Jun 23, 2017

Bob Morley and His Posse

While looking for "Bob Marley" on google, I came across this photo of Bob Morley and his posse frolicking in the sun.

I never heard of any of them before, but it turns out that they're mostly starring in The 100 (2014-2018), about juvenile delinquents sent to a dead Earth to repopulate it

And they all either play gay characters, or are gay in real life, or both.

Bob Morley, in the middle, is a 32-year old Australian actor who has starred in Home and Away and Neighbours.(where he played a gay character).

In Lost in the White City (2014), he plays Avi, an Israeli soldier who has a 3-way relationship with artists Kyle and Eva.

He doesn't like appearing shirtless on screen or otherwise being treated like "a piece of meat."

English model turned actor Rick Whittle, age 35, played gay characters on Holby City and The 100.   He is currently starring as Shadow Moon in the series American Gods.

Straight in real life, but at least he doesn't mind being treated like a piece of meat.

32-year old Sachin Sahel and 25-year old Richard Harmon play a gay couple on The 100.  They neither confirm nor deny that they're dating in real life, but they're definitely bromantic partners.

Toby Levin is from Illinois, and majored in drama and Spanish from Bennington College.  He isn't on The 100, but he had a recurring role as a gay guy on Empire, and in 2012 he was passing out Empire swag in the New York Gay Pride Parade.  He likes guys with beards

The Homophobic Small-Town Manhattan of "Friends"

Friends (1994-2004) was set in the same intimate, "small town" Manhattan as Seinfeld.  But it lacked the New York color -- it could have been set in any big city -- not to mention the witty dialogue, interesting minor characters, and intricately connected plotlines.

And while Seinfeld was mostly heterosexist, assuming that gay people did not exist (except for a few homophobic episodes), Friends knew about the existence of gay people.  And was scared stiff.

It was about six heterosexual young adults who hung out together to commiserate over their terrible jobs -- though they still managed to afford huge apartments in Manhattan -- and terrible love lives -- though the women still managed to date a never-ending stream of chiseled hunks, including Adam Baldwin, Tom Selleck, and Brad Pitt.

The friends differed in personality, class background, socioeconomic status.

Upper class:
Neurotic, easily-befuddled Chandler (Matthew Perry), who worked as a statistician.
Former spoiled rich kid Rachel (Jennifer Anniston), who lost her silver spoon and worked as a waitress.

Middle class:
Nebbish paleontologist Ross (David Schwimmer, left), who had a crush on Rachel in high school.
His sister Monica (Courtney Cox), formerly fat and unpopular, now a control freak caterer.

Lower class:
Italian-American stereotype Joey (Matt Leblanc, top photo), a muscular but dimwitted aspiring actor.
Ditsy Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), who worked as a masseuse, and had an equally ditsy brother (Giovanni Ribisi).

Eventually they paired off into Chandler-Monica and Rachel-Ross.  Joey and Phoebe stayed unattached.

Gay people intrude in a number of episodes, as problems to be solved:

Chandler is horribly embarrassed by the fact that his Dad is a drag queen.
Ross's ex-wife is "now" a lesbian, and actually intends to "marry" her girlfriend.
Ross is horrified when his male student comes on to him.

But more common, in nearly every episode, is the men's homophobia -- a literal fear of gay people.

Tijara Mamula has uploaded a remix, "Homophobic Friends," with the highlights of the homophobic and transphobic jokes that form a constant undertow to the series.

Turns out that friendship itself is problematic.

If a guy has male friends, people think "he likes guys, he's gay."
If he has female friends, people think "he's like a woman, he's gay."

Chandler, Ross, and Joey are each mistaken for gay at various points in the series.  To gales of audience laughter.  To be thought gay is second worst humiliation possible.

The worst humiliation: to really be gay.  So the guys often criticize each other, and the other male characters, for acting "too gay."  They police the slightest gender-atypical behavior, horrified that signifies some inner gayness that must be stopped before it grows like a malignant tumor and destroys them.

Ross didn't know that his wife was a lesbian!  He must be gay!

Joey and Chandler hug!  They must be gay!

While on a ride-along, Ross refers to himself as the cop's "partner."  He must be gay!

So much for the cozy, small-town Manhattan of Friends.

But it gets worse: An incredibly homophobic joke in the first season turned a million gay fans away from the series forever.

See also: Homophobia on "Friends": This Time It's Serious.; and Giovanni Ribisi

Jun 22, 2017

Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

On winter afternoons in fourth or fifth grade, I was stuck in the house listening to my kid brother's Disney record.

He loved that darn thing, and played it over and over and over.  It was a small house, so there was no place to escape from the torture.

It begins with "From all of us to all of you, a very Merry Christmas," a song I've never heard anywhere else.  Then we get some non-Christmas stories:

1. Little Black Sambo, who has a New York accent: "All the tigahs have turned into buttah!"

2. Scrooge McDuck ships his money to the moon for safekeeping.

3. Winnie the Pooh, a fat, stupid bear with a chalkboard-grating voice, braves a natural disaster that floods his home.  Winnie is a girl's name, and "pooh" means feces, and it only goes downhill from there.  

Later I found that the nightmare-inducing hell-voice came from the evil Sterling Holloway (1904-1992), who also voiced the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland and Kaa the Snake (who hypnotizes and tries to eat Mowgli in The Jungle Book).

I've been blessedly spared the Disney movies, but in school I had the original books inflicted on me.  They are the diabolical work of A.A. Milne (1882-1956), who began his degradation and despair in poetry collected in When We Were Very Young (1924).

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

The teacher expected 10 year olds raised on a diet of Lost in Space, Star Trek, and Magnus Robot Fighter to read this?  And like it?  Really?

But the main atrocity, the Pooh Demon, comes from stories originally published in St. Nicholas, Punch, and other magazines before settling down into two books, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House on Pooh Corner (1928).

 They star Milne's son,  Christopher Robin Milne, and his coterie of toy and real animals:  Rabbit; Owl (very creative names); Kanga and Roo (mother and child kangaroos); Piglet; Eeyore (a donkey), and the titular Winnie  (although Milne's teddy bear was actually named Edward).

The later book introduces Tigger (a tiger spelled wrong).

The short adventures generally involve Christopher Robin's demonic minions misunderstanding things.  For instance, when he writes a note explaining that he'll be back soon, his demonic minions misinterpret "Backson" as a person, conclude that he has been kidnapped, and mount a daring rescue operation.

Or Eeyore the clinically depressed donkey loses his tail in the woods. Owl finds it, thinks it's a doorbell, and takes it home.  Not to worry, he gives it up without a fuss, and Christopher Robin nails it on.

The beings all have separate houses in the 100 Acre Woods, based on the 500 Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex (100 acres is .15 miles, so about a block and a half square).  It's mostly not woods at all, but swampy fields and dreary sandpits, and a river full of boulders and "rox."   Nice.

The gender-bending "Winnie," with his rather obvious lack of sex organs, has raised the ire of the city council of Tuszyn, Poland, which banned him for being transgender or "a hermaphrodite."

Some internet pundits try to make Piglet into a gay character due to his sense of style and interest in flower arranging -- and desire to see Christopher Robin naked.

But I find no gay subtexts in the books.  Although the characters are all male, except for Kanga, and there is no hetero-romance, no one lives together.  They are isolated individuals, not domestic partners like Toad and Rat in The Wind in the Willows.

And there's no permanence.  Gay subtexts have partners walking off into the sunset together, but the Pooh books are informed by a disturbing transience.  This will all end.  Christopher Robin will learn to spell "rocks," not "rox," write "back soon," not "backson," and become too old for his relationships with imaginary beings.  The end of the second book has him going off to boarding school, leaving forever.

Same-sex bonds belong to childhood.  The cold, hard work of adulthood requires heterosexual marriage and reproduction.

In gay subtext stories, men don't leave!.

Besides...that grating, infuriating voice!

When Lane's mother was sick, he bought her a Winnie-the-Pooh figure, thinking it would cheer her up.  She threw the darn thing across the room.

Rosa and I didn't agree on much, but I have to applaud that act of resistance.

Christopher Robin Milne (1920-1996) was a fey little kid (by parental design: they liked to feminize their boys in those days).  When he left the bear to go to school, he was bullied mercilessly by his classmates, and took up boxing for relief.

  He served in World War II, married his cousin Lesley de Selincourt, and opened a bookshop in Dartmouth.  He wrote several autobiographies, but mostly tried to distance himself from Winnie the Pooh.

Wouldn't you?

The illustrations, by the way, are from actors who have played Christopher Robin during his 31 film and tv appearances, or others who are named Christopher Robin.

1. A model named Christopherobin
2. A costumed Christopher Robin character at Disneyland
3. Frankie Galasso
4. Alex Lawther
5. The real Christopher Robin, his dad, and his demonic hell-beast.
6. Tom Wheatley.

Oumpah-pah and Hubert

Oumpah-pah is a distinctively Belgian comic book, written by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo of Asterix fame.  After a false start in the early 1950s, it was serialized in Tintin magazine from 1958 to 1963.  Only three albums appeared in 1961, 1962, and 1967 (rather a small number compared to the 36 of Asterix).

They were translated into Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, and English, but the English editions are very rare and go for hundreds of dollars on Ebay.  There are no plans for re-issues, due to the negative stereotypes of Native Americans as patois-speaking savages.

But on amazon.fr, you can get the French reissues for 10-15 Euros each, or "the complete adventures" used for around 20 Euros.

Why bother, when Asterix is readily available?  Because Oumpah-pah has some advantages that his more famous cousin doesn't.

Oumpah-pah belongs to the Shavashava tribe (based on the Shawnee) during French colonial times.

When French aristocrat Hubert de la Pâte Feuilleté, sent by the king to establish peaceful relations with the natives, is captured, Oumpah-pah rescues him and escorts him back to Fort Petit.  They become "brothers."

In a later adventure, Hubert is captured by the hostile Pied-Plads  (Flat-Foot) Tribe, who use him to lure Oumpah-pah into a trap.

They sail for France to get some horses, and encounter the pirate Brake, who captures Hubert and...

Upon returning to America, they battle Prussians and the evil Foie-Malade (Liver Sick)...

You get the idea.  A lot of captures, a lot of muscles straining at ropes, a lot of nick-of-time rescues and stammered "If it weren't for you, I'd be dead!"

Hubert is scrappy and self-confident, Oumpah-pah muscular, attractive, and dominant, and the countless rescues and walking-into-the-sunset together conclusions provide a much more obvious gay subtext than anything you find in Asterix and Obelix.

Jun 21, 2017

10 Shirtless Pictures of Daniel Skye, Sort of

I never heard of 17-year old Daniel Skye before, but apparently he's one of the top teen idols in the U.S.  
He's got 9 songs listed on AZ Lyrics, all about love, 5 of the 9 using an incessant "girl! girl! girl!"

Sounds horribly heterosexist.

But I still googled "Daniel Skye" and "shirtless" to see what pops up.

1. Two guys, maybe one is Daniel.

2. I'm pretty sure this is Boo Boo Stewart.

3. Blue eyes.

4. Nice abs.  I'm not usually into earrings, but that black one makes his face.

5.  Exceptionally big hair.

More after the break.

Sad Sack

When I was a kid, I loved Harvey comics' supernatural titles, Casper, Spooky, and Hot Stuff having science-fiction and espionage adventures in the Enchanted Forest.  In a pinch, I didn't mind the kids-with-crazy-obsession titles, Little Dot, Little Lotta, and Richie Rich.  But I never even picked up Sad Sack.  

Military humor -- gross!  It was the middle of the Vietnam War.  Our fathers and older brothers were dying in Vietnam, or burning their draft cards and going into exile in Canada.  Who wanted to be reminded of all that?

But recently I came across an old book, The Sad Sack.  Apparently the character existed before Harvey Comics, in a pantomime strip published by Sergeant George Baker in the military magazine Yank during World War II.  The Sad Sack (short for "Sad Sack of Sh*) was a classic schmiel, beset-upon by bad luck, but tough, masculine, and sexually active (although here he's paying a woman to iron his pants).

Two hardcover compilations of Sad Sack strips appeared in 1944 and 1946.  There was a radio series (1946) starring Herb Vigran and a movie adaption (1957) starring Jerry Lewis.

Harvey took over the franchise in 1949, giving Sad Sack a voice, a nebbish personality, and surprisingly, a lot of shirtless and semi-nude shots (although he didn't have much of a physique).

 He was now a permanent private at Camp Calamity, so he would never go to war (like Beetle Bailey and Gomer Pyle), and he had a coterie of friends and superior officers, notably Sarge.

Sad Sack and Sarge have a "antagonistic best friend" relationship similar to that of Beetle Bailey and Sgt. Snorkel, with the same homoerotic subtext.

There were many spin-off titles, including Sad Sack's Funny Friends, Sad Sack's Gobs n Gals, Sad Sack and the Sarge, and Sad Sack Laugh Special.  Sounds like Archie spin-offs like Pals n Gals, and Laugh.

I never knew whether Sadie Sack was Sad in drag or just his girlfriend, but she turns out to be his female identical-twin cousin.  Rather a gender bender.

The Sad Sack title continued to be published for over thirty years, ending only when Harvey Comics folded in 1982.   so somebody was interested in Sad's chubby physique and buddy-bonding with the Sarge.

Just not me.

Jun 20, 2017

The Beefcake and Homoerotic Art of Ex Libris Bookplates

Back when books were always hardback and frightfully expensive, when a hundred books was a vast library and a thousand out of reach for all but the very rich, you would protect your books from being "accidentally" picked up by visitors or borrowed and never returned by affixing a bookplate with your name on the inside front cover.

"Ex libris" (from the library of) bookplates were first used during the Renaissance, and became very popular during the 18th and 19th centuries.  By the turn of the 20th century, artists such as Robert Anning Bell and Charles Ricketts made practically their whole careers out of designing intricate bookplates for their customers.

Today bookplates are little used, but bookplate collectors have their own subculture, with clubs, magazines, and conferences.

Homoerotic and beefcake-heavy bookplates are especially prized.

1. Wilhelm Mertens, a German herpetologist, professor at the University of Frankfurt and author of 13 books, promises that he's "immer an deck" (always alert), like the semi-nude muscleman looking at the stars.

2. Sigmund Freud's ex libris shows Oedipus being questioned by the Sphinx.  The style is very art deco, reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley.

3. It's hard to see the naked man amid all the trees in this ex libris of Vivian Forbes, the gay poet and artist who committed suicide a few days after his lover's funeral in 1937.

4. A rather minimalist David slaying Goliath, but unusual for its coloration.   I don't know who this was for, maybe painter Franca Moggioli, who died in Turin in 2015 at the age of 94.

5. I feel like I should be saluting Big Brother in this austere fascist bookplate. Born in 1906, George Gates Raddin, Jr. was a painter and novelist from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

More after the break.

A Beefcake Tour of Amsterdam

This post has been moved to Boomer's Small Town Beefcake

Corn on the Cob, Fireworks, and Naked Men: 34 Reasons to Like Summer

Summer is my least favorite season, and we're right in the middle of it, with the heat, humidity, tv reruns, people forcing you to play outside, all of your friends away on vacation, long, boring days with nothing to do, and unnaturally bright evenings where the sun refuses to go down.

Here are the things I liked about summertime when I was a kid.  Maybe I can translate them into adult activities.

1. All of the boys and teenagers in the neighborhood walked around with their shirts off.  Even the adults, sometimes.  I remember two super muscular grownups sitting on lawn chairs on their patio, drinking beer.

2. The Denkmann Summer Carnival.  Games, cotton candy, and a sort of flea market where you could get comic books cheap.

3. The bookmobile came every Tuesday.  It wasn't just a place to get books.  I met lots of cute boys there.

4. Sitting on a blanket late at night to watch the 4th of July Fireworks.

5. Mother Goose Land.  It's not as lame as it sounds.  They had an Old West town, where you could ride burros and pan for gold.

6. A trip to Indiana to visit our relatives, but it was always followed by a horrible week camping in the Northwoods.

7, Nazarene summer camp.  I complained at the time -- nothing to do but Bible study, sports, and church -- but I got to hang out with lots of cute guys, and our counselors were always hunky teenagers.  Besides, I got to see Brother Dino naked in the shower.

8. Sitting in the kiddie pool, those round plastic things that you filled with a garden hose.

9. My birthday excursion, where I could bring 3 or 4 of my friends to any place in town that I wanted.  My birthday is actually in November, but I always postponed the trip to summertime, when the fun things like Niabi Zoo were open.

10. The Indian Pow Wow at Black Hawk Park.

11. Summer Enrichment Classes sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation.  I remember taking Spanish, astronomy, and archaeology. They also had physical fitness classes.

12, Sodas at Country Style.  In the Midwest, a "soda" is a concoction of ice cream and root beer or cola.  If you want the soft drink alone, it's called "pop."  I started calling it "soda" when I was living in California, which got me lots of weird looks back in Rock Island.

13. Swimming lessons at Longview Park.  One summer the teacher coaxed me into jumping into the deep end with the promise that if I drowned, he would give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

14. By the way, the only time I ever saw African-Americans in the segregated 1960s was at Longview Park Pool.  In swimsuits.  Something to look forward to!

15. Dinners comprised solely of corn on the cob (which my parents called roshineers) and tomatoes.

16.  Dinners comprised solely of newly-picked green beans with bacon and onions.

17.  The Prospect List.  Every year the Nazarene Church had a contest to see who could contact the most prospects, people who had attended church or Sunday school just once.  It was lots of fun trying to track them down and hearing their stories: "Well...um...I found a new church that...um...I like better.

18.Playing in the sprinklers in the front yard.

19. Walking barefoot on the hot concrete of the sidewalk.

20. Sleepovers.  Ok, we had sleepovers during the schoolyear, too, but during the summer they often entailed sleeping in tents in the back yard.

21. Summertime boyfriends: guys who you would hang out with while your regular boyfriend was on vacation or otherwise unavailable.

22. Road construction.  It's a pain for adults, but for kids too young to drive, it's fun to watch the construction workers walking down the highway in their yellow jackets and sunglasses.

23. Summer replacement series.  Back before tv series began and ended year round, the summer reruns were sometimes augmented by 10-episode miniseries, weird comedies, musical-variety shows, and even cartoons.

24. Shakespeare, for free, every summer in Lincoln Park. You brought lawn chairs and snacks or even a dinner.  Actually, I didn't go to any performances until college, but I'm sure it was there.

25. Practicing for cross country in the fall by running five miles, all the way downtown and back.

26. Kentucky Fried Chicken. The stores are open year round, but for some reason we just had it in the summer.

27. Baseball games.  The games were rather boring, but I liked looking at the players.

28. Fudgsicles, push-ups, and ice cream sandwiches.

29. Watermelon.

30. My brother and I making extra money by mowing lawns for the Old Lady Schoolteachers and other elderly neighbors.

31. Bicycle Safety Classes.

32. Watching Days of Our Lives and One Life to Live with my mother.  I wasn't a big soap opera fan, but it was a bonding opportunity.

33. For that matter, being able to watch Dark Shadows all the way through, instead of catching the last fifteen minutes after running home as fast as I could.

34. Seeing miscellaneous workmen with their shirts off at unexpected moments.

So, 32% involve seeing cute boys or men, 23% food, 20% excursions, 12% bonding with family members, and 9% the heat.

I think I can turn those things into adult activities.

Only 67 days to go.

See also: Cruising at the BookmobileHow to Avoid the Top 10 Problems of Summer; Do Seasons Affect Your Dating Success.

Jun 19, 2017

K-11: The 1920s Pansy Craze in a 2012 Prison

K-11 (2012) is a cell block for gay and transgender inmates at Los Angeles County Jail.  There is, in fact, such a cell block, but it's nothing like this movie.

Record producer Raymond Saxx (Goran Visnijic) awakens from a drug blackout to find himself in a room full of transwomen with big breasts who sleep with butch gay men, and effeminate gay men, all black, who don't sleep with anyone.  At first he thinks he's in an insane asylum, but soon he realizes that he's in K-11.

He doesn't belong there; he's "not crazy" (that is, not gay).

This is a jail, not a prison, so the inmates are there temporarily, while awaiting bail or their trial, but they act like they're in for life.

They spend their time doing each other's hair, having fashion shows, having sex with each other and with guards, doing drugs -- cocaine is plentiful -- and living in fear of cell block leader Mousey (Kate de Castillo playing a transwoman).

Plus Detroit (Tiny Lister Jr.), a lumbering, dimwitted black child molester who keeps raping inmates (even though there are no children in the cell block).  He has set his sights on the petite Butterfly (Portia Doubleday playing a transwoman).  Mousey disapproves, but does nothing to stop him.

Meanwhile guard Lt. Johnson (D. B. Sweeney) controls the cocaine trade in exchange for sex with the inmates, using the go-between Ben (Jason Mewes, who you may know as the homophobic Jay from the Clerks movies).

We never find out what Saxx, a straight guy, is doing in K-11, but in the best "helpful straight" mode, he begins helping them with their problems.  When Butterfly kills Detroit, he comes up with a way to exonerate her and get revenge on Lt. Johnson.

Meanwhile he has his own problems: he's being charged with the murder of songwriter Ian Sheffield (Craig Owens), who was having an affair with his wife.  She agrees to say that it was an accident if h hands over his entire fortune except for his car, his chauffeur, and $30,000.  He agrees, gives $13,000 of it to Mousey, and rides off with his chauffeur in his bathrobe, a free man.


This movie is sordid and unpleasant to watch, with idiotic characters and dialogue, transwomen played by cisgender women, butch-femme gay couples, gay men who are intensely attracted to people with long hair, makeup, and big breasts.

Has anyone in the cast and crew ever met an actual gay person before, or are they depending on movies from the 1970s...um, I mean from the 1950s....actually, from the "pansy craze" of the 1920s?

Ok, what clueless troglodyte wrote this mess?  Jules Stewart, a script supervisor with only two writing credits, the other being about a brother and sister who are accidentally trapped in the Van Gogh painting One Starry Night (okay.....).  Her daughter, Kristen Stewart, was originally going to play Mousey, but dropped out.  I wonder why.

And Jared Kurt, a location manager.  This is his only writing credit, but he played Lt. Killjoy in The Republic (2010).

The top photo, by the way, is Ian Nelson, who has a minor role as a guard.

Jun 18, 2017

Why You Should Visit South Dakota Next August

In the summer of 1995, shortly after Lee and I moved to San Francisco, my parents decided to sell their house in Rock Island and spend their retirement years in their old hometown in Indiana.  That meant I had to clear out the books, papers, furniture, and miscellaneous mementos cluttering my old attic room.

Road trip!

I had never seen the Cowboy States, and Lee had never been out of Southern California (except for his visit to a kibbutz in Israel).   We planned every moment of that trip!  Portland, Seattle, Yellowstone National Park, Devil's Tower, Mount Rushmore!

As luck would have it, our itinerary took us through South Dakota on August 3rd, 1996.

Do you know what happens in South Dakota during the first week in August?  We didn't.  We do now.

1. All hotels within 150 miles double their rates, and fill up anyway.
2. All highways, streets, roadways, and dirt tracks swarm with motorcycles, because:
3. 500,000 motorcycle enthusiasts converge in the tiny town of Sturgis for a week-long bacchanal.

4. There are thousands of topless and naked women, if you're into that sort of thing.
5. And about 100,000 hairy, husky, muscular, tattooed bears
6. Who parade around downtown naked.

7. Who parade around downtown naked.

8. Who parade around downtown naked.

9. Who parade around downtown naked.
10. Some of them are gay, and most of the others have a non-homophobic "laissez faire" attitude.

11. Did I mention that there are 100,000 hairy, husky, muscular, tattooed bears?

There have always been some gay bikers in the crowd, but since 2007 they have had an official presence. The Gay Community Center has a booth, there are gay men's biker events, and the Hawgs Dawgs, a gay/ bi/ straight biker group, makes an annual pilgrimage.

See also: The Top 16 Public Penises of the Cowboy States
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...