Mar 3, 2018

Alley Oop: The Time-Traveling Cave Man

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, the comics page of the Rock Island Argus was dismal -- no Peanuts, no Dennis the Menace, no Wizard of Id -- just bargain-basement knockoffs (like Winthrop) and relics from the Depression era that made no sense (like Out Our Way). The Golden Age of Newspaper Comics  (Little Nemo, Krazy Kat,  Buck Rogers) was thirty years past, and the Second Golden Age (Foxtrot, Pearls before Swine, Get Fuzzy) still thirty years in the future.

But at least there was some beefcake in Prince Valiant. And  I was intrigued by a cave man, square-headed, superbly muscled, with massive biceps and flat 8-pack abs, being held captive in a Middle Eastern palace.







What was a cave man doing in the Islamic Middle Ages?  Or in ancient Egypt, or among the Aztecs, or in the Wild West?


Eventually I discovered that the cave man was named Alley Oop, created in 1932 by V. T. Hamlin for a wacky-adventure strip set in a dinosaur-human prehistory (as in The Flintstones). But in 1939 he was zapped into the future by the grizzled Doctor Wonmug (a play on Einstein) and the young, black-haired G. Oscar Boom.  Unfazed by culture shock, Oop became a time-traveling research assistant for the duo, checking out whatever historical period the cartoonist found interesting.


Back in the prehistoric kingdom of Moo, Oop had a girlfriend, Oola; but during his time traveling adventures, he bonded mostly with men.  Often they were also semi-nude, with loving attention paid to their pecs and abs.









Oscar accompanied Oop on many of his adventures, sometimes an antagonist, sometimes a buddy.








At its heyday, the strip was a phenomenon, producing games, toys, Big-Little Books, comic books, and even a song, "Alley Oop," which charted at #15 in 1960. It still appears in 600 newspapers.  Modern continuities tend to bring Oola along as Oop's co-adventurer, but that doesn't eliminate the buddy-bonding.

Mar 2, 2018

Swim Team Beefcake

When I was in high school and college, swim meets were the only reliable place to go to gaze at muscular men -- and check out packages. Today you can download 1,000 photos of nude men before breakfast, but it's still fun to seek out the muscles and packages at swimming events -- especially because it's an open secret. 

Everyone is looking, but everyone is pretending not to notice.

1. USC Trojans getting ready to play water polo.  The one on the right looks like he's about to have a swimsuit malfunction.




2. Two out of three isn't bad, but I feel sorry for the guy on the right in the locker room.















3.  Olivet Nazarene College, where the Nazarene boys in my high school went to become preachers.  The guy on the right looks like he's ready to perform in the Floor Show number in The Rocky Horror Picture Show











4. From Sumner, a city in Washington.

















5  Camas, another city in Washington.  I know where I'm going on my next vacation.

More after the break











Mar 1, 2018

Beefcake Boys in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"


Who has a fond memory of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)?  Dolly Parton as the madam, Burt Reynolds as the sheriff, and the entire Texas Aggie football team naked in the locker room, singing about how a visit to the whorehouse is their reward for a winning season. 

Male rear nudity!  Very rare in 1982!

It's based on a 1978 Broadway musical, with Carlin Glynn as the madam, Henderson Forsythe as the sheriff, and, again, the entire Texas Aggie football team dancing in their underwear.

The controversial subject matter makes most community and little theaters shy away from it, and no high school will touch it at all, but occasionally you can find a performance, with local hunks playing Aggies parading about in their altogether.

1. Diamondhead Theater in Hawaii.  I wonder if they changed the Texas Aggies to whatever team the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.



2.Frostburg Theater in Maryland puts the guys in pants rather than towels.  As long as their chests and shoulders are out, that's fine with me.











3. The Circle Theater in Chicago is cheating.  Underwear, but mostly t-shirts.  No fair!














4. Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival in upstate New York gives us leaping cowboys.










5. Carpenter Square Theater in Oklahoma City, a real cowboy town.  But...white pants?












6. Hobby Center in Houston.  More cowboys, more white pants. 










7. Signature Theater in Washington, DC.  Pants, and open shirts instead of shirtless.  That's really cheating.








8.  The Broadway Rose Theater is in Tigart, Oregon, the other side of the continent from Broadway.  White pants and some t-shirts, not spectacular.











9.  The Palace Theater in Manchester, New Hampshire gives us some really buffed Aggies.  Too bad they can't lose the plaid shirts.









10. The Tokyo International Players hide behind a sheet.  Why don't they just draw a line across their penises, like Japanese porn?

See also: My review of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Feb 27, 2018

C. Paul Jennewein: Beefcake Sculptures on National Monuments

In the Great Hall of the Department of Justice, there's a semi-nude statue representing the Spirit of Justice.  She stands 12 feet tall, and is wearing a Roman toga, with one breast bare.  In 2002 Attorney General John Ashcroft objected to being photographed near a bare breast, so she was blocked.

 But no one seems to notice that there's another statue in the Great Hall, the Majesty of Justice, a nude male in a stylized art deco style, carrying a torch.











Both are the work of C. Paul Jennewein (1890-1978), who sculpted 57 sculptures for the building in 1933-34.  He also sculpted a lot of public works with substantial beefcake, like the figures from Greek mythology on the pediment for the Philadelphia Museum of Art.






And the Annex at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis.  This sculpture represents sculpture.

Jennewein was born in Germany and apprenticed to the Stuttgart Art Museum at age 13.  At age 17, he moved to New York, where he lived with architect Charles Lauter.  He enlisted in World War I, studied art in Rome, and then returned to New York, where he lived in the Bronx for the rest of his life.  He was married, and had five children.











While living with his wife and kids, he sculpted this massive naked man with a sword and shield in the World War I Memorial, previously located in Providence, Rhode Island.
















And this Hercules on the facade of the Education Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.













It wasn't all facades.  Here's his "American Youth"  at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium, for American soldiers who died on foreign soil.

Was he gay, or just enamored of classical nudity?  Your guess is as good as mine.



Feb 25, 2018

A Hundred Shirtless Hals in "Picnic"

Picnic is a 1953 play by William Inge about a drifter named Hal, who arrives in a small town in search of his old college buddy and arouses the secret passions of the male and female townsfolk (Inge was gay).

The original play doesn't actually call for Hal to take his shirt off, but ever since William Holden did in the 1955 film version, actors in Broadway revivals and community and college theaters across the country have been stripping down to show us their stuff.

Remember, Hal is a drifter, so he probably doesn't work out; yet he has to be hot enough to incite a lot of secret passions.  So his degree of muscularity varies from production to production.

Jenson Kerr at the Phoenix Theater goes for the abs.






Spencer Sickman at ACT St. Louis goes for the skinny.

















David T. Patterson goes for the full bodybuilder pecs and shoulders at the Gym at Judson Memorial Church, an off-off Broadway theater.  Sorry, this guy is incredibly hot and all, but he doesn't look at all like a 1950s drifter.
















Justin Sease has long hair and a glory trail to imbue Hal with a 1990s feel at the Hampton Theatre Company.

















The Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale, California, stars Daniel Bess with a bulge and a 2000s hipster smirk.

More after the break















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