Jul 21, 2018

Lance Kerwin

Born in 1960, the sandy-haired, scruffy Lance Kerwin was very busy in the early 1970s playing in After School Specials and "problem of the week" tv moves such as The Loneliest Runner (about a teenager who still wets his bed), The Boy Who Drank Too Much (with Scott Baio) and The Death of Richie (with Robby Benson).

But gay kids took notice when his tv movie James at 15 (1977) began with an extended shot of the teenager getting up in the morning, wearing only white briefs (or maybe they were pajamas).

For the intro to the tv series (1977-79), he wore a t-shirt.  Still, James was a swimming champ, so there were ample swimsuit and locker room scenes to ameliorate the teen-angst plotlines.  Though James becomes the first television teen to openly have sex -- he beds a Swedish exchange student on his sixteenth birthday, whereupon the title of the series changes to James at 16 -- most of the plotlines involve buddy-bonding with his jive-talking best friend Sly.

Critics loved the "realistic depiction of modern high school life," a "welcome change from sitcom hijinks," but teenagers tuned in for the shirtless scenes and then switched the channel to Welcome Back, Kotter.  

After James, Lance starred in a few more teen-angst movies, as well as several movies featuring same-sex romance, including Salem's Lot (1979) and The Mysterious Stranger (1982), with Chris Makepeace.

His transition to adulthood was difficult.  After years of drug and alcohol abuse, arrests, and rehab, he became an evangelical Christian minister.  But that didn't end his problems; in 2010 he was placed on probation for falsifying documents to obtain food stamps.

Your Grandfather's Beefcake: Circus Strongmen

Today every gym is crowded with guys with 60-inch chests and 20-inch biceps, but 130 years ago, they were rare. Poor nutrition, poor hygiene, and a lack of understanding of kinesiology limited the average man's ability to build  muscle.

Those few who developed muscular physiques found themselves in demand in carnivals and circuses as 'strong men," celebrated for their raw strength rather than for their size and symmetry.

But they certainly provided an erotic thrill.  Contemporary accounts often praise their masculine beauty.

The most famous of the strongmen was Apollon (the Greek god Apollo), born as Louis Uni (1862-1928), who joined the circus at the age of 14 and eventually became a headliner, appearing in music halls throughout Europe.  His act involved such feats as bending the iron bars of a cage, lifting 300-pound train wheels over his head, and holding two cars back with chains.

Donald Dinnie (1837-1916) appeared in 11,000 sports competitions, including 16 Scottish Highland Games, where he excelled in wrestling, hurdling, cable-throwing, and hammer-throwing.  He became the equivalent of a millionaire through his exhibitions in the United States and Europe, where he was advertised as "The Strong Man of the Age." In an early advertising tie-in, his likeness was put on bottles of Iron Brew, a soft drink aimed at athletes.

Interestingly, he was 6'1" with a 48 inch chest and 15 inch biceps.

At my peak condition, I had a 51 inch chest and 17 inch biceps, and I was nowhere near "The Strong Man of the Age."  Not even "The Strong Man of the Hollywood Spa.

Edward Aston was a boxer, wrestler, and finally a competitive weight-lifter.  In 1910, he won the World Middle-Weight-Lifting Championship, and in 1911 he was named Britain's Strongest Man with such feats as a clean and jerk of 282 pounds

Not bad for someone who weighted 160 pounds.  Schwarzenegger, who weighed 235 pounds, just managed a 298 pound clean-and-jerk.

He wrote an early weight-training manual, Modern Weight Lifting; and How to Gain Strength.  

Sig Klein (1902-1987) grew up in Cleveland, in the early days of physical culture.  He performed feats of strength on stage and in competitions, and in 1927 was named the world's greatest athlete by Le Culture Physique magazine.  He was featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not 10 times.

Later he moved to New York and Attila Studio, which trained athletes, bodybuilders, stuntmen, and actors, among them Zero Mostel, Montgomery Clift, Ben Gazzara, David Carradine, Joel Grey, and Karl Malden.

I don't know who this guy is, but he has quite a physique, and he has quite substantial beneath-the-belt gifts.

Thomas Inch (1881-1963), "Britain's Strongest Man," is known for lifting the "Thomas Inch Dumbbell."  It was specially designed, weighing 172 pounds (the heaviest dumbbells you can get today weigh about 80 pounds).

See also: Circus World

Jul 20, 2018

The Top Teen Idols in the World, #11 to #20

Time to look at Teen Idols #11-20, to see if they can hold a candle to the teen idols of the Golden Age, such as David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, and Robby Benson.

11. Brooklyn Beckham.  Another of soccer guy David Beckham's kids.  He doesn't seem to sing or act, but he was on the cover of the magazine Man About Town, in an article entitled "Drop the Boy."

Kind of pasty, and what's with the Cupid tattoo?  But at least he's 19.

12. Aiden Gallagher, age 14, Nicky in the Disney teencom Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn.

13. Levi Miller, age 15, Calvin in A Wrinkle in Time.  I liked the movie, but I thought Levi was miscast.  Calvin should be a long, gawky stringbean, not the school Golden Boy.  I'd like to know who his friends are.

14. Bradley Steven Perry, age 16, star of the Disney Channel's Good Luck Charlie

15. Izan Llunes (right, with his brother and father Marco).  Androgynous, like a young Leif Garrett.  He won the Spanish musical competition La voz kids, has two albums, and stars in the Netflix series Luis Miguel.  I don't know how old he is.  Six?

16. Jake Short, age 21, star of the Disney teencom A.N.T. Farm.  He's on the right, with Austin North and Bradley Steven Perry.  Not the most buffed of the group.

17. Joshua Rush, age 16, who plays the first identified gay teen on children's tv, on Andy Mack.  He's on the right, in the arms of Asher Angel, who really gets around.

So does Joshua:

I'm not slut-shaming; there's nothing wrong with dating two guys at once.

There are shirtless pics of Joshua, but he's with a girl.

18. Merrick Hanna, age 13.  According to wikipedia, he's a "popping and animation style dance, mostly focusing on dancing like a robot."  He gave an "interstellar performance" on America's Got Talent at age 11, and won the Shorty Award for Best in Dance.  His sponsors include Honda and the Gap.

We have to get to #18 before the teen idols stop posting selfies of their abs.  During the Golden Age, such things were rare; there were only two shirtless photos of Shaun Cassidy in existence, and just one of Leif Garrett. 

19. Anthony Ursin, age 13, a French actor known for Chocolat (2016).

20. Nicolas Bechtel, age 13, from Disney's Stuck in the Middle and the soap General Hospital.

Believe it or not, he's got shirtless selfies out there for the edification of his 711,000 Instagram followers.

I can't imagine junior high kids putting up posters of any of these guys in their bedrooms, or writing their names in little hearts in their chemistry notebooks.  But I guess those things are passe, today's tweens follow their idols on Instagram and Twitter and find out what they had for lunch.

Jul 18, 2018

"Rick and Morty": More Homophobic than"Family Guy"?

I watched part of the first episode of the Cartoon Network's Rick and Morty (2013-) a couple of years ago, and turned it off, bored.  But people kept telling me how great it was, so I bought the entire Season 2 and binge watched.

Rick Sanchez is a foul-mouthed, misanthropic, drunken mad scientist who drags his squeamish grandson Morty (both voiced by series co-creator Justin Roiland) on complex, blood-and-puke filled adventures in the multiverse.

Morty is a whiny "that's not a good idea" superego.  Also hetero-horny.  He has a crush on The Girl of His Dreams back at school, and in most parts of the multiverse, he finds a cute alien babe and "lets his penis do the talking."

Sometimes other relatives (forceful daughter Beth, her sitcom-inept husband Jerry, self-involved teenage granddaughter Summer) tag along.

Example: when his spaceship battery goes dead, Rick reveals that he has created an entire microverse inside the battery and populated it with beings who generate the electricity by stomping on foot-generators.

  But a scientist in the microverse has created his own mini-microverse, and populated it with beings who generate the electricty for his world, so they no longer feel the need to run Rick's generators.  And in the mini-microverse, another scientist....sort of like Inception, with more blood and puke.

Example: alien parasites have infested the house, pretending to be family members and friends, and inducing complete sets of memories, so you think you've known them forever, remember all the good times, their help over the years. So how can they distinguish real people from the parasites?

 They know that there are five people in the house.  Well, six, including Sleepy Gary, who is actually married to Beth.  Ok, seven: Frankenstein has been a close friend for years.  Ok, eight, including the Raptor.  Ten...ten people have always lived in the house.  No, twelve...

I have to admit, the plotlines are interesting, with effusively creative universe inside of universe.  The blood and puke, not so much.

And Rick's habit of ending every sentence with "Morty" gets annoying.

"We got to get out of here, Morty.  Hand me that cosmic defrazzler, Morty.  This should do the trick, Morty.  But there's no telling what universe we'll end up in, Morty.  We'll just have to wait and see, Morty."

Then there's the homophobia.

Fans point to the episode "Auto Erotic Assimilation" as evidence that Rick Sanchez is pansexual.  Not so: Rick is a grungy, sleasy, grab-their-tits, two-dollar hooker hetero horndog.  In that episode, he has sex with a being  named Unity, who has taken over the bodies of everyone on a planet.

Unity talks to him through male and female beings, but when they have sex, he specifies that he wants a stadium filled with attractive women, and the bleachers filled with men to be amazed at his sexual proficiency.  That's heterosexual to the nth degree.

Rick doesn't even like gay people.  His favorite slur is "cocksucker!"  It's not just a denigration of oral sex; although men and women both can engage in that activity, Rick only uses it to demean men, by implying that they are gay.  For instance, in "The Wedding Squanchers," he denigrates his son-in-law:  "My name is Jerry, and I love to suck big hairy boners and lick disgusting testicle sacks."

I happened to watch the episode about an hour after doing just that.

Obviously the show expects us to find gay sex disgusting.

"Gay" is also used as an all-purpose put-down: "That's gay."

According to the fan wiki, there have been several actual LGBT characters on the show.  Let's take a look at them:

1.The alien parasite pretending to be Sleepy Gary has introduced memories of a secret gay romance with Jerry.  They keep it closeted.

2. Father Bob, the priest at the town church, has gay desires that he must hide, because, of course, God hates gays. When a ray makes everyone's "toxicity"(negative traits) emerge, Father Bob declares "There is no God" and starts having sex with a guy.  It doesn't get more clear than this: being gay is a negative trait.

3. An alternate universe version of Summer is a lesbian, who is dating the alternate universe version of her nemesis, Christina LaCroix.  She is attacked by other alternate versions of herself.  Can't have those lesbians around!

4. An alien tv commercial tells us about Trunk People, men who have elephant trunks on their faces, which allows them to have sex with both men and women.

Silly me -- I thought there were people right here on Earth who had sex with men and women both.  Apparently the writers believe that bisexuality is physically impossible.

Or did they mean sex with men and women at the same time is physically impossible?

News flash: you have a penis or a vagina, a mouth, a butt, and two hands.  That's five partners, of whatever gender configuration you want.  Try a cisgender man, a cisgender woman, a transman, a transwoman, and someone who is intersexed.

5. Bisexual actress Kristen Stewart has a cameo, having sex with an alternate universe Jerry.  See -- she's actually straight.

6. The partially mechanical humanoid Revolio Clockberg Jr. (aka Gearface) tries to pick up college girls, but he also reads a magazine called Queer Gear, which appears to show a mechanical humanoid having sex with a machine.  It's in the background of a scene; you have to freeze-frame and blow it up to see it.

7. King Jellybean, a giant anthropomorphic jellybean, tries to molest 14-year old Morty in the bathroom: "Stop being such a fucking tease, you sweet little vaginal potato!"  Morty beats him to death.

Yep, all gay men are sexual predators and pedophiles.  Teenage boys better be careful in public restrooms!

Even Family Guy never went that far.

I won't be watching any more episodes.

The Top 10 Teen Idols in the World

I grew up in the golden age of teen idols: David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Robbie Benson, Bobby Sherman, Leif Garrett.  Top rated tv shows, #1 songs, gushing articles in teen magazines ("Find out what it's like to kiss Bobby!").

And beefcake.  It took awhile to get your big break, so the teen idols were adults, in their late teens or 20s, with physiques and bulges.  They appealed to guys in high school and college.  Even adults often found them hot.

Today any 10-year old with a Youtube account can upload a video of him singing or telling a joke and suddenly gain 3,000,000 followers, sponsors, a movie deal, and fame.  As a result, the teen idols tend to be very, very young, of interest to junior high kids and maybe, in a stretch, high schoolers, while the adults are thinking "But he's just a kid!"

To illustrate, here are the top 10 male teen idols from the website Teen Idols 4 You:

#10. Jace Norman, star of Nickelodeon's Henry Danger, posing here in his underwear.  18 years old, barely an adult.  A very skinny adult.  And remember, he's been on Henry Danger for 4 years.  And he's only #10.

#9. Alex Ruygrok, Australian, a model who began his career in January 2017 by posting pictures of himself in various fashion designs to Instagram.  He got lots of followers and sponsors, and was featured on the cover of Fashion Kids in January 2018.  He's now 13 years old, so he must have started at age 11.

#8. William Franklyn-Miller, a 14-year old British actor and model.  He has appeared in about six episodes of tv series, including Arrow, Neighbours, and Jack Irish, but he still managed to get  979,000 followers on Instagram.

At least he has abs.

#7.  Romeo Beckham, a 15-year old British guy.  I don't know why he has 1.5 million followers on Instagram. Is it because he's the son of soccer star David Beckham?

I think he's the one on the right.

#6. Miles Heizer.  An  actual adult (age 24). He has appeared in Parenthood, CSI, The Arm, and elsewhere.  His popularity is probably due to his role in the suicide drama 13 Reasons Why.  This is not a gay romance scene.

#5.Ricky Garcia.  Ok, this one is old enough to drive a car (age 19), starring on the Disney Channel's Best Friends Whenever and in the movie Bigger, Fatter Lier (2017).  He's also a singer. He's on the right, on a date with  #1 Asher Angel.

#4. Johnny Orlando, age 15, an internet celebrity whose song "Mackenzie" has 11 million views on Youtube.  He's also made some movies.

Have you noticed that, regardless of age, they all have shirtless or underwear photos uploaded for the edification of their fans?  And they all seem to have abs.

#3. Carson Lueders, age 16, an internet celebrity with 3 million instagram followers, a singer who loves his friends, family, and God.  He's legal to date in some states, but why would anyone over the age of 13 want to?  Even though the stars-and-stripes shorts are kind of cool.

#2. Bryce Gheisar, a 13 year old Canadian actor known for the Disney Channel's Walk the Prank (2016-2017) and Wonder (2017), about a boy with a physical deformity going to a mainstream school.  Unfortunately, I think he's the one on the right.  Could I get a date with the boyfriend instead?

And the #1 teen idol in the world:

#1. Asher Angel, aka "Ashy Boy,"  Jonah the heartthrob on the Disney Channel's teencom Andi Mack.  15 years old.

He's the one second from the left, making gang signs while immersed in a pool.  Call me in about 5 years.

I do like his choice of friends, though, especially the red-trunks guy with his boyfriend leaning against his crotch.  Is Asher gay?

Jul 17, 2018

Spring 1973: My Date Must Be a Boy

When I was growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, heterosexual desire was assumed a constant, a universal of human experience.  Same-sex desire was not only never mentioned, it could not be mentioned.

It not only didn't exist, it could not be conceived of.

It wasn't just a certainty that no boy on Earth had ever longed for the touch of another boy, not once in the history of the world.

We were unable to even imagine the possibility.

Boys who obviously longed for boys?

They were looking for a buddy or a role model.

Boys who obviously didn't care for girls?

They were shy, or immature, or hadn't found the right girl yet.

Boys who were derided as "fairies" and "fags"?

Their interest in art and ballet, their inability to catch a ball, obviously represented deficient masculinity, but they desired girls as heartily as every other boy.

Desire for the same sex was simply beyond the boundaries of our imagination.

It was easier to conceive of hobbits.

But there were hints, mysteries to mull over, to contemplate like zen koans, to puzzle out like cryptograms.

Men on tv or in movies who cared for each other, fought for each other, and walked side by side into the future.

Men who didn't marry, who lived alone or with other men.

Men who hugged.

Who smiled at me, or touched me on the shoulder.

The sight of a muscular frame that filled me with inexplicable joy.

Small subtle signs.

Through the looking glass.
Take the red pill.
With a bit of a mind flip, you're into the time slip.
It's not raining upstairs.

Sometime in junior high, I read an one-page story in an Archie comic book.  Big Ethel's friends criticize her for being indiscriminate, accuse her of accepting dates with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

On the contrary, Ethel says, she has very exacting standards.
1. Her date must be a boy.
2. He must be breathing.
3. He must be a slow runner (so she can catch him as he's fleeing in terror).

It was just a throwaway joke with the punch line of "slow runner."  But I was mesmerized.  There was something -- a logical fallacy -- a paradox -- a hint.

Slowly it dawned on me: Ethel has a rule about dating only boys.

Such a rule is necessary only if there are other groups of people whom she could date.

Does she only date teenage boys, and not adult men?
Or only date boys, and not girls?

Could a girl date a girl?
Could a boy date a boy?

It's not raining upstairs.

"Play by Play": Girls are the Meaning of Life, Yet Again

We've had nostalgia-trip tv series about the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, so I guess it's about time for a "coming of age" tv series about a heterosexual guy looking back on his childhood in the wonder years of the 1990s.

Play by Play (2017-), available on go90sports and the Complex Network, follows the adventures of  ESPN sportscaster Pete Hickey (voiced by series creator Kevin Jakubowski) as he looks back on his adolescent self (Reid Miller), a freshman at St. Roman High School in Des Moines, Iowa.

  He's got a former athletic superstar big brother (Tyler Emerson Crim), a doltish dad (Jonathan Bray), a best bud (Max Amor), The Girl of His Dreams (Elle Jo Trowbridge), and various friends, enemies, and teammates.

Plots include trying to get on the team, being bullied, getting his own room, joining crazy clubs to impress girls, trying to draw girls away from the crude jocks they're dating, first date, first kiss, girls! girls! girls!.  Which, as you know, is all every adolescent boy thinks of, every minute of every day.

The series shouts, loudly, that heterosexual desire and behavior is universal human experience, a boy's "coming of age" means becoming interested in girls, gay people absolutely, emphatically do not exist.

Pete enters his freshman year at a previously all-boy school, but now it admits girls.  So, according to a synopsis, "every sophomore, junior and senior at his school — all dudes — are gunning for the girls in his grade."

Every one, with no exceptions.  Not one boy in a hundred, not one in a thousand, not one in a million is gay.

In an interview, Jakubowski states that he had a similar experience when attending Fenwick High School, a selective Catholic school in ritzy Oak Park, Illinois:  the freshman class was the first to admit girls, so "every" older boy in the school was trying to date the freshmen girls, leaving "all" of the freshman boys in the dust.

Not one of them was gay.

Um...Kevin, your heterosexism is showing.  I know for a fact that there were gay people in Oak Park, Illinois in the 1990s.  And today Fenwick High School has an Equality Club, "empowering marginalized groups of people such as women, the LGBTQ community, African Americans, and other minorities."

For a show about sports, there's surprisingly little beefcake: no locker room scenes, everyone wears uniforms to class, big brother wears a bathrobe at all times. I could find beefcake photos of only two minor cast members, Aiden Alexander (above) and Ben Getz (left).

But I wasn't looking very hard. I was busy thinking back to my high school experience in the 1970s, where preachers, teachers, parents, and peers were constantly screaming at me "What girl do you like?  What girl do you like?  What girl?  What girl?  What girl?"

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même.
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