Oct 31, 2015

18 Gay Ghosts, Vampires, Werewolves, Aliens, and Assorted Undead Bogies

I love the paranormal. Alien abductions, mysterious disappearances, time slips, vampires, ghosts.  Those few paranormal experiences I've had in real life can usually be explained as misinterpretations and exaggerations, but still they're fun, suggesting a world beyond the fields we know.


1. The Naked Man at the Crossroads.  Ok, this happened to my great-grandmother, not me, but it was still a spooky story, especially hearing it in a house trailer in the deep woods of Indiana, late at night, with the wind howling outside.

2. The Naked Man in the Peat Bog.  My Uncle Paul always told us to never go near the peat bog, because a naked man lived there, and he would eat us.  But one day we went to the peat bog anyway, and sure enough, a naked man wearing a weird mask chased us.  Maybe it was Uncle Paul's friend, trying to scare us.  Maybe not.

3. The Naked Indian God.  At the annual Pow Wow in Rock Island, Bill and I saw an Indian youth, one of the dancers, peeing in the woods.  Or doing something else.  When he saw us, he vanished.  Are you starting to notice a pattern here?  Sublimated same-sex desire is visualized.

4. Greg the Boy Vampire gave me my first real kiss.  At least he said he was a vampire.

High School

5. Davenport House, where the first European settler to the Quad Cities lived, has a reputation for being haunted.  When we were in high school, we decided to check.


6. The Gay Ghost in the Basement. I didn't like going down to the basement, where the previous owner kept an art studio.  It hadn't been touched since he died; I kept thinking that he was just upstairs getting a drink of water, and he would be back  One day I saw him hunched over his easel, drawing pictures of naked men.

7. The Bell Tower at Augustana: if a virgin was kissed there, the bell would ring.  I tried to kiss Adam, the bookstore manager, but we were detained.

8. Getting Intimate in the Haunted House.  .


9.  West Hollywood was oddly bereft of the paranormal, unless you count my date with Richard Dreyfuss, which was actually more about discussing the paranormal.

10. But San Francisco was overbrimming with ghosts, bogies, and the unexplained, like Kevin the Vampire.

11. And I went home with the Amazing Invisible Boy, who no one could see except me, and who vanished before we can get into the bedroom.  Maybe he just left, but then why was my apartment door locked from the inside?

12, And when David and I were driving home from the Gilroy Garlic Festival, and we saw a UFO.  Or maybe it was the planet Venus.

New York

13.  New York was full of paranormal experiences, too, like the exorcism of the homophobic demon.

14. And the Man in Black who cruised me on Christopher Street.  I still think he was an alien, not a priest.

15. Sometimes you couldn't tell if a guy was a paranormal entity or just eccentric, like the time traveler from the 1920s.


16. I'm going to count the gay psychic angel, who told me about my past lives. I'm pretty sure he wasn't an angel, just a very cute guy.

The full post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Oct 29, 2015

Movin' on Up: The Jeffersons

A spin-off of All in the Family, The Jeffersons set into the vacuum caused by the demise of Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers in January 1975.

It followed a nouveau-riche African-American couple, irascible George Jefferson (Sherman Hensley) and pragmatic Louise (Isabel Sanford), to a "deluxe apartment in the sky", where they were surrounded by wacky friends and neighbors: sarcastic maid Florence (Marla Gibbs), snobbish interracial couple Tom and Helen (Franklin Cover, Roxy Roker), looney Brit Mr. Bentley (Paul Benedict).

When I was in high school, it aired during a block of must-see Sunday night programs (Alice, One Day at a Time, Trapper John MD), so I watched quite often, though it had very little gay content (I preferred the strong gay content on What's Happening!!)

1. Virtually no beefcake.  As a teenager, I thought that George and Louise's college-age son Lionel (Mike Evans) was cute, but following the tradition of black beefcake, he always appeared fully clothed.  After a year, he was replaced by Damon Evans, who was rather too thin and fey for my tastes.

The most you could hope for was a hunky guest star, like Jay Hammer as Tom and Helen's son.

Or Ike Eisenmann as a teenage racist in extraordinary tight jeans, who has a change of heart after George saves his father's life.

2. Lack of bonding. Friendships on the show were always cordial and businesslike, never passionate.

3. No gay characters.  Apparently the network execs felt that seeing racial minorities was traumatic enough for Middle America, and gays would give them conniption fits. So no gay people were mentioned, although there was a male-buddy-is-now-a-woman plotline.

The lack of substantial gay content is surprising, considering that Paul Benedict and Damon Evans (left), both accomplished theatrical actors, were gay.  In an interview, Damon states that he didn't get along with the other cast members, except for Roxie Roker.

Sherman Hensley, who died last July, was probably gay, too; he was never seen with a woman and lived with his "roommate," Kenny Johnston, for over thirty years. But he refused to Say the Word.

He came from a generation of men who considered gayness "deeply personal," who didn't realize that Saying the Word could reduce homophobia, give gay kids a role model, and help them "move on up."

Oct 25, 2015

Dewey Martin: Forgotten Screen Hunk

When I was a kid in the 1960s, the Mean Boys made fun of everybody's name, but a few made them downright apoplectic: Clyde, Abner, Dewey.  Especially Dewey, since that was the name of the proprietor of the candy store across the street from Denkmann School, a fat elderly man who kept muttering about "longhaired hippie freaks."  Any kid named Dewey had better find a new name, pronto!

So I was surprised to discover that there was a screen hunk named Dewey Martin, a Texas boy who got his start in the gay-subtext Knock on Any Door (1949) as a young boxing tough.

He immediately got the starring role in The Golden Gloves Story (1950), playing a boxer who is sparring with his competitor (Kevin Morrison) for the affection of a girl.

And The Big Sky (1952), about two cowboys (Dewey Martin, Kirk Douglas) making a perilous cross-country journey and sparring for the affection of a girl.

And Tennessee Champ (1954), reprising the plot of an old Kane Richmond movie of the 1930s, except when Dewey goes on the lam after believing that he's killed someone, he falls in love with a girl, not Frankie Darro.

Plus Westerns, sci fi, war, an ancient Egyptian epic, anything that would allow him to shed his shirt and display his tight, rugged physique, back in the days when shirtless men were practically unheard-of on screen.

They may have had gay subtexts, too; I haven't seen them.

Later in the 1950s, though he continued to work steadily, starring roles became increasingly rare. Dewey played Dean Martin's buddy in the comedy Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957), several different roles on the anthology series Climax! (1956-58), a Daniel Boone knockoff on The Wonderful World of Disney (1960-61), and Lester White, gay-vague "partner" of Uncle Beck (Brian Keith) in Savage Sam (1963), with Tommy Kirk.

In the 1960s he moved into television, becoming a familiar character actor.  His last starring role was in Seven Alone (1974), as the head of a family crossing the wilderness during the 1870s.

Dewey was married for three years to singer Peggy Lee ("If that's all there is, then let's keep dancing....").

He's still alive, retired, age 89, mostly forgotten by both Boomers and the modern generation.  But the photos, glimpses of beefcake past, remain intact.
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