Jun 1, 2019

"All-American": Beach Hunks Who Play Football

This Netflix icon is obviously meant to draw the attention of gay men to the tv series, with a shirtless hunk gazing at another shirtless hunk with homoromantic ardour.  But I've been burned by Netflix bait-and-switch before, and besides, I don't know what an "all-American" is (some sort of hamburger?).  So it's on to wikipedia.

All-American is based on the life of Spencer Paysinger, who I never heard of.  Spencer James (Daniel Ezra, the black guy in the top photo) is "star wide receiver at Crenshaw High School who transfers to Beverly Hills High to play football, but is switched to playing Quarterback."

So he isn't playing football anymore, he is demoted to another game called Quarterback?  But I always thought that Quarterback was a player type.  And not a humiliating demotion, an honor:  "He's the star quarterback, swoon."

The wikipedia page is all mixed up, but I think I got the basic plot: South Crenshaw is the Hood, and Beverly Hills is the ritzy neighborhood where Will goes to live with his Uncle Phil and Cousin Carlton on Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

This South Crenshaw, a portmanteau of South L.A. and Crenshaw, is a hotbed of gang violence. Spencer leaves behind:
1. His mother (Karimah Westbrook)

2. His father (Chad L. Coleman,  left), the football coach at Crenshaw High.

3. His younger brother Dillon (Jalyn Hall), who wants to play football but is stuck with degrading basketball instead (now it's basketball that's degrading?)

4. His bff Coop (Bre-Z), a lesbian who gets kicked out of the house when she comes out to her homophobic Mom.

5. Some girlfriends of both Spencer and Coop

6. Some teammates (Spence Moore II, Mitchell Edwards, left)

7. Some  gang members (Jay Reeves, Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kareem J. Grimes).  Coop is interested in keeping out of the gang or something.

In Beverly Hills, Spencer gets:

1. His coach, Billy (Taye Diggs), who he moves in with.  All is not what it seems: Coach Billy graduated from Crenshaw South High School, where he dated Spencer's Mom.

2. Coach Billy's son Jordan (Michael Evans  Behling), who is conflicted because his mother is white, so he doesn't feel that he fits into black culture.  He hates Spencer, both because of the football competition and because his girlfriend Layla is into the dangerous bad boy from the Hood.

3. Coach Billy's daughter Olivia (Samantha Logan), who is dating football player Asher (Cody Christian, left), but dumps him because she's into Spencer, too.

Is this guy, like made of pheremones, or something?

4. Billy's father (Brent Jennings), a former football coach, the only person in the family who is not trying to get into Spencer's pants. 

5. 1980s hunk Casper Van Dien as Asher's father (Asher is the ex-boyfriend of Coach Billy's daughter Olivia, remember).  Like all parents on this show, Casper is a former football player and coach.

6. Some other teammates, such as party boy JJ (Hunter Clowdus).

7. Some miscellaneous girls who fawn over Spencer.  Apparently the show bible states that "all the girls are interested in Spencer," and the writers took it literally.  Come on, he's not even hot.

All this teen dating intrigue and father-son baggage was too complicated for me, so I just fast-forwarded through a few episodes, looking for the homoromantic scene, or any buddy-bonding of any sort.

Gay Subtexts:  I couldn't find any.  Most male characters seem to be disagreeable jerks.

Sports:  There's at least one football game in every episode.

Beefcake:  There's a beach scene, hot tub scene, or strip poker scene in every episode, dozens of mega-hunks wandering around looking at girls.  You want to yell "Open your eyes! There's a hot guy standing right next to you!"

Heterosexism:  Yep.  In spite of the lesbian bff back home.

Tales of the City: Gay Guys, San Francisco, Who Cares?

Year after year, people tell me "The Tales of the City books are stupendous!  Amazing!  Wonderful!  The best thing every written!"

"And they're historically vital!  Gay author Armistead Maupin originally published them in serial form in the San Francisco Chronicle, back when gay characters were unheard-of in mainstream literature!"

"And you lived in San Francisco! They will resonate strongly with your experiences!"

"And they're hilarious!  You've never laughed so much in your life!  You'll love them!"

So, again and again, I pick up the first volume, Tales of the City (1978).  Midwesterner Mary Anne Singleton comes to San Francisco on vacation, converses with her old college friend Mona Ramsey, and decides to stay.

This is not the least bit humorous.  It's dull, dull, dull!

She moves into 28 Barbary Lane, where her free-spirit landlady, Anna Madrigal, tells her, "My dear, I'm not opposed to anything," and gives her a marijuana joint as a housewarming gift.  Mary Anne is determined not to be shocked.

My life in San Francisco was nothing like this!

She goes shopping, sees two guys, and wonders if they might be gay.  She's determined not to be shocked, if they are.

Maupin eases into the revelation of their gayness.   I guess he had to be very, very careful, writing for heterosexuals in the 1970s.

I can't go on.  I'm so very, very, very bored.

But sooner or later someone will start praising the books again, and I'll try again.

I already know what happens next: Mary Ann befriends a gay man named Mouse.  He starts dating A-gay gynecologist Jon Fielding, who is dying, Mona Ramsey dates D'Orothea Wilson, and Mary Anne has an affair with Beauchamp Day. Anna Madrigal turns out to be a MTF transwoman, who has an affair with Beauchamp's father-in-law, who is dying.

Got all that?

 Through eight books and thirty years, Mary Ann, Mouse, and their huge group of friends encounter angst and tragedy as life hits them with unemployment, failed romances, homophobia, transphobia, death -- lots of death -- and AIDS -- lots of AIDS.

This by you is humor?

More recently, the characters have been getting way old -- like, they remember the 1960s old -- and starting to ruminate on their mortality.  Yes, they are going to die.  So am I.  Why would I want to read about it?

Why would anyone think it was funny?

The tv miniseries (1993, 1998, 2001) were a bit more palatable, maybe because they were not so episodic, and they got into the gay characters right away, instead of hinting around for weeks and weeks.

Besides, there were naked guys. (Pictured: Thomas Gibson as Beauchamp Day.)

I can't think of any other reason to care about Tales of the City 

See also: Netflix's 'Tales of the City': Not Your Grandfather's San Francisco

May 31, 2019

"The League and the Lantern": Let the Buyer Beware

I love heroic fantasy -- fantasy set in Medieval lands with wizards, dragons, trolls, magic swords, Dark Lords, and heroes foretold in ancient prophecy -- but not the stuff aimed at adults, like Game of Thrones.  Too many heterosexual shenanigans and boy-girl fade-out-kisses.

It's in the fantasy aimed at children that you can find the gay subtexts, passionate buddy-bonding, the last-minute rescues, the touching of hands, the fade-out walk into the future. 

Recently my Amazon.com recommendations led me to The League and the Lantern by Brian Wells, advertised as a combination of Harry Potter (the boy who attends wizard school) and Percy Jackson (the boy who hangs out with ancient Greek gods).

It began with:
"Is he dead?"
The voice was muffled and fuzzy.  It sounded like a girl to Jake, but he wasn't quite sure.  Everything was black and spinning.
"No way. Not dead."
Definitely a guy's voice this time, and getting closer.

If I know my fantasy, Jake has just been transported to Eldorar or Faradon, where he will be lauded as the hero mentioned in the ancient prophecy.  The guy reviving him will become his companion on the quest to find the magic sword and banish the Dark Lord, and at the end of the story Jake will decide to stay with him instead of returning to Earth.

So I bought an $18.95 copy.

No, no, and no.

Jake is recovering from a mishap irrelevant to the plot, and the guy who revives him soon vanishes.  He's at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicgo for a "welcome to seventh grade" sleepover.

Almost everyone there is from the University of Chicago prep school, where the elite send their kids, so they already know each other..

So, when is Jake getting zapped to the fantasy world?

He hooks up with two other outcasts, T.J., who is tall, black and into fencing (fencing?  Medieval swordplay later on!), but not otherwise described, and Lucy, who is multilingual and has the "most piercing eyes Jake had ever seen."

Great, boy-meets-girl lo-oo-ove is in the offing for the 12 year old, once they make it to the fantasy world.

They wander off into the museum.  Suddenly there's an explosion, and everything goes black.

Fantasy world now?

Nope.  Vunmen broke in to look for a special artifact: the gloves Abraham Lincoln was wearing when he was shot.  The other kids are evacuated and not in danger, but guess who found the gloves?

Soon everybody is trying to kill them and get the gloves  Even the police.

I'm 50 pages into this thing, and no hint of magic doors to the other world, just a lot of annoying contemporary references to Harry Potter, the X-Men, and so on.

The trio take refuge in Jake's apartment in the mysterious, old-fashioned Greystone hotel (ok, there must be a wardrobe to Narnia in there)

He lives with his eccentric adopted father Gabe, who prefers to be called "Uncle."  The bellhop Artie also big-brothers him.

Aha!  No doubt Jake is the son of the King of Baraliel, and Uncle Gabe is his trusted advisor, who promised to keep him safe when the Darkness took over the kingdom.  Artie must be a comic-relief sidekick, maybe an elf or a fairy.

No, no, and no.  When the trio tracks Gabe and Artie (not a gay couple) to Springfield, the capital of Illinois and a much bigger Lincoln tourism spot thatn I remember, we finally uncover the mystery.  It has ore to do with the Illuminati than the Wood beyond the World.  Think The DaVinci Code, but with Abraham Lincoln instead of Jesus.

I start reading very quickly.  A donut place.  Hot-wiring a jeep.  A parade. Fighting Abraham Lincolns.  Jumping off a sky tram.  Fighting with a government agent who is not what he seems. Nepali Kung Fu.  The Big Bad, whose name is Anarchus, screaming about how bad Lincoln was.  

And suddenly the book is over.  There were some science-fictiony elements (cough -- cloning John Wilkes Booth -- cough).   BUT NO FANTASY.

I checked the book jacket.  Nowhere does it actually say that it is a heroic fantasy, but the marketing department at RepublicInk certainly worked overtime trying to fool you into thinking it was.

What else could this cover illustration possibly signify but a boy crashing through to a fantasy world?

Well, on the bright side, there is very little heterosexism. None of the adult characters display any particular heterosexual interest.  Neither does TJ (plus he's a fan of Taylor Swift -- gay coded?).    Jake doesn't actually fall in love with Lucy, although he has a moment of jealousy when she is hit on by a teenage cowboy with muscular arms (dude, she's twelve).  

Of course, no one expresses same-sex interest either, but I'll take what I can get.

I checked to see if Brian Wells is gay or gay friendly.  Nope: the appendix of his novel thanks about a thousand people, including 38 husband-wife pairs and no husband-husband pairs.

Robin Askwith: Running from Gay Men

Robin Askwith was a reliable source of 1970s beefcake, but, like Michael Sarrazin, you had to look around the naked girls to see it.  Born in 1950, the slim, long-haired Boomer boy was a fixture on the British screen long before his character urinates on a crowd in Pasolini's The Canterbury Tales (1972).    

1. The homoerotic boarding-school movie If...(1968), with a very young Malcolm McDowell.
2. Hans Brinker, the Dutch boy who wins silver skates in a tv adaption of the children's classic (1969).
3. Lennie, who steals a car along with a buddy in Scramble (1970).

4. Des in Tower of Evil (1972), with bodybuilder John Hamill.
5. A young rock star who encounters gay villains in The Horror Hospital (1973).
Plus lots of hippies and working-class blokes on tv series like The Misfits and Father Dear Father.

His utter lack of self-consciousness about displaying frontal nudity made Robin the go-to guy for nude scenes in the randy 1970s.  He even made forays into the x-rated market, but became most famous for R-rated comedies, Confessions of a Window Cleaner, Pop Performer, Driving Instructor, Camp Counselor (1974-77)  

He played Timothy Lea (pronounced "lay"), a horny young man who goes into business with his brother in law Sidney Noggett (Anthony Booth), and ends up having sex with lots of women.  Plus running at breakneck speed from flirtatious gay men.

Roles became sparse in the conservative Thatcher 1980s, and Robin moved into theater, appearing in a stage version of the Confessions series and a number of pantomimes.  He returned to the screen in 2000 for a series of nostalgic roles in horror movies: The Asylum, The Legend of Harrow Woods, Evil Calls. 

Quite a lot of homophobic content and not a lot of gay content -- he was known for a "traditional, uncomplicated heterosexuality" -- but in real life the performer is more gay-friendly.  His autobiography, The Confessions of Robin Askwith, discusses "fifty people wearing Robin Askwith masks watching 'the' Robin Askwith in a pink Lurex jock strap dancing with our gay stage manager."

May 30, 2019

Four Questions about Prasad Romijn

Prasad Romijn is a professional model who starred as a boy saddled with a psycho girlfriend in the Ava Max music video.  That was his first acting role, and there is very little else about him on the internet.  I had to do some digging to answer these four important questions.

1. Is he the son of actress and model Rebecca Romijn?

No.  Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell have twin daughters.

Besides, Rebecca grew up in Berkeley, California, and Prasad was born in Boulder, Colorado on September 10, 1998.  Here he's on the football team at Nevin Platt Middle School.

Romijn is a Dutch name, not very common in the U.S., so they may be distantl

Prasad got into modeling through his mother.  He moved to New York in 2017, shortly after he graduated from high school, and started racking up the fashion gigs.

The top photo, for instance, is from Teen Menswear Magazine.  I can't figure out what article of clothing he's supposed to be modeling.

2. Is he Hindu?  (Prasad is a Hindi name).

There's a Ty Romijn, no doubt a father or uncle, on the faculty of  Taoist Institute of Education Acupuncture in Louisville, Colorado, so Prasad has some  Eastern mysticism in his background.  But he seems to be more of a material girl.

He owns his own jewelry and clothing company called Nihmor (which I can't find online), and is "CEO of a PR and marketing company."

Plus he can hook you up with the "coolest homemade jewelry in Malibu."

Here he's got $250k of bling on his body, and is ready to "body y'all."

Urban Dictionary defines the verb "body" as "to murder."  I assume he's being metaphorical, as in "drop-dead gorgeous."

3. Does he have any nude photos?

None on his instagram, facebook, or twitter pages.  But with professional models, the beneath the belt gifts are not particularly relevant anyway.  You're supposed to be looking at the face and the bling.

4. Is he gay?

I couldn't find any references to boyfriends or girlfriends, or any references to gay people at all, but I've never heard a gay person talk like a 1990s rapper:

"Every other restaurant in New York sucks. Dig in at my homies restaurant."  (It's Baby Brasa, organic Peruvian rotisserie, owned by Peruvian celibrity chef Franco Noriega).


And here's a flier for his "aggressive" 20th birthday party: free food and wine, RSVP required.  Held at Esther and Carol's Restaurant in the Bowery, actually owned by Kevin King and Cordell Lochin, named after their mothers. Not a gay couple, not in a gay neighborhood.

Finally, dig this flier for the same party.  There's a mostly-naked girl in his lap (I had to crop the naked parts).

Definitely straight.

See also: The Top10 Pop Songs

The Top 10 Rap Songs: "All Rappers but Me are Gay"

Not being a fan of contemporary music, I had no idea that there was such a dramatic difference in genres.  Not so much in theme: most songs are about getting, losing,or being in a romantic relationship.  But in the race and gender of the singers, the degree to which they know their way around a gym, and especially their attitude toward gay people.

I've gone through the top country-western and pop songs and singers of the week, so now let's try the top 10 R and B, Hip Hop, and Rap songs of the week of June 1.

Excluding those covered under Pop.

1. Tyler the Creator, "Erfquake."  She so wicked her love shakes me up like an earthquake. 

At least he has a physique (top photo), or as a commentator says, "LOL at Tyler the Creator's genetics.

He is rumored to be gay.  He stated "I had a boyfriend when I was 15.  If that's not open minded, I don't know what is."  But then he drew back, claiming that "boyfriend" was "a figure of speech."

2. J. Cole, "Middle Child."  I'm rich and famous, and I'm making a list of people I intend to shoot."  

No romantic relationships mentioned.

I found several references to homophobic lyrics in his music.

3. Beyonce, "Before I Go."  My boyfriend is hot, so when we go out dancing, we always leave together.

Beyonce and her husband Jay Z (left) are gay allies.  She received the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2019.

4. Summer Walker X Drake, "Girls Need Love" I just need a dick, I just need a thug, won't you be my plug, baby?

Nothing gay or homophobic on Summer Walker or her co-singer Drake (left), except for a facebook post claiming that he sings about "gay shit like missing bitches."  Wait -- missing your girlfriend means that you are attracted to men?

5.D. J. Khaled, "Wish Wish." I'm rich and famous, spending all my time counting my money and buying jewelry, so I don't have time for the bitches who come around. 

Sort of sounds like he's not into girls.

6. D. J, Khaled, "Higher." I keep getting richer and richer, and I've killed some people.

This isn't the same performer as Khalid.  He was dragged for a 2015 interview in which he stated that a wife should do things in bed that a husband won't do, so I'm going to assume that he also dislikes gay people.

7. Meek Mill, "Going Bad.":  I'm so rich and famous, I gave my girl $10,000 to blow at the mall.

Meek Mill got some GAY rumors after he posted a picture of him and Diddy in MATCHING OUTFITS.

He also posted a diss track claiming that his rap nemesis Game is GAY, can't get any bitches into his bed, and isn't even a real gang member. He probably never even killed anybody!

So gay men want to be with women, they just can't get any.  Got it.

8. Mustard and Migos, "Pure Water." I'm so rich and famous, a lot of bitches be after me.

Mustard is a producer, and Migos a rap trio.  When one of their songs had the lyric "I cannot vibe with queers," they explained that it didn't mean gay people, it meant stalkers.

9. A Boogie Wit Da Hood, "Look Back on It"  I'm rich and famous, so all the girls want to have sex with me, but they aren't any good at it, except for my girlfriend.

Boogie, aka Julius Dubois, has GAY rumors, naturally.

10. Polo G., "Pop Out."  I'm rich and famous, I've killed a lot of people, and I'm a killer with the ladies.

Gay rumors, homophobic lyrics, yada yada yada.

Themes: 7 of the 10 songs discuss being rich and famous. 5 love or sex, plus in another 2, the singer claims that he's too rich and famous to have sex. 3 mention killing people.

Diversity:  All of the rappers are black. Two are female.

Gay Themes:  None.  Only one of the artists is a gay ally. 4 have homophobic lyrics or statements.

Gay Rumors:  4 of the 8 male performers!  What's up with that?  Either there are a lot of closeted rappers, or gay rumors are used for general disrespect in the rap community.

May 28, 2019

The Top 10 Country Songs: Beefcake and Homophobia

Yesterday the aerobics room in the gym was playing Country-Western music again. I hid in the free weight room, where they were playing Classic Rock,but some of the machines are out in the other room, so I had no choice but to hear twang twang dead-end job twang twang women are unfaithful twang twang why can't men be men and homos not exist .

This isn't Alabama.  Who could possibly like this stuff?

I couldn't actually hear the lyrics, just the twang-twang, so I thought, maybe I was being premature.  Country-Western music may have evolved into something less...um....horrid since the days of Glen Campbell and Johnny Cash.  Maybe the new twangers are less homophobic.  Or at least know their way around a gym.

Why not give it a chance?  So I looked up the top 10 Country-Western songs for this week:

1. Blake Shelton, "God's Country": the North may be full of sinners and perverts, but the South is full of true Christians who are saved and going to heaven.

Blake, who is extremely ugly, here appears to have his head plastered on someone else's body. Couldn't he have chosen someone hot? He is well known for his homophobic tweets.

2. Morgan Wallen, "Whiskey Glasses":  I want to get drunk because my girlfriend has broken up with me, and is probably having sex with another guy right now.

Morgan here is covering up his bulge, so you can't look. I wonder if the other guy is bigger.

3. Luke Combs, "Beer Never Broke My Heart": I want to get drunk because my girlfriend has broken up with me.

4. Luke Combs, "Beautiful Crazy": My girlfriend is kooky but hot.  

I'm glad he found somebody new.

It's hard to find shirtless photos of Country-Western singers, but in this case, I don't think I want to.

5.  Kane Brown, "Good as You": My girlfriend is nice to people, plus she's hot.

Could this be the wrong Kane Brown?  He looks like a rapper, not a twanger.  But when you're looking at Country-Western stars, you take beefcake wherever you find it.

Kane is also the only singer on the list to come out against homophobia.

6. Chase Rice, "Eyes on You": My girlfriend is just plain hot. 

I wonder if she would say the same about you?

In addition to twanging, Chase Rice played football for the University of North Carolina, did something for NASCAR, and appeared on the reality tv show Survivor.

7. Thomas Rhett, "Look What God Gave Her": My girlfriend is hot, plus I'm religious.

Searching for Thomas Rhett and "gay" online, I found this tweet from 2010: "If my Ipod dies on a gay song, I'm going to kill you."

8.  Eli Young Band, "Love Ain't": My "just friends" girl is with the wrong guy, so she should dump him for me.

The only group on the list, it consists of Mike Eli, James Young, Jon Jones, and Chris Thompson, who met while attending the University of North Texas in Denton.

Apparently it wasn't in an English class.

9. Lee Brice, "Rumor":  There's a rumor going around that we're together, girl, so why don't we get together?

10. Dan + Shay, "Speechless": My girlfriend is just plain hot.

In my day, we used the plus sign + to indicate that a pair was a romantic couple, but I guess Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney both have girlfriends or wives or something.

Results: Not as political as I expected. 5 of the 10 are about how hot girls are, 2 requests for dates, 2 about lost loves, and 1 about being religious.

Heterosexism: They're all about girls, girls, girls.

Homophobia: Nothing in the lyrics.  Only 2 of the 9 stars have made homophobic statements (that I know of), but only 1 has made a pro-gay statement.

Beefcake:  Of the 9 stars, only Kane Brown has a respectable physique, and I still think that he's really a rapper.

See also: The Top 10 Pop Songs.

May 27, 2019

"Bangkok Love Stories": Lots of Naked Thai Guys, No Temples

Of course I'm going to watch a tv series in the Thai language, which is not related to Chinese, Vietnamese, or any other of the major languages of East and Southeast Asia.  Even if it has a stupid title: Bangkok Love Stories: Innocence.

My first thought: there's nothing innocent about these twinks falling in and out of lust with each other.

My second thought: where did the rest of the world get the idea that Bangkok was just about sex? Sure, sex is an essential part of any trip, but Bangkok has enough cultural treasures for a month of sightseeing:  the Grand Palace, home to Thai monarchs from 1782 to 1925; the Suam Pakkad Palace: Wat Pho, with its 148-foot long Reclining Buddha.

None of which appear in the first episode.  There are no interesting location shots.

My third thought:

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A

(I often have no choice but to watch Friends on the treadmill at the gym).

This group of zany friends are:

1. Rachel...um, I mean Claudia (Nida Patcharaveerapong), who has a terrible job at a salad bar, where she has to fend off handsy customers all day.

2. Joey...um, I mean JC (Kawin Manonukul, top photo and left),who has a terrible job at a KFC, but his real passion is parkour (urban acrobatics).  He's into Claudia.

3. Phoebe, aka Mednoon (Tachakorn Boonlupyanun), a flirty, boozy party girl.

4.  Her bff Ross, aka Simon (Tosatid Darnkhuntod, right), who is gay, and presumably will start dating someone (there's a boy-boy kiss in the opening credits).

5. Chandler, aka Eve (Narupornkamol Chaisang), a businesswoman whose job involves going to "hostess clubs" (like brothels without the sex).

6.  I guess that leaves Monica.  Danny (Pond Ponlawit Ketprapakorn), a skateboarding teenager with a crush on Eve.  I couldn't find any beefcake photos, so here's another of JC.

Let's not forget Keaton (Max Nattapol Diloknawarit), whose dream is to open a gym where the patrons perform shirtless.

Gay characters:  There's a gay character, but in the first episode, he doesn't do much.  The straight characters, however, do a lot.  More than I wanted to see.

Beefcake:  Lots of shirts come off.  Two -- two scenes of guys dancing shirtless.

Sexism:  Everywhere.  It's somewhat uncomfortable to watch.

Interesting Location Shots:  None.

Interesting Plot:  No.

I suggest fast-forwarding to the good parts.  Maybe a future episode will involve flirting in front of the Reclining Buddha.

Or watching Friends instead.
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