Sep 29, 2018

The Gay Subtexts of "Apple and Onion"

The cartoon universe is full of anthropomorphic animals, but I can't think of any anthropomorphic foods, other than the candy people of Adventure Time.

Enter Apple and Onion, a Cartoon Network program about a world occupied almost entirely by food with arms, legs, and faces, and personalities reflective of their type.  Most are cooked, well seasoned, grown-up.

Hot Dog
Burger
Pizza
Root Beer Float
Kobeba


The exuberant Apple (George Gendi) and the skittish Onion (Richard Ayoade) are raw, childlike, new to the big city.  In the first episode they meet, face the crises common to newbies, and become friends and roommates.  They don't really have an odd couple vibe -- it's more of a Mordecai and Rigby, as they set out to bring joie de vivre to their friends and neighbors, one food at a time.  Of course, everything goes wrong.

When their landlord Falafel (Sayed Badreya) gets homesick, they take him out for a fun day in the city.

They play basketball with Hot Dog and Burger (Paul Scheer, Eugene Mirman)

They invent a new game, which they play against the scheming Bottle Cap and Whey.

They are stuck with a duck as they are preparing for a block party.

No one is specifically gay -- I assume that this rainbow is not intended to represent a rainbow flag -- but  there is always a gay subtext with buddy pairs, and hetero romance is minimal except in the pilot (where Onion has a crush).

Ten episodes plus some shorts are streaming on the Cartoon Network website, and more are reputedly in the works.


Sep 28, 2018

12 Fairytale Hunks of "Once Upon a Time"

Once Upon a Time is a pastiche of feuding figures from fairy tales (mostly Disney versions), mythology, novels, folklore -- you name it.  The main characters are Snow White, Snow's daughter Emma, her grandson Henry, Regina the Evil Queen (who turns into the Good Queen), Rumpelstiltskin, Prince Charming, Captain Hook, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast.

But many other recognizable faces from your childhood appear.

With physiques that are the stuff of legend.


1. Michael Socha as Will Scarlett, Robin Hood's chum.






2. Liam Garrigan as King Arthur, the mythical king of Dark Age Britain, seen here schtupping his bff Lancelot (just kidding)

















3. Deniz Akdeniz as Aladdin (the one from the Disney movie, not the one from the 1001 Nights).

















4. Charles Mesure as Blackbeard, the real-life pirate, aka Edward Teach (1680-1718)
























5. Sinqua Walls as Sir Lancelot from the Arthurian legends.























6. Hank Harris as Henry Jekyll, from the Robert Louis Stevenson novel (Sam Witwer as Mr. Hyde).





More after the break












Reefer Madness

I've shown many classes the 1936 film Reefer Madness.  It was originally released as Tell Your Children, a cautionary tale about the dangers of marijuana.  But it was so off-the-wall, with atrocious acting and a ridiculous plot, that it was placed on the exploitation-film circuit, and later rediscovered by the 1970s college student crowd.

There's a strong gay subtext: drug dealer Ralph (Dave O'Brien) sees high schooler Jimmy (Warren McCollum), murmurs "Nice!", and practically licks his lips in anticipation.  Wrangling an introduction, he says "Nice to meet youuuuuu!" with a lascivious leer, then invites Jimmy to the soda shop, where he will try to get him hooked on the psychosis-inducing weed in a parallel to how gay men were accused of recruiting boys.

In 1998, Reefer Madness: The Musical appeared off-Broadway, eliminating the redundant characters and upping the camp.  Christian Campbell (left) played Jimmy, lured from his "wholesome" heterosexual chastity by drug dealer Jack (Robert Torti, top photo) and cohort Ralph (John Kassir).  In addition to the gay subtext, there was a lot of beefcake, with the super-muscular Jimmy stripped down to his underwear and a chorus of semi-nude male and female devils.






The musical is a bit too racy for the high school drama club crowd, but it has made some impact in colleges and community theaters.

The film version, Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (2005), star Christian Campbell as Jimmy, Steven Weber as Jack, and Robert Torti as Jesus.  It adds some characters, such as John Mann as Satan, ups the gay subtext by removing all pronouns from the seduction scenes, and adds an explicit connection between the anti-marijuana crusade of the 1930s with bigoted attacks on gays and lesbians:




And once the reefer has been destroyed
We'll start on Darwin and Sigmund Freud
And sex depicted on celluloid
And communists and queens!
When danger's near, exploit their fear
The end will justify the means!


Peter Pan

I'm fine with drag now, but in 1966, I was freaked out by Mary Martin's portrayal of Peter Pan, a monstrous conflation of male/female and child/adult (Peter is traditionally played by an older woman, in the tradition of the British Christmas pantomime).

Three years later, in 1969, my uncle took me to the theatrical re-release of the Disney version (1953), with 15-year old Bobby Driscoll voicing Peter Pan. Although I was older, I was still freaked out by the dog wearing the nanny cap and the Lost Boys in bear, wolf, and skunk costumes, monstrous conflations of the human and the animal.

And the heterosexism, nearly as intense as in the Disney live action adventures like Light in the Forest with James MacArthur.

There's a story about Bobby Driscoll's date with Joe Dallesandro on Tales of West Hollywood.






Peter is subjected to the amorous flirtations of Tinker Bell and the mermaids, all of whom try to kill his current gal pal, Wendy. He goes beyond flirting with Princess Tiger Lily, whose kisses make him redden and tremble with erotic ecstasy.  Meanwhile, the Indian men explain how they "became red": they're all reddened with erotic ecstasy after being kissed by Indian women.

Captain Hook, one of Disney's standard gay-vague sophisticated villains, dislikes women and has an arguably erotic interest in Peter Pan.  He stays in Neverland year after year, in spite of the advice and near-mutiny of his crew, with only one goal: to "get" the boy.

Homoerotic desire is evil, unwholesome, and destructive.  Heterosexual desire inflames you.  A monstrous perversion of the original novels and plays by J. M. Barrie (who was gay in real life), where Peter Pan inhabits a homoerotic Eden, free from the constraint of "growing up" into heterosexual marriage.


But it gets worse.


In Hook (1991), Robin Williams plays a Peter Pan who grew up, forgot his identity, graduated from law school, and married Wendy's granddaughter.  When his children are kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) appears to restore his memory and his powers so he can rescue them.  She accomplishes this task by reminding Peter of the hetero-erotic Eden he abandoned:
"You know that place between sleep and awake?  The place where you still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you."

In Peter Pan (2003), Peter (13-year old Jeremy Sumpter, top photo and left) is dressed in wisps of leaves that lay bare unexpected bits of his body, like a prepubescent strip tease, as he struts about, emblematic of heterosexual eroticism.


He doesn't just flirt -- he desires Wendy, and the stories she tells, which all end with a kiss. He wrests her from her parents ("Sorry, we both can't have her), and their prepubscent passion ignites into a power that can defeat Captain Hook (who, by the way, is no longer gay-vague)

Let's not even mention the depressing Death of Peter Pan (1988),  about the "impossible love" of J.M. Barrie's adopted son Michael and his schoolmate Rupert Buxton.

See also: Jeremy Sumpter: A Normal Kid

Sep 27, 2018

Sausage Sighting of Billy Mumy and Jon Bon Jovi

Hi, Boomer,

This is Jeremy, Infinite Chazz's partner.  I saw Bill Mumy on your hookup wishlist.  I hope this is what you were looking for:

Summer 1991!  There has never been another summer like it.  Paula Abdul was at the top of the charts, Michael J. Fox and Keanu Reeves were at the top of the box office, and everyone was glued to the tv, wondering who killed Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks. 

I was a 21 year old undergrad at Florida State, studying philosophy of all things, and I landed the best summer job of all time -- an internship at Universal Studios in Orlando, where I became a gopher and script boy for the Superboy series!

It was about a college-age Clark Kent studying journalism at Shuster University.  Played by Gerard Christopher, aka Jerry Dinome, 30 years old, a strong romantic-lead type, a former physique model, tall, tanned, and buffed, with a bulge that wouldn't quit.  Hot!



I sidled up to Gerard, bringing him coffee and bagels, telling him that I wanted to be an actor (I actually didn't), trying to tease out whether he was gay or not -- and more importantly, whether he was into 21-year old philosophy majors!

Season 4 began with a two-parter (aired October 6th and 13th, 1991), in which Superboy runs afoul of Adam Verrel (Michael Des Barres), a stereotypic British-sophisticate villain.  Hey, I didn't write this stuff.

 Adam blackmails eccentric inventor Tommy Puck (Bill Mumy) into creating a super-weapon to take Superboy down.

Michael Des Barres was big, bold, and flamboyant, an androgynous glam rocker who had his own band in the 1970s, and had since performed with everyone from Blondie to Duran Duran.  He was newly divorced but still friends with Pamela Des Barres, quintessential groupie whose tell-all book,  I'm with the Band (1987), details wild nights of sex wilth everyone from Don Johnson to Mick Jagger.

Unabashedly bisexual, or I guess pansexual -- he liked sex, period.  And rather aggressively into me, with the hand on shoulder and accidentally-brushing-the-bum bits.  He wasn't at all my type, so I just kind of ignored him.







Bill Mumy was quiet, a little more reserved.  I never saw Lost in Space: I knew him from the old Twilight Zone episode where he plays a kid with eerie superpowers, and from his musical group Barnes and Barnes:  "Fish Heads" on the Doctor Demento radio show.

He was skinny, almost gaunt, with a long face and crazy hair, not really my type. 

Also rather conservative; Michael and Gerard went out drinking and "raising hell" after the table read, but Bill went back to his hotel to call his wife on the telephone.

We shot for two weeks.  During the last day, Michael wrapped his arm around my shoulders and said "Gerard and Bill and I are popping down to Fort Lauderdale tomorrow for a quiet little gathering at my mate Tico's house.  It's an overnight. Fancy coming along?"

An overnight party would certainly mean sharing Michael's bed.  But Gerard would be there, too -- showering, going to the beach, stripping down, all of those things that could lead to male-bonding and hand jobs.  Maybe I could convince Michael to "share"!  So I agreed.


Some quiet little gathering!  Tico turned out to be the drummer for Bon Jovi, and he had this marvelous five-bedroom house near the beach in Wilton Manors, the gay neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale.  He wasn't gay -- he had a live in girlfriend -- but half the guests were gay men.

The other half were famous musicians -- Jon Bon Jovi, George Michael, Blondie, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue!

The rest of the story, with nude photos and explicit sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Special Olympics Swimmers

In Like Normal People (1979), Shaun Cassidy played a teenager suffering from what we used to call "mental retardation," someone with a low IQ, who was nevertheless amazingly talented, an accomplished swimmer, wordworker, and so on.  The main draw, of course, was seeing the hot teen idol in a swimsuit.

Now the condition is called "mental disability" or "intellectual disability," an impairment in your ability to manage yourself, communicate, and engage in ordinary activities.  Most people with intellectual disabilities require only minor assistance; they graduate from high school, get jobs, live by themselves.  Others function best in a group setting. 








The Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Schriver Kennedy, gives the intellectually challenged an opportunity to demonstrate their athletic prowess.  Over 3 million athletes from 180 countries compete in 30 sports, including alpine skiing, cricket, football, gymnastics, powerlifting, snowboarding, and volleyball.

There is no age limit.

Here are some photos of Special Olympics swimmers.

1. Cheyenne and Will, who also swim for their local team in Florida.









Matthew, a three-time gold medalist from New Jersey.

A Romanian gold medalist.

You're probably wondering, is it ok to notice their physiques, or should we concentrate on their athletic prowess?

Dating is probably out of the question,, unless they have only a minor disability.

But anyone can look.









Jason and Warren from Alberta.



















Bronze medalists.















This group isn't happy.

There's a story about my date with my mentally disabled neighbor on Tales of West Hollywood.

Sep 26, 2018

My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea: Disaster Anime with Heteronormativity

When a movie with the odd title My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea appeared on Netflix, I figured it was based on one of those Japanese manga about horrible things happening to schoolkids.  Maybe they are trapped in a high school floating around a desolate monster-infested postapocalyptic world, or maybe they have become trapped somehow in an airtight school beneath the ocean, forced to create a new society, as in Goliath Awaits.

Actually, it's an American high school, and what you read is what you get: it's built on a precarious cliff, which breaks off during an earthquake, sending the school plummeting into the ocean below.  It sinks rather quickly, as a gigantic building would.  The students and teachers scramble to escape submerged rooms and head to the roof to await the rescue helicopters.

No rescue boats?  And they have to be near the shore, so couldn't they just swim?

And who builds a high school on a cliff?  

Before the disaster, we see a crisis in the friendship of school journalists Dash (Jason Schwartzman) and Assaf (Reggie Watts).  Editor Verti (Maya Rudolph) assigns Assaf a solo article, obviously intending to break the duo apart so she can have Assaf for herself.

Not that Assaf minds.  He's more than willing to throw Dash under the bus in order to grin at Verti.

Dash, outraged, writes an article which disses Assaf, mostly claiming that his penis is inadequate.   Sounds like a spurned boyfriend, right?  But wait.

The misdeed threatens to tarnish his permanent record, so Dash breaks into the school archives in the basement to retrieve it.  He runs into Mary (Lena Dunham), who is there to retrieve her confiscated cell phone. At that moment, the school falls into the sea, so they have to work together to get all the way from the basement to the roof.  And fall... 

Well, you know the rest.

Dash and Assaf reconcile during the disaster, but things will never be the same for them again.  They can no longer be a pair.  They've grown up into hetero-romance. 


The story ends with the two couples, Dash-Mary and Assaf-Verti, at a party celebrating the publication of the book Dash wrote about the disaster. Assaf feeds Verti sushi.  I looked, but it doesn't appear that her arms are broken.

In high school in the  1970s I heard over and over again that same-sex friendships are, mere placeholders, to be abandoned joyfully and without hesitation the moment a girl smiles at you. They are weak, passionless simulacra, shadows of the blinding light that is hetero-romance.  Boys are to hang out with.  Girls are the meaning of life.

Things haven't changed in 2018.



The animation is pleasant, a sort of stop action with a unique color palette.  But the plot is ridiculous, and the underlying message disgusting.


My Entire High School is the work of Dash Shaw, a comic artist whose other work include Bottomless Belly Button and BodyWorld.  He states that he disapproves of the strict classifications of male/female and gay/straight: he's had "strong relationships" with men and women both. 

So maybe some day he'll drop the heteronormativity.


Sep 25, 2018

Once Upon a Time: Finding or Losing True Love

In the idyllic New England town of Storybrooke, a young boy named Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), adopted son of Mayor Regina (Lana Parilla), suddenly realizes that everyone around him is a story book character, mostly from Disney adaptions of fairy tales.

His teacher is actually Snow White (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)
Regina is actually the Evil Queen who gave Snow White the poisoned apple.

The seven dwarfs are wandering around doing various civilian jobs, as are the Magic Mirror, the Huntsman, Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), and characters from other Disney movies and fairy tales: Jiminy Cricket (from Pinocchio), Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel.

Henry has told only a few people of these amazing revelations, and they all think he's crazy.  They have no memories of their other lives, or really any memories of the past at all.  Oddly, no one questions this collective amnesia.

Or the fact that time is standing still: for the last thirty years, no one in Storybrooke has aged.  No one is born (Henry was born outside), no one dies.  No one moves to town (except Henry), no one leaves.

Then Henry's birth mother, Emma, arrives, and time starts again.

Another startling revelation: Emma is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming (real name David).  So Henry's  teacher is his grandmother.

We gradually discover what happened:  Regina is angry with Snow for destroying "her  happiness": apparently she told the evil Queen Cora that her daughter was dating a stable boy named Daniel (Noah Bean), and the queen had him killed. 

So Regina arranged for a "Dark Curse" to bring everyone to a world without magic and zap their memories.  She will then be able to keep Snow from being happy (that is, from dating Prince Charming).

This is the premise of Once Upon a Time (2011-), currently streaming on Netflix. I've only seen the first season, but I understand that it gets very, very complicated.  Regina has a long, harsh back story and eventually is redeemed and becomes The Good Queen, while Snow can be petty, vain, and...well, malicious.  The back stories of many other characters are revealed (evil people are invariably evil because their "true love" was killed).  And the palette expands from Storybrooke to Neverland, the Looking-Glass World,  and who knows where else?



Robin Hood (Tom Ellis) and Captain Hook {Colin O'Donoghue) fight Hades (Greg Germann) from Greek mythology, who is in love with the Wicked Witch of the West (from The Wizard of Oz)










Cruella Deville (from 1001 Dalmatians), Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty). and Ursula (from The Little Mermaid).kidnap Belle (from Beauty and the Beast)  in order to force her boyfriend Rupelstiltskin (who happens to be the son of Peter Pan) to give her the magic Gauntlet of Camelot, which he got from Victor Frankenstein.

Hokey smokes!

The mishmash of fairy tales, legends, mythology, popular novels, and Disney movies sounds very annoying.

Even in the first season, I am annoyed by the trope of "finding happiness" which is always equated with finding or reuniting with your "true love," the person you are destined to spend your life with.  When you have found your true love, you are by definition happy.  When you have not, you are by definition unhappy.

You can always tell when you find your true love: you stop whatever you're doing -- fighting goblins, running for your life, hugging your girlfriend -- and stare at them with a dumb expression.

There are only three motives for every act:
1. To find/win your true love/happiness
2. To fight those who are trying to destroy your true love/happiness.
3. To get revenge on those who have successfully destroyed your true love/happiness.

The concept of "true love" was invented during the 17th century to promote companionate marriages over the arranged marriages of the past.  It is amazingly simplistic and patently untrue: our emotional bonds with friends and lovers come in an infinite variety, and none were predestined at the beginning of time.  It's daytime soap opera nonsense.


Once doesn't offer much beefcake.  This is a show about the power struggles of princesses and queens, with men as mostly interchangeable "true loves," all around 30 years old (regardless of their true age), tall, fair-skinned, and dark-haired. Their only distinguishing characteristics appear to be hair length and degree of androgyny.   Although I have over 50 years of experience in evaluating masculine beauty, I have a hard time telling them apart.

I don't even know who this one plays.  Like, Emma's grandson, or Rupelstiltskin's grandfather, or both?

No identified gay characters in the first season -- I understand that there are some lesbian "true loves" around Season 6.

But I do find something gender-transgressive about Henry's obsession with the adults being adequately paired off: "You have to be together!  It's true love!"  It doesn't sound like the sort of thing a straight 10-year old would be harping about.

Sep 23, 2018

Lucas and Marcus Dobre, the Kissing Twins

19-year old twins Lucas and Marcus Dobre-Mofid are the sons of former Olympic gymnast Aurelia Dobre and coachBoz Mofid, who now own the Dobre Gymnastics Academy in Gaithersburg, Maryland (about 20 miles north of Washington). .














Lucas and Marcus grew up on the mat.  They began posting videos of their gymnastic stunts and dance moves to Vine in 2011, under the name Twinbotz.  By 2014 had 300,000 subscribers.

They moved to California to join Jake Paul's Team 10,but soon got homesick and returned to Maryland.  .

They bought a house with their two older brothers, Cyrus and Darius, and started two youtube channels, one for all four brothers, and the other for just the twins.















The four Dobre brothers record their own rap songs and music videos, mostly about how rich they are.

Meanwhile, Lucas and Marcus post mostly pranks, comedy, and dares: "Destroying our Friend's Computer", "Grocery Store Dares," "24 Hours Under Lucas' Girlfriend's Bed,"  "My Brother was Kidnapped by Scary Clowns."














Here they pose semi-naked in the snow.

They take their shirts off in most of their videos, and when they don't, they post shirtless pics to advertise it anyway.













Some of the pranks and dares involve gender bending, like the four brothers' "High Heel Race Through Wal-Mart" (with their shirts off, naturally).  The prank was about the shocked reaction of the uptight Wal-Mart shoppers rather than the problem of running in heels.



















Lucas and Marcus both appear to have girlfriends, but like many zoomers they like playing with our expectations concerning sexuality.

Fan 1: "Are you..."
Marcus: "Yes."
Fan 2: "What if they were going to say gay'?"
Marcus: "Yess."

The twins post many photos of them kissing, hugging, cuddling, and otherwise acting like a gay couple.







Cyrus and Darius have girlfriends, too, but the four brothers have released a music video encouraging bullying victims to stop thinking that they aren't good enough.  That's sort of pro-gay.
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