Nov 16, 2013

Shannon Kook-Chun: The Gay Footballer from Degrassi

Do you think the muscular Asian guy on the left is gay?

Nope, heterosexual.

No, really.  I can prove it.  You wouldn't believe what I erased from this photo of him and a few friends doing tequila shots.

He's Shannon Kook-Chun, a Canadian actor of Chinese and South African ancestry.  Millions of teens know him as Zane Park, one of the gay students on Degrassi: The Next Generation (2010-2011) a footballer in a relationship with Riley Stavros (Argirris Karras).

Before Degrassi, he had recurring roles on the Canadian tv series Baxter and Durham County.

And in the short film Verona (2010), a gay Romeo-and-Juliet story set in a contemporary college.  Two members of rival fraternities (Shannon, John Bregar) fall in love.

Look for Shanon in Hunting Season (2013), about five friends who "must fight for survival, salvation, and sanity" while being hunted in the Canadian northwoods. I haven't seen it, but there's bound to be some gay subtexts, if not a "real" gay character.

He's playing a heterosexual character in Home Again (2013), and most likely in Dirty Singles (2013), but he had a good run.

Nov 13, 2013

Joe Namath Wearing Pantyhose

Beginning in 1973, TV viewers were treated to the gender-bending sight of 30-year old former pro football player and perennial tv guest star Joe Namath wearing pantyhose.  "I don't wear pantyhose," he confessed, "But if Hanes Beauty Mist can make my legs look good, imagine what they can do for yours?"

Many viewers thought that his legs -- and the rest of him -- looked good without pantyhose.

The commercials weren't trying to break down gender stereotypes -- they were based on the assumption of a gender binary, with men rough, hairy, and by definition unattractive.  Still, it was shocking to see a "macho" football player comfortable enough to engage in an intensely feminine-coded activity on tv.  A lot of people began assuming that Joe was gay, and making homophobic spoofs and jokes.

He followed up with commercials demonstrating the usefulness of Noxema Shaving Cream:  he got Charlie's Angels superstar Farrah Fawcett to shave his legs.  This got him a parody with a limp wrist and a simpering smirk in Mad Magazine.

The laid-back Namath dealt with the gay rumors gracefully, not with the hysterical denials of other celebrities of the 1970s and 1980s, like Tom Selleck and Tom Cruise.  He seemed bemused by the fact that he was assumed gay in spite of his many girlfriends.  In a 1979 interview in Esquire, he said, "Not only am I not gay, I'm not even bisexual."

In 2013, he told Huffington Post that he had a lot of gay friends, and "if you've got a hangup about it, I hope you can get over it."

Here's Joe's legs in pantyhose.

Nov 12, 2013

Sergi Lopez: Gay Characters and Frontal Nudity in Three Languages

You probably remember Sergi Lopez as the evil Captain Vidal in Pan's Labyrinth (2006).  The polyglot actor (fluent in Spanish and French as well as his native Catalan) has appeared in over 60 movies, specializing in psychotic killers, amoral conmen, and other evil types.

But he also plays gay-subtext characters.  In With a Friend Like Harry (2000), his Harry reunites with high school friend Michel (Laurent Lucas), seduces him, and takes over his life.

In Parc (2008), a chance meeting between two married heterosexual men in the park (Sergi, Jean-Marc Barr) turns into a cat-and-mouse game of manipulation and desire.

And gay characters.  In Les derniers jours du monde ("Happy End," 2009), as the end of the world approaches, Theo (Sergi) confesses his love for his straight friend Robinson (Mathieu Almaric), and then commits suicide. I know, the gay gay always dies, but to be fair, Robinson and everybody else on Earth also dies.  And there's a frontal-nude shot of Sergi that's more than worth sitting through the angst.

Sergi doesn't play a gay character in Pa negre ("Black Bread," 2010), but he does play the mayor of a town where a gay boy uncovers a dark secret.


Erik Palladino: The Guy from "Latter Days" Goes Gay-Vague

Every gay-themed movie of the 1990s and early 2000s had to have a character dying of AIDS.  In Latter Days (2003), it was Keith (Erik Palladino), who had nothing much to do with the plot, except to demonstrate that partyboy Christian (Wes Ramsey) wasn't entirely self-centered.

Erik Palladino was a bold casting choice for the sensitive, wounded Keith.  Growing up on the mean streets of Yonkers, arrested for assault at age 17, a heavy-metal rocker, the actor had previously played tough, no-nonsense,  working-class heterosexual Italian types, such as Michael Nardini on Love and Marriage (1996), Vinnie in The Day the Girl Died (1998), and Dr. Dave Malucci on ER (1999-2001).  

He hasn't played a gay character since, although he did appear in the gay-themed play The Sonneteer at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center in 2011.

But his various cops, detectives, and horror-movie victims have provided us with some gay subtexts.

In the comedy-horror Dead & Breakfast (2004), he buddy-bonds with Jeremy Sisto at a sinster hotel.

L.A. Dicks (2005) is about a stand-off between two buddy pairs, cops and detectives.

I haven't seen Crash and Burn (2008), but the premise, about an ex-car thief working as an undercover cop who hooks up with his old gang, has some buddy-bonding potential.

Tony DeMeo (Erik), the doorman at the sinister 666 Park Avenue (2012-2013) gives me a gay vibe.  Maybe it's his lack of heterosexual interest, or his relationship with Shaw (Nick Chinlund).

Erik is a gay ally, of course.

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