Jul 28, 2018

Chico and the Man: Anglo-Hispanic Gay Couple

There were lots of African-American characters on tv in the 1970s, but Hispanic actors continued to find themselves cast as Anglo or Italian.  Freddie Prinze was one of the first to be cast as Hispanic.  The stand-up comedian (actually half Puerto Rican, half German) entertained audiences with dialect stories and catchphrase like "Ees not my job!"  Appearances on Jack Paar and The Tonight Show led the 21-year old to a star vehicle, Chico and the Man (1974-78).

Auto garage owner Ed (Jack Albertson, Grandpa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is elderly, crotchety, widowed, and depressed -- until Chico (Freddie Prinze) arrives, looking for a job and a place to live.  At first the bigoted Anglo  rebuffs Chico with ethnic slurs and general nastiness -- but Chico likes Ed -- a lot -- so he keeps coming back, keeps trying, until finally, his resistance lowered, Ed allows himself to love again.  Um...I mean, the two become friends.

Who were they kidding?  They were the most obvious gay couple in 1970s tv.  All they needed was a scene of the two holding hands.

Wait, there was one.

Freddie was handsome, and obviously gifted beneath the belt, but he gave fans few shirtless shots, not even when he was interviewed for Playgirl.  

The world was shocked when the superstar, who had just signed a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with NBC, committed suicide on January 28, 1977.  Stories appeared about depression, drug abuse, marital estrangement.

NBC bizarrely tried to continue Chico and the Man without him.  They finished up the third season with Chico "visiting his father in Mexico," and then had Ed meeting and adopting the preteen Raul (Gabriel Melgar).  But their relationship was distinctly grandfather-grandson, not boyfriend-boyfriend.

When Raul finds Chico's old guitar, and Ed explains that it belonged to someone he loved who died.  He's been widowed twice.

A tv movie about Freddie's life appeared in 1979: Can You Hear the Laughter?  The Freddie Prinze Story, starring Ira Angustain.

Jul 27, 2018

Frank Finds What We're All Looking For

Since 1996, readers of independent comics have been treated to the adventures of Jim Woodring's Frank, a bipedal "funny animal" who looks like he escaped from a 1930s Max Fleischer cartoon.

Frank inhabits a surreal, chaotic world called the Unifactor, surrounded by grotesque plants and animals, landforms that turn into people, monstrous gods and demons, the spiritual emanations of real-world people, symbols, metaphors, and jivas (immortal essences shaped like gaudy tops).

The stories are wordless, except for an occasional cryptic remark. You are expected to find your own meanings.

It is crazy, weird, surreal fun, with lots of gay subtexts.

Frank's main nemesis is the Manhog, a naked, sweating, hedonistic hog-person,  The Manhog is often abused by his superiors in the Unifactor hierarchy, and, jealous of Frank's comfort and privilege, seeks revenge. But in one story he finds enlightenment through the ministrations of a caring friend or lover, and seeks out Frank to make amends.

One of the main sources of discord in the Unifactor is Whim, a demon-moon faced stick-being who conducts weird body-altering experiments and otherwise torments other beings.  But he, too, can be read with a gay subtext for his intensely physical interest in Frank.

So I thought.  But then I noticed some strongly conservative, almost Puritanical moralizing in Jim Woodring's comments.

Frank is "completely naive, capable of sinning by virtue of not knowing what he's really about."

Manhog is "an unholy hybrid of human ambivalence," who has sinned so much that he deserves all of the suffering he gets.

The beings in the Unifactor are inhabiting a spiritual realm, surrounded by myths and symbols, trying to find the ultimate reality that will explain their existence.

What is that ultimate reality?

In Congress of the Animals (2011), we find out.  Frank goes exploring, enters another realm of consciousness, and finds "what we all are looking for." 

A girl.

At first I thought I could still salvage Frank.  Maybe it wasn't a girl, maybe it was a boy, or a being of indeterminate gender.  Maybe "what we all are looking for" is a friend.

Nope, it's a girl named Fran.  Frank gets a girlfriend.

Is the ultimate meaning of life creating art?  Helping people?  Exploring?  Finding God?

Nope, "what we are all looking for," is  heterosexual romance.

And erasing gay people from the world.

Jul 26, 2018

Staging the Male Nudity in "The Emperor's New Clothes"

Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" (1837) is a fairy tale with no fairies in it,  about two scoundrels who tell an Emperor that his new outfit will be invisible to people unfit for their position or impossibly stupid.  They actually just pretend to make the new clothes, and dress him in nothing.

He struts about naked, with everyone afraid to say anything until a small boy points out "The Emperor has no clothes."

The phrase is often used to criticize yes-men who are afraid to point out their boss's flaws and mistakes.  Such as, for instance, the Republican Congress telling the Orange Goblin, "It was a good thing that you said" every day for the last 18 months.

Writers who want to adapt "The Emperor's New Clothes" for the stage run into two problems:

1. The story is very short, with one-dimensional characters. It has to be extensively fleshed out.

2. You can't have a guy running around naked in a performance that will draw children.

They usually end up just making the Emperor a vain fashion-plate, and giving the plot to someone else.  For instance, Alan Jay Friedman's musical adaption (1969)  has a princess and a prince disguised as a commoner save the kingdom from villains exploiting the Emperor's love of haute couture.

Alan Schmuckler and David Holstein have a musical version where the Emperor and his daughter Sam learn to get along with each other through judicious costume choices.

Eric Coble has a Caribbean adaption: Jasmin wants to wear a simple sash, but the Emperor of the island requires fancy clothes.  Until the magic tailor Buzz Butler arrives.

The Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens musical puts a gay-subtext take on the story.  When 14-year old Marcus becomes emperor, he is uncertain how a wise ruler behaves. A Swindler offers to give him a magical suit that will allow him to know everything.  His advisors are opposed to the idea, but he puts on the suit anyway, and everyone begins "yessing" him.  Only Arno, the palace mop boy, turns out to be a true friend, and tells him the truth.

See also: Hans Christian Andersen

Jul 24, 2018

Hans Christian Andersen: the Gay Writer of Fairy Tales about People Dying

Of all the authors that teachers foisted upon me as a kid to embrace Rock Island's Scandinavian heritage, the absolute worst was Hans Christian Andersen. I hated fairy tales anyway -- who needs fairy godmothers, when there are rocket ships blasting off to Jupiter?  -- and these were grim, morbid, horrible:

"The Little Mermaid": A mermaid sacrifices her life to save a handsome prince.

"The Brave Tin Soldier."  Yeah, he's brave, until he gets too near a fire, and melts to death.

"The Snow Queen." A cold person keeps kidnapping children and freezing them to death.

"The Little Match-Seller."  A girl selling matches..um...freezes to death.

Is it like cold in Denmark, or is this some sort of metaphor?

"The Garden of Paradise."  A prince dies.

One or two of his cautionary tales were ok -- "The Emperor's New Clothes" and "The Ugly Duckling."  But really, who wouldn't rather be watching Fractured Fairy Tales on Rocky and Bullwinkle than reading about people dying?

Later I discovered that Andersen was gay or bisexual in real life.  In fact, his psychiatrist invented the term homosexual from the Greek homo (the same) and the Latin sexualis in order to diagnose his condition.

Gay but depressed.  No wonder his characters keep dying.

I've never seen any of the film versions of Andersen's fairy tales, but I understand that Disney let The Little Mermaid, Ariel, live, in the 1989 animated version.

And displayed Prince Eric shirtless, although probably not as suggestively as this fan art from Lucien-Christophe on Deviant Art.com.

If you want to see beefcake in the Hans Christian Andersen oeuvre, you need to seek out the occasional stage version of "The Emperor's New Clothes" (above), or The Little Mermaid stage musical.

Eric doesn't display much, but King Triton, Ariel's father, is bare-chested.

Although sometimes the actor wears a ridiculous beard.

The Boys of Torzhok

This post has been moved to Small Town Beefcake

The Beefcake on the Tightrope

Just look at the beefcake, and don't look down.  This is Mich Kemeter walking a 99-foot tightrope across Taft Point in Yosemite National Park.

Why?  Because it's there.

He's followed by Dean Potter.

Jerry Miszewski holds the world record, 704 feet across the Cosumnees River Gorge near Sacramento.  It took 90 minutes.

Notice that he is attached to the line. An important safety precaution.  Jerry fell 72 times before he made it all the way across.

Highlining is a new extreme sport that developed out of rock climbing and tightrope walking.  You cross canyons and gorges.  Although you are attached to the line so you can't fall, you have to overcome fear and fatigue as you wend your way across.

At a more reasonable distance from the ground, tightrope walking is good for balance and coordination, skills useful in many sports.

Here Spencer Seabroke demonstrates the difference between a tight,rope and a slack rope.  Slacklining is even more challenging, since the rope is swaying and adjusting more.

The line can be as slack as you want.  More slack, more difficult to walk.

Or you can add to the challenge by upping the danger of what lies below.  Here Josh Beaudoin crosses a slackline over crocodile-infested waters.

The Yoga Slackers travel the world, looking for interesting places to slack.  And take their shirts off.

Jul 22, 2018

Shane Haboucha

 Shane Haboucha got off to a heterosexist start.  In the music video "Stacey's Mom," the 13-year old played a kid obsessed with the breasts of his school friend's mother.

Nothing for gay boys to like in that, except maybe the pubescent beefcake.

His exposure led to guest shots on Bernie Mac, Oliver Beane, That's So Raven, and CSI, plus a recurring role on Everwood (2004-2005).

Mostly girl-crazy characters, even in the gay-friendly Everwood.  Indeed, Bernie Mac was quite homophobic.   (in a promo, Bernie discovers that his nephew likes girls, and shouts "My boy's normal!").

But there were also gay-positive roles.Thee OC episode "The Secret" (2003), about a boy with a gay dad.

On CSI (2005), Shane played a gay-vague boy victimized by a pedophile.

On Without a Trace (2005), he played a gay-vague boy who plans to bomb his school.  The school bullies torture him so he'll reveal its location.

Desperation (2006), based on a Stephen King novel, gave Shane some homoromantic moments.  When his friend Brian (Darren Victoria) is hit by a car and suffers brain damage, David Carver (Shane) prays for his healing, and offers himself to God as a substitute sacrifice. Immediately after, he and his parents are captured by the demonic sheriff of a ghost town.  Brian recovers.  David saves the day.

Shane's last acting role listed on imdb is in 2013.  IMDB also says that he graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2014, and now lives in Irvine, California.

He hasn't updated his facebook or twitter accounts since 2013, but here's a recent photo.

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