May 6, 2016

Tarzan Also-Rans

Most people prefer Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan.  In 12 films (1932-1948), the former Olympic swimmer embued Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation with a savage innocence borrowed directly from Rousseau.

Others prefer  Mike Henry's suave 1960s James Bond-style Tarzan, Denny Miller's beach boy, Ron Ely's lanky environmentalist, or Miles O'Keeffe's New Sensitive Tarzan of the 1980s.  But there have been many others.  Twenty men have played Tarzan since Elmo Lincoln in 1918.  All provided ample beefcake, but some were better than others at evoking homoromantic subtexts:

1. Buster Crabbe, better known as Flash Gordon, played an exceptionally buffed Ape Man in a 1933 movie serial.  He invented the Tarzan yell, and fell in love with a girl named Mary.

2. Herman Brix, who changed his name to Bruce Bennett so he wouldn't sound German,  competed with Weissmuller in two movies, The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935) and Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1938).  His Tarzan was cultured, sophisticated, and spoke proper English.  He rescued girls, but never fell in love with them.

3. Lex Barker took the mantle from the aging Weissmuller and played the Lord of the Jungle five times (1949-1953).  He had Jane at his side just as often as his predecessor.

4. Gordon Scott, who had an amazingly v-shaped torso, played Tarzan six times (1955-1960), with a "Me Tarzan" patois that sounded very odd coming from an immaculately coiffed 1950s head. He was uninterested in heterosexual romance most of the time, but never met a man who wasn't planning to stab him in the back.

5. Jock Mahoney, at age 44, became the oldest Tarzan in Tarzan Goes to India (1962) and Tarzan's Three Challenges (1963).  He doesn't have a girlfriend, but in Three Challenges he gets a sidekick, the young Thai prince Kashi (Ricky Der).

6. Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) was an attempt to provide a realistic view of the Ape Man mythos.  Though this was the era of the man-mountains, Christopher Lambert was not particularly massive, because the Ape Man's diet would not have been good enough for bulking up.  He had romantic relationships with both Jane (Andie McDowell) and Philippe (Ian Holm)

7. Joe Lara starred in Tarzan in Manhattan (1989), with Jane as a cab driver, and Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996-97), with no Jane.

8. Wolf Larson (left) became the second TV Tarzan in the French-Canadian production (1991-94), and the only one to have a teen sidekick (played by Sean Roberge). Jane (Lydie Denier) became a French environmental scientist.

9.  The last live-action Tarzan on the big screen was played by Casper Van Dien in 1998.  He's engaged to Jane Porter.

10. In 2003-4, a WB series transformed Jane Porter  into a NYPD detective, and Tarzan (Travis Fimmel) into her industrialist boyfriend. Sounds awful.

Pudge and Bum, the Beefcake Buddies of Yale University

I saw the name Pudge Heffelfinger online the other day.

Ok, "pudge" means fat, and a "heffelfinger" is a sex act, so..surely this was a made-up name, from a humorous story or satire.

But no, there really is a Heffelfinger family, with a member named Pudge.

Obviously I have to write a post about him.  Someone with such a distinctive name must have some gay connection.

Pudge Heffelfinger (1867-1951) played baseball and football in high school in Minnesota, then went to Yale, where he became all-American three times in a row (I don't know what that means).

I couldn't find any shirtless pics, but he fills out this Yale sweater well.  He was 6'3 and 200 lbs, a giant in his era.

After graduation, he played for the Chicago and Allegheny Leagues, where, in 1892, he was paid $500 for a game against Pittsburgh,  becoming the first professional football player in history.

Later he coached the California Golden Bears, the Lehigh Brown and White, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, plus returning to Yale as a guest player and coach.  He appeared in exhibition games through his life -- the last time he played was in 1930, when he was 63).

Meanwhile, he published sales booklets for sports equipment and an annual book, Pudge Hefferfinger's Football Facts.  

He produced a sports quiz radio program, plus a spy show, Secret Agent K-7.

For a career, Pudge worked in the shoe business and real estate, and spent twenty years as the Hennepin County, Minnesota Commissioner.  In 1930 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress.

He died in Blessing, Texas in 1954, leaving a wife and four children.

But being married with children doesn't necessarily mean that Pudge was straight.  What about this intimate pose in a cabinet photo from his Yale days?

The moustached guy with feminine hand thing and his wrist an inch or so from Pudge's crotch is Bum McClung, aka Thomas Lee McClung (1870-1914), three years younger, a "frosh" who became a football star in his own right, and, like Pudge, returned to Yale  to coach throughout his life.

After graduation, Bum became the treasurer of Yale University, and in 1909 the United States Treasurer under President Taft.

When he died unexpectedly from an illness in 1914, an obituary called him "a remarkable athlete, a wonderful football player, a lovable classmate, a diligent student, a manly man–a type Yale men idealize for emulation."

You'd never make it to a high office in the U.S. today without being married, but Bum managed.

The late 19th century was the "era of the bachelor," when many men who liked women feared the loss of freedom that came with marriage, as well as the debilitating effect of the sex act itself.  Being unmarried doesn't necessarily mean that Bum was gay.


Maybe he and Pudge....

Here's another picture of Bum McClung with an unidentified friend.  He's doing that feminine hand thing again.


May 4, 2016

Guys Who Need to Come Out on "Fear the Walking Dead"

I'm watching the second season of Fear the Walking Dead (2015-) about a family caught up in the first days of the Zombie Apocalypse of The Walking Dead.  

The first season was slow and dull and heterosexist, more about family squabbles than zombies, as high school teacher Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) tried to round up his ex-wife and son, girlfriend and her son and daughter, and move them "to the desert" where it was safe.

They took refuge with Daniel Salazar (Ruben Blades), a barber with a Secret Past, and his heterosexual nuclear family, and mostly sat around waiting for the government to come and save them..

But at least there was a lot of beefcake, guys taking off their clothes for no apparent reason, and some hunky recurring characters, like Shawn Hatosy as the clueless Corporal Adams.

This season has thinned out the herd a bit.  The mysterious Victor Strand (gay actor Colman Domingo), who has a Secret Motive, takes them all out onto his yacht, where they are seeking a safe harbor.  There are just enough castaways to start a new Gilligan's Island.

1. Strand can be the Skipper.

2. Nick (Frank Dillane), Travis' moody, drug-addict son, is Strand's protege, and the reason he offered to rescue them in the first place.  Do I detect bromance in the air?  Ok, he's Gilligan.

3.-4. Travis and his girlfriend Madison (Kim Dickens), a rather dim-witted guidance counselor.  Mr. and Mrs. Howell, certainly.

5. Daniel Salazar.  The Professor.

6. Alicia (Alycia Debham-Carter), Kim's daughter, a former modeling student.  Ginger.

7. Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie), Travis' son.  (That's him behind his older brother, David Henrie of The Wizards of Waverly Place).

Well, let's just say Chris is feminine.  Definitely Mary Anne.

The second season is still rather heterosexist -- the first group of survivors they run into is a nuclear family with its own survivalist compound on Catalina Island (which they call Catrina Island).

But there's still a lot of beefcake, as the guys decide to go swimming in zombie-infested waters, or just take their shirt off for no reason.

We're waiting to see if the still to-be-introduced actors, like Daniel Zovatto and Dougray Scott, increase the beefcake potential.

And we're still waiting for Strand, Nick, and Chris to come out.  Last Sunday's episode, where Chris buddy-bonded with the survivalist family's teenage son (Jake Austin Walker) over a zombie-killing chore, was close.


On the May 1st episode of Fear the Walking Dead, we discover that Strand is, in fact gay, and guiding the castaways to a rendezvous with his lover.

But Chris indicated that prior to the zombie apocalypse he was dating a girl.

Nick is still in the closet.

See also: The Walking Dead

May 1, 2016

Breaking Bad: Everyone Loves Jesse

People kept telling me, "You have to watch Breaking Bad (2008-2013).  It's great!  It's fabulous!  It's colossal!"

I turned on the first episode, in which Albuquerque chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) finds out that he has lung cancer, and in order to provide for his family, decides to produce methamphetamine.  He talks one of his ex-students, a meth dealer named Jesse (Aaron Paul),into being his assistant.

Jesse uses anti-gay slurs.

Click.  Why should I watch a homophobic program?

My friends implore me to watch.

But the program is homophobic!

Recently I have been forced to watch The Shield, which was the most homophobic programs ever, dripping with contempt for homos, and with an actual plotline in which a gay guy turns straight due to the power of prayer!  So I figured I could handle Breaking Bad.

The homophobic slurs are infrequent after the first episode.  I guess the writers figured they had gotten rid of all the gay viewers, and didn't need to bother anymore.

So, what did I find, going incognito into a program exclusively for heterosexuals?

Well, of course, there are no explicitly gay characters.  Like most television drama, Breaking Bad is set in a world where gay people are assumed not to exist.

But, wow!  Walt and Jesse.

They behave like romantic partners.

They are treated like romantic partners.

They break up, date other people, then reconcile.

Jesse is wooed by a new boyfriend, Mike, and Walt roils with jealousy and tries to win him back.

Each says to a bad guy (well, to someone equally bad), "If you kill him, you'll have to kill me, too."

Even other people notice.  When Mike is told "If you kill him, you'll have to kill me too," he says "What is it with you two?"

Even in Season 5, after Walt has betrayed Jesse a dozen times, Jesse still behaves as if he's in love with him.

Jesse says "Why don't you stop pretending that you care about me?"

Walt hugs him.  Jesse breaks down and sobs.

Then there are the gay characters, or at least characters who are well-groomed, sophisticated, and expressing no interest in women.

Including big time meth dealer Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), who, in a flashback, sees his lover murdered by cartel head Hector Salamanca. He invites guys he likes, such as Jesse, over for dinner and who-knows-what-else at his house.

At one of the drug cartel's gatherings, the entertainment consists of women, who come in and sit on the laps of the men.  Not Gustavo, though.  He's obviously not interested.

During one of Walt and Jesse's breakups, Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) becomes Walt's new assistant.  Well-groomed, sophisticated, no women around, gives Walt a copy of Leaves of Grass, the famous gay-themed classic, with the inscription: "To my star, my perfect silence"

What, exactly, were they up to after hours?

For that matter, few if any of the characters on Breaking Bad exhibit significant

Walt's teenage son Junior (RJ Mitte) has a best boy friend but never mentions girls, although he gets the standard heterosexist "you must be girl-crazy" gibberish from his dad and uncle.

Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), one of the baddie drug dealers, spends all of his time with men.

Jesse's friends, Badger (Matt L. Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), display an interest in women in just one scene.

Hank (Dean Norris), Walt's brother-in-law, who also happens to be a DEA Agent, has a wife, but he spends all of his quality time in the company of men.  He even tries to woo Jesse away from Walt.

Who doesn't?  This show should be called Everybody Loves Jesse.

So that's what heterosexuals are up to when they think there are no gay people watching.


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