May 18, 2019

Even More TikTok Stars

Ok, I went out to dinner, saw a performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and got a good night's sleep.  I'm ready to tackle more of the endless list of TikTok Stars, teenagers who are famous for lifting their shirts while sticking their tongues out or giving themselves puppy dog snouts.

1. Blake Gray, born 2001 (American). I don't know which, but I imagine the one without the physique.

2. Joseph Birlem, born 2002 (American).  I think you start out with the puppy dog snout, and then graduate to the shirt-raising and tongue-sticking-out.

3.  Duhitzmark (Mark Thomas), born 2001 (American).  His shirt lift was so aggressive that it resulted in a "nip slip."

4. Jovani Jara, born 1999 (American).  You don't mind if I include some of their other photos?  Endless shirt-lifting tongue-out and puppy dog snouts become annoying.

5.  I forgot a marked preference for big hair, usually in a gigantic frontal wave.

Jackson Felt, born 2003 (American).

6. Elmo O'Dwyer, born 2000 (British).  You forgot the tongue action, dude.

7. Nick Pallauf, born 1994 (American).  The oldest of the lot, and the most buffed.  He did a shirt-lift but no puppy dog snout.

8. Theo Harraldson, born 2005 (Swedish).  The youngest of the TikTop stars, only 14. Notice the hair by Frank Lloyd Wright.

"Nu ska jag bada" = "Now I'm going to swim."

That explains the swimsuit pics.

9.Vitallyboo, born 2002 (American).  Forgot the shirt lift, but he certainly has the big hair.

Seriously, what's with sticking your tongue out?  In some cultures, it's an act of aggression.  Is it supposed to be sexy?

10. Woody Mabbott, born 2002 (British).

Oh, no.  I thought I had paged through to the end of the 100+ stars.  But there was a click button: "See more stars."

How many guys born between 1999 and 2002 can there possibly be who have big hair and look good with their shirt lifted and their tongue out?

Oh, well.

11. Chase Keith, born 2002 (American)

Remember when there were at most six teen idols?  And everyone bought their records and watched them on tv?  And none of them ever stuck out their tongues while lifting their shirts?


12. Robbie Burlow, born 2001 (American).

13. Zephan Clark, born 2000 (American).  Big pink hair, nice touch.

14. Raegan Beast, born 1999 (American).

I could go on, but I have other things to do today.

May 17, 2019

What the Heck is a TikTok Star?

According to Teen Idols 4 You, the 3rd most popular teen idol in the world this week is Oscar Rosenstroem.  There are about a 100 beefcake photos attached to prove it.

Ok, I can see his physique, but there are lots of guys like that in every high school.  Has he done anything besides work out?

He's from Denmark.

He posts videos on youtube about his life:  "I Spent 4 Days in Jail" (actually in a discount hotel), "We Made a Rainbow Cake", and so on.

Oh, and he's a TikTok Star.

What the heck is a TikTop Star?

I found a website loaded down with hundreds of TikTok Stars, their dates of birth, and their home countries, along with about 100 photos.  Every photo set included at least one photo of the star lifting his shirt and sticking his tongue out, and another of him with a puppy dog snout.

Finally I got tired (the list really does go on forever and ever), but here are some highlights:
1. Bryce Hall, born 2000 (American)

2.  Sebastian Bails, born 1999 (American)

3. Sebastian Moy, born 2003 (American)

4. Tayler Holder, born 1997 (American)

5, Manjul Khattar, born 1998 (India)

6. Luciano Spinelli, born 2000 (Italian)

7. Juwany Roman, born 1999 (American)

8. Sebastian Topete, born 2000 (American)

9. Cody Orlove, born 2001 (American)

10. Jason Krecioch, born 2001 (American)

Most I can tell is, all TikTok stars are famous for posting pictures of themselves liftting their shirts and sticking their tongues out, and affixing doggie snouts to their noses.

What Has Nolan Gould Been Up To Lately?

I thought that Modern Family would end in 2019, after 10 seasons.  I actually don't know anybody who watched after the first few seasons, after the novelty of seeing a gay couple (albeit highly stereotypic) integrated into the affluent extended family wore off.  The Modern Family was just so affluent, so entitled, so removed from any actual problems of modern society that it transcended escapism, becoming just annoying. 

But it's still getting 4 million viewers in the U.S.  Go figure.

Nolan Gould was the only reason for watching, his hunkiness expanding exponentially as the seasons progressed.  He didn't capitalize on his physique as deliberately and ostentatiously as, say, Alan Kaiser of Mama's Family( even today, while watching old episodes, you are stunned by how blatant his bulge was).   But still, the transformation was startling.

However, Nolan seems to have tapered off.  Either he's not hitting the gym quite as often, or he's more interested in being taken seriously as an actor than in causing teenagers to write his name amid little hearts in their chemistry textbook.  Recent beefcake photos are hard to come by.

Just having your shirt off doesn't make it a beefcake photo.  Looking extremely uncomfortable destroys the hotness.

Flexing in front of the Coliseum in Rome.  You're not thinking "How buffed!"  You're thinking "So he's been to Rome."

Maybe there will be better beefcake in Nolan's upcoming projects.  He has two coming out:

Camp is a web tv series about a Jewish summer camp. There may be hijinks and swimming.

Yes is a drama about a washed-up former child star (Tim Realbuto) who mentors -- and falls in love with -- a 17 year old ingenue (Nolan). At least there are gay characters.

See also: My 10 Favorite Pictures of Nolan Gould;
Even More Nolan Gould

May 16, 2019

"Malibu Rescue":: A Beach, No Girl-Craziness. What Else Do You Need to Know?

Most teen movies are usually unwatchable, with all adolescent passions and intrigues omitted in favor of "Girls! Girls! Girls!  If we win this race (or whatever the Maguffin is), we'll get Girls!"  But Savage Steve Holland's movies tend to go easy on the girl-craziness, so I was happy to review his new Malibu Rescue (2019), which happens to be the pilot for a new Netflix tv series.

Teen operator Tyler (Ricardo Hurtado), a grinning Zack Morris type from Valley, plays one too many pranks, and is assigned Junior Lifeguard training at Malibu Beach.  His co-Valley kids are woefully unprepared.  Have they ever actually seen a beach before?

Meanwhile, the rich townie snobs look down on Valley kids, and resent their intrusion into "our beach."

So it's on, nerds vs. jocks in a battle royale to see who gets to become real Junior Lifeguards.

Wait -- do they really choose lifeguards via team competitions?

There is, indeed, a pleasant lack of heterosexual interest.  No boy (that I remember) gawks at any girl, even for an instant.  There is no Girl of His Dreams for Tyler to pursue, nor a Girl Next Door Who Supported Him All Along for him to end up with.

However, there are no gay subtexts, either.  Tyler appears to have no friends.  There is no buddy-bonding, anywhere.

And the beefcake!  This is a beach.  These are lifeguards.  Where are the muscular physiques?

Every guy on the beach, child, teenager, or adult, lifeguard, junior lifeguard, or civilian -- every guy -- wears a t-shirt and shorts.  Even in crowd scenes.

Have you ever heard of a beach where no male chests on display?  It's like the 1930s, when taking off your shirt in public would get you a citation for public indecency.

Ricardo Hurtado has about a thousand physique pictures on the internet, but here he takes off his shirt exactly once, in a rescue scene where you can't see anything.

The lack of girl craziness is nice, but sometimes you need a little more than that.

My grade: D.

May 15, 2019

"Pose": Let Your Body Move to the Music

I was around in 1987, but almost nothing in Pose (2018-) is familiar.  In retrospect, I was enjoying a lot of privilege: white, middle-class, conventionally masculine, HIV negative, able to escape from the homophobia of the mainstream Reagan-Jerry Falwell society. I visited my parents twice a year.

Meanwhile, many LGBT people were racial minorities, drag queens or transwomen, sick, poor, eking out a living through sex work and petty theft, rejected by their birth families, rejected even by other LGBT people. They had nothing but each other.

So they lived together in "houses" under the care of a "mother," and when the lights went down, they vogued.

Look around, everywhere you turn is heartache
It's everywhere that you go 
You try everything you can to escape
The pain of life that you know
I know a place where you can get away
It's called a dance floor, and here's what it's for, so
Come on, vogue

They compete in gigantic drag contests with judges and scores, their acts involving not lip-synching but "posing," often not in dresses but in the Park Avenue drag of the rich and powerful, critiquing the culture of excess and exclusion that would eventually lead to the Orange Goblin being elected president.

Real house members act as series consultants and take small roles, so the series has an air of authenticity. The nostalgic 1980s soundtrack helps: "Heartbeat," "In My House," "On the Radio," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," "It's Raining Men," all of those old songs that we heard constantly at the bars but have since forgotten.

Feuds between houses occupy a substantial part of the plot, but there are also stories  about conflicts with the outside world.

1. Damon Richards of the House of Evangelista (Ryan Jamal Swain) is neither drag queen or transwoman, just a rather feminine gay man who aspires to become a dancer.  He begins dating fellow Evangelista Ricky (Dyllón Burnside),

2. Angel Evangelista (Indya Moore) begins dating Stan (Evan Peters): white, married, middle-class, employed by the Trump organization (which was sleazy even back in 1987)

The cast consists mosly of transgender actresses, so one doesn't expect a lot of beefcake. But there are a few conventionally masculine physiques:

1.Dyllón Burnside

2.Evan Peters

3. Angel Bismarck Curiel as drug-dealing house member Lil Papi.

4. Johnny Sibilly, Costas, the lover of ball m.c. Pray Tell (Billy Porter), who is dying of AIDS.

5. James Van Der Beek as Matt Bromley, Stan's completely odious boss.

6. Matthew Carter as "Walkman Wally).

But aren't muscles themselves a type of drag, a costume we wear to hide who we really are?

My grade: A+.

May 13, 2019

"The Society":Two Gay Guys, No Beefcake, Not Enough "Lost"

In the elite, entitled small town of West Ham, Connecticut, 200 high school kids ignore the ominous portents around them (a mysterious smell, the phrase "mene mene tekel upharsin" scrawled on a wall, a production of Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead), and head out for a school-sponsored camping trip.  They don't get far.

"Change of plans," the bus driver announces."Rock slide, road closed, you're back home."

They get out. The buses drive off. There is no one to pick them up, so they walk home. But home is deserted. The whole town is deserted.  Cell phones won't call out; there's no tv or internet;  no way to communicate with the outside world. Eventually they discover  that there is no outside world, just a wilderness (no predators though, just wild turkeys).  They are alone.

Once they realize that they will not be rescued soon, the castaways rename their town New Ham and set up The Society.

Most episodes are about the growing pains of the colony, with checks and balances, crime and punishment, and various power struggles, along with standard survival problems and a lot of high school "who's hooking up with who?."  More Lord of the Flies meets The O.C., not so much Lost.  

Sidebar: How much survival do they need in a fully-equipped town? Surely there's enough frozen and canned food to last for years.

And why do they wait six months to explore beyond the town limits, to see if there are animals to hunt, streams to fish in, fruit trees, amber waves of grain?

I would definitely prefer more Lost.  Ordinary survival problems are not particularly interesting without zombies to fight. And the cast is very large, with nothing particularly distinctive (they're all Golden Boys and It-Girls), so it's often hard to determine who is allied with, romantically interested in, or feuding with whom.  I needed several articles to pull them together.

1. The Student Council. Cassandra (Rachel Keller), former student body president, becomes the first leader of the colony.  She is eventually murdered.

Casandra's sister Allie (Kathryn Pressman) becomes the primaryleader,  but not without opposition. Her main allies are Cassandra and Will (Jacques Colimon, left), a poor foster-care kid, who dates her except for a brief fling.

2. The Science Club.   Gordie (Jose Julian, left), who uses his Gilligan's Island Professor-type trivia knowledge to assist the castaways in the absence of the internet, has a crush on Cassandra.

His brainy sister Bean (Salena Quershi) wears a hijab, suggesting that they are both Muslim.

3. The Van Snobs.  Rich bitch Harry (Alex Fitzalan) becomes one of Allie's main opponents in the various power struggles. Maybe he's mad because Allie's boyfriend Will had an affair with his girlfriend. 

His allies include fellow rich bitch Lexi (Grace Victoria Cox);  and Campbell (Toby Wallace, left), a gun-wielding psycho who is abusive toward his girlfriend Elle (Olivia de Jong). So she tries to poison him, and ends up poisoning half the town.

4. The Gay Kids.  Campbell's younger brother Sam is deaf and gay, played by a deaf, non-gay actor (Sean Berdy, left).  His main ally is Becca (Gideon Adlon); she becomes pregnant (not from him), and he vows to help her raise the first baby in the brave new world.

Later in the season he starts a romance with outdoorsman Grizz (Jack Mulhern).

5. The Jocks.  Luke (Alex MacNeill), Jason (Emilio Garcia-Sanchez), and Clark (Spencer House) continue to wear their lettermen's jackets and sign on as the colony's police force.  They have some gay subtexts, although .Luke is also dating the super-religious Helena (Natashia Liu Bordizzo), who won't have sex with him.

Got all that? It's really not worth the trouble.  Especially when the gay guys get only two kissing scenes, and the beefcake is minimal. We're a long way from Riverdale.

And when the mystery is eked out in a few throwaway scenes, as if the writers forgot about it until the last minute and said "We should throw in a clue or something."

Hint #1: The stars are a little off, like they would be in the distant past.
Hint #2:  A mysterious Pfeiffer demanded $1,000,000 to remove the smell, and later was the bus driver who took the children (the Pied Piper?)
Hint #3: About that rockslide....

May 12, 2019

Gather the Faces of Men: Homophobia in American Literature Class

When I was a junior in college, I took courses in "The Modern British Novel", "The American Renaissance," and  "Modern American Literature," plus German, French, and Spanish Literature.  And I forever afterwards restricted my literature consumption to the pre-modern (I should have known from my freshman-year class in Fiction Writing).  The professor of the Amer Lit class chose the texts that most jubilantly proclaimed the absence of gay people from the world.

1. John Updike, "A and P." A teenage boy is working in small-town supermarket: “In walks these three girls in nothing but bathing suits.” He goes on to describe their bodies in detail. Why do men never walk in with their shirts off?

2. Alan Dugan, "Tribute to Kafka for Someone Taken." He is at a party, when the police arrive. “I take one last drink,” he writes, “A last puff on a cigarette, a last kiss at a girl. . . .”   Why is there never a last kiss at a boy?

3. Carl Sandburg, "Stars, Songs, Faces": "Gather the faces of women" through our lives, and then, as we prepare to die, “Loosen your hands, let go and say goodbye.” Why are men's faces not worth gathering, or letting go?

Was there no glimpse of same-sex desire or love in these authors?

Not much. Carl Sandburg  evokes "the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of youth, half-naked, sweating," but his world is overwhelmingly that of “slender supple girls with shapely legs."

Men are described only in their connection to women: the Shovel-Man, who dreamed of by “a dark-eyed woman in the old country,” or Jack, who “married a tough woman and they had eight children,” or a Polish boy, “out with his best girl” on a Saturday night. Men only and always long for women.

John Updike writes endlessly about men noticing women, kissing women, and marrying women.   “We are all Solomons lusting for Sheba’s salvation,” says the narrator of “Lifeguard.”

There is a drag queen in "A Bar in Charlotte Amelie," but he is a lonely, pathetic creature, and he never expresses any same-sex interest.

In Updike's magnum opus about alienated suburban heterosexuals, Rabbit Run (1960),  Rabbit (played by James Caan in the movie version) wonders why his friend Tothero likes to watch him undress.  Could he be queer?  He wonders in horror.  No -- it's a nostalgic pleasure, a memory of all the times he used to watch boys undress in the locker room when he was young. that means Tothero isn't gay?

Alan Dugan was “the poet of masturbation,” endlessly describing his straight desires and exploits, with no mention of men except for barroom cronies.

His “Night Song for a Boy” is not about a boy, but about his depression over his failure to get enough women.

In old age, Dugan has a homoerotic dream about a dead friend, but in perhaps the most homophobic line in any poem since Catullus, he is horrified at the thought that his dream self might be “an impotent homosexual necrophiliac,” and longs for the “right” sort of dreams, dreams about women, again.

Every selection on the syllabus of that long-ago class came from an author who obsessed over heterosexual passion and erased nearly every trace of same-sex love from the world.  Their descriptions of men are bare and lifeless, as if too trivial to mention amid the endless paragraphs devoted to girls’ legs.

There were gay writers in mid-20th century America to choose from: Truman Capote, John Cheever, Robert Duncan, Thom Gunn, Allen Ginsburg, Amiri Baraka, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal. But I never heard of any of them in Modern American Literature class.

See also: Carl Sandburg's Two Gay References

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