Aug 22, 2019

"Los Espookys": Who You Gonna Call?

I've been posting about a lot of disappointing tv series -- gay teases that don't follow through, gushing praise that masks endless boy-girl kissing.  It's high time we get to a series that it's actually good -- interesting, humorous, gay inclusive -- Los Espookys (well, that title could use a little work).

In an unspecified Latin American country, one of those magic-realism places where weird things happen so often that they're normal, Renaldo (Bernardo Velasco) creates a horror-themed quinceañera for his little sister.  It is so impressive that his Uncle Tico (Fred Armisen), the world's greatest car parker (he can even park two cars at the same time), suggests that he make a career out of creating horror-themed events.



Renaldo conscripts his best friend, the weird blue haired Andrés (Saturday Night Live writer Julio Torres), into the business.

Andrés is the heir to a chocolate empire, immensely wealthy and powerful (what if they started making sugar-free chocolate? every dentist in the country would be unemployed).

His parents and his bulging swimsuit-clad trophy boyfriend (telenovela star José Pablo Minor, top photo) disapprove of his interest in horror, but he agrees to participate.


Next they conscript their friend Úrsula (Cassandra Ciangherotti), a Goth dentist's assistant; and her delightfully obtuse sister Tati (Ana Fabrega), who has a variety of odd jobs (literally), like running a hand-cranked fan or breaking in people's shoes.




They expect to plan horror-themed parties, but for their first gig, Father Francesco (Luis Grieco), the priest at the local orphanage, complains that his new, hot, hip associate Padre Antonio (Cristobal Tapia Montt), is stealing all the glory of running orphanages.  If he were to conduct an exorcism, he would be back in the spotlight again.  So Los Espookys create an exorcism for him.

Next up: a millionaire's dying wish is to give his fortune to whoever can spend the night in a haunted house.  They are hired to create the house, and ensure that the millionaire's son does not win.

They have found their niche: creating fake paranormal events: a sea monster for a seaside town to use as a tourist attraction; an alien autopsy for a UFO researcher to show her bosses; a magic mirror for "the American ambassador"; a fake dream for an insomniac.

Along the way they have the usual daily hassles of magic-realism life: Andrés is pressured by his family to marry his trophy boyfriend (so his cookie empire can be combined with their chocolate empire).

Renaldo is pressured by his mother to get a girlfriend, even though he has explained that he's not interested in women.

Ursula, who is interested in women, has any number of hookups.

Tati keeps expecting the guys she meets on dating apps to look like their photo.

Only 6 episodes, but fortunately Season 2 is already in the works.

My grade: A+


Aug 21, 2019

"The Almighty Johnsons": Norse Gods Kissing Girls in New Zealand

On the eve of his 21st birthday,  Auckland boy Axl Johnson (Emmett Skilton) and his mates are out buying beer, when they stop to watch a meteor shower.  Suddenly a car almost runs him over.  A lady emerges to "apologize" (the viewer sees that it was intentional).  Instead of yelling "You stupid bitch, watch where you're going!", Axl flirts with her and invites her to his party.













Next scene: Axl's older brother Mike (Tim Balme) and his wife emerge from their house to look at the meteor shower.  They discuss lovey stuff and hug and kiss.  

Two establishing-that-they-are-heterosexual scenes in a row? 

But...The Almighty Johnsons, on Amazon Prime, got good reviews.  A mythological-fantasy-comedy, an amiable take on the old "supernatural beings living among us" trope.  It's set in New Zealand, which automatically makes it interesting.  And the tiniest of googles of the cast members reveals countless beefcake photos.  I'll keep going.










Next scene: Axl's quiet, shy brother Ty (Jared Turner)  is being rejected by a girl, who wants to be "just friends."  

Ok, I get it.  He's not gay, either.  Geez, do you have to shove it down my throat?
















Next scene: Axl's final brother Anders (Dean O'Gorman) is kissing a girl.

Really?  Four of them?  Is this heterosexual porn?  Five seconds of Norse gods stuff, ten minutes of sex?

Apparently so.  The next three scenes:
1. Axl is having sex with the woman from the car accident, when they are interrrupted by an earthquake.
2.Mike is having sex with his wife, same thing.
3. Anders is having sex with the girl, same thing.  The girl jumps up from the bed.  Naked girl butt.

Lord have mercy!  I'm outta here!

If you have the stomach to continue, you'll find Axl's improbably buffed grandpa having sex with a girl (of course!), then tearing himself away long enough to tell Axl that he is the reincarnation of the Norse god Odin.  

All of his family, and a good number of his mates, are also reincarnated Norse gods, but Axl is the Chosen One: he is destined to find the reincarnation of Frigg, his wife back in Asgard, and thus restore the gods to power.

That's right, it gets even worse: the goal of the quest, the theme of everyone's dreaming, is the Everlasting Feminine.

There are apparently some gay and bi characters, such as Bryn (John Leigh), an exceptionally short giant, and Jacob (Arthur Meek), an exceptionally tall dwarf, the adopted parents of Axl's flatmate/girlfriend Gaia.  Or maybe they're just pretending to be gay to fit in.  The plot synopsis is confusing.

And Zeb (Hayden Frost), Axl's other flatmate, a mortal who isn't aware of the Big Secret.  Or at least he dates girls only when under a spell.

Again, the plot synopsis is confusing.  And I'm definitely not sticking around to find out.

Aug 20, 2019

The Top 3 Hunks of "Star Trek: Voyager"

I'm being forced to watch Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001):  the aptly-named starship goes off in search of Maquis rebels, when both are zapped to the other side of the galaxy, 70,000 light years from home.  The crews are quickly integrated, and they sent out on the 40 year long journey back.  En route, they encounter various species that are depressingly identical to us.  Some of the murder-mystery episodes  could be sent in modern day Los Angeles with almost no changes in dialogue.

No gay characters or references to same-sex desire, or even many gay subtext.  When fans suggested one, the actors vehemently denied it.  I still remember a TV Guide article in which Jeri Ryan, who played the ex-cyborg Seven of Nine being humanized by Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), yelled that "Middle America" wasn't ready for gay characters.  This some 20 years after a gay character starred on Soap.

Heterosexist "when a man and a woman fall in love" rhetoric occurs with depressing regularity, and one of the male characters is an annoying horndog who actually dates twins, "The Delany Sisters."  Remember when Fonzie used to date the Del Rubio Triplets?

Well, what about beefcake?  One of their favorite hangouts is a Caribbean resort holodeck program, where the speedo-clad men are hidden in the background, behind the bikini babes.  And the main cast:

1. Robert Beltran (top photo, although he looks more buffed in his Starfleet uniform) as Chakotay, one of the Maquis rebels who becomes second in command on Voyager.  A Native American, he is always talking about ancestral wisdom and going on vision quests.  He's got a thing for Captain Janeway.

2. Robert Duncan McNeill (second photo) as Tom Paris, a young pilot who was sprung from a New Zealand prison to serve on Voyager (I'm not sure what his crime was).  When he's not piloting, he's having sex. He states that he fought to get a gay-themed episode, and when he directed an episode, he hired gay actor Scott Thompson, but was forbidden from making the character gay.

3. Tim Russ (left) as Tuvok, Star Trek's first black Vulcan character, who is always talking about his wife and kids back home, and getting hit on by alien babes ("I've never met anyone like you before.  So...logical.").''

That's all the shirtless photos I could find.  But the 1990s was before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and selfies, so we can't expect a lot.

Here's the rest of the main cast.  See if you think any of them are cute:



4. Garrett Wang as Harry Kim, an ensign just starting his first job when he's zapped across the galaxy.  Tom Paris big-brothers him and tries to get him laid.  This might suggest a gay subtext, but they're too girl-crazy.

In 1993, Wang played a gay Chinese teenager who shoots his lover in the stage play Porcelain: he notes that playing a gay character "was controversial" at the time.


5. Ethan Phillips under a ton of makeup as Neelix, the ship's morale officer, cook, and comic relief.












6. Robert Picardo (older, chunkier, and balder) as an emergency medical hologram who has to transcend his programming to become the ship's full time doctor.  He also learns about human relationships and hooks up with any number of hologram and alien babes (apparently male holograms have penises).









7.  Manu Intiraymi as Icheb, a Borg  boy adopted by the Voyager crew later in the series.  He hangs out with the son of the omnipotent alien Q, and in a 2015 interview states that it would have been cool to have a gay romance blossom.  But gay teenagers?  In 2000?  No way!


8. Alexander Enberg as Ensign Vorick, a Vulcan crewman who appears in 9 episodes, mostly to get a crush on chief engineer B'Elanna Torres.  Who knew that Vulcans got crushes?

Enberg, who ranks at 51,510 on the website Man Crush Monday, played a gay character in the stage play Big Love (no connection to the tv series).





9.  We're getting down to the 3-, 2-, and 1-episode appearances now, with characters named German S. S. Officer and Leonardo Da Vinci, and lots of aliens with k in their names: Brok'Tan, Donik, Korok,  Kejal, Kelis, Rettik.  Does K make someone sound alien?

I've been working on this for 1 1/2 hours, and it's time for breakfast.  So let's finish up with singer and voice artist Hamilton Camp, who played a Ferengi.  I'd date him.

Aug 18, 2019

Cowboy and Indian Toys

When I was a kid in the 1960s, cowboys and Indians were has-beens.  Older kids watched Western tv and remembered six shooters and Davy Crockett hats, but my friends and I played at being spies, Jonny Quest and Hadji, or space explorers.  Still, Indians had a penchant for nudity, like Johnny Crawford and his brother Bobby in Indian Paint (1965), or the god Wisakeha, who Bill and I saw in real life at the Pow Wow in 1969, so when a clueless adult happened to give me a cowboy-and-Indian toy, I made good use of it.





Indian action figures were usually naked except for loincloths, making them the second most reliable source of beefcake in toys (Tarzan was first).
















Books about Indians were always good for beefcake photos.

















Rock Island was the site of Saukenauk, where Chief Black Hawk ruled over the Sauk and Fox Indians, so his picture was everywhere.  This statue, with a phallic spear extending from his belly,  looked over Chippianoc Cemetery ("City of the Dead" in the Sauk language).  It was lit up with red and blue neon at night.

I got in trouble in school for drawing it in my notebook.  My teacher called it "smut," thinking that the phallic symbol was a real phallus.










I didn't really know who the Lone Ranger and Tonto were, but the idea of cowboy-Indian boyfriends was appealing.  Their arms could be bent, so they could put their arms around each other and kiss.
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