Jun 10, 2016

The Unsolved Murder and the Two Footlong Redheads

When I was growing up in Rock Island, I often heard about the biggest unsolved murder in Chicago history.  It appeared in "Spooky Chicago" television pieces every Halloween, and in newspaper articles on the anniversary.  We discussed it in the schoolyard, even in class.

When I moved to West Hollywood, I often told the story, along with the story of my meeting with Mark Percy in 1977.  But then something weird happened.

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

Beefcake and Heterosexism in My Netflix Recommendations

During the last week of May and first week of June, I was very busy, with late hours, getting caught in the rain, and lots of dates and hookups.  As a result, my immune system was impacted enough for me to catch a miserable summer cold.  I've spent the last two days on the couch with orange juice, ice cream  -- and Netflix.

It gives you recommendations based on your previous viewing.  Unfortunately, no matter how much I screen them for gay potential, my Netflix recommendations always turn out to be blearily heterosexist, with Girls! Girls! Girls! proclaimed from the get-go.  Here are the last 10 that I tried, and turned off within a few minutes.

Remember, these are movies and tv programs that I selected from a long list because I thought would have gay potential.

1. The Strange Calls (2011). An Australian comedy-paranormal tv series.  A screw-up police officer (Toby Truslove) is transferred to an isolated small town, where weird things keep happening. I love the paranormal, and he's rather cute, but guess who he meets within five seconds of his arrival in town?  The Girl.  Next!

(I don't think this is him, but it's what comes up when you google "Toby Truslove shirtless.")

2. I thought Phantom Halo (2015) would be paranormal, but it's a caper about two grifter brothers (Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Luke Kleintack) who decide counterfeit some bills to pay their debts. Ok, I can watch a caper movie.  Except it takes five minutes to introduce the Girl.  Next!

3. The Heroes of Evil (2015).  Three bullied, battered teens in Spain begin to use violence to defend themselves,but first they break into an abandoned house and find...porno magazines!  Straight ones!

I hear that there's a gay kiss later on, but star Jorge Clemente explains that his character "isn't gay."  A kiss is just a kiss.  Next!

4. Fried (2014), a British workplace comedy about the employees of a chicken restaurant in Croydon, with Matthew Cottle as the sane center of the lunacy, mostly about heterosexual dating and marriage.  Next!

5. The Ranch (2016), stars Ashton Kucher as a pro athlete who comes home after a failed football career  to run the family ranch with his older brother (Danny Masterson), while negotiating...well, their hetero-horniness.  Within the first ten minutes, Ashton runs into -- and jumps into bed with -- his old high school Girlfriend.  At least we see some Ashton Kucher chest.  Next!

6. The Lady in a Car with Glasses and a Gun (2015): ok, I know there will be a lady, a "beautiful secretary" who steals her boss's car and goes on the lam to a resort town she's never visited before, only to find that everyone knows her.  And there's a body in the trunk.  Sounds intriguing.  But it took only three minutes for me to get annoyed by the constant close-up shots of the Lady's legs and breasts, and the constant open-mouthed leers from every man who sees her.  Next!

7. Dope (2015).  A high school "geek" (Shameik Moore) tries to get into his dream school, Harvard, while negotiating drugs and crime in his hood.  Starts out nice, with Shameik Moore shirtless in bed, but then, less than a minute later, he's gazing at the Girl and discussing how much he is into her.  Next!

8. Wrecker (2015).  "Two friends on a road trip are menaced by a psychotic truck driver."  I love road rage movies like Duel, and two guys clinging to each other in terror -- there certainly should be some homoerotic buddy-bonding!  Whoops, it's two girls, or more precisely, the legs and breasts of two "hot girls."  Next!

9. Special Correspondents (2016), a Netflix comedy with two hot guys on the poster -- and no girl.  No doubt an odd-couple buddy comedy.

Nope -- journalist (Eric Bana) cracks a story by posing as a cop, and promptly sleeps with the wife of a sound technician (Ricky Gervais) who will become his partner on a road trip to Ecuador.  But I don't get that far.  Next!

10. Hibana (2016), a Japanese tv series adapting the novel Hibana (Spark), by Naoki Matayoshi, which won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize.  It's about two comedian buddies who specialize in manzai (comedic dialogues): the young, struggling Tokunaga (Kento Hayashi) and the older, established Kamiya (Kazuki Namioka).

There aren't any girls in the first episode, anyway...

Jun 9, 2016

Kenneth Anger: Experimental Homoerotic Filmmaker of the 1950s

Kenneth Anger (1927-) was an experimental filmmaker of the 1950s and 1960s, known for his surreal, chaotic imagery.  There is no spoken dialogue; instead, the actors pantomime.  The background soundtrack consists of either classical music or 1950s pop hits like "My Boyfriend's Back" and "Blue Velvet."

Anger was heavily involved in ceremonial magick of the Aleister Crowley school, and imbued his films with esoteric magickal symbolism as well as beefcake.

His homoeroticism caused celebration and censorship during the 1950s, although it seems rather tame by contemporary standards.

Fireworks (1947) is probably his most overtly homoerotic statement.  A shirtless man (Anger himself) goes cruising, tries to pick up a muscular, flexing sailor (Gordon Grey), but is bashed and killed instead.  He wakes up to discover that it was all a nightmare, but there's a naked man in bed next to him.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) is a long, complex, weird piece about a Magician summoning various magickal beings, including the Scarlet Woman, the Great Beast 666, Hecate, Isis, Astarte, Osiris, and Nero, to a psychedelic orgy that mostly involves them taking off masks, leering, and laughing.  They poison and rape the beautiful boy Pan (Paul Mathison).  We get a chest shot.

Scorpio Rising (1963) is probably his most famous film, and quite homoerotic for its time.  A group of men get dressed in motorcycle fetish gear, very slowly, while reading the comics and worshipping James Dean.  There are flashes of chest and bulge, even a few quick penises.  Then, interspliced with images of Christ and his disciples from an old religious film, they desecrate a church.

Lucifer Rising (1972) is about Aleister Crowley's prediction that we have reached a new Aeon, the Age of Horus, with new Egyptian gods taking control. There's a lot of invocation and people leering at each other.  It's of interest primarily because rocker Marianne Faithfull plays Lilith, and Bobby Beausoleil, who would participate in the Manson Family murders of 1969, is shown naked in the bathtub.

I find the juxtaposition of homoeroticism with violence, blasphemy, and the occult disturbing, keying into the myth that to be gay is to be evil.  But most artists working with gay themes during the 1950s and early 1960s made the same connection.

And Kenneth Anger is to be commended as the first openly gay filmmaker, ever, and the first to openly include homoerotic imagery, no matter what the context.

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