Jan 10, 2018

Saturday Morning Beefcake: the 1990s

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, Saturday morning tv was strictly for little kids. By junior high, I watched only the live-action programs like H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Lidsville.  By high school, I had abandoned even those.

In the late 1980s, Saturday morning became cool again.  Everybody watched Pee-Wee's Playhouse  and  Saved by the Bell.  For some reason, most gay men preferred  Slater (Mario Lopez, right) to Mark-Paul Goesselaer's prettyboy operator Zack Morris.

Between 1993 and 2001, there was a whole lineup of teencoms to watch with your boyfriend and whatever guy you had brought home to "share" the night before. They all had the about the same plot: a group of high schoolers go out for sports, consider cheating on tests, take part-time jobs, date, and start bands.  There was always  a Zack Morris clone and a Slater clone, plus sundry stereotyped athletes, nerds, cheerleader-type girls, and brainy-type girls.

Boring stuff.  But who was watching for the plots?

1. Running the Halls starred blond goldenboy Richard Hillman as the Zack Morris clone who got into constant trouble with the vice-principal.   Hillman  also had small roles in Detroit Rock City and Teenage Caveman.  He died of AIDS in 2009.

2. California Dreams followed Iowa teens to their new home in California (shades of Beverly Hills 90210!), where naturally they started a band.  It starred Michael Cade's abs.

Fortunately, Book Circus had a full selection of teen magazines with Michael Cade centerfolds.

3. Saved by the Bell: The New Class was set right at Bayside High, with the vice principal and the nerd Screech still there.  It changed teen hunks frequently, but Christian Oliver is probably the best-remembered Zack Morris clone. 

You can also see Christian Oliver in the 2012 film Blow Me.

4. Hang-Time was oddly set in small-town Indiana rather than Malibu, and involved basketball rather than surfing.   It went through a lot of cast changes, too, with new groups of teen hunks every season.  Danso Gordon (left, recent photo) played the Slater clone.  Today he performs mostly in evangelical Christian movies like Heaven is Real.  I doubt that he would be happy learning that hundreds of gay men in West Hollywood thought that he was hot.

5.City Guys was set at Manhattan High School (apparently there is only one high school in Manhattan), with a diverse cast of two black guys, not just one, plus the Hispanic Al, played by Dion Basco (far left, from the cast of Naked Brown Men). 

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