Apr 28, 2018

Omar Sharif and His Grandson

When I was a kid in the 1960s, our newspaper, The Rock Island Argus, had several interesting columns: Dear Abby, a criptoquip, and "Omar Sharif on Bridge."

Nazarenes weren't allowed to play cards, so I was only barely aware of what bridge was.  Still, it seemed exciting that a famous actor would stoop to writing about something so mundane as a card game.

Born in 1932 in Egypt, Sharif got his degree in physics before becoming an actor.  He starred in many Arabic movies before hitting Hollywood with a starring role in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.  A rarity in its day (and even now), the movie fails to heterosexualize the gay T.E. Lawrence, and even gives him a gay-subtext relationship with Arab leader Sherif Ali (Sharif).



Next came starring roles in the big-budget epics Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Genghis Khan (1965), plus dramas, Westerns, and musicals.  He played revolutionary leader Che Guevara (Che!) and the mysterious Captain Nemo (The Mysterious Island).

This nude scene is from the Western MacKenna's Gold (1969). He plays an effervescent but amoral Mexican outlaw named John Colorado, who doesn't display any interest in women.







He became best friends with French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo after they starred together in Le Casse (The Burglars, 1971), as a jewel thief and the corrupt cop who wants his share of the loot.

By the way, bridge was not only a hobby for Sharif, it was a second career.










I don't know if he was gay-positive or not, but his grandson, Omar Sharif Jr. is gay.  Also an actor, he left Egypt in 2012 after the restriction of human rights, and came out in an article in The Advocate.

Apr 27, 2018

Searching for Beefcake in "The Judgment of Paris"

"The Judgment of Paris" appears only in snippets in ancient Greek literature. Basically the story is: Hermes, messenger of the gods, asks the shepherd Paris (who may or may not be the same Paris as the Prince of Troy) to award a golden apple to three competing goddesses: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.

Maybe he is really being asked to decide on the superiority of power, wisdom, or love.  He awards the apple to Aphrodite, and all hell breaks loose as the other goddesses vow vengeance.

It has been a popular scene for artists, an excuse to show three naked ladies, with the two guys (Hermes and Paris) shunted off to the side.    

But there are two guys in each painting. 

 





We can queer the text in the same way that we find gay subtexts in movies and tv series produced by and for heterosexuals: by concentrating on the margins, the sidelines, the masculine beauty that the heterosexual male gaze would have us ignore.



Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638) puts the three ladies at the top of the painting and devotes the bottom to an orgiatic scene of nude men.  That's Hermes and Paris on the left, and I think two other naked guys on the right.


Hendrik Van Balen (1575-1632), a Flemish Baroque painter, clothes his Hermes and Paris, but at least there's some chest and shoulders visible.



Peter-Paul Rubens (1577-1640), known for his zaftig women, also shows a muscular butt and backside in his fully-nude Paris.

















The Dutch painter Adriaen Van Der Werff (1659-1722) painted lots of naked ladies and at least one naked man, a muscular Paris.


Francois-Xavier Fabre (1766-1837) makes Pairs a curly-haired shepherd boy, naked except for a strategically draped cloth.



Austrian painter Eduard Lebiedzki (1862-1915) gives us a muscular back and arms.

















Not many female artists have tried The Judgment of Paris, except for Margaret Maitland Howard (1898-1983), who worked at the Institute of Archaeology in London, wrote a lot of books on the ancient world, and liked painting naked ladies.  She gives us a pale, fey Paris and a very shaggy goat.

Falling Asleep during "Troy: Fall of a City."

I went into the Netflix tv series Troy: Fall of a City expecting a vast canvass, a lot of spectacular special effects, and nonstop beefcake.  After all, a new take on one of the most familiar stories in the world has to have something to justify the retelling.

The first episode was promising, Paris Prince of Troy meeting a mysterious group of beings who might be gods.  Zeus (Hakeem Kae-Kazim) asks him to choose who is superior: Hera (power), Athena (wisdom), or Aphrodite (beauty).  When he chooses beauty, the others in a rage vow to shatter his world. 

Very interesting, very evocative.  It goes downhill from there.







Troy is the story of a battle between the gods, with humans their unwilling pawns.  Paris, the Prince of Troy, kidnaps Helen, Princess of Sparta, to the consternation of her husband Menelaus (Jonas Armstrong, above).  The Spartans and their allies lay siege to Troy, a siege that lasts for ten long, gruelling years.  In the Iliad, Homer covers only a few weeks in the story; his Odyssey focuses on the minor character Odysseus (Joseph Mawle, left) trying to get home.  Other ancient authors have filled in the rest, explored interesting byways and asides, speculated about the lives of the characters before and after the War, given other minor characterstheir own epics.  You couldn't cover all of it in a hundred tv series.

Troy: Fall of a City tries to.

The result is a jumble of people, name upon name splattering across the stage: Troilus, Menelaus, Xanthus, Diomedes, Ajax, Aeneas, Agamemnon, Thersites.  Their stories are minimized or ignored.  The famous are shuffled off to the side.  Hesion (who?)  gets as much air time as Priam.  

I have no idea who is who.  I've read The Iliad, The Odyssey In Search of the Trojan War, The World of Homer, and several books on ancient Greek mythology, literature, culture, and history.  Half the time I have no idea what's going on.  

The war itself is minimized -- very few battle scenes, mostly at night -- to make room for a domestic drama.  

Helen has not been kidnapped; she has chosen Paris due to "true love" -- they discuss how much they love each other a lot .  Plus she likes Troy because it is a haven of women's rights, with none of the sexism that is endemic in Sparta (no, Homer doesn't mention that).  But some of the Trojans resent her; she has trouble fitting in (understandably, since no matter how many times her allies say "You're not responsible for all of this," she absolutely is).  



A soap opera.  

There are lots of gay characters in The Iliad, but none here (that I know of; there's not much time for romance).  Achilles (David Gyasi, left) has a bisexual three-way.
















Not a lot of beefcake.  Most modern movies and tv shows populate the ancient world with Boris Vallejo-style super-bodybuilders, but here we see only occasional nondescript physiques, like Tom Weston Jones as Hector.

  The muscular cast members keep covered.

And the gods appear only briefly.  This is a naturalistic Bronze Age soap opera.

A very, very dull one.


Apr 26, 2018

Donald De Lue and the Male Nudes of Public Art

The Boy Scout Memorial, on the Ellipse in Washington DC, gives visitors quite an eyeful.  A muscular man who has apparently just stripped is walking beside the boy scout.

He represents nothing more arcane than "American Manhood."  There's a fully-clothed woman, also, representing "American Womanhood."

It is particularly surprising because it was sculpted in 1963, when male nudity was not commonplace in public art, even with the penis covered.

The sculptor was Donald De Lue (1897-1988), who grew up in Boston and studied in Paris, like many artists of his generation.  After eleven years as assistant to sculptor Bryant Baker, he pushed out on his own, specializing in public art.




Stately,  muscular male nudes, gods and other mythological and allegorical figures.

Like this Babylonian-style frieze "Law and Justice," on the Federal Building in Philadelphia, is from 1941, just before the U.S. entered World War II.









Or The Rocket Thrower, created for the 1964 World's Fair, now at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, New York.











Among his most famous sculptures is The Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves, in the American Cemetery at Normandy (1956).

















Most of his public art hides the penis, but his smaller pieces don't.  The Sun God (1937) is now at the Dallas Museum of Art.




















Icarus (1934) is at the Smithsonian.

Of course, drawing artistic inspiration from the bodies of naked, muscular men doesn't necessarily mean that you are gay.  But it doesn't mean that you are straight, either.


Apr 24, 2018

The Most Exclusive Athletes at the Most Exclusive Boarding Schools in the U.S.


This post has been moved to Small Town Beefcake

Henry Willson: The Man Who Invented Beefcake

During the Cold War of the 1950s, the Clark Gable-Cary Grant- Fernando Lamas model of  masculinity, the suave, sophisticated bon-vivants who sipped champaign at El Crocadero, fell into disfavor.  Movies began to display a new model of "youthful masculinity" featuring regular guys, small-town boys who sipped sodas at maltshops.   They had to be wholesome -- God-fearing, mother-respecting, patriotic -- yet sexual, overbrimming with erotic energy, aware (without stating it) that sometimes things happened in bedrooms.

They had to be stunningly handsome, of course, and muscular -- for the first time ever in the movies, they would rip their shirts off regularly, providing a beefcake spectacle that might draw audiences away from the still-prudish tv.

Walt Disney and his minions scoured the countryside to provide a stable of Adventure Boys for the teen and preteen audience -- James McArthur, Roger Mobley, David Stollery,  Tommy Kirk, Tim Considine, and many others.

For adult beefcake, the go-to guy was talent agent extraordinaire Henry Willson.

 Born in 1911, Willson began his career as a talent scout for the Zeppo Marx Agency, where he signed on future film great Lana Turner.  In 1943, he became the head of the talent division for David O. Selznick's Vanguard Pictures.  He and his assistants prowled gyms, modeling agencies, athletic events, and community theaters looking for prospects. Muscle Beach was a good bet, training ground to dozens of bodybuilder hopefuls drawn in by Earle E. Liederman's chatty columns in Muscle Power.

Since he was gay, Willson tended sign up men who were gay, or bisexual, or at least "gay for pay."   He spruced them up, arranged for acting lessons and gym memberships, and gave them strong, macho, all-American names:

Orton Whipple Hungerford III = Ty Hardin
Robert Mosely = Guy Madison
Francis Durgan = Rory Calhoun
Merle Johnson = Troy Donahue
Roy Harold Scherer = Rock Hudson

They present a straight facade to the world, of course, so Willson conspired with movie magazines and gossip columnists to send them on dates with female stars or link them romantically with in-the-know starlets.  Sometimes he even arranged "Hollywood marriages."  It seems that the "hiding in plain sight" was part of their appeal, adding a salacious twinge, "is he or isn't he"?


In 1953, Willson opened his own agency.  He didn't need to seek out prospects anymore; he was receiving 9,000 letters per week from high school football players and small-town thesbians anxious to make it big.  And some did -- if they were willing to make it on the casting couch first, or at least flirt a bit.  Almost every Hollywood hunk of the new beefcake model got his start as a Willson boy:

Doug McClure
James Darren
Chad Everett
Dack Rambo (left)

John Saxon
Nick Adams
Clint Walker (left)
John Derek
James Gavin

Willson didn't care for bodybuilders, except for Cal Bolder -- they had to find their representation elsewhere. And a few other hunks managed to find work without him.  But even if they weren't discovered by Willson, they often realized that connections are everything, and gay, bi, or straight, they became regulars at his weekly pool parties:

Ed Fury
Farley Granger
Van Williams
Robert Stack


Roddy McDowall
Steve Reeves
Tony Curtis
Aldo Ray
John Bromfield
Gary Conway
Gary Lockwood
Richard Long
Robert Wagner (left)

Disaster hit in 1955, when Willson made a deal with Confidential magazine to keep the rumors off Rock Hudson in exchange for a story about Tab Hunter's arrest at a gay party in 1950 (the actor and agent had a falling out).  The deal fell through, and Willson was effectively outed.  His established clients left -- most denied that they had ever met him -- and it became difficult to sign new clients.

During the 1960s, the fresh-faced, wholesome look became  "square," replaced by shaggy and androgynous,  and Willson's career ended.  Destitute, drinking heavily, forgotten by his former friends, he moved into a rest home for indigent Hollywood stars, and he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1978.

But he left an amazing legacy, a 1950s world where "gay" was always just beneath the surface.

Apr 23, 2018

10 Black Guys in Bondage

If you are attracted to black men and to men in bondage, why not combine the two?

It's not that easy.  There are very few gay black men into BDSM, and those few are usually tops.  After years of collecting, I have only about 100 photos and videos, and those are mostly movie caps.

Here are my favorite non-movie photos of black men in bondage.

1. Nice biceps and abs on display.










2. The cropping is a little off, but you can't complain about that sculpted physique.

















3. Two guys together is always hotter than a guy alone.












4.  Where to classify him: black men, bondage, or men in suits?





















5. The red shorts contrast beautifully with the gleaming abs.

More after the break.


















6.  Arms behind the back, and a camouflage jockstrap.

















7.  Not very muscular, but have you ever seen such long arms? 



















8.  Mature men in bondage.





















9. Massive chest.


















10. Spreadeagle on the bed.

See also: 10 Black Guys in Bondage: The X-Rated Version











Maxwell Caulfield: Responding to Gay Rumors with Homophobia

Have you heard of Maxwell Caulfield?  During my senior year in college, he was being hailed the Next Big Thing.

Born in Scotland, Caulfield moved to London at age 15 and became a nude dancer at the infamous Windmill Cinema.  At age 18, he came to the U.S., and quickly got cast in the gay-themed stage farce Hotrock Hotel (1978), then the gay-themed Entertaining Mr. Sloane (1981), by Joe Orton.

In 1982, he won out over thousands of hopefuls to star in the sequel to Grease, the most popular movie musical of all time.

Grease 2 premiered in June 1982 to a huge hype campaign.

The box office wasn't exactly miserable, but it didn't match expectations by a long shot.


Singing "Rock-a-Hula Luau" was not exactly helpful to Caulfield's career.

In the homophobic 1980s, the gay rumors didn't help, either.

He starred in a few horrible-sounding tv movies, such as Electric Dreams (1984), about a guy and a computer both in love with the same woman, and The Supernaturals (1986), about an army of dead Confederate soldiers still fighting the Civil War.









And The Boys Next Door (1985), an intensely homphobic movie in which a straight guy (Caulfield) is lured into a mass-murder spree by his closeted-gay friend (future jerk Charlie Sheen) go on a killing spree because, of course, gay people are all psycho killers waiting to happen.

It could also be read as a commentary on Caulfield's career: "Look, I was lured into playing those gay roles by evil gay producers.  It's not my fault."




He spent two years playing Miles Colby in the Dynasty spin-off The Colbys (1985-87).

Then it was back to bad, ridiculous, or homophobic movies.

Mind Games (1989): a couple goes camping, and encounters a psycho (Colby) who has sinister designs on their son.

Dance with Death (1992); Murders at a strip club.

Animal Instincts (1992): Porn.

He's been more successful on stage, with starring roles in Joe Orton's Loot, Tryst, Cactus Flower, female impersonator Charles Busch's Our Leading Lady, and Chicago.
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