May 3, 2018

Tony Sansone: Jazz Age Bodybuilder and Gay Icon

Born in 1905 in New York City, son of Sicilian immigrants, Tony Sansone began working out at age 14, and drew the attention of physical culturalist Bernar McFadden and early strength-and-health advocate Charles Atlas.  This was before the days of professional bodybuilding, but still, Tony was entranced by the "rags to riches" stories of the Jazz Age, and found a way to make money from his physique:  he began modeling for photographs and selling them via mail order.

Who was interested in photos of a muscular man in a posing strap, or fully nude?  Mostly gay men.

How did he get around the Comstock Act?  Apparently his body was so perfectly symmetrical that it looked like a sculpture.  Works of art could be nude.

He became nearly as famous as Charles Atlas himself, sought out by artists like Arthur Lee ("Rhythm," 1930), praised as "the most beautiful man in America," compared to film star Rudolph Valentino.

In the late 1920s, Tony began expanding his enterprises, publishing photo books like Nudleafs and Modern Classics.  He also performed in films and on stage and opened his own gyms, but his first love was always modeling, displaying his body for aesthetic and erotic appreciation.

He lived through the "man-mountain" era of bodybuilding in the 1940s and 1950s, but continued to pose in the old-fashioned lithe, limber style, to be admired for his beauty rather than his bulk.

He lived through the Gay Liberation Era of the 1970s, and into the age of AIDS, knowing that most of the men who collected his photographs were gay.

No hint of Tony's own sexual identity, although he did have a wife and two kids.

Later in life he moved to St. Louis to be close to his son.  He died in 1987.

There are nude photos on Tales of West Hollywood.

Apr 29, 2018

The Top 10 Hunks of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

The second and third seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are up on Netflix, continuing the saga of Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), who runs into her grade-school crush Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) one day on the street, and drops everything to move to West Covina and stalk him.

It turns out that Rebecca really is crazy; she has Borderline Personality Disorder, characterized by extreme mood swings, impulsivity, obsessions, and relationship problems.  She moves too fast and overreacts violently to rejection or just "let's slow down."  People who suffer from BPD in real life have praised the show for its realistic portrayal, finally "getting mental illness right."

In addition to Rebecca's ongoing pursuit of Josh Chan and other guys whom she believes will make her life perfect, the palette of the show expands to include subplots.  Josh and his posse don't have perfect lives, after all.  Nearly everyone is involved in a toxic parent-child relationship.

It's one of the most diverse casts I've ever seen, and one of the most beefcake-heavy.

1. Josh (above) is riddled with insecurities, indecisive, and rather dimwitted (not quite Joey Tribbiani, but close).  He still lives with his mother, in spite of her entreaties for  him to move out.

2. He works for an over-accommodating boss (Johnny Ray Meeks and seeks advice from an over-accommodating priest (Rene Gube, left).

3. White Josh (David Hull), who is gay, has a major inferiority complex.  He can't understand why someone as great as David Whitefeather (Pete Gardner) would be interested in him (um...have you looked in a mirror lately?).

By the way, Vincent Rodriguez III is gay in real life, and David Hull is straight.

3. Hector (Erick Lopez) has an unhealthy dependency on his mother.  He's dating Heather (Vella Lovell), a perpetual college student, taking every class, sometimes twice, afraid to graduate and move to the next stage of her life.

4. Greg (Santino Fontana) dates Rebecca for awhile, then realizes that he's an alcoholic, and goes away to get help.

5. Nathan Plimpton (Scott Michael Foster), Rebecca's boss after Darryl sells the company, is an amoral schemer constantly trying to win his dad's love.

More after the break

Pasolini's Canterbury Tales: Gay Characters and Nudity

The Canterbury Tales (I Racconti di Canterbury, 1972) is my favorite of Piers Paulo Pasolini's Trilogy of Life (others include The Decameron and The Arabian Nights), maybe because the set-up and many of the stories are familiar from my college class in the summer of 1981, so I don't get lost in the abrupt sedgeways.

And because I saw it last of the three, so some of the cast was familiar: Pasolini's lover Ninetto Davoli as a comic-relief buffoon, Franco Citti as someone morose and frightening,  Although I'm still annoyed by the closeups of random people with bad teeth grinning at the camera for no apparent reason, and the groups of people sitting around singing for no reason.

There is less full-frontal nudity than in the others, but for some reason the penises on display are much more impressive. The biggest of the lot -- probably the biggest portrayed in any film anywhere -- belongs to John McLaren, whom the Internet Movie Database identifies as a 61-year old American actor.  Must be someebody else -- that guy is around 30.

Pasolini includes adaptions of 8 stories:

1. The Merchant's Tale: An old man gets a young wife, who is unfaithful, so two naked teenage gods (left) decide to have a little fun with them. While a naked boy plays the flute.

2. A new tale: A professional blackmailer, who has just turned a man over to the authorities for a same-sex relationship, meets the devil.  The execution of the sodomite is uncomfortable to watch, especially when one considers that similar atrocities are still happening in the world today, but at least the blackmailer gets his comeuppance.

3. The Cook's Tale: The foolish Perkin (top), channeling Charlie Chaplin, invades a wedding, hangs out with the guys, and has a three-way relationship with a man and his wife.

4.The Miller's Tale: A woman finds a way to meet her boyfriend without her husband finding out.  Meanwhile another suitor hangs around with his shirtless, buffed boyfriend (left).

5. A new tale, based on the Wife of Bath: A woman marries her fifth husband, but gets mad when he won't have sex with her.

6. The Reeve's Tale : Two students, who appear to be lovers, visit a miller, and have sex with his wife and daughter without him finding out.

7.The Pardoner's Tale: Three friends (including Robin Askwith, left, the star of many British sex comedies) visit a brothel, and then kill each other over a treasure.

8. The Summoner's Tale: A greedy friar goes to hell.

Notice that there's a lot more same-sex romance than in The Arabian Nights, and for that matter the original Canterbury Tales, although most men have sex with women too.   The result is more gay-positive and not nearly as morose as the rest of the Trilogy of Life

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