Jul 16, 2016

The 10 Hunks of "Fuller House"

I've never seen a single episode of the TGIF warmedy Full House (1987-1995).  I was usually busy on Friday nights, and when I wasn't, who wanted to see an aggressively gay-free series set in the gay mecca of San Francisco?  It was like setting a series in Israel and pretending that Jews don't exist.

But I understand that some gay men found subtexts in the story of three men raising a family together.

The premise: after his wife dies, TV journalist Danny (Bob Saget), asks two bros to move in and help raise his daughters: the wacky comedian Joey (Dave Coulier, left), and his cool but irresponsible brother-in-law, Jesse (heartthrob John Stamos).  The daughters, by the way, are D. J. (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olson, who grew up to be media stars).

The sequel, Fuller House, appeared on Netflix in 2016.

Thirty years have passed, but a grown up DJ (Candace Cameron Bure) is still living in the same house, with apparently the same decor.  She has just been widowed (poor kid has led a tragic life, losing first her mother, then her husband).

 So she invites two gal pals to move in with her and help raise her sons: her sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweeten) and best friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber), plus Kimmy's daughter.  The three sons are Jackson, Max, and Tommy (a baby, played by twins).

See how the producers just switched all the genders?

The three Dads, older and fatter (except John Stamos, who hasn't aged), pop in from time to time.

The kids get only a few episodes amid the ladies' running into ex-husbands, getting secret admirers, getting engaged, and so on. They're more Golden Girls than TGIF.  

Unfortunately, after thirty years, it's still a gay-free San Francisco.  Conservative Christian Candace Cameron Bure says she is open to the possibility of exploring "gay issues."

She thinks it's an issue?  Does she anticipate an angst-ridden coming out episode?  Maybe a teen who's "confused about his sexuality"?

But with all that hetero cruising going on, there is a surprising amount of beefcake on Fuller House.  10 hunks in 13 episodes!

1. DJ works as a veterinarian, and crushes on coworker Matt (John Brotherton)

2. Juan Pablo Di Pace and his cigar (left) have a recurring role as Kimmy's hot ex-husband, who she starts dating again.

3. Meanwhile Stephanie dates Hunter Pence, a real-life baseball player for the San Francisco Giants.

4. And Steve Talley (I'd stick with Hunter)

5. And DJ dates Tyler (Ryan McPartin)

6.-7. Dancing with the Stars hunks Maxim Cherkowskiy and his brother Val go out dancing with DJ and Stephanie.

8-9. Blake and Dylan Tuomy Wilhoit, who played Uncle Jesse's twin sons in the original series, reprise their roles, all grown up, wacky entrepreneurs who plan to start a fish taco wagon and flex their biceps.

10.  Ok, this one is a little premature, but Michael Campion, who plays DJ's oldest son, is poised on the brink of teen idol hunkiness.  Give him a few years (if the hunk of the week format can last that long).

Jul 14, 2016

What's Gay about "The Afternoon of a Faun"

My friend Mickey the Russian Major, who I met at the Iowa Gay Pride March in 1981, told me about the Ballet Ruses, founded by Sergei Diaghilev to showcase the muscular bodies of male dancers, and his protege and lover Vaslev Nijinsky, who scandalized audiences with his homoerotic interpretation of L'apres-midi d'un faun (The Afternoon of a Faun).  My professor in Russian Culture and Civilization also told me that they were gay, symptoms of the "decadence" of fin de siecle Russia.

But how could you do a homoerotic interpretation of  The Afternoon of a Faun?

The original poem by Stephane Mallarme (1875), is a masterpiece of symbolist literature, but with no gay content.  A male faun of Greek mythology chases and has sex with several female nymphs, while saying things like "Ces nymphes, je les veux perpétuer" (These nymphs, I would perpetuate them).

It inspired Claude Debussy to write Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894), an orchestral piece that imagines the Faun pursuing nymphs all afternoon, and then tiring and falling asleep.  Again, no gay content.

In 1912, Vaslev Nijinsky choreographed and performed a ballet version, pursuing nymphs in a frenzy of heterosexual desire before finally taking one of their veils as an autoerotic fetish object.  He made it homoerotic by:
1. Training all eyes on his body, his masculine virility, not on the nymphs.
2. Training his eye on his lover, Diaghilev, so his autoerotic fantasy is about men.

It received mixed reviews and some downright hostility, so was only performed a few more times.

It was choreographed again in 1953 by Jerome Robbins, with Francisco Moncion (top photo) as the Faun, and in 2006 by Tim Rushton, with Johan Kobberg as the Faun.  They skip the homoerotic veil to make it heterosexist again.

In the 1980 movie Nijinsky, Nijinksy was played by George de la Pena, and Diaghilev by the gay actor Alan Bates.

See also modern dancers Ted Shawn and Erick Hawkins.

Visiting Dustin: Hookups, Sharing, and a Bathhouse Surprise

Minneapolis,  July 5th, 2016

I arrive in Minneapolis at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday to visit my sort-of boyfriend Dustin.

Dustin is 21 years old, an animation major at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, short, with  thick brown hair, a handsome square face, and a slim, tight physique with an outtie belly button.

He has an apartment in an old Victorian across the street from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, with two straight roommates who are gone for the summer

Over dinner at the Red Dragon, he asks "What do you want to do while you're here?  If we ever make it out of the bedroom, that is."

"The Institute of Art, of course.  The Walker Art Center.  And a lot of Asian cuisine.  All our tiny town on the Plains has is not-very-good Chinese."

"There's an epic Malaysian place a few blocks away.  And Vietnamese and Thai, and we even have Tibetan.   Anything else?"

"A play at the Guthrie?"

"They're doing South Pacific this weekend.  Lots of gorg soldier boys to perv on.  But I was wondering if you were up for a more erotic evening."

"Sure, I'm up for that. What do you have in mind?  Or who?"

He grins.  "It's a surprise."

The full post, with nude photos and sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Jul 13, 2016

The Gay Symbolism of Betty Boop

Around 1980 or 1981, the PBS tv series Matinee at the Bijou, which tried to recreate an old-time moviegoing experience, broadcast an old black-and-white cartoon, "Minnie the Moocher"  It starred a squeaky-voiced, big-headed girl named Betty Boop who runs away from home, along with her pet dog or maybe boyfriend Bimbo.

They seek refuge in a spooky cave, where a swaying, backwards-dancing walrus sings to a series of disturbing images: skeletons drink poison, collapse, and become ghosts; ghost inmates are sent to the electric chair, and die; pupil-less kittens suck the life force from a dour mother cat.

What sort of cartoon was this, I wondered, to so adroitly combine a morality play with the stuff of Freudian nightmares?  To so disturbingly disrupt the images of life and death, human and animal, male and female? And then I wondered: could it also have some gay symbolism?

Matinee at the Bijou eventually broadcast a few more Betty Boop cartoons.  There weren't many.  Introduced by Fleischer Studios in 1930, the stylized flapper with the baby-doll voice roamed her crazy, nightmarish world until 1934, when the Production Code forced her to settle down to more conventional cartoons about kids and dogs.

During her heyday, Betty had gay friends -- a "pansy" appears as one of the guests at her party, and at her diner, another lisps "Pass me the cold cuts -- they look delish."  But was there any other gay symbolism?

1. The fluidity of identity, men becoming women, animals becoming human, boys becoming men, suggests that desire, too, is fluid, not merely male desiring female.

2. Betty incites a transformative, healing desire that can heal broken bones and make old men young again.  The transformative power of desire is a palliative for gay people told over and over that their desire is wrong, abnormal, or doesn't exist.

3. The cartoons are run through with men desiring men as well as women.

Most blatantly in "Bimbo's Initiation (1931).  Bimbo is kidnapped by a secret society of men with melted black faces and candles on their heads, suggesting the transience of life.  They sing "Wanna be a member?" Bimbo refuses, so they torture him with sinister pit-and-pendulum devices, a sword that pops out of the wall, symbolic doors that open to skeletons and mirrors (self-knowledge, perhaps). The men turn out to be an army of Bettys, so Bimbo agrees to become a member.

The men want Bimbo, and pursue him lustfully.  Even the sword licks its lips in anticipation of his flesh.  The fluidity of gender, male as female disguise, only adds to the homoeroticism.

Jul 12, 2016

The Most Underrated Sexual Act

The most underrated sexual act is the one that everyone engages in, but no one admits to.

I guarantee that each of these three guys does it three to five times a week.  But if you ask, they'll deny doing it.

It tends to be denigrated in gay communities -- and straight communities -- as far inferior to other activities, as an act of desperation that only lonely losers and sexual compulsives stoop to.

50% of gay men surveyed don't count it as a sex act at all.

The full post is too risque for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding.  Read it on Tales of West Hollywood

The Homophobic 1980s of the Beastie Boys

I barely heard of The Beastie Boys until last January, when their song "Shake Your Rump" was performed on The Goldbergs.   All I knew was that they were a boy band from the 1980s, probably British (since Americans don't use the adjective "beastly"), and they sang "You got to fight for your right to party."

But the Goldberg homage group,  The Tasty Boys (Sam Lerner, Troy Gentile, Sean Giambrone), was rather tasty, and the song was catchy, so I looked up the Beastie Boys.

I found this photo of the group on the beach at Coney Island: Mike D (Mike Diamond, born in 1965), MCA (Adam Yauch, 1964-2012), and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz (born in 1966)

Not bad.  Why were they under my radar in the late 1980s?

Then I found a 1999 letter by Ad-Rock, published in Time Out: 

“I would like to formally apologize to the entire gay and lesbian community for the shitty and ignorant things we said on our first record."

That would be License to Ill, released in 1986.

Wait -- something homophobic happened in 1986, and I didn't know about it?

So I looked up the album and scanned the lyrics of every song for homophobia.

Like most rap artists they brag a lot about how much sex with women they have.  Every woman on Earth wants to sleep with them, due partly to their enormous penises and partly to their orgasm-inducing music:

Taxing all females from coast to coast
And when I get my fill I'm chilly most

We rag-tag girlies back at the hotel

Met this girl at the party and she started to flirt
I told her some rhymes and she pulled up her skirt

Although they like women for other reasons than just sex:

Girls -- to do the dishes.
Girls -- to clean up my room.
Girls -- to do the laundry.
Girls -- in the bathroom

Men other than their homeboys are woefully unable to get girls (for laundry or sex), and therefore jealous.  Sometimes they have to be killed, but the Beastie Boys are stone-cold killas, more than up to the challenge.

Twin sisters in my bed, their father had envy so I shot him in the head

Saw the kid that dissed my homey and shot him in the back.

I keep a pistol in my pocket so you better be cautious.

They also brag about how great their music is.  Other musicians are woefully inadequate, not proficient enough to make rhymes, not manly enough to get girls:

You tried to steal my fresh and you got cold busted
Because your crew's all soft and I'm disgusted

In general, the Beastie Boys are the most wondrous beings on the planet, desired by every girl, envied by every boy.

And I got more juice than Picasso got paint
Got rhymes that are rough and rhymes that are slick
I'm not surprised you're on my dick

The lyrics were very, very annoying.  Did the Beatles announce how great they were in every song?  But I didn't see anything specifically homophobic.

The only lyrics that come close are disapproving of sophisticated guys:

You got a dry Martini thinking you're cool
I'll take your place at the bar, I'll smack you off your stool
I'll down a '40 dog in a single gulp
And if you got beef you'll get beat to a pulp

 There's one line suggesting that the competing musicians are gay:

You drippy nose knuckle-head - you're wet behind the ears
You like men - and we like beer.

And the few girls who refuse sex:

I should have probably guessed they're gay.

Altogether, rather mild.

Of course, in real life they were as homophobic as just about every group of lower-class New York teenagers in the 1980s.  They wanted to call their album Don't Be a Faggot.  In a 1987 interview entitled "Yo, Homo," Ad-Rock clarified: "I hate faggots...I really do.  I've got lots of gay friends, but..."

MCA stepped in to explain further: Ad-Rock hates gay people, but he has a good reason.  When he was five years old, he was constantly being propositioned by "disgusting faggots who aren't just like gay people -- normal gay people."

Um, I believe the term for that is pedophile.

Over the years, the Beastie Boys moved beyond their boyhood bigotry, far beyond the glorified violence and sexism of their early work.  They became feminists and Tibetan Buddhists, spoke out in favor of human rights, opposed Islamophobia.

And became gay-inclusive, sort of.

In 2004 they were singing:

We gotta keep the party going on 
All lifestyles, sizes, shapes, and form 

See also: The Goldbergs

Jul 11, 2016

The Beefcake Paintings of Nikos Engonopoulos

Nikos Engonopoulos (1903-1985) was a Greek painter of the surrealist movement, a colleague of Max Ernst, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali.

But the work of other surrealists rarely depicted beefcake (even though Dali was gay).

Engonopoulous stayed away from beefcake during the 1930s and 1940s, and filled his poetry with images of desirable women rather than men.

  But near the end of his career he began to paint stylized, faceless men with broad shoulders and narrow waists, a reflection of standards of male beauty of his childhood.  And they all have penises.

Most were not put on display, but given as gifts to his friends, as if they were private visions.

Cafe, les pallicares (1956) depicts soldiers in the Greek War of Independence (1821-1828) standing beneath a Greek flag in a cafe.  The swordsman, the waiter, and the toga-clad philosopher suggest icons of male sensuality like the leatherman and the cowboy in the U.S.

Two Soldiers and a Philosopher (1951) are three other types of Greek masculinity, one nude.

Hunter and Watchmaker (1975).  I don't know the significance of the hunter and the watchmaker, but time is passing, and through the window we can see the sea.  Maybe they're a gay couple.

The Death of Archimedes (1950-60).  Archimedes was a mathematician and inventor who died at the hands of the Romans during the Second Punic War (Syracuse is visible in flames through the window)

Hero (Philopoemen), undated, but probably from the 1950s.  Philopoemen was an ancient Greek general (strategos).

I don't know why Engonopoulos experienced such a burst of masculine energy late in his life.  Maybe he was coming out.  Or maybe he just wanted a hero.

See also: The Penis Festival of Greece

Jul 10, 2016

The 9 Worst TV Series Finales in History

If you watch every episode of a 100-episode sitcom, you've spend 2300 minutes, not including reruns.  That's the equivalent of 19 feature-length movies or 11 novels (at the average adult reading speed).

If it was a 60-minute dramatic series, make that 38 feature length movies and 22 novels.

Then comes the series finale.  There will be no more episodes.

You know the characters better than many of your real-life friends.  Saying goodbye is going to be painful.

For years you've set aside a special part of your week for the program.  You rarely missed it, and when you did, you taped it to watch later.  You watched all of the summer reruns.There will be a hole in your life for quite some time.

So you sit down for the series finale, hoping for a warm, funny, memorable sendoff.  But instead, you get garbage.  Mind-destroying, depressing, confusing, WTF garbage.

May 10, 1983: Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983).  A sitcom about two bromantic "girlfriends" sharing an apartment in 1950s Milwaukee, right?  Except by 1983, there was just Laverne, it was Los Angeles, and the heart of the 1960s (Laverne's boyfriend is a Star Trek fan).  Way to destroy your premise.

But the series finale isn't even about that; it's about Laverne's singer/dancer/male prostitute friend Carmine going to New York to audition for Hair.  

We don't find out if he got the role or not. And we don't see his nude scene.

May 21, 1990: Newhart (1982-1990): For eight years, Bob Newhart played the owner of a bed and breakfast in a small New England town full of quirky residents, whom you grew fond of over the years.  Who can forget "I'm Larry, and this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl?"

But on May 21st, 1990, Bob wakes up in bed as Dr. Bob Hartley, the psychologist in his old series, and tells his old wife, Emily, "What a dream I had!"  Way to destroy beloved characters, Bob!

July 20, 1994: Dinosaurs (1991-1994).  A nuclear family spoof starring cute, cuddly dinosaurs in ABC's kid-friendly Friday night lineup.  Remember "I'm the baby, gotta love me"?

How best to end the hearwarming series:  how about with a eco-catastrophe that kills every dinosaur on the planet?  Including the entire Sinclair family?  Including the baby?

May 20, 1997: Roseanne (1988-1997).  The queen of lower-middle class urban blight and her ragtag family spent eight seasons being the anti-Cosbys, not affluent, or educated, or elegant.  It featured Johnny Galecki as a teenager with a terrible hairdo.  Then Roseanne wins the lottery, and spends the last season hob-nobbing with the rich and famous.

That's not the worst of it, though -- in the last episode, we are told that this has all been a story that Roseanne has written.  The real people are all different.  Dan is dead.  Jackie is a lesbian, so her husband and child don't exist.  But Mom isn't a lesbian.  The daughters switch husbands.  Everything we thought we knew about the show is wrong.

May 14, 1998: Seinfeld (1989-1998). In this execrable finale for what critics termed the best series in the history of television, the Fab Four are facing jail time for violating a "good Samaritan" law that, if it existed, would get them a fine, at most.

And everyone they've interacted with comes rushing to town to complain.  Their honest attempts to help are recast as diabolical plots.  Mistakes and accidents are recast as deliberate malice.  Everything we thought we knew about the show is wrong. Oh, and they go to prison.

August 9, 1999: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1985-1999).  For 12 years, Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank tortured the hapless heroes on the Satellite of Love, Joel/Mike and the bots, with "cheesy movies, the worst that we can find."  The only way they could keep their sanity was to riff on the cheesy plots.  In the series finale, Mike and the bots finally escape.

Do they change the world? Reveal the diabolical plot in a tell-all book?  At least find a life far removed from their 12-year imprisonment?  No -- they are shown living in a small apartment, eating pizza and riffing on bad movies.

At least they don't meet girls.

September 8, 2004: The Drew Carey Show (1995-2004).  This program was all about setting: the sprawling Winfred-Lauder Department Store in downtown Cleveland, where Drew worked as a middle-management drudge, Mr. Wick as head of personnel, and Mimi as his secretary.

So how to handle the last season: end the department store, drop some of the characters, and give the others nonsensical new jobs at a new store. Oh, and have Drew and Mimi live together, raising a 10-year old boy who was a baby last season.

May 18, 2006: Will and Grace (1998-2006).  After endless seasons of proclaiming that gay men are really women, that gay men all have sex with women,  that gay people simply do not exist, Will and Grace went out with a bang: Will and his cop beau adopt a daughter, Grace and her husband gave birth to a son, and twenty years later, the son and daughter marry.

Whatever momentary glitch being gay caused in the cosmic order, it has been resolved with a man and a woman gazing into each other's eyes forever.

May 20, 2010: Lost (2004-2010).  For five seasons, we were told that the crash survivors facing paranormal peril on a crazy island weren't in Purgatory.  Well, guess what -- they are.  Well, actually, in an alternate world where they forget that they were ever on the island, until they are reminded.  Then they get back together and go into the light.

And Vincent the Dog dies.


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