Apr 14, 2017

The French Moroccan on my Sausage List

I used to go to Europe every year.  A spring break jaunt beginning at the Louvre and ending with the Horseman's Club in Amsterdam, or a more extensive summer tour of France, Germany, or Estonia.

But Visiting Assistant Professors are on the job market a lot, and after 10 interviews involving 40 flights nearly every spring, I didn't have the stomach for more long lines, sardine-packed cabins, delays, cancellations, and putting my toiletries into baggies.  Besides, I had to save my money for the 6-hour drive to the nearest gay neighborhood.

My last trip was in the summer of 2007: three days visiting Yuri in London, three days in Paris, and then a quest for Breton men.

Breton is a Celtic language, similar to Welsh and Irish.  Denigrated by the French government for centuries, it was losing speakers fast, down from a million in 1950 to about 300,000, mostly elderly and rural.  You could see it in street and metro signs in Rennes, but I had never heard it spoken.

So I rented a car and drove four hours to Saint-Brieuc, where I spent the night.  The next day, up the coast to Plouzec, Paimpol, and Treguier.  Overnight again.  Then to Rennes, Paris, back to London, and home.

It was a bust.  A lot of cute guys, but all speaking French.  I even tried saying "Mat an traou!" to shopkeepers and gas station attendants and a teenager on the beach, but they responded in French.

But I did get cruised at the Ernest Renan House.

In addition to being the heart of Brittany, Treguier is the birthplace of philosopher Ernest Renan, who caused a scandal by writing The Life of Jesus (1863), asserting that Jesus was not a divine being.

There's a statue of him in the town square, being lauded by the Goddess Athena.  When it was first installed in 1903, townsfolk rioted, thinking that it was criticizing Catholicism.

When I was touring the Renan House, a short, studious looking guy in his twenties, dark skinned, bearded, kept looking at me with obvious "cruisy" intent.  Finally I approached him.

He looked North African, not Breton, but hoping, I said "Mat an traou!"

"The Jews are a cancer eating away at other nations," he replied in French.

My mouth dropped in shock.  Had I understood him properly?  What kind of pick-up line was that?  "Les juifs...quoi....?" I began.  "My French isn't good...."

Grinning, he switched to English.  "That's what Renan taught.  Also, that the Jews of the Bible are not related to the Jews of modern Europe.  Isn't it a tragedy that a national hero of France was so anti-Semitic?"

"I had no idea..."

"What a pity that many Frenchmen are still prejudiced against Jews."  He held out his hand.  "I'm Farshad." (Not his real name.)

The rest of the story, with nude photos and sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Apr 12, 2017

The Gong Show

During the late 1970s, every commentator who wanted an illustration of the end of civilization and the rise of barbarism used The Gong Show (1976-80).

Actually, similar contests were performed as early as Vaudeville, where performers tried to avoid getting "the hook" and being dragged offstage.

Here performers tried to win the approval of the three celebrity judges and avoid getting "gonged" (told to leave).  The performer with the most points at the end of the episode won a trophy and a prize.

Some performers who later became famous include Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman), Danny Elfman, and Andrea McCartle.  Stanley Williams, founder of the Crips gang, who was later executed for murdering four people, did a bodybuilding act.

But the fun was in watching the bad acts, in the same way that today, we prefer watching the horrifyingly bad performances to good performances on American Idol. 

Remember, this was the late 1970s, an era of recreational sex, casual drug use, disco dancing, and silly jokes, an era of fun and frivolity.  What was the harm in laughing at bad performances?

There were also recurring features, such as appearances by the Unknown Comedian, aka Murray Langston, who appeared with a bag over his head (in the top photo, he also has a bag over his penis).

The Gong Show Movie (1980) purports to be a week in the life of the Gong Show, with Chuck Barris playing himself, negotiating with outrageous contestants, censored acts, and miscellaneous craziness.

Many recognizable faces of the 1970s appeared, including Ed Marinaro, Rosie Grier, Tony Randall, and Danny DeVito.   There was female nudity, of course, but also ample beefcake.

Apr 11, 2017

Aida: Nubian Beefcake Musical

Aida is a favorite musical in high school and college drama departments.  With music by Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice, a  source in an opera by Giuseppe Verdi, and a setting in ancient Egypt that begs for beefcake, where can you go wrong?

A lot of places.

First, the heterosexism is unrelenting.  Hetero-love is the guiding principle of the universe, the meaning of life, able to transcend time and space, etc., etc., yawn.

Second, the plot is staggeringly complex.  Everybody is in love with several people at once (all male-female, of course).

Aida is a Nubian princess captured and sent into slavery, where she becomes the servant of the Egyptian princess Amneris, and draws the attention of Amneris' fiance Radames. Meanwhile, the Nubian servant Mereb catches her attention.

Aida become the leader of a Nubian slave revolt, and also uncovers a secret plot to poison the Pharaoh.

Third, everybody dies.  I hate movies where everybody dies, and I hate musicals where everybody dies even more.  Mereb is stabbed to death.  Aida and Radames are buried alive; ok, they return four thousand years later in a modern-day man and woman looking at exhibits at an Egyptian museum, but still....

Fourth, the lyrics are awful.  Listen to Mereb singing "How I Know You":
I grew up in your hometown, at least began to grow
I hadn't got to my first shave before the body blow
Egyptians in the courtyard, my family in chains
You witnessed our abduction, which possibly explains
How I know you, how I know you
Before that fateful morning, my family enjoyed
A privileged existence, for my father was employed
As advisor to the King no less, which surely rings a bell
For as your are his daughter, you probably can tell

What's a body blow?  What kind of dumb rhyme is chains/explains?   Give me a break

That leaves the beefcake.  Egyptians and Nubians have to be shirtless, right?

Yes, but only the guards and other extras.  The main cast of high-caste Egyptian royalty wear bicep and pec-covering robes.

Still, Nubians were black, so in the U.S., there's a great deal of African-American beefcake among those extras.

And Mereb, the Nubian slave boy, sometimes gets to show some chest.

Or not.  I know this Mereb is fully clothed, but Joel Miller has a nice chest and a handsome face, and when are you ever going to see him again?

Maybe at an Egyptian museum in your next life.

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