Feb 25, 2017

Riverdale: Archie's Pals and Gals Face Angst and Dark Secrets

You remember bucolic small-town Riverdale?  It's been a wholesome, innocent childhood haven for generations.  You can return after a year, or two years, or a decade, and still find Archie Andrews and his pals and gals (Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Jughead) failing algebra, hanging out at the soda shop, deciding who to ask to the big dance, with only occasional references to contemporary teen fads, and virtually no incursions of the angst, heartache, and turmoil of real teen life.

Recently there have been some experiments with adult themes, like a zombie apocalypse in Riverdale, or an adult Archie killed while saving his friend Kevin from an assassination attempt.  But the new Riverdale TV series.  WTF?

It's Dawson's Creek, Pretty Little Liars, Revenge, Twin Peaks, Peyton Place, and a whole lot more.  Sex, sleaze, dark secrets, and a lot of angst.

Archie (KJ Apa, above) is juggling the affections of Betty and Veronica (Lili Reinhart, Camila Mendes), as usual, but he's also having a clandestine affair with his teacher, Ms. Grundy (Sarah Habel), who is not what she seems.

Chuck Clayton (Jordan Calloway, left) and his football-team friends slut-shame Veronica, so the girls torture him in a hot tub until he apologizes.

Meanwhile, Veronica's father is being indicted for embezzlement, and her mother is having an affair.

Jughead (Cole Sprouse) is estranged from his father, the leader of the Southside Serpents, a notorious motorcycle gang.  He's writing a turgid novel with lines like: "Innocent/guilty, good/ evil, life/ death."

Kevin (Casey Cott) is dating bad boy Joaquin (Rob Raco, left), a member of said motorcycle gang, plus fooling around with bisexual good guy Moose (Cody Kearsley), who has anger issues.  This won't end well.

And what about Archie's Mom, who returns after a long absence and has a mysterious meeting with her old friends, Veronica's mom and Mayor McCoy (Robin Givens), whose daughter is the lead singer of the pop group Josie and the Pussycats, who Archie...well, never mind.

And I haven't even gotten to Reggie (Ross Butler) and Dilton (Major Curda).

But the big mystery is the murder of Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines left), brother of It-Girl Cheryl Blossom.
Kevin and Moose discovered the body.

Archie, Ms. Grundy, and Dilton heard a gunshot.

Everyone seems to have a dark secret about what happened that night.  Everyone is a suspect.


At least there's a lot of diversity.  Black, Hispanic, and Asian characters.  Gay and bisexual characters.  Jughead might even come out as asexual, as he does in the current comic version.

And there's a lot of beefcake.  The younger Riverdalians are played by the most buffed mega-hunks that can squeeze into tight jeans, and there are some recognizeable heartthrobs of yesteryear among the older generation (Luke Perry, Skeet Ulrich, Lochlyn Munro).  Even Mr. Weatherbee is played by the hunky Peter James Bryant.

But how does any of this relate to the Archie comics that we grew up with?

Where's bucolic, small-town Riverdale?

Where's the fun?

See also: More Riverdale Beefcake

Feb 24, 2017

How to Attract Twinks

Although I have been a twink magnet for years, the number varies tremendously.  On some days, every other guy under age 30 gawks at me like I'm a celebrity   On other days, I might as well be invisible: no glances, no stares, no smiles, no nothing.

As an empirical researcher, I've been experimenting to figure out the difference.  What draws the twinks, and what repels them?

The first step in a research project is defining your terms.  I defined a "cruise" as an up-and-down glance (face-crotch-face) of any duration, with the eyes slightly widened, accompanied by either a smile or a rounded mouth (a sign of surprise).

The second step is defining your subjects: who will you be experimenting on.  My subjects were all guys between 18 and 29 years old (estimated age), who were sitting, standing, or walking in a position to see my face and torso.

The third step is locating your data collection sites.  I gathered most data on campus, since I'm there all day and there are a lot of twinks around, but I also used the YMCA, the gay-friendly coffee house, the straight bar downtown, and the jogging trail that leads to the ski lodge.

The last step is collecting and analyzing your data, using percent differences, chi squares, t-tests, or regressions.  I used percent differences: what percentage of the subjects cruised?

Here are the results: my definitive list of the 12 Top Twink Turn-Ons, things that will get you noticed, cruised, and approached for hookups or dates.

1. Tight short sleeved shirts.  This one is a no-brainer.  When I was wearing a heavy winter coat, or even a leather jacket, cruising was limited.  Tight shirt, it increased by 40%.  Your pecs and biceps have to be on display.

2. Scruff.  I never grow a full beard; it doesn't come in properly.  I let the scruff grow out for a few days, then shave.  For the first three days, as the scruff grows, the cruising increases.  Then it tapers off.

3. Bright colors.  Since I have a fair complexion, I usually wear dark colors to avoid a "washed-out" look.  My wardrobe consists mostly of black, navy blue, and dark red.  But on the few occasions that I've worn my bright red or orange shirts, the cruising increases significantly.

4. A business suit.  I usually dress down, but a suit and tie, with its connotations of affluence and prestige, draws the eye.

5. Chest hair.  When I was a kid, the Mean Boys made fun of kids who buttoned the top button of their shirts.  I never do. But when I've accidentally unbuttoned two,  displaying chest hair, cruising increases by about 30%.

6. Baldness.  Sounds weird -- isn't baldness supposed to be a sign of lack of virility?  But think of all the bald hunks on tv and in the movies -- Omar Shariff, Jean-Luc Picard.  I am almost entirely bald on top -- there's just some scruff and stray hairs up there.  When I let them grow out, cruising goes down.  Shave them off -- pay dirt!

7. Morning.  The cruising rate is much higher in the morning, when the twinks are just waking up, than later in the day.  I don't know why.

8. A Smile.  In gay bars, the standard cruising pose is a frown: you represent a passion that is dark, mysterious, and dangerous, not lighthearted and frivolous.  But in the straight world, cruising is all about accessibility, and a smile makes you more accessible.

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

Feb 23, 2017

The Gay Hmong of Minnesota

When I was a kid during the Vietnam War, we learned a lot about the languages and cultures of Southeast Asia: Thai, Khmer, Vietnamese, Laotian.  My third grade teacher even taught us some Vietnamese phrases to use when we wrote to our fathers and older brothers:

How are you?  Bạn khỏe không?
Merry Christmas! Giáng sinh vui vẻ
My penis is very big.  Xúc xích của tôi  là rất lớn

Ok, maybe not that last sentence.

But we never learned about the Hmong. an ethic group in southern China, Vietnam, and Laos.  The Hmong languages, with 3.7 million speakers, are n the Hmong-Mien Family, not related to any other languages of the area.  They have seven or eight tones, not just four (as in Mandarin), and consonant configurations never found in Chinese.

Have a nice day: Thov kom koj tau txais koob hmoo tas hnub
How big is your penis?: Qau luaj lub npe hu li cas?

Hmong immigration to the U.S. began just after the Vietnam War, and continued through the 1980s.  Today there are 280,000 Hmong in the United States, concentrated in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.  10% of the population of St. Paul, Minnesota is Hmong, so many that McDonald's aimed a Hmong-language billboard at them.  Unfortunately, the text was garbled and incomprehensible.

You can take Hmong language classes at several colleges in Minnesota and Wisconsin. (Photo © University of Wisconsin).

Hmong students often excel at both academics and athletics.  There have been several Hmong All-Americans in Minnesota.

The most famous Hmong-American actor is probably Bao Vee, who starred in Grand Torino (2006).

Many Hmong are traditional, conservative, homophobic, but there has been some pro-gay progress in Hmong communities.

Shades of Yellow is a Hmong LGBT social and political organization active in Minnesota.

According to the spoof site Zaub Quab, after same-sex marriage became the law of the land, the Hmong 18 Council tried to modify the traditional wedding ceremony for "two gay guys getting married."  Instead of the traditional bride price, they would institute a grooms' price that both would have to pay because...well, because they're both dudes.

Feb 22, 2017

The Four Cassidy Brothers and the Gay-Friendly 1970s

Speaking of show business dynasties, character actor Jack Cassidy (who starred with Paul Anka in Look in Any Window) married musical theater star Shirley Jones in 1956 (they divorced in 1974).  They had three children of their own. After their divorce in 1974, Shirley Jones married comedian Marty Ingels, who helped her raise the youngest two.

1. David was born to Jack Cassidy and his first wife Evelyn Ward in 1950.  By 1970 he was starring with stepmom Shirley Jones in The Partridge Family (1970-74) and establishing himself as the top teen idol of his generation.  But he also did some tv and movie work, including his own series, David Cassidy: Man Undercover (1978-79).

2. Shaun, born in 1958, became a tv star of his own in the gay-subtext Hardy Boys Mysteries (1977-79).  He also had a teen idol career before becoming a writer, director, and producer.

3.Born in 1962, Patrick began his acting career in the anti-drug cautionary tale Angel Dusted (1981), and played gay characters twice: a West Point cadet in Dress Gray (1986), and an actor with AIDS in Longtime Companion (1989).  He is still involved in raising consciousness about AIDS.

 He's appeared in lots of other tv series and tv movies, including two versions of the Superman myth: he played the villainous Leslie Luckinbill in three episodes of Lois and Clark (1996) and Henry Small, the father of Superboy's girlfriend Lana Lang, on Smallville (2002-2003).

On stage, he got to display his physique in two renditions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  He's also been in The Music Man, Annie Get Your Gun, Camelot, and 42nd Street.

4, Ryan, born in 1966 (bottom, with his mother, Patrick, and Shaun), wasn't interested in an acting career.

But he guest starred on three episodes of The Facts of Life (1985) with Mackenzie Astin (left) which made the teen magazines go wild  -- and in the buddy-bonding Jesse Hawkes (1989) with several other celebrity kids, including Chad McQueen, Ethan Wayne, and Ramon Sheen.  Then he moved behind the scenes as a set designer.

See also: David Cassidy.

Feb 20, 2017

Wil Wheaton

Speaking of Stand by Me, Wil Wheaton became a popular teen star of the 1980s with several other starring roles, including Long Time Gone (1986), The Curse (1987), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1987), the beefcake-heavy Toy Soldiers (1991), and the World War II buddy-bonding December (1991),  which also starred fellow teen idols Balthazar Getty and Jason London.

But he was probably best known for his role as Wesley Crusher, ship doctor's kid and later ensign on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-94).  Although Wesley was obviously brought on board to draw teens into the Star Trek sequel, many fans disliked him; Memory Alpha calls him "one of the most hated characters in sci-fi."  Detractors argued that he was a pretentious know-it-all who would just glance at a view screen and come up with the answer that stumped the experienced scientists.

Besides, he wore amazingly ugly sweaters, and he turned down the opportunity to party with three hot teens on a shore leave planet ("Justice," November 9, 1987).

After The Next Generation, Wil capitalized on the hatred of Wesley Crusher by playing a series of jerks, with little or no buddy-bonding.

A football player who covers up a date rape in The Liar's Club (1993).

A Frankenstein built out of both male and female body parts in Mr. Stitch (1995).

An obnoxious, homophobic Christian bookstore manager in Fag Hag (1996).

 He also played a gay character: Marco, a participant in an AIDS charity, in Boys Night Out (1996).

More recently, Wil has been doing voice work, in animated tv series and video games.  He's also had recurring roles on The Guild, Leverage, and Eureka, and he currently plays himself as Sheldon's arch-nemesis on The Big Bang Theory. 

He's a gay ally who has blogged his support of gay marriage.

Feb 19, 2017

The Stunt Kid

Born in 1973, Andre Gower worked steadily through the 1980s, guest starring on Night Court, Knight Rider, T. J. Hooker, and Mr. Belvedere, and starring starred in several tv series, including Mr. President (1987-88) as the son of the U.S. President (George C. Scott).  He was a recurring character on The Hogan Family.  He appeared in over 100 commercials.

Interested in stunts as well as acting, he performed a high-wire act on Circus of the Stars twice, in 1983 and 1987.

And he received incessant teen magazine attention.

But Andre's most famous role was in The Monster Squad (1987), a cult classic about a group of kid monster movie fans who encounter the real Frankenstein, Dracula, and so on.  He played the leader, Sean.  Patrick (Robby Kiger) was his best friend.  The others were Rudy (Ryan Lambert, left), a teenage hunk; Horace (Brent Chalem), a fat kid; and Eugene (Michael Faustino), a little kid.

Jason Hervey of The Wonder Yearplayed a school bully.

Not a lot of buddy-bonding, but lots of dreamy teenagers for the gay kids to gaze at.  Only five or six homophobic slurs, a welcome relief in an era where preteens and teenagers in movies couldn't go a minute without broadcasting how much they hated gay people.   No discussions of girls' breasts, no gazing in awe at a girl walking in slow motion across the schoolyard.  There aren't even any lame "aren't boys horny?" jokes when they need a virgin girl to close the portal that the monsters come through.

In 1989, Andre retired from acting to go to college -- he played basketball for the University of North Carolina at Asheville.  After graduation, he has worked as a sports writer and journalist, but he still occasionally appears in front of the camera.

The Penis Sheaths of New Guinea

In tropical regions where nudity is the rule, men still find ways to draw attention to their best feature.  Among the Highland tribes of New Guinea, koteka or penis sheaths are commonly worn.

Most cover only the penis, leaving the testicles bare.

The length does not necessarily signify the social status of the wearer, or the size of the penis inside.

Some stick straight up, tied in place to emulate an erection.

The most commonly used gourd is the calabash (lagenaria siceraria).  They are hollowed out, worked to the appropriate shape, and then dried.

Smaller sheaths are used for everyday purposes.  For ceremonies, they can be as long as you want them to be.

Penis sheaths are used throughout Melanesia, and also in tropical regions of Africa and South America.  Here Siko Nathuan, head of Vanuatu Island, poses with 18-year old British student Marc Raynor, who became the stand-in for Prince Philip during his birthday celebration.  They're wearing straw penis sheathes.

The photos all show bare testicles, so I can't show them here.  You can see them on Tales of West Hollywood.

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