Jun 7, 2014

James Royce Edwards

If you've been anywhere near a muscle magazine in the last ten years, you know fitness model and personal trainer James Royce Edwards (left).

But he is also an accomplished singer, dancer, and actor.  Of course, his theatrical roles tend to emphasize his physique.

Early in his career, when he was still doing regional theater, he starred in several Disney plays, including Tarzan, The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin.  

Plus The Little Shop of Horrors, Grease, Footloose, Bye Bye Birdie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Live (as Rocky, naturally), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (as both Joseph and the Pharaoh), and Miss Saigon.

Off-Broadway, he's starred in the boy-band comedy Altar Boyz (which has a gay altar boy), Wanda's World, Ty Belvedere, and Matthew Passion (which juxtaposes the death of Christ recounted in the Book of Matthew with the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepherd).

And he's starred on Broadway or in national tours of Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Pippin, All Shook Up, Les Miserables, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Top photo: he poses in underwear with Michael Jason Blaine (his stage son Theo) in Pippin.

When there are no gay texts, he ensures that there are gay subtexts.  Here's a "Brokeback Mountain" scene from Pippin.

You can also see James on tv in True Blood, Passions, and in the movie Star Child.

Jun 4, 2014

Nicholas D'Agosto: Hustler, Sex Researcher, Cheerleader

Dirty Girl (2010) is about a promiscuous straight girl who goes on a road trip to meet her biological father.  She takes her chunky gay bff, who is trying to escape his violently abusive parents.  It has three things to recommend it:
1. The gay bff (Jeremy Dozier) is chunky, not svelte (although still a swishy stereotype named Clarke).

2. He actually has sex, with a hitchiking hustler (Nicholas d'Agosto).

3. He doesn't turn straight at the end.

Jeremy Dozier has slimmed down since. His other movies include Bad Behavior (2013), about a babysitter fighting off the bad guy, and Rock, Paper, Scissors (2013), which seems to be about three friends playing Russian roulette.

Nicholas d'Agosto has taken off his clothes in a number of other movies, mostly teen sex comedies and horror spoofs such as Drive Through (2007) and Extreme Movie (2008).  

He is naked most often in Fired Up! (2009), in which two goofballs (Nicholas, Eric Christian Olsen) sign up for cheerleader camp in order to get girls, but find that they actually like cheerleading.  They have a swishy gay-stereotyped roommate (Adhir Kalyan)

Nicholas is currently starring as Dr. Ethan Haas on Masters of Sex (2013), about the homophobic sex researchers Masters and Johnson.  There's a closeted gay character.

Jun 2, 2014

Ramon Novarro and the Gay Hustlers

Ramon Novarro (1899-1968) was one of the great beefcake actors of the silent movie era.  He was cast mostly as "exotic" Middle Easterners (The Arab,  A Lover's Oath, The Barbarian, The Sheik Steps Out) or Mediterranean types (The Road to Romance, In Gay Madrid, Call of the Flesh), plus an occasional Native American.

Almost always as romantic leads.  He was advertised as "a new Valentino."  He was gay, but stayed strictly closeted, although he refused a "screen marriage."

Very few photos have survived of Novarro with his lovers.

In those days before the Hays Code, you stripped your stars out of their clothes as much as possible.  Novarro has semi-nude scenes in Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ (1925), The Pagan (1929), The Barbarian (1933), and probably lots of other movies that haven't survived.

With the rise of talkies and new 1930s models of masculinity, roles became scarce, but Novarro continued to work in movies and on stage, and later on television.  In the 1960s, he had guest roles on Dr. Kildare, Combat, The Wild Wild West, and Bonanza, in addition to appearing as himself in various nostalgia programs.

On October 30, 1968, he invited Physique Pictorial model Paul Ferguson and his brother Tom to his North Hollywood home for sex.  Believing that Novarro had a lot of money hidden away, they tried to beat him into revealing its location, and finally choked him to death with a large art-deco phallus.

They both received sentences of life in prison, but were paroled within seven years.  You didn't do much time for killing gay men in the 1960s.

See also: Ben Hur, a Gay Tale of Christ.

Maleficent: A Disney Fairy Tale That's Not Heterosexist

When I was a kid, I hated fairy tales. All about princes rescuing princesses, or else being told "if you accomplish this quest, I'll give you the princess."  I'd rather get a prince.

And the worst of the lot was Perrault's Sleeping Beauty.  You can't even say her name without objectifying women, and what's with the sexual symbolism?  A girl lies sleeping, waiting for a guy to climb into her bed and "awaken" her?  

Maleficent (2014) turns the tale on its head, starting with the evil fairy herself: she's a young girl with horns and bat-wings (Isobelle Molloy), who enjoys zooming through the stratosphere and playing with the various elves, fairies, and nature spirits of her kingdom (no one explains why she was named "Evil-doer").  She and the human Stefan (Michael Higgins) meet and fall in love, and on  her sixteenth birthday, he gives her "true love's kiss."     

But the adult Stefan (Sharito Copley) betrays her and cuts off her wings in a scheme to become king.  Now crippled and desolate, the brooding Maleficent  (Angelina Jolie with prosthetic cheekbones) gets revenge by putting a curse on his newborn daughter, Aurora: on her sixteenth birthday, she will fall asleep, and can only be awakened by "true love's kiss." 

As Maleficent and her crow-turned-human sidekick Diaval (Sam Riley) watch Aurora (Elle Fanning) grow up, they begin to care about her, and even invite her to live among the fairies.  As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Maleficent tries to remove the curse, but is unsuccessful: she falls asleep right on schedule.  

Aurora had been flirting with Prince Philip (Brenton Thwaites) earlier, so Maleficent drags him to the castle and forces him to kiss her, but it's not "true love's kiss."  

You'll never guess what finally awakens Aurora.  I was completely surprised.  

Hint: it's not hetero-romance.

Hetero-romance is of minimal importance in this brave new world.  None of the adults display the slightest heterosexual interest, not even King Stefan, and there is no wedding at the end. Instead, same-sex or cross-sex friendships drive the plot.

I especially like the platonic friendship between Maleficent and the gay-coded Diaval.

Incidentally, Sam Riley's nude scene provides the only beefcake in the movie, although both Brenton Thwaits and Jackson Bews (the teenage Stefan, top photo) have displayed respectable physiques elsewhere.

Jun 1, 2014

Primo Carnera: Plus-Sized Bisexual Boxer

Primo Carnera (1906-1967) was big -- maybe not the giant as he seems in the publicity photos that deliberately pair him with short guys, but tall, thick, and built -- 6'7", 265 lbs, with a bicep the size of a basketball.  And, judging from the bulge that was impossible to hide, also gifted beneath the belt.

Born in Italy, he came to the U.S. in 1930 as a boxer, and won his first seventeen bouts by knockout.  In 1932 and 1933 he became the tallest heavyweight boxer in the world.  Later he fought such greats as Max Baer and Joe Louis (both of whom knocked him out).  By the time he retired in 1945, he had 89 wins and 14 losses.

In 1946, searching for a second career, he became a professional wrestler, and continued to draw the crowds through the 1960s.

His film career began in Hollywood in the 1930s, where he played himself in The Boxer and the Lady (1933) and Mr. Broadway (1933). 

In 1940 he began appearing in Italian sword-and-sandal films, usually playing the bad guy who is much bigger than the hero.  In 1949, he fought Steve Reeves in Hercules Unchained. 

Did I mention that he was bisexual?  Among his lovers were, reputedly, boxer Emile Griffith and Joe Louis, and  the exiled king of Italy, Umberto II.  In 1946, Umberto invited him to his palace in Cascais, Portugal.  Carnera thought he was just another fan, until Umberto invited him go to swimming.  "But I didn't bring a swimsuit," Carnera protested.

Umberto found a way around that little problem.

Tad Hilgenbrink: Corey Haim for the 2000s

I haven't seen any of those American Pie movies -- they sound awful, especially the straight-to-video American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005). It starred Tad Hilgenbrink as Matt Stifler, rabble-rousing brother of Steve Stifler, who is sent to the nerdish band camp as a form of punishment, but ends up helping them win a competition with a rival camp and (naturally) getting the girl.

But apparently there were some "ha-ha, it looks like a penis" jokes.

Besides, Tad is from my neighborhood: he grew up in Quincy, Illinois, near the Quad Cities, and attended Milikin University in Decatur.

And he has a respectable physique.

His only specifically gay role is in The Curiosity of Chance (2006):  he played the flamboyantly feminine and gay Chance Marquis (when will they have a gay character named Bob Smith?), who forms some friendships with other outcasts at his high school while exploring his drag persona.

Since then he's played mostly in slasher films, which of course I haven't seen. .

But you might be interested in Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008), which pairs surfer dude Chris (Tad) with vampire hunter Edgar Frog (Corey Feldman) from the original Lost Boys movie.

The original has some amazing gay subtexts.

See also: Corey Haim's Bubble Bath.

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