Jul 18, 2015

Mad Max: Beyond Homophobia

I've been watching the Mad Max movies.  Well, sort of watching them -- they're 90% Wacky Races, colorful post-Apocalyptic figures in weird cars chasing each other through the Australian desert.

With an obvious good vs. evil plotline, and guess what?  The good guys are all patiently described as straight, and the bad guys as over-the-top gay.

Mad Max (1979), set in an Australia that just started to break down, pits good, noble, uber-heterosexual Family Man Max, who has a wife and daughter, against an outlaw gang of mohawk-haired gay guys who hug and kiss all over each other.

Oddly enough, Max wears a leather-fetish outfit that looks like it belongs on Folsom Street.





Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), is set about 10 years after the Apocalypse, with the kind, gentle, white-clad, and uber-heterosexual residents of Gasoline Town hounded by a gang of post-Apocalyptic gays.  Their leaders look like refugees from Folsom Street.

There's also an explicit gay couple, the psycho Wezand and his boyfriend//slave, the Golden Youth, who gets killed.

The heterosexuals escape and flee north to a heterosexual future.



Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985), the only one of the franchise I saw at the time of its release, stars gay-fave Tina Turner as Aunty Entity, leader of an evil Bartertown full of grotesque gay men.

By now AIDS is in the news, so the gay men are all diseased, like this leather-clad, tattooed Angry Anderson with his drag-queen totem.










But Max shuts it down, with the help of a group of kids and hunky teenagers  living in a heterosexual Blue Lagoon Paradise.  They fly off to the fabled Tomorrow-morrowland and a heterosexual future.  In the last scene, they've all reproduced.

How many different ways are there to demonize gay people?

Looks like three.


Jul 16, 2015

August Strindberg: Nude Statues and Dream Visions

Growing up in Rock Island, where most people were of Scandinavian ancestry, I heard constantly about Vikings, runestonesPeer Gynt, Knut Hamsun, Hans Christian Anderson, lukefisk, The Elder Edda, and especially August Strindberg (1849-1912), the Swedish playwright who explored subconscious drives and secret desires.

You'd expect a lot of same-sex interest among those secret desires, but mostly there are heterosexual longings and battles of the sexes.
The Father (1887): a father-daughter relationship goes wrong.
The Dance of Death (1900): a heterosexual marriage gone wrong.
The Ghost Sonata (1907): A young student discovers that the girl he likes is not what she seems.


His most famous play, Miss Julie (1888), is a standard rich-poor romance with a psychosexual twist, as the wealthy Julie and the footman Jean vie for power.  It has been filmed a number of times, and there are various stage productions, including a black/white version, Mies Julie, and a gay version set in 1905 South Carolina, Miss Julie(n).






A Dream Play (1901) strays from the formula. It's about the surrealistic journey of Agnes, daughter of the Hindu god Indra, who comes to Earth to see what men are like.  She runs into lots of them, of various sizes and shapes, with various ambitions, desires, traumas, and cruelties. Most fall in love with her, but some might be gay.

By the way, Strindberg is the only writer I know of who is immortalized in two different nude statues, both in Stockholm.  The massive, muscular "Titan" by Carl Eldh in Tengerlunden Park.

And this more realistic version, in a group with two other equally nude writers, Gustaf Frödingshöjd and Ernst Josephson, in Stadhusparken (City Hall Park).

There are also about a dozen non-nude statues of Strindberg scattered around town.





July 2015: A Museum Guard in My Bed

Instead of going to Europe every year, we now drive from the Mountains to the East Coast.  Two weeks, 15 friends and relatives, 9 hotels, 8 museums, 5 guest passes at the YMCA, 4  horrible hotel gyms, 2 state parks, 2 bath houses, 1 baseball game.

And a hookup with a museum guard.

After pizza and Chinese food delivery guys, my biggest fantasy hookup is probably museum guards.  Maybe because they follow you around with an eagle-eye, suspicious stare that  looks a lot like cruising.

The rest of the story is on Tales of West Hollywood.






Who Says Childhood is the Best Time of Our Lives?

After reading about the 38 gay events  from my childhood  -- marrying the boy next door, seeing my cousin Joe naked,  getting kissed by a boy vampire, slow dancing in the school gym, my boyfriend Bill -- you might get the impression that I grew up in a homoerotic Eden, with muscular guys torn out of their shirts around every corner, all waiting for me to hug, kiss, or fondle them.

But those events are memorable because they were rare.  There were countless days of boredom, fear, and misery.  Life was rough, and there was no hint that it would ever get better.

1. Gender policing was constant.  Boys could reveal that they were really "girls," and therefore reprehensible, by carrying their books wrong, by wearing the wrong socks, by using the wrong words (greetings consisted of "H'lo," not "Hi," and we used last names, not first names.)

2. Thus opening themselves up for a barrage of physical assaults from Mean Boys and miscellaneous bullies.  And the adults never intervened.  "You will be fighting every day for the rest of your life," they said.  "You must learn to defend yourself."

3. Even more oppressive was the utter lack of civility in children's culture.  You found a small group of friends and clung together to ward off the constant jibes and insults from members of other groups.

4. No one knew, or let on, that same-sex desire, behavior, or romance could exist.  Same-sex friendships were portrayed as trivial, inconsequential, always abandoned instantly and without hesitation for the pursuit of the feminine.

5. That pursuit of the feminine was expected to be, or to soon become, our sole reason for living. So the interrogation of "What girl do you like?"  What girl do you like?" never ended.

It got better.  By high school, the gender policing was minimal -- it was ok to play in the orchestra, or say "delicious," or wear white socks.  The physical assaults ended.  Members of different cliques began to treat each other civilly.

But still, same-sex desire, behavior, or romance was never mentioned, presumed not to exist, and the "What girl do you like" interrogation intensified day by day, year by year.

That's why I hated it when a nostalgia-minded adult exclaimed "This is the best time of your life!  All joy and freedom, no problems, no responsibilities!"  I still do.

Where did that idiotic idea come from, anyway?

I blame Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), who disputed then then-current view of children as born evil, infested with original sin.  He proclaimed that they were "noble savages," untrained but endowed with the best of human nature.

By the time of the Romantic Era (1815), William Wordsworth was proclaiming that we come down from heaven "trailing clouds of glory."  Only later do "shades of the prison-house" close upon us.

During the late 19th century, more and more children were attending school instead of going to work, and gradually adults and children began to inhabit different spheres. They had different daily activities, games, toys, books, music; children were shielded from knowledge of sex and death, shielded, indeed, from any knowledge of adults except for relatives and childcare professionals.  And the adults began to look back at that separate child sphere with nostalgic longing.

Lewis Carroll was only 28 years old when he wrote:
I'd give all the wealth that years have piled, the slow result of life's decay,
To be once more a little child for one bright summer day.

But the worst offender is "The Barefoot Boy," by John Greenleaf Whitter (1851), which millions of schoolkids were forced to memorize by adults trying to impress upon them that their lives were perfect.

You've probably heard of it, or some of its many parodies, such as Max Shulman's humorous novel, Barefoot Boy with Cheek

But have you actually read it?  It's awful, even worse than James Whitcomb Rileys stuff.  It's about a "barefoot boy with cheek of tan" who wanders around the countryside, investigating woodchucks, moles, tortoises, orioles, and wasps, which is something a thousand times better than anything adults do.  The moral: we are born with an intimate connection to the natural world, but when we grow up, life stinks.





Ok, I never did any of those things when I was a kid, and the only cheeks of tan I was interested in were in a different part of the anatomy.



Jul 15, 2015

"Open Up the Closet Door": The Theme Song of 300 Nights in a Leather Bar

In West Hollywood, gay bars always had a theme song that you would hear over and over, at least once an hour, every time you visited.

From 1985 to 1993, I went to Mugi, the Asian bar in Hollywood, almost every Saturday night, sometimes Wednesday or Friday, too.  That means that I heard "One Night in Bangkok" at least 300 times.

From 1990 to 1995, I went to the Faultline, the leather bar on Melrose, near Los Angeles City College.  There were some Asian guys there, too, of course.

I was there almost every Sunday afternoon, sometimes Friday or Saturday, too.  So I heard their theme song over 300 times.




I never heard it anywhere else. I didn't know the title or the group, and I didn't bother asking.

It seemed to be a Gay Pride anthem:

Open up the closet door, watch out, here I come.

Although some of the lyrics seemed to involve a bar pickup:

You, I don't even know your name, baby.
You, something something, baby.

With a chorus:
Round, round, round, round, something something baby, round round round round.

Years later, I heard the song again, at the gym of all places, and it brought me back to those many nights and Sunday afternoons surrounded by shirtless and leather-clad men.  When I got home, I did an internet search.


It's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)", by the British band Dead or Alive, released in December 1984, peaked at #4 on the dance charts in January 1985.

Boy, did I get the lyrics wrong!  The "gay pride anthem":

Open up your lovin' arms, watch out here I come.

The bar pickup:

If I, I get to know your name, baby
Then I could trace your private number, baby


No specific gay content, although the lead singer of the bad was the fabulously feminine Peter Burns (bottom left), an androgyne in the mold of Boy George, who married a woman and then a man, but divorced him and declared in homophobic contempt that "gay marriage doesn't work.  It's better to marry a woman."

Other members were Mike Percy, Steve Coy, and Tim Lever.










I'm still trying to figure out why an androgynous dance number was the theme song in a leather bar with no androgyny and no dancing.

See also: One Night in Bangkok


A Guy with Daddy Issues Tears My Clothes Off

Ever since I wimped out on Raphael, the Gay Psychic Angel, who was perfect in every way except that his arms didn't work, I have felt guilty.  I should have called -- I would have called -- except I kept imagining becoming his boyfriend, and being responsible for helping him eat and dress and use the bathroom -- how shallow!

So I decided that if I ever had such an opportunity again, I would go for it without hesitation.

The opportunity came in, of all places, at the Dork Den, a comic book store on the Plains.

I always feel out of place amid the fanboys and fantasy gamers, self-conscious about my age more than anything, so I rush in, get what I need, and rush out again.  But on that Saturday afternoon in May 2015, there were two guys standing in front of the New Arrival rack.

One was a hefty, bearded bear in his 40s.  He was picking up titles and showing them to his friend, who was small, slim, in his 20s.

And had cerebral palsy.

The rest of the story is too risque for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding.  You can read it on Tales of West Hollywood.

Jul 13, 2015

The Sacrifice of Isaac

One of the most horrifying stories in the Bible is the Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22).

You probably remember it: God tells Abraham to kill his son.  So he takes Isaac out into the woods, ties him up, raises the knife -- then, at the last moment, an angel appears and says something like "Hah, hah, fooled you -- God was just kidding!  Here's a lamb for you to kill instead!"

When I was a Nazarene, no Sunday school teacher or preacher ever tried to explain the historical/cultural context of the story, how human sacrifice was commonplace, and some gods, such as Dagon, actually did demand children.

They didn't try to distinguish Abraham's act from the many crazy things people did today because "God told me to."  Or wonder about what kind of God would play such a dirty trick.

Instead, they just praised Abraham for his unquestioning obedience, and drew a parallel with Jesus: .  God wants to kill every one of us, but Jesus offered to take our place, so God killed him instead.

That didn't make me feel more comfortable.

I found it a example of the savagery beneath the heterosexist imperative: everyone said that fathers were wise, loving, and benevolent, but at any moment they could turn violent.  And then say God told them to.

That didn't make me feel more comfortable, either.



According to the Biblical account, Isaac was sixteen years old at the time, already an adult in the eyes of his community.  But the Sunday school teachers and preachers always envisioned him as a very little boy, too young to understand what was going on.

I preferred the illustration in my Children's Story Bible (top photo): a very muscular, grown-up Isaac with a handsome teen-idol face, naked except for a little white cloth, tied up with his arms behind his back, like Bomba the Jungle Boy.









Other artists have generally depicted a grown-up Isaac: an ideal opportunity to paint muscular male bodies.  Gregorio Lazzarini shows Isaac fully nude, and transforms Abraham into a muscle daddy.



Jacopo Ligozzi's version (left) even has a penis showing.

See also: Bible Beefcake.








How To Date Younger Guys (When You're Over 40)

Ever since I turned 40, some fourteen years ago, I have a simple strategy for getting dates or hookups with twinks (guys under age 30):

1. Go to wherever they are.
2. Wait 30 seconds for one to approach and say "Take me home, please!"
3. If he's not attractive enough, politely refuse, and wait 30 seconds for the next.

But I've gotten lots of comments from other guys in the 40+ range:
"I can't get a date!  Nobody will give a guy over 40 a chance!"
"It's awful!  Nobody wants me!"
"Guys over 40 are shunned!"

After extensive thought about why their experiences are so different from my own, I think I've figured out the problem.  Here are 10 easy steps to hooking up with or dating twinks (first step: never call them that):



1. Ask yourself, "Why a young guy?"

What do younger guys have to offer that guys your age do not?  

Handsome faces, muscular chests, substantial beneath-the-belt gifts?  Some younger guys have these qualities, some don't.  And drop by any gym at 10:00 am to find retirement-aged gym rats with 18" biceps.

A high energy level?  Sexual inexperience?  A sense of wonder and excitement at the world?  Again, some younger guys have these qualities, some do not, and some older guys do.

The answer is: you don't want a twink, necessarily.  You're looking for certain qualities in a guy, regardless of age.

If you go out looking specifically for someone under 30, you're bound to fail.

2. Ask yourself, "Why me?"

What do you have to offer a 25-year old that guys his own age do not?  A hairy chest, sexual expertise, wisdom, maturity, an intimate knowledge of gay history and culture?  Play on your strengths.

Don't discount having money -- you don't need to be a sugar daddy, but theater tickets followed by dinner at the Gilded Truffle will open many bedrooms.

Just having a place to go can be enticing to guys living in dorm rooms or with their parents.

3. Get thee to a gym.

Younger guys tend to stereotype the older generation based on the heterosexual model, where men play sports in college, then spend the rest of their lives sitting on the couch eating potato chips and drinking beer.  They think old and fat are identical.  Give them a glimpse of hard, lean muscle and watch them get all hot and flustered.

4. Act your age.

You want to have something to talk about, so keep up with the basics of contemporary youth culture (be careful -- it changes fast).  But don't try to adopt their clothing or slang.  He can talk about Taylor Swift and Beyonce with any of his friends; he wants you in spite of the fact that you had a crush on David Cassidy in 1971.  Or because of it.




5. Go to non-sexual venues.

Gay bars are where younger guys go to hang out with each other.  You will be an unwelcome interloper -- one of those lonely oldsters sitting on a barstool by himself staring wistfully at the Cute Young Things like Charlie Brown wishing the Little Red Haired Girl would talk to him.  

The only exceptions are bear and leather bars, where guys of all ages congregate.

You need a low-pressure, non-sexual environment to put you and the younger guy at ease.  Try gay social groups, political groups, Gay Pride Festivals, Gay Film Festivals, gay positive churches, Karaoke Night at the Gay Community Center, Open-Mike Night at a gay coffeehouse.

If there aren't any gay-specific venues near you, try college and community theater or ballet -- that 15-minute intermission is perfect for mingling. Or after the performance, congratulating the players.



Or the gym, There are always gay guys in search of a spotter.  

Or an individual sports competition, such as wrestling, martial arts, or track and field.

6. Go with friends.

Guys who are alone look -- well, lonely.  When you are with friends, you seem more vibrant, energetic, someone worth meeting.   

7. Do not cruise him.

"Cruising" is my generation's word for attempting to initiate a sexual liaison, by flirting, talking dirty, or just by making eye contact and then approaching.

Dont' do it -- you will be labeled a Creepy Old Guy.

Besides, when you initiate contact, you put yourself in a subordinate position: he has all of the power, to accept or reject you, to acknowledge your existence or give you Attitude.  You must retain control.  Wait for him -- he'll be there!

8. If in doubt, ask for an id.

Once I was asked out by a guy who I thought was in college.  When I got home, I looked him up online -- he was a sophomore in high school! Of course, no date happened!  If you don't know for sure that he's over 18, ask for an id. He won't mind -- he gets asked all the time. 



9. Prepare to be a top.

Many younger guys will approach you because they want someone to take charge, dominate them in the bedroom. A hint of bondage always turns them on.  Or at least being a top for backside activity.  You can tweak the roles and positions later, but for the first time, you'll have to break out the condoms, or there probably will be no second time.

10. Prepare for romance.

With the numerous apps available for quick hook-ups, younger guys may be acquiring all of the "one-hour stands" they want without your contribution.  They are looking for something else with older guys.  Maybe a power-control scene (see #9), maybe a permanent, monogamous relationship -- which nowadays often means marriage and children, even for gay men.

You may end up at the altar of a gay-friendly church nearby, with all of his relatives smiling at their new son-in-law.   

Omar Sharif and His Grandson

When I was a kid in the 1960s, our newspaper, The Rock Island Argus, had several interesting columns: Dear Abby, a criptoquip, and "Omar Sharif on Bridge."

Nazarenes weren't allowed to play cards, so I was only barely aware of what bridge was.  Still, it seemed exciting that a famous actor would stoop to writing about something so mundane as a card game.

Born in 1932 in Egypt, Sharif got his degree in physics before becoming an actor.  He starred in many Arabic movies before hitting Hollywood with a starring role in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.  A rarity in its day (and even now), the movie fails to heterosexualize the gay T.E. Lawrence, and even gives him a gay-subtext relationship with Arab leader Sherif Ali (Sharif).



Next came starring roles in the big-budget epics Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Genghis Khan (1965), plus dramas, Westerns, and musicals.  He played revolutionary leader Che Guevara (Che!) and the mysterious Captain Nemo (The Mysterious Island).

This nude scene is from the Western MacKenna's Gold (1969). He plays an effervescent but amoral Mexican outlaw named John Colorado, who doesn't display any interest in women.







He became best friends with French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo after they starred together in Le Casse (The Burglars, 1971), as a jewel thief and the corrupt cop who wants his share of the loot.

By the way, bridge was not only a hobby for Sharif, it was a second career.










I don't know if the 81-year old actor is gay-positive or not, but his grandson, Omar Sharif Jr. is gay.  Also an actor, he left Egypt in 2012 after the restriction of human rights, and came out in an article in The Advocate.

Jul 12, 2015

The Princess: Sometimes Boys are Girls

Sometimes boys are girls.

Eight-year old Sarah may have male physiology, but who cares?  She has been telling her family that she is a girl since she learned to talk.

Her father and aunt are ok with the dresses, the female pronouns, and the name "Sarah."  Her mother, not so much; she insists on boy-clothes and the name "Seth," hoping desperately that "it's just a phase."

Nope, not a phase.  Sarah is a girl, and every girl has a right to be a Princess.




While Mom is busy fretting over her child's future of bullying, transphobia, loneliness, and angst, Sarah is negotiating grade school admirably.

She has a coterie of friends:
1.  Irma, a cisgirl who likes superheroes, monster movies, and wearing boys' clothes (cis means that your physiology and gender identity match).
2.  Jordan, a teenage transboy who sometimes babysits (Mom doesn't realize that he's trans)
3. Chuck, a cisboy with a crush on Sarah.





Actually, it's the non-trans-related situtions that make the strip.  It's no big deal: Sarah is a girl.  Any questions?  Ok, then let's get on with the story.  In this case, Sarah and her friends playing restaurant.

This is one of the funniest child-oriented comic strips out there, on a par with Soup to Nutz and Frazz.  

And, with its G-rated humor, perfect for gender-atypical kids of any age (and gender-typical kids, too).

Christine Smith has been publishing the webcomic The Princess twice a week since 2009 (older strips are archived on The Duck).  There's a collection available through Prism Comics.

See also: Dykes to Watch Out For.

10 Good Stories for Gay Dating

Everyone should have a repertoire of 10 good stories, 5 to use when cruising or meeting new people in general, and 5 to use on a date.  Remember the rules:
1. They should be short.
2. They should present you in a positive light, but not resort to bragging.
3. Nothing harsh or extremely unpleasant (minor annoyances are ok).
4. No discussions of how different things were when you were a kid (especially if you're over 40).
5. No complaining.
6. No explicit sex.
7. No long, tedious coming-out stories.
8. No religion or politics (save controversy until you know them better).
9. If it's a date, no ex-boyfriends.  If you have to mention them, call them "friends."
10. And make them interesting!

Ok, here are some more stories.  Which would be appropriate for a first date?

(These are just outlines; the actual stories will be longer.)

A. When I was a kid, my boyfriend Bill's big brother took us to an Indian Pow-Wow.  After awhile, we got bored, and took a walk through the woods, and saw one of the teenage performers,   Naked!  He saw us and screamed, and we ran back to the Pow Wow, terrified!

B. When I was a kid, A&W had 4 kinds of hamburgers: Papa, Mama, Teen, and Baby.  We usually got the Teen burger.  But one day when Dad was taking us out as a special treat, my boyfriend Bill and I ordered Papa burgers.  My brother pointed out that we couldn't both be Papas, so we decided that I would be a Papa and Bill would be a Mama.  Dad insisted that we order Teen burgers!

Answer: B.
B requires some explanations, but the gender-polarization is interesting, and Dad doesn't come across as negative, just confused.  A. doesn't go anywhere: we see a naked guy, the end.

A. When I was in college, one of my professors held a handcuff party every semester for his advanced students.  Anybody who wanted could get handcuffed -- guys only!  I wanted to go, but it was only for students, so I enrolled in his advanced Paleontology class, and got invited to the party. I ended up handcuffing the professor!

B. When I was in college, I liked a cute nerd named Haldor.   I talked him into a contest to see who could get the most dates (with girls!).  I won, but as a "consolation prize," I invited Haldor along on our dates, and afterwards convinced him to come back to my room -- which was my plan all along!

Answer: A
The handcuff party is interesting, and easy to understand.  The dating contest requires too much explanation (why did you date girls?  were you bisexual?), and paints me in a negative light, since I basically manipulated Haldor into bed.


A. When I was living in Florida, I used to go to the Horseman's Club in Amsterdam, limited to guys with super-sized endowments.  A super-sized bodybuilder named Janik invited me to come live with him, but he was from a small town in Friesland where there was nothing to do but drink and watch sports, so I eventually I got bored and went home.

B. When I was living in Florida, my roommates bet me that I couldn't get a straight friend to figure it out without having an actual "coming out" conversation.  I tried hint after hint, but he continued to believe that I was heterosexual.  Even saying "That guy is totally hot!" didn't do it.  After I finally admitted defeat and "came out," he said "I had no idea!  You hide it so well!"

Answer: B.

A doesn't really have much plot: the guy was cute but we didn't get along.  And being admitted to the Horseman's Club sounds like bragging.  B. has an interesting plot and a good punchline.

A. When I was a kid, I visited my Cousin George in South Carolina.  We took baths together, and slept naked, because, he said "Only fools wear pajamas."  Many years later, I was driving through South Carolina, and decided to look him up.  His family wasn't in contact with him, but I finally tracked him down in Georgia -- he was gay, with a boyfriend -- who knew all about "only fools wear pajamas"!

B. When I was in Florida, a high school bodybuilder kept hitting on me.  I was 44 and he was 18, but my roommate Barney talked me into giving it a try. Things were ok, except for the huge cultural difference, such as Green Day.  So I called it off, and Barney immediately asked him out!

Answer: A.
B is mostly about the age difference, not terribly interesting, and it's about an ex-boyfriend. A is about Cousin George knowing that he was gay as a youngster, much more interesting.


A. When I was teaching in Texas, one of my students came running into the classroom late, wearing gym clothes, and started taking them off!  First his shirt, then his pants!  He then put on his street clothes.  I asked what he was doing, and he said "I didn't want to be late!"

B. College students don't realize that professors can see everything they are doing at their desks.  There's a lot of erotic daydreaming going on! Usually I just ignore it, but a guy named Raheem was grabbing himself so blatantly that I sent him an email warning him that what he thought was private really wasn't.  He thanked me and stopped  -- but he continued to tent through the semester, which was just as distracting!

Answer: B
This is a tough call, but in the end A is about inexplicable behavior, so not very interesting.   B is about something that happens to every guy, and it has a good punchline. Mentioning penises is usually a problem but in this case ok, since it's somebody else's penis, and no vulgar terms are used.

See also: 15 Rules of Gay Dating and 5 Things to Talk About While Cruising.

Fall 1996: My Date with the Vampire

When I was living in San Francisco, a newcomer showed up in church one Sunday: mid 30s, very tall and pale, with a long face, long hair, and a weird Satanic goatee.  He was wearing sunglasses, but otherwise dressed normally, not like a vampire.

He didn't join in the singing, but that wasn't unusual: many former Catholics and Lutherans didn't care for the rousing, evangelical-style hymns at MCC.

During the coffee hour after the service, he adopted the "stand and model" procedure of a cruise bar.  That wasn't unusual, either.  Lots of newcomers tried to cruise in church.

What was unusual was his approach: he walked up to me and said, without preliminaries, "I would like very much to f___ you."

My mouth dropped in shock.  "Um...but I don't even know you."

"My name is Kevin, and life is too short for trivial small talk.  I would like very much to f___ you."

I stared.

He took off his glasses.  His eyes were very dark blue, almost purple.  Creepy.  "You find me attractive, don't you?"

Not at all.  Tall, pale, long faced, with a potty mouth, definitely not my type --  but I found myself saying "Of course.  But shouldn't we have dinner first?"

He sighed.  "If you're intent on pursuing bourgeois courtship rituals, I suppose we can stop for a hamburger on the way."

No way was I going home with this guy!

But I found myself following him out the door.

Kevin took me way up to the Richmond District, 45 minutes from the Castro, to a place called Bazaar.  It served nouvelle cuisine Japanese-Italian synthesis sandwiches that left me hungry.

I admit that he was interesting to talk to.  We were both into the paranormal, and he had a wide repertoire of stories about ghosts, aliens, and the Illuminati, rumored to be controlling human history behind the scenes.

But he dismissed nearly everything else as "bourgeois" or "infantile," and when he kissed me, his mouth tasted of cigarettes and booze.  I nearly gagged.

After lunch we walked down to the Green Apple Bookstore on Clement, where Kevin bought Jung's Psychology and Anarchy and Ego and Archetype by Edward Edinger.  I had my eye on some gay comix, but I didn't want to look stupid, so I bought Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus trilogy.

Then he said, "Now that we've satisfied your infantile need for preliminary social activity, I believe we have an appointment to f____."

Kevin was unattractive, elitist, creepy, and vulgar.  No way was I going home with him!

But I did.

For the rest of the story, see Tales of West Hollywood

Razzle Dazzle:1970s Variety Shows

When I was a kid, I hated variety shows like Carol Burnett. even though the dancers wore tight pants.  So I tried my best to avoid the several thousand comedy-variety hours that populated the late 1970s.
But sometimes it was impossible.  They kept featuring movie superstars, or they were squeezed in between shows I wanted to watch, or my brother, a big fan of 1970s music, thought they were cool.

After a tv special in November 1976, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour appeared in January 1977.  It was a must-see because I wanted to know how the Brady kids had grown up. Barry Williams and Christopher Knight were dreamy, of course, but the big surprise was Mike Lookinland, still a kid when The Brady Bunch ended, but now, three years later, grown into a teenage hunk who was poured into his white leisure suit.

You could almost overlook the tacky costumes, weird numbers ("Do the Hustle") and crazy plot twists (Lane Majors and Farrah Fawcett asleep in the Brady living room?).

And the 1970s guest stars they kept trotting out to boost ratings: Vincent Price, H.R. Pufnstuf, The Hudson Brothers, Paul Williams.




But really it was about the blossoming of Michael Lookinland.

By the way Michael was the only Brady to do a lot of non-Brady projects during the 1970s, including The Mighty Isis with Tommy Norden of Flipper, a Disney movie with Mitch Vogel, and this commercial, apparently about putting him into the tighest pants they could find.

On Saturday mornings in 1974, after Shazam!, there was nothing on but The Pink Panther and the laughtrack-infused Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show, starring three middle-aged men with blatant bulges and disco shirts opened to reveal slim hairy chests.

The Hudson Brothers, Bill, Brett, and Mark, had some minor hits such as "So You Are a Star" and "The Truth About Us," but in the Leif Garrett era they weren't pretty or androgynous enough to draw a lot of teen idol attention, even though they made a whopping 16 episodes.



Brett, the youngest of the group (only 24 in 1977) has been the subject of some gay rumors.











The Keane Brothers had the opposite problem -- they were aged 11 and 12 when their show (called The Keane Brothers, naturally) appeared in the summer of 1977. The youngest kids ever to host a prime-time variety series, they were too young for most teenagers to consider adequately dreamy.

How did they get big names like Burt Reynolds, Betty White, and Andy Williams to guest star?

And whose idea was it to put them up against Donny & Marie on Friday nights?  No wonder they just lasted four episodes.





Teen magazines sort of skipped over them.  I don't know what this photo is about.  Maybe the photographer talked Tom into a shirtless shot, but he chickened out at the last minute.


And then there was Tony Orlando & Dawn, The Bay City Rollers Show, Sonny & Cher, The John Davidson Show, The Jacksons, Shields & Yarnell, Pink Lady and Boomer.

See also: The Brady Bunch Dad