Jan 6, 2018

Was Pugsley Addams Gay?

Picture it: the mid-1960s.  The height of the Flower Power generation, when the teenagers were wearing long hair and tie-dye t-shirts and grooving on the Beatles, and kids read comic books, listened to "The Monster Mash," and fought aliens in the red deserts of Mars.

There were kids everywhere, a dozen third, fourth, and fifth-graders on every block in every city, and tv was catering to them with a huge number of kid-friendly series.

Think of all the boys your age who you were watching every week in the mid-sixties, on The Andy Griffith Show, Family Affair, Lost in Space, The Munsters, The Addams Family, Maya, The Lucy Show, Flipper, Daniel Boone, My Three Sons, and Tarzan.

Quite a large number turned out to be gay or bisexual.

I have dating or hookup stories about four of them, so far.
1. Jay North (Maya).
2. Manuel Padilla, Jr. (Tarzan)
3. Ron Howard (The Andy Griffith Show)

Can you guess the fourth?

Hint: When the show ended, he never appeared on screen again, except for reunions and interviews, his half-brother was also an actor, and his aunt was Broadway singer Ruby Keeler.

Ken Weatherwax, who played Pugsley Addams on The Addams Family (1964-66).

Born in September 1955, Ken Weatherwax grew up in a family of celebrity dog trainers: his uncles and cousins Frank, Jack, William, Rudd, Jackie, and Bob, owned the Weatherwax Kennels, where they trained dogs for such programs as Lassie, Old Yellow, A Dog of Flanders, and Sounder.  Weatherwax Dog Training is still in business in Simi Valley, California.

 His aunt was Ruby Keeler, and his older half-brother Joey D. Vieira, who starred in n Lassie  (1954-57) under the stage name Donald Keeler.

Joey was rather pudgy, too.  His character was named Porky. Later he played "Roly-Poly Bates" on My Three Sons and "Fat Kid" on Arrest and Trial.

Of course, Pugsley was supposed to be unattractive, an antidote to the cutie-pies on all the other programs (his original name was Pubert, and in Portuguese, it's Feioso, "Ugly").  So the makeup crew tried their best to make him unappealing, and he paid for it later.

Typecast, Ken never acted again, except to voice his character in the Addams Family cartoon show (1973) and do a walk-on as a grown-up Pugsley in Halloween with the Addams Family (1977).

And in public school, the kids never let him forget that he was Pugsley.

The rest of the story, with nude photos (adults only), is on Boomer's Gay Celebrity Dating Stories

The Gay Connection of Three Radio Tarzans

By 1930, radio was the most popular medium in the United States.  Over 50% of urban and 30% of rural households had radios at home, and you could also listen at bars, nightclubs, restaurants.  Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan had already made a splash in fiction and the movies; it was time to break into radio.

1. The first series premiered in September 1932, with Joan Burroughs (daughter of ERB) as Jane and James Pierce as Tarzan. Broadcast for 15 minutes three times a week, it was aimed heavily at the kiddie market, with a special Tarzan Club that soon grew to 400,000 members.

James Pierce (1900-1983) was a struggling actor and football coach at Glendale High School when he went to a party hosted by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The 50 year old writer, Burroughs took one look at the tall, handsome, muscular athlete and asked him to star in the next Tarzan picture, Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927).  The two remained close friends for the rest of Burroughs' life, and eventually Pierce married Joan.

Pierce continued to work on radio through the 1940s, and took minor roles in movies as guards, henchmen, police officers, and characters with names like "Big Man" and "Burly Man."  When Burroughs died in 1950, Pierce and his wife left Hollywood and moved to Shelbyville, Indiana.  He died in 1983; his tombstone reads "Tarzan."

2. Two radio serials aired in 1934 and 1936: Tarzan and the Diamonds of Ashur and Tarzan and the Fires of Tohr, starring Carlton Kadell (aka Karlton KaDell). Born in 1905 in Indiana, he moved to Hollywood in the early 1930s, where he appeared on such programs as Amos and Andy, The Edgar Bergen Show, Jack Armstrong All American Boy, Red Ryder, and Big Town.   

Kadell was gay.  In 1949 he was arrested on a morals charge after asking an undercover officer if he wanted "to have a good time" and making additional "lewd propositions."  He denied the charge, but still had to leave Hollywood and move to Chicago, where he became the announcer for the program Classical Kaleidoscope.  He died in 1975.

3. In 1951-1952, Tarzan returned to radio with a half-hour show, portrayed by Lamont Johnson (1922-2010).   75 weekly episodes aired.  Johnson later became a tv actor and director, with credits including That Certain Summer (1972), about a boy discovering that his dad is gay, and Paul's Case (1980), about a young gay man who steals money so he can run away to the city.

Movie Tarzan Gordon Scott was reputedly gay, and Johnny Weissmuller bisexual. That makes for a substantial gay connection for the Lord of the Apes.

See also: The Sons of Two Famous Actors Hook Up with Tarzan; Johnny Sheffield Almost Becomes Tarzan's Lover

Jan 5, 2018

Jackie Coogan's Boyfriend

When I met Keith Coogan in 2013, nearly the first thing I asked was, "Whose idea was the underwear scene in Toy Soldiers? (1991).

You're making a movie about the boys at an elite boarding school being held hostage by terrorists.  Whose idea was it to have the cast, composed entirely of teenage hunks, in their underwear all the time?

Not that I minded. I especially didn't mind getting an eyeful of Keith's bulge.

Keith insisted that there was no homoerotic intent.  Those scenes took place at night, when they were stripped down for bed.  They got to choose their own underwear, so he wore his regular "tighty whities."

Not that he minds the attention from gay fans: he's been a gay ally his whole life.  He learned all about gay people a long time ago, from his grandfather, Jackie Coogan

Famous to Baby Boomers as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family, Jackie Coogan was one of Hollywood's first child stars, co-starring with Charlie Chaplin in The Kid (1924) at the age of 7.

He went on to play Peck's Bad Boy, Oliver Twist, Toby Tyler, and Huckleberry Finn before moving into a long career as an adult character actor, appearing in everything from College Swing (1938) to Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels (1977).  He had four wives, including World War II pin-up girl Betty Grable.  He struggled with heart and kidney disease through his life, and finally died of heart failure in 1984, at the age of 69.

Daughter Leslie Diane, born in 1953, left home at age 15, and married, had Keith, and divorced within the next year.  Keith grew up in poverty, his mother working odd jobs and getting government assistance; for awhile they lived in a changing room on the tennis court outside the Malibu mansion where Leslie worked as a housekeeper.

Leslie wasn't happy about Keith's decision to become an actor, but she agreed to drive him around for auditions; he began doing commercials at age 5, got his first movie role at age 8, and landed a recurring spot on The Waltons at age 9.

Grandpa Jackie was a constant presence in his life, visiting every summer,  advising him on his acting career ("always know exactly where your money is going"), telling him stories of Old Hollywood.  Raunchy stories about men caught with their pants down in actresses' dressing rooms, all male parties where the guy with the biggest penis won a prize (Ramon Novarro always won.)   One of his favorite stories was about his teenage boyfriend, Junior Durkin:

The rest of the story, with nude photos and sexual content, is on Gay Celebrity Dating Stories

Jan 3, 2018

Toy Soldiers: Muscle on Parade

Every once in a while, a movie producer hires all of the teen hunks he can find, puts them in an all-male environment, and orders a script that involves fighting a common adversary with their shirts off, thus ensuring the avid interest of every gay boy in the world: Tom Brown's School Days, Bless the Beasts and Children, Lord of the Flies, White Water SummerWhite Squall.  In 1991, the movie was Toy Soldiers.

The plot: terrorists take over an elite prep school for the sons of the wealthy and powerful, and take the boys and their headmaster hostage.  The boys use their troublemaking skills to gather intel on the terrorists, and wise-cracking operator Billy Tepper (20-year old Sean Astin, left) sneaks out to brief the adults.

When they turn out to be ineffectual, Billy and his friends, including comic relief Snuffy (21-year old Keith Coogan, middle) and surly bodybuilder Ricky (19-year old George Perez, right), go on the offensive, incapacitating several terrorists, disabling their bomb, and leading the  younger kids to safety, just in time to be "rescued."

Other boys include the rich "jerk" Joey (19-year old Wil Wheaton, well known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: the Next Generation).

And T. E. Russell as the pragmatic Hank.

Sean Astin (Billy) was a major teen idol of the period, with roles in The Goonies, The War of the Roses, White Water Summer, and Rudy).  

Keith Coogan (Snuffy) was a former child star with credits in Adventures in Babysitting and The Book of Love.  

There's some buddy-bonding between Billy and Snuffy, but with a large ensemble cast, it's not well developed.

However, heterosexual interest is absent, except for a scene in which Billy confiscates a Playboy from one of the younger kids.  There are references to getting laid and masturbation, but no one mentions a girlfriend or a desire for girls.

Absence of expressed heterosexual desire is almost unheard-off in a teen movie of the 1990s, giving viewers permission to read one or more of the boys -- or all of them -- as gay.

And the parade of underwear-clad, towel-clad, and shirtless teenage muscle (or rather young adult muscle, since all of the actors were over 18) didn't hurt.

There's a Keith Coogan story on Gay Celebrity Dating Stories

Jan 2, 2018

Adam Mastrelli Reveals "Untold Secrets"

Watching tv on the treadmill at the gym during the daytime is usually awful. 

Endless reruns of Friends.  I get it: Joey is stupid, Chandler is neurotic, Phoebe is judgmental, and none of them are funny.

The Loud Family 35 times a day on Nickelodeon.

Austin and Allie on the Disney Channel (still?). 

Reality tv programs about pawn shops and interior design. 

The last 5 minutes of a movie.

. Sports, sports, sports, sports, and sports. 

And when you do hit something interesting, it will end in a few seconds to make way for a 5-minute commercial break (1/6th of my run!).

So it was quite a pleasant surprise the other day, when I came across a program about George Washington as a Mason.  I'm interested in the paranormal and secret societies, so I kept watching.

It turned out to be Untold Secrets a Travel Channel program about "a multitude of secrets, revealing amazing facts and stranger-than-fiction anecdotes that are destined to fuel water cooler conversations for days to come."  I happened to stumble across the first, and so far, only episode, "George Washington."

The "historical investigator" is 42-year old Adam Mastrelli, "a modern day Renaissance man," an actor with credits on General Hospital, Rescue Me, and a number of Broadway shows, including Yo, Alice (a hiphop version of Alice in Wonderland)

He also does something with IBM, and he is involved with Grassroots Soccer, an organization founded by former soccer pro Ethan Zohn (top photo),  dedicated to using soccer for AIDS prevention.

Adam has no wife listed on IMDB, so he's probably gay.  I'm not sure about his history credentials: he has a B.A. in sociology from Duke.  But he has quite a nice physique.

Beats watching Joey, Ross, and Phoebe for the umpteenth time.

Jan 1, 2018

A World War II Photographer Finds Beefcake in Japanese Internment Camps

You know that 120,000 Japanese-Americans were "evacuated" from their homes and placed in internment camps during World War II. You may not know that the Farm Security Administration confiscated over 10,000 farms owned by Japanese-Americans in four states, took bids on what white people would become the new "overseers," rounded up the farmers and their families, and put them in special camps where they could continue to work the land.   

In July 1942, the Farm Security Administration sent Russell Lee (1903-1986) to document life in the Minidoka Camp near Rupert, Idaho, perhaps to ease the guilty conscience of the American people by insisting that life in the camps was quite nice.

He photographs the inmates at work growing beans and potatoes, taking down the American flag at night, playing pingpong, going swimming. 

A chef carves meat for the communal dinner -- no ration stamps or meatless Tuesdayshere!

This inmate is writing a letter by the light of a kerosine lamp.  See, the barracks have all the comforts of home!

Inmates, who Lee calls "farm workers," playing a board game.

A large number of the photos show shirtless. muscular men.  Of course, it was hot in Rupert, Idaho in July 1942, and many inmates did take their shirts off, but perhaps Lee wanted to capture the beauty of Japanese men for people who were used to seeing only grotesque stereotypes.

After taking photos of the internment camp, Lee went into town and photographed some white boys going swimming, as if to signify that local residents welcomed the Japanese-Americans.  As if they lived together in harmony.

Or at least side by side.  No Japanese-Americans appear in the photos of the white boys swimming.

Dec 31, 2017

Keanu Reeves Bottoms for Drake

When I was living in West Hollywood in the 1980s and 1990s, everybody "knew" that Keanu Reeves, star of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, My Own Private Idaho, Little Buddha, and Speed,  was gay, and a BDSM top.

Will the Bondage Boy said that his first BDSM experience was a role-playing scene with Keanu and his friend Scott.

Marshall claims to have seen him at a bear party, wearing fetish gear.  He didn't do anything, but he left with a Cute Young Thing.

A guest at one of Will's parties claimed to have bottomed for him in a scene in Silverlake.

But this is the only story I heard about Keanu Reeves as a BDSM bottom.

Silverlake, July 1990

Call me Drake.  We lived in California at the same time.  It's a pity we never met -- we would have had a lot in common.  I'm five years older than you, from Illinois, I grew up in a fundamentalist household, and I'm a gym rat, working out three or four hours a day even in my 60s.    I think I also knew Will the Bondage Boy, if you're describing who I think you are.

There are a surprising number of black guys into BDSM, which is a problem because of the fetishists.

 Lots of white guys want to be with you just because you are black; they're not really into dominance, discipline, or pain at all.  Regardless of how well you prep them in advance, the moment you pull out the whip, they're squealing their safe word, and the scene is ruined.

So I was very careful in the 1980s.  I would only top guys who I knew, or who came recommended by a friend.  And none of these "bi-curious" closet types; if you get off on ladies stomping on your chest with stiletto heels, keep out of my dungeon, baby.

One night after a scene, a bottom named Steve and I were chatting.  He was telling me about some of the other guys who had topped him, and he mentioned Keanu Reeves.

"Keanu Reeves?  From Bill and Ted?" I balked. "I know he's gay, but what a nimrod!  Like, now I'm going to totally whip your most excellent penis, dude."

"He's not a nimrod, Sir, he just plays one. He's actually very intellectual -- he reads Camus and all that.  And he's a great top -- really good with role-playing scenes, I guess because he's such a good actor."

Actually, I found the other guy in Bill and Ted (Alex Winter) much hotter, but it might be fun to dominate the dopey Ted,  wipe that dazed expression off his face. "Does he ever bottom?"

The full story, with nude photos and sexual situations, is on Gay Celebrity Dating Stories

Sandy Baron's "God Save the Queens": The First Gay-Positive Comedy Album

I knew Sandy Baron as the hot, shirtless, allergic-to-women John Marino in If This is Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium (1969), and, thirty years later, as the irascible next-door-neighbor of Jerry's parents on Seinfeld (1991-1997).

But he had a long career: starting as a Borscht Belt comedian, performing with the legendary Lenny Bruce, appearing on the parody news program That Was The Week That Was (1962-63), starring with Will Hutchins in the sitcom Hey, Landlord (1966-67), and appearing in dozens of movies, game shows, and talk shows in the 1970s and 1980s.  He appeared on hundreds of college campuses

Like many comedians of the era, Baron released comedy albums, mostly recordings of his stand up-routines: The Sickniks, Out of the Mouth of Babes, I Never Let School Interfere with my Education.

In 1972 Baron and Methodist minister James R. McGraw  released"God Save the Queens."  The cover art parodied Disney's Snow White:  a muscular, shirtless prince leaves a tree-house after an unspecified encounter, while forest animals look on.  The person inside calls "Chow [ciao]."

It represents one of the first times in modern history where gay people appeared in mass media as anything but limp-wristed pansies.   The target of most of the jokes is an oblivious or homophobic straight person who cannot adapt to the gay people in his life:

1. It Happened One Night: A man reveals to his wife that he once had a same-sex experience.

2. Do You Take This Man: at a gay wedding, the father of the "bride or whatever" objects.  Because he doesn't approve of interracial marriage..

3. That Was Your Life: The #1 Male Box Office Star in the World, Stone St. Lawrence, is outed during a parody of the biography show This is Your Life.

4. Awe in the Family.  A gay man tries to come out to his parents, who misunderstand and think he's gotten a girl pregnant.  His father reveals that he had a similar "problem" in his youth.

5. Clockwork Pink.  Electroshock therapy used to "cure" gay men.

6. The Plot. A man rants about how gays are "taking over," controlling our toilet paper and dogs.

7. Buy Gay. A man planning to open a gay boutique seeks advice from an elderly Jewish merchant, who misunderstands "gay" as "goy."

8. The Politician.  A politician tries to court gay voters with laughably homophobic statements: "As long as there are no children around, a homo should be able to live anywhere he wants to."

9. The Counselor and the Hustler.  A "gay for pay" hustler goes to a gay employment service.

10. A Fairy Tale: The Queen Came Out of the Closet.  About Prince Different, who lives in a closet in the Land of Normal, but is encouraged to come out through the power of "pride."

Three years later, in an interview in The Advocate, Baron revealed that he cut the album in order to strike a blow for social equality for a minority group.  And for the money.

You can listen to the entire album on Queer Musical Heritage.

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