Apr 30, 2016

Disney's Descendants

The Disney Channel movie Descendants (2015) follows the unlikely conceit that seven Disney animated fantasies about beset-upon Princesses being saved by Handsome Princes all took place about 20 years ago:

Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty. Snow White, Aladdin.

Wait -- those are all set in the Middle Ages, and the movies were made 50 years apart.   How...

Plus 101 Dalmatians, which is contemporary, and not about a Princess at all.

After the villains are defeated and the kingdoms are restored, the Princes and Princesses marry (except for Snow White, who decides to stay single and become a television reporter).

That's right, a television reporter.

The other kingdoms are all consolidated into the United States of Auradon (U.S.A. see?), ruled by Queen Belle and King Beast.

Wait -- his name was Beast before he was transformed into a beast by an evil curse?

Meanwhile the villains are all banished to the horrible Island of the Lost, where they, too, apparently find life partners.

A year or two later, every Princess and Villainess gets pregnant at the same moment!

A sort of Village of the Damned thing going on?  Do the kids all have glowing eyes and telepathic powers?

Fast forward 17 years.  Ben (Mitchell Hope, top photo), son of Belle and the Beast, will be inheriting the throne of the U.S.A. soon.  He's about to enter his last year at the exclusive Auradon Prep School (think Hogwarts without magic) along with his royal peers:

His girlfriend Audrey (Sarah Jeffrey), son of Sleeping Beauty (real name Princess Aurora) and Prince Phillip

His best buddy Chad Charming (Jedidiah Goodacre, left), son of Cinderella and Prince Charming.  Who knew that Charming was the family name?

Plain, mousy Jane (Brenna D'Amico), daughter of the Fairy Godmother, the Headmistress of Auradon Prep.  I guess they were running out of princesses.





Lonnie (Diane Doan), daughter of Mulan and Li Shang.

And the science nerd Doug (Zachary Gibson), son of Dopey from Snow White.  The Seven Dwarfs were obviously gay.  I wonder which one Dopey married?

Prince Ben is a progressive penologist who doesn't think children should be punished for the crimes of their parents, so he arranges for the Villains' descendants to be released from the Isle of the Lost and enrolled at Auradon Prep:









Mal (Dove Cameron), daughter of Malificent (the evil one from the 1959 movie, not the reformed one from Malificent)

Jay (BooBoo Stewart, left), son of Jafar from Aladdin.  One wonders what happened to Aladdin and Princess Jasmine.

Evie, daughter of The Evil Queen from Snow White.  So her actual given name was Evil Queen?  That's almost as bad as Malificent, which means "evil."

Carlos (Cameron Boyce, below), son of Cruella de Ville of 101 Dalmatians. The elderly, post-menopausal lady whose parents decided to name her Cruella?  He must be adopted.







They arrive all sneering and suspicious -- wouldn't you be, after a childhood in a Hell Dimension?

But after some classes in Remedial Goodness and buddy bonding through sports and pop music, they find that they prefer the company of high school hunks and babes to that of their snarling, wrist-shaking parents.

The problem is, their parents have given them the job of stealing the famous Magic Wand, so they can regain control over the empire...er, U.S.A.

What will they do?

Do you even need to ask?

This is a bright, flash, colorful mix of Harry Potter and High School Musical, so popular that it led to a 12-episode web sequel, a 23-episode short-form prequel, a novel, and a lot of merchandise.

There are two-hetero-romances, but they are countered by the extensive buddy-bonding between Jay and Carlos, and later Carlos and Chad.

And, of course, a lot of teen beefcake.

See also: Cameron Boyce; Maleficent.



The Postapocalyptic Fade-Out Kiss


In the movie 28 Days Later (2003), an attractive young man named Jim (Cillian Murphy) awakens from a coma to find himself in a deserted London hospital. Fully nude, he stumbles out onto the street, and discovers that the world has ended. 99% of the population has been transformed into bloodthirsty zombies, who roam the streets, attacking anyone “normal.” Soon Jim teams up with two other survivors, Mark (Noah Huntley) and Selena (Naomie Harris).

You may never have heard of Naomie Harris, but you know that she cannot possibly be a 70-year old lady or a 12-year old girl. You may never have seen a zombie movie, but you know that Jim and Selena cannot possibly end the movie as cordial friends.  They must fall in love.  And, of course, Mark is doomed.







The first line of Spiderman (2003) has the narrating Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) telling us, “Like all good stories, this story is about [a boy and] a girl.”

 

            










In Eagle Eye (2008), a supercomputer forces two strangers to work together on its evil scheme to take over the world. It needs college dropout Jerry (Shia LaBeouf) for complicated plot reasons, but it selects young single mother Rachel (Michelle Monaghan) seemingly at random. Why not a middle-aged woman? Why not a middle-aged man? Because Jerry needs a girl to kiss at fade-out.

The beefcake in these movies doesn't make up for the heterosexism. Whether the movie is serious or frivolous, artistic or hack, good or bad, comedy, tragedy, or drama, it must fade out to a man and a woman in love. Even if the “real” plot is about something else, like being bitten by a radioactive spider or saving the world from zombies, there must be a heterosexual romance.

See also: Two Zombie Movies with Gay Characters; and The Walking Dead: Gay People Unwelcome at the End of the World.

Apr 28, 2016

Saturnino Herran: A Gift of the Gods

Saturnino Herran (1887 to 1918) came to Mexico City in 1905 to study at the National School of Fine Arts.  He is most famous for murals that draw on Aztec motifs to display the color, life, and masculine beauty of the native Mexican people.

Our Ancient Gods, begun in 1916 and unfinished at the time of his death, was intended for Mexico City's new Teatro Nacional.







El Flechador (The Archer), 1917, is a languid, androgynous youth pointing a phallic arrow off-stage.















El Quetzal (1917) depicts a muscular, naked youth holding a quetzal, the symbol of Mexican national identity.

















La Leyenda de Volcanes (The Legend of Volcanoes) tells the aftermath of a forbidden love: the girl's father disapproves, so he turns her into snow, leaving her boyfriend to grieve.

It sounds like a veiled story of a homoerotic romance, doesn't it?

Herran painted a few semi-nude women, too, and he was married when he died, so any same-sex romances he had were strictly closeted.  But he is lauded today as a precursor of the great gay artists of the 20th century, like George Quaintance and Tom of Finland

Burt Reynolds Naked on a Bear Skin Rug


The most famous male nude photos in history:
1. Johnny Crawford's full-frontal nude shot advertising The Naked Ape (1973).
2. Burt Reynolds's nude centerfold in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan


The 36-year old actor specialized in serious dramatic roles, mostly Westerns about surly, downtrodden Native Americans (Navajo Joe, 100 Rifles, Sam Whiskey).  He had just finished filming Deliverance (1972), about four big-city businesmen who go camping in rural Appalachia, and encounter slack-jawed, gap-toothed hillbilly savages.  He expected it to get him a best-actor Oscar and acclaim as a serious actor.

Then Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown approached Paul Newman about doing a nude centerfold.  He refused, so she approached Burt.

Burt lay supine on a bearskin rug in a parody of the popular baby photos, grinning mischievously, coyly hiding his sex organs.  It was not an erotic photo.

But it was groundbreaking.  Nude male photography was still in its infancy -- only a few years ago, it was judged de facto obscene.  This was the first time that any man had ever appeared nude in a mainstream publication.

It was a victory for women's liberation.  Helen Gurley Brown reminisced: "Men liked to look at women naked.  Nobody talked about it, but women liked to look at men naked."  A few months later, Douglas Lambert was inspired by the photo to launch Playgirl magazine, featuring pictures of naked men: "It came to me -- that's what women want."

Both of them were disgustingly heterosexist, trying their best to pretend that they were unaware that  some men like to look at men naked, too.   But men were watching.  Burt Reynolds became a gay icon without ever playing a gay character.

The photo made Burt a celebrity, but kept him from being taken seriously as an actor.  Deliverance was snubbed at the Oscars, and he spent the 1970s in Southern-Redneck comedies like White Lightning (1973), Hooper (1978), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)and the Smokey and the Bandit series (1977, 1980, 1983), often with his bff Bert Convy.

It has been recreated by  many other celebrities, including Neil Patrick Harris and Mario Lopez.

See also: Bert Convy: Spending the 1970s Nude

Apr 26, 2016

Steve Bond: Most Famous Nude in Hollywood

The October 1975 issue of Playgirl featured several nude photos of model/actor Steve Bond.  They quickly became the most famous male nude photos in the world (not counting those of Christopher George.)

Not because he was a man-mountain -- no bodybuilder, he had the tight, pleasantly muscled physique of a New Sensitive Man.

Not because of his size beneath the equator, though he was huge.

Because of the contrast.

The last time anyone had seen Steve Bond, he was fourteen years old, playing Erik in Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968), with Mike Henry. 

Seven years makes a big difference!

After one or two more child-actor roles, young Schlomo Goldberg went back home to Israel, finished high school, and completed his mandatory military service.  Now he was in L.A. again, ready to hit the big time.  The nude photos came at a moment of desperation, when he was flat broke

Unfortunately, posing nude was still controversial in 1975, and Steve found it difficult getting the attention of casting directors. During the next decade, he played some street toughs, some sexploitation studs, a Chippendales dancer, and a forest ranger investigating some teen murders (in The Prey, 1984). 





Finally, hoping that the nude pictures were long forgotten, he landed one of the defining roles of his career, good old boy Jimmy Lee Holt on General Hospital (1983-87).

No such luck.  In 1985, an eagle-eyed editor at Playgirl discovered the old photos, and reprinted them.  Steve was devastated.  What would happen when the General Hospital producers found out?  Would he be fired? 

Turns out that nothing happened.  Jimmy Lee Holt was too popular to dismiss. The GH producers even commissioned a Speedo poster to show off Steve's assets.





After General Hospital, Steve did another soap (Santa Barbara),and the sci-fi thriller Spacejacked (1997).  Not a lot of gay content, but two movies spring to mind:

1. To Die For (1988): the seductive vampire Tom (Steve) gets upset when his ex-boyfriend Vlad (Bryan Hughes) falls for a mortal woman, and plots revenge. Scott Jacoby plays a human who gets involved.

2. Magdalene (1989).  Austrian priest Joseph Mohr (Steve) tries to reform a prostitute, and is accused of sexual misconduct.  Meanwhile he buddy-bonds with Franz Gruber (Cyrus Elias), and helps him write the Christmas classic "Silent Night."

I guess you don't need a lot of gay content when you already have the most famous endowment in Hollywood.

You can see the nude photos on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: Bert Convy spends the 1970s nude

Apr 25, 2016

Big Bad Brucie

I am a child of the television era; the tv was on from the moment we got home from school until well past bedtime, except during dinner.  We watched while playing, doing homework, reading, a constant, pleasant background to our lives.

Radio was trivial: the KSTT Top 40 Hits played every morning as we were getting ready for school, and sometimes late in the evening.  It was like an alarm clock.  You never deliberately listened.

Until the fall of 1975, my sophomore year in high school, when a friend told me about a late-night radio program, Dr. Demento.

It specialized in parodies and novelty songs.

The first night I listened, the playlist included:

"Dragnet Goes to Kindergarten"
"Pickle in the Middle with the Mustard on Top"
"Marvin's Duckie"
"Chicken Fat"
"They're Coming to Take Me Away"
"The Lumberjack Song"





And "Big Bruce," by Steve Greenberg.

Well at the beauty salon every morning at ten
Big Bruce arrived and kind of tip-toed in
He wore bell bottomed pants and a polka-dot tie
And whenever he spoke, it was just to say 'Hi'

And everyone knew when he swished into town
You could smell his perfume for miles around
He stood six foot five, and weighed 106
With a curl in his hair and a smile on his lips

He dies when his beauty salon catches on fire, and he goes back inside to fetch his purse.

That's what heteros thought gay men were like in 1975.

Many still do. This is Big Gay Al, from Southpark.  Grant Stone and Trey Parker still think gay men lisp and swish.

I had no idea that gay men existed in 1975, but I knew all about swishes:  boys who believed so strongly that they were girls, that they actually became girls, or rather a monstrous boy-girl hybrid: though male in form, they lisped, minced, swished, carried purses, wore dresses and perfume and make-up, called you "Thweetie," and were usually named Bruce.

Except the swishes I knew were figures of disgust and dread: they waited patiently in schoolyards and back alleys, breathing softly in the shadows, until an unsuspecting boy approached.  Then they pounced!  All it took was a slim, bejeweled hand placed on your shoulder, or a soft lisping whisper in your ear, and you would change, inevitably, into a swish.

Big Bruce was certainly ridiculed, laughed at, and looked down upon, but he was no threat.



"Big Bruce" was first released by Randy Sparks of the New Christie Minstrels in 1961.  He meant it as a parody of "Big Bad John," a Western ballad by Jimmy Dean (the guy who sells sausages)

On the queer music website, Randy Sparks writes: "Most gay men had no problem with laughing at the ditty, but any lesbians in my audiences seemed to immediately take offense, so I was careful where I sang it. I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable."

I would certainly be yelling "homophobe!" now, but in 1975 it was a pleasant alternative to the horror the swishes usually brought.

The song was very popular in the homophobic 1960s, recorded by several other groups, including The Country Gentlemen (1966), The Faux Pas (1967),  Bill Stith (1973), and most recently Bird & MacDonald (1993).  Steve Greenberg's version is from 1969.

Apr 24, 2016

Teenage Millionaire: The Teen Idol Career of Jimmy Clanton

Have you ever heard of Jimmy Clanton?

I thought I was an expert on teen idols, but I missed this one.

Born in 1938 in Louisiana, he burst onto the charts right after high school, eschewing the usual rock for rhythm & blues.  Between 1958 and 1962, he released six albums, and had three hit songs:

"Just a Dream" (1958) isn't heterosexist.  It could apply to a boy or a girl:

Just a dream, just a dream
All our plans and our all schemes
How could I think you'd be mine
The lies I'd tell myself each time


"Go, Jimmy, Go" (1959) is heterosexist, however.  He brags to his girlfriend about his expertise in sweet-talking, dancing, and kissing, and she responds with an open invitation: "Go, Jimmy, Go!"

"Venus in Blue Jeans" (1962), of course, is about a girl.

She's Venus in blue jeans
Mona Lisa with a ponytail
She's a walking, talking work of art
She's the girl who stole my heart









Jimmy got a lot of exposure in the late 1950s, including beefcake (or at least shirtless) shots in teen magazines and two movies designed to showcase his teen idol appeal:

Go, Jimmy, Go (1959), where he is renamed Jimmy Melody.  Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, and Ritchie Valens also perform.

Teenage Millionaire (1961) is about the millionaire son of a radio station owner, who goes undercover and woos a girl.  Zazu Pitts, the 1930s movie legend who was a lesbian in real life, plays Aunt Theodora.




At least there are poolside scenes.

But Jimmy was a little "un-hip," even for the Kennedy Era, and his star soon faded.

He continued to perform through the 1960s, and later became a disc jockey.  He is still in demand for nostalgia concerts.





He looks rather Liberace-like in this recent photo, but there's little evidence that he is gay.  He's been married since 1962, and has three daughters, two adopted, one biological.

Or a gay ally: he''s a member of the Lakewood Church in Houston, pastored by "homosexuality is a sin" Joel Osteen.

See also: Paul Anka; Beach Movies 




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