Mar 17, 2018

Tarzan Cosplay

Feel like dressing up like Tarzan for Halloween, or for the next sci-fi convention?

There are some problems with the idea.

1. Tarzan doesn't really have a recognizable costume.  He wears a loincloth, like many barbarian heroes.  Your audience might not know which you mean.












You might alleviate that problem by wearing a dreadlock wig, to resemble the Disney Tarzan.

















If you already have long hair, problem solved.


















2.  You'll be wearing that loincloth all night, in the cold.  Maybe a nice wool sash will help.


















3. You have to have a muscular physique.  There are fake muscles on sale, but they look sort of ridiculous on anyone older than 12.

More after the break.
















The Czech Boys of Cedar Rapids

When I was growing up in Rock Island,  I knew all about the towns within a 60-mile radius:  Davenport, Bettendorf, Maquoketa, Tipton, West Branch, Iowa City.  Friends had relatives there.  They were mentioned in news reports.  We visited for school events.  But Cedar Rapids, about 80 miles northwest, was at the edge of the universe.  No one ever talked about what lay beyond.

What is life like at the edge of the universe?








126,000 people.

Strong Czech heritage -- the National Czech and Slovak Museum is worth a visit.

Muslim heritage -- the oldest standing mosque in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the river keeps flooding, destroying heritage sites downtown.





But the beefcake is never flooded out.














Three high schools plus Coe College (I almost applied there, just for the fun of saying I was going to college at the edge of the world)

The usual wrestlers in tight singlets.














Lots of wrestlers.

More after the break.












Mar 14, 2018

10 Shirtless Bricks from "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"

Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was first performed in 1955, won a Pulitzer Prize, and remains a favorite today, in spite of (or maybe because of) its shrill theatricality: a dysfunctional family yelling about its hidden passions and long-ago traumas.

Like most Tennessee Williams plays, same-sex desire is lurking just below the surface, alluded to but never discussed.

And there's a guy with his shirt off:  Brick, son of the dying Big Daddy, an alcoholic ex-footballer who won't sleep with his wife, Maggie (the Cat on the Hot Tin Roof), maybe because he's gay -- he was in love with his old teammate, Skipper, who committed suicide.

In the 1950s, of course, the implication of gayness is a major scandal.  Big Daddy tiptoes around it, but Maggie shrieks it out.






The 1958 movie closeted Brick and Skipper even more: "I told him he was weak!" Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) shrieks.

But Paul Newman as Brick famously walked around in pajama bottoms, leading most contemporary productions to give us shirtless Bricks.

1. Top photo: Max Falls at Utah State.  Even closeted, Cat is quite a heady mix for Utah.

2. Benjamin Walker in Pittsburgh shows us some Brick abs.






3.The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company surprisingly gives us bald, middle-aged Brick with a little belly.  But that's how he's written, right?
















4.  Jonathan Shirey at the Susquehanna Stage Company. An ex-athlete?  He's got a bodybuilder's physique!

















5.  Chapter, a multi-art cultural space in Cardiff, Wales, gives us a rather slim Brick.

More after the break



















Mar 12, 2018

Clyde Diddit's Beefcake Today

The January 1960 issue of Archie's Madhouse, the Archie comics version of Mad Magazine, referred to someone with the odd name Clyde Diddit ("Who he?").

Clyde Diddit or Didit was often referenced in later issues of Madhouse, and occasionally hosted features like "The Madhouse Book of Useless Knowledge" and "The Discovery of Sleep!"  Sometimes he appeared in the cover art as a sort of Alfred E. Neuman. 











He rarely appeared as a character until 1968, when Archie and company were dropped and the comic was re-titled Madhouse Glads, about a teenage rock band.  Now he a rather more attractive blonde hippie, the lead guitarist (other band members were also named Diddit).  Stories continued through 1974.

Another Clyde Diddit, or the same one with a new makeover, appeared as a rock promoter in five issues of Josie (before she became Josie and the Pussycats).








That's not a lot of exposure among the countless thousands of stories in the Archie universe, and there haven't been any new stories for 40 years.  Still, Clyde's anarchic wit, charm, and lack of heterosexual interest made an impression on young readers.  On Deviantart.com, an artist named Dynacor has a whole gallery of beefcake interpretations of Clyde Diddit.

















Some more erotic than others.






















He also specializes in beefcake photography.  Here's an example of his work.





Elephant Men

Joseph or John Merrick (1862-1890) suffered from severe facial and body deformities that caused him to be exploited by Victorian showmen, put on display as "The Elephant Man."  A physician named Frederick Trewes arranged for him to live at London Hospital, visited him daily, and became a close friend.  His case drew the interest of London society, and near the end of his life he was receiving many visitors, including the Princess Alexandra.












Bernard Pomerance's 1979 play The Elephant Man makes Merrick's story into a commentary on the nature of beauty.  It ups the gay subtext and the heterosexism (a kindly lady even disrobes so that Merrick can see her nude body).  However, since Pomerance stated that the actor playing Merrick should not wear any prosthetics, conveying the deformities only through body and facial movements, there is plenty of opportunity for beefcake.

Dale Moore in the Chester, New Jersey production.






Robert Bell in Adelaide performs with a photo of the real John Merrick.
















You don't see many productions in high schools, as the role is very demanding, but A. J. Black at Lehi High School in Utah is giving it a try.
















Windward Community College in Hawaii.















Tom Cornish, Queens Theater.

Mar 11, 2018

Homophobia and Trapper John

January 11, 1981: a Sunday night, my junior year at Augustana.  So far it's been rather heterosexist.  Last quarter I had a gay-free class in Modern American Literature; this quarter I will read Death in Venice but not yet. I saw Times Square (1980), starring Tim Curry of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but there was no gay content.  The radio has been incessantly playing "Every Woman in the World," by Air Supply.

I am studying German while watching lackluster episodes of One Day at a Time, Alice (no Tommy), and The Jeffersons (the second, un-cute Lionel).  Then comes Trapper John, MD (1979-86), about the wisecracking medic of MASH, now a modern-day hospital administrator with a free-spirited assistant named Gonzo (Gregory Harrison, left): A swishy gay guy named Judy (Craig Russell) is hospitalized after becoming the victim of a hate crime (in those days they called it gay bashing).  Her initial roommate is bigoted, so she is moved into a room with an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease.  The woman's son objects, but changes his mind when he sees that Judy's magical gay powers have cured her.



I have never heard the myth that all gay men are into Judy Garland, but fortunately Judy explains about The Wizard of Oz, a place where "there isn't any trouble."  Did she even see the movie?  The Wicked Witch of the West keeps trying to kill her!

All gay men are really girls.  Got it.   And that's not even the primary plot:

A cop named Joey Santori (Joseph Cali) is shot at a gay rights rally.  His partner, Sam (Charles Hallahan), is livid with rage: "Some fag shot my partner!  They want power -- well, there's already too much fag power in San Francisco!"


Gonzo investigates, and discovers that Joey is gay!  And the shooter was a fellow cop upset over "fag power" in San Francisco!  How's that for a plot twist?

At least Gonzo is not homophobic.  Gregory Harrison is actually a gay ally, and has played gay characters several times.  Joseph Cali is a veteran of Saturday Night Live (1977), apparently, hardcore porn; there are several fully nude pictures available on the internet.
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