Jan 5, 2016

Gregory Harrison: Not For Ladies Only

While Magnum and Buck Rogers were grunting and posing, Gregory Harrison was quietly making a name for himself on Trapper John, MD (1979-86) as Gonzo Gates, the irreverent surgeon who lived in a trailer  (don't surgeons make a steady income?) and sunned himself semi-nude in the hospital parking lot.  Lot of beefcake, some minimal buddy-bonding, and two "gay episodes":

In 1981, a swishy gay guy named Judy is hospitalized after a hate crime (they called it "gay bashing" back then). All gay men are drag queens, I get it.   But at least all drag queens aren't homicidal maniacs; Judy turns out to be nice.

And in 1985, one of Nurse Libby's old boyfriends turns out to be gay and have AIDS -- the third AIDS-centered episode on network television.

Gregory Harrison is no stranger to beefcake.  In 1973, he played one of a group of students who romp around nude in The Harrad Experiment, along with Don Johnson, and during the 1970s (and 1980s and 1990s), he was often asked to appear shirtless in his tv and movie appearances, not to mention Battle of the Network Stars. 

But in 1981 he went all the way (or as far as the censors would allow), playing an aspiring actor who becomes a stripper in For Ladies Only.  In spite of the heterosexist title, he got many gay fans and write-ups in gay magazines like Christopher Street.

Nor is he a stranger to bonding.  In North Shore (1987), he plays Chandler, an experienced surfer who lives on the North Shore of Hawaii and begins a buddy-bonding romance with Arizona transplant Rich (Matt Adler, right).  In Red River (1988), he plays Cherry Valance, who buddy-bonds with Matthew Garth (Bruce Boxleiter) during a cattle drive.

Greg has always been quick to acknowledge his gay male fans.  In an interview, he estimated that about a third of his fan emails are about his role in the gay-angst movie It's My Party (1996), in which a gay man with AIDS invites his friends to a party, after which he will commit suicide.

He has also toured as Billy Flynn in the gay favorite Chicago.

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