Oct 14, 2017

Bobby and Johnny Crawford

Many Boomer kids aren't aware that Johnny Crawford, the 1950s teen idol, star of The Mickey Mouse Club and The Rifleman, the bodybuilder with full nude scenes in The Naked Ape, had a older and even more muscular brother, Bobby Crawford or Robert Crawford Jr.

Born in 1946, Bobby starred with Johnny on three episodes of The Rifleman, and in Indian Paint (1965),  where the two play Native Americans.  They get many semi-nude shots and, as a bonus, develop a quasi-romantic physical intimacy.

TV and movie magazines love brother acts, and soon Bobby and Johnny were being photographed together, often framing them as if they were a romantic couple.  They released several albums together, including one entitled Pals. 

But Bobby also had a solo career, with guest spots on The Donna Reed Show and Whirlybirds, and a recurring role on Zorro.  

He was nominated for an Emmy for his performance on Child of Our Time, a 1959 episode of Playhouse 90, about a young boy searching for a home in 1930s France.

He starred in the Western Laramie (1959-60), about two brothers who run a stagecoach stop in the Wyoming Territory.  His character idolizes the hunky drifter Jess Harper (Robert Fuller), and soon the two actors were seen out together in real life, "two bachelors" hitting the Hollywood hotspots.

Later in the 1960s, Bobby played an oddball outsider on Kraft Suspense Theater, a World War II French resistance figher on Combat, and a young man who idolizes his outlaw brother on Gunsmoke.  His last small-screen appearances were on My Three Sons in 1968.

Moving behind the scenes, he produced The Sting (1973), The World According to Garp (1982), The Little Drummer Girl (1984), and other movies.

Oct 13, 2017

Schitt's Creek: A Lot of Beefcake Going On

In the Canadian sitcom Schitt's Creek (2015-), video magnate Johnny Rose (SCTV alumnus Eugene Levy) loses his fortune to a shady business manager, and he and his wife Moira (Catherine O'Hara) and adult children David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy) are forced to move into a cheap hotel in the desolate small town of Schitt's Creek, where they try to adapt to such hardships as sharing a room and making their own beds.

They butt heads with many curious, eccentric, and passive-aggressive smiling-as-they-dump-on-you residents, like Mutt (Tim Rozon), the mayor's son, who lives in a barn and collects compost.

It reminds me a bit of Gilligan's Island, with the castaways trying to survive on a desert island, their plans to escape constantly falling through at the last moment.

Schitt's Creek is so small that it has only one hotel, restaurant, and "general store," and the same six people do everything.  But still, there's a lot going on, and the Roses throw themselves into town life, getting jobs, joining clubs, running for city council, dating -- a lot of dating.  David (Dan Levy) develops a friends-with-benefits relationship with Stevie (Emily Hampshire), who appears to be the hotel's only employee, and Alexis has a steady stream of boyfriends, like Mutt and  town veterinarian Ted (Dustin Milligan).

That's one of the things I like about Schitt's Creek -- it's overloaded with beefcake, hot guys in tight shirts -- or out of tight shirts -- everywhere you look.

The other thing I like is the writing.  The dialogue is witty, sardonic without being bitter.  There is no us vs. them, normal v. hicks or normal v. snobs.  Everyone has foibles, but almost everyone comes across as likeable.

What I don't like is:

1. David is pansexual, played by Dan Levy, who is gay, yet his relationships are exclusively heterosexual until the third season, when ex-boyfriend Sebastian (Francois Arnaud) rolls into town, and he and Stevie get into a three-way relationship with Jake (Steve Lund).  I get so sick of men who are "bisexual" but only involved with women.

2. They go to great lengths to erase everything Canadian from the show.  No loonies, no maple leaves, no jaunts to Toronto.   Hello, CTV: half the fun of a Canadian sitcom is that it's set in Canada.  Corner Gas could not take place anywhere but Saskatchewan; Trailer Park Boys could not take place anywhere but Nova Scotia.  Schitt's Creek wants you to believe that it's set in Iowa.

What's wrong with a small town in Manitoba?  Especially with all that beefcake going on.

Oct 12, 2017

Tarzan's Boy: Johnny Sheffield

When MGM executives wanted to expand the audience of their extremely successful Tarzan series by giving the Ape Man and his Mate (Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan) a child, they faced a quandary: since the couple was not married, Jane could hardly give birth to Korak.   Instead, Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) envisions an airplane crash in the jungle with a sole survivor, a cooing infant whom Tarzan names Boy.

 It is an odd name, and evidently a last-minute change –  the trailers call him Tarzan Jr.  One wonders why Jane did not insist on Tarzan Jr. or John Clayton Jr., particularly if she expected the child to one day survive hazing at Eton.  But if Tarzan and Jane are the primal Man and Woman of a sexless heterosexual Eden, then their Boy must be the primal Boy, the archetype of all Boys everywhere.

The primal Boy was cast with seven year old Johnny Sheffield, hand-picked by Johnny Weissmuller from the hundreds of hopefuls.  Perhaps Weissmuller was shopping for a surrogate son of his own: he taught Johnny to swim and wrestle, and often took him places off-camera.  They were a common sight at premieres and Hollywood hotspots.  

Johnny was no ordinary Boy. In Tarzan and the Amazons (1944), Johnny at 13 could easily pass for a high school athlete.  In Tarzan and the Leopard Woman (1945), he is 15, but he already sports the thick, heavy chest, flat belly, and deepened voice of young adulthood.  In Tarzan and the Huntress ( 1946), he is nearly 16 years old and six feet tall, with a chiseled torso that makes 42-year old Weissmuller look flabby and out of shape, a middle-aged businessman ludicrously enacting a Tarzan fantasy.  The Boy has surpassed the Man, and Johnny Sheffield must retire from the series.

Although the teenage Boy is handsome enough to compel most of his classmates at Randini High School to write his name amid hearts in their notebooks or scramble to ask him to the Spring Fling, he has few opportunities for jitterbugging.  The women he encounters are always older, and usually evil; indeed, a half-hour walk in any direction seems to lead to lost civilizations led by evil women.

Any cute boy he meets is likely to be evil, too.  In Tarzan and the Leopard Woman, a boy named Kimba (Tommy Cook) appears one day at the Escarpment, claiming that he got lost in the jungle.  The Tarzan family takes him in, but Boy is suspicious.  It turns out that Kimba belongs to an evil leopard cult, and plans to prove his manhood by murdering them all. Many jungle-story scripts would have Boy befriend and ultimately rehabilitate the troubled teen, but not here: the two Boys never express any sentiment but seething contempt, and the unrepentant Kimba is shot to death.

More often, Boy’s homoromantic interests are stymied by Daddy Tarzan himself.  In Tarzan and the Amazons, a scientific expedition visits, and Boy can barely contain his excitement; he wiggles up to one, then another, flirting his way into hands-on-shoulders, cool gifts, and an invitation to “come around anytime.”  Tarzan passively-aggressively suggests that Boy shouldn't pester the strangers.  “They’re not strangers!” Boy cries, over-reacting with teen angst. “They’re Jane’s friends, and mine. . .I don’t want to go hunting with you!  I won’t go hunting with you ever again!”

Tarzan is equally passive-aggressive about denying Boy peer companions.  In Tarzan and the Huntress, the Tarzan family visits the kingdom of Teronga, where Boy befriends the teenage Prince Suli (Maurice Tauzin).  But when Boy asks to stay longer, Tarzan says no.  Later they find Prince Suli in the jungle, left to die by his evil usurper-uncle. Surely the long and dangerous trek back to Teronga would provide many opportunities for buddy-bonding, but Tarzan has other ideas: “Boy, go home, tell Jane!” he barks. “We go to Teronga!”  Boy protests, but Tarzan stubbornly leads the Prince away.

What is the significance of these denials?  Of course the movies are about Tarzan, so he must wrestle all of the crocodiles, rescue all the princesses, and supervise all of the shifts from absolutism to democracy in lost-civilization governments, but surely allowing Boy some friends would not threaten his status as Busybody of the Jungle.

Yet perhaps Tarzan is threatened after all.  As Boy hardens into adolescence, his role becomes paradoxically soft and passive – his muscles become purely decorative, to be displayed for their beauty just as Jane’s curves, and as useless for fending off crocodiles.  Indeed, Boy usually takes Jane’s place as the objective of Tarzan’s chest-pounding heroics.

The three pre-Boy movies all end with Tarzan swooping down to rescue Jane.  Afterwards, she is captured along with Boy twice, and in four movies, Boy is captured alone, tied to something, muscles straining, until Tarzan swoops down to the rescue.  (And in one, Cheetah comes to the rescue.)

During Boy’s adolescence, he and Tarzan are constant companions, leaving little time for Jane, who confesses without complaint “They’re used to doing everything together. Why, they often leave me alone for days!”  They leap into the lagoon together, enacting the quintessential moment of jungle romance.  They are even shown sleeping together, curled up on the same mat, Boy’s head pillowed by Tarzan’s bicep (Jane’s sleeping arrangements are left unseen).

If the homoromantic Arcadia is a displaced fantasy of adulthood, then the viewer must desire the sight of the primal Man and Boy diving into the lagoon together as eternally as the primal Man and Woman. Tarzan must contain his Paradise against threats to Boy as well as to Jane, and he must guard as jealously against any other love.

Johnny Sheffield continued wearing a loincloth through the 1950s as Bomba the Jungle Boy, to the delight of gay kids everywhere.  Johnny Weissmuller put a shirt and pants on to buddy-bond as Jungle Jim.

There's a Johnny Sheffield hookup story on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: Why is Bomba the Jungle Boy always tied up?; On Your Knees, Boy

Oct 11, 2017

Swim Teams of Yesteryear

Back before tv stars commonly took their shirts off and gay porn was unheard-of, Grandpa got his beefcake by watching sports.  Wrestling was the best for bulk and baskets, but for the most exposed skin, you had to go with swimming. 

Here's what Grandpa (or Great-Grandpa) was looking at in 1952.

The University of Melbourne.

The Burton School.

The University of Texas

The University of Georgia

The Salem YMCA

Oct 10, 2017

From Walt Whitman to Tommy Miles in 4 Hookups

Guildford, Surrey,  August 1917

Maurice was born in Dorchester but grew up in London, where his father was a chemist, a justice of the peace, and an amateur thespian.  As a boy he loved everything about the theater -- the lights, the costumes, the dark tragedy, the clowning.  He also loved music, especially Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and fine arts, especially the nude Greek statues at the British Museum.  Was there ever any boy, he wondered, who found such joy in Greek statues?  Or in the soldiers going off to fight in the Great War, in their tight-fitting uniforms?

One day during the heart of the War, Maurice stumbled upon Iolaus: A Book of Friendship, by Edward Carpenter.  His type of love, the love of men for men, throughout history, even in the days of the Bible!

Discrete inquiries revealed that Carpenter was living in Guildford, Surrey, about 30 miles south of London.  So one day Maurice took the train out to visit him.

Carpenter was in his 70s, but still athletic -- he worked out with barbells every morning.  He lived with George Merrill, about 20 years younger: "a comrade, a helpmeet, the rib taken from Adam's belly -- that's George to me."

And that was the point of manly love, Carpenter explained: "adhesive friendships," intense erotic bonds that could transcend time and space.  "Do you know Walt Whitman?"

Maurice didn't.

"Oh, wonderful prophet of manly love!  He recited: Clear to me now standards not yet published, clear to me that my soul, that the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades.  In 1877,  I visited him in Camden and bestowed upon him the everlasting kiss of many love."

His hand strayed down to Maurice's knee.  He began to get aroused.

"The everlasting...um...what?"

June 1970

Nearing the end of a long career on stage and tv and radio, Maurice, for a lark, took a role as a flamboyant, theatrical warlock, Samantha's father on Bewitched (1964-1971).  It was great fun, and he became close to William Asher and Elizabeth Montgomery, and their circle of gay friends: Dick Sargent (who played Darrin), Paul Lynde (Uncle Arthur), Richard Deacon, Wally Cox.

He was particularly taken by Randy, a fresh-faced young cowboy with a hairy chest and a perfectly enormous basket.  One night he went out to the clubs with Randy and Dick Sargent, and afterwards invited them back to his "pad" (actually a very nice house in Beverly Hills) for a nightcap.

"The younger generation is...er. where it is at, as they say." Maurice exclaimed.   "We never had anything so open in my day -- it was all about code words and beards.  Have you ever heard of Edward Carpenter?"

 Randy and Dick looked at each other and shrugged.

"He was a wonderful precursor of today's Gay Lib.  I have a first edition of Iolaus around here somewhere.  But for all his passion, he still used code.  He called homosexuality 'manly love of comrades.'  And do you know what he called French?  'The everlasting kiss of manly love.  Poetic, what?"

"Very," Randy said.  The music, the wine, the cruising were starting to effect him.  Maurice saw a definite tent in his jeans.

August 2017

Randall, the guy on Grindr, must be at least 70 -- older than Tommy's grandfather!  Tommy Miles liked older guys, but not that much older!  Still, he had a nicely muscled physique, and an interest in BDSM -- one of Tommy's fantasies was to be tied up and topped by an authority figure, a cop or a professor.  "It wouldn't hurt to ask for a cock pic," he thought.

He sent one of his own cock, and opened the one Randall sent -- bingo!  Enormous!

Randall insisted that they meet for dinner at a Chinese restaurant, which made Tommy a bit uncomfortable -- what would his friends think, if they saw him on a date with an old guy?  They'd think he was a hustler with his sugar daddy, or that he had a grandpa fetish.  Which, to be honest, he sort of did.

Mistaking his apprehension for being in the closet, Randall said "We don't need to hide anymore. There's still a lot of work to do, but things are a lot better for us than they were even 20 years ago, and especially when I was a boy, before Stonewall."

"What's Stonewall?" Tommy asked.

"You never heard of Stonewall?  It was only the beginning of Gay Liberation, when we started fighting back.  Before Stonewall, gay sex was illegal, it was illegal to go to bars or discuss gay issues in public, and we were labeled psychopaths by the American Psychiatric Association and subjected to electroshock therapy and forced castration."

"Wow."  He had no idea that gay sex had ever been illegal, or gay people deemed mentally ill.

"I was at the first gay right march in Los Angeles, in June 1970.  The police hated gays then, so we had trouble with harassment, and the city council thought..."

They returned to Randall's house, and he showed Tommy some books on gay history and culture.   The Gay Liberation Front...the Mattachine Society...Paris in the 1920s...Edward Carpenter...Walt Whitman.

 "Walt Whitman?  My high school was named after him!  Nobody ever told me that he was gay!"

"Fun fact," Randall said.  "When I was young, I went down on Maurice Evans, the movie star.  In 1917, when he was a teenager, Maurice went down on with Edward Carpenter, who, 50 years before, went down on Walt Whitman."

"A chain of hookups across gay history!" Tommy exclaimed.  "Cool!"

"Care to...um...continue the tradition?" Randall asked.

Full of life now, compact, visible, I, 48 years old, to one a century hence, or any number of centuries hence,
To you, yet unborn.
Now it is you, compact, visible, reading  my poems, seeking me;  
Fancying how happy you would be, if I could be with you, and become your comrade. 
Be not too certain that I am not now with you.

The uncensored story is on Tales of West Hollywood

Oct 9, 2017

Wally Cox: Was Mr. Peepers Gay?

On February 9, 1970, Here's Lucy starred Alan Hale Jr. as Moose Manley (yes, that's his name), who worries that his son Wally (Wally Cox) is not manly enough -- he's "shy around girls."

I had never heard of Wally Cox before, but I knew all about the adults trying to push you into liking girls.

First Dad sets up Wally on a date with Lucy.  That doesn't work, so Dad gets Wally a job as a night watchman, and has Lucy pretend to be a burglar.  A real burglar shows up, Wally rises to the occasion, and Dad is satisfied.  Without "discovering girls."

Born in 1924, Wally Cox had a small frame and nasal voice that made him ideal for milquetoast roles, prissy, ineffectual, and not particularly interested in girls (although they often liked him).  Another example of the 1950s penchant for gay-vague characters.

He played junior high science teacher Mr. Peepers (1952-54), with Patricia Benoit as the woman trying to snare him and gay-positive Tony Randall as his ladies-man best friend.

Newspaper proofreader turned globetrotting adventurer Hiram Holliday (1956-57).

Bird-watcher P. Caspar Biddle on three episodes of  The Beverly Hillbillies (1966), who draws the attention of Ellie Mae.

Officious bureaucrats and other party-dampeners in several Disney movies.

He also provided the voice of superhero parody Underdogand was a fixture on the game show Hollywood Squares for 11 years (his last appearance was on February 26, 1973, a few days after his death).

Although small, Wally was athletic and very muscular. He often bemoaned his milquetoast typecasting, which prohibited him from taking his shirt off and displaying his physique.

Many years later I discovered that Wally grew up with the bisexual Marlon Brando, and roomed with him when he first moved to Los Angeles. He married women three times, but he and Brando continued to be close, and when they died, their ashes were combined and scattered together.

If you need more evidence that Wally Cox was gay: he was also friends with Sal Mineo, Nick Adams, and the whole 1950s Hollywood gay and gay-positive crowd.

Oct 8, 2017

Halloween Tales of Beefcake

Tales of Halloween (2015) is an anthology of 10 Halloween-themed stories.  It made the rounds of film festivals and was released on video-on-demand, and now is streaming on Netflix.

The stories all have different writers and directors, so they vary tremendously in tone, some grotesquely violent, some humorous. And in quality: clever, even intriguing plotlines juxtaposed with boring cliches.

But they have one thing in common: they cast some of the most attractive beefcake stars who ever sat on a casting couch.

1. "Sweet Tooth": A candy-seeking serial killer, with  Austin Falk as Kyle.

2. And Hunter Smit as the Killer.

3. "The Night Billy Raised Hell": a young boy eggs the house of a reclusive man who turns out to be the Devil.  With Adam Pascal as The Dentist.

4. "Ding Dong": A man learns that his wife eats children.  With Marc Senter as Jack.

5. "Trick": Vigilante trick-or-treaters.  With John F. Beach as James.

More after the break.

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