Oct 10, 2015

Every Man's Fantasy

Entertainment journalists like to pretend that no gay people exist, usually with the rhetoric of "everybody's fantasy," that this or that male actor draws the interest of every woman in the world, or female actress draws the attention of every man in the world.  Sometimes with "fade out kiss," the presumption that every story contains a boy and a girl.  Just pick up any issue of People, Entertainment Weekly, and TV Guide.  An issue of TV Guide picked up at random reveals:

An episode of the sitcom Just Shoot Me is about a straight guy who is mistakenly identified as gay.  So obviously the cast is aware that gay people exist.  Nevertheless, guest star Pamela Anderson proclaims, "I'm every man's fantasy!"  Every man fantasizes about her, therefore every man is heterosexual.

Eric Mabius may have won accolades as the metrosexual fashion magazine editor on Ugly Betty, but “discerning women have been swooning over him since he made his feature-film debut.”  All women, no men.

When John Stamos, former Full House heartthrob, joins the cast of the medical series ER, he was displayed naked in every episode. TV Guide got the words right: he was “soaking up new viewers for the show,” not “new female viewers.”  But this inclusivity was buried amid endless speculation about what ladies on the show the hunky doctor might be hooking up with next, not to mention four photos of male-female characters being in love.

Then there's the full-page ad on the back cover.  It tells us of Chris, a man who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes.  He checks his blood sugar frequently. His reason for wanting to live a long time: “Maya, my 4 ½ year old daughter.  I will dance at her wedding.”

This was before the U.S. Supreme Court validated same-sex marriage.  Chris undoubtedly means a heterosexual wedding.

But how can he be so sure that Maya is heterosexual?  She is not even in kindergarten, so surely she has not expressed any desire, she has engaged in no sexual practices, and she has not fallen in love with anyone.

Yet Chris can be certain, because he knows that no gay people exist.  He will therefore raise Maya to believe that she is heterosexual, and more, to accept heterosexual desire, practice, and romance as ordinary, as everyday.   She will learn about same-sex desire, practice, and romance much later, if at all, as something bizarre and unknowable, something that intrudes upon her from outside.  If she happens to be a lesbian, she will feel herself bizarre and unknowable, an intrusion into the real world, the only true world, where all fathers dance at their daughters’ weddings.

See also: Gay People Absolutely Do Not Exist.

Oct 8, 2015

Jimmy Cavaretta: 1970s Trapeze Artist and Playgirl Model

Donny and Marie Osmond weren't the only gay-vague brother-sister act of the 1970s.  They had to contend with Jimmy and Terry Cavaretta.

Born in 1949, Jimmy Cavaretta began training in the circus arts when he was still a toddler, and at the age of 13 started a trapeze act with his younger sister Terry.  The following year his other sisters got in on the act, and he became the "catcher" and the only boy in the teenage Flying Cavarettas.

Not since teen idols David and Ricky Nelson had a trapeze act gotten so much media attention.  There were articles in all of the teen magazines.  They performed on  Ed Sullivan and The Hollywood Palace, and Jimmy got to be one of the "bachelors" on The Dating Game.

They were headliners at the Circus Circus hotel/casino  in Las Vegas from 1968 to 1973.

Then they broke up, Terry to form the Flying Terrells duo, with her husband Ron as the "catcher."  Jimmy joined the Flying Medallions, and toured with the Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Jimmy also did some acting and modeling work.  In January 1976, his enormous pecs and other...um, attributes...were featured in a nude photo spread in Playgirl.

The media was coy about mentioning his wife.  They wanted him to be available, an object of desire to the thousands of spectators who gasped at his acrobatics -- and his attributes -- every day at Circus Circus.

Of course, he also became the subject of gay rumors.

In 1976, Terry's husband and partner died in a plane crash, and Jimmy agreed to take his place in the Flying Terrells.  The siblings continued to headline in Las Vegas, and toured in Europe and Australia.

In 1984, they won a Silver Clown Award at the International Circus Festival in Monte Carlo.  The presenter was Hollywood legend Cary Grant.

In 1991, Terry got pregnant and decided that it was time to retire, so the act ended.

But the two continued to perform on occasion through the 1990s.

Today Terry runs the Terry Cavaretta Trapeze Experience along with her husband, juggler Rejean St. Jules.  Jim is retired and living in Las Vegas.

Oct 5, 2015

Krazy Kat: The First Gay Comic Character

From 1913 to 1944, newspaper readers could read a sparely drawn comic strip, an anomaly in the era of lush art deco masterpieces like Little Nemo, in which a small, squiggly cat named Krazy professes undying romantic love for the mouse Ignatz, who responds by lobbing a brick at Krazy's head.  But the cat is not dissuaded, accepting even violence as a signifier of desire. And, in fact, Ignatz often gives in and grudgingly accepts Krazy's affection.

 Meanwhile Officer Pup hangs around to throw Ignatz in jail or pontificate on the evil of brick-throwing.

The general public wasn't impressed, but the elites loved it, exuding comparisons to Charlie Chaplin and German expressionism. Gilbert Seldes’ The Seven Lively Arts (1924) devoted a chapter to the strip, and today most histories of the comic strip include warmly appreciative paragraphs.  Literary figures as diverse as Jack Kerouac and Umberto Eco have praised it.  It has influenced every comic strip from Peanuts to Pearls Before Swine. 

But heterosexuals try desperately to avoid admitting that Krazy Kat is gay.

The evidence is incontrovertible.  Cartoonist George Herriman always refers to Krazy Kat and Ignatz Mouse with the pronouns "he," "him," and "his," not to mention "Mr. Kat" and "Mr. Mouse."  I haven't read all 1500 strips, but I've read several hundred, and never once is Krazy Kat referred to with any feminine pronouns.  Krazy Kat is most definitely a male, experiencing same-sex desire.  He's gay.

Yet Gilbert Selden ("The Seven Lively Arts") and Robert Harvey ("The Art of the Comic Book") insist that Krazy's gender is indeterminate or ambiguous.

Gene Deitch ("The Comics Journal") calls Krazy a "he/she."

Martin Burgess ("The Comics Journal") says that Krazy is "always changing genders."

Miles Orville suggests that there is some ambiguity, but adds “for the sake of consistency, I am going to refer to Krazy as ‘she.’”

Poet E.E. Cummings, cartoonist Bill Watterson, and encyclopedist Ron Goulart have no qualms it: Krazy is a girl. Period.

A classic example of refusing to recognize same-sex desire even when it is hitting you in the head like a well-thrown brick.

When cornered, even cartoonist George Herriman backed off.  He was questioned about Krazy's gender, but not with homophobic disgust -- with honest confusion, in those days before the general public knew that gay people existed.  Wow could a male possibly desire another male?  It made no sense.

He responded that "The Kat can't be a he or a she.  The Kat's a spirit -- a pixie -- free to butt into anything.  Don't you think so?"


No evidence that Herriman was gay, but he was hiding, of mixed race in the all-white world of newspaper cartooning.  He explained his dusky looks by claiming to be half Greek, and always wore a hat to hide his kinky hair.  He knew all about masks.

See also: Pogo, the Gay Possum of Okefenokee Swamp

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