Feb 19, 2016

Kyle XY

In the spring of 2006, ABC Family started showing ads about a new series, with a teenage boy raising his shirt to display his abs.

Oh, wait, is he supposed to be showing us that he lacks a belly button?  I missed that.

But there's a midriff-bare girl gazing longingly at him, and I suppose he's named XY to accentuate gender polarization -- guys are guys, and guys like girls!  Heterosexist garbage.  So I didn't watch.

But upon hearing that star Matt Dallas is gay (here showing his real-life navel, along with Tahj Mowry, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, and Derek Thaler) I thought I'd check to see if there were any subtexts.

The online episode guide suggests that Kyle XY (2006-2009) was indeed about Kyle and the Girl of His Dreams working together to investigate the mystery of his origin  (I'm guessing he's a clone).  There are also some teenage allies, who fall in love and break up in staid heterosexual pairs.  Season 2 ends with Prom Night.

There were a lot of characters, and most of the girls had boys' names and boys had girls' names, making it difficult to ascertain homoerotic liaisons without a score card, but I think I came up with three possibilities:

1. A security guard, Foss (Nicholas Lea), takes a paternal interest in Kyle: "Everything I did was to protect you, to keep you safe.  You've got to trust me."  He doesn't have a girlfriend.

2. High school ally Declan (Chris Olivero) sleeps with lots of girls, but becomes Kyle's best friend, and they team up to solve this week's mystery.

3. Kyle's foster brother, Josh (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), sleeps with a girl named Andy, but he helps Kyle meet with a grounded girlfriend by hiding in her bed in a blond wig, thus fooling her mother and moving into drag.

I thought Jean-Luc Bilodeau was either Popeye's antagonist or a French crooner from the 1930s, but surprise, he's only 23.

And then there's the implicit homoeroticism of the nudity.

A lot of nudity.

Feb 15, 2016

Bubba Lewis: Not Just Zac Efron's Life Partner

Bubba Lewis is best known as the BFF of teen idol Zac Efron -- the two have been passionate heterosexual life partners for eleven years, ever since they starred together as autistic twins in a sappy tv movie, Miracle Run (2003).  

But the Georgia-born singer, dancer, and good old boy -- who took the name "Bubba" to emphasize his country-fried heritage -- does more than bask in the glory of High School Musical fever.  He has a resume of his own, full of serious dramatic vehicles.

Very serious.

Snap (2005): A teenage boy must defend himself from a killer (Ian Ford) who has invaded his home and murdered his parents.

Flags of Our Fathers (2006): About the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima during World War II.  Bubba plays one of them as a boy.

The Bottom (2007): A boy working at a gas station "in the ruins of America."

It's Dark Here (2013): A boy has a schizophrenic breakdown in front of his horrified parents.

Plus episodes of Saving Grace, Medium, ER, Numbers, and Dexter. 

He doesn't do many comedies.

Just Weather Girl (2009), about a Seattle weather girl who moves in with her little brother and romances his bff (Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin).

And The In-Betweeners (2012-2013): A sitcom about four misfit boys in high school who band together.  And, apparently, take their clothes off.

Notice that Bubba hasn't played any heterosexual romantic leads.  Not one.  It's all about the BFFs.  Which is always good for gay subtexts.

Feb 14, 2016

Your Grandfather's Beefcake: Circus Acrobats

Back before physique magazines, Johnny Weissmuller movies, and superhero comics, there were few options for beefcake: J.C. Leyendecker's magazine ads, statues of Greek gods -- and the circus.

The 3 Moros (the Three Moors) was a brother act.

Actually, they were mostly brother acts, whether they were actually related or not.

Unfortunately,it was beefcake only, and the guys didn't appear alone; there were usually scantily-clad women in the act.

Not a lot of gay symbolism.  In fact, the whole drama of highwire acts, with a woman tumbling and a man catching, replays a heterosexual drama.

The circus is so soaked in heterosexual imagery that it's hard to find references to gay performers.  Bob Yerkes of the Flying Alexanders was married for 40 years, and  a born-again Christian, so probably not.

The acrobat tradition started failing in the 1950s, facing stiff competition from tv and movies.  The last world-famous acrobat was probably Jimmy Cavaretti, and he supplemented his circus fame with appearances on tv and a spread in Playgirl.

For instance, why wasn't Scott Osgood (top photo) a superstar?  He performed with the Sailor Circus in Orlando in the 1980s, and got excellent reviews.  Today he owns a rigging design company.
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