Oct 19, 2014

Johnathan Schaech: Playing to His Gay Fans

This is one of the iconic images of the 1990s, a bodybuilder with a Superman hairdo oiled up and flexing against an indeterminate background.

It burst onto the scene in 1994, and suddenly appeared on bedroom walls across West Hollywood.  We all thought that the model was gay, or at least aiming his biceps directly at a gay audience.

Wrong on the first count, maybe not on the second.

He was 25-year old Johnathan Schaech, a fitness model who had just broken into acting with a recurring role on the Melrose Place spin-off Melrose Place (1994-95).

During the mid and late 1990s, Schaech's biceps could be seen everywhere.  Everyone in San Francisco assumed that he was gay, even when he starred in the hetero-romance How to Make an American Quilt (1995) and The Doom Generation (1995), Greg Araki's tale of a three-way romance between alienated, homophobic teenagers.

Everyone in New York assumed that he was gay, even when he starred in Welcome to Woop Woop (1997), about a con artist in a colorful town in the Australian outback, and Finding Graceland (1998). A guy who thinks he's Elvis, a girl who thinks she's Marilyn Monroe, and Las Vegas.

Plus the usual tv movies about evil boyfriends who terrorize their exes and poor boys who find love with rich women.

Finally, in 2001, he married Christina Applegate, formerly of Married...with Children, and was interviewed in The Advocate, and we discovered that he was heterosexual.  But an ally who was fully aware of his gay fans, and even played to them.

Schaech continued to work in the 2000s, appearing in a couple of movies every year, but he never managed to quite find his niche.  He was too pretty to play Man-Mountains who take out small countries with their bare hands, too buffed to play New Sensitive Men who learn to cry and care.  His roles became increasingly small, hetero-erotic, and fully-clothed.

They Shoot Divas, Don't They?
Mummy an' the Armadillo
Living Hell
Sex and Lies in Sin City
Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
Hidden Moon

Plus two kind-of gay roles:
Splendor (1999), about two guys in love with the same girl who decide to share

If You Only Knew (2005), in which a heterosexual guy pretends to be gay so he can share an apartment with the girl he is crushing on.

More recently, Schaech has been starring in tv series like The Client List and Ray Donovan, and become a writer/director/producer.

See also: Harry Houdini and the Gay Ghost.

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