Sep 24, 2016

The Nude African Men Photographed by Louis Agassiz

You know Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) as the geologist who discovered evidence of past ice ages and theorized that the Earth was far older than the 6,000 or so years proposed in the Bible (although he disagreed with Darwin's theory of evolution).  He was a professor at Harvard and a lecturer at Cornell, a scientific superstar of his day, so popular that famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published two poems about him, one on his 50th birthday and one on his death:

Why, when thou hadst read Nature's mysterious manuscript, and then
Wast ready to reveal the truth it bears, Why art thou silent! Why shouldst thou be dead? 

In "The Saturday Club" (1884), Oliver Wendell Holmes reminisced that he was rather a hottie:

The great professor, strong, broad-shouldered, square,
In life's rich noontide, joyous, debonair.

Personally, I don't see the attraction.

He married twice, and had three children.  His second wife was Elizabeth Cabot, a scientist in her own right, who edited his papers and wrote a biography after his death.

During the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the statue of Agassiz at Stanford University toppled to the ground and was lodged head-first in concrete.  There's a recreation of it at Richter's Burger Company at Universal Studios Orlando.

Agassiz's reputation has soured today because of his devotion to race science, that defunct 19th century amalgam of imperialism and prejudice that claimed that some races were more physically, emotionally, and spiritually evolved than others (guess which race got to be on top?).

Agassiz even subscribed to the theory of polygenism: the races originated from different pre-human groups, and so were biologically distinct, like separate species.

To help support his theory, in 1850 he arranged for a Z. T. Zealy of Columbia, South Carolina to take photographs of local slaves: nude, full frontal, side, and rear shots.  Fifteen years later, he led an expedition to Brazil, where he photographed more slaves, frontal, side, and rear shots.

Although he disliked black people and "felt physically ill in their presence," Agassiz was delighted by what he interpreted as strong physiological differences that "proved" the two races to b different species with no common ancestor, the black far inferior to the white.

See "Black Bodies, White Science" on the U.S. Slave blog.

Today we look at these photographs with shock that anyone well-trained in the scientific method could have been so wrong, outrage that human beings were degraded in this way, and with a long-overdue erotic appreciation.

These men were strong, handsome, well-endowed, with friends and lovers whose bodies they touched, and who touched them.  From a distance of 160 years, we can look back and appreciate masculine beauty where Agassiz and his audience saw only specimens.

But how are we to know that his audience didn't look at these photographs and see men?

The nude photos are on Tales of West Hollywood.

Pat Boone, Gay Icon

It's hard to imagine, but conservative spokesperson Pat Boone was once an icon for gay kids.  In a 1959 version of the Jules Verne classic Journey to the Center of the Earth, one of a series of adaptions of Jules Verne classics which Disney made during the period, Alec (Boone) journeys into the subterranean world with his geologist uncle, Professor Lindenbrook (James Mason), their guide Hans (Peter Ronson), and a love interest for the professor (Arlene Dahl).

While minimizing plausibility (they encounter giant lizards and the ruins of Atlantis), director Henry Levin maximized beefcake. As the explorers descend, Alec doffs his clothes, and the camera forsakes closeups of his prettyboy face to concentrate on his small, firm biceps and lean, tight chest.

Soon Hans doffs his clothes, too; he is blond and beefy, considerably more defined, a veritable Tarzan.

The men spend the rest of the movie falling into pits, fleeing from lizards, almost suffocating in salt pits, and almost drowning in oceans, and consequently rescuing, grabbing, holding, and comforting each other; Alec is especially likely to require rescue, followed by cradling in Hans' strong arms. When they reach a field of giant mushrooms that will replenish their dwindling food supply, they are so delighted that they break out into a dance while the Professor's love interest stands aside, a spectator only.

Hans is not interested in girls, but Alex has a girlfriend back home, whom he marries in the last frames of the movie.  But after two hours of half-naked men grabbing, holding, and comforting each other, we could put up with a fade-out boy-girl kiss.

In real life, Pat Boone is a conservative Christian who frequently makes homophobic statements, although my friend Randall said that he was "straight but open to suggestions back in the 1950s.

See: Dick Sargent's Hookup with Pat Boone

Sep 23, 2016

Aldo Ray: The Voice, Chest, and Endowment that Wowed Old Hollywood

Aldo Ray is on my list of gay and gay-friendly people born in 1926, but I didn't know anything else about him until I started looking for photos.

He was a blond, beefy screen hunk with a deep voice and a hairy chest, who took off his shirt at the drop of a script.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1926, he served in World War II, married, and was elected Crockett, California town constable before driving his brother to an audition for Saturday's Hero (1951) and getting cast himself.

Gay director George Cukor took a special interest in Ray, and upon seeing him naked (however that happened), made him a headliner at his legendary Sunday afternoon parties, where well-endowed hunks swam naked for the enjoyment of the guests.

Later Cukor cast Ray in Pat and Mike (1952), starring screen legends Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.  Scott Bowers, the legendary trotaconventos of old Hollywood, claims that that Spencer Tracy was only one of the stars who made good use of Ray's superheroic endowment.

Somehow Ray also found the time to hang out at Henry Willson's pool parties with a stable of gay, bi, gay-for-pay, and allied beefcake stars like Farley Granger, Robert Stack, Tony Curtis, John Bromfield, and Rock Hudson.

Ray starred in many movies of the 1950s and 1960s as an assortment of gruff, taciturn bad guys, soldiers, cops, and rednecks.  Among his most famous movies:

God's Little Acre (1958), as a taciturn farmer who has an affair with future Gilligan's Island star Tina Louise.

The Naked and the Dead (1958), as a soldier killed in action after bullying Cliff Robertson.

Four Desperate Men (1959), as a police officer dealing with a hostage situation in Sydney.

Johnny Nobody (1960), as an amnesiac murderer.

Dead Heat on a Merry-Go Round (1966).  Great title, whatever it's about.

What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? (1966), an anti-Vietnam farce.

The Green Berets (1968), a pro-Vietnam farce

Typecast as gruff and gravelly-voiced, Ray faced a career decline in the 1970s.  He appeared mostly in horror movies (Death Dimension, Human Experiments, Don't Go Near the Park, Terror in the Night) and on tv as the recognizable has-been guest star (Police Story, SWAT, Marcus Welby MD, CHIPS).

Aldo Ray died of throat cancer on March 27, 1991, survived by his third wife and four children, including actor Eric DaRe (Twin Peaks).

See also: Jerry Lewis Falls in Love; Henry Willson and Gay Hollywood.

Sep 22, 2016

The 10 Hottest Small Guys

The average size the U.S. is between 5" and 6."  But everyone thinks it's about 8", so average-sized guys often feel insecure, and small guys always try to hide it.  But small ones work just like big ones

Besides, I've never met a small guy who wasn't drop-dead gorgeous.  Especially these guys, who aren't ashamed of their smallness, who highlight it, transform it into undeniable hotness.

Here are 10 of the hottest small guys I could find.

1. Beautiful face, tight hard body.

2. A twin with the classic face and physique of a Von Gloeden photograph, his limbs akimbo, one hand posed to draw our eye to the endowment of an ancient Greek statue.

3.  This Asian muscleman has his pubic hair carefully trimmed, like a window into a darkened universe, with a single light shining.

4. Radiant smile, slim body glowing with vitality, a dress shirt half off.

5. Husky, hairy, enveloped in shadow in a rocky wasteland, inviting you to work your way up.

6. This bodybuilder has a little sunburn on his chest and arms.

7.  This slim guy with the teen-idol cuteness has a nub so small you can't help but stare.  You've never seen one that small before; you want to investigate.  Which is what he intended all along.

8. A black chub who is owning his physique, bright light emphasizing his smooth round belly and the smallness beneath.

9.  Caught unaware at an event, the twink with the pale, firm body wipes off with a towel, not at all self-conscious about his smallness.

10.  An invitation to bed from a guy who has just toweled off from the shower, his arm out, waiting for your touch.

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

Sep 21, 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 

The Boys of Flipper

Flipper (1964-67),  was like Lassie or Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, except set n the Florida Everglades, with a dolphin instead of a collie or a kangaroo, and no women in sight. It seemed designed explicitly for the viewing pleasure of gay kids (your other choices on Saturday night were Jackie Gleason, for the grownups, and Shindig, for the teens).

It was about Ranger Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly), who lived in the Everglades National Park with his two sons, used boats more than cars, and didn't seem to own a shirt.

Nor dd his lithe, androgynous son Sandy Ricks (seventeen-year old Luke Halpin), who seemed to go to school once in a while, but otherwise was swimming, diving, boating, and getting into trouble.  He wore cut-off jeans that were way too tight for adequate modesty, and shrank even more whenever he got wet (which was all the time).

And can someone explain Bud Ricks (twelve-year old Tommy Norden)?  He's a kid with the pecs and abs of an adult bodybuilder.  Did they graft a 12-year old's head onto a grown-up's body, or what? (The same muscle spurt, incidentally, happened in comics to Richie Rich.)

Not that any gay kids were complaining.  Saturday night, summer or winter, was beefcake time.

 There was not a lot of buddy-bonding; Sandy and/or Bud needed rescuing a lot, but it was always Flipper who chirped to the rescue.  But -- and this was a big "but" for 1960s tv - none of the boys exhibited much heterosexual interest.  Porter and Bud, never.

Sandy had already grinned and flirted with a girl in the movie Flipper’s New Adventure (1964), yet he expressed an interest in girls during the tv series only twice. In “Love and Sandy” (1965), he has an unrequited crush on  a college girl (Cheryl Miller), and in “Cupid Flipper” (1966) he mistakenly believes that his girlfriend (Susan Abbot) is in love with his father. It was like a weekly vacation from the tedium of incessant "what girl do you like"?

There were lots of book tie-ins and toys available for the off-hours.

After a few 1970s tv appearances, such as The Mighty IsisTommy Norden retired from acting, and Brian Kelly was forced to retire in 1970 after a motorcycle accident paralyzed his right arm and leg -- he continued to produce movies like The Blade Runner (1982).  But Luke Halpin had a long career on television and in movies like Island of the Lost (1967) and  If It's Tuesday, This Must be Belgium (1969).  

See also: Flipper Toys

Sep 18, 2016

How "I'm Coming Out" Became a Gay Anthem

I'm coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show

How can this not be a gay anthem?

You're leaving behind the years of darkness and despair, the big lie that your parents, friends, teachers, and the media have told you, that you do not exist, or if you do, you are a dangerous, deviant sinner.

You exist.  You are not a dangerous, deviant sinner. You have survived.  And now you want the world to know.

There's a new me coming out
And I just had to live, and I want to give
I'm completely positive
That I am coming out!

"I'm Coming Out" was written in 1979 by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rogers of the disco group Chic ("Le Freak").  They were actually straight, but often went to gay clubs, and one night at the GG Barnum Room they saw some drag queens impersonating Diana Ross.  They thought a song about the gay community would be a positive addition to her new album, Diana.

Disco queen Diana Ross was already a legend, with ten albums, a string of hit singles, and starring roles in Mahogany and The Wiz.  But she was also a conservative Christian who thought gay people were all evil and going to hell.

During a 1983 concert, she reportedly complained: "I have seen the evils of homosexuality; AIDS is the result of your sins."  Later she denied making the statement, blaming it on a misquote by a reporter.

But in 1979 she balked at the idea of a song about gay people.  "People will think I'm gay!  Why are you trying to ruin my career"?

So Edwards and Rogers told her it was about the "coming out" tradition of young girls who are ready to enter adult society.  And that's what she believed.

"I'm Coming Out" premiered in September 1980, and quickly moved up the charts to the #5 position on pop charts in the U.S..  Meanwhile, the gay community embraced the song.  What gay person in the 1980s didn't use it as a coming out anthem?

Diana Ross continues to be oblivious, insisting that the song is about "coming out" into society, although she has become more tolerant of her gay fans.  She says "I don't judge."

In 2007, her son Evan Ross landed a role in the movie Life Support as a HIV+ gay man, and was worried that his mother would be upset -- but only because the character smoked.

Chris Dickerson: The First Gay Black Bodbuilder

During the 1960s, bodybuilding was primarily the domain of white working-class men.  Female, black, and Asian bodybuilders were rare.  Segregation was still in place throughout the American South, making the logistics of competition difficult, and even in the more "liberal" North, racism was rampant, coloring competition judging.

But Chris Dickerson overcame the culture of racism and began breaking records.

Born in 1939, he began competing in the 1960s, and became the first African-American to win Junior Mr. USA (1966), Mr. California (1967),  and Mr. America (1967, 1970), and one of the first to win Mr. Olympia (1979, 1980, 1982).

He was also the first openly gay professional bodybuilder, coming out during the 1970s.

And in 1982, he was 43, the oldest Mr. Olympia in history.

That's a lot of barriers to break.

Sadly, he found little mainstream fame -- no advertising contracts, only a few tv appearances.

But the gay community loved him.

Chris worked as a physique model beginning in the 1960s,  and in the 1970s and 1980s made the rounds of all the physique magazines, including Muscle and Fitness.  Here he is posing on the cover of an Arabic bodybuilding magazine.

There are many nude photos, of course, including some for Colt Studios.

Today Chris is retired, living in Florida, and writing his memoirs.
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