May 24, 2018

Enrico Natali: Accidental Beefcake

Enrico Natali was born in Utica, New York in 1933, and moved to New York in 1954.  His photographs of people on the New York Subway were published in 1960.  During the next decade, he traveled to several cities in the U.S. to photograph real people engaging in their daily activities, producing moments frozen in time.  His most acclaimed, Detroit 1968, was recently republished.

His world depicts the heterosexual male gaze, with women outnumbering the men, and the men mostly in couples.  There is no one obviously gay, except maybe this short-short and bulge number.

But male beauty leaks through anyway, as if it is impossible to keep it hidden, regardless of what the artist intends or hopes for.

It's accidental beefcake.

And who's to say which of the pairs living their lives in the dark days of 1968 didn't care for each other like that?

In the 1970s Natali gave up photography to concentrate on Zen Buddhist meditation. In 1990s he and his wife moved to the Matilija Canyon, in Ojai, California, where they opened a Zen meditation center (the Blue Heron Zen Center

His oldest son Vincenzo Natali is a writer and director known for horror movies and tv series such as  Cube and Darknet.  His Splice is about a genetically-modified being who changes gender.

In 2000, his youngest son Andrei suggested that they go on a photography tour together.   Andrei died in an auto accident in 2005, but Enrico continued the project, and in 2015, presented Just Looking: Photographs of the American Landscape.

Small Town Swimmers

I'm getting tired of looking for small-town beefcake.  It's always the same: some high school swimmers and wrestlers, and if I'm lucky, some bodybuilders down at the local gym.  Time to move on to other things, but first, some interesting photos of swimmers.

1. Cape May, New Jersey.  I like the French-bordello-red pants.

2. Corvallis, Oregon.  I knew a straight guy from Corvallis.  Homophobic to the max.  But I like these guys posing underwater,

3.  Fargo.  I'm wondering how the swim trunks stay on.

4. Flint.  You'd never know that Flint is 80% black, but it is interesting that the black guy is the only one with someone's arm around his shoulders.

5. Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Another underwater posing pic.

6. Fort Wayne, Indiana, the nearest big city to my parents' home town.  A lot of nicely shaped abs.

More after the break.

Devon Sawa

I wasn't happy when Casper (1995) made the Harvey Comics character into a real ghost -- a dead boy -- rather than a magical being, and then eliminated the gay subtext by giving him a girlfriend.   So, by implication, I wasn't happy with the star, 16-year old Devon Sawa.

But I forgave him when he starred in a string of homoromantic buddy-bonding movies (most required extensive shirtless and underwear shots and skinny-dipping scenes for teenage fans to gaze at):

1. Night of the Twisters (1996), based on the novel by Ivy Ruckman.  Nebraska teens Dan (Devon) and Arthur (Amos Crawley) try to find their families during a spate of tornados.  Unfortunately, there's a fade-out-kiss conclusion.

2. The Boys Club (1997).   Ontario teens Eric (Devon),  his boyfriend Kyle (Dominic Zamprogna), and their friend Brad (Stuart Stone), who seem too old for a clubhouse, are terrorized by an escaped con (Chris Penn).

3. Wild America (1997).  Three "brothers" (Devon, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Scott Bairstow) head out into the wilderness to make a movie.

Meanwhile Devon was getting the full teen-idol treatment, with dozens of photo shoots in teen idol magazines and interviewers asking such probing questions as "What kind of girls do you like?"

His teen idol career lasted for only a few years.  Then he was relegated to sleazy horror films like Idle Hands  (1999), Final Destination (1999), and Devil's Den (2006), or sleazy teen sex comedies like Slackers (2002).

More recently Devon has re-invented himself as an action hero, the heavily-muscled, heavily-tattooed assassin Owen in Nikita (2010-2013), or the unscrupulous cop-turned-detective Nico in Somewhere Between (2017). 

Mostly the kind, sympathetic women and rough, aggressive men bit.  Not a lot of buddy bonding.

There's a sausage sighting story on Tales of West Hollywood

May 23, 2018

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Sabrina the Teenage Witch first appeared in the anthology series Archie's Madhouse in 1962, as a glamorous although rather malevolent witch perhaps inspired by the movie Bell, Book, and Candle (1958). 

During the last fifty years, she has appeared occasionally in the Archie universe as a student at Riverdale High, generally in stories where she tries to use her magic to help one of the gang, with disastrous consequences.  But magic doesn't fit in well with the usual naturalistic Riverdale, so Sabrina appears most often in completely separate stories, living in an unnamed town (later called Greendale) with her own supporting cast: her aunts Hilda and Zelda, an older cousin Ambrose, and her doofus boyfriend Harvey.  Her cat Salem is sometimes just a cat, sometimes a familiar with magical powers of his own.

Sabrina has had four comic book series:

1. From 1971 to 1983, in conjuction with the tv cartoon Sabrina and the Groovy Ghoulies (a pack of Universal Studios monsters)

2. From 1997 to 1999, in conjunction with the TGIF tv series starring Melissa Joan Hart (who appeared on several covers).

3. From 2003 to 2009, in conjunction with a new animated series.

4. Her most recent comic book series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2014-), is set in the 1960s, with witches as Satan-worshipping cannibals.  But you're also born a witch; there are strict rules about witch-mortal "miscegenation" to "protect the blood line."

So is being a witch a religion or an ethnicity?

Heterosexual romances abound, but there are no gay characters -- although Cousin Ambrose comes across as a bit fey, and head witch Aleister Crowley is criticized for breaking the Satanic Bible's rule against men lying with men.

Nor is there any beefcake.  There are nude females everywhere in boob-heavy detail, but no men with their shirts off, ever.  Not even Harvey, who in this rendition is a football-captain-mega-hunk rather than a nebbish.

So I don't hold out a lot of hope for the Chilling Adventures tv series premiering in 2018.  It will be set in modern times, a cognate to Riverdale.

Ross Lynch (top photo) has signed on to play Harvey.  He always looks good naked, but will he be allowed to fumble with a button on the show?

Chance Perdomo, who will be playing Cousin Ambrose, looks like Diana Ross.  One article says that he'll be making his character pansexual, so he'll be like the gay best buddy of the female lead stereotype.  But Ambrose is "under house arrest," forbidden from leaving Sabrina's house, so he won't be doing much dating.

Other beefcake possibilities include Richard Coyle as Father Blackwood, who I assume is the head of Sabrina's coven.

And maybe some of the boys at the school.

See also: Riverdale

May 22, 2018

Totalitarian Television: Underdog and Friends

When I was a kid, all of the grown-up men I knew worked in the great smoking factory that my Dad called "the goddam hellhole."  And all of the grown-up women were their wives, cooking and cleaning and raising their kids in the small square houses that stretched out to infinity in all directions.  Everyone assumed that this was my destiny, too.  When I grew up, I would spend every day in the goddam hellhole, and come home every night dog-tired and cursing to my small square house, where my wife and kids would be waiting.  

Most of the tv programs I watched offered an escape: Gilligan and the Skipper didn't work in a goddam hellhole, they were sailors, and Robbie Douglas' Dad and Uncle Charlie lived happily together without wives.  But if I got up too early on Saturday morning, or dared to watch tv on Sunday, a series of badly animated cartoons pushed obedience to Big Brother:

Tooter Turtle longs to escape his dreary pond in the woods, so he asks Mr. Wizard to hook him up with a new job: firefighter, lumberjack, pilot, astronaut, college student.  Catastrophe strikes, and Mr. Wizard returns him to reality with his chant: "Twizzle, twozzle, twozzle, twome, time for this one to come home."

Tennessee Tuxedo, a penguin voiced by Don Adams of Get Smart, thinks he is just as good as any human, so he and his friend Chumley get jobs as weathermen or movie producers, or start a rock band.  Catastrophe strikes.  Inevitably.  The theme song tells us: "He will fail, as he vies for fame and glory."  (Later it was changed to the less depressing "he may fail").

The message was clear: don't dream, don't aspire.  Conform.  No escape is possible.

Commander McBragg, a retired British army officer, told an unwilling visitor about his adventures in India, Africa, China.  But was he telling the truth, or making it all up?

At least they didn't have wives.  But the superhero Underdog (voiced by Wally Cox)  had a girlfriend, Sweet Polly Purebread.  And his alter ego wasn't a cool journalist, like Clark Kent, or a millionaire, like Bruce Wayne -- he was a shoe shine boy!

The cartoons were produced by Total Television.  Some originally appeared on King Leonardo and His Short Subjects (1960), and some on Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales (1963) or Underdog (1964), but by the time I was watching, they were relegated to the ghetto of early Saturday or Sunday mornings.

At least they were better than Rocky and Bullwinkle.

Nazarene College Beefcake

When I was growing up in the Nazarene Church, higher education was frowned up.  Secular universities were full of atheists and Catholics who would brainwash you.  Besides, what did you need a college degree for?  Your job was to win souls for Christ.  Studying for four years would be just a distraction.

The only legitimate reason to go to college was if God had called you into the ministry.  For that purpose, the church set up seven colleges, one for each region of the U.S..  They had other majors, too (for backslidden Nazarenes or members of other churches), but 90% of the boys were majoring in religion (to become ministers or evangelists), missions, or music, and 90% of the girls were majoring in education or music (to become their wives).

I'm going to go through each of the Nazarene colleges, looking for studly student.

1. Olivet Nazarene College, in eastern Illinois, was the biggest and most prestigious Nazarene college.  Today there are 5,000 students, including 2,000 in graduate programs.  But you still don't get to teach evolution in biology class, and of course all discussion of gay people is forbidden (the Nazarene manual decrees "the depth of perversion that leads to homosexuality."

So look carefully at these representatives of the Olivet Tigers swim team.

2. Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.  There aren't a lot of Nazarenes anywhere, but they are especially rare in predominantly Catholic New England. Eastern has less than a thousand undergraduate students, mostly theology majors, although there are graduate degrees in business and psychology.  At least it's more inclusive than Olivet, prohibiting sexual behavior of all sorts, not just the "homosexual lifestyle."

I couldn't find a single beefcake photo, so here's a wrestler from a Jesuit high school in Boston.

3.Midamerica Nazarene College is in Olathe, Kansas, right outside the Nazarene General Headquarters, soyou'd think it would be the flagship school.  But it's not.  It was founded relatively recently, in 1966, and it has less than 2,000 students.

I found a wrestler among them.

4. Mount Vernon Nazarene College is in Mount Vernon, Ohio, about 50 miles from Columbus.  It opened in 1966 also.  Only a third of the students are male (at Nazarene colleges, future wives outnumber future preachers two to one), so beefcake was impossible to find.  Here's the golf team.

5. Point Loma Nazarene College, in a suburb of San Diego, a venerable Nazarene institution founded in 1902 (the church itself was only established in 1895).

I don't know what these Point Loma athletes are dong, but they have their shirts off.

6. Southern Nazarene College  is in Bethany, Oklahoma.  That strikes me as more west than south.  It was Oklahoma Holiness College before the holiness community of the area converted en masse to Nazarene.  Today there are less than 2,000 students, mostly training to become ministers or their wives.

This looks like a football player, not a wrestler.

7. Trevecca Nazarene College, founded in 1901, is in Nashville, home of the general headquarters of the United Methodist Church.  It was originally Pentecostal, named after Trefeca, Wales, site of the Welsh holiness movement.

3,000 students, but no beefcake photos, so how about a wrestler from Notre Dame?  (Nazarenes are notoriously anti-Catholic,or at least they were in my childhood).

May 21, 2018

Michael Seater: Buddy for Life

Born in 1987, Canadian actor Michael Seater was on tv nonstop from 2000 to 2010, with a series of homoromantic buddy-bonding roles.

Spencer Sharpe, boyfriend of paranormal investigator Zack (Robert Clarke, left) on The Zack Files (2000-2002).

Paranormal investigator Lucas in Strange Days at Blake Holsey High (2002-2006), who has a love-hate relationship with school bully Vaughn (Robert Clarke again).

Homeless teenager Owen on Regenesis (2006-2007), who moves in with paranormal investigator David (Peter Outerbridge), but ends up mentally damaged after an experimental treatment to cure his drug addiction (I haven't seen it).

Derek Venturi on Life with Derek (2005-2009), who has a sibling rivalry with his adopted sister Casey (Ashley Leggat) and, in the first season, an intense, passionate, joined-at-the-hip best buddy, Sam (Kit Weyman).

As usual, his adult roles have involved fewer subtexts:

18 to Life (2010-2011): newlyweds move in with their parents.

The "virgin getting laid" comedy Sin Bin (2012).

Bomb Girls (2013): women work in a munitions factory during World War II. Engineer Ivan Buchinsky (Michael) is dating one of them.

He's written and directed two movies, People Hold On (2015) and Sadie's Last Days on Earth (2016), both of which deal with friends having relationships.

Michael is rumored to be gay in real life.  He hasn't said anything specific, but his tweets have a lot of gay content, like watching RuPaul's Drag Race and a claims that a party will be "gayer than a straight bar but straighter than a gay bar," suggesting that he is familiar with bars of both varieties.

May 20, 2018

Christian Beefcake, Part 2

When I was growing up in the Nazarene church, Sunday school teachers and youth leaders told us that almost every other Christian church was wrong.  Some were only a little off, so we could be friends with members, visit their churches, and even, if necessary attend their colleges.  But some were dangerous: we should be polite to them, but not try to make friends, lest they draw us in to their Satanic beliefs.  And some were so dangerous that we couldn't even talk to them.

I don't have those prejudices now, of course, but I still thought it would be interesting to look for beefcake among the "sinners," to see what all the fuss was about.  I already did 1. Evangelicals and 2. Moderate Chrsitians. Now it's time for the "cults" and "Catholics."

3. Cults.  Nazarenes defined "cult" as a group that reveres a book other than the Bible.  They often had other heterodox beliefs as well, but the main thing that gnawed at Nazarenes was that other book.  Since they would try to convert us, we shouldn't be friends with them, and of course we couldn't visit one of their churches.

Mormons.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was nearly as strict as the Nazarene Church, prohibiting alcohol, tobacco, dancing, and so on, and they were deeply invested in evangelism, which Nazarenes respected.   But they thought that the Book of Mormon was just as inspired as the Bible, so we had to stay away.

There's a 99% chance that these swimmers from Lone Pine High School in Highland, Utah, between Salt Lake City and Provo, are Mormons (top photo).

Jehovah's Witnesses.  Just as eager to proselytize as Mormons (the difference was, Mormons came by two, both male, and Jehovah's Witnesses came by three, one or more female).  They had "their own Bible," and believed that only 144,000 people would get to heaven.  Be polite, but say "no" to any tracts they might try to pawn off on you.

No Jehovah's Witnesses colleges - they disapprove of higher education.  But I found this photo of a cute guy with some of their literature.

Christian Scientists.  Did our Sunday School teachers really believe that we would be swayed by that big, empty building downtown, where they taught that the physical body doesn't exist and sickness is an illusion, based on Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures?  Maybe because of their influential magazine, the Christian Science Monitor?

No Christian Science colleges, that I can find, but a key word search resulted in this photo.  It's from a website called "Women's Wrestling."

4. High Church Christians, or what Nazarenes called "near-Catholics" and "Catholics."   Highly liturgical services (a lot to read and recite), priests rather than ministers, clerical vestments, and a lot of "empty rituals," like Communion every Sunday.  Emphasis on church hierarchy and the sacraments rather than personal salvation.  Plus they allowed drinking, smoking, dancing, movies, all sorts of evil practices.  Some members were just brainwashed, but many were literally possessed by the devil, and extremely dangerous.

We weren't supposed to talk to them except when absolutely necessary, or look them in the eye, or go near one of their churches.

So of course I sought out most of my friends from near-Catholics.

Lutherans.  Broke away from the Catholic Church under the direction of Martin Luther, but still close enough in theology and practice to be a danger.  The problem is, our town was about 80%  Swedish Lutherans, and I went to a Swedish Lutheran college, to the horror of the Nazarenes.

There was a Roman Catholic college nearby.  I could go there instead.

Trinity Lutheran College swim team.

Greek Orthodox.  Or it could be Russian Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Latvian Orthodox, or any of those Eastern churches that didn't recognize the Pope.  We just happened to have a Greek Orthodox church in town.  No Pope, but otherwise the whole "empty superstition" bit: veneration of the Blessed Virgin, saints, icons, Eucharist, baptism, priests, monks, nuns, on and on.

Roman Catholic.  According to the Nazarenes, the worst of the worst, worshipping the anti-Christ.  Catholic churches were pits of vile degradation.  When we went to Europe, we were not allowed to set foot in a Catholic church, even as a tourist attraction.

So of course when I was living in Los Angeles and home for the holidays, and the preacher's wife asked what church I was attending out there, I said "Catholic."

See also: Sinner Beefcake Part 1

Christian Beefcake, Part 1

When I was growing up in the Nazarene church, Sunday school teachers and youth leaders cautioned us about being "unequally yoked with unbelievers," that is, being friends with "sinners."

All other Christian denominations were wrong to some extent, therefore "sinners.", but some were so close to the truth that you could befriend members without worry, visit their churches, and even, if necessary, attend their colleges.  Some you could be friends with, if you were careful, and some were possessed by the devil, so evil that you couldn't even speak to them. 

I no longer hold those prejudices, of course, but still, when I'm around my Nazarene relatives, I sometimes hear disparaging statements like  "he's a Presbyterian -- you know what that means!" and "He bought a house right next to a Catholic church!"

So I thought it would be interesting to look at those "sinners" to see what all the fuss was about.

 From least to most dangerous:

1. Evangelical Christians, or what we just called "Christians." Literal Bible interpretation, strict rules. informal services with no rituals, the preacher wearing a business suit rather than an "evil" clerical robe, and an emphasis on salvation: getting yourself and others into heaven.  They were just a little off, with mistakes here and there in their theology that might impact their ability to get into heaven.

Nazarene Verdict: Ok to be friends and visit their churches.

Wesleyans.  Like the Nazarenes, Wesleyans taught "holiness" two steps in the salvation process: first God forgives you for the sins you've committed (getting saved); then He sanctifies you, removing your ability to commit future sins.

Not many things to complain about except that they allowed movies and dancing, which Nazarenes strictly prohibited. 

You also had to be careful because some colleges that said "Wesleyan" really weren't, so you might get hoodwinked into going to a secular college, where your faith would be challenged.

The basketball player in the top photo is from Kentucky Wesleyan, a bona fide Wesleyan college.

Pentecostals.  The whole idea of a two-step salvation process started at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, where the Pentecostal Church was formed.  So Pentecostals got most of it right, but they called it "filled with the Spirit" instead of sanctification, and they insisted that it came with "speaking in tongues," speaking in a language you don't know or a language of heaven.

Nazarenes hated the idea of speaking in tongues.  Some preachers claimed that Pentecostals were being filled with the spirit of Satan rather than the spirit of God.  So you could be friends with Pentecostals, but don't set foot in their churches.

A powerful weightlifter from Azusa Pacific University, the most prestigious Pentecostal university in the U.S.

Baptists.  They had most of the same beliefs and prohibitions as the Nazarenes, but no two- step salvation: once you were saved, you could not commit future sins, so sanctification was unnecessary.  So your Baptist friends might be going to hell without even knowing it.   If that was ok with you, friendship was ok.

Also they baptized people.  Nazarenes thought that baptism was a primitive superstition.

Williams Baptist College is not to be confused with the secular Williams College.

Moderate Christians, or what we called "Liberal So-Called Christians."  They had fallen away from a literal interpretation of the Bible, so they were likely to believe that the Creation, the Resurrection, and Heaven and Hell were just fairy tales.  They were more concerned with social justice than salvation, so they were probably going to hell.  Besides, they permitted a lot of sinful activities, like movies, dancing, and drinking, they had big, fancy churches that we called "whitened sepulchers,"  and their services were iffy: the congregation might be asked to recite things, the preacher might wear a sinful clerical robe.

Nazarene verdict:  Ok to be friends, but don't visit their churches.

Methodists.  Nazarenes got their start as a sect of the Methodist church, but they moved on to the doctrine of entire sanctification, leaving Methodists behind to be seduced by the evil doctrines of modernism.

This swimmer is from Southern Methodist University, which is not exactly Methodist anymore.

Presbyterians.  Another group of liberal so-called Christians.  We knew that they were descended from John Calvin, who taught predestination: some of us were predestined to be saved, and others not, no matter how much they tried. We didn't know if they still believed that or not.

I couldn't find a Presbyterian college, but when I searched on "Presbyterian shirtless," this came up.

Church of Christ.  There were like 6,000 denominations called "Church of Christ," some evangelical, but the biggest was the United Church of Christ, aka Congregationalist. They were so liberal that even their preachers drank.  And went swimming.

Next: the...shudder...Catholics and cults.

See also: Sinner Beefcake Part 2

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