May 12, 2018

Andrew Stevens, Teen Idol

No teen idol of the 1970s was better at re-inventing himself than Andrew Stevens.

1. A cute teenager, subtly muscular, with shaggy hair and a goofy smile, for "heartwarming" roles as cute or wounded kids in tv series like Apple's Way, Police Story, and Shazam!

2. A late teen or young adult: goofy smile still in place, but shifted from cute to stunning to star in dramas that required lots of beefcake shots,  like The Fury, The Bastard, and The Rebels.

3. Hair straightened, muscles bulging, tanned, a suave playboy or con artist in his grown-up roles, the tv soaps Emerald Point N.A.S (1983-84) and Dallas (1988-89) and memorable guest spots on The Love Boat, Columbo, Murder She Wrote, and Hotel.

And that's not even counting his later work as writer, director, and producer.  Today he is the president of Andrew Stevens Entertainment, which has produced over 170 films.

May 10, 2018

Black Lightning is Back

Black Lightning is back.

That's the premise of the new Netflix series based on an obscure DC comics character from the 1970s.  The only problem is, Black Lightning has never appeared on screen before, so the constant references to past incidents and situations are all immensely confusing.  It's like coming in during the third act of a play, except there were no first two acts.

But apparently about ten years ago, mild-mannered school principal Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) became Black Lightning, lowering his voice and putting on an electricity-funneling suit, in order to kill a bad guy who killed his father. Being a superhero caused too much tension in his family (and family is everything), so he retired.  But now he's back, a superhero vigilante who literally does nothing but beat up bad guys and people he thinks are bad guys.

As principal, Jeff promotes a "respect yourself" and "make positive life decisions" philosophy to help his students overcome the drugs, crime, and racism of their society, especially police targeting of young black men (this is definitely the Black Lives Matter era).

But as Black Lightning, he's a throwback to the 1970s "violent thug" era:  all of these problems are caused by a gang, the 100, led by big bad Lala (William Katlett, seen here in the play Heat and Hostility, about two porn stars comparing endowments).

No, Lala has a boss, Tobias (Marvin "Krondon" Jones), the "albino" big bad who Black Lightning thought he had killed.  An albino in real life, Krondon tries to ensure that the show gives factual information about albinism, and doesn't suggest that it is responsible for Tobias being evil.

But it turns out that Tobias has a boss, Lady Eve (Jill Scott).

And Lady Eve has a boss, Martin Proctor (Greg Henry).

And there are probably a few more big bads in the hierarchy.  I haven't gotten to the end of the series yet, but who wants to bet that the Biggest Bad is the school lunch lady?

Anyone can see that Black Lighting is Jeff in a mask, yet he manages to keep his identity secret from all of his friends, allies, and family.    The only two people who know are:

1. Elderly tailor Peter Gambi (James Remar; photo from a few years ago), who designed the suit and has a secret connection to the hierarchy of evil;

2. Ex-wife Christine (Lynn Stewart), who divorced him a few years ago for no apparent reason other than to reconcile now.

Other characters include:

1. Anissa (Natessa Williams), Jeff's daughter, a medical student and high school science teacher, a lesbian, and a superhero named Thunder.  She's out to her parents as a lesbian but not as a superhero, which leads to her father thinking she's a villain and beating her up.

2. Jennifer (China Anne McClain), Jeff's other daughter, a high school student and party girl, who has superpowers of her own but hasn't settled on a superhero identity yet.

3. Jennifer's ex-boyfriend Khalil Payne, who is paralyzed by a bullet meant for Black Lightning and becomes a cyborg super-villain named Painkiller.

Well, basically everyone is wandering around with superpowers, except for Billy (Damon Gupton), Jeff's friend on the police force, and I'm sure he'll get some soon.

42: Shower Scenes and Gay Symbolism, but No Doug Adams

I was drawn to a movie entitled 42, because it's the answer to "life, the universe, and everything" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I figured it was new adaption of Hitchhiker's Guide, or a biopic of Douglas Adams.

Turns out that it's a biopic of a baseball player named Jackie Robinson.


I had vaguely heard of him, but I didn't know in what context.

Maybe in the phrase "Before you can say Jackie Robinson," meaning "quickly"?

No -- that phrase has been around since the 18th century.

I find all sports incredibly dull, especially baseball, but I watched anyway. Maybe there would be some nude locker room scenes.

Jackie Robinson (played by Chadwick Boseman) was the first black baseball player to break the color barrier, playing for previously all-white teams, first the Montreal Royals, and then the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The movie doesn't cover his whole life, just the period between 1945 and around 1948, when he first joined the Dodgers.  He experiences significant resistance: hotels refuse to house the team, ball parks refuse to let them play, some of his own teammates quit, there are racial slurs and death threats.

The recreation of racial segregation in late 1940s America is interesting, but I have to fast-forward past the recreation of all the baseball games.

It's also interesting to note that the arguments used to justify banning black players are identical to arguments used against gay athletes today.  Bad for morale!  Fans won't show up!  They'll be sharing our locker rooms, showering with us!

There are lots of wives and kids in the movie, and gay people are not mentioned, but there is an interesting scene with a gay reference:  Jackie doesn't shower with the other players, to avoid causing problems.  But one of his teammates, played by Hamish Linklater,  isn't having it:  "Come on," he says, "Take a shower with me. That didn't come out right.  I mean, let's all shower together."

There's also a gay subtext relationship between Jackie Robinson and Wendell Smith (Andre Holland), a reporter who is following his career, and breaking a color line of his own by being admitted to the press box.  They have such strong chemistry and are shown hanging out so often that at one point I said "Are you guys going to kiss, or what?"

Most of the cast consists of recognizable stars, with substantial beefcake:

Christopher Meloni as Leo Durocher (teammate who gets involved in a scandal)

Alan Tudyk as Ben Chapman (racist teammate)

Ryan Merriman  (left) as Dixie Walker (racist teammate)

Jesse Luken (left) as Eddie Stanky (non-racist teammate).   I looked it up; there really was a person named Eddie Stanky!

His parents shortened it from Stankiewicz.  They must not have realized what it meant.

Lucas Black (left) as Pee Wee Reese (non-racist teammate)

Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey (the head of the Dodgers)

Max Gail as Burt Shotten (another head of the Dodgers.  Apparently baseball has a lot of bosses).

Ok, so why is this movie called "42"?

Turns out it's Jackie Robinson's team number.

What an obscure reference!   There's no one on the face of the Earth who will see the title "42" and think "A movie about a baseball player!"  How about "Jackie Robinson"?

See also: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

May 8, 2018

In Search of Greek Men

My semester of New Testament Greek 30 years ago didn't help me much in my search for modern Greek beefcake.  I looked with the key words ομάδα κολύμβησης, κολύμπι  κλαμπ, γυμναστήριο, and so on, and came up with some pictures, but no idea where in Greece most of these guys are from.  Or if they're from a Greek article about sports elsewhere in the world.

1.  Niced tanned physique, rare in swimmers who mostly work out inside.

2. A buffed guy in the crowd.  The backpack draws attention to his pecs.

3. The caption says kortsilas-sixroniki, which are not Greek words or Greek name.  I can do without the jazz hands.

4. Giannis Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece to Nigerian immigrant parents in 1994, and began playing professional basketball in 2012.  Currently he's playing for the Milwaukee Bucks.

5. A Greek swim club.  I like the one guy who is not wearing team speedos.

More after the break.

May 7, 2018

Fright Night

In the summer of 1985, I was too busy exploring my new home, West Hollywood, to bother much with movies, so I missed a lot: The Goonies, D.A.R.Y.L., Back to the Future (with Michael J. Fox), Explorers (with River Phoenix), The Heavenly Kid (with Jason Gedrick), Weird Science, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.  In fact, I only saw one movie in a theater that summer: Fright Night, about a vampire who moves in next door.  It had one of the most profound homoerotic subtexts of the 1980s, second only to Hell Night.

I didn't notice any significant homoerotic interaction between fresh-faced young horror movie buff Charley (William Ragsdale, left) and his Peter Lorre-like friend, Evil Eddie (Stephen Geoffreys, right), unless one counts an obsession with criticizing the size of each others' penises.  Nor is the vampire, Jerry (Chris Sarendon) explicitly gay; he bites lots of women, and tries to transform Amanda Bearse (center, of Married...with Children).  

But when Jerry decides to bite Eddie, he seems to intuit the boy's implicit gayness and couches the invitation in undeniably homoerotic terms: "You don't have to be afraid of me.  I know what it's like to be different.  They won't pick on you anymore, or beat you up -- I'll see to that.  All you have to do is take my hand."

Sobbing, obviously thinking that he has found a boyfriend, Eddie throws himself against Jerry's chest.  But instead of a kiss, he gets bitten (a clear parallel with Barnabas and Willie of Dark Shadows).

Later, a vampire himself, Eddie tries to bite the gay-vague host of a tv horror movie series (played by gay actor Roddy McDowell).  He is staked instead, and transforms from vampire to an amazingly muscular nude teenager.

Stephen Geoffries starred in 976-Evil (1988), The Road Raiders (1989), and a handful of other mainstream movies, and was nominated for a Tony for William Saroyan's Human Comedy on Broadway.  During the 1990s, he put his physique to work in gay porn under the name Sam Ritter: Virtual Stud (1995), Hunk Hotel (1996), Buff and Gay (1997).

May 6, 2018

The Top 10 Hunks of "Malcolm in the Middle"

We're in the midst of a Malcolm in the Middle marathon, and I must admit that the dysfunctional family sitcom (2000-2006) was not particularly gay-positive.  There were some gay references here and there; Francis, the bad boy sent to military school, pretends to be gay to get girls; Reese tells a girl "Sorry, I'm gay" to dissuade her.  But overall, this was an aggressively heterosexist world.

But what it lost in gay potential, it made up for in beefcake.

1. Over the course of the series, Reese (Justin Berfield, left) bulked up, becoming a veritable muscleman.

2. Gifted child Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) was a little scrawny, but a few years later, in Extreme Movie, he displayed biceps and a bulge while being tormented by a S&M dominatrix.

3. Francis (Christopher Masterson) had a respectable physique which he displayed a few times.

4. He was in military school, surrounded by muscular cadets, such as Eric (Eric Nenninger, top photo)

5. Drew (Drew Powell, left)

6. And Stanley (Karim Prince), who didn't own a shirt.

7. Dewey, the youngest boy, had a never-ending procession of weirdo boy friends, some of whom grew up to become teen hunks, like Chad (Cameron Monaghan), star of Shameless.

8. But the real revelation was in Frankie's gifted-student classmates, the Krelboynes.  According to Hollywood myth, high intelligence goes hand-in-hand with social phobia, lack of fashion sense, glasses, buck teeth, and multiple allergies, so they were drawn as unattractive as possible.  As if to make up for the stereotyping, they have blossomed.

Remember Lloyd, aka Evan Matthew Cohen?  Unfortunately, he's retired from acting, but not from modeling. (Be careful -- there's another Mathew Cohen wandering around the internet, and Google Image Search may have mixed them up.)

9. Eraserhead, aka Will Jennings, is now a tall, imposing ginger giant.

10. And Stevie, Malcolm's wheezing, wheelchair-bound bff?  Craig Lamar Traylor spent his childhood explaining to people that he wasn't really disabled.  His acting career hasn't been doing too well, but he certainly presents a striking figure.

See also: Christopher Masterson in the Middle; Frankie and Erik in the Middle: Justin Berfield's Very Special Episode.
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