Jan 9, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation: Lucas Cruikshank to John Cena

1. You remember Lucas Cruikshank: he tore up the internet with his webseries Fred, about an oddball teenager, which spun off into three movies and two Nickelodoen tv series -- Fred (2008-2010) and Marvin Marvin (2012-2013). Cruikshank announced that he was gay -- after his tenure on Nickelodeon ended.

2. The Fred movies and tv series starred Jake Weary (left) as Kevin, first a bully, then a grudging ally who seemed to actually like Fred, adding another layer of gay subtext.

Jake Weary got his start playing Luke Snyder on the soap As the World Turns (2005).  

3. When Jake left As the World Turns, the character of Luke Snyder was taken over by Van Hansis (2005-2010).  In the spring of 2006, Luke comes out as gay.

His wealthy father rejects him, but they reconcile when his mother goes into a coma; he is the victim of an attempted murder (not a hate crime) and paralyzed for awhile; his boyfriend is kidnapped and blinded; he falls in love with the doctor who is working to restore his sight.

Standard soap opera stuff.

4. Luke's boyfriend, Noah (2007-2010), was played by Jake Silbermann, whose major credits have been on stage: Dracula, The Assembled Parties, and 3C (2012).  

The latter is a revision of the classic sitcom Three's Company:  Brad (Jake), the John Ritter character, must pretend to be gay so the conservative landlord will allow him to share an apartment with two girls.  The twist: he really is gay, and in love with his neighbor Teddy (Eddie Cahill).

5. Eddie Cahill's first screen appearance was on Sex in the City (2000) as a bisexual guy who dates Carrie. Since then he has starred in Glory Days, Miracle, Lords of Dogtown, and CSI. He is a big hockey fan, and wrote a NHL celebrity blog for three seasons.

6. One of the celebrities he interviewed was wrestler John Cena, who is a gay ally.  When Darren Young came out as the first openly gay WWE wrestler, he said: "Darren's a great guy..,congratulations to him for actually, finally doing it."

John Cena appeared in the Fred movies as Fred's fantasy Dad.  So we're back to Lucas Cruikshank.

Jan 8, 2014

12 More Disney Channel Teen Hunks

The Disney Channel may be slacking off on the gay subtexts in its teencoms, but it is still scouring the countryside for beefcake.

 Even Jessie, the Disney Channel's Worst Show, has an unending parade of cute guys,  both teen and adult, as the nanny/actress (Debby Ryan) crushes on, gets crushed on by, and generally hangs out with guest stars hired primarily because they know their way around a gym (in addition to her steady beau Tony, played by model Chris Galya).

In just 2 1/2 seasons (not including anyone who appeared on my list of 12 Unexpected Disney Channel Teen Hunks):

1. Garrett Backstrom (from Lab Rats, left) as Vincent, Emma's boyfriend who is interested in Jessie.

2. John DeLuca of Teen Beach Movie as the boyfriend of famous actress Shaylee.  Jessie gets a job as Shaylee's stunt double, and guess who starts hitting on her?

3. Gay-positive Australian actor Lachlan Buchanan as Jordan, a famous actor staying at the Buchanan house.  Emma and Jessie fight over him.

4. Joey Richter (left) as Officer Petey, who takes an acting class with Jessie, thus making Tony jealous.

5. Ben Bledsoe as Brody, who competes with Tony for Jessie's affection.

6. Garrett Clayton (left) as Earl, Jessie's blind date after she and Tony break up.

7. Austin Moon (the ever-popular Ross Lynch), guest starring from Austin & Allie.

8.. Jack Griffo, the gay-vague supervillain in training on The Thundermans, as Brett Summers, who starts dating Emma, and...well, you know what happens next.

9. Spencer Boldman (of Lab Rats, left) as Ted, Jessie's ex-boyfriend who wants to get back together.

10. Jackson Odell as Gale.  I  don't know what his connection with Jessie is.

11. Matthew Timmons (Debby Ryan's costar on The Suite Life on Deck) as Jessie's agent.

12. Tom Cruise lookalike Tom Parker (left) will play River Stevens on the upcoming Valentine's Day episode.

Stephen Lang: Avatar Villain Plays Gay

Who says you can't be hot over 60?  Stephen Lang is 62, and more buffed now than ever before.  And more than willing to show off his ripped physique.

You've seen him in a muscle shirt as the evil Colonel Quaritch in Avatar (2009) and Commander Taylor in Terra Nova (2011).  

You've seen him in a barbarian costume as the villainous Khalar Zym in Conan the Barbarian (2011).  You've probably seen him at the gym.

But you may not know that he has over 100 screen credits, a diverse resume that includes Happy in Death of a Salesman, Percy Bysshe Shelley, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.

And lots of gay-themed work.

His first major homoerotic subtext and beefcake-heavy movie was Band of the Hand (1986). He plays a mentor to five buffed juvenile delinquents.

In Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), the film version of the Hubert Selby novel, he plays Harry Black, a homophobic union leader who discovers that he is gay, and attracted to the drag queen next door.

Story of a Bad Boy (1999) is about a closeted gay high schooler, Pauly (Jeremy Hollingsworth), who is torn between the track team, the school band, and the student teacher who is directing the school play (Christian Camargo).  Lang plays his baffled dad.

Save Me (2007) stars Chad Allen as a gay teenager who is sent to an exploitive "ex-gay" halfway house run by a homophobic married couple (Lang, Judith Light).

Lang also an accomplished stage performer, with credits including The Speed of Darkness.

Heterosexual in real life, he's a gay ally.

Jan 7, 2014

Tommy Knight: The First Gay Kid on Children's TV, Almost

I have taken down this post.

Dillon Casey's Gay Day

Dillon Casey's main claim to fame for gay fans is his steamy love scene with John Barrowman on the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood (2011), probably the first gay kiss on any science fiction tv series.

He hasn't played any other gay characters, although his web series, Living in LA with Dillon Casey, has an episode entitled Gay Day, in which he (in the underwear) and his roommate Jamie Spilchuk discuss the part.

And he's done a lot of other work of gay interest.

MVP (Most Valuable Player), a 2008 Canadian program about ice hockey.  It didn't last long, but it did get him a giant photo in his underwear in Times Square.

The beefcake-heavy Victor (2008), about Canadian swimming champ Victor Davis (Mark Lutz).

Being Erica (2009-2011), a comedy about a woman who can relive the past. There were several gay and bi characters. Dillon plays one of Erica's boyfriends, who takes off his shirt a lot.

Skins (2011), the American remake of the British teen drama with gay characters and nudity.  He plays a heterosexual who takes off his shirt a lot.

Nikita (2011-2013), a spy thriller with gay characters.  He plays a heterosexual who takes off his shirt a lot.

Jessie: The Disney Channel's Worst Show

I've reviewed a lot of Disney Channel programs, and there are usually ample gay subtexts, whether accidentally or by design.  But I've found nothing on Dog with a Blog, and Jessie (2011-)  is so bad, it's offensive.

The premise: country girl Jessie (Debby Ryan) moves to Manhattan to become an actress, and ends up a nanny to a wealthy couple with a biological daughter and three adopted kids: the diva Emma (13-year old Peyton List), the teen operator Luke (12-year old Cameron Boyce, left), cringeworthy black stereotype Zuri (9-year old Skai Jackson), and cringeworthy Indian stereotype Ravi (12-year old Karan Brar).

While negotiating their problems and her acting career, Jessie falls for guys, notably doorman Tony (Chris Galya), and is the object of crushes, notably from...Luke, who harasses her with sleazy come-ons.

The other kids, meanwhile, date and fall in love.  Emma gets a boyfriend. Ravi and Luke compete over girls. Even little Zuri gets a boyfriend (but at least they wait until the actress is 11).

I hate it when a tv series or movie depicts horny preteens.  It seems to be saying "Yes, heterosexual desire is innate, universal, rooted in biology, present from birth -- gayness is something that happens to you later in life, an addition, an event."

And I hate it when there are no gay subtexts to counterbalance the oppressive heterosexism.  Maybe Luke, who has a slightly gender-atypical interest in dance, and in one episode competes with Emma over a guy (Jack Griffo of The Thundermans).  Maybe his sleazy come-ons are a cover.

But that's all.  And it's not much.

I can't figure out what the problem is.  The producer, Pamela Eells O'Connell, has credits including not only the subtext-heavy Suite Life of Zack and Cody but Ellen, with its explicitly lesbian character.

Debby Ryan, who plays the focus character, is a devout conservative Christian.  Maybe her influence is keeping the heterosexism high in order to keep the gay subtexts out.

See also: Cameron Boyce.

Jan 6, 2014

Was Norman Rockwell Gay?

Most of my relatives are allergic to reading.  You never see a book in their houses.  My parents owned none.  My Grandma Davis had a few, but they were about art (she originally planned to become an artist), and no ancient Greek or Renaissance art with naked men -- she liked American regionalism, artists like Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, N.C. Wyeth, and Grandma Moses.

She especially liked illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), whose covers of The Saturday Evening Post and Boys Life depicted a stylized, ultra-conservative small-town America where men hung out at the barber shop, biddies gossipped across white picket fences, teen boys and girls shared sodas, and everyone cheered at Veterans' Day parades.

The world was so intensely heterosexist, so absolutely certain that every boy longed for girls and every girl longed for boys, that even as a kid I found it disturbing.  

And the characters -- not realistic so much as grotesque.  No handsome faces or muscular physiques to be found anywhere, just hideous caricatures of what human beings looked like.  Rockwell seemed repulsed by the human body, and wanted viewers to share in his revulsion.

Except for soldiers, sailors, and teenage boys.  They were occasionally depicted as attractive, with tight chests and gleaming muscles.

Soldiers, sailors, and teenage boys?  Does that suggest that Rockwell was...um...

In American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, Deborah Solomon suggests that he was gay.  He had strong same-sex friendships throughout his life, and marriages "of convenience."  He nurtured his male models, often becoming their life-long friends.

But then...where's the homoeroticism in his art?  The muscular physiques, the buddy-bonding?  Rockwell depicted an infinite number of male-female bonds, but barely any boys together or men together.  The only significant male pairs are young boys and adult authority figures: fathers, doctors, teachers.

It seems more likely that Rockwell was attracted to the "innocence" of youth, its freedom from icky things like sex.

Solomon finds homoeroticism in "The Runaway," where a cop brings a young boy to a diner before returning him to his parents.

I don't.  Try J.C. Leyendecker, for real homoerotic illustrations.

The New Boyz: Shirtless Instagram Pics and a Gay Tweet

You have to be very careful in reviewing rap artists.  Homophobia is ubiquitous. For every gay-positive rapper, like Romeo, you find a dozen who bellow against gays with the raw hate of a fundamentalist preacher.

This photo of rapper Legacy, formerly part of the New Boyz,  offered enough beefcake to warrant further investigation.  But I proceeded with caution.

New Boyz consisted of Ben J (Earl Benjamin) and Legacy (Dominic Thomas), two California teens from the same high school who were originally antagonists, but bonded through their love of music.  They began performing as the Swagger Boys in 2008, then as the New Boyz.

Theire single "You're a Jerk," released in the summer of 2009, popularized the "jerkin'" style of dance and reached #24 on U.S. charts (#4 on rap charts).

They released two albums, Skinny Jeans and a Mic (2009) and Too Cool to Care (2011) before breaking up to pursue solo careers.

Their lyrics are extremely heterosexist -- every other word is "girl! girl! girl!"  Or, more likely "hoe!"  They're extremely sexist, too,

But I didn't notice any homophobia, except maybe in an exchange in "Cashmere," where they compete over a girl:

Legacy: I was wonderin' if you could be my first date here
Ben J: Excuse my friend, he's kinda new to meeting girls cause he's used to men.
Legacy: Used to men!
Ben J: Girl, this dude is stupid huh?
Legacy: Yo, I ain't gay.
Ben J: Man, why don't you tell the truth for once?
Legacy: She want me.
Ben J: You don't even got a mustache yet.

Even that seems very mild.

Two more things you should know about the New Boyz:

1. Legacy is fond of shirtless instagram pics, some considerably more explicit than the top photo.

2. Ben J apparently came out in a tweet:

I am admitting to being gay, can't be fake with y'all no more.  Take it or leave it. Thanks for all the support though!!

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