Sep 7, 2019

13 Diverse Hunks on Eastsiders (aka Silverlake Light)

I only got through 10 minutes and a few fast-forwards of Eastsiders, a Netflix drama about the self-involved, petty disputes of a group of post-twinks living in the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

First, one of the worst names in tv history, easily confused with the British Eastenders.  Plus one ever calls Silverlakers Eastsiders.  East Los Angeles is a whole other neighborhood.

Second, Silverlake is for aging leathermen, not post-twinks.  These people belong in West Hollywood.

Third, this is not 1995. A tv program is not "must see" just because it has some gay guys in it.  Especially gay guys who are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly middle class-artist-writer, self-absorbed, shrill, and obsessed with petty problems like cheating.  For God's sake, just share him!  Why the drama? But maybe it can be redeemed with beefcake.

The Friends are:


1. Post-twink Thom (Van Hansis, a name that is impossible to write down without hearing "Van Halen."   Try it!).

Thom is an aspiring writer who cheats on his boyfriend Cal with Jeremy, then breaks up with Cal and starts dating Jeremy, but decides that he prefers Cal, and....

2. Post-twink Cal (Kit William , top right photo), an aspiring photographer  who dates Jeremy after they break up.


3. Twink Jeremy (Matthew McKelligon, left ), the third member of the triangle.

4. Their wisecrack-spewing friend Kathy (Constance Wu), the token woman, and her boyfriend Ian (John Holback, top left photo), the token straight man.










5. Quincy (Stephen Quarino), who works as a party planner (well, we did have a lot of parties in West Hollywood), who ends up dating Gomorrah Ray (William Belli), the drag-queen-next-door.

That's it for the main cast, but going down the list of 6-episode or fewer guest cast members, maybe I can find some more hunks.  And maybe one person -- just one -- who is black?


6. Trevor (Adam Bucci), whom Thom and Cal have a three-way with. 6 episodes.  Must be a long three-way.

7. Satya Bhabha as Jared, a drag queen competing with Gomorrah Ray.  6 episodes.  A non-white person, anyway, but I'm still holding out for black.

8. David (David Blue), who dates Quincey after he is dumped by Gomorrah Ray.  4 episodes.  White.




9. Paul (Sean Maher), Cal's boss at the art gallery, married to a woman but on the downlow.  White







10. Matthew Wilkas (left, with boyfriend) as Kevin, a hunk du jour.

11.  Queer Eye host Jai Rodriguez as Door Guy Jimmy. 2 episodes.

12. Veteran gay actor Wilson Cruz as Jerry.  1 episode.

We're getting some Hispanic actors way,way down the list.







13. Derrick (Leith M. Burke), whom Jeremy dates in the wilds of Season 3.  Found one!

One black guy out of over 100 in the cast.  Talk about diversity!

Sep 6, 2019

"This Close" Deaf "Will and Grace"

I don't recall any tv series featuring deaf characters in starring roles, so I went into This Close (2018-), on Amazon Prime, with high hopes.













It's sort of Will and Grace with deafness.  Gay man-straight woman life partners find their platonic romance disrupted  when Michael (Josh Feldman) gets dumped by his boyfriend, and Kate (Shoshana Stern) gets engaged to hers.

 I liked the depictions of the problems deaf people face in negotiating the hearing world ("Oh, you're deaf? I'll TALK LOUDER!").




I liked the fact that gay men in this series have sex.  On  Will and Grace, they were utterly chaste, even with their boyfriends.  Here we see poppers and condoms.  We even discover that Michael is a top.


ut Michael comes across as thoroughly disagreeable.  He spends the entire first episode having a series of hissy fits, first because Kate is engaged, and then because she didn't tell him about it.  Is this any way to treat your soul mate?

Another quibble: does everybody Michael meets necessarily have to hit on him? I don't think he's particularly attractive, but everyone he meets looks like they are barely able to restrain themselves from ripping his clothes off.

I also watched the Thanksgiving episode, with Michael's mom (veteran deaf advocate Marlee Matlin) and brother Jacob (Moshe Kasher), neither of whom Michael seems to like very much, even though they are completely fine with him being gay and having a female life partner who's engaged to someone else.

Various secrets come out:

1. Kate's fiancee Danny (Zach Gilford, left) lost his job.

2. Mom is dating again (which upsets Michael, naturally)

4. Kate lost her father on Thanksgiving (so she really likes the holiday?);

5. Jacob is into Kate.

6. Michael's ex (Colt Prattes, top photo) wants him back (wait -- who broke up with whom?). 

There's yelling and fisticuffs and crying, and everyone ends up depressed.

I'm starting to miss Jack and Karen.

This is the first writing, producing, and acting credit for Joshua Feldman.  Shoshanah Stern has been in many productions, including Jericho, Lie to Me, and Weeds.  Both actors are deaf in real life.

Sep 5, 2019

Teen Angels

A year before they caused a counterculture-establishment standoff with their Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967-70), comic duo Tommy  and Dick Smothers starred in an "I've got a secret" sitcom, The Smothers Brothers Show (1965-66).

Dick, the "straight man," plays a young, hip, self-absorbed bachelor in the Bill Bixby mold.  The paranormal event that jolts him out of his heterosexist stupor is not a crashed spaceship, but a knock on the door: his irreverent, anarchic, "queer" brother Tommy, lost at sea two years ago, has returned as "an apprentice angel," assigned to oversee Dick's life and do good deeds.

The plots involved Tommy's good deeds -- reforming gangsters and juvenile delinquents, helping the homeless, helping a musician change his tune -- and Dick's fruitless attempts to continue his skirt-chasing in instead of accepting a supernatural, well-night omnipotent same-sex bond.

I don't remember much about the series -- I was very, very young at the time -- but I remember Tommy's marvelous nonchalance about gender transgressions. To liven up a nursing home, he puts on old-lady drag and cavorts with the old men.



Fast forward thirty years, and the premise was recast in Teen Angel (1997-98), starring Corbin Allred  (left) as Steve, a young, hip, self-absorbed high schooler in the Michael Cade mold.  Again, a knock on the door: his irreverent, anarchic, "queer' best friend Marty(Mike Damus), who died last year after eating a spoiled hamburger, has returned as "an apprentice angel," assigned to oversee Steve's life and do good deeds.

The plots involved Marty's good deeds -- mostly helping Steve pass tests, get on the wrestling team, get the lead in the school play, and so on.  The sibling relationship gone, Marty and Steve become a more obvious romantic couple; though they both display heterosexual interests, they are obviously devoted to each other.




Again, Marty displays a marvelous nonchalance about gender transgressions.  When Steve likes a  cheerleader named Jessica, Marty senses that she will reject him, so he morphs into Jessica to go on the date.

What can we learn about the social changes between 1965 and 1997:
1. MORE heterosexism.  More tongue-lolling, leering, moaning insistence that boys and girls together are the meaning of life.
2. MORE subtext. More touching, more tenderness, more caring.
3. Humorous gender transgressions are ok, but you still aren't allowed to be gay.

Sep 4, 2019

Laverne and Shirley

Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) first appeared on an episode of Happy Days, when Fonzie hooks himself and Richie up with two "loose women" who are sure to "put out."

In 1976 (after Cindy Williams took time off to star in The First Nudie Musical)they spun-off into their own series, Laverne and Shirley (1976-83).  Theirr characters became more stable, friends and roommates who worked as bottle-cappers at Schotz Brewery in Milwaukee while waiting to "make all their dreams come true."  Those dreams involved snaring rich husbands.

It wasn't one of my top 10 programs, but everyone else in the family watched, so I saw it relatively often.  And, in spite of the heterosexist premise and standard 1970s obsession with sex, there was quite a lot of gay content.

1. In 1950s lesbian culture, you had to decide whether you were a butch or a femme, and date only the other type.  It was scandalous for two butches or two femmes to hook up.  Laverne was strong, aggressive, a good fighter and a hard drinker, into sports and home repairs, while Shirley was soft-spoken, polite, retiring, sexually repressed, and into frilly lacy things. I didn't know anything about 1950s lesbian culture in those days, but it wasn't hard to figure Laverne and Shirley out.


2. Shirley had a sort-of boyfriend, sort-of big brother in Carmine (Eddie Mekka), an aspiring actor-dancer-singer-boxer.  Carmine's main source of income was an older woman named Lucille, who gave him gifts and money in exchange for unspecified favors. Outside of work and friendship, Carmine didn't seem particularly interested in women. I didn't know much about hustlers in those days, but it wasn't hard to figure Carmine out.

Actor Eddie Mekka has been the subject of several celebrity hookup stories.



3. Carmine was amazingly hot, though rarely shirtless on the show (the photo is from Circus of the Stars).  And lots of other hunky guys paraded through Laverne and Shirley's apartment, as boyfriends or relatives,  including Christopher Guest, Ted Danson, Ed Begley Jr.,  and Ed Marinaro.











4. The annoying upstairs neighbors, Lenny (Michael McKean, middle) and Squiggy (David L. Lander, left), made the usual hand-biting gestures and kissing noises whenever they saw an attractive women (or in this case, an attractive man), but they rarely attempted to actually date anyone. They were  devoted to each other, permanent, exclusive, passionate partners.







In a 1996 episode of The Nanny, David L. Lander, swishing it up as Fran's gay-stereotype landlord, states that he has been with his partner "Leonard" for twenty years (that is, since Laverne and Shirley premiered).


Sep 3, 2019

The Top 10 Hunks of "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance"

I never saw the original Dark Crystal movie. In December 1982, I was in the middle of my first year in grad school at Indiana University, and I didn't have time for "The Lord of the Rings with Muppets."  Seriously, why didn't the estate of J.R.R. Tolkien sue? 

And I'm not actually planning to watch the prequel series, The Dark Crystal: Age of Reason  (2019).  The opening monologue is ridiculously long and complicated, the Hobbits....look ridiculous, the characters are impossible to keep track of, and the plot is the standard yawn-inducing defeat the Darkness.  



As far as I can figure, the plot involves capitalist vulture-monsters called Skeezix or something, who oppress the gentle, nature-loving Hobbits...um, I mean Gelflings, who don't even realize that they are being oppressed  (talk about false consciousness!).  The Skeezix are all dying, but they've found a way to stay alive by eating the pink soup that is the Gelfling life-essence.

Meanwhile Darkness is coming, some sort of eco-catastrophe, and it's up to the Chosen One and her ragtag band to defeat it and the Gelfling-eating vulture-monsters.   The maguffin is the Dark Crystal, which used to be the source of all life on the planet, but has recently gone over to the Dark Side.  

I read ahead -- at some point between the end of the series and the start of the movie, all of the Gelflings are killed.  No parallels with the Holocaust there.

But apparently the tv series is gay-positive.  Deet, one of the main characters, has two dads, and there's a lesbian relationship between Tavra and Onica.

No beefcake in a show featuring Muppets, of course, but I thought maybe some of the voice actors or puppeteers would exude some hotness.

1.Harris Dickinson (top photo) as Gurjin.  He previously starred in Beach Rats, about a teenage boy who identifies as straight but has sex with men.

2. Charlie Condou (left), previously of the British soap Coronation Street as Mitjan.  Charlie is gay, adding to the long list of gay actors in the series, everyone from Harvey Fierstein to Benedict Wong.



3. Taron Egerton as Rian.  He played a young Elton John in Rocketman (2019), and is apparently gay, also.














4. Jason Isaacs, best known in a blond wig as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series, as the Skezix Emperor.












5. Victor Yerrid, shown here in the midst of furry S&M cosplay, as the puppeteer who portrays Hup.












6. Theo James as Rek'yr (don't worry, the apostrophes don't have any phonetic significance, they just look cool).  He played Four in the Divergent-Insurgent-Allegiant movie series.











7.  Ralph Inerson as The Hunter.  Apparently he has a frontal nude scene in The Witch (2015)













8.  Shazad Latif  as Kegan.  

That's only 8, but I'm too busy to finish.  I have to figure out why this tv series is getting so many rave reviews.

And what's up with all the beards.

See also: The Muppet Show




Sep 2, 2019

"The A-List": Bingeworthy "Lost" Meets "Riverdale"

I sat down to watch The A-List at 12:30, planning on watching one episode before going to work.  Two hours later, I said "Well, maybe one more episode."  And another.  And another.

It begins as Riverdale on an island.  Some British teens show up on Peregrine Island for a summer holiday:

1. Rich bitch Mia (Lisa Ambalavanar)

2. It-boy Dev (Jacob Dudman, whom no one can look at without imagining taking him to senior prom)




3. Heterosexual life partners Brendan and Zac (Micheal Ward, Jack Kane), who can bench press 100 kg (220 pounds).  Big deal; I do 300, and I'm twice their age.

4. Genderqueer but female-presenting Alex (Rosie Dwyer)






5. Clutzy Harry (Benjamin Nugent)

And the rest, all led by over-chirpy counselors,Dave (Cian Barry) and Mags (Nneka Okoye).

Mia is quickly overshadowed by a new It-Girl, Amber (Ellie Duckles), who gathers a coterie of followers with her mind-control powers.

And the weird things keep happening:
1. A mysterious bunker in the woods, like the one on Lost.
2. A growling beast like the Smoke Monster on Lost.
3. A mysterious stalker.
4. A sobbing sound coming from nowhere.
5. Human teeth on a tree.
6. Memories of things that haven't happened.
7. An older photograph of the campers.  This has all happened before!

The mysterious stalker turns out to be Luka (Max Lohan) who has been living in the woods on his own since the camp closed down!

I didn't want to give away that spoiler, but I had to get in a picture of Max Lohan.  It's impossible to look at him without wanting to kiss him.

This actually isn't Lost.  The mysteries within mysteries are eventually resolved.  Well, maybe not the final WTF cliffhanger.

Nor is it Riverdale.  Not a lot of nudity: a shirt off here and there.  No one goes swimming (Peregrine Island is in the Scottish Highlands, where it's cold).

 But, on the bright side, no sex: the most these  teenagers do is kiss. 

No gay male characters, that I can tell; the Brendan-Zac pair is subverted by their hetero-horny exploits, and they don't even hug.

But the genderqueer Alex points out the heteronormative bias in selecting a Midsummer King and Queen, and gets a girlfriend, after struggling to come out. (A genderqueer person has a problem with being attracted to girls?).



The A-List certainly has got its share of "WTF!!!!" cliffhangers.  Don't start watching unless you have a free afternoon.

See also: The 9 Worst Finales in Tv History


Sep 1, 2019

"La Grande Classe": Outing the Bully

In La Grande Classe (Back to School, 2019), heterosexual life partners Pierre-Yves and Jonathan (Jérôme Niel, left) were brutalized in middle school, bullied by  and his gang ("fat, small dick.  Furthermore, they were unable to get the Girls of their Dreams because they were all gaga over It-Boy Jonathan Lopez.

15 years later, they are successful computer entreneurs, so they decide to attend their class reunion in order to enjoy the ugliness, fatness, and lack of career success of their classmates, and hopefully have sex with the girls wouldn't have sex with them.

Girls start mistaking Jonathan for It-Boy Jonathan Lopez, and offering him blow jobs in the bathroom.

And not just the girls.  Former bully Hervê  (Ludovic, left) had a romance with the real Jonathan Lopez and, although now married with children and still an inverterate jerk, wants to reunite.

Outing the bully!  What a great way to get revenge!




They get allies in two other heterosexual life partners, former chess club nerds Fab and Carl, who act like a romantic couple and even dance together, but aren't.

But how to out him?  An announcement -- no, it's 2019, and he has the right to be gay if he wants.

How about graffiti: Hervê sucks cock?

No, it's ok to suck cock now.  Even girls do it.

They settle for "Hervê and Lopez love."

Hervê is furious at first, but then other crises intervene, he saves the day and resolves to be less of a jerk.  It all ends "happily" with two fade-out-kisses as each of the heterosexual life partners hooks up with the conveniently-still-single Girl of His Dreams.

I hated this movie.
1. In 2019, is outing someone that big a deal?
2. It wasn't even outing, it was an implication of romance.
3. Gayness is something that happens in middle school, before you grow up to the big, important heterosexual relationships of adulthood.  No adult is gay.



Except maybe Jérôme Niel, who writes on his facebook page "I'm a gay icon!" and is seen here at a party getting intimate with actor William Enghill.












Here he is with his shirt off, by the way.









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