May 21, 2015

Preachers Have Penises

When I was growing up in the Nazarene Church, we spent a lot of time at Olivet, our college on the prairie of eastern Illinois.  The church wanted to make sure that we went there after high school instead of some secular university where we would be taught liberalism, atheism, and evil-lution.

So there were ball games and special concerts, and beginning in ninth grade, an annual Olivet Weekend every fall, with a party, a nature hike, a church service, classroom visits, and the opportunity to spend the night in a real college dormitory,

It was actually sleeping bags on the floor of the lounge in the freshman men's dorm, but still, it was fun to be surrounded by cute college men!

In ninth grade, our host was David, a senior religion major (and baseball player) who told us how he was hoping to get a church near his home town, and his girlfriend Ruth, who mostly bragged about how she had scored the "handsomest guy on campus."

The rest is too risque for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding.  See "The Preacher Pops a Boner" on Tales of West Hollywood.

Summer 1987: Notre Dame, a Catholic Boy, and a Warm Summer Night

Summer 1987:  26 years old, in grad school at the University of Southern California, I had a paper on "Boccacio and the Jews" accepted at a Medieval Studies Conference at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

I flew into Rock Island to visit my parents for a few days.  Then they dropped me off on the way to visit their relatives in Garrett, Indiana, about an hour's drive away.








I loved Notre Dame!  It was like a Medieval university, with archways, pillars, Gothic buildings, crucifixes, small side chapels, and statues of saints everywhere.

I expected Duns Scotus to walk by at any moment, discussing De consolatione philosophiae with Thomas Aquinas, while St. Hildegard of Bingen sang "O nobilissima viriditas!"






And did I mention the beefcake? Hot Catholic boys walking around, their scapulars gleaming against their hard brown chests, talking about the Bangles and Robocop and last night's baseball game like any students at any secular college.

There were no conference activities scheduled for Saturday night.  Most of the participants went out to dinner with their husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends.  My roommate went to the Linebacker Lounge, hoping for a heterosexual pickup.  My Gayellow Pages listed one gay bar in South Bend, but it was too far to walk.  I was stuck on campus.

Lonely, bored, I wandered into the library, like I used to at Augustana on Saturday nights, when I felt overwhelmed by my friends' chants of  "girls! girls! girls! let's get some girls!  let's look at some girls!" 

Nostalgic for Augustana, I walked into the stacks and browsed through the PD section (Scandinavian Literature).  Nathan was sitting at an isolated study carrell, surrounded by thick books.


No, he wasn't naked.  But he was cute -- 20 years old, short, slim, pale, with curly brown hair and a boyish face.

"Studying Norwegian?" I asked.

He looked up and smiled.  "Oh -- no, Spanish.  This was just a quiet place to study."

"Yo hablo Espanol tambien.  Podimos discutir cosas intimas, si?"

"Whoa, whoa, I'm just first year!"

"Sorry.  I'm in grad school in Spanish.  In Los Angeles."

"Wow, Los Angeles -- that must be great!  All the movie stars everywhere.  Who's the biggest star you've met?"

Every heterosexual guy who found out that I lived in Los Angeles inevitably asked me about "hot girls."  Nathan was gay!

"Met, or saw naked?" I asked with a leer. "I could tell you some things about Tom Cruise..."

Soon we were eating hamburgers in the Student Center, while Nathan told me about growing up in an all-Catholic neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, not knowing anyone who was black, Protestant, or gay.  He came out during his freshman year, but he only knew three gay guys on campus, two students and a professor, and he had never had a boyfriend.

"There's lots of sex at Notre Dame," Nathan said.  "I could get a dozen guys a night, if I wanted.  But just once, I'd like one of them to say hello to me the next day."  He reached under the table and took my hand.  "Is that the way it is in Los Angeles, too?  Lots of secret stuff with straight guys who are thinking about girls the whole time?"

"Oh, no.  Everybody in West Hollywood is gay, so we don't need to trick with straight guys.  We date.  We fall in love. We have permanent partners."

He quickly moved his hand for a brief grope.  "So, wanna make out?"

"Make out?  Um...where?  I have a roommate."

"Me, too.  Let's take a walk."

He led me across the dark, quiet campus to a footpath that led around St. Joseph Lake.  It was heavily wooded, but I could still see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart across the lake; St. Mary, who topped the Golden Dome, had her back turned to us.

Nathan pointed out the Moreau Seminary, a priests' residence.
And the Sacred Heart Parish Center.
And the Our Lady of Fatima shrine.
And the Solitude of St. Joseph, a retreat house for monks.

"This must be the most Catholic place on Earth!" I exclaimed.  "Except maybe the Vatican."

"Yeah.  And the woods are busy all the time.  Not a lot of college kids, but priests, monks, professors.  I swear I had a Cardinal one night."  He grinned in the darkness.  "Creepy old guy, but Italian, you know.  Gigantic."

We started kissing and groping.  Once we had to move aside as a fratboy and his girlfriend passed, giggling with erotic anticipation, but otherwise we were alone.  Soon my pants were down.

It felt weird, being semi-naked in the summer night.  It reminded me of when I was a kid, and Uncle Paul showed us how to pee against the side of the barn.

Nathan and I stayed in contact.  The moment he graduated from Notre Dame in 1989, he fled to the gay haven of San Francisco, where he went to work at the Macy's in Union Square.  It wasn't exactly the career his parents intended for him, but at least he was home.

See also: The House Full of Men

The 12 Hottest Border and Castle Guards

I love men in uniform, especially the uniformed guards at country borders, and at monuments, castles, and public buildings.  They're always so serious, certain that they have the most important job in the world, guarding their country's treasures against villainous foreigners, and their phallic symbols...um, I mean guns...are always at the ready.

Over the years, I've accumulated many photos of border and castle guards. Here are some of the most interesting.

1. Russian guards frolicking in a fountain.
2. Young border guard from Romania.  You rarely see anything of their physiques, but he offers some hints.
3. Him, too: a castle guard in Finland who knows his way around the gym.


4. A Swiss Guard at Vatican City. I'm pretty sure he's gay.
5. Beefy Danish castle guard, his gun sticking straight up.



More after the break

May 20, 2015

The Gay-Positive Episode of "Here's Lucy"

The last of the trilogy of Lucille Ball tv series, Here's Lucy (1968-74) made Lucy Carter a widow with two high school-aged kids, Kim and Craig (played by her real life children,18-year old  Lucie Arnaz and 15-year old Desi Arnaz Jr.).  Gale Gordon reprised his blustering Mr. Mooney role, but as Harry Carter, Lucy's brother-in-law and her employer at Carter's Unique Employment Agency.

Plotlines involved the unique characters seeking employment, generation gap antics between Lucy and her kids, plus the usual stream of celebrity guest stars: Jack Benny, Eva Gabor, Liberace, Lawrence Welk, Richard Burton, even Lucille Ball herself (when "Lucy Carter" meets the famous actress).

Note: not a lot of teen stars.

It was definitely Lucy's vehicle; she got the best lines and all of the slapstick comedy.   Craig was cute, nicely tanned, with a penchant for wearing shirts open to his navel, but he had only a few lines per episode, and in the first three seasons he had maybe three centrics (episodes devoted to him).  He sang a few times, but usually when sharing a stage with his mother.  After three seasons, he was written out of the series.

They weren't even trying to draw in a youth audience.  Craig is a fan of Frank Sinatra, not the Beatles.  In one episode, Lucy roils when Kim begins dating a boy who graduated from Berkeley -- with all the sit-ins and protests and...

As a result, Here's Lucy seems less hip, less energetic, and with fewer gay subtexts than the earlier Lucy Show.  






No beefcake to speak of.  No bonding.  No symbolism.

But there was a LGBT-positive episode on November 6,  1972.

Phyllis Diller is scheduled to perform at a benefit, but she can't make it, so Kim finds a replacement, female impersonator Jim Bailey.  Lucy  is shocked at the very idea of a man impersonating a woman, but Kim and Craig are perfectly nonchalant.

I was shocked, too; at the age of 11, I had never heard of such a thing before.

In real life, Miss Ball was gay-positive.  Jim Bailey was a friend of hers.

May 19, 2015

Summer 1988: Hooking Up with My "Uncle"

A Sunday in June:
Visiting Rock Island, I went to church at the MCC, and a swishy, flamboyant older guy named Gene approached me during the coffee hour.

"Your last name is...what?"  he asked, offering a multi-ringed hand to be shaken. "Oh, Mary!  I tricked with your Dad."

"My Dad? I don't think so,..he's pretty straight."

"Your uncle, then. Steve Davis. Girl, she was such a hottie, back in the day!"

I shook my head.  "I'm not related to anybody in Rock Island.   My family is from Indiana."

"Distant cousin, then!  When that Cute Young Thing came into the Hawaiian Lounge, all the queens just swooned.  She was picky, though, wouldn't go home with just anybody.  You had to have class."

Could he mean Mr. Davis, my grade school math teacher?  Everybody assumed that he was my uncle back then.  He wasn't -- but I had a major crush on him!  Black hair, sharp features, big, expressive hands.  He wore a thin white shirt with no t-shirt, so in the right light you could see the contours of his body as he moved.  And tight pants -- the first time I ever fantasized about a guy's basket was in his class.

"But that was, like, twenty years ago. He'd be...."

"In his 40s?  A big burly muscle daddy?"

My interest piqued, I asked "Is he still in town?"

"Oh, no, Mary.  I heard she fell in love with one of those big burly rough trade types and now manages a glory-hole truck stop in Ottumwa."

Monday:
In the 1980s, you looked people up in telephone books, one for each town.  I went to the public library and looked for a Steve Davis in Ottumwa, Oscaloosa, Osceola, and Indianola.  Nothing.

I invited Gene to lunch the next day.

Tuesday:
"All this trouble just to trick with your Uncle, sweetheart?  And he might not even be hot anymore!"

"Well, yeah," I admitted, embarrassed.  "He was my first crush, he's gay -- how could I pass up the opportunity to at least meet him?  And maybe see if his basket lives up to my fantasies."

"Well, Mary, you're in luck.  I've been asking around, and one of the girls has it on good authority that Miss Thing is now running a stud farm in Keokuk. Rhymes with...you know."

Back to the library.  Keokuk, Iowa, about two hours south of Rock Island, had a Steve Davis listed!

I called.  The number was disconnected.

Wait -- Dick, my former bully and current friend, had Mr. Davis in class, too.  Maybe their paths crossed.

I called him and got invited to dinner.


"Sure, I know Steve -- we dated for awhile, back when I first came out. He lives down in Normal now."  Two hours from Rock Island, the site of Illinois State University.

"Why didn't you mention that you dated our grade school math teacher?"

He shrugged.  "I thought he was your uncle.  Who wants to hear that his friend had sex with his uncle?"

Wednesday:
I called the number Dick gave me, and Mr. Davis -- Steve --answered!  He remembered me -- it's hard to forget a kid who everyone thinks is your nephew -- and even suspected that I was gay. He invited me to visit on Saturday.

The day before I was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles.

Saturday:
Aching with anticipation, I borrowed my sister's car and drove out to Normal, to a small white-paned house a few blocks from the campus.

A Cute Young Thing answered the door: probably an Illinois State student, mid-20s, slender, with thick black hair and a short beard.  He was wearing a yellow shirt, unbuttoned to reveal a slim, hairy chest, and very tight short pants.



"I'm Maier, Steve's lover," he said with a smile. "He's asleep, but I'l try to wake him up.  He's really looking forward to seeing you again.  Not a lot of his former students turn out to be gay."

Asleep, at 1:00 in the afternoon?  When you're expecting company?

He led me through the living room, down a hallway, to a closed door.  He knocked, and a weak voice called "Come in."

A rather buffed, 40-something guy was lying in bed in his undershirt, propped up on pillows.  A couple of books beside him -- I remember A Brief History of Time.  A box of kleenix and an assortment of vials and bottles on the nightstand.

I stared -- the situation seemed unreal.  He had a beard now, and some crags and lines, but it was definitely Mr. Davis, who I used to gaze longingly at in sixth grade math class!  Memories came rushing back.  The smell of big math binders, the feel of chalk squishing against blackboards,  That white shirt with his body visible underneath.  The basket....

"Hi, 'nephew.' Nice to see you again," Steve said with a weak smile.  A little raspy, but the same voice I remember talking about multiplying and dividing fractions.  "Sorry I look so awful.  Fever of 102. Some kind of summer bug."

"No, you look great.  Same as you did back in sixth grade."

"You don't -- you've grown into quite a hunk."

Maier and I sat on chairs a few feet from the bed.  I told my best West Hollywood stories, about my date with Richard Dreyfuss, my stalled porn career, and Alan helping me thwart a celebrity at Mugi.

Steve didn't say a lot, but Maier told me about him leaving Denkmann to take care of his ailing mother, moving briefly to Chicago, and then getting a job teaching middle school in Normal.

"I wish you could visit again in a few days, when I'm feeling better," Steve said, reaching for a kleenix.  "We were hoping that you would be up for sharing."

"Too bad I'm flying back to L.A. tomorrow."  I looked at him hopefully.  "Um...this is a little embarrassing, but...I was wondering...could I...get a grope?

"Sure, if I can grope you, too -- I'm sick, I'm not dead."  He pulled back the covers -- he was naked underneath.  Rather small, but that didn't matter -- I approached him and fulfilled a 20-year old fantasy.

I promised to visit when I came back to Rock Island again, but at Christmastime it was too snowy for a two-hour drive, and the next summer I was too busy, and so on, and so on.  It never happened.

But that moment of intimacy at Mr. Davis's sickbed was worth a dozen nights of passion.

See also: Hooking up with the most conservative professor on campus and 15 teachers I may have hooked up with.

May 18, 2015

Duke Kahanamoku: A Life Devoted to Surfing and Men

Born in 1890, Duke Kahanamoku was "the fastest swimmer alive," who popularized the sport of surfing, and to a great extent popularized Hawaii.  He won gold medals for swimming at the Olympics in 1912 and 1920, and a silver in 1924 (Johnny Weissmuller won the gold).









In 1925, he won even more international fame when he rescued eight drowning men from a sinking ship off Newport Beach, California, using only his surfboard.

He divided his time between Honolulu and Hollywood, where he appeared in 14 movies, playing a lifeguard, an Indian chief, an Arab, a pirate, and a "devil-ape," most notably as a Pacific Island chief in Mister Roberts (1955).  Later in life he appeared in the surfing documentaries Free and Easy (1967) and Surfari (1967).  He died in 1968.







He married Nadine Alexander rather late in life, at age 50. Although they apparently enjoyed ballroom dancing together, he spent most of his time with men, and surrounded himself with both Hollywood hunks and Speedo-clad beach boys.

He knew all of the athletes and beefcake stars of the day, including Buster Crabbe (top center), Wallace Beery, and Tyrone Power.  He was a particularly close friend of fellow Olympian and 1930s Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller (left, the one with the bulge).







The punk group The Queers has a song about him:

It ain't the waves you catch
It ain't the drugs you do
You'll never be as cool as Duke Kahanamoku





More conventionally, he has been honored with a statue in Waikiki (where the Oahu Gay Surfing Club meets) and a postage stamp.

See also: Jack London and the Gay Surfers.


May 17, 2015

Yuri and the Unhung Hippie

Yuri came as my guest to a Sociology Department reception in the spring of 1999, and immediately saw Marcel parked by the buffet table, taking two, three, four helpings of quiche and tabouli with pita slices.

"The big guy there looks hot!" he exclaimed.

"Oh, you don't want to hook up with Marcel, trust me."

"Why not?  He has the four things."

Yuri liked them big, the bigger the better.  Hookups had to be at least a Bratwurst; he wouldn't accept a second date with anyone under Kielbasa; and the man of his dreams had the endowment of a Tom of Finland drawing.

Unfortunately, you can't tell from the basket -- it's often padded or invisible.  So, being a scientist, he developed a 4 Point Plan for Finding Super-Sized Guys,  If you met all four, you were in:
1. Height (tall)
2. Waist (small)
3. Hands (big)
4. Shoes (big).

Ok, Marcel had all four: he was very tall and lean, with big hands and big shoes.  But he also had a mountain-man beard, a blurry, dazed expression, and weird clothes: a flack jacket over a t-shirt with a bulls-eye painted on it, faded, frayed blue jeans, a flowered belt, and hiking boots. And you could smell the marijuana from five feet away.

"Marcel has been coming to department functions as long as anyone can remember," I told Yuri.  "No one seems to know who he is.  I heard a rumor that he was a grad student who had a nervous breakdown while writing his dissertation."

"I don't care about nervous!  I just care about if he's big!  Did you talk to him?  Is he gay?"

"I tried talking to him once.  Couldn't understand much of it.  He's sort of crazy.  I don't know if he's gay or not."

"Ok, let me try.  I'm good at getting guys."  It was true that Yuri's combination of an athletic physique and a handsome, almost angelic face got him a lot of attention.  He had been out for over a year, and hadn't been turned down once.  "Come, introduce us."

First Attempt:
We approached Marcel, who stared into space as if he was giving us Attitude in a cruise bar.

"Hi Marcel, you remember me -- Boomer.  And this is Yuri."

Yuri grinned and held out his hand.  "Nice to meet you."

"Hi!  Did you know that this is Malaysian Independence Day?" Marcel said.  "Hari Malaysia.  In 1963, Malaysia was formed out of the former British colonies, with prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, known as Bapa Kemerdekaan, or Father of Independence."

"That's cool.  Do you study Malaysia?"

"I'm planning to ride my bike to Sayville later.  All the twinks have left Fire Island -- I guess you can't be gay after Labor Day -- but it's still a nice ride, and St. Katherine's has a nice rummage sale.  You can come, but you have to beware of the bears."  He laughed at a secret joke.

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood

Tales of the City: Gay Guys, San Francisco, Who Cares?

Year after year, people tell me "The Tales of the City books are stupendous!  Amazing!  Wonderful!  The best thing every written!"

"And they're historically vital!  Gay author Armistead Maupin originally published them in serial form in the San Francisco Chronicle, back when gay characters were unheard-of in mainstream literature!"

"And you lived in San Francisco! They will resonate strongly with your experiences!"

"And they're hilarious!  You've never laughed so much in your life!  You'll love them!"



So, again and again, I pick up the first volume, Tales of the City (1978).  Midwesterner Mary Anne Singleton comes to San Francisco on vacation, converses with her old college friend Mona Ramsey, and decides to stay.

This is not the least bit humorous.  It's dull, dull, dull!

She moves into 28 Barbary Lane, where her free-spirit landlady, Anna Madrigal, tells her, "My dear, I'm not opposed to anything," and gives her a marijuana joint as a housewarming gift.  Mary Anne is determined not to be shocked.

My life in San Francisco was nothing like this!

She goes shopping, sees two guys, and wonders if they might be gay.  She's determined not to be shocked, if they are.

Maupin eases into the revelation of their gayness.   I guess he had to be very, very careful, writing for heterosexuals in the 1970s.

I can't go on.  I'm so very, very, very bored.

But sooner or later someone will start praising the books again, and I'll try again.

I already know what happens next: Mary Ann befriends a gay man named Mouse.  He starts dating A-gay gynecologist Jon Fielding, who is dying, Mona Ramsey dates D'Orothea Wilson, and Mary Anne has an affair with Beauchamp Day. Anna Madrigal turns out to be a MTF transwoman, who has an affair with Beauchamp's father-in-law, who is dying.

Got all that?

 Through eight books and thirty years, Mary Ann, Mouse, and their huge group of friends encounter angst and tragedy as life hits them with unemployment, failed romances, homophobia, transphobia, death -- lots of death -- and AIDS -- lots of AIDS.

Sounds terribly depressing.

The tv miniseries (1993, 1998, 2001) were a bit more palatable, maybe because they were not so episodic, and they got into the gay characters right away, instead of hinting around for weeks and weeks.





Besides, there were naked guys. (Pictured: Thomas Gibson as Beauchamp Day.)

I can't think of any other reason to care about Tales of the City