Jan 12, 2019

The Top 10 Hunks of "Sex Education"

I haven't had a chance to watch the Netflix dramedy Sex Education yet.  I'm torn about whether I want to:

Plus: Gillian Anderson, best known as Scully on The X-Files, as a sex therapist with issues.

Minus: "A love letter to John Hughes' movies of the 1980s."  They were horribly homophobic.

Plus: Asa Butterfield, who has been in some gay-subtext vehicles.

Minus:  There will be lots of cringeworthy hetero-sex going on.

Plus: Two gay students at the school.

Minus: Uber-flamboyance.

Plus:  It seems to be set in Britain

Minus:  I've already seen Shirts vs. Skins.

I guess the deciding factor will be the amount of beefcake available.

1. Asa Butterfield as Otis, the socially awkward son of a sex therapist with issues, who starts a sex advice clinic with the help of school skank Maeve.

Not exactly a dreamy teen idol type.  More of a John Hughes nerd.

2. Ncuti Gatwa as Eric, his flamboyant best friend, who is not out to his conservative African parents.  He's here, he's queer, get used to it.

But not exactly fantasy boyfriend material.

3. Connor Swindells as Adam, the headmaster's son who bullies Eric.  A proper Manchester scally boy.  Go Man United!

4. Kedar Williams-Stirling as Jackson, head boy and swim star, who is is hotfor Maeve. So, where are all the swimsuit pics?

5. Alistair Petrie as Mr. Groff, the headmaster.

In case you're wondering, I haven't found shirtless pics of any of these actors, except for a 10-year old Asa Butterfield, but it's too late to stop now.

More after the break

Jan 10, 2019

Kotzebue: The Land without Beefcake

Talk about isolation: Kotzebue, Alaska is farther north than Nome, 30 miles above the Arctic Circle, a 2 hour flight from Anchorage (you have to go by plane).

There are 3,200 people, 70% Native American; 22%  speak an Eskimo-Aleut language at home.  In the winter, the temperature hovers around 0; in the summer, it can get as high as 60.

There are 5 restaurants in town, which is not very many for 3,000  people:  Bayside, Little Louie's, Nullagvik, Empress Chinese, and Uutuku.  No fast food?

Kotzebue is not really tourist friendly; in fact, it's been named as the most toxic town in the United States, due to the Red Dog Mine releasing 700 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air every year.

But surely there's some beefcake to be seen.

Kotzebue Middle/High School, home of the Huskies, naturally, offers volleyball, wrestling, crosscountry, and basketball.  But no photographs of the wrestlers, the crosscountry runners run wearing shirts,  the volleyball team seems to be all girls, and the basketball team...well.

They don't even offer bodybuilding, like the rest of Alaska high schools.  Key word searches on Kotzebue "dating men," "shirtless," "muscle," "powerlifting,"  and "crossfit" yielded only a black and white photo of two guys at a birthday party in Nome.

And former president Obama, for some reason.

The top photo shows two guys from Mississippi, and below, Mesa, Arizona,.

Two takeaway points:

1. Always look for the beefcake photos before you research the town, not after.

2. Stick to the Sun Belt.

Jan 9, 2019

Orphans of the Sky

My favorite Robert Heinlein science fiction novels,  in order.

#10: Starman Jones (1953).  The Starman falls for a girl.
#9: Stranger in a Strange Land (1961): A boy raised by Martians founds a hippie cult.
#8: Citizen of the Galaxy (1956): A rich kid is sold into slavery.
#7: Time for the Stars (1956): Hetero-romance spoils the ending of a deep-space adventure.
#6: Have Space Suit-Will Travel (1958): It's spoiled by Heinlein's belief that 1950s fads would last forever.
#5: Starship Troopers (1959).  Rico trains to be a soldier. The 1997 movie version gives him (played by Casper Van Dien) a girlfriend.
#4: Red Planet (1949):  The boys get lost on Mars, and have to depend on each other to survive.

#3: Tunnel in the Sky (1955): No buddy-bonding among the deep-space castaways, but no romance either.

#2. Space Cadet (1948):  The romance between Matt and Tex was a defining moment of my childhood.

And #1: Universe (1941), first published in Astounding, and expanded (and heterosexualized) in Orphans of the Sky (1963).

The muscular, half-naked Hugh grows up in a small farming community, rarely venturing more than two or three decks from home, not worried about much besides crops and friends and mutie attacks. He believes his parents and the Scientists when they tell him that the universe consists of the Ship, a cylindrical cavern. The stars and planets in old books are merely fairy-tales; when the ancients spoke of the journey to "Far Centaurus." they were being metaphorical, talking about the soul's journey to enlightenment.

Then Hugh is captured by a two-headed, muscular, half-naked mutant named Joe-Jim, who convinces him that stars and planets are real, that the Ship is actually traveling through space.  Civilization ended after a mutiny generations ago, and everyone forgot their true destiny.

Hugh and Joe-Jim revolt against the Ship's oppressive theocratic government, tell everyone the truth, and try to push forward to their original destination.

Why it's #1:

Gay kids in the 1960s and 1970s struggled with the realization that the adults were wrong, or lying, when they claimed that we all lived in a small heteronormative box, and that there was no escape possible, because there was nothing outside.  When they insisted that the same-sex romances that we saw on tv or read about in comics were chimeras, misinterpreted friendships, or at best metaphors for the true, mature, heterosexual loves of adulthood.

But, as Frankie Valli sang,
The adults are lying -- only real is real.

Jan 8, 2019

The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985) wasn't really a hillbilly show, though the "backwood Adonis" theme can be traced back through Jethro Bodine to L'il Abner.  It was set in the country (Hazzard, Georgia), not the hills, and the premise was derived on the 1970s trucker fad.  The Duke cousins, the blond Bo (John Schneider) and the brunette Luke (Tom Wopat), drove a 1969 Dodge Charger instead of a truck, but they still zoomed through rustic locales with a country-fried sheriff, Boss Hogg (Sorrell Booke), in hot pursuit.

The boys lived with their cousin Daisy (Catherine Bach) and their elderly Uncle Jesse (Denver Pyle), who narrated the stories ("Well, the Duke boys were in trouble again....") and provided sage advice.

It was obvious early on that the actors were hired for their beefcake appeal.  Although their shirts were off constantly and they had nice muscles, the main draw was below the belt.  Look closely -- well, you don't really need to look closely.  It's out there for everyone to see.  John Schneider wore jeans so tight that they had to be peeled off at the end of a shoot. (Just in case you liked girls, they also put Daisy into revealing short-shorts that came to be called Daisy Dukes).

But the beefcake (and Daisy's cheesecake) didn't mean that the show was obsessed with heterosexual hookups.  In fact, dating and romance was not high on anyone's list of activities. Daisy falls in love a few times, but Bo and Duke, never.  They save an orphanage, enter their car in a race, catch bank robbers, pursue card sharks, sing, and run up against the corrupt Boss Hogg.

And the bonding was intense!  Ok, they were "cousins," but they were inseparable, devoted to each other, with eyes for no one else.  They behaved, and the residents of Hazzard treated them, precisely like long-time partners.

When they left the series briefly in 1982, Byron Cherry and Chip Meyer came in as cousins Coy and Vance.

Both John Schneider and Tom Wopat have had successful post-Duke careers, and they are both gay allies. I met Tom Wopat in 1999.  In 2008, John Schneider performed at the L.A. AIDS Walk, and spoke about three friends who died of AIDS, including his "best friend in all the world" during his years on The Dukes. 

Jan 7, 2019

Eurotrip: Hunkage, Homophobia, and a Gay Subtext

While on the treadmill at the gym, I watched most of Eurotrip (2004), a standard young adult comedy of the era, which means recent high school graduates obsessed with boobs and proving that they're not gay.

During the summer after high school, Scotty (Scott Mechlowitz, left)) freaks out when he discovers that his German penpal, Mike, thinks that he's hot.

Hey, Scott, I hate to break it to you, but lots of guys think you're hot.  Deal with it. Gay guys have to deal with ladies liking us all the time.

Scott angrily breaks off all contact.  But upon discovering that Mike is actually Mieke, a girl, he determines to go to Berlin and apologize.

To his credit, his goofy friend Cooper (Jacob Pitts, center) is more tolerant.  He is fully prepared to accept Scotty's "coming out."  And even when he hears that Mieke is a girl, he says "He's the girl, you're the girl, sometimes you're both girls.  Whatever works for you.  I'm not gonna judge."

But he leaves his tolerance behind at the Cleveland airport.

In Europe, the duo hook up with the boobalicious Jenny (Michelle Trachtenberg), and her studious twin brother Jamie (Travis Wester, right).  Think Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, and a male Velma.  Their misadventures take them to London, Paris, Bratislava, Berlin, and Rome, with ample opportunities for gross-out humor:

Jenny and Jamie accidentally make out with each other.

Due to a variety of mishaps, Scotty sets fire to the Papal Apartment in the Vatican and ends up being hailed as the new Pope (But this major act of vandalism and sacrilege doesn't get him in trouble after everyone realizes that he did it "for love.").

There are ample opportunities to see boobs -- lots and lots of boobs -- and also male physiques,usually framed as moments of disgust.  And lots of opportunities for the boys to prove that they're not gay.

They end up on a nude beach that's...gasp...occupied entirely by naked men!

A Creepy Italian Guy on the train starts coming on to Jamie, to his shock and horror.

Cooper thinks that he's going to have a hetero BDSM scene with one Madame Vandersexx, but instead she brings in GUYS and yells "Administer the Testicle Clamps!"

Even throwaway gags:

Scotty: I'm thinking of majoring in German.
Cody: Don't be such a woman.

Even Jenny is ridiculed for being "gay" for telling a story about hetero-romance.

So, you're probably wondering, why did I stick it out?

Other than the fact that the only other choices were Meet the Press and The Andy Griffith Show?

To start off, the movie offered substantial hunkage, which is really all you need on the treadmill at the gym.

 Scott Mechlowicz looked extremely familiar,but I haven't seen him in anything else.  His most notable movie is Peaceful Warrior (2006), in which he plays a gymnast with his shirt off.

I was interested in Jacob Pitts, who so intensely channeled Matthew Lillard (Shaggy in the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie).  He moved from Macbeth on Broadway directly to Eurotrip.  Currently you can see him on tv in Sneaky Pete and The Sinner.  Here's a recent nude.

And I was interested in the character of Jamie.  He seems to have a major crush on Scott, even selling his beloved (and expensive) camera to finance Scott's trip to Rome in search of "true love": buddy-bonding.

And he's the only one of the group who doesn't get a fade-out kiss.  Instead, he's offered a job with Frommer's Guides.  A economic fade-out, but I'll take the gay subtext.

Travis Wester is currently in law school.  I assume the guy he's hugging is his boyfriend.

Jan 6, 2019

Annihilation: 10 Minutes of Sadness, 5 Minutes of Confusion, Then Netflix

"I got some new blue-rays for Christmas," my date says.  "Take your pick."

Ok, this is tricky. The movie can't be too long, or it will postpone the end-of-date trip to the bedroom.  It can't be too serious or depressing, or it will put a damper on the date.  And it can't be too complex, or we won't be able to talk...or kiss.

The Black Klansman.  A black guy joined the Ku Klux Klan? Sounds too serious/depressing.

Battle of the Sexes.  About a tennis match between Billie Jean King, who everyone thought was gay in the 1970s, and some guy.  Gross.

The Shape of Water.  Water doesn't have a shape; it fills whatever container you put it in.  Sounds like a complex artsy piece.

Annihilation.  The cover art shows a team of space explorers  -- and the blurb says something about an energy field that threatens to destroy the universe. A space ship in the far reaches of the galaxy!  Just the thing!

The only problem is, it looks like the explorers are all women, so there won't be any beefcake to rev our engines in preparation for the bedroom.

Still, it beats The Shape of Water.  I choose Annihilation, and my date puts it into his blue ray player.

Wait -- this isn't outer space.  It's some college in our world, where a professor of cellular biology named Lena (Natalie Portman) gives a lecture on cancerous tumors and mourns her dead husband.  She rejects a party invitation and goes home to paint the bedroom and mourn her dead husband some more while a depressing song plays.

"Helplessly Hoping," by Crosby, Stills, and Nash

All of it.  Every single verse.  Every single word.  While we watch her paint.

No scene about the paint drying?

Then the husband, or his ghost, shows up, and instead of being surprised or happy or saying "I thought you were dead,"  Lena chats with him normally. 

We don't know what they are saying, because the song is still bleating.  But they hold hands through a water glass.

This isn't at all what the cover blurb promised.

I grab my cell phone and look up the plot synopsis on Wikipedia:  Lena and her husband Kane went on a four month expedition to investigate "The Shimmer," an electromagnetic field.  Now Kane is dying, and they don't remember anything that happened during the four months.

Wait -- what I'm watching has absolutely nothing to do with the plot synopsis.

No wonder this was one of the biggest bombs of 2018.  It's about mourning a dead husband who might not be dead, but probably is.

It's very risky to walk out of a movie, or turn it off, during a first date.  But I can't stand any more of this dreck.  I start kissing and groping my date, hoping to distract him.

It works.  We get up and head toward the bedroom, leaving Lena to mourn her dead husband in peace.

Are there at least some hunks wandering around?

Of 11 named characters, only 3 are men:

1.David Gyasi (top photo) as Daniel, the professor who invites Lena to the party. All that beefcake wasted on two lines.

2. Oscar Isaac (photo 2) as Kane, the dead or not dead husband.  Except he's clean-shaven.

3. Benedict Wong (photo 3) as Lomax.  A good alien name: "I am Lomax from...France."

Then there's Ben Collaco as an unnamed scientist.

And Matthew Simpson as an unnamed special ops agent.

I wouldn't know.  I just lasted through the first 15 minutes of bedroom-painting and confusion.

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