Nov 27, 2014

Kissing Boys to the Bee Gees

For good or bad, I'm a child of the disco era.  The songs of the Bee Gees bring back a rush of memories, especially those from their annus mirabilis, 1977-78:

When I brought Tyrone to the Harvest Dancewe were listening to "If I Can't Have You" on the car radio:

Don't know why I'm surviving every lonely day, when there's got to be no chance for me.
My life would end, and it doesn't matter how I cry.
My tears of love are a waste of time if I turn away

 I Kissed a Boy Under the Mistletoe at my brother's Christmas party, then went upstairs and turned on KSTT radio to "How Deep is Your Love":

Cause we're living in a world of fools, breaking us down, when they all should let us be.
We belong to you and me.

When I figured It out, "Stayin' Alive" was playing in the background of everybody's life.

Well now, I get low and I get high, and if I can't get either, I really try.
Got the wings of heaven on my shoes -- I'm a dancin' man, and I just can't lose.

Objectively analyzed, the lyrics are simplistic and contradictory -- and heterosexist, loaded down with "girl! girl! girl!"

Yet no songs have ever been so meaningful.

The BeeGees consisted of three Australian brothers, Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.  They had been recording for two decades before they hit it big with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, which launched the disco craze.   They were apparently all heterosexual, but their music drew heavily from the gay-and-black underground scene.

Their younger brother Andy had an annus mirabilis of his own in 1977-78, with "Love Is Thicker than Water," "Shadow Dancing," "An Everlasting Love," and "Don't Throw It Away."

He became a teen idol, his bare hairy chest and bulge featured prominently in Tiger Beat, as well as the "nearly" gay interview magazine After Dark.

 See also: Figuring It Out; The Eagles; and Rod and Al Stewart.

Nov 25, 2014

Do Gay Men Play Strip Poker?

When I was growing up in the Nazarene Church, nearly everything was a sin, a one-way ticket to eternal damnation:

Reading any non-religious books or magazines, including the newspaper, on Sunday.
Dancing, "even in the guise of physical education class."
Eating any food that contained alcohol or sounded like it contained alcohol, like beer nuts.
Games with dice, including Monopoly.
Playing cards.
Entering a Catholic church, even an architectural masterpiece like the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
Saying bad words, even "gee," "gosh," and "golly."

I started breaking away during my senior year in high school.  It took a couple of years to severe all ties, and a few more years to stop feeling guilty over the Nazarene "sins."

Today I'm doing pretty well.  I only feel twinges of guilt on occasion, when I read the Sunday newspaper or play golf.

But there are two "sins" that I've never overcome:

1. Alcohol.  I don't mind being in a bar or restaurant that serves it, but I won't have it in my house.  I've had two glasses of wine and 1 1/2 cans of beer in my life.

2. Cards.  Seeing playing cards fills me with revulsion.  Especially the face cards -- Jacks, Kings, Queens.  I won't touch them.

Fortunately, card games -- Bridge, Poker, Gin Rummy, Pinocle -- seem to be primarily a heterosexual pastime.  No one in West Hollywood, New York, or Florida ever invited me to "play cards."

I understand that there's a game called Strip Poker, in which everyone who loses a hand must remove an article of clothing.  It's purportedly designed to give heterosexuals a chance to see people of the opposite sex naked.

But skillful male players usually suggest the game to unskilled female players, or they plan in advance with multiple articles of clothing, so the decks are stacked against seeing a male Full Monte.

Unless it's an all male group.

Here's another all-male group.

Gay men don't really need a game to trick other men into taking off their clothes.  You can just ask.

So they don't usually play strip poker.

Strip Twister, maybe.

In 2006, Paddy Power held the first annual World Strip Poker Championship in London.  Freelance writer John Young beat out 194 other contestants, mostly male, by keeping his clothes on the longest.  He won a fig leaf trophy and $10,000, to be donated to the charity of his choice.

See also: Twister; and The Night I Drank 1 1/2 Cans of Beer.

Veronica's Closet: How Not to Play a Gay Character

In the 1990s, TV writers didn't know what to do with their gay characters.

They knew what gay men were: men who were really women.  Men who were interested in show tunes and chick flicks and skin care products, who used their hands when they talked, who secretly wore dresses.  And who men.

  But what to do with them?

Veronica's Closet (1997-2000) took a novel approach: how about a gay man who doesn't know he's gay?  He'll have the show tunes and skin care products, but claim to be straight!  Won't that be hilarious?

It wasn't hilarious at all.

The show aired after Seinfeld, and starred Kirstie Allie, formerly of Cheers, so it became popular.

Veronica ran a clothing company designed to increase women's chances of romance (modeled after Victoria's Secret).

Her staff included:
1. Olive (Kathy Najimy), whose job was undefined.
2. Underwear model turned publicist Perry (Dan Cortese, top photo).
3. Uptight marketing manager and token black guy Leo (Daryl Mitchell).
4. Secretary Josh (Wallace Langham).

Josh started out as feminine-coded, working as a secretary for a women's underwear company.  And the feminine traits piled on, week after week. Not only show tunes and skin care products, but pink handkerchiefs, demitasse, a worry over getting fat, a female best friend, no interest in sports, a girly car, hints at drag. For heaven's sake, his middle name was Nicole!

Therefore he must be gay.  The entire cast acted as if he was gay, asking his advice on skin care products and trying to fix him up with men  When he protested that he was straight, they smiled knowingly.

"Wait," I wanted to ask, "Has Josh ever expressed the slightest interest in men?

"No, never," Veronica might answer.

"Has he ever expressed any interest in women?"

"Yes, often.  He's been shown having sex with women.  He had a girlfriend, nearly got married. But what does that have to do with it?  He's feminine, so he's gay."

Near the end of the series, Josh finally gave and admitted that he was, I mean gay.

He reluctantly gave up his heterosexual romances and began dating a guy, not because he was interested, but because that's what, I mean gay men do, right?


The cast doesn't have a great record on gay rights.  Kathy Najimy is bisexual. Kirstie Allie is not a gay ally

Wallace Langham, who played Josh, turned out to be rather homophobic also.  In 2000 he beat up a gay tabloid reporter while using anti-gay slurs.  He was sentenced to 450 hours of community service for LGBT charities.
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