Dec 31, 2016

Speechless

We need more disabled actors playing disabled people on tv, but it's hard for non-disabled writers and directors to make the characters authentic, .

Speechless (2016-) seems to be doing it right.

It's a nuclear family sitcom with Mom, Dad, and three kids, one of whom, the teenage JJ (Micah Fowler), is confined to a wheelchair and "speechless" due to cerebral palsy.  He uses a communication board to spell out words and phrases.








18-year old Micah Fowler has cerebral palsy but can speak.  He notes that it's difficult to adapt to a non-speaking role.  There's a lot of eye-rolling and grimacing involved. .

















The rest of the family is filled in by a nebbish dad (John Ross Bowie, the bully Kripke on Big Bang Theory), a fiercely protective Mom (Minnie Driver), the conniving little brother Ray (Mason Cook), and a sarcastic sister, whose name I didn't catch (Kyla Kenedy).








Plus Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough), JJ's assistant.

The A plot of each episode involves JJ's push for independence (he plays hockey, joins the choir, gets drunk at a party), with Ray's conniving in the B.



Speechless is smartly written, with few moments of gag-inducing smarm.  My only complaint is that heterosexism reigns supreme.  Plotlines involve what boy is interested in what girl.  No gay people exist, unless Kenneth happens to be gay (he hasn't mentioned any romantic interests of any sort).

No beefcake, either.  Although Cedric Yarbrough has a nice physique, it's under wraps.













There are occasionally cute guys in guest roles, like Joseph John Schirle as Ben (one episode).



















The only gay connection I could find was Emerson Collins, who plays teacher Mr. Powell.  He played half of a gay couple with Jonathan Slavin (left) in The Boomerang Effect.






Dec 30, 2016

Desi Arnaz, Jr.

Desi Arnaz, Jr. was born on January 19th, 1953, in the middle of a whirlwind of publicity, the child of most famous couple on television, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, and also the first baby ever "born" on tv (Lucy's real life pregnancy was incorporated into the plot of I Love Lucy).  He was on the cover of the first issue of TV Guide, on April 3rd, 1953.

Growing up with that kind of publicity, and his parents' connections, he had little choice but to go into show business.  In 1965, he started a boy band with his friends Dean Paul Martin (Dean Martin's son) and Billy Hinsche.


He guest starred on The Lucy Show (1962-65), and became a regular on Here's Lucy (1968-72), as Lucy's teenage son Craig. And he landed roles in lots of movies.

Oddly for the son of a comedy legend, Desi didn't do comedies.  He specialized in tear-jerkers. Many were about the tragic consequences of boys and girls who fall in love (Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones, She Lives, Having Babies, Black Market Babies).  

Others were gay-subtext movies about the tragic consequences of boys who fall in love with boys (Billy Two Hats, Joyride, To Kill a Cop).  

In 1983, he starred in a buddy-bonding series, Automan, about a computer whiz (Desi) who creates a computerized superhero (the hunky Chuck Wagner).  Unfortunately, it was promoted as a comedy, and Desi didn't do comedy.  He thought it would be a gritty urban drama.








After 13 episodes he left, and hasn't done a lot of acting since.  He is still involved with his music, and he owns the Boulder Theater in Boulder City, Nevada.

Although he was the subject of many gay rumors during the 1970s (my friend Cesar claimed to have hooked up with him), Desi was linked to several women, including Liza Minnelli, and he was married to Amy Arnaz from 1987 to her death in 2015.

See: Cesar Tells about his Hookup with Desi Arnaz Jr.


   

Tom Brown's School Days


I saw Tom Brown’s School Days (1940) on Matinee at the Bijou, a 1970s tv series that replayed classic movies.   I had never heard of the original novel by Thomas Hughes (1857), about the agonizing love between two boys in an elite British boarding school, but later I sought it out.  Robert Drake writes that it became “one of the more influential texts for emerging gay writers, or writers with a gay sensibility."  The same can be said for the movie.



A tall, slim seventeen-year old named Jimmy Lydon plays Tom, “the typical American boy” even though he is still scripted as upper-class British.   He expresses his typical American boyhood by being stoic, courageous, and adventurous, by taking off his shirt to reveal a slim physique.  And by ignoring girls.  The daughter of a local shopkeeper plays a pivotal role in the plot, but Tom never gives her a second glance.  Instead, he falls in love with an aristocratic upperclassman.

East (Freddie Bartholomew, previously in Captains Courageous), tall, thin, brittle-looking, and as feminine as a young Quentin Crisp,  takes the initiative in the courtship, approaching Tom the moment he gets off the train, showing him around, taking him by the arm or shoulder, and gazing at him with rapt ardor.  He gives Tom a picture of two ancient Greek warriors shaking hands -- a 19th century beefcake poster -- and marks them as “Brown” and “East."

East carefully dismisses or outwits Tom’s other suitors.  When they go out for “murphys” (baked potatoes sold as a snack), he protects Tom from a groping, leering boy named Tadpole.
Tadpole: Is this the new fellow? Nice looking, isn’t he?
Tom: How do you do?
Tadpole: (Looks him up and down.) Hungry, thank you.

A more violent threat comes from Sixth Formers (high school seniors), led by the bestial Flashman (Billy Halop of Dead End, shown here playing Humphrey Bogart's gunsel).  He offers several shirtless and semi-nude scenes, with a more muscular physique.

Flashman bullies Tom, and forces him to endure dangerous hazing.  Their fight, oddly, serves as the subject for the lion's share of lobby cards and posters.











When Tom is accused of “telling tales,” the worst crime in the boys’ honor code, East breaks up with him, tearing up the picture and sending him his half.  Even after Tom is found innocent, East refuses to take him back, using oddly romantic rhetoric: “I’m not interested in you or anything about you!  I never want to see you again!”

Adult women in movies of the era rely on the phrase “I never want to see you again” to angrily break up with their boyfriends, but this is nearly the only example of its use among "buddies."  The implication, of course, is that Tom and east are not buddies, but homoromantic partners: their relationship is emotionally intense, physically intimate, and exclusive, and but for their breakup, it would be permanent.

The movie ends years later, when Tom and East encounter each other by accident at the tomb of their beloved headmaster.  Tom asks “Can’t we be friends?” and East grudgingly shakes his hand, thus giving closure to their romance.  In the original story, Tom stands at the tomb alone. Only in the 1940 are Tom and East homoromantic partners, so only in 1940 do they require closure.

Bartholomew and Lydon were paired again in Cadets on Parade (1942). Rich kid Austin Shannon (Freddie Bartholomew), an eighteen-year old military cadet, is bad at sports and reviled as a “sissy” by his self-made-man father, so he runs away and encounters street tough  Joe Novak (Jimmy Lydon).  The two set up housekeeping together (in a flat with only one bed).  Joe never mocks his partner's sissiness, but he does gently suggest that success at school may depend on an increased manliness.  Austin’s salvation, his return to middle-class society, comes through learning to box and play football, not through heterosexual experience: no girls appear or are mentioned in he movie.  But Austin draws Joen into civilization through the same rubric that girls use with jungle boys, through teaching him to read and use proper table manners.  In the end they both enroll in the military academy.  The tagline is: “The Story of Two American Boys…On the Road to Being Men!”


 The last of the Jimmy Lydon - Freddie Bartholomew pairings was The Town Went Wild (1944):  gangly sophisticate David (Freddie) and blue collar Bob  (Jimmy) are best friends, but they do not share a homoromantic bond.  David is dating Bob’s sister, but there is no hint at triangulation: he really does spend all of his time with her, while Bob is relegated to the status of third wheel.  It is interesting that the sissy gets engaged, while the he-man never expresses any interest in girls, but still, one must wonder why the scripted homoromances between Freddie and Jimmy ended so abruptly.  Perhaps the subtext was becoming too obvious, veering too close to conscious thought.




Dec 29, 2016

Cesar Hooks Up with the Entire Male Cast of "I Love Lucy"

Brentwood, California, April 1991

I'm not exactly friends with Cesar Romero, the 85-year old Latin hearthrob who played The Cisco Kid in the 1940s and the Joker on Batman in the 1960s.  In West Hollywood, your friends were generally your ex-boyfriends and their current boyfriends, and Cesar and I have never dated, never even hooked up (although I've watched him and Lane).

But after my Biblical Hebrew at UCLA, I like going over to visit him in his modern glass-and-leather apartment in Brentwood, to drink lemonade, get flirted with, and hear stories about hookups with the stars of Golden Age Hollywood.  Today he promised to tell me about the time he hooked up with the entire male cast of I Love Lucy (1951-57).

The vintage sitcom was before my time, but I've seen lots of episodes in syndication.  I love "Job Switching," where Lucy and Ethel (Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance) get jobs on an assembly line at a candy factory, with disastrous results.  And "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," where Lucy gradually gets drunk while selling the vitamin tonic Vitameatavegimen.

Lucy and Ethel were the stars.  The husbands, Ricky and Fred (Desi Arnaz, William Frawley) were mostly there to say "no, you can't have a new dress" and do slow burns after a catastrophe.

But Desi was impossibly cute, and I recalled a scattering of other hot actors.  I wonder which Cesar has been with.

"Where to begin..." Cesar says.  "I've been with so many of the cast members.  Not the women, of course.  But..."

"Begin with Desi," I tell him.  "He was the hottest."

"And the biggest," Cesar adds with a wink.

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

Bedtime Story Boyfriends: The Wind in the Willows

One of the favorite books of my childhood, The Wind in the Willows, was about two animal boyfriends in Edwardian England.  In the first chapter, the Water Rat is single, "messing around in boats" on the banks of a wide river (played by Lee Ingleby, in the 2006 Canadian movie).











But then he meets the timid Water Rat (gay actor Mark Gatiss), and invites him to move in. With no fanfare, they become a couple.

There are a few challenges to their relationship: Mole misses his old life underground, and Rat longs to explore the world beyond the River -- but the crises are quickly resolved, and the two men always return to the life they have built together, their romantic bond blatantly, painfully obvious.







The rest of the book involves the problems of their friends. The pompous Toad (gay actor Mark Lucas) steals a motor-car.

The reclusive Badger (Bob Hoskins) must defend his home from an invasion by juvenile-delinquent weasels (led by Radu Micu).

I knew that the gay subtext was strong and noble, but I figured it was accidental until, in graduate school at the University of Southern California (1985-1989), I read up on the life of Kenneth Grahame.  I even tried to include him in my doctoral dissertation.

Born in 1859, his parents forced him to become a banker; but he looked from afar at the glittering homoeroticism of the aesthetic and decadent movement.  He read Arnold Bennett, Max Beerbohm, and Karl Huysmans. He contributed to The Yellow Book.  He corresponded with Oscar Wilde.

In an 1895 story, "The Roman Road," a mysterious young man tells Kenneth about a distant, perhaps mythical city, where the only inhabitants are "friends."  No husbands and wives, no boyfriends and girlfriends, just "the princes in fairy tales who don't get the princess."  Kenneth eagerly makes plans to go to the "City of Friends," but then the young man vanishes, and no one else whom he asks has ever heard of it.

But Oscar Wilde's conviction for sodomy in 1895 scared Kenneth, and he distanced himself from the movement, and sublimated his same-sex desire.  He married in 1899, and had a son, Alastair, who heard bedtime stories about a Mole and a Water Rat who loved each other. They were published as  The Wind in the Willows in 1908.

See also: Saki (H.H. Monro).

Dec 28, 2016

I Love Lucy



When I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, I found I Love Lucy a gay favorite. Though it had been off the air for nearly 30 years, drag queens recreated Lucy routines.  You could buy Lucy gifts at Dorothy's Surrender in West Hollywood, like Lucy and Ricky dolls, or a photo of Desi Arnaz in the pool.  Ricky's Cuban-accented "Lucy, I'm home" was a common catchphrase.

What was the gay connection?

The premise of the venerable sitcom (1951-57) was aggressively heterosexist, with no hint of satire or critique.  Nightclub performer Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz, left) and his wife Lucy (Lucille Ball) were lovebirds, neighbors Fred and Ethel (William Frawley, Vivian Vance) grumpy but affectionate.


No beefcake.  Granted, Desi Arnaz was handsome, and occasionally a cute friend showed up, but they were always fully clothed, usually in one of those 1950s business suits that hid everything.  Even the Ricky doll was somewhat lacking in musculature.

No gay characters, not even by implication.

No gay connections in the actors' other roles, though Desi Arnaz was bisexual, and his son Desi Arnaz Jr. starred in some gay-subtext movies.






And no hint of homoromance.  Though Lucy and Ethel were buddies, they displayed no passion, hanging out mostly to complain about their husbands and scheme to get more power in the relationship.

Maybe that was the gay connection.  As a 1950s housewife, Lucy was powerless, treated as a child (she got an allowance, and Ricky threatened to spank her if she misbehaved).  Her domain was the home, serving coffee to Ricky as he read his morning newspaper.   To get what she wanted, she had to resort to subterfuge.

The wild schemes that we enjoy watching all resulted from "Ricky won't let me do X" or "Ricky won't let me have X."  Groups with no power, like gay people and 1950s housewives, always have to work behind the scenes, appropriate what is meant for someone else.  And, in spite of her mishaps, Lucy was often triumphant.

See Cesar Hooks up with the Entire Male Cast of "I Love Lucy"

Holy Mortadella, Batman: The Boy Wonder's Beneath the Belt Bulk

Every Baby Boomer boy knows why we couldn't wait to see Batman (1966-68), with Adam West and Burt Ward as campy, corny Caped Crusaders.  It wasn't the over-the-top villains, or the "Zap! Pow!" fights, or the buddy-bonding between Batman and Robin.

It was Robin's jaw-dropping beneath-the-belt bulge.

Burt Ward is, by all accounts (including his own), massive.  He won't give his exact measurements, but I'm guessing Mortadella.

It was hard to cram him into that Robin Hood costume without his something extra showing.






Especially when he was tied up, struggling to escape from the latest diabolical trap.

Which happened in nearly every episode.












Check out these two pictures.  As the ropes get tighter, Robin gets warmer.









Well, he couldn't help it. Burt Ward was in his early 20s, and he often had to spend an hour at a time restrained, with nothing to do but wait.  Extras and guest stars often took advantage of the opportunity to play with him.





Female extras, he claims.  I'm not so sure.













Gay actor Cesar Romero, who played the Joker, claims that the show gave him many opportunities for an "accidental" grope.  Burt didn't mind.  In fact, the younger actor looked up to Romero as a comedic mentor, and they became lifelong friends.













About a dozen episodes into the first season, a "Save the Children" watchdog group complained, and the directors and crew found ways to underplay Burt's package.  Or hide it altogether.

But it remains the stuff of legend.


See also: Lane's Hookup with Batman, Robin, and the Joker.; and Frank Gorshin, the Bulging Nemesis of the Boy Wonder.


I Meet the Boy with a Bratwurst from My Dream Last Night

Plains, July 2016

I was delayed, and didn't eat dinner until 9:00 pm.  At 10:00 pm, the dream began.

I was at a party in West Hollywood: 20 or more guys sitting on couches and divans in a vast living room.  No one I knew.

I went into a spare bedroom to change into my Superman costume for a skit we were performing.  But I forgot my tights, so I had to go out to the main room naked from the waist down.

No one noticed.

While waiting for the other performers to arrive, I sat next to a cute  twink, college age, with short brown hair and a round friendly face.  He was wearing a formal white shirt, unbuttoned a few buttons so I could see the cross around his neck and an outline of a smooth hard chest.

The next day, I went on Grindr, and the boy from my dream was there!

Only 1,000 feet away!

 Well, the guy with the tagline "Visiting" looked just like the boy from the dream, except he had slightly darker hair and no cross around his neck, and he was a little more buffed.  His profile photo showed him lifting weights.

Weird.

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

Dec 27, 2016

More Beefcake Photos of Tony Dow

Tony Dow (1945-) who played big brother Wally on the iconic 1950s sitcom Leave It to Beaver, was one of the few teen idols of the period to regularly be photographed shirtless.  He was already an athlete, a Junior Olympics diver, when he was cast, and during the five years of Beaver, he just kept bulking up.  He never appeared shirtless on the show itself, but he gladly obliged the teen magazines.

Afterwards he continued to act and direct, although he remained most famous for countless parodies of Wally and the Beaver.

Later in life he pursued his passion for art, becoming an accomplished sculptor.  He specializes in both cityscapes and the human form.  Here's The Diver in bronze.

I thought I had seen all of the beefcake photos of the young Tony Dow, but thanks to the exhaustive searches on Pinterest, the internet has yielded some more.









Same swimming trunks as in the first photo, but an exterior by the pool.

















His hair is different; this is another day.

Is that a bulge?
















A younger version.














Shirtless interior, a bit older.  He really liked the color white.
















This is a different pair of white shorts.  He must have bought them in bulk.

 I wish I knew who the cute friend was. They're both bulging a bit.

See also: Tony Dow

20 Uncles, Cousins, and Nephews on My Sausage Sighting List

Many guys have told me that their first inklings of same-sex desire came when they saw a cousin or uncle naked.  Sometimes they even had their first sexual encounter with a relative.

It makes sense -- uncles and cousins live far away, so you don't see them often, and the "mystery" necessary for sexual desire is retained, but there's a familial intimacy that makes sausage sightings much more likely than with strangers.

Here are my top 20 family-member sausage sightings, gropes, and grabs.







My Family

Ken, my brother.  Lots of times.

Terry, my sister's husband.  A bit homophobic, but still, I got a glimpse in the locker room when we stripped down to work out together.

Dad's Family, the Davises

Cousin Joe.  My very first sausage sighting, when I was 7 1/2 years old and went to the bathroom late at night, to see my older cousin there, washing off in the sink.

Cousin George.  From South Carolina, exactly my age.  When I went to visit him at age 10, we took a bath together, and slept in the same bed, naked: "only fools wear pajamas."

Uncle George.  His father.  When we went swimming, we all changed clothes in the same room, and I got a good view of his cut Mortadella+ hanging down.

Cousin Phil.  One Thanksgiving evening my brother and I had to share a room with my older cousin.  I got not only a sausage sighting, but a sausage grope and fondle.

Cousin Donnie.  Actually my third or fourth cousin, from Canada.  Grandma Davis brought us out to visit one summer.  I got a good view in a bathhouse at the beach.

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

Dec 26, 2016

Joel and Jody McCrea: The Bisexual Cowboy and His Beach-Movie Son

Speaking of showbiz families, Joel McCrea (1905-1990) was a tall, lanky, and muscular, perfect for roles as white-hat cowboys.  And he played a lot of them during his 50-year movie career.

But you're probably more interested in his movies with gay subtexts, such as The Silver Cord (1933), where he plays a young doctor with a domineering mother, or Ride the High Country (1962), where he and Randolph Scott play a pair of long-term cowboy partners.



Or at least the ones where he disrobes, such as the European-in-Polynesia romance Bird of Paradise (1932).

Bisexual in real life, he was married to actress Frances Dee from 1933 until his death, but also had male lovers, including Montgomery Clift.












Joel's oldest son Jody (born 1934) was tall and athletic, and a dead ringer for his father.  He started out playing cowboys, too.












But he is best known for his comedic roles, playing dopey sidekicks named Deadhead, Bonehead, and Big Lunk in six Frankie and Annette beach movies of the 1960s.  He still got to display his bulge in a swimsuit, when he wasn't self-consciously trying to hide it.

Typecast as boneheads, he retired from acting in the early 1970s, and became a rancher in New Mexico.










Of Jody's five children, only Wyatt is interested in show biz.  He has appeared in a few tv series, and produced Gen's Guiltless Gourmet (2009).  He also manages his grandfather's ranch, a tourist attraction in Thousand Oaks, CA

See also: Beach Movies 1: The Beefcake