Apr 26, 2016

Steve Bond: Most Famous Nude in Hollywood

The October 1975 issue of Playgirl featured several nude photos of model/actor Steve Bond.  They quickly became the most famous male nude photos in the world (not counting those of Christopher George.)

Not because he was a man-mountain -- no bodybuilder, he had the tight, pleasantly muscled physique of a New Sensitive Man.

Not because of his size beneath the equator, though he was huge.

Because of the contrast.

The last time anyone had seen Steve Bond, he was fourteen years old, playing Erik in Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968), with Mike Henry. 

Seven years makes a big difference!

After one or two more child-actor roles, young Schlomo Goldberg went back home to Israel, finished high school, and completed his mandatory military service.  Now he was in L.A. again, ready to hit the big time.  The nude photos came at a moment of desperation, when he was flat broke

Unfortunately, posing nude was still controversial in 1975, and Steve found it difficult getting the attention of casting directors. During the next decade, he played some street toughs, some sexploitation studs, a Chippendales dancer, and a forest ranger investigating some teen murders (in The Prey, 1984). 

Finally, hoping that the nude pictures were long forgotten, he landed one of the defining roles of his career, good old boy Jimmy Lee Holt on General Hospital (1983-87).

No such luck.  In 1985, an eagle-eyed editor at Playgirl discovered the old photos, and reprinted them.  Steve was devastated.  What would happen when the General Hospital producers found out?  Would he be fired? 

Turns out that nothing happened.  Jimmy Lee Holt was too popular to dismiss. The GH producers even commissioned a Speedo poster to show off Steve's assets.

After General Hospital, Steve did another soap (Santa Barbara),and the sci-fi thriller Spacejacked (1997).  Not a lot of gay content, but two movies spring to mind:

1. To Die For (1988): the seductive vampire Tom (Steve) gets upset when his ex-boyfriend Vlad (Bryan Hughes) falls for a mortal woman, and plots revenge. Scott Jacoby plays a human who gets involved.

2. Magdalene (1989).  Austrian priest Joseph Mohr (Steve) tries to reform a prostitute, and is accused of sexual misconduct.  Meanwhile he buddy-bonds with Franz Gruber (Cyrus Elias), and helps him write the Christmas classic "Silent Night."

I guess you don't need a lot of gay content when you already have the most famous endowment in Hollywood.

You can see the nude photos on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: Bert Convy spends the 1970s nude

Apr 25, 2016

Big Bad Brucie

I am a child of the television era; the tv was on from the moment we got home from school until well past bedtime, except during dinner.  We watched while playing, doing homework, reading, a constant, pleasant background to our lives.

Radio was trivial: the KSTT Top 40 Hits played every morning as we were getting ready for school, and sometimes late in the evening.  It was like an alarm clock.  You never deliberately listened.

Until the fall of 1975, my sophomore year in high school, when a friend told me about a late-night radio program, Dr. Demento.

It specialized in parodies and novelty songs.

The first night I listened, the playlist included:

"Dragnet Goes to Kindergarten"
"Pickle in the Middle with the Mustard on Top"
"Marvin's Duckie"
"Chicken Fat"
"They're Coming to Take Me Away"
"The Lumberjack Song"

And "Big Bruce," by Steve Greenberg.

Well at the beauty salon every morning at ten
Big Bruce arrived and kind of tip-toed in
He wore bell bottomed pants and a polka-dot tie
And whenever he spoke, it was just to say 'Hi'

And everyone knew when he swished into town
You could smell his perfume for miles around
He stood six foot five, and weighed 106
With a curl in his hair and a smile on his lips

He dies when his beauty salon catches on fire, and he goes back inside to fetch his purse.

That's what heteros thought gay men were like in 1975.

Many still do. This is Big Gay Al, from Southpark.  Grant Stone and Trey Parker still think gay men lisp and swish.

I had no idea that gay men existed in 1975, but I knew all about swishes:  boys who believed so strongly that they were girls, that they actually became girls, or rather a monstrous boy-girl hybrid: though male in form, they lisped, minced, swished, carried purses, wore dresses and perfume and make-up, called you "Thweetie," and were usually named Bruce.

Except the swishes I knew were figures of disgust and dread: they waited patiently in schoolyards and back alleys, breathing softly in the shadows, until an unsuspecting boy approached.  Then they pounced!  All it took was a slim, bejeweled hand placed on your shoulder, or a soft lisping whisper in your ear, and you would change, inevitably, into a swish.

Big Bruce was certainly ridiculed, laughed at, and looked down upon, but he was no threat.

"Big Bruce" was first released by Randy Sparks of the New Christie Minstrels in 1961.  He meant it as a parody of "Big Bad John," a Western ballad by Jimmy Dean (the guy who sells sausages)

On the queer music website, Randy Sparks writes: "Most gay men had no problem with laughing at the ditty, but any lesbians in my audiences seemed to immediately take offense, so I was careful where I sang it. I didn't want to make anyone uncomfortable."

I would certainly be yelling "homophobe!" now, but in 1975 it was a pleasant alternative to the horror the swishes usually brought.

The song was very popular in the homophobic 1960s, recorded by several other groups, including The Country Gentlemen (1966), The Faux Pas (1967),  Bill Stith (1973), and most recently Bird & MacDonald (1993).  Steve Greenberg's version is from 1969.

Apr 24, 2016

Teenage Millionaire: The Teen Idol Career of Jimmy Clanton

Have you ever heard of Jimmy Clanton?

I thought I was an expert on teen idols, but I missed this one.

Born in 1938 in Louisiana, he burst onto the charts right after high school, eschewing the usual rock for rhythm & blues.  Between 1958 and 1962, he released six albums, and had three hit songs:

"Just a Dream" (1958) isn't heterosexist.  It could apply to a boy or a girl:

Just a dream, just a dream
All our plans and our all schemes
How could I think you'd be mine
The lies I'd tell myself each time

"Go, Jimmy, Go" (1959) is heterosexist, however.  He brags to his girlfriend about his expertise in sweet-talking, dancing, and kissing, and she responds with an open invitation: "Go, Jimmy, Go!"

"Venus in Blue Jeans" (1962), of course, is about a girl.

She's Venus in blue jeans
Mona Lisa with a ponytail
She's a walking, talking work of art
She's the girl who stole my heart

Jimmy got a lot of exposure in the late 1950s, including beefcake (or at least shirtless) shots in teen magazines and two movies designed to showcase his teen idol appeal:

Go, Jimmy, Go (1959), where he is renamed Jimmy Melody.  Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, and Ritchie Valens also perform.

Teenage Millionaire (1961) is about the millionaire son of a radio station owner, who goes undercover and woos a girl.  Zazu Pitts, the 1930s movie legend who was a lesbian in real life, plays Aunt Theodora.

At least there are poolside scenes.

But Jimmy was a little "un-hip," even for the Kennedy Era, and his star soon faded.

He continued to perform through the 1960s, and later became a disc jockey.  He is still in demand for nostalgia concerts.

He looks rather Liberace-like in this recent photo, but there's little evidence that he is gay.  He's been married since 1962, and has three daughters, two adopted, one biological.

Or a gay ally: he''s a member of the Lakewood Church in Houston, pastored by "homosexuality is a sin" Joel Osteen.

See also: Paul Anka; Beach Movies 

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