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 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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