Sep 10, 2016

March 1985: The Brady Bunch Dad Plays a Swishy Queen

You have to be careful watching tv.  The producers, actors, and directors are not your friends; even when they are gay, they are often Uncle Toms.  So it's impossible to avoid frequent statements that assert that everyone on earth is heterosexual, that you do not exist:
"Well, Joe, you're getting to that age when you start to notice girls"
"All guys look at girls.  It's only natural."
"She's every man's fantasy."

If you are careful, you can usually avoid the more virulent statements that assert that you exist, but you are a swishy joke or a predatory monster.

I let my guard down one night in the summer of 1986.  Who would expect virulent homophobia on Murder, She Wrote?






I had no interest in the Sunday night old-person's series (1984-1996) about a small-town mystery writer (played by Angela Lansbury) who kept stumbling across -- and solving -- murders.

Usually the victim was a relative or friend -- "Oh, no, you invited Aunt Jessica to Thanksgiving!  That means one of us will die!"

But Alan was a fan, for some reason, and that Sunday evening, we watched an episode called  "Footnote to Murder" (10 March 1985).

Jessica goes to a mystery writer's convention full of petty jealousy, feuds, backstabbing, and vindictiveness, and of course someone ends up dead.  Unfortunately, her best friend is the prime suspect.

 Robert Reid, formerly the Brady Bunch dad, played swishy uber-stereotype Adrian Winslow, who is criticized for writing novels about "Greek boys mincing about."

"At least my books sell," he simpers.

Who's buying all of these mysteries about Greek boys mincing about?

Although an uber-swishy, lavender-laced, fruit-flavored 1950's stereotype who writes about swishy queens in in ancient Greece, he's also closeted.  "The young man I was dining with last night was a reporter," he explains.

So the word "gay" is never used.  Just a lot of condescending smirks and whispered innuendos.

At least he's not the murderer, just a swishy red herring.

At the time I didn't think anything of it -- virulent homophobia was commonplace on tv during the 1980s.

Then, in 1992, Robert Reed died.  Of colon cancer, but he turned out to be HIV positive, resulting in crazy media headlines like "Mike Brady Had AIDS"!

And his Brady Bunch costars revealed that Reed was, in fact, gay.  They all knew, back in the 1960s, but of course they couldn't say anything for fear that having "America's Favorite Dad" come out would destroy his career -- and their show.

So a gay man agrees to play this horrible 1950s stereotype?

He also hated The Brady Bunch, and actually refused to appear in some episodes that he thought were particularly stupid.

A paycheck is a paycheck.  You did what you had to do, in those days.

See also: Christopher Knight/Peter Brady, Barry Williams/Greg Brady; and Razzle Dazzle: 1970s Variety Shows.

The Incest Taboo

Scholars have written a lot of nonsense on the incest taboo, why most cultures forbid marriage or sexual relations between close relatives.

They say it's to avoid birth defects and other genetic abnormalities, but in fact such things are not apparent for several generations.

More likely it is a matter of exogamy: bringing a new person into the community brings new ideas, new fashions, new technology -- vital for cultural growth.

Plus the daily dynamics of sharing a household with someone while you're growing up makes them too familiar to be erotic.

In the U.S., marriage or sexual relations are forbidden between biological siblings, parents and children, and aunts/uncles/nieces/nephews.

First cousins (your uncle or aunt's child) are usually forbidden, and sometimes first cousins once removed (your parents' cousins) and second cousins (your cousins' children).

Most states also prohibit adopted parents, children, and siblings, even though genetics are not an issue.

The rules have gotten more strict during the last century.  In the Victorian Era, it was not uncommon to marry your uncle or your cousin.

Brothers

I don't know if erotic activity between brothers is more common than between brother and sister, but it certainly is less stigmatized.

A lot of guys characterize their same-sex activity as "play" or "fooling around," not real sex, especially in adolescence, so they have no qualms against doing things with their brother that they would never think of with their sister.

I never did anything with my own brother, but I've had two brothers cruise me at the same time.





Cousins

These sort of relationships are more common.  You rarely see your cousins, so they don't develop th familiarity that would preclude erotic relationships.

And they're often quite different from you physically, adding a little exoticism to the mix.

One of my first erotic experiences was seeing my Cousin Joe naked and (in retrospect) semi-aroused.  I was seven and a half, and he was a teenager.  I've also had erotic experiences with my Cousin George and Cousin Buster.



Fathers and Sons/Grandfathers and Grandsons

When young guys call you Daddy, they're referring to the social distance of your age difference, not imagining sex with their real father.

Father-son erotic activity is much less common, and more stigmatized, than brother-brother, probably because the parental dynamic is so different.  Nurturing and protecting you is not erotic.  Why would you be attracted to someone who changed your diapers when you were a baby?

I've never  had any erotic thoughts about my own father, or head about it in real life, although I thought long and hard about my Grandpa Prater.

Alan hooked up with a father and son at the same time, but they never actually interacted with each other.



Uncles and Nephews

 Like cousins, you don't see them often, and they're grownup while you're a kid, so they have all of the muscles, hair, and bulges you associate with the erotic.

Growing up, I had erotic thoughts about several of my uncles, especially Uncle Edd and Uncle Paul.  I've never had erotic thoughts about my nephew, who is now in his 20s, but there's still time.  Life is very long.

Sep 9, 2016

The Beefcake Art of Annibale Carracci

Annibale Carracci (1560-1609) was a painter of the Italian Baroque period who specialized in mythological and allegorical subjects, obviously preferring the male form to the female.  He painted big, beefy, muscular nudes influenced by Raphael and Michelangelo.

Genio de la Gloria (1588-89), or "The Spirit of Glory," is a brightly-shining nude angel with a rather small penis getting ready to pass out laurels.










Bacchus (1590), the Greek god of wine, drunkenness, and general licentiousness, is usually portrayed as an elderly roue, but Carracci makes him a chubby adolescent.

















The Choice of Hercules (1596) shows a naked, very handsome demigod trying to choose between two fully clothed women, representing Virtue (left) and Vice (right).  There are more naked men on Virtue's side.














Diana and Endymion (1597) is part of a gigantic fresco called The Loves of the Gods, now in the Farnese Gallery in Rome.  Endymion is semi-nude and surrounded by four nude men, while Diana, who put him to sleep so she have him all to herself, is minimized.






The same fresco contains Perseus and Phineas.  A naked Perseus is using Medusa's head to turn a lot of naked men to stone.














And Polyphemus Furioso (Polyphemus Insane).  I'll bet you've never seen the Cyclops who Odysseus outwits so buffed before.

Although his penis is still a bit inadequate.








21 Surprising Facts about Lane

I've been trying to make a coherent picture out of the lives and loves of my ex-boyfriends, first Alan, then Fred, and now Lane, my partner for about ten years and friend for about thirty, But I can't fit Lane into a coherent picture; he's full of contradictions and inconsistencies. Every time you think you have him figured out, there's a new surprise.

Here are the 21 most surprising facts about him.  At least they surprised me:

1.  He's a third generation West Hollywood boy.  His grandparents opened a hardware store there in 1938.  His parents owned a clothing store and two apartment buildings there. His childhood home was on Romaine, near Crescent Heights, around the corner from the French Quarter -- his childhood hangout!


2. He was a hippie.  At Hollywood High School in the early 1970s, he had long hair, listened to The Grateful Dead, smoked pot, and participated in a sit-in to protest the lack of attention to African-Americans in the curriculum.   But he was also a good Jewish boy, keeping kosher, studying the Torah, attending Shabbat services.  And he was gay, which, he thought, didn't fit into either the hippie or the Jewish worlds.  High school was a time of anxiety and depression.

3. He invites Jane Fonda to Passover every year.  In 1976, when Tom Hayden was running for the U.S. senate, his parents were big campaign contributors, and became friends with his wife Jane Fonda.  They began inviting her to Passover every year (although she rarely came).  After his mother died, Lane continued the tradition.

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


Sep 8, 2016

Just Shoot Me: Buddy Bonding and Snark

Beginning with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, many, many sitcom have featured a gung-ho female journalist paired with a stick-in-the-mud male boss.  Usually a romance develops.  But not in Just Shoot Me (1997-2003). 

 Its premise: aging playboy Jack Gallo (George Segal) runs a women's magazine, Blush, which offers frothy fashion and sex tips.  His daughter Maya (Laura San Giocomo) arrives, all but waving a "Women's Lib" sign, ready to fight the objectification of women and write hard-hitting articles about human trafficking and date rape.

She is shocked to discover that everyone at Blush is extraordinarily horny.  Sexual desires, exploits, adventures, and come-ons occupy all of their free time, which is all of the workday.

Photographer Elliot DiMauro (Enrico Colantoni) sleeps with every female model, no exceptions.

Wise-cracking secretary Davis Finch (David Spade) makes crude come-ons to every women in sight, no exceptions.

Fashion editor and former supermodel Nina Van Horn (Wendie Malick) sleeps with every man she sees, no exceptions.

There are episodes about the clash between hard-hitting journalism and froth, but mostly the series is about relationships.  Maya bickers with her Dad, clashes with his new wife, and gets boyfriends, eventually Elliot.

Nina competes with other supermodels, falls in love with the wrong man, pretends to be things that she's not, and gets her comeuppance.

Davis pursues a father-son relationship with Jack, pursues a relationship with his real father, and has the insecurities beneath the snark revealed.

They all become close friends.

There was some gay interest:

Nina Van Horn was an outrageous, boozy, profane type, the sort gay men like to emulate in their drag queen personae.

Everyone is shocked to discover that Davis is an extra-extra large (he didn't know himself, assuming that the guys in porn movies were about average, and he was just a little bigger than them).


Enrico Colantoni,  hairy and rather muscular, took off his shirt often (he even posed semi-nude for Playgirl).

Gay people were referenced on occasion, the usual "mistaken for gay" and "pretending to be gay to enjoy the tremendous advantages gay people have" episodes.

Only two actual LGBT persons: the high school buddy who had a sex change; and a female model has a crush on Maya.

Typical for how the 1990s handled gay "issues," as a problem for the heterosexuals to solve.

You'd think they could do better, and have an actual gay character in a recurring role.  But it came on just before or just after Will and Grace, and network execs probably figured that viewers couldn't stand two programs with gay characters on the same night.

See also: Suddenly, Susan

Sep 6, 2016

I Share Fred and His Boyfriend in His Parents' House

Rock Island, December 1980

In mid-December, just before classes end at Augustana, my ex-boyfriend Fred calls me from Omaha.  "Are you free Christmas night?" 

"Sure -- my family celebrates on Christmas Eve, so Christmas day is all down time."

"Great.  I'm bringing my boyfriend Toby up to meet my parents -- the first guy I've ever brought home -- and I want you to come along for moral support."

Last summer, when I was 19 years old, I moved to Omaha with Fred, a recent seminary graduate who had just taken a job as a youth pastor.  I hated every minute of it, and after five weeks escaped...um, I mean left and returned to Rock Island.  

Within a week, Fred rebounded into the arms of another 19-year old college student: Toby Meyer, who was starting his sophomore year at the University of Nebraska.  They moved in together after two dates.  Fred introduced him at church as his "nephew."

If anyone in the church found this suspicious, there's no record of it.

"So you want your ex-boyfriend to help you introduce Toby to your family."  I scoff-- I haven't seen Fred since our breakup, and now he wants me to hang out with his new boyfriend?  That would be mega-weird!

"Are you up for it?  Mom's a great cook.  And, if it sweetens the deal, you can join me in bed. Just come into my room after everyone's asleep.  I'd like to have you all night, but you know, I don't want to arouse suspicion."

That does sweeten the deal!  Fred is enormously attractive.  Besides, I've only been with one guy since our breakup, and that was a downlow thing after a screen date with some girls.

"Um...where are they going to put Toby?"

"Hopefully with me, but I can't be sure.  They think we're just roommates, you know.  I'm not out to anyone in my family." 

The uncensored post, with nude photos and sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Hugh O'Brian and the Gay 1950s

Hugh O'Brian, who died yesterday, was one of the few beefcake actors of the 1950s not discovered by gaydar-proficient talent agent Henry Willson -- although he was rumored to be gay.  He just wanted to be discovered for his talent, not for his biceps and bulge. A high school athlete and former Marine, he began acting in 1948, and appeared in a steady stream of B-actioners, mostly cowboy and war flicks, through the 1950s.

In 1955 Huge got his big break, playing legendary Wild West marshall and sharpshooter Wyatt Earp, who participated in the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral (1881), along with his brothers and his close friend Doc Holliday.

 A 1931 biography, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall, omitted the gambling, prostitution, and shady business deals,  transforming him into a heroic character who brought "law and order" to the Old West. Movie versions of his life appeared in 1934, 1939, 1946, and 1957.

The tv series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-61) whitewashed the character even farther, but didn't skip on the gay subtexts.  Earp isn't married, and falls in love no more than once per season.

He lives in a masculine-coded world of brawlers and gunfighters, renegade Indians and gun-shy dudes.  He has many friends, Doc Holliday, Deputy Hal Norton, Bat Masterson, Marsh Murdock, and his brothers, but never settles down to any long-term relationship.







After Wyatt Earp, the typecast Hugh performed as any number of heterosexual cowboys, detectives, and do-gooders. but he managed to draw in a gay subtext occasion.

In Love Has Many Faces (1965), he plays a male prostitute (coded as a "beach boy") out for revenge against his former pimp who has gone "straight" (Cliff Robertson).






In Africa: Texas Style (1967), cowboy Jim Sinclair (Hugh) and his Indian sidekick John Henry (Tom Nardini) go to Africa, where they buddy-bond and encounter scalawags.  They don't get girlfriends, but they do adopt a young native boy, Sampson (John Malinda). (It was adapted into a tv series starring Chuck Connors.)

Huge reprised the Wyatt Earp character several times, most recently in Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone (1994).

He married for the first time in 2006, at the age of 81, but according to close friend Debbie Reynolds, he was straight.  He just wasn't ready to settle down yet.

If he was straight, why were all of his friends gay?  Well, she says, there simply weren't a lot of straight beefcake actors in 1950s Hollywood, so you had to be gay-friendly if you wanted friends.

Green Acres: Gay Siblings on 1960s TV

One of the hayseed comedies of the 1960s, Green Acres (1965-71) was nearly as bereft of beefcake and bonding as Petticoat JunctionIt was a fish-out-of-water sitcom about a big city lawyer, Oliver Douglas (Eddie Arnold, center), who had a naively romantic view of rural life --  and so moved with his Hungarian heiress wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) to Hooterville.

Little did he know!  Although it was set in the same town as Petticoat Junction, with some of the same characters, Green Acres was played for surreal, absurdist humor.  Most of the townspeople were manipulative and greedy, but even those who were well-meaning looked askance at the pretensions of this blustering city feller and his pleasant but incompetent wife.

Little beefcake or bonding.  Oliver took his shirt off in one episode (not this photo), but he was too grandfatherly to be a fantasy boyfriend.

There was a long list of male characters: Mr. Drucker, who ran the general store; Mr. Haney, the local con artist entrepreneur; Hank Kimball, county agricultural agent; Eb, the lanky farm hand.  But none of them were particularly attractive; they were played as goofballs, not as heartthrobs. And there was nary a tender glance between them.

It's even hard to find a gay connection in their other roles.  The male actors were mostly from rural areas, and married to women for fifty years.  Tom Lester (Eb) is a Baptist minister, which leads me to conclude (perhaps unfairly) that he is homophobic.  Eva Gabor dated Merv Griffith, who was gay.


But all of that pales before a unique queer image: the Monroe Brothers, incompetent carpenters who were forever working on Oliver's house, consisted of Alf (Sid Melton) and Ralph (Mary Grace Canfield).  A woman with a man's name, who wears men's clothing and takes on a stereotypically male occupation: Ralph was coded as lesbian in spite of her long-term courtship of Hank Kimball.

Born in 1924, Mary Grace Canfield is an accomplished comic actress with roles as diverse as Mrs. Grundy in a tv adaption of Archie Comics, Gladys Kravitz's sister Harriet on Bewitched, and Goody Cloyse in Young Goodman Brown.  She has never married.

Alf, who never expressed any heterosexual interest, was played by Sid Melton.  The diminuitive, wise-cracking actor married only briefly, in the 1940s, and his huge number of tv and movie credits include several gay-subtext vehicles, such as Knock on Any Door (1949), about attorney Andrew Morton (Humphrey Bogart) in love with dashing young Nick Romano (John Derek).  He also played Sophia's dearly departed husband Sal on The Golden Girls.

Sep 5, 2016

My Hookup with the Egyptian God and His Boy


San Francisco, April 1997

There wasn't much street cruising going on in West Hollywood, since everyone drove everywhere.  But San Francisco was a walking city, so you could easily stop and talk to someone on the street, and invite them out for dates or hookups.  

But the competition was fierce.  Forget walking around in a muscle shirt with a gym-pumped physique -- there were a dozen bigger guys on every block.  If you wanted to attract men, you needed a gimmick.

There were cowboys and ballet dancers, guys riding unicycles and skateboard, guys carrying pies and leading dogs. An Edwardian gentleman.  Santa Claus.  

But probably the most creative of the street cruisers was the Martian.

At least that's what we called him.  He was a very tall, very muscular black guy, dressed all in white and gold, a gold medallion hanging around his neck.  He looked exactly like an emissary of the Galactic Council as envisioned by a "Space Brothers" UFO cult.

When you approached, he gave his name as Darvon, with various last names: Zipp, Klaa, or Euripides.  He  claimed to be from either "a small planet very, very far away" or  "a small galaxy near Neptune" (the nonsensical answer that Betty Hill received during her 1961 abduction).

None of my friends had dated or hooked up with him -- he tended to give Attitude, not speak to or make eye contact with anyone.  But according to gossip, his apartment was full of photos of alien spaceships, strange plants that were probably extraterrestrial, a cat that responded to telepathic signals, and a regeneration booth.  

This I had to see.



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







Sep 4, 2016

The Gay Adventures of Jerry Lewis

When I was growing up, every summer and sometimes at Christmastime, we drove 300 miles from Rock Island, Illinois to Garrett, Indiana, to visit my parents' family.  We usually stayed with my Aunt Nora, whose kids were nearly grown-up: when I was 10, Cousin Ed was 21, Cousin Eva 19, and Cousin Joe, the only one still living at home, 17 (he's the one who I saw naked).

It was fun staying with Aunt Nora.  Their house was only two blocks from the Limberlost Library, where Cousin Joe let us check out books on his card.  It was three blocks from Sylvan Lake, where we could go swimming and fishing in the summer.

And in the winter, there was another treasure: an attic full of comic books from the 1950s!

Donald Ducks! Ancient chubby Caspers!  Archie going to sock hops! Pre-code horror!


And Jerry Lewis.

At the time I didn't know that Jerry Lewis was a real person, a comedian whose shtick involved blatant gay subtexts.






I just thought that he was a comic book character, a big-jawed, rather dopey, but cute young man who was not interested in women, as many cover gags demonstrated (here a woman is amazed because he took her through a Tunnel of Love without attempting a kiss.)





 However, he had a long-term partner named Dean Martin.

The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis title (1952-1957) had the pair traveling around the world, to China, the Middle East, Mexico, sub-Saharan Africa, or Ruritanian countries of Europe, where they became immeshed in intrigues involving spies, bandits, evil cultists, or cannibals, allowing the easily-frightened Jerry to leap into Dean's arms.

Dean often got girls along the way, but Jerry did not.




In the few issues that displayed him shirtless, he had a pleasantly solid physique.

(Yes, that's Batman and Robin as guest superheroes.)

In 1957, shortly after the real-life comedy duo split up, Dean Martin vanished from the comic books, and The Adventures of Jerry Lewis continued for another 84 issues, finally folding in 1971.








Now Jerry was a single parent raising his sarcastic preteen nephew, Renfrew, and still not interested in women, though often they tried to seduce him.  The duo had humorous paranormal adventures with ghosts, witches, werewolves, monsters, mad scientists, and so on.

Eventually Jerry became the headmaster of a school for kids who are "different."

Some nice gay symbolism in my Aunt Nora's attic during the long, dull days after Christmas.

See also: Jerry Lewis Falls in Love.