Apr 13, 2013

Toran Caudell, Boy Wizard

Born in 1982, Toran Caudell followed in his father Lane Caudell's footsteps with the gay subtext Max is Missing (1995). On vacation in Peru, Max (Toran) encounters a dying man, who gives him an ancient Incan mask.  It doesn't have magic powers, but  does send him on a wild flight through the wilderness,  chased by the bad guys, accompanied by the Quechua boy Juanito (Victor Rojas).

Nick of time rescues and physical buddy-bonding moments ensue.

Toran's shoulder-length blond hair and feminine pretty-boy features got him cast as a as shy, sensitive, gay-vague boy in Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard (1997): he finds a magic ring that transports him to King Arthur's Camelot (where he fails to get a girlfriend).

Between 1997 and 2001, he had a recurring role on Seventh Heaven, the preachy, heterosexist "family" drama about a minister with a large brood of hetero-horny kids. Goth kid Rod (Toran) enters the series by dating daughter Lucy, naturally, but he ends up running away from home and butting heads with his mother's psychotic boyfriend.

Otherwise Toran did mostly voice work on Nickelodeon cartoons: Recess, Hey Arnold, Rocket Power. 

Today he is a song writer and music producer. He composed music for The Osbournes and My Super Sweet Sixteen.  Still androgynous though no longer blond, he has made no public statements about his sexual identity.

Apr 12, 2013

Fugitive from the Empire: Jonny and Hadji Grown Up

There have been many Europeans or Americans involved with South Asians, on tv (Maya, Jonny Quest, Gunga the Indian Boy), in books (Haji of the Elephants), in comics (Corentin) -but they are nearly always teenagers.  An exception came in 1981, in The Archer, also known as The Archer and the Sorceress, also known as Fugitive from the Empirea tv movie pilot that never became a series

The rather convoluted plot draws on Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian.  In a weird post-apocalyptic world, barbarian Toran (Lane Caudell, left) sees his tribe wiped out by the Evil Empire, and goes off in search of revenge.  He hooks up with a gay-vague South Asian thief named Slant (Kabir Bedi), who at first is in it for the money, but then begins to care for Toran.  The two are quite physical in their interactions and rescue each other several times.  The addition of a third team member, Estra (Belinda Bauer), does not detract from the romantic interaction; in fact, at the end of the movie Estra goes off on her own, leaving Toran and Slant to their own fade-out.

There isn't much beefcake, so the gay subtext is the only reason to watch The Archer; the plot is nonsensical, the special effects laughable, and the dialogue purple prose at best.  But on a Sunday night in April 1981, watching grown-up versions of Corentin and Kim or Jonny and Hadji was enough.

28-year old North Carolina native Lane Caudell had been playing Southern athletes, rednecks, and musicians for several years, mostly in tv movies like Hanging on a Star (1978) and Good Ol' Boys (1979).  He didn't do much of gay interest afterwards: a starring gig on Days of Our Lives and two country-western albums, including one entitled I Need a Good Woman Bad.  Oh, and he liked his character so much that he named his son Toran Caudell.

35 year old Kabir Bedi, however, was already well-known in India, Italy, and the U.S., with credits in several buddy-bonding movies, including Sandokan (1976), The Black Corsair (1976), and The Thief of Bagdad (1978).  In 2010 he starred in the Hindi movie Dunno Y Na Jaane Kyun (Don't Know Why), an entry in India's first gay film festival.

Apr 11, 2013

Amir Shervan: King of 1980s Bad Movies

Born in Tehran in 1929, Amir Shervan moved to the U.S. to study theater. He returned to Iran in 1968 to direct several movies. The Iranian Revolution forced him to relocate to the U.S., where he wrote, directed, and produced five actioners which head the list of "world's worst movies" for their laughable dialogue, amateurish acting, and convoluted plots.  But they featured some of the biggest man-mountains ever seen outside of extreme bodybuilding, not to mention a leering pansexual sort of homoerotic subtext.

Hollywood Cop (1987): The Hollywood Cop (David Goss) tries to help a woman recover her kidnapped child, and meanwhile gazes lustfully at everyone in sight, male and female, including Aldo Ray, Cameron Mitchell, Troy Donohue, and a gay stereotyped waiter.  Then he goes home and parades around in his underwear. While makeing racist and sexist comments and blowing people up.

Samurai Cop (1989):  The Samurai Cop (inarticulate man-mountain Matt Hannon, who was in one other movie) glances lustfully at everyone in sight, male and female, but gives special attention to discussions of the penis of his partner Frank (Mark Frazer). Then he goes home and parades around in his underwear. While making racist and sexist comments and blowing people up.

And there's three that nobody can find. Maybe they were never released: Killing American Style (1990), with Blacksploitation legend Jim Brown as someone named Sunset; Gypsy (1991); and Young Rebels (1992), which has a tagline in French and stars "Johnny Greene," whom no one has ever heard of.

Apr 9, 2013

I'm Dickens...He's Fenster: Early 1960s Bonding

When I was a kid,  I knew John Astin as the mustached, googly-eyed Gomez Addams on The Addams Family (1964-66), as the Riddler on Batman (a replacement for Frank Gorshin), and as various kooky characters thereafter, such as Professor Gangreen in Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988).  Funny, but not really swoon-worthy -- I was more interested in his teen idol sons, Sean and Mackenzie.

And Marty Ingels as a voice on Cattanooga Cats and Grape Ape on Saturday morning tv, married to Shirley Jones and the stepfather of David, Shaun, and Patrick Cassidy.  Again, not really swoon-worthy.

Then a Boomer of the older generation suggested the sitcom I'm Dickens -- He's Fenster (1962-63), which appeared after The Flintstones on Friday nights.   I looked up some episodes on youtube.

John Astin (age 32) and Marty Ingels (age 26) play bumbling carpenters Harry Dickens and Arch Fenster.  Dickens is married, and trying to be stable and respectable.

Arch is a swinger (with a Little Black Book full of women's phone numbers), and keeps trying to drag his partner into crazy adventures.

But in spite of the blatant girl-leering, there's a blatant homoromantic subtext.  The two behave as if they were romantic partners, in that unself-conscious way that performers had before they were aware that gay readings were possible: an amazing physicality, a devotion to each other, and even a domesticity, as Fenster practically lives with Dickens.

And they are swoonworthy.  No nudity, but 32-year old John Astin displays a respectable chest and nicely-toned biceps in a tight black  t-shirt, and 26-year old Marty Ingels has a beefy, promising physique.

Producer Leonard Stern was also responsible for the beefcake-heavy Run, Buddy, Run and the buddy comedy The Good Guys.

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