girls?  Squash your talents in order to get a man!

But some the songs are catchy, especially the show-stopping "There's No Business Like Show Business," which became the unofficial anthem of Hollywood.

There is a small gay subtext in the relationship between Buffalo Bill and his manager, Charlie Davenport.

And some beefcake: Annie is mentored by Indian performer Sitting Bull, who adopts her into his tribe.  Costumer designers often decide that the Indians should display their physiques.

Besides, Annie has been played by some of the biggest gay icons of the stage, including Betty Hutton, Ethel Merman, Judy Garland (actually fired from the 1950 film), Bernadette Peters, and Doris Day.

Notable Franks have included Bruce Yarnell, John Raitt, Harve Presnell, Tom Wopat, and Patrick Cassidy,

See also: The Sound of Music; The Pajama Game.

The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985) wasn't really a hillbilly show, though the "backwood Adonis" theme can be traced back through Jethro Bodine to L'il Abner.  It was set in the country (Hazzard, Georgia), not the hills, and the premise was derived on the 1970s trucker fad.  The Duke cousins, the blond Bo (John Schneider) and the brunette Luke (Tom Wopat), drove a 1969 Dodge Charger instead of a truck, but they still zoomed through rustic locales with a country-fried sheriff, Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke), in hot pursuit.

The boys lived with their cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) and their elderly Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), who narrated the stories ("Well, the Duke boys were in trouble again....") and provided sage advice.

It was obvious early on that the actors were hired for their beefcake appeal.  Although their shirts were off constantly and they had nice muscles, the main draw was below the belt.  Look closely -- well, you don't really need to look closely.  It's out there for everyone to see.  John Schneider wore jeans so tight that they had to be peeled off at the end of a shoot. (Just in case you liked girls, they also put Daisy into revealing short-shorts that came to be called Daisy Dukes).

But the beefcake (and Daisy's cheesecake) didn't mean that the show was obsessed with heterosexual hookups.  In fact, dating and romance was not high on anyone's list of activities. Daisy falls in love a few times, but Bo and Duke, never.  They save an orphanage, enter their car in a race, catch bank robbers, pursue card sharks, sing, and run up against the corrupt Boss Hogg.

And the bonding was intense!  Ok, they were "cousins," but they were inseparable, devoted to each other, with eyes for no one else.  They behaved, and the residents of Hazzard treated them, precisely like long-time partners.

When they left the series briefly in 1982, Byron Cherry and Chip Meyer came in as cousins Coy and Vance.

Both John Schneider and Tom Wopat have had successful post-Duke careers, and they are both gay allies. I met Tom Wopat in 1999.  In 2008, John Schneider performed at the L.A. AIDS Walk, and spoke about three friends who died of AIDS, including his "best friend in all the world" during his years on The Dukes. 

Jan 15, 2015

Culture Club: From Hinting "We're Gay!" to Yelling "We're Straight"

In 1982, the conservative retrenchment had not quite set in yet, and hinting that you might be gay marked you as naughty, scandalous, and cool.  So the Culture Club pretended.

Lead singer Boy George was actually gay, and drummer Jon Moss (left) was bisexual.  The other band members, Mikey Craig (below) and Roy Hay, were heterosexual.  But they all had fun inviting speculation, giving coy answers to inquiries, and recording songs that dropped the "girl! girl! girl!" refrains in favor of hints and signals.

Some of their songs treated sexual identity as a choice.  You could decide to be straight today and gay tomorrow, why not?

"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?" (1982)
In my heart, the fire's burning
Choose my color, find a star.

Sometimes "gay" and "straight" were just labels, unable to capture the fluidity of desire.

"Karma Chameleon" (1983)
I'm a man without conviction,
I'm a man who doesn't know how to sell a contradiction.

But by 1984, the era of Ronald Reagan and Rambo and Real Men Don't Eat Quiche and Brave New World, only heterosexuals were welcome. Homophobia skyrocketed.  At first Culture Club rebelled:

"The War Song" (1984)
Now we're fighting in our hearts, fighting in the streets
Won't somebody help me
Man is far behind in the search for something new
Like a Philistine, we're burning witches too.

Then they gave up and started yelling, loudly, that they were just kidding, they had been heterosexual all along:

"God, Thank You Woman" (1986)
Woman, thank you, thank you.
God, thank you, woman.
Woman, you're so sweet, I would give my heart to you.
There's nothing I wouldn't do.

Then they went away.

Boy George waited until 1995, when the conservative retrenchment was over, to reveal that he was, in fact, gay.

See also: Subtext Songs of the 1980s; The Village People

Jan 14, 2015

12 Beefcake Stars of "Fringe"

I'm being forced to watch a sci-fi series about FBI agents investigating the paranormal.  No, not the The X-Files, Fringe (2008-2013).  The difference is: Mulder and Scully...um, I mean Peter (Joshua Jackson) and Olivia (Anna Torv)...are assisted by an eccentric scientist/mental patient (John Noble), and the frame story is about parallel worlds, not aliens.

It was produced by J.J. Abrams, who helped eliminate almost all gay people from Lost,  so you have to expect even more heterosexism than usual in sci fi series.  And, indeed, people are always blathering on about "my husband!" or "my wife!", mourning lost heterosexual loves, and assuming universal heterosexual identity.  When Fringe first aired in 2008, I refused to watch because the pilot hit you over the head with "we're all heterosexual! we're all heterosexual!"  in the very first scene.

But I have noticed something interesting.  In every episode, at least one of the guest stars is buffed.  Body by Michelangelo,  Like, built.

A simple whisk through the cast list to take my mind off the "everybody on Earth is heterosexual!" chants reveals an incredible profusion of biceps and bulges.

1, "A New Day in the Old Town": Olivia has an auto accident and disappears for 40 minutes into a parallel world.  Luke Goss of Hellboy as "regular guy" Lloyd Parr.

2. "Momentum Deferred": Shapeshifters from the parallel world appear to steal cryogenically-frozen heads while talking about their wives.  Sebastian Roche (left) as Thomas Jerome Newton, aka Omega Man, a buffed villain from the Other Side.

3. "Dream Logic":  People start acting out their dreams and killing each other. Including men with wives!  A guest FBI agent is played by former soap hunk Travis Schuldt (left).

4. "Snakehead": Drug dealers are smuggling parasitic organisms into the U.S., using the bodies of Asian men (and their wives and children) as hosts.  They need to show the parasitic organism moving around inside the bodies, so lots of hunky Asian men take their shirts off, notably former model Jack Yang.

5. "Unearthed": Dead people comes back to life speaking Russian, which their husbands and wives insist they never knew. One of the dead people is Will Turlough, played by bodybuilder and soap star Mark Dobies (top photo).

6. "Johari Window."  See, there's a town full of deformed people who look normal most of the time, and don't like outsiders.  Including a heterosexual nuclear family, with the dad/husband played by bulgeworthy Canadian hunk Martin Cummins (left).

7. "What Lies Below": A 13,000 year old virus that wiped out all of the Pleistocene mammals resurfaces in an office building.  One of the quarantined office drones desperately calling his wife is played by Al Miro (left)

8. "Jacksonville": A building from the parallel world appears here, merging the bodies of two guys.  The one desperately calling for his wife is played by the extremely cute Ryan McDonald.

9. "Olivia in the Lab with the Revolver."  An illness from the parallel world shows up here, with muscular actor Jamie Switch as one of the victims.

10. "The Bishop Revival." The villain is killing people with certain genetic characteristics, like the descendants of a Holocaust survivor at a Jewish wedding chock-full of 20-ish hunks, notably Aaron Brooks as Josh Staller.

11. "White Tulip": A scientist tries to go back in time to reunite with his dead fiance. Jackson Berlin of Man of Steel plays Agent #2 (left).

12. "The Man from the Other Side."  The shapeshifters from the Other Side are trying to get to our world, with bodybuilder Fraser Aitcheson as Cop #1.

And that's just Season 2.

I can imagine the conversation in Casting: "Ok, your character is a businessman who explodes on the subway after yelling for his wife.  So take off your clothes...."

See: Prime-time Dramas Think You Don't Exist;  15 More Beefcake Stars of Fringe. and The Top 10 Hunks of "Orange is the New Black"

Jan 12, 2015

Takanakuy: The Beefcake Festival of the Andes

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Spring 1983: Cruising Dublin with James Joyce

When I was an English and Modern Languages major, one of my professors said that Ulysses was the greatest work of literature ever written.  Even more, the only work.  If ever civilization is destroyed, we can rebuilt the entire opus of English literature with a copy of Ulysses.

It would be a heterosexist world.  There is only one reference to gay people, a sniffing rebuttal of the allegation that Shakespeare was a pederast. 

There's hetero-sex -- lots of it -- a visit to a brothel, Molly Bloom's famous nine-page long "yes yes yes" as her husband tups her.

Jan 11, 2015

The Eagles: Gay Symbolism in "Hotel California"

     Formed in 1971 by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner, the Eagles were one of the biggest bands of the 1970s.  Like Rod and Al Stewart, their songs were ballads, sung in a haunting tone, with cryptic lyrics.   And excruciatingly heterosexist, about a man longing for The Woman He Lost, or else about a man being destroyed by an Evil Woman.   But in high school in the 1970s, I made them symbolic of my quest to escape the heterosexist wife-house-factory trajectory that all the adults were plotting out for me, and find...what else was there?          One of these Nights: September 1975, when I first learned about "Swishes" (our derogatory term for gay people), and the "what girl do you like" interrogations intensified.  The full moon is calling, the fever is high  And the wicked wind whispers, and moans   The narrator's soul is destroyed by an Evil Woman. What better indictment of the heterosexist mandate to "like girls!"  Lyin' Eyes: October 1975, when I started working as an athletic trainer, and saw vast numbers of naked jocks in the locker room:  On the other side of town a boy is waiting, with fiery eyes and dreams no one could steal.  An Evil Woman is cheating on her husband.  But all I heard was the boy with fiery eyes waiting for me.        Take It to the Limit: January 1976, when I befriended a girl who wanted to marry Donny Osmond, but everyone thought we are romantic partners, and my father constantly evoked my future as her husband, working in the factory, living in a small square house, dying inside.  Put me on a highway, and show me a sign,  And take it to the limit one more time  The narrator is driving down the highway to return to The Woman He Lost.  But all I heard was escape.            New Kid in Town: March 1977, when I was dating Verne, the preacher's son, but worried that he would leave me for someone else (turns out he left me because he got a girl pregnant):  You're walking away and they're talking behind you  They will never forget you 'til somebody new comes along   The narrator is back in town after a long absence, trying to return to The Woman He Lost.  But all I heard was the possibility of loss.        Hotel California: June 1977, when I danced with a leatherboy at a church conference in Switzerland, and thought for the first time that someone I knew might be gay.  Mirrors on the ceiling, and pink champagne on ice, and she said, "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device."  The narrator is drawn into a surrealistic hotel, where his soul is destroyed by an Evil Woman. It's meant to be an indictment of the glitzy California lifestyle, complete with gay people: "a lot of pretty, pretty boys she called friends."   But all I heard was a nightmare of heterosexual agony, with girls plying you with champagne and pretty boys who can only be friends, and there's no escape:  "Relax," said the Nightman, "We are programmed to receive. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave."  Except maybe in the arms of a leatherboy in Switzerland, who "danced to forget."  See also: Rod and Al Stewart.

Jack and Arthur Wild: Psychedelic Brothers

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