Apr 23, 2016

Adrian Zmed After Dark

On an episode of The Simpsons, the family goes to a review featuring the once-famous:
     We are the stars that you thought were dead,
     Like Bonnie Franklin and Adrian Zmed.

People who weren't watching television or going to moves during the early 1980s probably thought "I didn't think Adrian Zmed was dead, I never heard of him."  But during that brief few years, the sultry black-haired Romanian-American actor -- and his amazingly ripped physique -- was everywhere.

He sang and danced as a John Travolta clone in Grease 2 (1982), also starring Maxwell Caulfield.

He partied with Tom Hanks in Bachelor Party (1984).

He bonded with William Shatner in the police drama T.J. Hooker (1982-85).

He hosted Dance Fever
He guest starred on Bosom Buddies, Love Boat, Hotel, Glitter, and Empty Nest.

He appeared in Battle of the Network Stars (a reality series that was really an excuse to get male tv stars into speedos).  He didn't win any awards, but he got to hug Scott Baio.

His full-body speedo shots were more than enough to draw the attention of gay fans, but his characters always had a blatant interest in same-sex chums, regardless of whether they got the girl in the end.

In Grease 2, for instance, the plot revolves around an "opposites attract" between greaser Johnny (Zmed) and uptight British newcomer Michael (Maxwell Caulfield).

And, unlike most beefcake stars of the 1980s, he was aware of his gay fans, and actually played to them.  He remains a strong gay ally, like his "bosom buddy" Tom Hanks.

By the late 1980s, the Adrian Zmed train had stalled, perhaps overloaded by overexposure.  Though he has never stopped acting -- in 2007 he appeared in the soap Passions and in Larry the Cable Guy's Christmas Special -- the era of speedo shots is long gone.

Apr 21, 2016

When Doves Cry

The summer of 1984 was the summer of "When Doves Cry," by androgynous musician Prince.   I don't usually like sad songs, but there was something so wistful about the self-rencrimination, something so poignant about the fear of being abandoned in cold, cruel world:

How can you just leave me standing,
Alone in a world that's so cold?
Maybe I'm just too demanding.
Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold.
Maybe you're just like my mother,
She was never satisfied 

It was especially evocative because I heard it constantly as I drove south from Rock Island toward Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, a cold, dark, perilous realm bereft of light and hope, where I would spend the worst year of my life.

This is what it sounds like
When doves cry

Of course we all thought that Prince  was gay.  He was so svelte, so androgynous, so downright feminine.  He wore make up and women's high heels, and purple.   In his 1981 "Controversy," he himself seemed to be unsure:

I just can't believe all the things people say
Am I black or white? Am I straight or gay?

In "I Would Die for You" (1984), he announced himself as genderqueer:

I'm not a woman, I'm not a man.
I am something that you'll never understand.

He was a breath of fresh air amid the ultra-macho cowboy Reagan years.

But "Cream" (1991) eliminated all speculation, with lyrics that are too dirty to reprint here, and an utterly disgusting music video.  Let's just say that he was proclaiming his heterosexuality, big time.

After that I didn't pay much attention to Prince.  I was vaguely aware that in 1993 he changed his name to a combination of the male and female symbols, again announcing his androgyny, then in 2000 back to Prince again.

And in 2001, that he had become a Jehovah's Witness, a hard-core fundamentalist church that flly embraces that ancient Hebrew text about ritual purity as evidence of God's hatred of non-heteros.

In 2008, he compared gay marriage to the horrible abominations that caused God to destroy all of humanity with the Great Flood: "God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough."

He then clarified that he meant gay marriage, gestured at his Bible, and said "It ain't right."

Later he said that he had been misquoted, but when asked again about his opinion concerning gay marriage, he refused to answer.

In 2013, his song "Da Bourgeosie" describes his disgust over a girlfriend who claimed to have left "the dirty world," but was still having sex with women.

Prince died earlier today at his home near Minneapolis.

I feel strangely melancholic, like I'm 23 years old again, driving down Interstate 55 south of St. Louis in my Dodge Dart, staring into a bleak, desolate future as everything I know and love recedes into the past.

How can you just leave me standing,
Alone in a world that's so cold?

Apr 20, 2016

Public Penises of Eastern Europe

You'll find a lot of muscular guys in Eastern Europe, where bodybuilding is nearly as popular as soccer (pictured: Bulgarian bodybuilder Dimitar Dimitrov).  But outside of the Czech Republic and Hungary, beefcake in public art is scarce.  The combined influence of Slavic churches and Soviet-era puritanism has taken its toll.

When someone does erect a nude male statue, there's usually a public outcry.  This statue of a nude Roman Emperor Trajan, one of the founders of Romania, placed on the steps of the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest, has caused jeers of derision.

Both for his nudity and for the fact that he's holding a wolf with a scarf (it's actually the Capitoline Wolf, who fed Romulus and Remus, attached to the Dacian Dragon).

When a nude statue of Prometheus the Fire-Bringer was erected in the Park of the Heroes of Macedonia in Skopje, public outcry forced Macedonian officials to give the god golden underwear.

But there is still beefcake to be found, often in the most unexpected places.

Like this naked man seemingly hovering in mid-air over the Bryda River in Bydgoszcz, Poland, commemorating Poland joining the European Union.

Or the Naked Swordsman at the University of Wroclaw, erected to warn students against incautious spending (apparently he was a student who bet everything he owned, except his sword, and lost).

More after the break.

Apr 19, 2016

10 Things I Hate About the Wizard of Oz

From 1959 to 1991, The Wizard of Oz, was shown on tv every year, on CBS until 1968, and then on NBC.

Nazarenes weren't allowed to go to movie theaters, but watching movies on tv was fine, so our parents sat us down every year and forced us to watch the "beloved children's classic."

Apparently it was shown in November or December, but I remember it in the springtime, one of the traumas of the end of the year.

It's old-fashioned, outdated, incomprehensible, and...well, horrifying.

1. Dorothy, played by 16-year old Judy Garland, the queen of angst, lives a horrible life on a Depression-Era Dustbowl farm in black-and-white Kansas. Her parents are dead; her elderly Uncle and Aunt appear to be raising man-eating pigs.

 Her only source of joy is her dog Toto, but the evil Miss Gulch is planning to take him away and have him killed.  She wants to go to a place where there "isn't any trouble."

2. A giant tornado destroys her home and zaps her off to Oz, where at least things are in color, but the main residents are disturbing munchkins who look like little adults with mouth deformities, but act like kids.  Could this be the place with no trouble?

3. She's assassinated the dictator of Munchkin land and stolen her ruby slippers, which apparently are powerful.  The Wicked Witch of the West, the dictator of Winkie Land, shows up.  She thinks Dorothy is hot ("I'll get you, my pretty."  But she wants to kill her anyway, get the slippers, and take over Munchkin land.

In Oz five minutes, and Dorothy has already started a war.  No wonder she wants to go home to Kansas.

4. She goes on a journey through an empty postapocalyptic Oz to get to the Emerald City and ask the assistance of the great and powerful Wizard.  Along the way she picks up adult male companions, mutants with their own quests: a brain, a heart, the "noive."

She's uncomfortably intimate with the Cowardly Lion.

Meanwhile the Witch burns, poisons, and otherwise terrorizes the group.  I hated the poppy field -- that's opium poppies, the source of heroin -- where Dorothy and company are almost smothered to death.

Incomprehensible: when the Scarecrow's body is torn up and scattered around, the Tin Man says "That's you all over," punning on 1930s slang.  Who makes a joke about a friend being torn to pieces?

5. At the Emerald City, where the bourgeoisie live in glorious excess, working one-hour work days and ignoring the deprivations of the proletariat, Dorothy and company enjoy a spa day.  Dorothy asks about getting her eyes dyed, which is disgusting.  There's an incomprehensible reference to "a horse of a different color."

6. After trying to terrorize them for awhile, the Wizard says he'll help, but only if they steal the Witch's broom.

They undertake a second long and perilous journey to the Witch's castle, where they are captured.  The flying monkeys are horrifying, as is the hourglass that counts out the minutes Dorothy has to live.  Nightmare time!

After almost being murdered, Dorothy melts the witch, frees her slaves -- at least in The Wiz, they were hunky guys in speedos -- and brings the broom back to the Wizard.

7. Who has no power at all!  He's a complete fraud!  He sent her on the quest assuming she would be killed, and his secret would be safe. Too cowardly to commit your own murders, Wiz?

The Wizard suggests that the companions defraud their way through life.  The Scarecrow gets a diploma he didn't earn and spouts some gibberish that sounds brainy but isn't.  He'll probably become a math professor.

Unfortunately, Dorothy can't defraud her back to Kansas.

8. Glinda the Good Witch, the dictator of Gillikan Land, shows up and, with an infuriating smirk, tells Dorothy that she always had the power to go home.

Why not tell her this before she went through all of the agony and terror, you sadistic jerk?

Were you trying to get her to do your dirty work for you, assassinate two world leaders so you could consolidate your power?  Were you the brains behind this whole trip?

And why is the matra that takes you back to Kansas "There's no place like home"?  That is, don't stay in Oz.  Is Glinda worried that if Dorothy sticks around, she will be a threat?

9.  Upon arriving back in Kansas, Dorothy discovers that it was all a dream that occurred when she hit her head during the tornado.  All of that trouble, pain, betrayal, fraud, and behind-the-scene machinations for nothing.  Besides, the plot about Miss Gulch taking away Toto is never resolved.  Dorothy's life is still horrible.

10. After all that, there are no same-sex relationships, and there's no beefcake. Where's the gay content?  (The "dandy-lion" doesn't count.)

Oh, well, here's a picture of a shirtless guy.

See also: The Wiz; The Boys and Men of Oz

Apr 18, 2016

What's Wrong with Open Relationships?

In gay communities, people who have open relationships are often criticized as shallow, sex-obsessed, afraid of true intimacy.

Or sometimes they're pitied.  If only they could experience the unmitigated joy of monogamy, being with only one person for life!

I've spent five years in monogamous relationships, and twenty in open relationships.  I'll take the open.

Here's why:

The cultures of the world have many ways of determining who is responsible for raising children.  The most common are:
1. Polygamy: several women have children with one man.
2. Polyandry: one woman has children with several men
3. Mixed: anyone in the clan can have children with anyone else.

17% of the world's cultures practice monogamy: one woman has children with one man only.

Monogamy ensures that men know that they are the biological father of the children they are raising.  But it has some drawbacks:

1. The wife becomes property, her vagina a commodity that can be bought and sold.  Through the 18th century, if a married woman was raped, the husband was assumed the victim.  If she was unmarried, the victim was the father.

2. The penalty for a wife who "cheats" is severe, but for the husband, the penalty is mild.  It is even expected that he have a "mistress" on the side.  90% of the people prosecuted under the adultery laws are female.

3. The husband and wife are expected to live alone, with their children, in"single family homes" which puts a severe strain on the world's economic resources.  Multiple-family dwellings are much more efficient.

Same-sex couples don't need to worry about pregnancy from an extramarital encounter, so why do they practice monogamy?  I have heard the following objections to sexual activity with people outside the relationship:

1.It increases the risk of sexually-transmitted diseases.

Unprotected sex increases the risk of STDs regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not.  Should single gay people avoid sexual activity, also? Wrap it up!

2. The partners may find someone they likes better, and end the relationship.

Will spending an hour in the bedroom with this guy tell you if he likes The X-Files and Buddhist philosophy, if he will be supportive of your career, if he will fit in with your friends?  Of course not -- all you will find out about is his bedroom performance.  If your relationship is so fragile that it will end because you found someone better at oral sex, is it really worth preserving?

3. Heterosexuals don't do it.

Of course they do, just not as often as we do, for an obvious reason: women lose prestige by having sex, but men gain it. Think of the terms used for men and women with multiple partners: stud vs. slut.  So it takes work to persuade a woman to have sex with you, but to get a man to have sex with you, all you need to do is ask.

4. It must be disgraceful.  You wouldn't want people to find out, would you?

I would prefer that my mother, minister, and boss not be apprised of my latest three-way.  Also I wouldn't want them to know what I did with my partner last night.  And I don't want to know what they did with their partners, either.

5. It detracts from the joy, fulfillment, and fun of the relationship.

I don't see how.  It's a joy to cruise together, to evaluate prospects.  It's fulfilling to watch your partner in action with someone they finds especially attractive. And it's fun to discuss afterwards.

6. I prefer monogamy, and everybody on Earth has to do things my way.

If you and your partner are both into it, feel free to only have sex with each other.  Or to not have sex at all.  It's really none of my business.  But at the same time, you don't have the right to judge me over something that my partner and I enjoy.

Semi-Open Relationships

I don't have strictly open relationships, where either partner can do anything with anybody at anytime.  What's the fun in that? I want to be there.

My relationships have usually been semi-open.

1. Either partner can engage in social activities with anyone he wants, including events that are typically considered dates: dinners, movies, and so on.

2. BUT no bedroom activity can occur without both partners being present.  All three will participate, or if one of the parties isn't into it, he can just watch.

3. At bath houses, sex clubs, and bear parties, the partners will cruise together whenever possible, but separate sexual activity is permitted.

4. If the partners are in separate cities, they can engage in bedroom activities with close friends, including "sharing" dates and romantic partners.

It's worked so far.  Twenty years of semi-open relationships with no STDs, no jealousy, no crying and recrimination, no breakups because he found someone better, and a lot of fun.

An uncensored version of this post is on Tales of West Hollywood.


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