Nov 2, 2019

The Top 16 Hunks of "The Greenhouse"/"Greenhouse Academy"

Greenhouse Academy, now in its third season on Netflix,  is a reboot of The Greenhouse (Ha-Hamana, 2012-2016) is about a brother and a sister, children of a famous astronaut, who enroll in an exclusive private school with a secret.

The original series was Israeli, and Greenhouse Academy is still filmed in Israel, with lots of Israeli actors, and characters with Israeli names.  But it's set in the United States.  Cop-out!

I read that Alex (Finn Roberts, left) is the son of Carter and Ryan. Cool, two dads!  But it turns out that Ryan is a woman. Cop out #2!

No out gay characters in either of the two series.  Cop out #3!

Well, at least there's beefcake.

Other than The Secret, the drama is based on competition between the Eagles and the Ravens, rival sports teams/dorm groups (basically Slytherin and Griffindor).

Eagle/Slytherin boys:

1. -2. Alfie Reshef (Yadin Goldman), central character, who joins the Eagles to embrace the Dark Side, while his sister joins the Ravens.  In Academy, he becomes Alex (Finn Roberts, top photo)

3. -4.Daniel Goren (Daniel Litman, left), head Eagle, dating the principal's daughter. Sort of evil.  In Academy, he becomes Daniel Hayward (Chris O'Neill).  Fans were shipping him and Parker, but a ship is not good enough in 2019; where are the actual gay students?

5-6. Ron Ashkenazi  (Tamir Ginzberg), Daniel's bff.  Mean, aggressive, rude.  In Academy, he becomes Parker Grant (B. J. Mitchell, left).

Raven/Gryffindor boys:

7-8.  Iftach Har Lev (Lee B.), head Raven, "it's just a game" nice guy.  In Academy, he becomes soft, sensitive aspiring musician Leo Cruz (Dallas Hart, left), who is dating someone with the unlikely name of Aspen.

9-10. Mati Spivak (Lior Shabtay), computer nerd and mama's boy (see how the Ravens are open to  In Academy, he becomes Max Miller (Benjamin Papac).


11-12. Louis Klein (Raffi Tavor), head of the Greenhouse Academy, becomes Louis Osmond (Parker Stevenson).  In case you need reminding, the former Hardy Boy is famous for his super-sized penis, which he always carefully hid from view, lest he frighten the horses.

13-14. Robbie Klein (Asaf Kleinberger), his grown-up son, becomes Jason Osmond (Yiftach Mizrahi)

15-16. Guri (Daniel Reshef), the siblings' father, becomes Carter Woods (Ishai Golan).

So much beefcake in the two shows -- which will you stream?

Oct 31, 2019

Legend Quest: Masters of Myths: Not Not-Gay

Who knew that a cartoon about fighting monsters could be so complex?

Legend Quest: Masters of Myth  (2019) sends a team of Mexican monster-fighters far and wide under the orders of some mysterious monks called the Brotherhood.

The monster-hunting team consists of:
1. Leo, a 12-year old boy from 19th century Mexico.  He's voiced by Benny Emmanuel (below) in Spanish, and in English, Johnny Rose, who is impossible to research online because he shares a name with the Eugene Levy character on Schitt's Creek.  

I don't know if this series is set in the 19th century, or if the monster-hunters exist outside of ordinary time.

In 2015 Benny starred in Tremulo, about two guys hooking up.

2. The ghost of Don Andres, a 16th century Spanish conquistador (voiced by Andrés Couturier, Oscar Cheda).

2. Teodora (Mayte Cordero, Annamarie Blanco), who is astro-projecting her spirit back from the 21st century.

4. Alebrije (Ricardo O'Ferrill, Paul Tei), a comic relief monster based on the Mexican folk art figurines.

How did these beings manage to find each other?  We don't find out. The show starts in media res, with hunts for a powrie (Scotland), an efrit (Egypt), a caipora (Brazil), a tsukumogami (Japan), a wendigo (Canada), El Coco (Spain), and an anansi (Africa).

Meanwhile they must search for their missing leader, Brother Godofredo; deal with a competing monster-hunting team led by the snobby Marcella; deal with the Brotherhood, which turns out to be evil; and save the world from the Cthulhu-monster Moon Goddess.


The Latin American focus is interesting, and there's little or no heterosexual machination, not even between Leo and Teodora.  I'd prefer a buddy-bond, but just not mooning over Teodora is enough for a gay subtext. Or even a gay text -- who ever said that Leo was straight?

Turns out that we're in media res because this is Season 2, being marketed as a new series in order to confuse viewers.  In the first season, called Legend Quest in English, Leo is a 12-year old boy living in 19th century Mexico, who has the power to see ghosts because he is, according to his abuela, the Chosen One.  When the townsfolk start turning into zombies, he and his ghost friends find a way to rescue them.  This leads to more adventures, and eventually a gig with the mysterious Brotherhood.

And it takes only about 10 seconds for Leo to start mooning over Marcella, the Girl of His Dreams.


The characters first appeared in a film series.  The first, La Leyenda de Nahuala (2007), starred Fabrizio Santini (top photo) as Leo, and gave him a different origin story.  I'll check it out -- maybe he'll go back to being not-not-gay.

Oct 30, 2019

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

When I was growing up in Rock Island, we were constantly policing ourselves and each other for lapses into the feminine: even seemingly minor deviance, like buttoning the top button of your shirt or failing to cut off the "fruit loop" on the collar, revealed that you were not a "real man."  Your friends would forever be ashamed of you, and you would never get a girlfriend (we assumed that all boys wanted girlfriends).

But even real men were shamed by the "he-man," the super-strong, super-powerful übermensch who sneered and strutted across the quad as he tried to decide which twelve girls he would steal from their boyfriends tonight.

With all the negative connotations to the term, I was not at all interested in He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (how's that for a pretentious title?), a toy series spun off into a Saturday morning cartoon which ran 65 episodes from 1983 to 1990 (there have been a lot of spin-offs since).  Gender stereotyped macho alpha-male nonsense!

The premise: The ruling house of the planet Eternia (which is not eternal, in spite of its name) is bedeviled by various mages and monsters, with a big bad named Skeletor (because he has a skull face).

Skeletor wants the power of the Castle Greyskull (because he has a skull face?), which will allow him to take over Eternia.  He also tries various subsidiary schemes to make the royals and their subjects miserable.

Enter Prince Adam, heir to Eternia.  When trouble brews, he lifts his sword, yells "By the power of Grayskull!", takes his clothes off?  And becomes He-Man.

I guess it's a Clark Kent-Superman thing.  As a member of the royal family, the Prince wouldn't be allowed to fight the forces of evil on his own, so he has to adopt a secret identity.  Except he doesn't even wear glasses; no one would doubt for a moment that He-Man is Prince Adam doing Conan the Barbarian cosplay.

He-Man's posse (the Masters of the Universe?) are not at all beefcake-heavy, maybe so no one draws attention away from his magnificence.

1. Cringer, his Snagglepuss-like pet, who transforms into Battle Cat (and actually looks different).

2. Man-at-Arms, a middle-aged warrior who invents the team's non-lethal weapons.

3. The Sorceress

4. The comic relief Orko, a bumbling magician from another planet who has no legs and never shows his face.

Later they added Princess Adora, Prince Adam's twin sister,who morphs into She-Ra (not She-Woman?).

Every episode ended with a 1980's "the more you know" moral, usually connected to the plot, like "friends who laugh at you for doing the right thing aren't really your friends."

It sounds dreadful, but I have an open mind, sort of, so I watched an episode on youtube: "The Good Shall Survive"

The Bee-People, who look like muscular bald drag queens, produce honey for sale.  But the Tycons, evil wasp-creatures, emerge from the caves and eat all their honey, which will cause an economic crisis, maybe even a Stock Market crash.  Skeletor is there, egging them on.

He-Man to the rescue!

He subdues Skeletor by pushing him into a stream (off-camera).  Sort of a wimpy villain.  Then he uses his sword to deflect the beams of light emerging from the Tycons' eyes.  But he is hit and falls asleep. 

When he awakens, He-Man returns to find the Tycons sick from over-eating.  He easily convinces them to make friends with the bee-people and ask to share their honey.

The owners of the means of production are always happen to share with the proletariat.  No problem at all.

Representatives of the two species confront Skeletor, because he's been taking the honey, I guess. They deflect the light beams coming out of his hands, and he cringes in defeat.  Again, wimpy villain!

He Man announces the moral: don't take things that aren't yours.  Ask to share instead.

I was right; this was dreadful.  But at least He-Man doesn't display any heterosexual interests.

Oh, wait...I  understand that he sparks a bit with Teela, Man-at-War's daughter.

Well, he's nice to look at anyway.

A 1987 movie brought He-Man (Dolph Lundgren, top photo) to Earth, where he helps some human teenagers (Courtney Cox, Robert Duncan McNeill)

A new movie is scheduled for 2021, with Noah Centineo as He-Man.

He gets a girlfriend.

Oct 29, 2019

Karol Krauser, the First Superman

The first Superman cartoons appeared in 1941, only three years after the Man of Steel first appeared in Action Comics.  They were produced by the Fleischer Studio, which also gave us Betty Boop and Popeye.  The Fleischers liked to work with real models, rotoscoping their movements to guide the animators, but for many years the model for the 17 Superman cartoons was unknown.

He turns out to be Karol Krauser, real name Karol Piwoworczyk, a young bodybuilder and wrestler.  The Superman website and wikipedia give few other details, but I managed to find some newspaper articles about him.

He was born in Krakow, Poland in 1912, attended the Polish Cadet School in Gniezne and the University of Krakow, and then worked as a physical education instructor at the Zwiazek Strzelecki, Polish military academy.

 At the beginning of World War II, he moved to New York and became a professional wrestler, dubbed the "Polish Apollo."   His first recorded match is in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on February 24, 1939.  By 1941, a newpaper article calls him the "popular Polish heavyweight champion."

He worked as a model for the Fleischers in 1939 and 1940, posing whenever they needed a muscleman, as in the Superman cartoons.

In 1945, Karol married female wrestler Zosia or Zoska Burska.   The best man at his wedding was none other than Stan Laurel of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy.

Most professional wrestlers retire in their 30s, but in 1953, at age 42, Karol and Edward Bogucki began a tag-team act as the Mad Russians, Karol and Ivan Kalmikoff.  During the Cold War, they became popular villains, winning several NWA competitions.

In 1962, Karol split from  Ivan and teamed up with Eric Pomeroy, billed as Stan or Igor Kalmikoff.  They appeared in several matches.

Karol died of a heart attack on September 12, 1964, after a match in Salt Lake City.

Oct 28, 2019

A Gay "Haunting on Fraternity Row"

David DeCouteau used to direct movies in which hunks in their underwear...well, there are hunks in their underwear, and either no girls or a couple of fully-clothed girls in the background.  In other words, movies for gay men.  He swore up and down that he was not aiming at a gay audience, that he hadn't even been aware that gay men existed until someone told him.  1 1/2 hours of guys in their underwear just made artistic sense.

Brant Sersen continues the tradition with Haunting on Fraternity Row (2018), which is available on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Netflix, and probably everywhere else.

It's mostly "found footage," like The Blair Witch Project,  about a demon targeting a party at a frat house, possessing people and eating their eyes.

But contrary to stereotypes, this is the nicest fraternity you'd ever hope to see.  They have pledges of various sizes and shapes, not just hunks, and they require only mild hazing: wear dresses and film the festivities.  Nor do they leer at, sexually assault, or make nasty jokes about the girls.

Contrary to what one might think at a frat party, there are virtually no discussions of "getting laid," and only two sex scenes (both cut short when the demon intervenes).

And there are  are beaucoup guys hanging out in their underwear or in shorts, or taking their shirts off, while the girls are fully clothed  (the semi-naked girl on the poster seems to be a misdirection).

Although there are no identifiably gay characters, this is obviously a movie designed for the gay male gaze.

The hunks are:

1. Jayson Blair (top photo) as Tanner.

2. Ashton Moio (the one with the biceps) as Dougie.

3. Eduardo Losan (the one with the bulge) as Lube.

4. Chester Rushing as Drew.  I don't know who the cruisy friend is.

5. Cameron Mouléne (the one with the chest) as Grant, whose girlfriend keeps trying to pressure into sex.

6.  Jacob Artist (the one with the pumpkin) as Jason.

7. Breon Pugh as Wiggles, the fat guy who keeps his shirt on.

8. Hawn Tran as Nascar, the skinny guy who keeps his shirt on. Are you noticing a pattern here?

9. Blaze Burkenstock (the one inviting you to read his shorts) as a miscellaneous fratboy.

10.  I don't know who this is.

Oct 27, 2019

"The Unlisted": Come for the Australian-Indian Culture, Stay for the Gay Subtexts

In The Unlisted, twelve-year old twins Kal (the cool one) and Dru (the smart one, signified by his glasses) are...

Did I say twelve?  They are played by sixteen-year old Vrund and Ved Rao, who could easily be mistaken for college students, and look decidedly out of place in a school full of 12-year olds.

If you can get past the jarring age discrepancy, the setting in the Australian-Indian community is interesting.  In the first episode, everyone is in a flurry to prepare for Divali.  I liked the scene where the jar of ghee breaks, so they have to run from store to store, but everyone is sold out, except for one shop which won't sell to Kal because he doesn't speak Hindi: "You can't pick and choose your culture."

In the second episode, a mean girl is spying on them,so they invite her into the family store and disgust her with Indian snacks like chili banana chips and nimboo pickles.

In the third episode, it's Multicultural Day, so Grandma introduces the school to the Indian sport of kabbadi.

Why not just make it a sitcom about clashing values of modern and traditional Australian-Indians? But instead we have dystopian sci-fi:

A corporation called The Infinity Group is providing free dental exams to all students, but Dru  is afraid of dentists, so he talks Kal into taking his place.  Tim (Otis Dhanji), whose parents refused to permit the checkup, goes missing.

Later everyone who got a "checkup" freezes in place.  They are being controlled by dental implants!  Plus they are super-strong and fast.

 Dru must pretend that he is being controlled, and get Kal to take his place for the athletic tests, while the boys try to unravel the sinister plot.

Eventually they find allies in their aunt, a doctor who got a job with the initiative without realizing what it was about, and Jiao  (Zachary Wan), whose implant never worked.

And four refugees who knew too much and are now on the run:  three girls and Jacob (Nya Cofie, right), although Gemma (Jean Hinchliffe) is so androgynous that I thought the character was meant to be nonbinary.

Originality of the plot: C-.  It's been done before.  See:  The Tripods.

Beefcake: D.  Most of the actors are too young to be of interest.

Gay characters: A.  The twins have a built-in gay subtext, two of the refugee girls are in a romantic relationship, an adult ally says she was "queer before there was a word for it," and lack of expressed heterosexual interest abounds.

Fade out kiss: C.  Dru states that he and Chloe are "just friends," but Grandma goes on and on about which girl thinks the boys are handsome and wants to date them.

Australian-Indian culture: A+.
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