Nov 20, 2015

Garcia Lorca: The Homophobic Gay Poet and his Boyfriend

When I was studying Spanish literature at Augustana College, I never, in a million years, would have guessed that Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936) was gay (or for that matter his boyfriend, surrealist painter Salvador Dali).

How could I guess when his three most famous plays are:

1. Yerma (1934), a tragedy about a woman who can't have children.

2. Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding, 1933), about two men who kill each other over the love of a woman.

3. La Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba, 1945), about a woman who can't stand her daughter's lack of chastity.  This one has no male characters at all.

And when his poetry is all about heterosexual longing:

"The Lizard is Crying": boy and girl lizards are crying because they lost their wedding rings.

"Two Mariners on the Beach": one dreams of "the golden breasts of Cuban girls."

"Thamar and Amon": he "was gazing at the round and low moon, and he saw in the moon his sister's very firm breasts."

(Painting of Lorca as St. Sebastian is by Alice Wellinger)

"Ode to Walt Whitman" is even homophobic.

 Lorca decries the "pansies" (maricas) of New York, horrible perversions of the spiritual love described by Walt Whitman.  They don't just gaze longingly at each other, they actually touch each other!  Disgusting!

Pansies of the cities, of tumescent flesh and unclean mind,
Mud of dreams, harpies, unsleeping enemies of Love
Pansies of the world, murderers of doves!
Let there be no quarter!
Death flows from your eyes!


But he was definitely gay.

For a long time his family and scholars alike tried to closet him, but after his overtly homoerotic Sonnets of Dark Love was finally published in 1983, many studies have appeared analyzing the gay subtexts in his poems and plays, and revealing a tortured gay life in conservative Spanish society.  Even his murder by Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War has been interpreted as less a political assassination than a homophobic hate crime.

Javier Beltran played a non-heterosexualized version of the poet (with Robert Pattinson as Dali) in Little Ashes (2008).

Ode to Walt Whitman?  Maybe a case of "protesting too much."

See also: Rimbaud: A Season in Hell

Nov 19, 2015

Michael Sarrazin: In the Most Homophobic Movie of All Time?

Handsome "new sensitive man" Michael Sarrazin was a reliable source of beefcake and bulges through the 1970s; unfortunately, you had to look past an endless series of naked ladies to see him.

Born in 1940, he spent the 1960s miscast in Westerns before starring with Jane Fonda in the misnamed They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969), which is not about shooting horses; it's about the angst-ridden, desperate lives of contestants in a Depression-era dance marathon.

He had found his niche: New Sensitive Men, quirky, sometimes amoral, sometimes criminals, who have lots of sex with The Girl en route to the denouement: Barbara Hershey in The Pursuit of Happiness (1971), Jacqueline Bisset in Believe in Me (1971), Trish Van Der Vere in Harry in Your Pocket (1973).  

Spoiler alert: in The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975), which was a big hit in my high school, he makes out with Jennifer O'Neal, only to discover that he's the reincarnation of her father!

By the 1980s, Michael was getting a little long in the tooth for playing quirky young men, and his projects became increasingly sleazy.  But in those days "sleaze" included "gay," so there was a bit of LGBT content:

The Seduction (1982): tv reporter is stalked by a one-night stand.

Mascara (1987): crossdressing police officer has a thing for his sister.

The Phone Call (1989): straight guy calls the wrong phone sex line and is stalked by a gay queen, in what has been called the most homophobic movies of all time.

Not a lot of buddy-bonding, with all that heterosexual sex going on, but there are some glimmers of a homoromance between Michael and Tim Henry in Eye of the Cat (1969).

I'm still going with Chuck and Buck as the most homophobic movie of all time.

Nov 18, 2015

Bert Convy Spends the 1970s Nude

I suppose you're wondering who this Bert Convy was, who took his clothes off on both Love Boat (6 times) and Fantasy Island (4 times)?

I'm not sure.  He seemed to just appear in the 1970s,.  He was over 40 years old, with a 20-year career as a Broadway star and pop singer, and before that as a pro baseball player, but I didn't notice until he started strutting around with a Tom Jones Afro and a leisure suit unbuttoned halfway down his smooth, muscular chest. playing slightly befuddled New Sensitive Men in sitcoms and soaps: Mary Tyler Moore, The Partridge Family, Love American Style, Charlie's Angels, Murder She Wrote, and Hotel.  

Google Images said this was him, but it might be wrong. The photo seems too recent -- Bert Convy would have been that age in the early 1960s. (It may be Steve Bond).

But not to worry, the real Bert Convy displayed his physique many during his tenure as the host of about a thousand game shows, including Password (1972), Match Game (1973-74), Tattletales (1974-77, 1982), Win Lose or Draw (1987), and Super Password (1984-89), 

In the spring of 1976, he starred in a short-lived comedy-variety series, The Late Summer Early Fall Bert Convy Show.

He appeared in lots of movies, mostly sex comedies, like Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (1979), know; Racquet (1979), about a tennis pro who beds women; and Help Wanted: Male (1982), about a career woman who wants a baby but not a husband.  More beefcake shots....

He and Burt Reynolds were best buds (imagine the confusion: "Bert came to my party, but Burt didn't.")  They starred together in the gay-subtext-heavy Semi-Tough (1977) and The Cannonball Run (1981), and produced two tv series together: Weekend Warriors and Win, Lose, or Draw.  

There were some gay rumors, but not a lot. During the 1970s, men drew gay rumors only if they were on the feminine side.  You could hang out with male buds all you wanted, and never make a dent in people's heteronormative expectations.

Besides, Bert was married throughout his career, to Anne Anderson (1959-1990), and, while he was terminally ill, to Catherine Hall (1991).

He died from a brain tumor on July 15, 1991, and was interred at Forest Lawn, among other Hollywood celebrities.

Burt Reynolds came to the funeral.

See also: Love Boat;  Burt Reynolds Naked on a Bearskin Rug

Nov 17, 2015

Jimmy Bennett: No Ordinary Teen Idol

Jimmy Bennett is only 18 years old, but already a favorite of gay kids, and not just because of his preference for appearing shirtless or semi-nude.  He has already produced a substantial body of work that articulates and validates same-sex romance.

In Alabama Moon (2009), gay-vague 11-year old Moon Blake (Jimmy) is sent to a juvenile facility in Alabama, where he bonds with Kit (Uriah Shelton).  They plot an escape together, and end up finding a home.

In Bones (2010), Bones White (Jimmy) and Anthony (Andrew Lawrence) buddy-bond in 1989 New York.

No Ordinary Family (2010-2011) was a "my secret" comedy-drama about a family with supernatural powers.  14-year old J.J. (Jimmy) was super-intelligent, able to learn new languages instantly and read technical manuals in a few seconds.  He fell in love with girls, but his powers marked him as different, as queer (besides, he buddy-bonded with Billy Unger).

He's a talented singer also, performing the soundtracks to Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo and Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Party, as well as "Summer Never Ends," from Shorts.  Most of his songs are not heterosexist.  In "Over Again," for instance, his lover could be male or female:
Why does it feel so distant, when you're standing next to me.
Why does it feel so cold, when we're sharing body heat.

Word is that Jimmy is heterosexual in real life, but warm and welcoming to his gay fans.

Nov 16, 2015

Andrew Lawrence

Andy Lawrence was born in 1988, when his older brothers, Joey and Matthew (ages 12 and 8, respectively) were already well-established child actors.

Growing up with two extremely successful, amazingly muscular, and aggressively gay-friendly older brothers gave Andy some advantages.

1.He began acting at age 2, on his brother's sitcom Blossom.  He had a starring role in Tom (1994) at age seven, and then moved on to a long string of tv series: Brotherly Love, RecessCSI, Bones, and Castle.

2. He began working out at an early age, developing a physique equal to or surpassing that of his brothers by the time they all starred together in Jumping Ship (2001). Since then, he has often played athletes in skimpy uniforms.

And, since he turned 18, in 2006, he has often been asked to do shirtless and semi-nude scenes.    

3.  He became gay-friendly at an early age.  His movies and television appearances regularly involve homoromantic friendships.

In The Other Me (2000), Will Browning (Andy) accidentally clones himself.  The rest of the movie involves Will and his clone, Twoie/Gill, bonding, rescuing each other, and using their identical looks to become popular among the girls and guys at his middle school.

In Going to the Mat (2004), blind high schooler Jace (Andy) joins the wrestling team.  His buddy Fly (Khleo Thomas), although not interested in sports, joins in order to help him fit in.  They are an amazingly physical pair; of course, sighted friends often take the blind person's arm or hand to help them negotiate unfamiliar terrain, but what about casually reclining against each other on a couch, or full body hugs every five seconds?

On the sitcom The United States of Tara (2009), about a woman with multiple personalities, high school wrestler Jason (Andy, left) starts a relationship with Marshall (Keir Gilcrist, right), but then kisses T (Tara's teenage girl alter ego).  Does his attraction to Marshall mean that he is gay?  Does his attraction to T mean that he is straight?  Maybe he's bisexual.  He's not sure himself, his confusion mirroring that of many teenagers negotiating feelings that the adults tell them cannot exist.

Not to mention Oliver Beane (another character was gay-vague), Recess (gay-positive character), Chasing a Dream (high schooler becomes a track star to honor his dead friend's memory), The Least of These (haven't seen it, but I think he plays a gay character), and Bones (teenager not interested in girls who buddy bonds with the hunky Jimmy Bennett).

Andrew is rumored to be gay in real life; how could a heterosexual be so extremely gay-positive?

Ask his brothers.

Jamie Bell: Not Wearing a Sign

Born in 1986, Jamie Bell first gained the attention of gay viewers with Billy Elliot (2000), about a boy who wants to become a ballet dancer in spite of the disapproval of his working-class British family, friends, and entire community.  They think dancing is for poofs (only his gay friend supports him). (Later it was made into Billy Elliot: The Musical).

Nicholas Nickleby (2002) upped the homoeroticism of the original Dickens novel, giving Nicholas (Charlie Hunnan) and abused classmate Smike (Jamie) an overtly romantic bond.

Undertow (2004) was a change of pace, transporting Jamie from Britain to rural Georgia.  But he got to keep the thin, sickly look to play Chris Munn, who has to flee into the woods with his younger brother (Devon Allen) to escape a murderous uncle (Josh Lucas).  The buddy-bonding here is between brothers, but at least Jamie hangs out in his underwear.

I haven't seen Dear Wendy (2004), but it seems to be a dark fable about boys, guns, and friendship.  Or The Chumscrubber (2005), but it seems to be the same, except with drugs instead of guns, and with nudity.

But I did see Tintin (2011), the animated version of the famous comic strip, which doesn't skimp on the homoromance between Tintin and Captain Haddock.

More recently, Jamie has bulked up so he can display a muscular physique in actioners like The Eagle (2011), in which Roman soldier Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) and his boyfriend/slave Esca (Jamie) wander barbarian Europe in search of a lost golden emblem.

With all the gay-friendly content, you'd expect Jamie to be used to gay rumors.  But he finds them surprising and "weird," since none of his characters is actually Wearing a Sign. Still, he got t a familial connection to the LGBT community when he married the bisexual Rachel Evan Wood.

Fall 1987: Heterosexualizing My Childhood Hero

My friends and I at Denkmann Elementary School in the 1960s liked Disney comics -- Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Junior Woodchucks -- but they were hard to find.  Schneider's Drug Store didn't stock them. We had to depend on that one kid who had a subscription, or in the stacks of comics that went on sale every summer at the Denkmann School Carnival.

When we left Denkmann, no more carnival, no more Disney comics.  By the late 1970s, they weren't available anywhere, so I assumed that they were no longer being published.

But I read and reread the few adventures that I owned, with Uncle Scrooge, and his nephews and grand-nephews traveling the world to seek out lost civilizations and ancient treasures: the Philosopher's Stone; the Golden Fleece; the Seven Cities of Cibola; the Mines of King Solomon; the Treasure of Genghis Khan.

There were a few science fiction and humor stories.  Occasionally a character from Greek or Norse mythology showed up.  But mostly it was boys' adventure, like Robert Louis Stevenson, H. Rider Haggard, and the books in the Green Library.

There were no women in this macho world.  Donald Duck never mentioned that Daisy was waiting back home, Huey Dewey, and Louie treated girls as nuisances, and Uncle Scrooge?  During his many careers as cowboy, prospector, explorer, salesman, and financial tycoon, he had never even been on a date.

During college, I bought a massive tome, Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times (1981), which reprinted some of the best Uncle Scrooge stories, and found a woman mentioned: in "Back to the Klondike" (1953), Scrooge recounts how, when he was a young prospector, a devious dance hall girl named Glittering Goldie drugged him and stole his solid gold nugget.  He tracked her down, got the nugget back, and forced her to work at his claim for a month, to teach her the value of "honest work."

That's all.  No romantic entanglement suggested.

When I was living in West Hollywood in the 1980s, Gladstone began reprinting some of the old Uncle Scrooge comics, plus new stories by cartoonist Don Rosa.  He sent Scrooge back to the Klondike in "Last Sled to Dawson" (1987).  And made Glittering Goldie his old girlfriend!

Goldie appeared in several more of Don Rosa's stores during the late 1980s and 1990s, and played a major role in the faux biography of Uncle Scrooge published in 1997.  We find out what really happened during the month they spent alone in Scrooge's cabin on White Agony Creek.  There's even a dirty joke:

En route to the claim, they encounter a giant mastodon partially frozen in the ice.  "Ok, let's get a move on," Scrooge commands.  "Between the legs!"

"I beg your pardon!" Goldie stammers, thinking that he means....

Realizing his faux pas, Scrooge reddens.  " way to my cabin is between the legs of the mastodon."

What can we make of this incessant heterosexualization of one of my childhood heroes?

Don Rosa's comic book stories weren't for kids, but for adults who had grown up with the Uncle Scrooge books. Adults who were old enough for "mature" themes, like girlfriends and "between the legs" jokes.

But children's media was quick to follow suit.  The Ducktales tv series (1987-1990) cast Glittering Goldie as Scrooge's love interest in four episodes. Plus Scrooge flirted with an ongoing series of female reporters, heiresses, and gold-diggers, before, after, or during the adventure.  He was heterosexual.

See also: Donald Duck's Double Life.

The Penis Park of Norway

This post has been moved to Small Town Beefcake

Nov 15, 2015

The 20 Most Beautiful Men in the World

One day Thomas Hardy saw a person on the bus of remarkable beauty "such as we see sometimes among strangers but never among our friends."  Who knows them?  He wondered.  Who sees them at the breakfast table?  Who picks them up at work?  Who knows the daily monotony of their lives?

I haven't really been reading the letters of Thomas Hardy.  Linus quotes him in a Peanuts cartoon.  

And I have the answer: we all know them.  They are our friends and lovers, but familiarity has eroded the rush of awe we felt on first sight.  A few farts, sniffles, and complaints about the guy at work, and they are no longer creatures of supernatural beauty.  They're just plain Stan or Rick or David.

The fleeting glimpse of supreme beauty always happens when there's no way possible for you to ever meet.  You're far from home, so you won't be passing that way again, there's not enough time to strike up a conversation, or the press of the crowd makes it impossible to reach him (try tracking a stranger across a crowded room). 

That's why the fleeting glimpse is so important.  There is no quirk ridden personality or traumatic back story to deal with.  There are no meetings to strategize over, no dates to plan.  There's no person, just archetypal beauty.  

On your death bed you'll remember these faces and physiques.  You won't regret that you never met them, never became friends or lovers, maybe didn't even make eye contact.  You'll be grateful that you were lucky enough to get a glimpse of heaven.

1. At Augustana, I was walking through the library.  On a couch below a Spanish language encyclopedia, he had fallen asleep, legs splayed out on the floor in front of him.  His shirt was unbuttoned an extra button, revealing a v of bare chest.

2.  In Barcelona, I looked out my hotel room at the hotel across the street,  where some athletes had a room.  He was still wearing blue bikini briefs as he pushed the window open to greet the world.

3.  On a job interview in Florida, I was taking a tour of the town, and we stopped at a stop light. He was standing in line at a frozen custard stand, waiting to order, in a white t-shirt, red shorts, and sandals instead of shoes.

4. We were driving through Rock Island on Christmas Day.  It was unseasonably warm, in the 60s, and he was on the roof of his house, doing something with shingles, shirtless, pale, hardbodied.

5.  At the airport in London, everyone gets off the plane and heads straight for the rest room, so they get crowded.  I saw him next to me at the urinal, wearing a backpack, yellow shirt, buffed, intent on his business.

6.  At a hotel in Indianapolis where I was staying while visiting my parents: he was eating breakfast with two other guys.  Short, well-groomed, smiling.  They were all wearing suits and talking about the project. 

7. Driving through South Carolina, I saw him in a field, a farmer or farm hand, black, shirtless, sweating.  I waved.  He waved back.

8. He was sitting on the Paris metro, wearing a grey coat, reading a book.  I couldn't make out the title.

9. On our road trip across the mountain states in 1995, we drove through Missoula, Montana.  He was fishing off a bridge, blond, wearing a sleeveless shirt that showed off his biceps.

10. At Harvard University, he was walking briskly across the quad, carrying a cup of coffee, his breath smoky in the early morning cold.

11.  He was at LAX, waiting for the same flight that I was, muscular in a grey t-shirt, big hands with a class ring.  I prayed for us to be seated together or across the aisle from each other, but no.

12. He was among the crowd leaving a church in Cordoba, Spain, Young, teen or early 20s, wearing a white shirt and blue tie.  He smiled at me as I passed.

13. I was at a small diner in Baltimore with just a counter.  He was next to me, eating waffles and texting on his cell phone, wearing a cal poly tshirt.  I tried to make eye contact, but no.

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

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