Aug 13, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

I missed most of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68).  First it was on past my bedtime, and then there were too many competing choices (The Time Tunnel, Hogan's Heroes) -- so I watched only sporadically, when one of my friends insisted.  But I had more than one friend who thought it was "good beyond hope."

 It was a buddy spy series, like I Spy and Wild Wild West, but with an interesting twist.  In the heart of the Cold War, we heard over and over that "Russkies" were all evil monsters plotting our destruction.   But one of the secret agents was Russian.

The premise: The USSR, the United States, and other countries have set aside their differences and formed U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) to fight the evil THRUSH (acronym unknown), which wants to "subjugate the human race."

The plots were much more extravagant than anything seen on Mission: Impossible, rivaling Batman in campiness:
THRUSH tries to bring Hitler back to life.
THRUSH invents a deadly hiccup-inducing gas.
THRUSH invents an exploding hula-dancing doll.
Pat Harrington, Jr. (later on One Day at a Time) steals a rare book containing THRUSH code.
Sonny and Cher play clothes designers with THRUSH code hidden in one of their dresses.

But the main draw was the "The Man,"  American Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn, previously seen shirtless in Teenage Caveman), and his partner, the Russian Illya Kuryakin (Scottish actor David McCallum).  They were not only spy partners: they seemed to live together (and when traveling always took hotel rooms with just one bed).  They expressed their affection with the easy nonchalance of Starsky and Hutch.  And, contrary to James Bond style, they mostly ignored women.

Solo was a no-nonsense man's man (notice the use of his last name).  By contrast, Illya (notice the first name) was soft, quiet, intellectual, "feminine."  As a result, he was captured by the baddies a lot more often: 8 times (Solo was captured alone 4 times, and they were captured together 10 times).

Sometimes the capture was specifically to egg Solo on.  For instance, in "The Deadly Quest Affair," Viktor Karmak (Darren McGavin) tells Solo that Illya has been sequestered somewhere in New York City, and he has 12 hours to find him before Illya is killed by nerve gas.

There were also many shirtless and underwear shots.  David McCallum had the blond, shaggy-haired dreaminess that appealed to preteens, so he received the lion's share of coverage in teen magazines.

There were lots of book tie-ins and miscellaneous toys.

After U.N.C.L.E., the two moved on to other projects, but returned to their characters in The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983). They are called back into service 15 years after they broke up.  Dig their civilian careers: Solo became a computer developer, and Illya. . .um. . .a fashion designer.

Aug 10, 2015

Mackenzie Astin: Bisexual-Inclusive

In 2011, Mackenzie Astin starred in Caught at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles.  He played a gay man blissfully planning a wedding with his partner (Will Beinbrink), when suddenly his Bible-thumping sister arrives for some screeching.

I hadn't heard much about Mackenzie, son of John Astin and Patty Duke, younger brother of Sean Astin, since the 1980s.  His biggest claim to fame then was a starring role on The Facts of Life (1985-88), about four girls in a private boarding school.

By the time he hit the series, the girls had graduated and were working in a boutique, Over Our Heads.  He played Andy Moffett, an orphan adopted by end-of-series lead Beverly (Cloris Leachman).

Teen magazines gave Mackenzie some attention, but not a lot.  Maybe because he wasn't very muscular.  He was soft, pretty, and feminine, a tween version of Kurt from Glee.

During the 1990s, he grew hard, hairy, and rather gaunt, as he tried to distance himself from his gay-coded teen years with macho hetero-roles: Iron Will (1994), about a dogsled competition; the Western Wyatt Earp (1994); Ernest Hemingway's wartime buddy in In Love and War (1996).

But Mackenzie played a lot of gay characters, too. In Stranger Than Fiction (2000), he plays a gay man named Jared who kills someone and asks his straight friends to help him hide the body.  In the short-lived tv series First Years (2001), he played a gay lawyer living in San Francisco.

Out as bisexual, Mackenzie is married to a woman, and a gay ally.

See also: The Patty Duke Show.

Aug 9, 2015

10,000 Naked Men, Part 3: Punks to Urinals

During my first 30 years, there were no photos of naked men available anywhere, or you could get them only occasionally, in expensive, hard-to-find magazines.  Then suddenly, around 1995, internet bulletin boards made hundreds of photos available. Then, with guys posting smartphone selfies, thousands.  So I started collecting them.  During the last 20 years, 've accumulated about 10,000.  Here are some of the highlights of my collection:

Punks and Chavs.  Emos, scene kids, beatnicks, gang bangers, mods and rockers, various bad boys with beards, blue hair, mohawks, pierced tongues, tats, and enormous beneath-the-belt gifts.

Rednecks and Cowboys.  Farm boys, country boys. anyone wearing a feed store cap,  standing next to a tractor, listening to country-western music, or asking "Y'all wanna climb up to the barn loft?"

Richie Rich.  Yes, I have a full collection of comic book scans from that brief period in the 1970s when Richie Rich, the previously nondescript rich kid of Harvey Comics, joined a gym (or, I suppose, had a gym constructed in his mansion, lifting bags of money and giant diamonds).  It only took a few lines to suggest pecs and biceps, but what a difference it made!

Sleeping.  You're asleep, having an erotic dream, and the covers start to tent.  Or you kick the covers off, giving your buddy a full view.  He thoughtfully takes a picture and posts it on the internet for thousands of strangers to admire.  If only he included your telephone number, your date requests would skyrocket.

S/M.  Guys tied up, struggling against the ropes, gagged, blindfolded, like Tarzan and Bomba the Jungle Boy in the old movies of my childhood.  Except here they're naked.

Snow.  I never take my shirt off outside when the temperature is under 70, and rarely until it reaches 80.  There's something sexy about a guy who walks around in the buff when it's cold enough to be snowy.  And exhibits no discomfort.  Or shrinkage.

Sports.  Guys in sports uniforms, or preferably out of them.  Unless they're wearing wrestling singlets that show off their packages.  A surprising number of wrestlers become aroused during the match.

Suits.  Nazarenes required men to wear suits to church, three times a week, but since leaving the Nazarenes, I've worn suits maybe once or twice a year.  Guys who wear them all the time are extremely sexy.  Especially when they show you their equipment while still wearing the suit.

Teams.  Preferably swim teams or wrestling teams with bulges displayed, but groups of guys are fine, too.  Here a frat displays its underwear and ties.

Urinals.  Guys whose friends snap their picture just as they are pulling it out at the urinal.  I also have some of guys doing more than that.

Vintage.  Old black and white photos, some Victorian porn, but mostly guys from my parents' and grandparents' generation hanging around nude.

Such photos are very rare.  In those days photo developing services usually rejected male nudity, so if you took a nude selfie, a camera-buff friend had to develop it for you. And you'd be too embarrassed to let it survive for your heirs to scan and put on the internet.

See also:
10,000 Naked Men, Part 1: Asian to Hung
10,000 Naked Men, Part 2: Kilts to Pairs

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