May 31, 2019

Robin Askwith: Running from Gay Men

Robin Askwith was a reliable source of 1970s beefcake, but, like Michael Sarrazin, you had to look around the naked girls to see it.  Born in 1950, the slim, long-haired Boomer boy was a fixture on the British screen long before his character urinates on a crowd in Pasolini's The Canterbury Tales (1972).    

1. The homoerotic boarding-school movie If...(1968), with a very young Malcolm McDowell.
2. Hans Brinker, the Dutch boy who wins silver skates in a tv adaption of the children's classic (1969).
3. Lennie, who steals a car along with a buddy in Scramble (1970).

4. Des in Tower of Evil (1972), with bodybuilder John Hamill.
5. A young rock star who encounters gay villains in The Horror Hospital (1973).
Plus lots of hippies and working-class blokes on tv series like The Misfits and Father Dear Father.

His utter lack of self-consciousness about displaying frontal nudity made Robin the go-to guy for nude scenes in the randy 1970s.  He even made forays into the x-rated market, but became most famous for R-rated comedies, Confessions of a Window Cleaner, Pop Performer, Driving Instructor, Camp Counselor (1974-77)  

He played Timothy Lea (pronounced "lay"), a horny young man who goes into business with his brother in law Sidney Noggett (Anthony Booth), and ends up having sex with lots of women.  Plus running at breakneck speed from flirtatious gay men.

Roles became sparse in the conservative Thatcher 1980s, and Robin moved into theater, appearing in a stage version of the Confessions series and a number of pantomimes.  He returned to the screen in 2000 for a series of nostalgic roles in horror movies: The Asylum, The Legend of Harrow Woods, Evil Calls. 

Quite a lot of homophobic content and not a lot of gay content -- he was known for a "traditional, uncomplicated heterosexuality" -- but in real life the performer is more gay-friendly.  His autobiography, The Confessions of Robin Askwith, discusses "fifty people wearing Robin Askwith masks watching 'the' Robin Askwith in a pink Lurex jock strap dancing with our gay stage manager."

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