Aug 29, 2015

What Happened to the Black Beefcake?

During the 1960s, there were only a few Black actors working on television, and they never, ever displayed their physiques, not even in teen magazines.


In the 1970s, I liked Mike Evans of The Boomerersons (1975-82) and John Amos of Good Times (1974-79) plus The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Roots -- not the obnoxious stand-out star, Jimmie Walker -- but they were fully clothed in every episode.













Even in the 1980s, The Cosby Show (1984-1992) kept both Malcolm Jamal Warner and Geoffrey Owens (left) under wraps.





What's Happening Now! (1985-88) displayed bodybuilder Haywood Nelson (center) only in a single "accidental male stripper" episode.















The 1990s wasn't much better. Silver Spoons (1982-87) never displayed muscular hunk Alfonso Ribeiro, and  The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-1996) only twice -- once in a swimsuit, and again in another "accidental male stripper" episode. 













Family Matters (1989-99) gave Darius McCrary and "Urkel" Jaleel White one shirtless episode apiece.


Must be Hollywood racism:
1. The presumption that only white bodies are appropriate objects of desire.
2. Or that Black bodies are by definition undesirable.

Whatever the motive, Black beefcake is still rare on television.  And Asian beefcake, rarer still.

See also: The Top 10 Hunks of The Cosby Show.; The Truth about the Black Penis.












Aug 28, 2015

"I'm a Try Something, Aight?": Picked Up by the Boy and His Dog

In Upstate New York, I used to run 4 miles from home to Wilbur Park, then down East Street to Maple, and home again.

One afternoon I was about halfway through the run, when I saw a young kid, a teenager at most, walking a pit bull nearly as big as he was.

I don't like running past dogs -- they sometimes get spooked and start barking.  But the kid was black, and I was afraid to cross the street for fear of being tagged racist.  So I persevered.

I heard growling, then "Janell, heel!  Stop that!"  Then the dog lunged forward and bit me on the butt.

"Janell, Janell, stop that!" the boy yelled, jerking the leash.

Grudgingly, growling, Janell the Pit Bull sat.

"Your monster dog just but me on the butt!" I exclaimed.

"I'm sorry, Mister. Janell's really a sweetheart. She just thought your behind was candy, and she want a taste."  He grinned at me with that unmistakable appreciation that sets off your gaydar.  I was in no mood for cruising, but I did notice that he was a twink, not a kid -- short, light skinned, solidly built, with dark brown eyes, a broad nose, and sensual lips.

  "You can pet her if you want.  My name's Malik."

I leaned down to pet Janell.  She growled softly.  "I'm Boomer.  And sweetheart or not, my butt hurts."

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

John Wayne was a Sissy

During the 1950s and 1960s,, John Wayne was the symbol for an all-American frontier masculinity that never really existed, but many people longed for: tough, surly, taciturn, quick with his fists and a gun.  He starred in war movies, dramas, and comedies -- he even played Genghis Khan, but he was most famous as a cowboy hero or antihero in movies with gutsy one- or two-word titles: Hondo, The Searchers, Rio Bravo, True Grit, Big Jake, The Shootist. 

But the "epitome of masculinity" was actually rather gender-transgressive:
1. His real name was the gender-bending Marion.
2. Watch him walk.  He sashays like RuPaul.
3. He had small, delicate hands.
4. He was slim and svelte, nothing like a muscleman.
5. He got his start as a "Sandy Saunders, the Singing Cowboy."
6. In His Private Secretary (1933), his character is a feminine-coded bon vivant who wants to marry a minister's granddaughter, but he's too "debauched."

And he had his share of gay subtexts, surly, taciturn guys with no particular interest in ladies who buddy-bond with the hunkiest star du jour that studios could cram into a cowboy suit.  Just to name a few:

1. The Searchers (1956).  Ethan (John Wayne), who has no particular interest in ladies, buddy-bonds with Martin (screen hunk Jeffrey Hunter) en route to saving a girl from savage Indians.

2. Rio Bravo (1959).  Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) teams up with Colorado Ryan (contemporary teen idol Ricky Nelson).

3. The Comancheros (1961). Texas ranger Jake Cutter (John Wayne) arrests Paul Regret (screen hunk Stuart Whitman), but then needs his help to fight the Comancheros.




4. The Undefeated (1969): former Union and Confederate officers (John Wayne, screen hunk Rock Hudson) must work together to guide a group through war-torn Mexico.

The Duke was notoriously homophobic, even in the days when homophobia was rampant, though he and Rock Hudson managed to work together on the set of The Undefeated.

And racist: in an infamous Playboy interview in 1971, he stated that he believed in white supremacy until "the blacks are educated to the point of responsibility."

Why was he trying so hard to maintain white heterosexual male privilege?  Was it that big a problem for him to share the world with people who were gay, or black, or female?

Sounds like a sissy to me.


Aug 25, 2015

Andy Warhol: Gay without Pride

I've been reading the Diaries of Andy Warhol, where the famous pop artist spends about a thousand pages recording how much he spent on cabs during the last ten years of his life (1977-87).  It's tough going.  He knows everybody, and lists them by their first names, so it's hard to figure out who's who.  He spends a lot of time on boring things ("had lunch") and gives promising events a line ("Got a death threat").  He goes to church every day.  He takes a lot of phone calls.

If I didn't know already, I'd have no idea that Warhol was gay.  He mentions attractive men and women both, but he doesn't seem to like gay people.  He complains that a first-name celebrity took him to a benefit, and it turned out to be for fags and lesbians.  He complains about bars being full of fags.  In a restaurant, he discovers that a gay chef made his dinner, and refuses to eat it for fear of contracting AIDS.  He thinks Gay Pride Day is ridiculous (although he doesn't mind photographing the parade).

With all that homophobia going on, what's gay about Andy Warhol?

Homoerotic art, especially early in his career, and films like Blow Job (1964) and Trash (1970).

A homoerotic painting by Jamie Wyeth.

The Factory, where he made his pop art in the 1960s, was a gathering place for bohemians, including drag queens, transgender folk of various types, and rent boys.  That was a lot of visibility for the pre-Stonewall era.

But after Stonewall, Warhol seems to have mostly ran Interview magazine, had lunch with Liza Minelli and Paul Getty Jr., photographed attractive men in their underwear, and complained about fags.

Makes you wonder what the Factory was all about.

Maybe he stopped caring about gays when they stopped think of themselves as sexual outsiders and started fighting for full human dignity?

Gay men and lesbians who think they're just as good as heterosexuals!  How boring!




All accounts state that he was attracted primarily or exclusively to men, but never had a boyfriend, or even a sexual partner.  He preferred to watch rather than touch.

See also: The Andy Warhol Museums; and Walk on the Wild Side.

Aug 24, 2015

That Boy: My First Porn Film

It may be a little strange to mention a porn film in a G-rated blog, but That Boy (1974) is special.  It was a defining moment in my life, the first gay erotic film I ever saw, in the spring of 1984, during my second year at Indiana University.  My friend Viju and I drove into Indianapolis to go to the bars, and someone invited us to see it with him.  There was a midnight showing in a sleazy theater near Monument Circle.

The star, 32-year old Peter Berlin, moved from Germany to San Francisco in the early 1970s and quickly became a gay icon, appearing in magazines and films, acting as his own cinematographer.  He was renowned for his gleaming, muscular physique and gigantic bulge, but more importantly for his utter lack of guilt, hesitation, and fear.



There was no such thing as a closet in Peter Berlin's world, no such thing as homophobia.  Only endless nights of cruising -- but not the meaningless, destructive tricks that later generations condemned us for.  A glorious sexual freedom that was, in itself, fulfilling enough to be the sole purpose of life.

That Boy has more of a plot than the usual porn film: An unnamed sexual Everyman (Peter) wanders through a bucolic San Francisco, looking at men, and being looked at.  That gaze, being an object of adoration, is even more glorious than the sexual acts themselves.  But then he looks at a boy who does not look back.

Could this be the one person on Earth who does not desire him?  No, the boy is blind, so Peter must try new, different tactics to draw him into the world of sexual freedom.


During his heyday, Peter Berlin was filmed, drawn, photographed, and painted by such greats as Tom of Finland and Andy Warhol, and had several exhibitions of his own work.  Then in the 1980s, AIDS, neoconservative retrenchment, and changing sexual mores made him seem quaintly naive, even dangerous.  He disappeared from the public eye.












Today he is over 70 years old, still living quietly in San Francisco, still happily recalling how he gave a  generation of gay men a glimpse of what it was like to experience sexual desire without apology or regret.

His films Nights in Black Leather and That Boy have been released on DVD, and a documentary, That Man, appeared in 2005.

See also: Raul and I Bankrupt the Gay Porn Industry.


Aug 23, 2015

Roy the Farmboy

No one came out casually in the 1980s, but it didn't take long for me to suspect Roy, the sophomore education major who worked with me at the Eigenmann Hall Snack bar.

He had big hair and wore bright colors, mostly reds and yellows.  He wore rings.  He had an overmodulated, feminine voice and a vocabulary heavy on adjectives.  His manner was a bit swishy.  Ok, a lot swishy.

One night he performed "A Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place" from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas!

One of my jobs was to replace the soda and lemonade canisters, which involved swinging 50-pound jugs over my head.  Roy watched with a cruisy gleam in his eye. "Watch it -- you'll fall," he said, and and clapped his hands onto my waist to steady me.  And "accidentally" feel my butt.

The rest of the story is too risque for this blog.  Read it on Tales of West Hollywood.