Nov 14, 2015

Space: 1999

When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I was a sci-fi nut, but Space: 1999 was a little far out, even for me.

It appeared sporadically from 1975 to 1979, a few episodes on Monday nights, then off for two months, then advertised in TV Guide on Tuesday but actually airing on Wednesday, so it was hard to see, or get any idea of what was going on.

I did like the intro, which featured a lot of British people in futuristic costumes looking solemn or scared and being thrown across rooms.

Apparently it was a sequel, of sorts, to the British sci-fi UFO, which was about fighting aliens from a base on the moon.  On the far-future date of September 13, 1999, a massive thermonuclear explosion wrests the moon out of orbit and sends it careening into deep space, the 311 staff members of Moonbase Alpha with it.  They then encounter lots of civilizations ruled by giant computers or aliens with godlike powers, a la Star Trek.

There were several attractive crew members, especially in the most revealing uniforms I have ever seen on tv, but the standout star was Nick Tate as chief pilot Alan Carter (top photo).  Most scripts found some reason to get him out of his clothes.

I think this is Tony Anholt (Tony Veredichi), Chief of Security, who apparently got his clothes ripped off a lot, too.

Bodybuilder John Hamill had a guest spot in 1978, but kept his clothes on.

There wasn't a lot of hetero-romance, far less than on Star Trek, where Kirk kissed a different alien babe in a different semi-nude outfit every week.  I didn't see enough episodes to notice any particular buddy-bonding, but gay fans point to a love-hate homoromance between Alan and John (Martin Landau, center).

Maybe I should have paid closer attention in the 1970s.

Nov 11, 2015

Adventure Time: Gay-Positive Cartoon Series

The Looney Tunes Show notwithstanding, the Cartoon Network usually gets it right.  Adventure Time (2010-) is a sort of reflection of the 1975 sci-fi classic A Boy and his Dog (with Don Johnson):

Finn the Human (voiced by Jeremy Shada, left), the last human alive, and his shape-shifting adopted brother, Jake the Dog (voiced by John DiMaggio), are dedicated to fighting evil in a post-Apocalyptic, quasi-Medieval world where magic works and nearly everything is alive.

Usually they pledge their fealty to Princess Bubblegum of the Candy Kingdom, but they have also journeyed to the realms of other princessess, plus the Underworld, the Fire Dimension, the planet Mars, a staggering number of parallel worlds, and even a place beyond space and time.

Though the word "gay" is never spoken, same-sex desire and practice are matter-of-fact realities, with very few missteps.

1. Finn is invited to a couples-only movie night. He plans to bring a duck, but Jake advises: "You have to bring somebody you can smooch!"  Note the major difference from "You have to bring a girl!"

2. The Ice King, who provides comedic tension by constantly kidnapping princesses and trying to force them into marriage, approaches the vampire Marcelline and suggests that they team up.  "I'll take the princesses, and you can have whatever you're into."  Another big difference from "you can have the men."

3. Although fan sites try to talk their way out of it, Marcelline has had relationships with both sexes.  In "What Was Missing," she and Princess Bubblegum must reunite after a long estrangement, and work together to solve a mystery.

 They discuss what went wrong with their relationship ("I never said you had to be perfect!"), and in the end we discover that Bubblegum still sleeps in a t-shirt that Marcelline gave her.

4. Beemo, the robot video game console, does not have a gender, but is usually called "he."  In one episode, Finn suggests that Beemo might be interested in the Ice King, and eager for dish, Jake says "Why?  Did he say something?"

And in another, Beemo has an adventure with a bubble filled with sentient male Air, who proposes marriage.

5. The Earl of Lemongrab is too fussy and demanding to get along with anyone, until Princess Bubblegum makes him a clone of himself.  The two Lemongrabs later have a child together, or at least pretend to.

There have been a couple of missteps, however.

1. Prismo, a two-dimensional being who lives outside space and time, befriends Jake, eagerly asks him to return for a visit, and gives him a gift, a jar of pickles.  Jake sighes "I got to get him a girlfriend."

2. A male chocolate chip cookie named Baby-Snaps wants to become a Princess.  Although Jake supports his transgender aspiration, Princess Bubblegum believes that it signifies insanity, and has him committed to a mental institution.

See also: Clarence: Gay Characters on Kids' TV, Sort Of; and Gay Fan Art 4: Cartoon Kids Grow Up

Salo, or The 120 Days of Sodom

Everyone has heard of 120 Days of Sodom, the much-excoriated novel by the Marquis de Sade, written while he was in prison in 1785, and not published until the 20th century.  But most people haven't read it.

I have, for a paper I wrote in grad school.  Or at least I skimmed through it.

Four wealthy libertines decide to try out every sexual gratification there is.  So they shut themselves up in a secluded castle for four months with 46 victims: their own daughters, some male prostitutes, some exceptionally attractive teenage boys and girls, and some exceptionally ugly older women.   They get ideas from four experienced prostitutes, who tell stories of "passions," or erotic acts.

Though the list is long -- 600 items -- it omits a lot of  common sexual acts, fetishes, and paraphilias, and includes a lot of weird ones.  All of them require the act to be non-consensual.

Sacrilege is apparently a big turn on: the victims are forced to renounce God, spit on crucifixes, desecrate communion wafers, and so on. And so is anal sex, which Sade perceived as a kind of sacrilege.

But violence is the biggest draw.  A month is devoted to the "cruel passions," various types of torture.  Another month is devoted to the "murderous" passions: burning alive, disemboweling, and otherwise killing victims.

Gay Italian filmmaker Piers Paolo Pasolini adapted it Salo (1975), substituting World War II fascists for libertines.  He adds a bit more plot, including a hetero-romance, and ups the humiliation factor.

There's a ton of male nudity, with many very attractive male bodies, and a lot more gay sex than in the original book -- but it's presented as much more shocking than audiences today may find it: "Look, that man is having sex with another man!"

Actually, the whole movie is somewhat less shocking than one expects from hearing its history of banning and censorship.  Today you can see much, much worse in the torture porn genre, like Saw and The Human Centipede.

Pasolini was killed on November 2, 1975, shortly before Salo was released.  If this is his "farewell" to the world, it's curious that he presents same-sex acts as universally degrading, as bestial, and gives the only hint of tenderness, compassion, and love to heterosexuals.

But maybe not so curious.  His other movies present same-sex acts as, at best pleasant diversion from the heterosexual romance that is the theme of everyone's dreeaming.

He was gay, but apparently he wished he wasn't.

Nov 8, 2015

Gay Ghost #15: The Football Player Who Got Unstuck in Time

You often hear stories about people who get unstuck in time.

Two British ladies touring Versailles slip into the era of Louis XIV.

A man makes a wrong turn in a department store and finds himself in an earlier version of the store from the 1930s.

A man in 19th century costume falls out of the sky.

Here's a photo of  a hipster dude, wearing a t-shirt and modern sunglasses, looking tremendously out of place amid the old people in fedoras witnessing the opening of a bridge in Canada in 1941.

He's probably not unstuck in time, just unstuck. .

There are a lot of unstuck people wandering around on Christopher Street in New York.

It's not exclusively or even predominantly gay: the few gay bars and restaurants are scattered amid weird boutiques, kids' clothing stores, pet supply stores, and the Finnish Lutheran Church.

But it's where Gay Liberation began, a sacred place, a site for pilgrimages for gay people from around the world.

Especially those who have been traumatized by homophobic hatred.

Lost, lonely, confused.  Ghosts. Revenants. Time travelers.

Like the guy who was wearing only white shorts and a black Amish hat, on a cold day in October.

And the Man in Black who just appeared, walking next to me, one day.

And Carey from Tuscaloosa.

I saw him in Christopher Park, staring at the Gay Liberation Monument as if he had seen anything so strange: in his 20s, medium height, solidly built, a little nerdy, with a square face, dirty blond hair, and thick eyebrows.  He was wearing brown slacks, a red sweatshirt with giant letter A on it, and a brown fedora, and carrying an old-fashioned knapsack rather than a backpack.

First rule of living in big cities: don't stop to talk to anyone you don't know.  They will con you, or rob you, or both.

But I am particularly attracted to "lost souls," so I stopped.  "Pretty great, isn't it?"

"Murder!"  he said with a smile.  " I knew the Big Apple was up-to-date, but so out in the open and all!  You sure couldn't get away with this tootie back home."  He turned to me and held out his hand.  "Hiya, kid.  I'm Carey, Tuscaloosa U. of A.  Go Crimson Tide!"

Later I figured out that he meant the University of Alabama football team. "Boomer.  You're a long way from home."

"Don't I know it!  We're on field trip to see the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State.  I sort of got side tracked on the Staten Island Ferry.  Say, you wouldn't know any eateries around here, would ya, Jackson?  I could eat a horse, hooves and all!"

I took him to a Thai place, where he was amazed by both the food and the prices.

Carey said he had always been attracted to guys, but he wasn't out to anybody, and he would probably get married, because "that's the way we do things in the South."  He had no idea that there were books on gay topics or gay characters on tv: "we don't look at a lot of television in the South."

I took him back to my apartment -- yes, my roommate was that way, too --  and let him look at some of my books on gay history.  "What's Stonewall?" he asked, pulling a book off the shelf. "Stonewall Jackson?"

"It's the bar you were standing outside of, where Gay Liberation began.  The Stonewall Riots?  Gay Pride Day?"

He stared at me, confused, and put the book down and wrapped his arms around me. "I'm not much for history --  I like the present.  Two guys together, right here, right now, that's all that counts, dig?"

After the hookup, he got dressed and said "Thanks, Boomer.  It's been swell, but I'd better be getting back."  And he vanished into the night, leaving me thinking.

His slang, his costume, his lack of familiarity with tv or the basics of gay history -- was Carey unstuck in time, or just a clueless Southern boy?

I looked up the roster of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team in the 1930s -- yes, those records are available -- and found a William Cary Cox from Bainbridge, Georgia, who played center from 1937 to 1939. Afterwards he served in World War II, and then ran an auto dealership in Alexandria City, Alabama.  He died in 1991, survived by his wife and two children.

Did he take a "jump to the left" one day in 1939 and end up in the West Village?

The uncensored story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Christopher George: Heterosexual Icon with a Gay Connection

When Steve Bond posed nude in Playgirl in October 1975, he was 21 years old and unknown, except for one role as a child seven years before.  When Christopher George posed in June 1974, he was 43 years old and a Hollywood veteran, famous for his marriage and collaboration with Mission: Impossible girl Lynda Day George.

He reclines, eating watermelon, a little paunchy in middle age, but hirsute, tanned, gold-chained, the sharp phallic knife accentuating his obvious gifts beneath the belt.

The uncensored photo is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Is there any gay connection to such an indefatigably heterosexual icon?

How about Rat Patrol (1966-68), about four allied soldiers in North Africa during World War II: Troy (Christopher) was the leader, Moffitt (Gary Raymond) the intellectual, Hitch (Lawrence Casey) the jokester, and Tully (Justin Tarr) the redneck.  Lots of buddy-bonding in the desert, and nary a woman in sight.

Or The Immortal (1969-71), about a racecar driver (Christopher) whose blood has amazing regenerative powers, thus making him very attractive to a sick millionaire. I can't even begin to parse out the gay-vampire-predator subtext.

Or I Escaped from Devil's Island (1973).  No women in the French penal colony, just fellow Playgirl  centerfold Jim Brown.

Or a 1975 episode of SWAT Team, where he played a scuba diving jewel thief partnered with famous gay actor Sal Mineo.

Not to mention Playgirl itself, which everybody knew had a huge gay male following.

He died in 1983, before most actors would dream of acknowledging their appeal to gay fans.
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