Aug 17, 2018

Sam and Colby: Often Shirtless, Maybe Gay

Sam Golbach (right) and Colby Scherer (left) are a youtube, instagram, vine pair of internet stars with 1.7 million subscribers. 

Their schtick is paranormal investigation:

"Queen Mary: The Night We Talked to Demons"

"Escaping a Haunted Psych Ward"

"Exploring an Abandoned College"

"Satanic Ritual in an Abandoned Brewery"

In July and August they're going on a tour of the U.S. and Canada to talk about their adventures.




They also do pranks and humor videos.




Usually shirtless, of course,  You don't get to be an internet star without having a chest.









Sam seems to favor us with the most shirtless pics.




















My favorite video is "Boyfriend vs. Best Friend Challenge," where Colby finds out if his best friend (Sam) or boyfriend (Brennen Taylor, right) knows him better.

I don't know if Colby and Brennan are really boyfriends or just doing a schtick .  It's so hard to figure out with millenials, where straight guys pretend to be in love with their bros and gay guys pretend to be married to their gal pals.









I guess it doesn't make much difference unless you want a date with one of them.  Or if you want them to be role models to queer youth.







Brennen, by the way, also has a vlog, with 1.9 million subscribers.  He does mostly pranks and skits, such as a Condom Challenge with his older brother Jake.  They fill condoms with water and drop them on each other's heads while giggling.

This is better than scripted tv, how?

Oh, right -- he takes his shirt off.

Aug 16, 2018

The Top 10 Beefcake Stars of "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

I watched a few episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994) when it first aired, and now we're going through on Netflix.  It has some interesting episodes, when it isn't bogged down with negotiating peace treaties between two planets where everybody looks and acts just like us.

But it is ridiculously beefcake-free.  On the original series, you could count on Kirk or another crewman getting ripped out of his shirt every couple of episodes, but on Next Generation, the cast is uniform-bound.  The most you can hope for is a leisure suit cut in the middle, which they generally wear on shore leave on Risa the sex planet.

It becomes all the more frustrating when you notice the parade of hunks.  Apparently the casting director had an eye for the men, and hired Playguy-quality supermodels to play ensigns, science officers, aliens, and miscellaneous "blink and you miss them" uniform-class background players.

Here are the standouts in the episodes we've watched during the last few weeks.

Sorry, finding shirtless pics of less-well known actors from 26 years ago is not easy, so we'll have to make do with a face shot and fantasy.


1. "The First Duty" (March, 1992).  Wesley Crusher and his friends cause a fatal accident at Star Fleet Academy.  Robert Duncan McNeill  (later Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager) as Locarno, the upperclassman who is prompting him to lie about it. (Left, he takes off his shirt for some reason).











2. "The Perfect Mate" (April 1992).  A woman arrives on the Enterprise who adapts perfectly to be the perfect mate of every man she encounters (every man is heterosexual, of course).  So she's horny with Riker, intellectual with Picard, and a dynamo with some visiting miners.  With K.C. Amos (John Amos' son) as somebody or other.



3. "I Borg" (May 1992). Jonathan Del Arco stars as a young Borg (member of a collective species), who comes aboard the Enterprise and learns to become an individual (they really like that individual thing on Trek).  He likes Geordi LaForge a lot, giving the episode a gay subtext.

Jonathan Del Arco is gay in real life, and now works with GLSEN  in anti-bullying initiatives.








4. "The Inner Light" (May 1992).  Picard is zapped into a weird village with some ancient, some modern technology, and lives there for 30 years, while everyone tells him that his life on the Enterprise was a fantasy.  Then he returns.  It turns out to be a very weird way of making sure that the ancient culture is remembered.  How about sending some books instead?  With Patrick Stewart's son Daniel as Picard's ancient-world son, Batai.

Daniel Stewart is primarily a stage actor, but he returned to tv on an episode of Blunt Talk, playing the son of Patrick Stewart's character again.  He is not married.




5. "Time's Arrow" (June 1992).  Data is zapped into the 1890s San Francisco, where out-of-phase beings are killing people to feed on their energy in the present.  Um...yeah, it doesn't make any more sense when you watch it.  But he gets to hang out with Mark Twain and Jack London (Michael Aron).








6. "Man of the People" (October 1992).  Ship counselor Troi gets zapped with something that makes her baser instincts take over, so she tries to seduce every man on the ship, including an unnamed blond ensign (J. P. Hubbell).  She also turns mean during her counseling sessions, and gets older, finally walking around in a Cruella DeVille costume.















7. "Schisms" (October 1992).  Riker is having a bad day. With Scott Trost (left) as Lt. Shapely.  Um...I mean Lt. Shipley.

8. "Rascals" (October 1992).  The crew is zapped into the bodies of children.  With David Birkin as a teenage Captain Picard.













9. "Relics" (October 1992). Scotty from the original series shows up and worries that he's become a useless relic.  Also there's a Dyson Sphere, and a cute bartender (Ernie Mirich).













10.  "The Quality of Life" (November 1992).  A robot becomes sentient.  With John Copage as a science officer.





Aug 15, 2018

Robert Rodan and the Gay Casting Couch of "Dark Shadows"

One day in May 1968 when I was second grade, my friend Doug and I came home from school to find his older sister in the living room watching tv.   Outraged over her co-opting Garfield Goose, we demanded that she change the channel, but she said "Cool it, gremlins!  This is good."

I looked at the screen.

A naked man on the operating table.

Seeing shirtless guys on tv was almost unheard of, and here was a guy totally naked. Chest, shoulders,arms, belly.

Everything beneath the belt.

I had heard of the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows -- the older kids all grooved on tortured vampire Barnabas Collins.  But I didn't watch, so I didn't know that Barnabas was trying to cure his vampirism by by transferring his life force into a young hunk, a man built out of the spare parts of bodybuilders.  I don't think I had even heard of Frankenstein.

But there was a naked man on the operating table!



Ok, in the actual episode, he's covered up except for his head and shoulders,but in my memory you get an eyeful.

It was a busy summer, with Vacation Bible School and the move from Racine to Rock Island, and then starting out at a new school in the fall, so I caught only glimmers of the plot.

After a few weeks of grunts, the man, dubbed Adam (Robert Rodan), becomes eloquent, super-strong, and vicious.   An altogether formidable foe, but all he really wants is a date.  First he tries for Caroline, and then he forces Barnabas and Julia to build him a mate, Eve.  His storyline ends in December, when he goes off to a clinic to have his scars removed and fade into obscurity.

He never got naked on screen, but he did in my memories.  A lot.

Robert Rodan, 30 years old, was born Robert Trimas (he chose his last name after his favorite sculptor).  An art major at the University of Miami, he graduated in 1960, spent five months in the army reserve, and then moved to Los Angeles to seek a job in advertising art.  But he was so goodlooking that people kept mistaking him for a movie star and asking for his autograph, so he figured, why not?

He had a few minor roles: an episode of A Day in Court (1963), a musical, Looking for Love (1964), and the comedy Goodbye, Charlie (1964).  Then he moved to New York and began modeling for magazines and auditioning for the theater.

A soap opera gig sounded like a good steady paycheck.

When he went to the Adam audition wearing regular clothes, Robert was intimidated by the guys in full Frankenstein makeup, but he had three things that they didn't: he was tall, dark-haired, and blue-eyed, characteristics that, according to Robert himself, producer Dan Curtis found especially sexy.

Wait -- is he implying that there was a gay casting couch going on?

And that Dan Curtis was a member of the fraternity?

That explains why half of the male cast members were gay.

After Adam, Robert returned to L.A. and started auditioning for movies.  But he was only offered villains and monsters.

After a few commercials and the softcore porn thriller The Minx (1969), which a Swedish producer bought and turned into an X-rated movie, Robert hung up his headshots, turned back into Robert Trimas, and went into real estate.

Today Robert is 80 years old, divorced, retired, with sons and grandsons.  He has returned to acting recently to voice some of the Dark Shadows audio dramas.

But I'll always remember him as the naked man on the operating table.

See also: Barnabas and Willie

Aug 14, 2018

Herman's Head

Herman's Head (1991-94) was a Fox Sunday night show that aired after Married..with Children, so who was going to skip it?

Besides, it starred the amazingly cute William Ragsdale from Fright Night.  Coincidentally or not, his costar on Fright Night, Amanda Bearse, the most visible lesbian on tv before Ellen, was on Married...with Children.  And the cast included two of the voice actors from another Fox show, The Simpsons.

Besides, the phrase "Herman's Head" sounds dirty.

There were even some queer elements.

The premise: a young man negotiates the various crises of his job, his friends, and his hetero-romances.

The gimmick: we can see inside his mind, a room stocked with various memories, anxieties, and hopes, where four aspects of his personality argue over his various schemes.  Each is trying to one-up the other and steer Herman toward their preferred outcome.

1. Angel (Molly Hagan, right), his sensitive, emotional, feminine side, concerned with being a loving, caring human being.  And getting a girlfriend.

2. Animal (Ken Hudson Campbell, center), his drinking, belching, crude-joke-making side, concerned with partying.  And getting laid.

3. Genius (Peter Mackenzie, left), his logical, intellectual side, concerned with career advancement.



4. Wimp (Rick Lawless), his anxieties, concerned with hiding.

One wonders if the components of Herman's psyche also have sentient components in  their psyches, so it's little rooms full of arguing beings all the way down.

Occasionally other components appear, such as Jealousy (Bobcat Goldthwait).

God appears in the guise of Leslie Nielsen (well, what does your image of God look like?)

In the final episode, Herman is dying (1990s sitcoms often had tragic endings) and his soul makes an appearance to say goodbye to the components, as he is the only one who will live on.




Outside in the physical world, Herman's Head is a standard workplace sitcom.  There's his best buddy Jay (Hank Azaria), his crush Heddy (Jane Siebert), office drone Louise (Yeardley Smith), who is dating Jay, Mr. Bracken (Jason Bernard), the officious boss, and Mr. Crawford (Edward Winter).

A lot -- A LOT of attention is paid to Herman's love life.  He screws around more than Jerry Seinfeld, over on NBC: his amours include Heddy, Louise, Mr. Bracken's daughter, Mr. Bracken's niece, Crawford's girlfriend, two supermodels, a Playboy playmate, a rock star,  a female executive at the company, a female senator, a visiting princess, guest star Maureen McCormick, Eve (as in the Biblical Adam and Eve), and about a dozen regular girlfriends.

Come on, William Ragsdale isn't that cute.  But neither was Seinfeld.

No beefcake, no gay characters except for one of Herman's exes, now a lesbian who wants him to be a sperm donor.

But the fastidious Genius is gay-coded, and having a woman play part of Herman's psyche gave the show a queer feel.  It was rather fun to listen to Angel promoting various dating shenanigans:  "I want that woman.  I want that woman bad."

Not a bad way to spend the half hour of downtime between Married..with Children and bed.

See also: Married..with Children.







Aug 13, 2018

Woody Woodpecker: Being a Woodpecker was not Gay Enough

During a televised interview with Walter Lantz sometime in the 1970s, the fawning reporter said "I have to say that Woody Woodpecker is my favorite cartoon character, and most people I've talked to agree. Why is that?"

Talk about hard-hitting investigative journalism!

I roiled at that.  Woody Woodpecker is the most annoying cartoon character of all time.  I'd rather watch a Scrappy-Do marathon.

Lantz rolled out the anarchic bird in 1940, as a foil for his established character Andy Panda.  He was an ugly, unpredictable psychopath, causig mayhem for its own sake (as opposed to Bugs Bunny, who fights back against aggressors).  Apparently he was popular enough to rate his own song, mostly about his heterosexual prowess:

Though he can't sing a note, there's a frog in his throat
All his top notes come out blurred
He's the ladies' first choice, with a laugh in his voice...and then that annoying ha-ha-ha-HA-ha.


The theatrical cartoons were repeated on tv on the syndicated Woody Woodpecker Show (1958-66), which I remember only vaguely as "too scary to watch."










When  I was a little older, Woody Woodpecker a bottom-of-the-rack selection of Gold Key Comics (1963-78),  not really worth spending my hard-earned 15 cents on.  On the occasions that I did read his comics, I found him domesticated, a single father living in 1960s suburbia (although still talking like it was the 1940s, which I suppose is understandable; I occasionally throw a "radical" into my conversations today).  He was raising his niece and nephew, Knothead and Splinter, distinguishable only by the hair and skirt, guiding them through crises involving bullies, paper routes, and science projects.

There were also globetrotting adventure stories:

The Great Riverboat Race
Ghost of Gold Creek Gulch
Sub-Marooned in Neptunia

Similar to what you would find in the Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig comics a little higher up in the rack, or Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics at the very top, but with some significant, deal-breaker differences.

1. Woody lived in a human world, with only occasional animal characters.  Granted, so did Bugs Bunny, but:










2. No buddy bonding, like Bugs and Porky or Donald and Uncle Scrooge had had on their adventures.  Heck, even the other main Lantz character, Andy Panda, had a boyfriend, Charlie Chicken, with a sort of id-superego, rushing headlong into danger/worrying if he left the stove on sort of dynamic.

3. Woody was daft over dames.  Bugs, Porky, and Donald had girlfriends as foils only, but Woody was obviously daft over dames, throwing himself into a bosomy woman's lap every five seconds.

4. The art was pedestrian, and the stories cliched.



Years later, I learned the slang meaning of "wood," which transformed "woodpecker" into a dirty word.  I don't think it's enough to redeem Woody Woodpecker.

See also: Bugs Bunny Meets the Drag King


1990s Teen Idol Also-Rans

Before the contemporary era of streaming youtube stars, teen idols usually got their start on tv, playing cute kids or dreamy teens in "family-friendly" sitcoms and dramas.  The problem is, you never know which cute kid or dreamy teen will take off.

In 1990, Gregory Harrison, looking for a new vehicle after his successful intergenerational doctor show Trapper John, MD, starred in The Family Man, a lead in to the hit Hogan Family.  He plays a widower who invites his opinionated father-in-law to help him raise his passel of kids, including John Buchanan, Scott Weinger, and Matthew Brooks. Surely one of them would be the next big teen idol.

Nope.  22 episodes, tanked.

Scot Weinger went on to voice Aladdin.








How about Getting By (1993-94), an interracial Kate and Allie clone with two former sitcom stars (Cindy Williams, Telma Hopkins) as single mothers who move in with each other?  Two teen idols in training, Merlin Santana and Deon Richmond.  It lasted for a whopping 31 episodes.












Ok, Second Noah (1996-97), with Daniel Hugh Kelly looking for a new vehicle after his successful intergenerational buddy-bonding Hardcastle and McCormick (1983-1986) and a couple of failed series, as a writer with a passel of adopted kids and cute animals, including  Jason Marsden, Jeffrey Licon, and the twins Jon and Jeremy Torgeson.

Only the Torgeson twins got a glimmer of teen idol attention, although Jeffrey Licon became popular later in The Brothers Garcia, and Jason Marsden (top photo) became an adult beefcake star.

 21 episodes.








In 1998, William Ragsdale, last seen on Herman's Head, became yet another widower in Brother's Keeper, forced to take in his bad-boy football-player brother.   His son was played by Justin Cooper, who still didn't take off as either cute kid or teen idol.

See also: The Torgerson Twins
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