Jan 12, 2017

Slim Goodbody

When I was a kid, I had a toy called "The Visible Man."  It was a model of a man with no skin.  You had to assemble the skeleton and put all of the organs in place (sadly, no penis), I guess to teach you anatomy.

During the 1970s, actor John Burstein got the idea of becoming a human "Visible Man."  He painted muscles and organs onto a leotard, and as Slim Goodbody, set out to teach kids about anatomy.

As you can see, the effect was rather disgusting, and the guy had no physique.  But at least he sported a rather noticeable bulge.

There are actually several different suits, with different organs and muscles on display.

Slim Goodbody struck a nerve with parents looking for educational programming, and soon he was appearing on the morning kidvid Captain Kangaroo twice a week.

He branched out from anatomy to nutrition, exercise, and personal hygiene, and eventually to such hot topics as bullying and environmentalism.

 In 1980 he got his own PBS series, Inside Story.  Plus he appeared in a series of books and educational films.

Slim became so busy that, for seven years, there were two of him.  While John Burstein concentrated on the tv series, actor and mime Bill Bowers played Slim Goodbody at schools, hospitals, and public events.

Burstein still performs as Slim Goodbody all over the United States and Canada.

Though outrageously fey in his Slim persona, Burstein is straight.  Bowers is gay.

Jan 11, 2017

Edvard Munch's Male Nudes

Most people know Norwegian painter Edvard Munch (1863-1944) from The Scream (1893), the expressionistic portrait of an agonized figure under an orange sky.  When I was in West Hollywood, you could get Scream t-shirts, masks, and blow-up dolls.

But Munch had a long career in Paris of the Belle Epoque, Berlin, and Kristiania (now Oslo).  He experimented with many styles, and produced a huge opus.

Including many male nudes.

Men in the Sea (1908).

He painted female nudes, too, but the homoerotic power behind his nude male groups is undeniable.

Men in a Swimming Pool (1923)

Munch never married or established any long-term relationship that we know of, and was plagued by alcoholism and mental illness throughout his life.  A few months after completing his monumental "Ages of Man" (1907-08), which depicts 12 naked men on the beach, he attempted suicide and was admitted to a "nerve clinic."

Sounds like a tortured, closeted gay man of the era of Krafft-Ebing and Hirschfeld.

Jan 9, 2017

The Top 10 Hunks of "Spartacus"

Spartacus (111-71 BC) was a gladiator who led a slave revolution that threatened the Roman Republic.  Although there's no evidence that he was fighting against slavery as an institution, he's been portrayed as a freedom fighter ever since.

And as a muscleman on a par with Hercules.

Here are the top screen hunks who put their biceps to work at Spartacus.

1. Mario Ausonia played Spartaco in a 1913 Italian silent version.

2. Kirk Douglas became the iconic Spartacus in the 1960 version, with Sir Laurence Olivier as Crassus, and the famous "oysters/snails" gay reference.

3. John Heston (Giovanni di Benedetto) starred in the peplum Spartacus and the Ten Gladiators (1964).

4. In 1970, the British spoof Up Pompeii!  had an episode with a slave uprising led by Spartacus (Shaun Curry, not shown).

5. Goran Visnijic played a rather less than buffed version in a 2004 tv movie.

More after the break.

Jan 8, 2017

The Ice Storm: The Most Hetero-Phobic Movie Ever

The Netflix blurb of The Ice Storm (1997) said something about "hidden secrets coming out during Thanksgiving," and the director was Ang Lee of Brokeback Mountain, so I ordered it, expecting gay chararacters.

It's the 1970s, see?  We know because the tv is always in the background, showing us Richard Nixon, MASH, Room 222, The Green Hornet, Time Tunnel, and Divorce Court.

And there are these rich white heterosexual couples in New Canaan, Connecticut (Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Henry Czerny, Jamey Sheridan, Kate Burton).  I can't tell them apart, but it doesn't matter: they're all identical in every way.  They drink, abuse prescription drugs, shoplift, argue, and have sex with random people, whether they like them or not.

The sex is dreadful.  They insult each other, they feel guilty and start crying, or they get bored and leave halfway through.

They go to a key party, where the husbands put their car keys in a bowl, and each wife picks one of the sets at random and has to go home with whoever it belongs to.  Grim, set-faces, deer-in-headlights stares.  No one wants to do it, but they feel they must to be accepted in Stepford...um, I mean New Canaan.

Somehow they have time for Thanksgiving dinner before going back to the booze, sex, and angst.

There are also teenage kids around.  I don't know which belongs to which family, but at least I can tell them apart -- there's Frodo, Spiderman, Wednesday Addams, and Kid Brother (Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Adam Hann-Byrd), plus a couple in New York.

They're identical to their parents in every way.  They drink, use prescription drugs, shoplift, blow things up, listen to their parents argue, and obsessively try to have sex.  They never actually get sex -- one of them starts screaming, or passes out, or a parent discovers them and erupts in hypocritical rage.  But one senses that, if they did have sex, it would be horrible.

Spiderman sort-of narrates with over-intellectual, absurdly pretentious voiceovers:

"Your family is the void you emerge from, and the place you return to when you die. And that's the paradox: The closer you are drawn back in, the deeper into the void you go."

Read that over for a moment.  It's not a paradox at all.  "The closer you are drawn into the [void that is your family], the deeper into the [void that is your family] you go."

And there's an ice storm.  The streets are a mess, so stay inside.  Wouldn't you know it, this is the exact time that they all decide to rush out of the house in a huff, drive drunk, get on a train, and walk down the ice-encrusted road by the ocean, contemplating suicide.

You know someone is going to die.  Actually,by this point, you're hoping they all die, and get some relief from their horrible lives.

Not a lot of gay interest.  A little beefcake: some chests of random guys who are trying to have sex.

No gay characters, subtexts, or references, except for a "fag" yelled at a kid who can't catch a football.

But this is the most hetero-phobic film I've ever seen.  Heterosexuals lead desperate, tragic lives, and their sexual practices are utterly unfulfilling.  It's like a straight Boys in the Band.

The Ice Storm was based on a novel by Rick Moody (apt name!)
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