Mar 11, 2017

October 1972: The Sausage Sighting Prank at the Funeral Home

In the fall of 1972, when I was in seventh grade, my friend's Craig's older brother had a job at Larson's Funeral Home.

Jim was sixteen years old, tall and lean, with sharp features, a thick neck, and hard wiry biceps (I never actually saw him naked).

All he had to do was stay in the office overnight to answer the telephone, take down the information about someone who just died, and call the mortician to arrange a pickup.

Most nights, no one called, so Jim just camped out in the office: there was a television and a couch where he could sleep.  Down the hall there was a kitchen, with lots of leftover hors d'oevres in the refrigerator.

No one said Jim couldn't have friends over.  On more than one occasion, he had just enough time to shoo everyone out and dispose of the pizza boxes and beer cans before the mortician arrived with a pickup.

Seventh graders were all in awe of the boy who had a brother who worked with dead bodies!  Was it gross?  Was it creepy?

Could we see one of the dead bodies?

We asked, but Jim refused:  "I could get into a lot of trouble."

"Come on -- you let your friends visit all the time."

"Yeah, my friends.  Grownups, dig?  I could get into a lot of trouble letting little kids run wild in the funeral home.  What if you knocked over a funeral urn, and scattered some poor guy's ashes all over?"

That only made us more anxious to go.

Finally, one Friday morning around Halloween, Jim gave in.  "We just had a new pickup last night," he told Craig.  "That boy who died in the car accident down in Coal Valley.  He's still in the embalming room. You guys come over tonight around 10:00 pm, and I'll give you a tour."

10:00 pm?  We had to be in bed by 10:00! This would take a little strategizing:

1. Brett, the cute dark-haired boy I danced with at the canteen, invited Craig, Bill, and me over for a spur-of-the -moment sleepover.

2. At 9:00 pm, Brett's older brother and his friend offered to take us all out to Happy Joe's for pizza.  They said "We might be back a little late."

3. At 10:00 pm we parked on a side street and, talking and laughing to cover up our nervousness, walked up to the front door of Larson's Funeral Home.

Jim let us in, told us to wipe our feet, and showed us around.

The lounges, the music room, the library, the coffin room.

Jim demonstrated why Barnabas Collins, the vampire on Dark Shadows, was never filmed getting out of his coffin.  There's no way to do it without looking ridiculous.

That was interesting, but we wanted to see the dead body!

The small chapel, the large chapel, the kitchen, the office.

What about the dead body?

"Ok, I saved the scariest part for last," Jim said loudly, stopping in front of a tan metal door.  "I just want to make sure you're prepared.  Sometimes the eyes are still open, and they follow you around the room.  And do you know what rigor mortis is?"

We shook our heads.

"You know why they call corpses stiffs?  Because their bodies stiffen up.  Everything stiffens, even, you know, down below."

"No way!" I exclaimed.

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood

Mar 10, 2017

The Real Gay Characters of "The Real O'Neals"

What happens when a "perfect" Irish Catholic family finds out that they're not perfect after all?
Mom and Dad are divorcing.
Oldest son has an eating disorder.
Daughter has some kind of psychological issue.
Youngest son is gay.

Got it, being gay is inferior, a "problem" like having an eating disorder or a psychological issues.  Can't be a "perfect" family with a gay kid.

With that intensely homophobic beginning, I gave the first season of The Real O'Neils a miss.  But it keeps getting praised by the Trevor Project, so I watched a couple of episodes.

Former teen idol Jay R. Ferguson plays the hapless dad.

Matt Shively, last seen on the Disney Channel, plays the dimwitted older brother.

His problem, and his sister's problem, are not mentioned.  The plotlines are about the parents living together and dating other people while divorced, and about the gay son.

His first gay coffee house.
Starting a gay club at school.
Hosting a Halloween party.
Joining a gym.

The flamboyant stereotype son is played by Noah Galvin.

Not too great.  Here's why his crush (Sean Grandillo) didn't come out:

"Do you like avocados?"
"Why didn't you tell me you like avocados?"

Liking dudes is not nearly the same thing as liking avocados.

People don't want to kill you because you like avocados.
Parents don't kick you out of the house because you like avocados.
You don't have to worry every moment if you will become the victim of a hate crime for liking avocados.

Here's a pic of Sean Grandillo.

But there haven't been that many cringe-inducing moments, and I like the lengths the conservative parents go through to try to welcome their son.

And there's substantial beefcake.  Matt Shively and  Noah Crawford (left) aren't averse to shirtless shots.

Neither is Chris Pipkin as one of his classmates.

Plus I've noticed an occasional bulge that no one remembered to censor.

See also: The Real Bulges of the Real O'Neals.

New Year's Eve with the College Track Star and 4 Other Guys

I'm finally ready to tell about what happened on New Year's Eve, with Ryan the Small Town Track Star.

Indianapolis, December 2016

I had been looking at pictures like the one below, and reading sext messages, for three months, ever since I met Ryan H., the college track star, in a diner in small-town Illinois.  Finally, just before Christmas, I drove into Champaign, and he took me out on a date, which involved meeting his parents, a wrestling meet, a mediocre dinner, hanging out with his friend, but NO SEX.

Ryan asked me out on a second date, to a "21 and Under" pizza party in Indianapolis on New Year's Eve.

I never go out on New Year's Eve.

I definitely didn't want to go to a teenage party at age 56.

And I DEFINITELY definitely didn't want to go to a teenage party that results in nothing more intimate than a kiss on the doorstep.

But take a look at that combination of face, physique, and Mortadella+!  Maybe there's some way  I can talk the conservative Ryan H. into dropping his drawers.

I texted him and offered to take him to a "Real West Hollywood-style Gay Party" on New Year's Eve.

"I've never been to a party with all gay guys before," Ryan said.  "Sounds exciting, but I'm also a little nervous.  There won't be any drugs, will there?"

"No drinking, no drugs, just some desserts and party games."

Now I just had to arrange the party.

I asked Tyler to be the host.  He's the "son" of my ex-boyfriend Fred (actually the son of his roommate): a chef, 33 years old, very tall, with a tight physique, curly black hair, a scrubby beard, and a hairy chest.

 "I'll take care of the party guests," Tyler offered.  But by December 28th, he had managed to get solid commitments from only two of his ex-boyfriends (Jesse and Sandoval), both bears in their 50s.

On December 28th, I got cruised by the waiter in a crazy retro restaurant: Mike, age 23, medium height, on the thin side, with a round face, heavy eyebrows, and short brown hair.  We went out on the 29th, and I invited him to the party.

Most West Hollywood Parties begin at 6:00, but since it was New Year's Eve and we would be up until midnight, I picked up Ryan H. at the Sheraton at 7:00 pm, shook hands with his parents, and kissed and groped him in the elevator on the way down to the lobby.  Then we drove to Tyler's apartment.

Pre-Dinner Conversation

The usual coming out stories, dates from hell, enormous penises, and celebrity hookups.  I told about my date with Michael J. Fox, which impressed the older guys but not Ryan -- he looked away.  I started telling about my hookup with Justin, the supersized guy at the gym, but stopped when Ryan picked up a magazine.  Bored? Embarrassed?

This was the guy who had been sending me nude selfies for three months.


Tyler served a traditional Greek New Year's Eve dinner: a lamb-macaroni dish, a cabbage salad, and vasilopita  There was wine, but Ryan, Mike, and I drank Diet Coke.  Then he passed out bowls of green grapes.

"Have a mouthful of grapes when the clock strikes midnight," he said, "For good luck in the coming year."

"What if my mouth is already full?" I asked, looking at Ryan.  He looked away.

Embarrassed?  Was I doing something wrong?
oval asked.  "Jesse and I are going that way.  We'll be happy to drop you off."

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

Skeezix of Gasoline Alley: 1930s Gay Icon

When I was a kid in the 1960s, Dad would call me Skeezix when I misbehaved:
"Put down that comic book and clean your room, Skeezix!"

Particularly when my misbehaving had some connection to same-sex desire, like when Bill and I became a "mama and a papa", when I was disappointed at the lack of muscles at A Little Bit O'Heaven., or when I asked for a statue of a naked man for Christmas.

He never used that name on my brother or sister, just me.  I had no idea why.

One day I stumbled upon a book in my Aunt Nora's attic, starring a boy named Skeezix.  Turns out that he was from the long-running comic strip Gasoline Alley (1918-).  Originally about four buddies who hung around in an alley to talk about cars, it took a domestic turn on February 14, 1921, when Walt Wallet found a baby on his doorstep, and named him Skeezix.

The strips were now about a single dad raising a small child -- who aged in real time.

By the late 1930s, when my father was a kid, Skeezix was a teenager, and the undeniable star of the comic strip.  He sold toys, clothes, shoes, ice cream, coloring books, pin-backs, sheet music, and a full line of big little books.

He starred in three radio series and two movies (played by Jimmy Lyndon of Tom Brown's School Days fame, with the bisexual Scotty Beckett as his brother Corky).

The strip was not known for beefcake -- Walt was rather pudgy -- but Skeezix got some shirtless and underwear shots, and displayed a nice physique.

And he had a buddy to bond with, Spud, who accompanied him on the adventures Skeezix in Africa (1934) and Skeezix at the Military Academy (1938).

So my father connected my homoerotic hijinks to the  shirtless, buddy-bonding, arguably gay Skeezix of his childhood.

The gay symbolism didn't last.  Skeezix got a girlfriend, Nina Clock (pronounced Nine-a).

He graduated from high school, served in World War II, and returned to run the gas station.  He married Nina, and had two kids: Chipper and Clovia.

Clovia grew up, managed the gas station after Skeezix retired, and married Slim Skinner.  They had two kids: Gretchen and Rover (born in 1978).

Rover grew up, graduated from high school, and married Hoogy Boogle.  They had a son, Boog, in 2004.

And so on and so on.  In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in the six-generations of the Wallet family to date who isn't involved in a hetero-romance.  There are no confirmed bachelor uncles or maiden aunts anywhere to provide queer subtexts (except for the outsider characters Rufus and Joel).  Gasoline Alley remains a holdout from the time when gay people were assumed not to exist.

Yet for kids growing up in the 1930s, there was Skeezix.

See also: Was My Grandfather Gay?

Mar 9, 2017

Randall's Hookup with Dick Sargent, Cary Grant, and Groucho Marx

West Hollywood, Fall 1994

It is the evening before the AIDS Walk, an event almost as big as Halloween or Gay Pride, and Lane and I are having some guys over for dinner, including Will the bondage boy, Randall the muscle bear, and Scott from MCC.

 During the time between dessert and sharing or hitting the bars, we swap stories about gigantic penises, homophobic home towns, and hookups with the captain of the football team, and the question comes up, "Who's the biggest celebrity you've ever been with?  Big in stardom, or big in size?"

Scott: David Hyde Pierce, star of Frasier
Lane: Peter Fonda
Me: Michael J. Fox
Will: Rob Lowe

Randall the muscle bear sits back in his chair, looks slowly around the room, and says "Cary Grant, star of North by Northwest and Indiscreet."

The famous movie star!  We all wait expectantly.  I haven't heard this story before.

"Dick Sargent, who played Darrin Stevens on Bewitched," he continues.

"Um...I'd rather hear the Cary Grant story."

"...and Groucho Marx.  All on the same night, in the same bed."

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

Cary Grant: Hints and Closets in the 1930s

On November 29, 1986, Cary Grant died in Davenport, Iowa, right across the river from my home town of Rock Island.  I was living in West Hollywood at the time, but still, it felt weird to know that a film legend had died right next door.

Cary Grant had a brilliant career, usually playing suave, sophisticated types driven mad by a free spirit or a series of catastrophes.  Must-sees include Topper (1936), Suspicion (1941) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (1947), To Catch a Thief (1955), North by Northwest (1959) by Hitchcock again,and  That Touch of Mink (1962) with Doris Day.  Many of his movies have gay subtexts.

In Bringing Up Baby (1938), his character answers the door in a frilly women's nightgown (because a woman stole his clothes), and declares "I just went gay all of a sudden."  He continues: "I am sitting in the middle of Time Square, waiting for a bus."  This is one of the first uses of "gay" in its modern sense, augmented by the reference to cruising.  It's an ad-lib, not in the shooting script. How would he know it?

The perennial question is, was he gay?

The facts of the matter are:

1. He met Randolph Scott in 1932, and the two lived together, on and off, for the next ten years ("to save on expenses," heterosexist biographers claim) and remained close friends for the rest of their lives.

2. But neither have been associated with any gay stars, or with the gay subcultures of Hollywood in the 1950s, 1960s, or 1970s.

3. Friends and acquaintances noted that he was often seen in the company of young men.

4. He was married five times. His first two wives "accused" him of being gay, his last three denied the rumors, stating that they had sex a lot.

5. He sued Chevy Chase for suggesting that he was gay.

6. His daughter stated that he liked the rumors, because they motivated women to "cure him" through sex.

7. His last movie, Walk, Don't Run (1966), is obviously about a gay romance.

8. He never acknowledged his gay fans.

9. My friend Randall claims that he had a three-way with Cary Grant and Groucho Marx in 1958.  The story is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Answer: there's a ton of evidence for both gay and heterosexual identity.  Most likely he was bisexual and highly closeted.

Mar 8, 2017

The Joy of Pecs: G-Rated Version

You see an attractive guy in the gym, in the Student Union, or walking down the street, or working on his car. He returns your cruising smile, so you start a brief conversation.  Now it's time to make a move: you have to let him know that you have erotic intentions, or he'll write you off as a passing acquaintance.  But you can't be too blatant.  What do you do?

You touch his chest.

Specifically the top of the pectoralis major, that flat area above the nipple, over his heart.

The chest is not an intimate zone, like the face or the crotch, so if you made a mistake and he's not interested, he will not be offended.

But it is not a "friendly" zone, like the hand or the shoulder.  The only reason to touch it is to let him know that you find him physically attractive, that you want a date or a hookup.

When you're talking to a pair or a group, it clarifies which one you're interested in.

There are occasional circumstances where the first touch is somewhere else.

If you managed to arrange a first date without a touch, you'll probably begin the intimacy by putting your arm around him rather than touching his chest.

At sex parties and bathhouses, you can sometimes drop to your knees immediately and get to work, but even there, a chest-touch is usually recommended, just to make sure he's up for it.

You can tell a lot about his physique by touching his chest, even if he's fully clothed.  Are the muscles big or small, hard or soft?  Is the skin tense or elastic?

More after the break.

Let's Get Physical

I heard Olivia Newton-John a lot during the 1970s. Her easy-listening, feelings-drenched songs appealed mostly to girls. "If Not for You" (1971) and  "I Honestly Love You" (1974) didn't specify pronouns, and  "Have You Never Been Mellow?" (1974) wasn't about romance at all, but I still wasn't a fan.

But after the success of Grease (1977), Olivia's music became as sexually liberated as her character.  Her next big hits included: "Totally Hot" (1979), "Physical" (1981), "Make a Move on Me" (1981), and "Heart Attack" (1982). Again, no pronouns, and this time desire was added to the cuddliness.

 One of ten or twelve songs with gay subtexts from the early 1980s, "Physical" (1981), has about the same theme as "You're The One that I Want," and for that matter, "Show Me" from My Fair Lady (1964): we've done the dinner and movie thing, we've talked about our feelings.  I've got nothing left to say except "Let's get horizontal."

The music video responds directly to gay fans.  Olivia plays a personal trainer whipping men into shape, leering at various disembodied, muscular pecs and arms, and semi-nude men in jockstraps.

She gives extra attention to an out-of-shape specimen, until he gets stronger, younger, and more handsome.  And seems to change his race.  But to her consternation, he goes off with a man, one of the first explicit evocations of same-sex desire in popular music.

Kenny recreated the iconic song on a 2017 episode of The Real O'Neals.

"Make a Move on Me" (1981) makes a similar plea to stop talking: "Spare me your charms and take me in your arms."  (You couldn't carry on a conversation anyway, with disco music blasting).

Not that the romance was absent.  The movie Xanadu (1980) was about the Greek goddess of. . .um, roller disco. . .helping a nebbish  (Michael Beck, left) open a nightclub.

But the song "Xanadu" is about leaving the straight world behind, running away to West Hollywood.

 A place where nobody dared to go
The love that we came to know
They call it Xanadu

See also: Madonna, Gay Diva of the 1980s

Mar 7, 2017

Ryan Cooley: Queer as Folk

Born in 1988, Canadian actor Ryan Cooley has appeared in several gay- and lesbian-subtext programs, such as I was a Sixth Grade Alien (1999-2001), as the alien, with future bodybuilder Daniel Clark as his human buddy, and the Disney Channel's Color of Friendship (2000), about a white South African girl and her black American friend.

Also four tv programs with gay characters:

1. The sci-fi series Lexx (1997-2002), about intergalactic explorers, including the bisexual cluster lizard Zev/Xev (Eva Habermann, Xenia Seaberg).  He played the psychopathic schoolboy Digby in a three-episode story arc.

2. The gay-themed Queer as Folk (2000-2005): Hank, son of Dr. David Cameron (Chris Potter).

3. Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2007): Class clown J.T. Yorke, who likes girls, sells drugs, and is murdered.  Several gay characters.

3. Lost Girl (2010-), about a succubus (girl who draws energy from her sex partners) trying to live a normal life.  Several lesbian and bisexual characters.

Actually, almost all of Ryan's on-screen appearances have had gay texts or subtexts.  As well as frequent shirtless shots.   But he's never played a gay character himself. Wonder why.

Well, let's see who he follows on twitter: Jerry Seinfeld, Tiger Woods, Dick Van Dyke, Chuck Norris, Don Rickles, Charlie Sheen, Jim Carey, and Ryan Seacrest.  No supermodels in the bunch, but not a lot of beefcake models, either.

I'd have to judge this one as inconclusive.

Western Wind: How We Learned that Literature Was About Heterosexuals

August 28th, 1978, the first day of my freshman year at Augustana College.  I was 17 years old, newly out.   I didn't know any gay people, but I hoped that would change.  Surely at a big, modern college, there would be a mention of gay people somewhere, in class, on the quad, in a student group.

My first class was Introduction to Literature, at 9:00 am: 30 students, almost all freshmen.  The professor, an elderly white-haired woman, passed out the syllabus and told us about the textbook: Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry, by John Frederick Nims.   It was first published in 1974, and had become the go-to book for college English instructors.

Then she read the first poem, "Western Wind," anonymous, from the Middle Ages:

Western wind, where wilt thou blow?
The small rain down can rain.
Christ!  If my love were in my arms,
And I in my bed again.

"The first two lines are easy to understand -- it's raining and windy.  The western wind always brings rain.  What about the last two?"

"The guy wants to get laid!"  a jock exclaimed.

The class erupted into laughter, but the professor said "That's exactly right.  This is a poem about a man missing his lady, and all of the pleasures she offers."

The first moment of my first class of my first day in college was about heterosexual sex!

And it didn't end there.  Poems about heterosexual sex, heterosexual romance, boys gazing at girls, girls gazing at boys.

The sole purpose of literature was to express heterosexual longing, with not a single moment of same-sex intimacy, or a single acknowledgement of the possibility of same-sex desire.

It's been nearly 40 years since that long-ago class.  John Frederick Nims died in 1999.  But Western Wind, now in the fifth edition, is still the go-to book for the ubiquitous Introduction to Literature class.

But surely in modern editions there's an acknowledgement of same-sex desire, some masculine beauty, some references to gay people?

I checked.  A lot of William Carlos Williams, E.E. Cummings, Robert Frost, and Ezra Pound. The horrifyingly incomprehensible "Emperor of Ice Cream" and "Our Bog is Dood."

A few poems by gay authors, but none that mention same-sex desire or relationships.  Sappho's is entitled "There's a Man":

There's a man I really believe is in heaven ---over there, that man. 
To be sitting near you,
knee to knee so close to you, hear your voice, your cozy low laughter,
close to you - enough in the very thought to put my heart at once in palpitation.

They found the one Sappho poem that wasn't about lesbian desire.

A sample of titles:
"Loose Women"
"Blue Girls"
"Upon Julia's Clothes"
"To Helen"
"To a Fat Lady Seen from the Train"
"A Poem for Emily"
"A Woman"

Heterosexual desire abounding.

John Frederick Nims, by the way, wrote about:

Woman mostly, as winter moonlight sees,
Impetuous midnight, and the dune’s dark trees.

The cover photo, with a half-naked man (the titular wind), might provide a bit of beefcake.  But he's carrying a bare-breasted woman in his arms.

And it's actually part of Boticelli's Birth of Venus (1484-86), the famous painting of the emblem of hetero-romance rising from a clamshell:

Introduction to Literature classes are still entirely heterosexist.

Maybe I'd have better luck with the Eastern Wind.

Mar 6, 2017

The Music Major's Top Turn-On

Plains, January 2017

First day of the semester.  A day of anticipation and dread.  Will my new classes be a pleasure or a pain? Which students will be eager to participate?  Which will be taciturn?

But today I'm feeling a little off:  I got no sleep last night, and somehow I pulled a muscle doing bicep curls, of all things.

Plus I'm teaching an overload this semester, so it's class nonstop all morning, with no breaks.  I have to dash out to get lunch and eat it in my office during my office hours.

It's exactly noon, and very crowded at the Student Union Food Court.  I get into the line at the Grille for my regular lunch of chicken, vegetables, and a fountain drink.

The line moves sideways, cafeteria-style.  The guy next to me turns and smiles.

"It's my first time here.  Is it any good?"

He's a student, taller than me and rather stocky, wearing a brown sweater and jeans, but no coat.  Reddish-brown hair, short reddish-brown beard, blue eyes.  Reminds me of Alan the Pentecostal Porn Star, my friend in West Hollywood..

"Sure.  I eat here almost every day.  The grilled chicken and brown rice is pretty healthy."

"I'm Wagner[not his real name].  I just started in the graduate school."

This is weird.  You don't speak in line except to complain about the weather, and you certainly don't introduce yourself to someone you'll be standing next to for only about 30 seconds.   You stare at the food, or look at your cell phone.

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

The Best Date in the History of the Plains

Plains, March 2017

I met Reynard (not his real name) on Grindr at the beginning of the fall 2015 semester. He was 18 years old, a freshman theater arts major, and in my intro class!  I don't hook up current students, so I turned him down.

Then he dropped my class so we could date!

Thinking that he was unstable, I turned him down again.

Last week, a year and a half later, he contacts me.  He's transferred to another college about 100 miles away.  He'll be driving through town on the way home for spring break, and he wants to stop by.

This time I say "yes."

We've never met in person.  We've spoken barely a dozen words.  I know nothing about him except the fact that he's driving 100 mils for a meeting he's been anticipating for a year and a half.

Obviously a simply hookup won't do the trick.

I plan the Best Date in the History of the Plains.

I instruct Reynard to meet me at the gay-friendly coffee house in the early afternoon, after lunch, and to bring his jogging clothes.

2:00 pm: Coffee

He arrives at 2:00 pm sharp: cuter than his profile pic, with a round face, unruly black hair, and dark eyebrows that give him almost a Mediterranean look.  He's trying to smile, but can't quite make it -- he's almost trembling with nervousness.

We shake hands -- he has a loose, moist handshake.

"I've never done anything like this before," he says.

"What?  Gone out on a date?"

"Not with -- you know, a professor."

"Call me Boomer."

We sit down at a little table for coffee and scones, and I tell him about the schedule for our date.  I reach under the table and take his hand.  He tries to smile.

3:00 pm:  Jogging

It's a brisk March day, perfect for jogging.  We go to the YMCA, change into our jogging clothes -- I give Reynard a good view of my penis, but he turns his back -- and then go jogging on the trail that goes through the woods for about 5 miles (we just go 2).

This gives him an opportunity to dispel some of his nervousness and chat some more.

Reynard has changed his major twice, first to psychology and then to biology, though he's still dancing.  He strikes me as a little flighty, not focused.  I tell him that I changed my major eight times as an undergraduate.

Afterwards we shower -- a good time to check each other out, and get some other sausage sightings -- and change back into our street clothes.

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

Bullfighter Beefcake

Bullfighting, known in Spanish as corrida de toros, or "running of the bulls" is a spectacle of man against animal, or rather male against male, since both the toreros and the bull evoke powerful masculine energy.

It dates back to ancient Roman times, when devotees of the god Mithras sacrificed bulls, but the modern bullfight, with the torero on foot, dates only to the 18th century.    It is popular in Spain, southern France, and the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America.

Juan Belmonte (1892-1962) is credited with developing the popular bullfighting technique where you stand nearly motionless and invite the bull to approach, moving out of the way at the last moment.

The bullfight is a highly stylized ritual, with three parts and multiple players, including picadores, banderilleros,  and various assistants, but the star is the matador.

The chief torero, the matador, wears a traije de luces based on the flamboyantly feminine costume of the 19th century dandy: glittering sequins, gold thread, tassles, and ultra-tight tights that place his sex organs in obvious full view (most too explicit to show here).  What Ernest Hemingway, in his classic Death in the Afternoon, called a "male figure complicated by femaleness."

The bull's sex organs are in full view, too.  Its penis when erect is 2-3 feet long.  And it's often erect as it charges the matador, making you think that it intends a sexual assault.

Thus the spectacle becomes a ritual triumph of civilization over savagery, artifice over nature, complicated by gay symbolism.

Although toreros live in an ultra-masculine world, surrounded by other men, most aren't "really" gay.

But the spectacle has more than a few gay fans.  A number of toreros have posed for gay magazines, and in 2009 a European company struck a deal with matador Joselito Ortega to advertise an energy drink called Gay Up on his cape.

Purists were outraged -- not because of the gay ad, because he was lowering himself to product placement.

There are bullfighter bulges on Tales of West Hollywood.

Also check out the anti-bullfighting protests, including the Running of the Nudes in Pamplona.

Mar 5, 2017

A Gaggle of Josephs

It's theater season again, and that means beefcake.  Dozens of high school and college theater departments will be finding the most buffed megahunk who can carry a tune and casting him in Joseph in the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, knowing that he will spend most of the play out of the dreamcoat.

I saw a high school version the other night.  Joseph kept his shirt on, but the guards were rather buffed (see: The Best Date in the History of the Plains).

Here are the top 10 Josephs, rated by their chests rather than their acting ability.

1. Casey Daniel of the Valley Youth Theater shows some nice abs.

2. Lee Mead, who starred in the 2007 West End revival, has a face that draws attention from his pecs.

3. Michael Cicirelli of the Chelsea Youth Theater in Connecticut gets points for agreeing to appear shirtless.

4.  Ben Thacker of Anoka High School gets points for showing his navel.

5. Anthony Fedorov, former member of the boy band 7th Heaven, has pecs and abs to spare.

More after the break.