Oct 13, 2018

Super Mario Brothers

When I was a kid, we had arcade games (for which you went to an arcade), but no video games.

In college we played Asteroids, in which your space ship shoots asteroids and flying saucers.

Mario Brothers appeared in arcades in 1983, and the Nintendo home game Super Mario Brothers in 1987.  Oddly enough, my parents were fans.  I have fond memories of summer nights in the 1990s, living in West Hollywood but back in Rock Island for a visit, the screen door open to let in a breeze, hearing the theme music coming from the living room.

There was also a Super Mario Brothers All-Stars in 1993, a Super Mario Brothers Deluxe in 1999, and various games devoted to other characters in the Mario universe, but by that time my parents had lost interest.

Nearly all of the game plots are sexist.  A princess is kidnapped, and the brothers Mario and Luigi, drawn as stereotypic Italian-American plumbers, must rescue her.

They are sometimes accompanied by Yoshi, a sentient dinosaur, and Toad, a sentient mushroom who wears a turban.

The only game without a princess to rescue is Yoshi's Island (1995), in which Baby Mario, accompanied by a clan of Yoshis, must rescue Baby Luigi.

However, none of the games involve a fade-out kiss: neither Mario nor Luigi display any heterosexual interest, leaving them open to gay subtexts.  Maybe they're a gay couple, not "brothers."

Mario cosplay is common, with some muscular Marios, Luigis, and Toads strutting about.

A film version, Super Mario Bros., appeared in 1993.  It stars Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo as Mario and Luigi, plumbers in real-life Brooklyn who are zapped into a parallel Earth run by the descendants of dinosaurs,  They rescue Princess Daisy, as expected.

  Of course, Hollywood movies must always have a heterosexist plot, so Luigi and Daisy fall in love.

But, on the plus side, John Leguizamo has a shirtless scene (top photo), before he got all craggy and bizarre.

Oct 12, 2018

Paralympic Muscle Men

There were special Olympic-style competitions for disabled war veterans as early as 1945, but the first Paralympics open to all disabled athletes was held in Rome in 1960.  Today thousands of athletes from over 150 countries compete.  They have cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, visual impairment, and a variety of missing and malfunctioning limbs.

There are 22 paralympic sports, everything from canoeing and badminton to wheelchair basketball.  In search of beefcake potential, I just looked at the swimmers.

Scottish swimmer Andy Mullen has won silver and bronze medals in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly events.  Very nice hairy chest.

Josef Craig won the gold medal in men's freestyle. His pecs, abs, and basket all win gold medals, too.

Mattheus Angula from Windhoek, Namibia.The absence of legs doesn't detract from the aesthetic beauty of his arms and shoulders.

More after the break.

12 Forgotten Beefcake Boys of the 1980s

When I was living in West Hollywood during the 1980s, we didn't go to movies much, due to the rampant homophobia. Nearly every movie featured a discussion of how much the main characters hated gay people.  In Teen Wolf, Michael J. Fox protests that he's not a "fag."  In American Werewolf in London, David Naughton calls Prince Charles "a fag."  In Breakfast Club, Judd Nelson writes a warning on his school locker: "Keep out, fags."

But in spite of the homophobia, there was a lot of beefcake.  Men took off their shirts regularly, in frat houses, swimming pools, locker rooms, on wilderness treks.  Some famous, others obscure.  Here are 10 forgotten beefcake boys, actors who surprised us by displaying impressive physiques in one or two movies, and and then vanished.

Or at least never took off their clothes again.

1. Dan Shor talking to his dad nude in Strange Behavior (1981).

2. Anthony Edwards (above) stripped down to his rather impressive underwear by customs agents in Gotcha (1985).

3, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, now a history professor, in underwear in Weird Science (1985).  Also starring a semi-nude Michael Anthony Hall and a bare-butt Bill Paxton.

4. Kevin Van Hentenryck running down the street naked in Basket Case (1982).

5. Don Michael Paul (left) in The Brotherhood of Justice (1986). 

6. Jsu Garcia, killed while naked in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

7. Robert Bryan Wilson as a muscular, naked killer in Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

8. The super-muscular Anthony Starke in Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988).  You heard me.

9. Keith Gordon (right) as a college swimmer embarrassed by his dad, Rodney Dangerfield, in Back to School (1986).  

10. William Zabka (left) as Chas in Back to School.  He also played a shirtless bully in Karate Kid (1984, 1986)

11-12. Tom Hodges and Jeremy Piven as locker-room bullies in Lucas (1986), the guys Corey Haim refers to as "fags." 

See also: Gay Nerds of the 1980s

Oct 10, 2018

The Mighty Hercules

Before He-Man, there was The Mighty Hercules, part of the 1960s sword-and-sandal fad. He appeared on Saturday morning and sometimes Sunday morning tv from 1963 to 1966, and occasionally afterwards, in five-minute segments with stiff animation that seemed amateurish even to little kids.  With his square jaw, expressionless face, and black curlicue hairstyle, he  looked exactly like the Filmation Superman, but in a toga so his muscles would be visible.

Unlike the Hercules of Greek mythology, this Hercules ruled the kingdom of Caledon along with his two sidekicks: a teenage centaur boy who repeated everything twice ("Be careful, Herc!" "Be careful, Herc!"), and a young satyr boy who only tooted his panpipes. Some commentators have found a romantic subtext in the interactions between Hercules and the centaur-boy, but I don't remember enough episodes to be sure.

But I do remember the thrilling theme song (sung by gay-friendly Johnny Nash).  It was a tad risque, and it summed up all of the characteristics gay boys in the 1960s were looking for in boyfriends.

Softness in his eyes,
Iron in his thighs,
Virtue in his heart,
Fire in every part,
Of the Mighty Hercules.

Oct 7, 2018

Bunks: A Disney Channel Summer Camp-Zombie Movie with a Gay Subtext

Bunks appeared on Disney XD Canada in 2013, but has just made it to Netflix.  It stars  teen idols Dylan Schmid (left) and Aiden Shipley (below) as troublemaking brothers Dylan and Dane masquerading as counselors at Camp Bushwack.

They are assigned a cabin of non-athletic, intellectual, bullied boys who they bond with, Meatballs-style.

There is a Revenge of the Nerds-style competition with the Golden Boy cabin.

Plus there is a book of urban legends that come to life when you read them.  I don't remember which movie or tv show had this plotline.  Maybe Are You Afraid of the Dark?

They accidentally read a story about zombies, who begin to lumber about, Walking Dead-style, infecting counselors, until they are cured by either an electronic slave collar or a dose of orange juice.

The zombie-camper battle effectively resolves the other plotlines.

Sounds like a terrible pastiche, but somehow it manages to work.

Especially for gay viewers:

1. Hetero-romance is minimal.  Dylan briefly chats with someone who I expected to become The Girl, the goal of his journey,but no romance occurred.  The nerd campers discuss going to visit the cheerleaders in the camp next door, a plan which Dane fully approves of.

And that's it.  The main pair is definitely Dylan and Dane.

2. There are no shirtless scenes in the movie itself, but most of the counselors are played by very cute actors who have spent last five years taking their shirts off.

Dylan Schmid has starred in Shuteye and Beyond.

Aiden Shipley has appeared in Clusterf*k and Edging (which is not about what you think).

Chief zombie Atticus Mitchell (left), known for My Babysitter is a Vampire on the Disney Channel, has also appeared in Young Drunk Punks, Stonewall, and Killjoys

Markian Tarasiuk, who plays the rival counselor, has appeared in The Magicians, Status Update, and Shuteye

Why We Watched "The Nanny" in West Hollywood

We didn't watch a lot of tv in West Hollywood, but we did manage to watch The Nanny (1993-1999), part of the  "servant brings joie de vivre to a dysfunctional family" sitcoms that extends back to Hazel , "Somebody bellow for Beulah?", and probably back to ancient Roman comedy.

Here a  "flashy girl from Flushing",  the loud-mouthed, low-brow working-class Jewish Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) has no education or experience in childcare, but somehow manages to becomes the nanny for the children of the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-elite Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield (Charles Shaughnessy):

1. Teenage Maggie (Lauren Tom)
2. Tween Brighton (Benjamin Salisbury. left)
3. Preteen Grace (Madeline Zima)

Filling out the main cast are Maxwell's business partner C.C. Babcock (Lauren Lane), who has an unrequited crush on him, and sarcastic butler Niles (Daniel Davis).

Episodes involve Fran's wild I Love Lucy-style schemes, Maxwell's play production problems,  occasionally caring for the kids, and of course the ongoing question of "Will they or won't they?"

Of course they will, but it seems to take forever.  Maxwell is concerned that, coming from different social classes, they are incompatible  (has he never seen, like, every romance movie ever?).

Meanwhile the Sheffields get along swimmingly with Fran's family:  stereotypic Jewish mother Sylvia, generally unseen father Morty, and grandma Yetta.

And Maxwell has an endless stream of relatives who demonstrate that it's ok to romance your servants.  His sister marries her chauffeur. His brother even romances Fran.

Yet Maxwell proposes and takes it back, says the "L" word and takes it back, kisses her and takes it back, yada yada yada.

I would have told him, "show me a ring or I'm outta here," like 35 episodes ago.

Not a lot of beefcake.  This is a distaff show, about women talking, scheming, commiserating, bonding.  The few men around are seen from the perspective of the female gaze, desired for their charm, sophistication, and power, not for their physiques.  They rarely if ever take their clothes off.

Not a lot of gay references.  When a very occasional gay person does appear, everyone is surprised.  Apparently the world of Broadway draws only straight people.

Then why was it such a hit among gay men in West Hollywood?

1.  We were envious of New York.  It was bigger, more sophisticated, more serious, the birthplace of Gay Rights.

2. It was unremittingly cheery, with few of the depressing "problem of the week" episodes that spoiled other 1990s sitcoms.

3. Fran is a flamboyant fashionista, a campy, corny drag queen.

4. Since Maxwell is a Broadway producer, every Broadway star, singer, and actor you ever heard of makes a cameo: Ray Charles, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme,  Eartha Kitt, Carol Channing, Patti LaBelle, Rita Moreno, Billy Ray Cyrus, Ben Vereen, Celine Dion, Lynne Redgrave, Elizabeth Taylor, Elton John,

And many you never heard of, famous at the time but now long forgotten: Joe Lando (left), Leslie Moonves, Donald Trump.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...