May 27, 2017

Pro Wrestling's Gay Villains

My brother was a big fan of pro wrestling.  He bought lots of magazines with pictures of beefy men in tight shorts pummelling each other.  He watched the WWWF (which stood for World Wide Wrestling Federation)  on Saturday afternoons, and rooted for his favorite wrestlers. And if ever you were to suggest that it was a performance, a fake, he would slam you to the floor and put you into a triple headlock-double Nelson-whatever  on the living room floor.

WWWF wrestlers came in two categories: "The Babyface," handsome, charismatic, extremely muscular, with an obvious bulge in his spandex: Bruno Sammartino, Chief Jay Stronghold, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat (left), Tony Parisi.  He played fair and square and usually won the match.

And "The Heel," not particularly attractive (although just as muscular), who cheated and used illegal moves, but usually lost anyway.

Sometimes he was a foreigner who riled the crowd with anti-American insults: Nikolai Volkoff, Stan Stasiak, The Iron Sheik, Kevin Von Erich (left).

But often he was a narcissistic fop who riled the audience with his flashy clothes, flamboyant gestures, and air of "degenerancy"

Jesse the Body Ventura wore a pink suit with a yellow boa

Adrian Adonis, who wore makeup, pomaded his hair, and minced and limp-wristed into the ring.

Johnny B. Badd, who wore makeup (including lavender lipstick), a lavender boa, and various gay-pride rainbow colors.

Prettyboy Pat Patterson, who wore lipstick and carried a pink poodle.

These were nearly the only images of "gay" people you could see on tv in the 1970s.

The gay-stereotype heel character was invented by George Wagner, ring name Gorgeous George (1915-1963), a wrestling staple of the 1940s and 1950s.  He had long, expertly coiffed blond hair and wore a lavender robe with sequins. Before each fight, he sprayed the ring with perfume, "Chanel #10."

His valet carried a gigantic mirror so he could check his appearance, keying into the myth of the gay man as narcissist.

 His ability to rile the audience into a homophobic rage made him the most famous wrestler in history, especially when the sport moved into television.

The characters weren't really "supposed" to be gay, or they would never have been allowed near a wrestling ring.  The gay-stereotype "hints" were enough to draw the homophobia of the audience, and elicit triumphant war-whoops whenever they were pummelled.

May 25, 2017

Sub-Mariner: Marvel Beefcake Comic

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I liked Harvey, Disney, and sometimes Archie comics, but I usually skipped Marvel.  Who had the time or money to keep track of story lines that extended over a hundred issues and crossed over into a dozen titles?

But I made an exception for Sub-Mariner.  Who could pass up a physique like this?

Namor the Sub-Mariner actually premiered in 1939 in Timely Comics, the predecessor of Marvel, as a villain, a prince of Atlantis seeking revenge on the upper world by trying to sink th island of Manhattan.

Soon he was rehabilitated, and teamed up with another villain turned hero, the Human Torch, to fight in World War II.  They often rescued each other, or flew to the rescue of Torch's teen sidekick Toro.

For some reason, Namor never got a teen sidekick.  Instead, he gets a girlfriend, intrepid police officer Betty Dean.  But his interactions with the Torch provided enough gay subtexts.

After the War, he disappeared.  He returned in Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962), when the new Human Torch finds him living in the Bowery, a homeless derelict.

Namor discovers that his homeland of Atlantis has been destroyed, and returns to being a villain for a few guest spots.  When he got his own title, from 1968 to 1973, he was back to being a hero again.

The 1960s-1970s Namor was not a popular character -- he was cold, even cruel, so he didn't team up well with other superheroes.  Besides, he kept falling in love with women.  What boy wanted to read about hetero-romance?

But I never really paid much attention to the stories-- they were incomprehensible anyway, full of references to plotlines and characters from a dozen years ago and other titles.  You needed a chart to keep track of it all.  I was mostly in it for the beefcake.

And there was a lot of it.

May 24, 2017

How Intimate is Your Sex Life?

We have sex for many reasons:

To express erotic desire.

To experience beauty

To boost our self esteem

To be polite

For recreation

To establish and maintain intimacy.

Intimacy: that feeling of intense closeness, of opening not only your body but your soul, is essential for starting and maintaining a romantic relationship, the only way to distinguish friends and roommates from lovers.

These are sexual acts rated on a scale of 1 (least intimate) to 10 (most intimate).

To determine the intimacy of your sex life, score yourself for each of these acts that you engaged in with a partner during the last week, then divide by the number of sessions.

For instance, if you had five sessions last week, twice as as an anal top, three times as an oral bottom, three times as an oral top, and and one interfemoral, your score is 6.0

But, if you had five sessions last week, all involving kissing, plus twice as an anal bottom and three times as an oral bottom, your score is 12.8.

Note:  They are rated on intimacy only, not on other ways to judge a sexual act, such as skill required, degree of erotic stimulation provided, and facility at producing an orgasm.

Anal Top.  2

Anal Bottom.  4

BDSM Bottom.  5

BDSM Top.   5

Frottage. 3

Interfemoral. 7

Kissing.  10

Oral Bottom.  2

Oral Top.  4

The full post, with nude photos and explicit descriptions, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: The Ins and Outs of Oral Sex

Who Killed Cock Robin: The Only Gay Nursery Rhyme

When I was a kid in the 1960s, I liked science fiction, like The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree, but I hated fairy tales, and I especially hated nursery rhymes.

Most of them made no sense: who would bake  blackbirds into a pie?  Who keeps a lamb as a pet?  And what the heck is a tuffet?

Those that made sense (sort of) were entirely heterosexist.  Jack and Jill go walking up that hill hand-in-hand.  Jack Sprat and his wife have the disgusting habit of licking dinner plates. Some kid named Georgie likes to kiss girls.

The only one I could stand was "Who Killed Cock Robin?", which like most nursery rhymes, was intended to teach Medieval children about death.  It's not actually a mystery -- a Sparrow confesses to the murder in the first line -- and the rest of the poem involves various birds offering to sew his shroud, dig the grave, build the coffin, and so on.

What I liked about it:

1. I didn't learn the British meaning of the word "cock" (a male bird) until much later, so it was amazing to hear about a bird named after a penis.

2. I could even get away with asking my Dad to "read me the nursery rhyme about the cock."

3. The illustration in my nursery rhyme book showed a muscular male killer, not a sparrow.

4. One of my first "British Invasion" tv programs was the episode "Who Killed Cock Robin?" on Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), about a pair of swinging detective buddies (Mike Pratt, Kenneth Cope), one a ghost.

5. An episode of Matinee at the Bijou in the 1970s featured a murder mystery entitled Who Killed Cock Robin (1938).  It starred the handsome Charles Farrell, who would go on to play the dad in My Little Margie in the 1950s.  I didn't know it at the time, of course, but Farrell was: a former nude physique model; and rumored to be gay.

6. The nursery rhyme is reputedly about William II, the King of England, who was gay.  He was shot with an arrow by Walter Tyrell, probably his lover, while hunting in the New Forest on August 2, 1100.  In The Golden Bough,  Sir James Frazier argues that his death was no accident, but a sacrifice to the Old Gods in a remnant of an ancient fertility rite.

See also: The Joy of Saying "Cock"

May 23, 2017

Tatar Boys

Tell me you're not fascinated by the history of the Tatars: the heirs of Genghis Khan, the Golden Horde that conquered western Asia in the 13th century and invaded Russia, establishing the Khanate of Kazan, the Khanate of Crimea, and the Khanate of Astrakhan,

They are now scattered across Russia and Central Asia, in the Republic of Tatarstan, in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, in the Crimean Peninsula, in Astrakhan, in Siberia.

There are 7 million speakers of Tatar languages, which belong to the Kipchak family. They are related to Turkish, but not mutually intelligible.

English: I have a big sausage.
Turkish: Büyük bir sosisim var
Tatar: Menem zur kazilik.

Penis, by the way, is kutak.

Tatars are mostly Muslim, so it will be circumcized.

Some famous people of Tatar ancestry include actor Charles Bronson, dancer Rudolph Nureyev, and Olympic weightlifter Ruslan Nurudinov.  My friend Yuri claims to be a descendant of Genghis Khan, but his grandfather is Kazakh, not Tatar.

When Russia annexed the Republic of Crimea in 2014, its draconian anti-gay laws went into effect.  Crimean Tatars were already being subjected to discrimination by the Russian and Ukrainian majority, so many gay Tatars fled the country, to Turkey, Britain, and the United States.

There are about 7,000 Tatars in the United States

Yes, tartar sauce is named after them: it comes from the French sauce tartare

But not steak tartare (raw hamburger); that was originally called steack à l'Americaine, served with tartar sauce; thus steak tartar.

I suggest asking your Tatar date out for Chinese instead.

May 22, 2017

Nancy: Lesbian Panic in a 1950s Comic Book

The cheesecake comic strip Fritzi Ritz premiered in 1922, with gags involving the aspiring model and her series of boyfriends, notably the nerdish Phil Fumble.  And a lot of sex jokes.

In 1933, Fritzie took in her orphaned niece, Nancy, a mischievous and rather melodramatic child.  Soon Nancy became the star -- the titular character in 1938 -- and acquired a series of friends and antagonists, including poor boy Sluggo.  Fritzie became mostly-absent parental figure.

Nancy has remained in print ever since. In contemporary strips, written by Guy Gilchrist, Fritzie is in her 50s and works as a music reviewer.

Nancy appeared in several issues of Dell Four Color and Dell Giants, and got her own title in 1957 (numbered #146 for some reason).

When John Stanley retired from the Little Lulu comic book,, he went to work on Nancy, writing all of the stories in issues #162  through #173, and then the renamed Nancy and Sluggo through #185 (1961).

Stanley specialized in the terrors and anxieties of childhood, and in Nancy's world  he goes unbrindled. The result is disturbing, sometimes painful to read.

Fritzie is at best neglectful, and sometimes downright abusive.

Nancy is jealous, spiteful, vindictive, petty, and vain.

Sluggo lives alone in an abandoned house and often goes hungry, unless Nancy agrees to feed him.

They are not friends, like Lulu and Tubby; they are dating, adding dark humor to their interactions as Stanley hints about just how physical they have become.

Neither has other friends, just antagonists and enemies who ridicule, criticize, manipulate, and harass them.

Sluggo has an adult nemesis who literally intends to kill him.

And the weird physical manipulations that, in Little Lulu, happened in stories, here happen in real interactions with the yoyos, who will transform you permanently unless you trick them into letting you go.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of the yoyos are the adults who fall into their trap, and spend their entire lives transformed, until, in old age, Nancy rescues them.

To top it off, there's Oona Goosepimple, who looks like Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family comics, an orphan (that's three of the regular cast).  She lives in a spooky old house with her usually absent grandmother.  Other relatives usually appear, as threats.

One uncle is a giant, lying asleep in the basement.  If he ever awakens, his movements will bring down the house.  So Grandma keeps him drugged.

Nancy dislikes the "creepy" Oona, and rejects all of her overtures of friendship -- but finds herself drawn unwillingly to the house anyway.

She is invited to a party, but arrives to discover that she is the only guest.

Oona pushes Nancy to eat cookies, play games, and spend the night.

Nancy tries to refuse, but can't help herself.

A weird compulsion to spend the night with a creepy girl, or eat the forbidden fruit.

During the 1950s, gay men and lesbians were portrayed as expert seducers, pulling innocents unwillingly into their "deviance."

Just another of the horrors of Nancy's world.

See also: Little Lulu

May 21, 2017

Tom of Finland

When I was in grad school in Bloomington, Indiana in the early 1980s, I used to buy a gay porn magazine at College Avenue Books:  In Touch for Men, which featured not only pictures of naked men, but articles on gay history and culture, dating tips, movie reviews, and even comics.

I was particularly drawn to a series of non-verbal, single-panel comics featuring macho icons like bikers, cops, lumberjacks, and cowboys, impossibly muscular and impossibly well endowed, interacting with each other.  Aggressive, athletic, and masculine, they were a sharp contrast to the contemporary mass media depictions of gay men as soft, willowy sissies.

They all had the same "look": they had wavy hair, Castro Clone moustaches, long faces, and square jaws.  They were always smiling, enjoying every moment of their lives.

There were occasional romantic or humorous moments, but mostly the comics were about sex.  Not the furtive, guilty sex of the 1960s tea rooms -- this was bold, aggressive, joyful, in public, in full view of passersby, who, more often than not, would ask to join in.

There was no homophobia in this world, but not much gay culture, either. Not many gay rights marches or meetings of the Gay Activists Alliance, not a lot of scenes set on Christopher Street.  Impossibly muscular, impossibly well endowed men interacted in police stations, gas stations, army barracks, tattoo parlors, in the woods.  It was a raw, primal world of same-sex desire.  I had never seen anything like it.

The artist was Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), who began publishing drawings in the early Physique Pictorial in the 1950s.  By 1973, he had become so famous that he was able to quit his job in advertising and devoted himself full-time to his art.  He published in In Touch, Mandate, the Meatmen series of gay comic anthologies, and eventually in comic-book length (but wordless) tales of Kake, a gay man on the prowl.

By the time I discovered him, in the 1980s, Tom was falling out of favor.  His work was not political enough, ignored homophobia and AIDS, and portrayed gay men as obsessed with sex.  Besides, it set the bar for male beauty impossibly high, ruining the self-esteem of those who didn't fit his rigid standards of age, size, and body type.  

Ok, but sometimes you just want to look at hot guys.

Today Tom has been rediscovered.  There are retrospectives of his work in museums in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, and Helsinki.   You can buy Tom of Finland books, dolls, and a cologne.  In September 2014, Finland released a series of postage stamps featuring iconic Tom's men.

See also: Sean and the World of Gay Leathermen; The Mystery of Cavelo; and Gay Comics of the 1980s.
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