Jan 4, 2014

Jerry Quarry: Boxer with Something Extra

When I was a kid, my friends and I liked to read boxing magazines and watch boxing on tv.  Not because of the pummelling -- because of the beefcake.

Our favorite boxer was Jerry Quarry, the Bellflower Bomber (1945-1999).  He was big.  Not just famous -- big.  

A heavyweight -- 6 feet tall, 200 pounds, with beneath-the-belt gifts obvious to anyone who looked.

Want a better look?

Born in California to a family of boxers, Jerry won the Golden Gloves amateur boxing championship in 1965, at age 19, and then went pro, fighting such greats as Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali (he lost to both, twice.)

He was all over tv, guest-starring on such kid favorites as Batman, Adam-12, Land of the Giants (starring bodybuilder Gary Conway)and The Hardy Boys.

He never gave up in the ring, no matter what -- he could take punch after punch forever. Sometimes the referee called the fight just to keep him from suffering any more injuries.

After retiring in 1975, Jerry tried several business ventures and ill-advised comeback bouts in 1977 and 1983, but years of pummelling took their toll in physical and mental decline.  In the end his brother had to look after him.  The Jerry Quarry Foundation is an advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness of pugilistic dementia.

Not a lot of gay rumors in the life of "ladies man" Jerry Quarry.  Sometimes you could be an icon for gay kids in the 1960s just by being big.  And never giving up.

Jan 3, 2014

Dean Geyer: Fundamentalist Plays Male Prostitute

Teen idol Dean Geyer was born in South Africa but grew up in Melbourne, Australia, where he received a black belt in karate and studied music.  He placed third on Australian Idol in 2006, and his single "If You Don't Mean It" reached #10 on the Australian pop charts in 2007.

In 2008-09 he played bad boy Ty Harper on the soap Neighbours, but decided to leave.  Word has it that the sexy storyline conflicted with his fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

But not to worry, fundamentalist Christianity has no problem with fighting or homophobia, so he had no qualms about starring in Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown (2011), about four fighters who band together to save their mentor. One of them, Case (Michael Jai White), has a sleazy gay dad, which causes the others to lambast him with homophobic slurs.  Nice.

Next Dean starred in Terra Nova (2011), a short-lived sci-fi series about people who escape the devastation of contemporary Earth by going back in time to dinosaur days.

And in 2012-2013, surprisingly, he appeared on the doddering Glee as Brody Weston, a student at NYADS who romances Rachel, but becomes such a close friend of Kurt that there are internet groups devoted to shipping the couple.  He moves in with Rachel and Kurt.  One episode shows him hanging around the apartment naked.

Wait -- didn't working so closely with a gay actor playing a gay person conflict with Dean's beliefs?

Later it is revealed that Brody is a male prostitute, which means his clients are men.

What fundamentalist church does he go to, again?

Jan 2, 2014

Fernando Lamas: Was the Latin Lover Bisexual?

Have you seen the tv commercials about a heterosexual kitchen sponge with a Spanish accent who says his favorite part of a woman's body is her hands?

I don't know the origin of the stereotype of the "Latin lover," a man who can win the heart of any woman with a sultry smile, but Fernando Lamas is a good bet.

The celebrity died in 1982, but his presence was so over-the-top that he's still being parodied today, in the characters of Fernando on Saturday Night Live and "The Most Interesting Man in the World" in Dos Equis beer commercials.

Born in Argentina in 1918, Lamas racked up trophies for amateur boxing, fencing, and swimming before coming to Hollywood in the early 1950s.  He starred in some movies, mostly about men seducing women: The Merry Widow (1952), The Girl Who Had Everything (1953), Dangerous When Wet (1953).  Mostly about him seducing his costar off-camera.

He wasn't particularly hunky, but he was handsome, suave, and sophisticated, the last of the old-style romantic leads.  Unfortunately, he was increasingly anachronistic in the era of Hollywood beefcake,when gay talent agent Henry Willson was flooding the market with massive pecs and bulging biceps.  By the late 1950s, Fernando was relegated to the wasteland of guest roles on tv Westerns.
But, like the Gabor sisters, his fame came not from his acting so much as for his hetero-romances: four marriages, innumerable liaisons, flings, and affairs.

Not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding in his performances -- the IMDB assigns the keyword "friendship" to only one of his projects, an episode of Starsky and Hutch that he directed.

Not a lot of homoerotic buddy-bonding in real life, either.  He preferred the company of women, even when he wasn't sleeping with them.  

What do you say about an actor who spends all of his time off camera with women?  Right -- you say he's gay.  Because of course, heterosexual men can't stand being with women.

The conservative Republican was not pleased with the gay rumors so he "disproved" them by sleeping with the rumor-mongers' wives.  

He's identified as bisexual on some internet lists, but no one is naming names.

His son Lorenzo started off his career playing gay-vague characters.

Dec 29, 2013

Why You Should Visit Turkey Next July

I have always hated playing sports, but if I have no choice, I'll pick wrestling: no projectiles hurling at your head, no teammates to get all huffy when you miss a point, just you and your opponent in revealing singlets straining against each other's bodies.  Some of my first homoerotic feelings came when I was on the wrestling team in junior high.  Later, at Indiana University, I learned about bokh, or Mongolian wrestling.

When I moved to West Hollywood, Ivo, the Bulgarian bodybuilder who was insanely jealous of Michael J. Fox, told me that he played an interesting variation, common in Turkey and parts of the Balkans: yağlı güreş, or oil wrestling.  

The players, called pehlivan, are naked except for leather pants (kisbet).  They grease up with olive oil, and try to throw each other.

Since they're all greasy, the only way to win is by putting your hand inside the other guy's kisbet -- you know, where his sex organs are.

It's as if the sport was deliberately designed to be homoerotic.

Knowing the Ottoman Empire, maybe it was.

Guys of all ages participate.  You don't need to be muscular, but it helps.

I saw a local tournament when I was in Turkey, but not the Kirkpinar, the national tournament held every year in June or July in Edirne, near the Bulgarian border.  If you want to go, book your hotel room far in advance; the town fills up fast.

I can see why.

(But be careful; Turkey is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the Middle East, which means extremely homophobic by European standards, and for Americans, about as homophobic as the rural South).

The Triplets of Belleville: Jazz-Age Lesbians and the Androgynous M

In the animated Triplets of Belleville (2003), professional bicyclist Champion is kidnapped during the Tour de France, so his grandmother, Madame Souza, goes off to search for him.

In the bustling city of Belleville, she encounters the Triplets, a famous jazz act of the 1930s now fallen on bad times.   They eke out a living as a novelty "acoustic" band, making music with a refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and newspaper.  Madame Souza joins the act with a bicycle wheel, and eventually they become successful again.

Oh, and they rescue Champion in a colorful chase sequence.  The movie ends much too abruptly, with the now elderly Champion reminiscing about the adventure.

There is very little dialogue.  The characters are drawn grotesquely, so there's no beefcake.  So what's the gay connection?

1. No one expresses the slightest heterosexual interest, ever.

2. The Triplets, who have been living and working together for 70 years, can be read as a lesbian family rather than blood relatives.

3. Flashbacks show them performing in a Jazz Age nightclub, along with gay and bisexual icons like Josephine Baker, Glenn Gould, and Hoagy Carmichael.

4. Androgynous singer Mathieu Chedid, known as M, recorded a music video of the song "Belleville Rendez-vous."

He tells a psychiatrist about various ways to spend the last years of his life: in Singapore eating petit-fours, in Katmandu playing a "dou," and most significantly, in Acapulco, dancing with a gigolo ( a male prostitute).  

The English lyrics closet the verse to "dancing cheek-to-cheek."

But then he decides that he wants to be "wicked, twisted, swinging," like a Triplet of Belleville.

This irks the psychiatrist, who straitjackets him and gives him a tranquilizer injection.  That's the fate of those who try to escape gender and sexual confomity, like the Triplets of Belleville.

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