Nov 3, 2017

The Men and Boys of Coney Island

Coney Island is a peninsula in southern Brooklyn, about an hour by subway from Penn Station.  It consists of four neighborhoods (Seagate, West Brighton, Brighton Beach, and Manhattan Beach).  Beginning in the 1870s, thousands of New Yorkers tried to escape the summer heat by heading out to the beaches of Coney Island every weekend.

When they weren't swimming, they could walk along the boardwalk for snacks (hot dogs with chili were invented there), and eventually other attractions: side-show acts, carnival rides, burlesque shows, bodybuilders.

Coney Island had its own muscle beach.

Two amusement parks developed, Luna Park and Dreamland, with rides, games, and carnival acts.

It was the place to go for working-class New Yorkers.  They have included fond memories of Coney Island into dozens of movies (Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Wanderers) and tv programs (Seinfeld, The Golden Girls), in songs and poems and novels.

And, of course, photographers roamed the crowds, capturing the joy and pain of the young men who came for momentary relief from the drudgery of everyday life.

These boys are doing some sort of feat of strength on Muscle Beach in 1905.

Why no swimsuit? Was this a spur-of-the-moment outing, or couldn't he afford one?

This guy seems to have lost his pants.  Nice bulge.

Harold Feinstein (1931-2015) was born on Coney Island, and began photographing Coney Island boys and men at age fifteen.

This is Muscle Beach, 1967, aka two guys holding hands.

More after the break.

7 Beefcake Stars in Kai's Cult in "American Horror Story"

In the new season of American Horror story, creepy Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) starts a "Make America Great Again" cult with some disenfranchised women and an army of blue-jacket thugs.  Good for his plans of taking control of the U.S. and becoming the next Orange Goblin, and good for viewers, since we get to see the super-hunks cast as thugs in their underwear, listening to "bedtime stories" about cult suicides.

The thugs all have whimsical names, to depersonalize them.  They are:

1. Speed Wagon: Cameron Cowperthwaite, who can also be seen on The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt and several gay-themed shorts.

2. Sandstorm: Jess Allen, who has a long list of credits playing bullies, thugs, henchmen, "Buff Guy," and Claire's friend on Modern Family.

3. Pus Bucket: Caleb Foote.  I think he's the one on the left, with the abs.

4. Heart Attack: Johnny Gorman, in his first tv role.

5. Tripod: Dustin King, also in his first tv role.  I assume he's Tripod because he has a third leg.

6. Gutterball: Kaiwi Lyman, originally from Hawaii, a Hollywood fixture since 2003. 

7. Unnamed: Danny Belford, who has had guest spots on a dozen tv series and Grease Live (2016), mostly as a dancer.


One night I channel-surfed onto Hustle (2004-2012), a British comedy-drama about a group of amiable con artists. Young-gun Danny Blue (Marc Warren) meets Troy (Lee Ingleby) in a bar. They talk for hours. Then Danny says goodbye, starts to walk away, realizes that he doesn’t want to part, and rushes back to Troy again, surely a “falling in love” moment. In the next scene, apparently the morning after their sexual intimacy, Danny is introducing Troy to his colleagues and petitioning to include him in their latest con.

 Throughout, the two display a remarkably expressive physicality, with full-body hugs, arms around shoulders, hands pressed against chests. “Obviously a gay couple,” I thought. At the end of the episode we discover that Danny has just being feigning interest in order to orchestrate a revenge-con against the unscrupulous Troy. But still, the interest Danny feigned was overtly homoerotic, to the point of probably sleeping with him. 


I tuned in the next week, and the next. Danny’s job in the con always involves bonding with attractive men, and never flirting with women, not even a receptionist or secretary. When he must pretend to have sex with a female colleague (so the mark can hear them through the wall and conclude that they are a couple), he can barely restrain his giggles. Off duty, he is seen only with guys. He gazes with palpable desire at gang leader Mickey Bricks (Adrian Lester). Obviously scripted as gay, I thought. I even checked online to see if Marc Warren had played gay before (he had, twice). 

 Then, in the fourth episode, Danny is juggling girlfriends from all over the world, using different cell phones to keep track of the lies he used to woo them. Hustle took just four weeks to heterosexualize its gay character.

Nov 2, 2017

Clark Brandon

The 1970s was awash with androgynous teen idols, soft and slim with wavy hair, pretty faces, and flamboyant pastel outfits, girlish in tone and gesture.  They didn't do a lot of acting or singing, but nevertheless they were featured incessantly in Tiger Beat and Dynamite, and posted on millions of bedroom walls.

Clark Brandon was the prettiest and most flamboyant of the lot.  He didn't have to do much to rate "fave rave" status. He starred in some after-school specials; The Fitzpatricks, a family-angst drama (with Jimmy McNichol); the short-lived Out of the Blue (with Rad Daly).

Mr. Merlin (1981-82) was about a boy who finds the sword Excalibur in a modern-day auto garage, and becomes an apprentice to the mythical wizard Merlin.  The hunky Jonathan Prince played his gay-subtext best friend.

He had a small role in The Chicken Chronicles, with Steve Guttenberg. Later he played the butch Jo's boyfriend on The Facts of Life.

All he really had to do was look pretty, so gay boys and their straight gal pals could discuss his dreaminess.

In the 1990s he moved into writing and directing, a common career path for grown-up teen idols. 

Today he's the Dean of Students at the Arete Academy in West Los Angeles. In a relationship, but he won't say with who.

Nov 1, 2017

Friday Fun Day: 3 Hookups and a Flake

After my amazing success with a craigslist ad a few weeks ago, I've been putting the ad up again every Friday, when I don't have to be on campus.   Last week was a dud, but this week was quite successful.  Until I flew too close to the sun.

9:30 am: Chris, 33, 6'0, 160, asks "How do I know this isn't a setup?"

"Gay sex is legal in this state," I answer.

He arrives wearing a dirty orange construction company sweater: scruffy beard, a very smooth, very skinny physique.

11:30 am: Grant, 44, 6'0, 250, say that he was waiting for his nephew to get out of his appointment with his probation officer.

2:00 pm. Wayne, 65, 6'0, 200, from Minnesota, in town for a conference.

I bring him into the bedroom and start kissing him.

Oct 31, 2017

Halloween Horror: Cruising in the Scariest Place on Earth

Hell, October, 2017

We're only 30 miles from Hell.

I'm spending fall break with Jonathan Peng Lee, my hustler/engineer/paranormal enthusiast/gym rat friend who I met 12 years ago at Alan's funeral.  It's two days before Halloween, and he has promised to bring me to the scariest place on Earth.

I expected a haunted house, but no: we're spending two nights in Lynchburg, Virginia!

How did I let Jon talk me into this foolhardy trip?  Over an hour driving through the Shenandoah Valley that General Sherman burned, through Arkham...I mean Amherst...Stonewall -- no connection to the birthplace of gay rights -- Greif (grief misspelled by rednecks).

Now it's only 20 miles to Hell.

The site of Thomas Road Baptist Church, where Jerry Falwell, the biggest homophobe in the world, spewed his venom.  The site of Homophobia University, where the top homophobes in the country send 15,000 of their kids to be indoctrinated into how to hate us more.

We're going undercover as fundamentalists, but still, I doubt we'll make it out alive.

""Why would anyone name a city after the mob murders of thousands of African-Americans in the years after the Civil War?" I wonder.

"It was named before that, after its founder, who ran a ferry in the 1780s," Jon reads off wikipedia. "Hey, guess what?  He was an abolitionist.  Progressive, huh?"

"Oh, very.  I'll bet he was pro-gay, too."

We cross nameless suburbs, then the River Styx (I mean James).

My first view of Hell: Eerie yellow lights, a dark stormy sky, the dark tower like something out of Mordor.

We have a reservation at Craddock Terry Hotel on Commerce Street, "steeped in history."  There's a giant woman's shoe over the lobby.

"Fabulous, isn't it?"  Jon says sarcastically.

"Don't use that word.  Remember, undercover -- one room, two beds, and call me 'Brother.'"

"Whatever you say, darling."

We have dinner at a place called Bootleggers, a couple of blocks away.  You enter from the basement: "like you're entering a speakeasy."  There's a gigantic mural of old-time rednecks.  I order a turkey burger and truffle-laced french fries.

Rather elegant for Hell, I have to admit.

Afterwards we return to our hotel room and go on Grindr to look for a hookup.  I expect a lot of married closet-case-angst types, but we end up inviting over a student from one of the local colleges -- not Homophobia University.  He's a Humanities major, and on the swim team.

"You must be closeted among your teammates," I say.

"Oh, no, not at all.  Everyone on the team is completely supportive. The captain is majoring in Human Services with a concentration in LGBTQ Advocacy."

LGBTQ Advocacy?  WTF?

"Not everybody in town is as backwards as that other university," he says.  "Too bad you won't be here next spring.  They're doing The Laramie Project at the Renaissance Theater."

He spends the night, but doesn't go out for breakfast with us: waffles at the White Hart Cafe, which is also a used bookstore. No gay books per se, but I do find a biography of Truman Capote.

"What do you want to do today?" Jon asks.  He reads the possibilities from Trip Advisor: "A children's museum, the city museum, a historic mansion, the old cemetery with a Confederate Monument, the Pest House Medical Museum..."

"Have a lot of pestilence in Hell, do they?"

After breakfast we visit the old mansion, the Point of Honor, and go hiking at Blackwater Creek, where I could swear I am being cruised by a cute twink  AND I see what looks suspiciously like a couple of gay dads with their kid.  Lunch is Szechuan Shrimp (surprisingly not terrible) and Collector's Lair to look at new comics and graphics novels.

Then we hit Randolph College, a fine old brick college where the news magazine has an article about an alumnus who has returned to teach mathematics.  He's "involved with LGBTQ Advocacy Programs like the Change Project."

Change?  Uh-oh.  Sounds ex-gay.

We seek out his office hours.  Turns out the organization is meant to "elevate the voices of LGBTQ people throughout the Deep South."

"Most people in town are pretty progressive," he says.  "We try to distance ourselves from that university down the pike.  For instance..."  He closes his office door and points out the calendar.

Shirtless, muscular firemen!  WTF??

"Twelve local firefighters posed shirtless for this calendar, to raise money for cancer research." {Photo by Allison Creasy]

"Hmph!  For ladies only, I suppose. Heterosexist tripe!"

"Oh, no, it's for everyone.  'Everyone is welcome.'"

"So....I'll bet there are no gay organizations in town except for some closeted 'support groups.'"

"Well, there's the Diversity Center on Jefferson, sort of our gay community center. They have movie nights and First Friday art shows.  There's a gay community choir...."

"Yeah, sounds dismal...."

We just have time to check out the campus gym, to gawk at the muscular, bulge-worthy college students lifting weights and playing basketball before "Meditation Monday" at the Maier Museum of Art, led by a practitioner in Buddhist meditation.

Several of the regulars look like they could be Friends of Dorothy, including a tall, ripped guy in his 30s.  He introduces himself as Zeke, an IT director for a health care service in town.

" from the Midwest and I are visiting for the day," Jon says. "Maybe you could recommend someplace that's active on a Monday night?"

He grins.  "There aren't any bars in Virginia, really, but a lot of the restaurants draw an eclectic clientele.  Have you heard of the Kegney Brothers?  I'll be happy to show you..."

It's another brew pub in yet another historic building downtown (established 1879).  Practically deserted on a Monday night, and the few patrons are all male-female couples.  Our waiter is wearing a rainbow flag lapel, though.

I order the shepherd's pie.  Zeke, who is vegetarian, surprisingly, orders the curried vegetables.

"Sorry," Zeke says.  "I thought it would be more active.  Maybe later."

We decide that it's safe to out ourselves.  "Any gay activities in town?"

"They have a LGBT queer-e-oke at the Unitarian Church on Wednesday nights," Zeke says, "And I don't know if you're into it, but there's a sex party at a guy I know's house every other Saturday."

"We're leaving tomorrow, unfortunately," Jon says.  "But if you want to call the guy you know, we can have a mini-party."

So we visit the guy Zeke knows, an organist at the Holy Cross Catholic Church -- there are Catholics in Hell?  In his 40s, rather portly, collects spoons, of all things.  With a rather hot twink boyfriend.

After a five-person mini-sex party, we stumble back to our hotel room and go to bed.

In the morning, we have breakfast in the hotel and a brief workout at the downtown YMCA before it's time to head back to Charlottesville and a gay Halloween party.

"Boy, am I glad to be out of that place!" I say.  "I couldn't have stood it for another minute!"

"I know -- it was awful!"  Jon exclaims.  "Now I know what Hell feels like."

An explicit version of this story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also:  Alan's Gift From Beyond the Grave.

Top 20 October Dates, Hookups, and Sausage Sightings

It's October, my favorite month of the year!  The days get longer, tv and theater seasons are in full swing, the air is brisk, running outside is a pleasure rather than a sweaty chore.  You get apple cider and pumpkin pie.  And the scary, paranormal events that are rare in July happen every day.

Ray Bradbury calls this The October Country: where the hills are fog and the rivers are mist; where noons go quickly, dusks and twilights linger, and mid-nights stay. That country whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts. Whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain. 

In honor of our journey past the border into the October Country, here are my top October hookups, dates, and sausage sightings.

The linked stories are in blue.

1. October 1968: My first date.  In third grade, a cute boy invited me to a movie, which was a sin to Nazarenes.  I was certain that God was going to strike me dead with a thunderbolt. He didn't.  Instead, I got to hug a hippie.

2. October 1969: My first kiss.  From Greg, the boy vampire (also an astronomer, geologist, naturalist, and psychic), while we were watching the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.  It was a compromise; he really wanted to bite me on the neck.

3. October 1972: Why corpses are called stiffs.  In seventh grade, my friend's brother who worked in a funeral home invited us to come in and look at the corpse of a teenage boy who died that day.  I didn't know that men become aroused after death....

4. October 1974: The preacher pops a boner.  At a pre-college weekend at Olivet Nazarene College, we sat on a lounge in the student union watching a ministerial student make out with his girlfriend. Gigantic boner, the stuff of fantasies.

5. October 1979: The German Choirboy.  During my sophomore year at Augustana College, I spent a quarter abroad in Regensburg, Germany, and got my first real boyfriend, Wolfgang the Choir Boy at St. Peter's Cathedral.  We went out about a dozen times, but never actually spent the night together, since we both had roommates.

6. October 1983: The Halloween Homophobe.  Aka the night I drank 1 1/2 beers.  In grad school at Indiana University in Bloomington, my roommate Viju and I invited some guys over for a Halloween party.  Jimmy the Bodybuilder on Crutches invited his homophobic friend, who didn't know that the rest of us were all gay.  He had a meltdown!

7. October 1987: Heinz and His Crazy Obsession.  In West Hollywood, my sort-of-boyfriend Raul was living with a crazy old guy named Heinz.  I still can't eat Jimmy Dean's sausage biscuits or listen to the song "Come away wiz me to Malibu...."  I agreed to sharing, just to be polite, until I discovered Heinz's obsession.  Hint: Nasssty!

8. October 1990: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Virgin.  I had seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show in theaters twice and memorized the soundtrack, and the moment it came out on VHS, I bought a copy.  So I didn't consider myself a RHPS "Virgin,"  Nor did I think that the audience would demand a "virgin sacrifice."

9. October 1992: The Boy Next Door.  What's scary about the boy next door?  When he lies about his age, and you don't find out until after you've made the date.  Fortunately, I managed to call it off before the jail-bait scalawag arrived.

10. October 1996: My Date with the Vampire.   I may have exaggerated the oddities of Kevin the Vampire, but he definitely had a paranormal aura.  If he stared at you the right way, you would lose your free will.  That's how he got most of his dates.  He got the others with cool Bohemian looks and enormous penis.

11. October 1997: The Fireman Fantasy.   I've dated two firemen, and they've both been rather small in the penis department. Maybe that's one of the reasons they want to work with those big long hoses.  This guy came to our apartment after my crazy straight roommate put some water on the stove to boil and then left for six hours.

12. October 1999: The Boy Who Refused to Leave.  Not only did Ozzie tell an unsettling story about hooking up with John Kennedy Jr. after his death, the next day, after a hookup with me and Yuri, he refused to leave Yuri's room.  Unsettling.

13. November 2000: The Football Player Who Got Stuck in Time.  I really believe (sort of) that the University of Alabama football player I hooked up with that cold Novmber day was on a field trip from 1941.

14. October 2002: The Gay Psychic Angel.  Raphael showed up unexpectedly at my house in Florida, did a past-life regression, told me not to move to Europe, and gave me his phone number.  He was ungodly cute, an angel, but his arms didn't work, and I wimped out on calling him.  I've been kicking myself for it ever since.  I tried looking him up again recently, but I don't remember his last name, and he doesn't appear in the directory of professional psychics in Florida.

15. October 2005: The Jerk.  I've had dates with Creepy Old Guys, Sleazoids, elitists, idiots, and jerks of all kinds, but this guy was a complete, utter *hole, so nasty that it was scary.  It's a good thing we had our date on Halloween.

16. October 2008: The Satyr.    A massive guy, massively fat, with the biggest Kovbasa++++ I've ever seen, before or since.  I'm pretty sure he was a mystical being, Priapus the God of Virility, just manifesting in our reality as a super-hung chub.  His houseboy was cute, too.

17. October 2012: Assaulted in the Locker Room.  I've been yelled at and called names, but the only time I've actually been attacked was in the locker room of a gym in the gay neighborhood of Philadelphia, where a guy accused me of "looking at him" and rushed in to attack.

The full list, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Oct 30, 2017

7 Halloween Movies for Gay Kids

When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday -- no gifts of football equipment, no hanging out with boring relatives,  no Judy Garland singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."  Instead, you got to do things that were usually forbidden: dress up, roam around the neighborhood late at night, and accept candy from strangers.

Halloween movies are as likely as Christmas movies to have heterosexist plotlines.  But here are 7 where the gay subtexts outweigh the boy meeting the girl:

1. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966).  Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to rise from the pumpkin patch, Charlie Brown goes trick-or-treating and gets rocks instead of candy, and there's disappointment and heartbreak all around.

 2. Mad Monster Party? (1967).  Dr. Frankenstein invites all of the Universal monsters, plus his human nephew Felix, to a party to celebrate his discovery of "the secret of ultimate destruction": a nuclear bomb! Felix falls in love with the creature Francesca, and triggers the bomb, killing all the monsters and probably everybody else!  Oh, and he turns out to be mechanical too. But in spite of his strange hetero-romance and genocidal tendencies, Felix is "queer," an oddball outsider among both monsters and humans.

3. Hocus Pocus (1993). Teenage Max (Omri Katz, who would grow up to star in at least one gay-themed movie), fights three lesbian witches played by gay icons: Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker.  Max gets a girlfriend, but the climax involves saving his little sister and two of his male classmates, a gay bully couple.  Plus "pocket gay" Jason Marsden as Binx, a boy transformed into a black cat.

4. Halloweentown (1999). Grand dame of campy movies Debbie Reynolds is the gay-vague grandmother of a teen witch who embraces her heritage in Halloweentown.  Plus Luke (Philip Van Dyke, top photo), a cute guy who was once a goblin, and the gay-vague brother Dylan (Joey Zimmerman, left).   The sequels are no good.

5. Underfist: Halloween Bash (2008).  The minor characters of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, including Fred Fredburger, General Skarr, Boomer the Giant Spider, Hoss Delgado, and Irwin, team up to fight giant candy monsters who eat trick-or-treaters.  Like the series itself, lots of gay subtexts: Boomer and Skarr are gay-coded, Hoss and Irwin have a thing going on, and there's a surprising amount of beefcake.  It's never been released on DVD, but you can see it on youtube.

6. Paranorman (2012).  It's not set on Halloween, but you've got zombies, ghosts, a witch, and a gay teenager.

7. Hotel Transylvania (2012).  Single Dad Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his teenage daughter Mavis run a hotel for monsters.  Lots of gay symbolism in the "we are a persecuted minority!" and "we can't reveal who we really are!" rhetoric.  The human Jonathan (gay-positive Andy Samberg, left) accidentally arrives and woos Mavis, but also shares a big gay subtext with the Dad. Check out the scene where he plops into Dracula's lap in the sauna.  And the PG-13 jokes about the Invisible Man's nudity.
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