Mar 12, 2016

Wally Cox: Was Mr. Peepers Gay?

On February 9, 1970, Here's Lucy starred Alan Hale Jr. as Moose Manley (yes, that's his name), who worries that his son Wally (Wally Cox) is not manly enough -- he's "shy around girls."

I had never heard of Wally Cox before, but I knew all about the adults trying to push you into liking girls.

First Dad sets up Wally on a date with Lucy.  That doesn't work, so Dad gets Wally a job as a night watchman, and has Lucy pretend to be a burglar.  A real burglar shows up, Wally rises to the occasion, and Dad is satisfied.  Without "discovering girls."

Born in 1924, Wally Cox had a small frame and nasal voice that made him ideal for milquetoast roles, prissy, ineffectual, and not particularly interested in girls (although they often liked him).  Another example of the 1950s penchant for gay-vague characters.

He played junior high science teacher Mr. Peepers (1952-54), with Patricia Benoit as the woman trying to snare him and gay-positive Tony Randall as his ladies-man best friend.

Newspaper proofreader turned globetrotting adventurer Hiram Holliday (1956-57).

Bird-watcher P. Caspar Biddle on three episodes of  The Beverly Hillbillies (1966), who draws the attention of Ellie Mae.

Officious bureaucrats and other party-dampeners in several Disney movies.

He also provided the voice of superhero parody Underdogand was a fixture on the game show Hollywood Squares for 11 years (his last appearance was on February 26, 1973, a few days after his death).

Although small, Wally was athletic and very muscular. He often bemoaned his milquetoast typecasting, which prohibited him from taking his shirt off and displaying his physique.

Many years later I discovered that Wally grew up with the bisexual Marlon Brando, and roomed with him when he first moved to Los Angeles. He married women three times, but he and Brando continued to be close, and when they died, their ashes were combined and scattered together.

If you need more evidence that Wally Cox was gay: he was also friends with Sal Mineo, Nick Adams, and the whole 1950s Hollywood gay and gay-positive crowd.

Mar 11, 2016

Lizzie Borden Chronicles: Beefcake and Splatter

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles is an 8 episode miniseries that aired on Lifetime in 2015 and is now on Netflix.  It chronicles the adventures of the famous Lizzie Borden (1860-1924), after she was acquitted of the murder of her father and stepmother.

Many books and movies have delved into the question of what happened on that hot August morning in 1892, but the Chronicles leave no doubt: Lizzie (Christina Ricci) did it.  She gleefully kills her parents and anyone else considers she considers a threat.

 She has some noble instincts: she is protective of animals, children, and abused women.  But her go-to solution to any problem, even the most trivial, is murder.

It is a handsome production, with beautifully designed sets and street scenes full of life and color.  The costumes are perfect.  The customs and language of the late 19th century are expertly reproduced.  You're not looking into the dead past, but into a "now."

But Lizzie's numerous murders of neutral and positive characters, including her girlfriend/ kept girl Adele and her sister's fiancee, become difficult to watch.  And the production seems rushed.  The most interesting story is of Lizzie's sister Emma (Clea DuVall), who transforms from a spinsterish recluse to a murderer in her own right, and becomes involved with the Trotwood crime family of Boston.  But her story is told quickly, over a couple of episodes.

Since this is Boomer Beefcake and Bonding, you're probably wondering -- well, is there any beefcake and bonding?

There's a lot of lesbian interest.  Lizzie seduces Adele and lives with her.  Nance O'Neil, who briefly befriends Lizzie before finding out her secrets, is presented as ambisexual; in real life she was probably lesbian, and Lizzie's lover.  We see lesbian intimacies occuring at a party, and a photographer shoots a scene of "sapphic" erotica.

There don't appear to be any gay men in this world.  Every male character of any importance is shown kissing, having sex with, or propositioning women.

But there's ample beefcake.

1. Cole Hauser  (left) as Charles Siringo, the Pinkerton agent assigned to investigate the murders.  Emma kills him.

2. Dylan Taylor as Officer Trotwood, who protects the sisters and proposes to Emma.  Lizzie has him killed.

3. Bradley Stryker (top photo) as Skipjack, a low-life who occasionally works for Lizzie. She kills him.

4. Rhys Coiro (left)  as Chester Phipps, a seedy photographer who Lizzie kills.

5. Chris Bauer and Matthew LeNevez as Tom Horn and Bat Masterson, real-life cowboys who come looking for Siringo.  Lizzie kills them.

6. Frank Chiesurin as Spencer Cavanaugh, a playwright who raises Lizzie's ire by assaulting Adele.  She kills him.

7. Cody Ray Thompson and Will Rothhaar as the Trotwood boys, one of whom Lizzie kills.  The other she just shoots.

The spectacular beefcake almost makes up for the splatter.

Zack Hooks Up with the Prince of Sweden

Providence, Rhode Island, Spring 2000

I''m in graduate school in New York.  Zack the Photographer, who I met four years ago when he was dating Drake the teddy bear artist, is now enrolled in the MFA Program at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence.  Yuri and I take the train up to for a weekend visit.

Drake is 23, a twink with smooth, pale skin, a thick chest, prominent nipples, xylophone abs, and an uncut Mortadella.

He lives in an apartment in an old Victorian about half a mile from the RISD, with Seth:  in his 30s, with short brown hair, a rugged face, and a hairy barrel chest; and Mikey, a shaggy-haired twink with blue eyes and a smooth lean physique.  

On Friday night we have dinner in an Indian place near campus, go cruising at a gay bar called the Stable, and then return to the apartment, where Yuri and I "share" Zack.

I'm more interested in Seth and Mikey.

The rest of the story, with uncensored photos and sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Mar 10, 2016

Carl Sandburg's Two Gay References

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was from Galesburg, 60 miles south of Rock Island, so my teachers loved him.

I didn't.

Although he does look nice naked.

It seems that every English, language arts, writing, and history teacher from third grade through college foisted Sandburg upon us.

Chicago Poems!  Cornhuskers!  Smoke and Steel!  Slabs of the Sunburned West! The People, Yes! 

He was a two-bit Walt Whitman wannabe, with none of Whitman's homoeroticism.

When Sandburg mentions a man, it's only to pair him with a woman.

A Polish boy is out with his best girl; they marry next month; to-night they are throwing you kisses.

But mostly he's desperate to tell you how much he likes women.  Over and over and over and over.

Each morning as I move through this river of young-     woman life I feel a wonder about where it is all going, so many with a peach bloom of young years on them and laughter of red lips and memories in their eyes of dances the night before and plays and walks.

This wouldn't be so bad, except that he expects his intended audience to agree.  All beauty is feminine beauty, the Eternal Feminine is everybody's goal in life.

In high school we had to read Always the Young Strangers, maybe because it mentioned Rock Island and Augustana College.  But it's not, as you might suspect, about cruising for late-night pickups.

It's about Sandburg growing up in Galesburg,with no interest in male friendship, just devotion to family, the thrill of the feminine, and heterosexual sex.

He liked to imagine heterosexual sex.  Even when it was between his mother and father:

They were a couple and their coupling was both earthy and sacramental to them. There were at times smiles exchanged between them that at the moment I didn't understand but later read as having the secret meanings of lovers who had pleasured each other last night.

Do heterosexuals usually spend a lot of time imagining their parents having sex?

But the very worst was Rootabaga Stories, American fairy tales with an Edward Lear twist that were foisted on us in 3rd grade.

The titles didn't make sense:
"The Story of Blixie Bimber and the Power of the Gold Buckskin Whincher"
"How the Hat Ashes Shovel Helped Snoo Foo"
"Only the Fire-Born Understand Blue."

And once you got past the title, you got endless hetero-romance between men and women, boys and girls, and gender-polarized inanimate objects.

Except for one weird story about two skyscrapers who decide to have a child together.  Their genders aren't specified, but since they're phallic symbols, I'm going to assume both male.  Sandburg doesn't explain how their child comes about.  Maybe they adopt.

The only gay potential anywhere in Sandburg's work is in his 4-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln.  In The War Years (1926), he writes that Lincoln's relationship with Joshua Speed had "a streak of lavender, and spots soft as May violets."

And maybe in the poem "Planked Whitefish," in which a "demon driver" named Horace Wild tells Sandburg about an experience in World War I in Ypres (site of a major battle): a Canadian soldier nailed to a wall with bayonets, his sex organs cut off and shoved into his mouth.  The sight made him a pacifist.

Not exactly a gay-positive image.

See also: Gather the Faces of Men

Spring 1996: The Bear and the College Boy

San Francisco, Spring 1996

Lane and I were living in San Francisco, gay heaven.  I was 35 years old, far beyond my twink years.  He was 40, graduated to Daddy.

Our best friend was probably Drake, the leather bear artist (left) -- teddy bears in bulging chaps, in leather jackets, carrying whips and gay flags.  He was 53 years old, husky but muscular, with a hairy chest, prominent nipples, and nice biceps.  Average beneath the belt, uncut.  A bondage bottom.

He had just lost his boyfriend.  He was involved in the gay social world, but not dating.

A couple of weeks after Darrell's death, Drake returned to the gay social world.

Beer/soda bust at the Lone Eagle
Underwear contest at the Lone Star
An AIDS benefit at the Metropolitan Community Church
A book signing at Different Light
The bear parties every Wednesday and Friday night.

We saw Drake at every event, eating, drinking, socializing, cruising.  But he didn't hook up with anyone, not even at the bear parties, he didn't ask anyone for dates.  He always went home alone.

Why do you go to a bear party without even looking for someone to share your bed?

At Christmastime, Lane and I tried to fix him up with a guy we knew, but he refused: "Been there, done that.  The domestic thing isn't for me, anyway.  Too many rules."

So we let him alone.

Then one day in March 1996, Drake met us at brunch after church and announced: "I have a new boyfriend!  Last night was our third date!"

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

Weird Science

The 1985 movie Weird Science was terrible, an entry in the "sex with the babysitter" genre that featured nontop assertions that gay people don't exist.  But strangely enough, the spin-off tv series (1994-97) was not terrible.

1. The boys, Gary (John Mallory Asher) and Wyat (Michael Mannaseri) do create a magical computerized babe named Lisa (Vanessa Angel), but she is neither sex partner nor sex object; she acts more as their big sister and mentor.

2. Of the 26 first and second season episodes, only 5 involve dating/romancing girls.  The others are wacky science fiction adventures:

Gary ends up stuck in a time loop, repeating the same events over and over.

Wyatt becomes President of the United States

Clones of Gary and Wyatt take over their lives

3. Lisa never removes any articles of clothing, but Gary and Wyatt and their male peers are often displayed as shirtless, in swimsuits, in the shower, in locker rooms.

4. Gary and Wyatt may be aggressively heterosexual, but older brother Chet (Lee Tergesen, later to display full frontal nudity on Oz) has almost no interest  in girls.

An amazing turn-around from the movie.

The same plot was used in the 2014 Disney Channel movie How to Make a Better Boy.

Mar 9, 2016

Finding the Gay Men in Old Photographs

I love finding beefcake in old photographs: hard chests, bulging biceps, perhaps a hint of beneath-the-belt gifts, men and boys caught at a moment of time a century or more ago, bright with promise and erotic energy.

I try to imagine the lives they had.  The books they read, the games they played, their hundreds of sunrises and breakfasts and walks through city streets.

I try to imagine their friends, their lovers.

I try to figure out if they were gay..

Of course, they grew old and died long ago, so I can never really know them.

Unless they drop in for a visit.

Remember what Walt Whitman said:

Full of life, now, compact, visible,  
To one a century hence, to you, yet unborn, seeking me
Fancying how happy you would be, if I could be with you, and become your comrade.  
(Be not too certain but I am now with you.)

Usually there's no name to go with the physique, so research is impossible.

But for these turn-of-the-century hunks, I have a name and a place. They are the Tonawanda, New York high school basketball team, which won the New York State Championships in 1907.

Basketball was only invented in 1891, so they were playing an innovative new sport.

1. Hewitt Miller, the oldest of the group, born 1887.  He went to Michigan State College, where he joined the Sigma Chi Fraternity.  In 1919 he was back in Tonawanda, where he played for the American Legion basketball team.

In 1924, he told the Michigan State College Record: "Am still single."  If he wasn't married at age 37, chances are he never had a wife.

He also said  "Hope the dormitory fans win out, because it is there the rigorous and hearty germ of college spirit is sprouted, and kept alive."

He really liked those MSC dorms.

2. Harry Webb was born in 1889.

As an adult, he worked in a granite factory.

An article in the Grand Island Dispatch mentioned that he belonged to the Young Men's Club of Grand Island, which played pingpong in Larson's Soda Bar.

In 1952, "Harry Webb's Orchestra" performed at a Gay Nineties review at an elementary school in Grand Island, near Tonawanda.

He died in 1957 in Toledo,  No mention of a wife and kids.

3. Legrand (Bill) Simson (1886-1974).  went on to Cornell, where he was student body president, the captain of the football team, and on the rowing team.  Later he became a businessman.

In 1972, Cornell alumni news tells us that his old friend Clarence N. (Sliver) Seagrave tracked him down: "They were a great pair and still are."

4. Blake Miller.(1889-1987).  He went to Michigan State College with Hewitt Miller, no doubt his brother, where he played football, baseball, and basketball.  Later he played pro football, coached at Michigan State, and was a golf pro at the East Lansing Country Club.  He was married, and died in Lansing, Michigan in 1987.

5. Duval Hosmer.  Can't find anything on him, but a Duvill C. Hosmer is one of the plaintiffs in a court case filed against Buffalo Commercial Insurance Co. in 1907, and a Clarence Hosmer (1891-1968) was an offensive guard for the Tonawanda Kardax football team in 1921.

Who do I want hovering over me now?

Simson is the hottest and Hewitt is most likely to have been gay.  But if I can only get one, I'll take Duval-Duvill-Clarence.  He has an air of mystery, and perhaps of tragedy.

See also: Beefcake and Bonding in Old Photographs

The Vietnamese Twink at the Swedish Lutheran College

March 2014, St. Peter, Minnesota

I'm at a conference at Gustavus Adolphus College, a small Swedish Lutheran college in a small town on the Minnesota River.

 It's fun being immersed in my Lutheran roots.  Old Main looks almost like the Old Main back at Augustana, my alma mater.  The chapel is a vast, airy expanse with impressionistic stained glass windows.  The campus bookstore stocks The Presocratic Philosophers and Bainton's life of Martin Luther, just as Augustana did.

 I didn't come here to seek out beefcake, but it keeps finding me.

Even though it's March and quite chilly, there are two shirtless college boys, hard-bodied, Scandinavian pale, walking across the quad (not naked).

And a tanned, very buffed jock in a muscle shirt lounging in the campus library.

The weight room in the campus gym have vast windows that look out onto a basketball court, where a shirts vs. skins game is in progress.

Plus beefcake sculptures everywhere on campus, like this naked man -- yes, that's his penis -- on the facade of the science building.  I guess he's inventing something.

Or several beefcake sculptures by alumnus Grant Granlud: Jacob wrestling an angel, a luna moth with a buffed masculine form inside, and the naked man and woman bouncing a baby in the air (below).

I heard that the Hillstrom Museum of Art has some Grant Woods in its permanent collection, so I drop in.  It's actually just one big room, empty except for the college boy volunteer sitting at a table reading a book on French impressionists: slim, thick dark hair, red t-shirt and short pants.

Asian, probably Vietnamese!   I am surprised to see him.  There aren't very many Asians on the Plains, and even fewer, I assume, who want to go to a Swedish Lutheran college in a small town in the middle of nowhere.

The uncensored story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Brian Krause: Not Charming on Charmed

When Brian Krause starred in Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991), yet another "discovering girls on a desert island" movie, there was a collective groan from West Hollywood.  Sure, gay teens probably found him dreamy, but why did they have to sit through two hours of heterosexist "you don't exist" propaganda for a glimpse of a slim chest?

Next he starred in the homoromantic December (1991), as the jock boyfriend of quiet, studious Wil Wheaton in a prep school during World War II.

But it's all downhill from there.

Next Brian starred in an aggressively homophobic movie, Sleepwalkers (1992): Charles Brady (Brian), a feminine-stereotype villain, and his mother/girlfriend, feed off the life force of virgins.  But he takes a moment from his busy schedule to dispatch a gay high school teacher named Mr. Fellows, who keeps hitting on his students. It's Stephen King, so there's bound to be a lot of anti-gay hatred.

Family Album (1994) is not quite as homophobic: Greg Thayer (Brian) is the son of a famous actress (Jaclyn Smith of Charlie's Angels) and her husband (Michael Ontkean).  When his brother Lionel announces that he is gay, it causes immeasurable strife in the family.

Then he starred in some heterosexist "erotic thrillers," which provided some nudity, but they were about guys having sex with girls.

And some buddy-bonding movies, but he never played one of the buddies.

Brian most prominent role to date has been in the tv series Charmed (1998-2006), about three witch sisters (eventually a fourth) living in a gay-free San Francisco.  Brian played Leo Wyatt, the sisters' Whitelighter (guardian angel).  He begins a forbidden romance with Piper (Holly Marie Combs), and eventually they marry and have children.

While the "I've got a secret" genre is always open to queering, the Charmed ladies are so aggressively searching for heterosexual partners that any symbolism is drowned out in the constant exchanges of "I met a new guy!" "Is he hot?"

Plus only one gay character -- Duncan Philips (Blake Bashoff) -- who appears in only one episode, apparently the only gay student at the Magic School, and the only gay person in San Francisco.

Plus female-female friendships are fine, but men approach each other only with suspicion, as competitors and potential enemies.

No word on whether he's a gay ally in real life.  I doubt it.

Mar 8, 2016

The Blond God at the Gay-Friendly Coffee House

Plains, March 2016

Earlier today I was on my way to the gay-friendly coffee house down the hill from my apartment.  Just as I got to the side door, a red car pulled into an empty parking spot, and Adonis jumped out.

Twenties, shorter than me, dirty blond hair, stunningly beautiful face,insouciant smile.  He was wearing a pink button-down shirt,  short sleeved, very thin for March, unbuttoned to reveal a smooth muscular chest and hard biceps.  Blue jeans bulging left. A gold chain around his neck. A gold class ring.

He went inside a moment before me, without waiting and holding the door open.

We stood at the counter together, waiting for the guy in front of us to finish ordering.  There were two baristas: a lesbian teenager named Jane was taking the orders, and a middle-aged woman I'd never seen before was staffing the cash register.

I smiled.  Adonis ignored me.

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

Mar 7, 2016

20 Blond Beach Boys, Boy Toys, Hookups, and Dates

I'm attracted to darker guys, dark skin, dark hair.  Black, Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian.  Blonds and redheads, not so much.

Maybe because Rock Island had a huge Swedish population.  My classmates were all Jensons, Johnsons, Svensons, and Piersons.

But outside of Rock Island, blonds are relatively uncommon.  Only 63% of the U.S. population is of European ancestry, and of those, 16% are blond.  That's about 1%.

Given the odds, and my initial preference for darker hair colors, how many blonds have I dated or "shared" during the last 30 years?


1. Only 1 that I can remember: Carl the Cowboy Cop.  Tall and blond, two turn-offs, but one of the biggest Kovbasas on my Sausage List.

West Hollywood

2. So many Black, Hispanic, and Asian guys around that the blonds fell by the wayside.  But Alan the Pentecostal Porn Star, my best friend from 1985 to the mid-1990s, was blond, sometimes.

3. So was Zack, the kept boy we picked up at Mugi, who turned out to be a drunk.

4. Matt, Fred's Cute Young Thing boyfriend.

5. Redheads count, right?  At least in Spanish, blonds and redheads are both rubios.  So I'm counting  the Ginger Boy that Fred and I hooked up with one Christmas, and Dick and I several years later.

6. My friend Larry in Nashville, who learned that his fetish was being spanked, was blond.  But we never actually dated, and shared a bed only incidentally.

7. Artan the Beach Boy, who Lane and I dated twice before he left us for an older guy.

San Francisco

Not many: the Amazing Invisible Boy that I brought home doesn't count, as he vanished before the intimacy.

I'm going to guess Santa Claus, aka Bearnard, was once blond, but when I knew him, he had white hair.

New York

8. Yuri the Russian Weatherman, my best friend in New York and Florida.

9.  Barry the Colonial Williamsburg boy, who I met at a traditional Catholic exorcism.

10. Jaan, the Estonian mountain climber that Yuri and I fought over.

11. And Liam, who gave me a present on his 18th birthday.


12. Wade the Beach Boy, with whom I had a long-term relationship, by Florida standards.

13. The shy boy in the 3rd row at the West Hollywood MCC, who bulked up.

14. Usually redheads are super-sized beneath the belt, but Comic Book Guy was a little lacking in that department.


15. The Huber Heights Horror was...shudder...blond.

16. Sammy Blowfish was a rare Asian blond.  I think he dyed his hair, though.


I can't think of any, but....


I'm back in Scandinavian country again, so the blonds are rather plentiful.

17. Jimmy, the boy toy of my platonic friends.  I tried unsuccessfully to arrange to "share" them, but ended up with a date with Jimmy instead.

18. The boy with Daddy issues who wanted to tear my clothes off.  Easier said than done.

19. Bastian, the high schooler who Gabe and I shared.

20. And, finally, the blond Adonis I picked up at the gay-friendly coffee house earlier today.

The full list, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Fargo, the Series: Homophobia, Heterosexism, and 70s-Bashing

I always get sensitive when people say "Life used to be so great, and now it's so terrible !  We cared about each other then!  It was a simpler, more innocent time!"

I have binge watched Fargo Season 2, the tv series based on the Coen Brothers' black comedy, about a simpler, innocent, loving time.

The 1940s.

It's set in 1979, a year everyone hates.  They're always moaning about everything is so bad now, society has gotten so violent, everybody at each other's throats, much worse than the kind, loving, innocent 1940s (really, they say that).

World War II?  Auschwitz?  Really?

And 1979 was the best of times!  Star Trek: The Motion Picture came out, and we were singing "We are Family".

Living life is fun and we've just begun to get our share of the world's delights
High hopes we have for the future, and our goal''s in sight

Maybe 1989, after 8 years of Reagan-Bush homophobia, AIDS, Chernobyl,  and the Iran-Contra Scandal.  But not 1979!

It's about an ordinary couple in "you betcha" small-town Minnesota in horrible 1979, Ed and Peggy Blumquist (Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst), who accidentally kill the son of an organized-crime syndicate, and find their lives unraveling.  They are targeted by the syndicate, dogged by the police.  They have to kill more people.  Ed finds himself tagged as the Butcher, a famous paid assassin with a price on his head.

The crime syndicate is led by the taciturn housewifely Floyd (Jean Smart), who butts heads with her domineering, sexist son Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan), who disapproves of a woman running the empire.

Dodd has a partner, boyfriend, foster brother, or something, the taciturn Indian Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon).

There are two other surviving sons, plus a granddaughter and a  grandson, Charlie (Allan Dobrescu), who has a hand deformity.  Both have been excused from the action due to, but they long to participate in some of the bloodshed.

Meanwhile Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), a fixer from a rival gang, tries to find out who theis Butcher is, who is disrupting gang alliances in the Minnesota-North Dakota crime game.

Meanwhile the state trooper investigating the case, Lou Solverson (the very ugly Patrick Wilson), has a disgustingly heteronormative wife and daughter.  Oh, so perfect!  They love each other so much!  Isn't that what life is all about, the only thing that makes life worthwhile is gazing into the eyes of a heterosexual life partner and the wondrous new life that your love has created.  Anyone who doesn't have this incredible heterosexual bond is worthless, and probably out to destroy us all.

I'm not kidding.  That's exactly what the Coen Brothers say, or indicate, over and over again.

Well, it's not completely perfect.  The wife has cancer, caused by the 1970s (they do explicitly say that).

No gay people exist, except for a predatory lesbian who paws at Peggy, and is rebuffed.

No beefcake, unless you're a chubby chaser (Jesse Plemons is a little on the pale, portly side).

I'd give it a miss, unless you love heteronormativity and hate the 1970s.

Why even set your series in a decade you hate?

Mar 6, 2016

Lord of the Flies

The "boys alone" genre (White Water Summer, Toy Soldiers, Bless the Beasts and Children, The New People) usually features a group of teenage boys isolated from adult society, stripped down to their underwear, and working together to survive or fight a common enemy.  It argues that competition, envy, hatred, and strife are plagues of adulthood, that in the primal Eden of adolescence, we are all one.

But William Golding's 1954 novel The Lord of the Flies, based on the children's novel The Coral Islandturns the genre around, arguing for the natural enmity of men without women.  It was required reading in high school: our teacher expected us to have an ephiphany, thinking "Yes, we are savages. Only the adult rules keep us from killing each other."

  It has been filmed twice, in 1963 and 1990.

When their plane crashes, a group of British school boys find themselves stranded on a desert island.  Ralph (James Aubrey, Balthazar Getty) takes charge and establishes a democratic society, as in Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky.  He organizes the search for food and the rescue fire, and uses a conch shell to call the citizens to a democratic congress.

But the boys fear the Beast who roams the jungle, and develop bizarre manhood rituals.  Jack (Tom Chapin, Chris Furrh), Ralph's best friend in civilized life, leads a rebellion.  His "savages" worship a rotting pig's head (the "Lord of the Flies").

Tensions escalate, and the savages attack.  A boy named Piggy is killed, the conch broken, and Ralph's boys scatter into the jungle.  Jack leads his savages to attack Jack, but just as they close in for the kill, the adult rescuers arrive.  Civilization restored, the boys begin to cry.

Why is this story so different from the others, so depressing, so skeptical of the human spirit?  William Golding is generally a downer  -- his second most famous work, Pincher Martin, is about a man dying on some rocks in the ocean.

But there is an obvious gay subtext. Ralph is a veritable teen idol, strong and handsome, and though he cares for Jack, he doesn't display any homoromantic intensity.

Jack, soft, blond, feminine, "queer," has an unrequited romantic interest in the stronger, more muscular boy.  He manipulates the other boys' fears, orchestrates the mutiny, the bizarre rituals, and finally the attack -- not out of unrequited love, but out of hatred for the civilization which denies his homoromantic potential, which doesn't even have the vocabulary for expressing what he feels.  In the end Lord of the Flies is about what happens to a dream deferred.  Sometimes it explodes.

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe started his career as one of the slim, androgynous prettyboys who populated the 1980s (others included Tom Cruise, Peter Barton, Corey Haim, and John Stamos).  He played a teenage father in an Afterschool Special; he was in the small-town Angst drama The Outsiders (1983), along with every other young-adult hunk in Hollywood (Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise, even Leif Garrett).

He played a teenage operator who buddy-bonds with the naive Andrew McCarthy in Class (1983).

He did the "Yank skewers the pretentions of stuffy Brits" thing in Oxford Blues (1984).

There was some buddy-bonding, some homophobic slurs, lots of shirtless, underwear, towel, and jockstrap shots.

He was widely rumored to be gay.  My friend Mario claims that they dated, or at least had sex a few times, in the spring of 1981.  But Rob doesn't mention any same-sex activity in either of his autobiographies.

Millions of heterosexual girls and gay boys had his poster on their bedroom walls (Corey Haim's Sam had this one in The Lost Boys).   

So far, not much different from the other slim, androgynous prettyboys of the 1980s.

Then something happened that changed Rob Lowe's life and career forever.  During the Democratic National Convention in 1988, Rob had sex with two women, one of them underage. A film of the act appeared, along with some footage of Rob and a friend having sex with another woman in Paris.  It was blurry and grainy, but you could see more than enough.  Rob Lowe at his most intimate.

The scandal rocked his career, forever marking him as  dangerous, deviant, and overtly sexual.  You knew things about him that you didn't about any other celebrity.

Rob capitalized on his new aura of danger in Bad Influence (1990), luring a yuppie (James Spader) onto the Dark Side, and The Dark Backward (1991), a dark comedy about a pair of garbage collectors who want to become standup comics.  Eventually he moved on, starring in a TV version of the gay-themed classic Suddenly, Last Summer (1993), and playing one of the "good guy" survivors of the plague, the deaf Nick Andros, in an adaption of Stephen King's The Stand  (1994).

A fixture on television in the 2000s, Rob Lowe has never played a gay character, though he has played many gay-subtext relationships.  Politically conservative, he is not a strong gay ally.

See also: Mario's Date or Trick with Rob Lowe; Justin Morrit, the Guy Who Shared Rob Lowe.