Aug 3, 2017

Joe Dallesandro: Counterculture Icon with the Most Famous Face, Physique, and Bulge of the 1960s

Joe Dallesandro had one of the most recognizeable faces, physiques -- and bulges -- of the 1960s.

When the teenager met Andy Warhol in 1967, he had already had a colorful career as a juvenile delinquent who had run away from two detention centers, crashed a car during a police chase, and was shot by a police officer.  He was currently working as a hustler, and a model for the gay-themed Physique Pictorial.  Bisexual, adventurous, a little dangerous, and devastatingly handsome, he was just the sort of person Warhol wanted for his entourage.

Joe immediately got a starring role in Flesh, directed by Warhol staple Paul Morrissey.  He plays a bisexual hustler who has several frontal-nude scenes and has sex with a number of people, including a transvestite.

During the next few years, Joe starred in five more Warhol movies:

Lonesome Cowboys (1968), a Western spoof which involved a nude wrestling scene, plus Trash, Heat, Andy Warhol's Frankenstein, and Blood for Dracula, sometimes with nude scenes, sometimes without, but his fame as a counterculture icon was sealed.

He appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, nude, with his infant son.  20 years later, they recreated the iconic photo.

He appeared on the cover of the Smiths' album The Album.

His bulge appeared on the cover of the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers.  Actually, Andy Warhol submitted it from a stack of photos without knowing who it depicted, but Joe has always claimed that it's him.  He should know what his own bulge looks like.

He was referenced in the Lou Reed song "Walk on the Wild Side":

Little Joe never gave it away, everybody had to pay.

(Joe is 5'6", a head shorter than Andy Warhol at 5'11")

During the late 1970s, Joe broke into mainstream cinema, first in Europe (The Gardener, The Climber, Season for Assassins, Je t'aime moi non plus), then in the United States, specializing in gangsters and other tough guys (The Cotton Club,  The Hitchhiker, Cry-Baby, Guncrazy). He also worked in tv, on such series as Wiseguy and Matlock.  

Today, at age 68, he has retired from acting, although he appears occasionally as a commentator in in documentaries about the 1960s, or Andy Warhol, or himself.

Joe has always been a vocal advocate of LGBT rights.  He said that if his sons, Joe Jr. and Michael, were gay, he wouldn't want them to endure the homophobia that he witnessed in the "liberal" 1960s and 1970s.

There's a story about Joe's hookup with Bobby Driscoll on Tales of West Hollywood.

The nude photos are on Tales of West Hollywood

Rex Smith: Not Gay, in Spite of the Outfits

When I was in college (1978-82), I still read teen magazines; they were the only place to get beefcake images in the small-town Midwest.  And this was the image I saw most often: Rex Smith, a gleaming, smooth chest in a brown leather vest and highly bulgeworthy leather pants.

Tiger Beat is not good at background information on its fave raves, so I learned nothing else about him.  Although I assumed that such a flamboyantly feminine guy in a leather catsuit must be gay.

Turns out Rex Smith was a pop star in the midst of a 10-album career, with several charting singles, including "You Take My Breath Away" and "Never Gonna Give You Up." I often heard those songs playing in the distance, along with a steady diet of Neil Diamond, But I didn't make the connection.  At the time, I was busy listening for Gay Subtext songs like "Physical" and "I'm Coming Out."

His Broadway career began with the role of Danny Zuko in Grease in 1978, and went on to The Pirates of Penzance, The Human Comedy, Sunset Boulevard, and Annie Get Your Gun.

He has done some work on television, including some tv-movies about finding love, a two-year run on on the soap As the World Turns, and Street Hawk (1985), a Knight Rider clone about a cop crippled in an accident who gets a super-motorcycle.

And the movie version of Pirates of Penzance, for which he wore another pair of extraordinarily tight leather pants and buddy-bonded with Kevin Kline.

Currently Rex and his son Brandon are starring in the reality webseries Smith & Smith Unlimited, about father-son Hollywood producers.  You can see a clip on his official website.

Apparently not gay, and maybe even homophobic.  The entire country of the Philippines was up in arms when singer and gay icon Charice Pempengco was rehearsing for a corporate event in Cebu, and Rex , also performing at the venue, stormed in, told her to "stop doing what you're doing," and allegedly used a homophobic slur.

See also: Rod and Al Stewart: Coming Out in the Year of the Cat.

Aug 2, 2017

Walk on the Wild Side

The gay world is always hidden, flickering on the edge of our vision, invisible to the average person.  Merely a shadow to us.  But then one day something happens.  By accident or design, we go down the rabbit hole, or through the wardrobe, or to Platform 9 3/4, and we can see the gay world, bright and colorful.

With a bit of a mind flip, you're into the time slip, and nothing can ever be the same.

"Walk on the Wild Side," by Lou Reed (1972), is about several people making that slip from dull Mundania to the gay world, where all gender and sexual norms vanish and you can find yourself -- or lose yourself -- in the savage possibilities.

Holly shaved her legs and then he was a she.

Candy was everyone's darling in the back rooms.

Little Joe never gave it away, everybody had to pay.

Sugar Plum Fairy visited the Apollo, where the "colored girls" sang.

Jackie thought she was James Dean and crashed.

Transvestism, back-room sex, male prostitution, interracial sex, drugs -- heavy stuff for 1972.

When I first heard the song, in high school, I didn't understand most of the sexual references.  I didn't know that the people mentioned were all members of Andy Warhol's Factory: Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Joe Campbell, and Jackie Curtis.

But I knew that there was a world out there, "beyond the fields we know," the Wild Side, frightening, dangerous, disturbing -- and free.

See also: Searching for a Gay Comic; Andy Warhol; Joe Dallesandro

Aug 1, 2017

The Joy of Summer #5: Watching Guys Mow Lawns

I hate summertime, but I have to admit, it has some beefcake benefits, like car washes; dunking booths at county fairs; and guys mowing lawns.

During the 19th century, most people in the U.S. cities lived in townhouses, houses crammed against each other with no space in between. Sculpted green lawns were for the estates of the very rich.  It wasn't until the 20th century, and especially after World War II, that even people of modest means expected to have a "castle" surrounded on all sides by green lawns.

Today practically every house has a lawn, regardless of its environmental impact: grass is a water-hog, and it doesn't give off a lot of oxygen.  In fact, it doesn't do much of anything.  You'd be better off planting a vegetable garden, or some flowers that can attract bees.

But one benefit of all those lawns is: they have to be mown.  At least once a week from sometime in April to sometime in September in the northern United States.

The hot months.

It's hot work, so people -- usually men -- often mow shirtless.

In every suburban neighborhood, Saturday afternoons are filled with the sound of electric mowers, as the parade of beefcake begins.

Once you reach middle age, you don't mow lawns anymore.  You give the job to any teenage boys in your household.  If there are no teenage boys in your household, you hire someone.

Elderly people usually solicit volunteers from among their sons and grandsons, or again, hire someone.

Gay men usually have to hire someone.

More after the break.

The Gay Couples of "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag"

In some movies, you get exactly what the title says: Snakes on a Plane; Sharknado; Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997).

The heads are in the custody of mafioso Tommy Spinelli (Joe Pesci), who is transporting them across the country to prove to his boss that their owners are actually dead.  Unfortunately, the bags are switched at the airport, and the bag with the heads gets picked up by Charlie (Andy Comeau), who is en route to Mexico to visit his girlfriend and meet her parents for the first time.

Question: how did he get the human heads through security?

Question: wouldn't you notice right away that your duffel bag contained hard, round things instead of shirts and pants?

Trying to track down the heads, Tommy runs into Charlie's friends, Ernie and Steve (David Spade, Todd Louiso).  At first he tortures them in humorous ways (in their underwear), but then they bond, and agree to help him track down Charlie.

Humorous complications follow: Charlie loses a head, his girlfriend's parents think he's a serial killer, and so on. Tommy and Charlie bond, and the kind-hearted mafioso decides that he should give up crime.

But the hit men who originally killed the eight men (Anthony Mangano, Joe Basile) are upset over the "double cross," and put Tommy, Charlie, and the whole crowd on their hit list.

It's not very funny.  Most of the humor involves someone trying to keep someone else from realizing that he has a human head in his possession.  But there are gay subtexts everywhere in this movie.  Ernie and Steve come across as a gay couple.  So do the two hitmen.  Tommy, who keeps bonding with men, expresses no heterosexual interest, and could easily be read as gay.

By the way, Todd Louiso has an impressive physique.  Andy Comeau doesn't show anything here, but you can see his penis on tv series Huff (2004). 

Raphael De Santo: Pulp Illustrator of Muscular Men

I found this book at a used bookstore in Davenport, Iowa: Gods and Demons (Greek, Roman, Nordic, Celtic, Indian), published by  Lyon Library sometime in the 1960s.

The cover illustrations: a very muscular Zeus, an eagle about to eat the liver of  a very muscular Prometheus, and a fully-clothed Pandora about to open the box that unleashes evil upon the world.

Who was emphasizing the male beauty?

The author was Manuel Komroff, an American writer of Russian ancestry (1890-1974), author of 45 novels, editor of many more, including an edition of The Travels of Marco Polo.  One of his novels, Coronet, sold a million copies.

Th illustrator was Rafael DeSoto (1904-1992).  Born in Puerto Rico, DeSoto went to a Catholic seminary before moving to New York in 1923 to dedicate himself to art.

He soon found his niche illustrating the colorful, beefcake and cheesecake-heavy covers of pulp magazines, such as Black Book Detective, Weird Tales, and The Spider.  

For Men Only contained buddy-bonding adventure stories interspliced with "nonfiction" about dames.

This is an interior illustration of a man being attacked by carnivorous lizards.

He also did some paperback book covers, mostly for science fiction.

In 1964 he retired from illustration to teach and work on his paintings.

Not a lot of gay connection in his life: he was married twice, and made his living in the overtly heterosexist pulp market.  But still, his interest in the male form is obvious.

Ken Clark: Bodybuilder on My Sausage Sighting List

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've seen live performances of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific about a dozen times, but never the 1958 musical. Until now.

Beefcake abounds, of course.  But I already knew that.  Then I saw the minor character Stewpot leading the sailors in "There's Nothing Like a Dame."

Was I really seeing what I thought I was seeing?

Fast forward to Stewpot's only other scene, a weightlifting contest.  In a swimsuit, not a skimpy 1950s posing strap.

Sausage Sighting: impossible to mistake.

Brian's Drive-In Theater has a lot to say about Ken Clark, who played Stewpot.  He was a 31-year old bodybuilder who had a string of B-movie roles in the 1950s.  In the early 1960s, capitalizing on the sword-and-sandal craze, he moved to Italy, where he starred in Maciste contro i Mongoli  (1963)  and  Maciste nell'inferno di Genghis Khan (1964) with Mark Forest, and Ercole l'invincibile (1964) with Dan Vadis.  He also starred in some spaghetti Westerns and played Dick Malloy, Secret Agent 077, in some Italian spy dramas.

Ken continued to live in Rome, and perform in Italian tv and movies, through his life.  He died in 2009, at the age of 81.

No word on whether he was gay or not, but he never married, and apparently he never had any girlfriends, except, just before he moved to Italy, Shelley Winters.

Ok, I heard that before -- it's the tale of a lot of 1950s bodybuilders.  I knew Ken would have a magnificent physique.  But would he display his Bratwurst so blatantly?


Here he is playing game warden Steve Benton in The Attack of the Giant Laneches (#10 on my list of the Top Horror Movies of the 1950s). That's not a giant leech in his pocket.

How did this one get by the censors?  It's from a 1957 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  

Here's he posing "demurely" in a turtleneck sweater for an Italian movie magazine.

Too bad he wasn't cast in the mid-1960s Batman.  He would have given the legendary endowments of Robin (Burt Ward) and the Riddler (Frank Gorshin) some major competition.

Jul 30, 2017

My 10 Favorite Pictures of Nolan Gould

I haven't watched Modern Family since I got rid of my cable last year, and I didn't like it much to begin with -- the depiction of gay people and women is rather retro, and one gets tired of the trivial problems of rich white people.  But who can help keeping up with Nolan Gould, the 18-year old actor who plays Luke Dunphy?

After Modern Family, he plans to go to film school and become a documentary film maker.  Meanwhile he supports a lot of worthy causes, he reads, and he has a superb physique.  Here are my 10 favorite photos of Nolan:

1. Just getting ready to go scuba diving.

2. I see that he prefers free weights.  I wish they let guys work out shirtless in my gym.

3.  He's got an Evel Knievel thing going on.  How did he squeeze into those super-tight pants?

4. A nice view of his chest hair.

5.  Surfing in Australia.

Matthew Laborteaux

Born in 1966, Matthew Laborteaux starred in several movies and tv series, including The Red Hand Gang, but he first drew the interest of gay boys and their straight female friends around 1980, when his character Albert on Little House on the Prairie shifted from cute kid to dreamy teen.  The teen idol treatment followed, with lots of pin-up pictures of Matthew and his brother Patrick (also on Little House).  

Patrick, who had a more muscular physique, may have received even more teen idol attention, though he left Little House in 1981.

In 1983 Matthew became the star of Whiz Kids, which lasted only one season but left an indelible mark on gay teens everywhere.  It was about a teenage computer whiz and his friends who solve crimes, with the help of their newspaper reporter mentor Lew (played by Max Gail of Barney Miller).  Richie (Matthew) was the computer whiz; Hamilton (Todd Porter) the jock; Jeremy (Jeffrey Jacquet) the black kid, and Alice (Andrea Elson) the girl.

There was significant bonding, oddly, between Lew and Hamilton.  In one episode, after Lew has been rescued from torture at the hands of evil record producers, Hamilton sits next to him and tenderly holds his hand.

None of the teen characters express any heterosexual interest, though Lew gets a crush on Richie's mother to explain why he hangs around teenage boys all the time.

After Whiz Kids, Matthew starred in a couple of bad movies and then moved into production and voice work.  He is rumored to be gay, but hasn't made any public statements.

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