Aug 10, 2018

Gay Symbolism in Chicago

I went to high school in the midst of the disco era, when everyone was carrying around boom boxes, practicing complicated dance moves, and listening to songs about the night life:
I love the night life, I want to boogie on the disco floor.
Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother, you're staying alive
I should be dancing











And the groups we listened to were all flash and glitter, with bare chests and bulges, promising crazy nights of sexual excess, flirting with androgyny, asking us to wonder "Could he be gay?"













Except for Chicago, some guys with guitars and drums, wearing regular  shirts and jeans -- no bare chests, no bulges.













No androgyny, all married to women and following sports.

 Their no-nonsense, hetero manly albums (mostly entitled Chicago) had a subdued beat impossible to dance to and lyrics that you actually had to listen to in order to understand, mostly stories about pain and loss.

And, paradoxically, obviously without their intention, full of gay subtexts.  Girls rarely mentioned.  The lost love could be male or female.

April 1975, just after Dan and I broke up, "Old Days":
Take me back to the world gone away
Memories
Seem like yesterda
y

August 1975, the beginning of my sophomore year at a new high school,  "Brand New Love Affair":
It's no good to be all alone
When you hurt a friend
And you both feel empty
What I'd give to erase the pain
Will we ever make friends

June 1976, just after my date with the King of Sweden, "Another Rainy Day in New York City"

Another rainy day in New York City
Softly sweet, so silently it falls
As crosstown traffic crawls
Memories in my way in New York City,

July 1976, just after my first sexual experience, "If You Leave Me Now"

If you leave me now, you take away the biggest part of me.

September 1977, the beginning of my senior year"Baby, What a Big Surprise"
, Yesterday it seemed to me
My life was nothing more than wasted time
But here today you've softly changed my mind

May 1978, during the angst-filled month before I figured "it" out, "Take Me Back to Chicago"

Take me back to Chicago
Lay my soul to rest
Where my life was free and easy
Remember me at my best

See also: My Date with the King of Sweden; The Best Day of the Best Month of the Best Year Ever.















Aug 8, 2018

Andrew Keegan Breaks Boys' Hearts


Andrew Keegan was one of the more popular teen stars of the 1990s. He played mostly operators, rebels, and scallawags, Zack Dell in Camp Nowhere (1994), and "bad boy" guest roles on TGIF sitcoms like  Full House, Moesha, Step by Step, and Boy Meets World.
















By the late 1990s, he was starting to bulk up, and the teen magazines started going wild.  They specialized in shots of his bare chest peeking out from his shirt, as if he had been caught in the midst of getting dressed (or undressed).

Lots of gay content:

1. Gay-vague  "not into girls" roles on Party of Five (1997-98) and Seventh Heaven (1997-2004)/

2. Broken Hearts Club (2000): Andrew played Kevin, one of a group of gay friends who hang out in West Hollywood (others include Timothy Olyphant, Dean Cain, and Zach Branff).

3. O (2001), an updating of Othello.  His Michael Cassio, a high school basketball player,  buddy-bonds with Odin (Mekhi James).


Mitch Vogel: The Bulge and Biceps of Bonanza

We needed as many freckle-faced redheaded boys as possible during the 1970s: Ron Howard on Happy Days, Johnny Whitaker on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Mitch Vogel on Bonanza (1970-73).

He played Jamie, a teenager adopted by the Cartrights to give Ben someone to offer fatherly advice to (and, apparently, to give Michael Landon some competition in the bulge department).




But before he blossomed into teenage biceps and bulges, Mitch was a popular child star, with roles in Adam-12, Ironside, The Young Rebels, and The Immortal.  

He was best known for The Reivers (1969), set in turn of the century Mississippi, as an 11-year old who tags along with his free-spirit relative (Steve McQueen) on a trip to a brothel in Memphis, sees naked ladies, and "comes of age" (although he doesn't actually have sex with anyone).



But the teenage Mitch did a lot of buddy-bonding, too.

In Two Boys (1970), Jud (Mitch) and his boyfriend Billy (Mark Kearney) "come of age" in a small Midwestern town.

In The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou (1971), Jeannot (Mitch) and Claude (Michael Lookinland from The Brady Bunch) buddy-bond as they wrest a church bell from the jaws of a giant alligator.


His characters got girls on Little House on the Prairie  (1975) and State Fair (1976), and were backwoods outsiders who didn't get anyone on Here Come the Brides and Saturday morning's The Mighty Isis (1975) and Ark II (1976).









His last credit movie role, Texas Detour (1978), is a Dukes of Hazard clone about three hippies stuck in a hayseed town.  Except it's a drama.

Today Mitch lives in Southern California, where he is active in directing, music, and church groups.

But gay Boomers will always remember him for the bulge and biceps of Bonanza.








Aug 7, 2018

Bix Beiderbecke: First Gay Jazz Musician

If you grew up in the Quad Cities, you couldn't help but hear about Davenport, Iowa native Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931).  We listened to him in music class, and researched him in Mr. Manary's American history class.  Scott, the cornetist who died, was a fan.

There was a  Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival every year.  There was a bust of him in Leclair Park in Davenport. (My Grandma Davis wasn't from Rock Island, but she had some of his records.)

 But no one told us, or no one knew, that he was gay.

Beiderbecke was one of the pioneers of jazz, playing and composing for the cornet and piano. He performed with the legendary Paul Whiteman's Band in New York. He influenced Hoagy Carmichael, Bing Crosby, and the "cool jazz" of the 1950s.  But he had a tortured personal life, became an alcoholic, and died of pneumonia brought on by exhaustion in 1931, only 28 years old.




His first biographies, and the teachers in Rock Island, never suggested for a moment that he might be gay.  

But in Remembering Bix: A Memoir of the Jazz Age (2000), Ralph Berton writes that Berton's brother Eugene, a gay opera singer, took Bix  to a gay sex party in 1920s New York.  Bix kept exclaiming "Iowa has nothing like this!"

In Bix: The Definitive Biography of a Jazz Legend (2005), by Jean-Pierre Lion, Eugene and Bix have a brief romantic escapade.  But, Eugene complains, "It meant absolutely nothing to him. His attitude toward sex, with men or women, was 'What the hell?'"




What women?  His biographies try to pair him up with this or that woman, but with limited success and lots of conjecture.  But it's not hard to find Bix talking to men, working with men, spending his life with men.  His roommates include Eddie Lang,  a young Bing Crosby, and gay musician Jimmy McPartland (left, with his future wife Marian, who knew that he was gay and didn't care).

Of course, the "accusation" has some jazz fans up in arms.  Even more than country-western music, the world of jazz is known for its homophobia.  There have been some lesbian jazz singers, but very, very few gay men, and even fewer open gay men, especially in instrumental "pure" jazz, where macho men in smoky rooms refer to non-aggressive musical styles as "faggy."


 "I don't even know one jazz musician who is [gay]," Dizzy Gillespie said.

I know one.

Looking for Muscle on "The Dick Van Dyke Show"

The Dick Van Dyke Show won 15 Emmies during its five seasons (1961-1966), and is constantly praised today as one of the greatest TV shows of all time (TV Guide ranks it at #13).

It came on before my bedtime during its original run, but it was constantly being rerun during my childhood, often at lunchtime during the summer, so my brother and I watched while waiting for Mom to fry our  baloney or egg sandwiches

I know, it's a classic, and it won lots of Emmies, and all, but I didn't like it.


1. The premise: Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) was head writer for a weekly comedy-variety show.  Stories alternated between work and home.  Father of beefcake actor Barry Van Dyke (but no relation to Philip Van Dyke), Dick was tall, gawky, and rubbery-limbed, not at all attractive.

Plus he was hetero-horny in that obnoxious eye-bulging 1950s way, although devoted to his wife, Laura (Mary Tyler Moore, who would get her own iconic tv sitcom in the 1970s).

2. Rob's writing staff included the unhappily single, man-hungry Sally Rogers (Rose Marie), who was desperate to get married, even though that would mean giving up her successful comedy-writing career.


And short, sarcastic Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam).  Cute, but in his 50s, a bit too old to be attractive to a preteen.

He was as hetero-horney as Rob, and married to a former chorus girl with the ridiculous name Pickles.

3. Buddy had a sparring love-hate relationship with Mel Cooley (Richard Deacon), the balding, stuffy producer of the tv show.  But it was mostly hate.  You have to push really hard to find an undertow of homoerotic attraction.

Richard Deacon was gay in real life, and a fixture in West Hollywood bars during the 1970s.  My friend Levi dated him.




4. Back home, Rob and Laura had a son, Ritchie (Larry Mathews), who was about my age.  But I don't recall him being the focus of any episode, except one where they explain how he got the feminine middle name "Rosebud."  He was mostly a non-entity.

5. The only regular cast member who was marginally attractive was next door neighbor Jerry Helper, played Jerry Paris, who starred in some sex comedies during the 1960s.  But he was married, too.






6. And maybe an occasional guest star, such as Jerry Van Dyke (left), Jamie Farr, and Jacques Bergerac.

No muscles, no buddy-bonding, a lot of hetero-horniness.  No wonder I didn't like it.

Besides, the episode "It May Look Like a Walnut" scared me to death.

My friend Levi claims that he dated one of the stars.

See also: Hip Workplace Sitcoms of the 1970s; Mary Tyler Moore and the Two Richies; Levi's Date with a Star of "The Dick Van Dyke Show"


Chuck Connors


Chuck Connors may be forever remembered as the taciturn, loving, and endlessly shirtless Lucas McCain,  Johnny Crawford's dad on The Rifleman, but he had a long career before and after as a screen hunk.  Born in 1920, he started out as a pro ball player -- both baseball and basketball -- before a talent scout spotted him and cast him in Pat and Mike (1952).  Dozens of Westerns, spy movies, and war movies followed, with an occasional comedy thrown in, like the tv series Hey Jeannie (1958) and Love That Jill (1958).










The Rifleman brought him fame, of course, both for his shirtless shots and for the frequency with which he kills bad guys -- two or three per episode.  Fortunately, the kids who grew up on a diet of nonstop violence turned out fine -- the 10 year olds of 1958 grew into the 20-year old anti-war protesters of the Summer of Love.





Immediately after The Rifleman, Chuck moved back to the 20th century to play Porter Ricks in the movie version of the boy-and-pet-dolphin movie Flipper (1963), with Luke Halpin as Sandy; it later became a popular, beefcake heavy tv series.

In the Doris Day comedy Move Over, Darling (1963), Ellen (Doris) is lost at sea and presumed dead, so after five years her husband Nick (James Garner) moves on.  But Ellen resurfaces during his honeymoon.  Hijinks ensue. Chuck plays Steven Burkett, the handsome, athletic, leopard-skin swimsuit-clad man she shared a desert island with for five years.  Nothing happened, however.

Some dramas and Westerns followed, including Synanon (1965), with Alex CordBranded (1966-67), about a man unjustly drummed out of the army for cowardice ("what do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a ma-aa-n?"; and Cowboy in Africa (1967-68), which I never saw, but appeared to be about a same-sex couple (Chuck Connors, Tom Nardini) who run a ranch in Kenya and adopt a native boy.  It was based on the movie Africa: Texas Style, starring Hugh O'Brian.



I didn't seem much of Chuck during the 1970s; he appeared mostly in Westerns, which I didn't care for.  But he appeared again in Werewolf (1987-88), which starred hunky Eric (John J. York), a college student bitten by a werewolf; Chuck played evil head werewolf Janos Skorzeny, the object of Eric's quest to free himself from his curse.





Chuck Connors died in 1992.  He was married three times and had four children.  Recently there was a rumor circulating that he did some gay porn during his pro-ball days.  I doubt it; he wasn't part of the Physique Pictorial or Henry Willson crowd, and the footage doesn't really look like him.

But here's a censored full-frontal.  It looks a lot like him.

The uncensored photo is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Aug 6, 2018

Shenendehowa Languages and Beefcake

When I saw this photo captioned "Shenendehowa wrestler ranked nationally," of course I had to find out what sort of town was named Shenendehowa.  Related to Shenandoah, perhaps?

It's not a town, it's a high school in Clifton Park, New York, a suburb of Albany, from the Mohawk word for "great plains."


















It's often called Shen for short.

Here are the Shen senior swimmers.












Not to be confused with Shen, the common Chinese surname.  This is Parry Shen and Derek Thaler in a scene from the soap opera General Hospital.













Shenendehowa has no connection to the horrible Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, known for its horrific Civil War battles and homophobic small towns.













Other schools in the Shenendehowah district also have Mohawk names: Gowana (great), Koda (friend), Orenda (great spirit), Acadia (place of plenty).

This is a swimmer from Acadia.












No connection to Acadia, the colony of New France that lent its name to Acadia National Park, the Acadia River, and Acadia University.  That's from the French "Acadie," a 16th century misprint of "Arcadie," the region of ancient Greece that inspired so many pastoral romances.






This is Guy Harrison-Murray, a paraplegic swimmer from that other Acadia.












Why so many Mohawk names?

The Mohawk were a tribe in the Iroquois Confederacy, based in upstate New York and southern Ontario.  Today there around 30,000 members of the Mohawk nations in the U.S. and Canada.  The Mohawk language has about 4,000 native speakers.

Bojack Horseman: Anthropomorphic Angst and Queer Characters

In a world where humans and anthropomorphic animals interact, Bojack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett)  is a washed-up celebrity, the star of a 1980s TGIF sitcom, Horsin' Around, which people still remember fondly.  But he hasn't worked in years.  Finally he lands the role of a lifetime, playing the famous racehorse Secretariat, but it turns out to be a disaster.








Bojack's private life is a disaster, also.  He tries various romances, first with his assistant Diane (Alison Brie), then with Wanda, an owl who has just awoken from a 30-year long coma, and finally with his agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), but none of them work.

He has no friends except his cheerful housemate/couch potato, Todd (Aaron Paul) and the dog actor Mr. Peanutbutter (Paul F. Tompkins), another star of a TGIF sitcom who has managed to continue working by cheerfully taking any role, however demeaning.










Eventually Mr. Peanutbutter (that's his first name) marries Diane, an angst-ridden relationship that each tries hard to pretend is making them happy, and we learn about the abusive parents who pushed Bojack into self-destructive behavior.

Bojack: Are you punishing me for smoking, Mother?
Mother: No, I'm punishing you for existing.

The anthropomorphic animals make for some clever bits.  Russell Crowe's last name is crow, but he's actually a raven.

 There are sometimes humorous subplots.  I sort of like "Vincent Adultman," who Princess Carolyn dates.  No one but Bojack realizes that he's actually three young boys in an overcoat, in spite of statements like "I went to the Stock Market today and did a business."

 But overall the stories are sad, about broken, incomplete people struggling with their inner demons.

But there is considerable gay content.

Bojack took Todd in because his parents disapproved of his "lifestyle" and kicked him out of the house.  He thought he was helping a gay teen, but it turns out that the "lifestyle" Todd's parents disapproved of was laziness.

Bojack and Todd crash a lesbian wedding.

Bojack kisses Diane, Mr. Peanutbutter's wife, so the only way to restore their friendship is to have him kiss Mr. Peanutbutter, too.

When Bojack was on Horsin' Around, his close friend and producer, Herb Kazzazz,was fired after rumors emerged of a same-sex relationship.  Bojack refused to defend his friend, and as a result Herb doesn't speak to him again for 20 years, until he is dying of cancer.

Bojack's long-lost daughter has been adopted by a polyamorous group of eight men, of varying personalities and species.













Todd  eventually comes out as asexual and joins an Ace support group.  He's probably the only openly asexual character on tv.

All four seasons are on Netflix. I recommend skipping the first few episodes, produced before the show found its way, and starting with Episode 8, "The Telescope."

Boxing Beefcake at the World Series

Boxing may not be a popular sport in the United States, but it is in other countries.  Every year since 2008, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has sponsored the World Series of Boxing, inviting amateur athletes from nearly 40 countries to compete.

More interesting for the beefcake fans are the weigh-ins, where athletes from competing teams pose in their gym trunks or underwear, pretending to be angry with each other and ready for a fight.








1. Britain v. France. I like the French cut underwear.
















2. China v. Kazakhstan.  Both have xylophone abs.















3. Uzbekistan v. France.















4. Cuba


















5. India v. Kazakhstan













6. Russia


















7. India


















8. Uzbekistan v. Colombia.  I don't understand the two-finger gesture they keep flashing.











9. Morocco.  Nice chest.



















10.  Venezuela.  Kind of skinny.













9.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...