Aug 21, 2015

Luke Perry: From Teen Idol to Hot Gay Nerd

Viewers of the prison drama Oz in the spring of 2001 were treated to the sight of disgraced evangelical preacher Jeremiah Cloutier (Luke Perry) having his towel stolen as he leaves the shower, forcing him to walk back to his cell naked and swinging.

Male frontal nudity was commonplace on Oz, but this was Dylan McKay!

His character was homophobic, but what do you expect from an evangelical preacher?



Luke Perry got some teen idol attention while he was playing troubled Dylan on Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000), but not a lot of beefcake shots, so even seeing his tight, hairy chest was a big deal.

The versatile actor has been in several other gay-subtext vehicles:

The Triangle (2001): Two buddies (Luke, Dan Cortese) and a third guy get trapped in the Bermuda Triangle.

 Jeremiah (2002-2005) about two buddies (Luke, Malcolm Jamal Warner) wandering around in a postapocalyptic world.






And he's played gay characters:

Family Guy (2000): When Peter "accuses" Luke Perry of being gay in Meg's school newspaper, he sues them for slander. But he turns out to be gay after all.

Will and Grace (2005): he plays a "hot gay nerd" who Jack dates.

He's a gay ally in real life.

Aug 20, 2015

Swordsmen and Sorcerers of the 1980s

For over a century, people have been rejecting naturalistic literature to write heroic fantasy.  In Britain, mostly  about unlikely heroes who travel through magic-laden Medieval landscapes to fight ultimate evil (e.g., The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings). In America, mostly about heavily-muscled barbarians who travel through magic-laden ancient worlds to settle personal vendettas (e.g., Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Conan the Barbarian).  

Neither type had much luck in the movies, maybe because of the need for special effects.  Or the difficulty in presenting an entire world without lengthy, boring exposition ("The kingdoms of Caldarand and Bobinur have been at war for centuries....)  Or the distinct preference for naturalism in movie-going audiences.

During the 1960s, I can think of only The Magic Sword (1962).

During the 1970s, Wizards (1977), and a terrible animated version of The Lord of the Rings (1978).


Then Arnold Schwarzenegger tore up the scenery as Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Conan the Destroyer (1984), and suddenly every bodybuilder who could read a script was being squeezed into a loincloth and given a magic sword to wield:
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Beastmaster (1982)
The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)
Ator (1982)
Krull (1983)
Hercules (1983)
Deathstalker (1983)
The Blade Master (1984)
Ladyhawk (1985)
Iron Warrior (1986)
Masters of the Universe (1987)
The Barbarians (1987)...well, you get the idea.

The plots were simple 1980s man-mountain plots, with an evil wizard instead of a drug lord, and a weirdly-named Medieval world instead of Southeast Asia.

And they had a similar appeal for gay kids and teenagers.


1. Endless quantities of beefcake. Muscle men, slim sidekicks, and little kids in loincloths or naked.  Unfortunately, also endless quantities of cheesecake, including lots of female breasts.  Bare. There's always a female warrior who fights semi-nude.

2. The buddy-bonding is strong and powerful, more emotionally compelling than the requisite romance with The Girl.  In Deathstalker, the Deathstalker (Richard Hill) is patently in love with Oghris (Richard Brooker).  In The Barbarians, Kutchek and Gore (Peter and David Paul) never fall in love with anyone (else).



  In Beastmaster, Dar (Marc Singer) forms an alternative family unit with Seth (John Amos) and young prince Tal (Josh Milrad).











3. There are usually kids around for the kids in the audience to identify with.  We see the barbarian hero's early childhood tragedies, to give them a personal motive for adult vendettas.

4. There is usually no fade-out kiss.  The Barbarian is a creature of the wilderness.  He saves civilization but does not reside there, so at the end of the movie, he usually moves on.

By 1995, the fad had run its course, along with the cinematic interest in man-mountains, as beefcake fashions returned to the trim and athletic.

See also: Man-Mountains of the 1980s




Aug 19, 2015

Beefcake and Bonding in The Seven Ages of Man

September 12, 1967, a Tuesday night.  I am six years old, almost seven, just beginning first grade at Hansche Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin.

At 7:30, I want to watch The Invaders, but my parents say no, it will be too scary.  They turn on Red Skelton instead.

The boring, bumbling comedian does a pantomime of Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man, narrated by Maurice Evans, who plays Samantha's father on Bewitched.

 He starts with a "mewing" baby, which I find hilarious -- only cats mew.

Next is the whining schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face, creeping unwillingly to school.

That's cool. I'm a schoolboy!  There are lots of cute boys with shining morning faces in my class.



Hey, this thing is telling me my future!  What's next in my life?

The lover, sighing like a furnace, with a woeful ballad, made to his mistress' eyebrow.

 I don't know what many of those words mean, but Red Skelton acts out a boy who is in love.

There's nobody else around, so I can't tell who he's in love with.  Probably a boy.








Next comes the soldier, full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth.

I don't understand anything except jealous, but Red Skelton plays somebody picking a fight.  Maybe they're mad because the same boy likes them both.












Then comes the justice, in fair round belly with good capon lined, with eyes severe and beard of formal cut, full of wise saws and modern instances.

Next I'm going to get fat, and have a beard, and cut things with saws.  That's cool -- fat boys are cute!  Everybody at Hansche School wants to hang out with them.









Next is the lean and slippered pantaloon, with spectacles on his nose and pouch on side, his youthful hose well saved, a world too wide for his shrunken shank, his big, manly voice turning again toward childish treble, pipes and whistles in his sound.

That's a lot of big words.  All I understand is,  I'll have a big, manly voice, wear glasses, and like to whistle.













The last stage is second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.  

So when you're very old, you turn into a kid again, and start hanging around with other kids.

Sounds like a fun life.  I can't wait.

See also: Shakespeare: The Original Gay Poet.




Aug 18, 2015

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010) contains a rather blatant gay subtext that is not present in the original novel by Jeff Kinney.

Seventh grader Greg Heffley (12-year old Zachary Gordon) often manipulates his  "dorky" friend Rowley (Robert Capron). When Greg lets him take the blame for a mishap involving kindergarteners and the Safety Patrol, Rowley breaks up with him and starts seeing cool kid Collin (Alex Ferris).  Greg tries to move on by dating Fregley (Grayson Russell), but that only makes him realize how much he cares for Rowley.




He apologizes for the Safety Patrol misdeed, but Rowley is still angry.  Besides, as Collin's arm-candy, he is now moving in the elite circles of the popular kids.  When Greg approaches him at the big dance and asks him out for ice cream, Collin coolly leads him off, stating that "we already have plans."

Later, on the schoolyard, the two fight, and then reconcile.  They are named "cutest friends."  How overt is that?

In the sequel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011), Greg is back to manipulating Rowley -- in some rather nasty ways -- while the lying-breakup-reconciliation plot is reprised with his older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick).  It's interesting to see a teenage character displaying no heterosexual interest, but the buddy-bonding is problematic as Greg increasingly acts like a jerk.










I haven't seen the final installment in the trilogy, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012), but reviewers have panned it for Greg's general nastiness, and for its homophobia.

Greg and Rowley may still be friends, but in order to assure viewers that they are not. . .um, that way. . .they cringe at physical contact, refuse to sleep in the same bed, and try their hardest to avoid seeing each other nude or in their underwear.









Maybe it's the director's fault: the first installment was directed by Thor Freudenthal, and the last two by David Bowers.

Zachary Gordon hasn't made any public pro- or anti-gay statements, but Devon Bostick tweeted in support of gay marriage.

10 More Body Parts That You Didn't Know Were Attractive

I've been going through the body parts which aren't as big, dramatic, and obvious as the biceps, pecs, and beneath-the-belt gifts, but still can be emblematic of masculine beauty.  With #1-10, I barely got through the trapezius, triceps, forearm, serratus anterior, and the navel.  Now let's move on to the rest of the body.

11. The Glory Trail

Everybody likes pecs and abs, but what about the area at the base of the abs, just below the navel, where, on about 2/3rds of men, there's a trail of hair leading directly down to their pubes.  It's called a Glory Trail or the Treasure Trail.

The moment he takes his shirts off, you get a visual reminder of what's waiting for you below.




12. The Obliques

When you hear someone saying "What great shape that guy is in!", they probably aren't referring to his pecs, delts, and biceps.  They are noticing the obliques, which run along the ilium (hip bone) along the waist and make that cute indentation.






13. The Tanline

I never tan -- I just freckle or burn.  You have to have the right skin tone and spend the right amount of time roasting in the sun.  It's tricky.  But the result, if you can pull it off, is a flat, straight line that separates the pale from the bronze,














14. The Back

It's easy to ignore the back --  the guy is turned away from you, and all of the more spectacular parts are hidden.  But watch the interplay of the complex system of muscles and bones, from the deltoids (shoulders) to the lats (latissimus dorsi, the big muscles on either side of the spine) to the teres and obliques.  A v-shaped torso begins here.

Maybe when the guy has his back turned, he's not ignoring you -- he's displaying his most sensitive, vulnerable side, inviting a caress.




15.  The Glutes

I've never been much for the backside, but the nice thing about the glutes is, the guy can't see you checking them out, so gawk all you want.

The glutes aren't there just for show -- they're essential for the runner.  So don't ignore the lunges and leg-lifts at the gym.









16. The Quads

When I download pictures of naked guys, I always crop them at base of the torso.  Who wants to see the legs?

But take a look at these quads. They're called quads because there are actually four different muscle groups at the top of the leg.  That's why they require different exercises.  The result is that quad "bulge" from the long, straight rectus femoris.








17. The Knees

You're asleep, with your back turned to your boyfriend.  Suddenly you feel something prodding.  Something hard and thick.  Is it his....?  No,, it's his knee.






18. The Calves

The calf consists of two muscles, the gastrocnemius (which gives it the round shape) and the soleus (which connects it to the leg).  It's a mistake to think they develop "automatically" through walking and running.

They might, if you run 10 miles a day.  Otherwise, to get that hard, thick bulge, you need to do calf raises, too.






19. The Ankles

The three joints connecting the leg and the foot are easy to ignore.  But an accidental glimpse of ankle on an otherwise fully-clothed guy can be used to reconstruct the whole body.
















20. The Foot

The foot is the subject of a whole fetish fandom.  But even if you're not "into" feet, take a look sometime.  There is nothing more gender polarized on the human body: it has an unmistakably masculine look.

And you know what they say about big feet -- it's not just a myth.  There's a statistically significant correlation between your foot size and your penis size.  So maybe we should be cruising shoes rather than crotches.

See also: 10 Body Parts That You Didn't Know Were Attractive.

Spirou and Fantasio: The Bellhop and his Boyfriend

The young hunk and his blond, balding but still youthful boyfriend recline cozily on the couch, watching tv, their legs pressed together.  The young hunk places his foot atop his boyfriend's in a gesture of intimacy.










Suddenly the telephone rings.  "It's a woman," the young hunk announces.  "One who has the chutzpah to call us at this hour and say It's me."

His shirt is open, revealing a smooth, buffed chest.  His boyfriend is wearing a lavender t-shirt and a sky-blue jacket, a style that an older gay man might wear.





As his boyfriend takes the call, the young hunk cuddles their pet squirrel, adopting a nurturing, feminine pose. He's wearing extremely  tight pants.  The boyfriend glances over at him, apparently thinking "I'm lucky to have landed such a hot guy."












It's their coworker, Seccotine, asking for a ride to the airport.  "Sorry, tomorrow I'm going to a conference in Bali," the boyfriend says.  Ignoring the young hunk's frantic gestures, he continues: "...But don't worry, my partner will be glad to give you a ride."

A gay comic?  A parody?  A slash fantasy?  No, this is an actual excerpt from Spirou et Fantasio, a Belgian comic strip for children (and college students learning French).


The young hunk Spirou began his career in 1938 as a bellhop engaged in humorous antics.  In 1944, he met intrepid journalist Fantasio, and soon the two were pairing up for investigations, traveling through time and space, confronting gangsters, spies, dictators, mad scientists, and alien invaders, rescuing each other again and again.


 Like Tintin and Captain Haddock, Corentin and Kim,  and Alix and Enak, Spirou and Fantasio became domestic partners, and rather obviously lovers,  Occasionally Fantasio liked a woman (unlike Captain Haddock), but in the end he always returned to his true love.

During the 1990s, the couple was redrawn, becoming more naturalistic, with pleasantly muscular physiques -- and the gay subtext was revved up (it's hard to read them as anything but a modern-day gay couple).

Over fifty albums have been released to date.  Three have been translated into English.

Aug 16, 2015

10 Body Parts That You Didn't Know were Attractive

Connoisseur of male beauty know that the most attractive body parts aren't necessarily the biggest,  most obvious, and most dramatic.  Sure, we all love a nice chest, biceps, and beneath-the-belt gifts.

But what about out of the way nooks and crannies, the smaller parts that don't swell with muscle?

The auto mechanic's hand as he works on our car.
A moment of exposed belly as a stranger's shirt pushes up.
Our boyfriend's calves as he climbs out of bed and walks toward the bathroom.

They evoke strength, power, and virility as much, or more, than a naked phallus, displaying all of the mystery, power, and potential of maleness.

Here are 10 body parts that you should include in your appreciation of the male form:

1. The Neck

Often the only body part visible when the guy is fully clothed, a thick "bull" neck and bulging Adam's apple are symbols of virility.  Most weight-training programs ignore the neck, but you can develop it with barbell shoulder-shrugs.













2. The Collarbone

The bone that crosses the top of your chest, ending in that little raised ridge just before your shoulders, where the trapezius attaches.

Almost as sexy as the shoulder itself.  Look for it at the gym.










3. The Trapezius

Admit it, you're not looking at his rather minimal biceps, you're looking at his trapezius, the muscle in the back of the neck that moves the shoulder blades.
The best trap exercise is the upright row, which also works on your delts (the round part of the shoulders).









4. The Tricep

It's not hard to build impressive biceps -- those little muscles respond to almost everything.  Triceps are another story.  Getting those ripped requires dedication.

I've met guys who had nothing biceps and incredible triceps.  They couldn't explain why.

The best tricep exercise is the pully pushdown, but don't cheat: start with the pully above your head.








5. The Elbow

It's the joint that separates the upper arm and the forearm, the place where all the bulging begins.  We should call it the ur-muscle.

You can often distinguish male from female elbows by the carrying angle: when the arm is extended, the forearm sits at a slightly higher angle relative to the upper arm.  Generally women have a lower angle than men.

More after the break.






Celtic Festivals: Guys in Kilts, Phallic Symbols, and the Most Homeorotic Game in the World

When I was a kid, the Celtic world was everywhere.  Every year there was a Celtic Festival in downtown Rock Island to celebrate the heritage of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.  Nazarenes weren't allowed to go to festivals, but I always found some way to sneak in.

You got to see lots of cute guys walking around in kilts -- and occasionally you glimpsed the something underneath.  Well, maybe it only happened once, to a friend of a friend, but the possibility was enough to make us snoop assiduously all day.

There were tents with long wooden tables where you could get haggis, neeps, and tatties (Scottish for "turnips" and "potatoes," but we turned them into something dirty.)  For some reason the phallic Wienermobile was there, selling hot dogs.

There were vendors who would write your name in Irish or find your Scottish coat of arms.

There were musicians, dancers, and dunking booths.

But the most popular events were feats of strength.

Only the biggest, beefiest guys could compete in throwing the heavy objects like cabers (long, heavy phallic symbols), Scottish hammers, and bundles of hay.



But maide leisg (pronounced "made leash") was for anyone: you and your partner sit facing each other with your heels together and your hands on a stick, palms touching, and try to pull each other off the ground.

When two guys compete, it's decidedly homoerotic. Especially when they're gazing into each other's eyes.  And when they're wearing kilts with nothing underneath.  And when you think of the stick as a phallic symbol.

Maide leisg means "lazy stick" in Scots Gaelic.  Let the dirty jokes begin.






Celtic Festival, Davenport Iowa
When I was a kid, my boyfriend Bill and I played maide leisg all the time.  As I grew older, I made a point of challenging the cutest guy at the festival.

Sometimes I won, sometimes not, but that didn't matter: the point was two guys straining and struggling together, separated by only a lazy stick.

Since 1998, the Celtic Festival has been held across the river in Davenport.  It's now the biggest festival in the Midwest.  I haven't gone for many years, but no doubt the gay symbolism is still there.

See also: 10 Things You Should Know About Kilts.; and Dunking Booths.