Mar 21, 2020

"12 Monkeys": An Excuse to Display Bruce Willis Naked

We're spending our social isolation watching one post-Apocalyptic movie per day, and last night we got around to 12 Monkeys (1995), directed by former Monty Python trooper Terry Gilliam.  I've watched the entire movie, and read a synopsis on wikipedia, as well as two or three reviews.

And I still have no idea what's going on.

I know that there's a stereotypic post-Apocalyptic dystopia, with weird Big Brothers in lab coats and dark glasses pushing weird wires and tubes into Bruce Willis.

They apparently send him back in time about 30 years, to 1996, to stop a bad guy from releasing a virus that kills 5 billion people and wraps the world in perpetual winter.  Except they send him to 1990 instead, where he stupidly tells everyone that he's from the future, whereupon he is admitted to a creepy mental hospital straight out of One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest.  Somehow he makes it to 1996, but now he thinks that he's just imagining the future world.

He also ends up in World War I, where his coworker Jose (John Seda, top photo) is stupidly telling everyone that he's from the future.  Jose may appear in other time frames, too.

And in his childhood, where he saw a murder in an airport, which is somehow important.  But it's all jumbled and non-sequential.

In one of the time frames, he kidnaps a psychiatrist.named Kathryn to try to...I don't know what.  But in another, she's an ally who tries to convince him that the future pandemic is real.

Bruce also kidnaps some animal rights activists, including Felix Pire (left).  I don't know why.

Brad Pitt appears in the mental hospital as the one who always says "we're not crazy, society is crazy." He also appears in other time frames, I think.

Meanwhile in the background we see a Woody Woodpecker cartoon about time travel,the Marx Brothers movie Monkey Business, and the Jimmy Stewart movie Vertigo.

I don't get it.

But there are three elements of gay interest:

1. Bruce Willis is naked a lot.  Of course, he's usually having weird tubes pushed into him or being covered with white goop, but still, there are frequent butt, chest, and crotch shots.  He runs down the street naked a lot, even though his fellow time-traveler has no trouble keeping his clothes on.  Is this movie just a ploy to display Bruce's body?

2. He doesn't display any heterosexual interest. I expected him and the psychiatrist he kidnaps to fall in love, but they don't.  In one scene, the dystopian scientists sing "I Found My Thrill on Blueberry Hill," and promise that he will soon be released (was he a prisoner of some sort?) and thus able to get women.  He yells "I don't want women!  I want to get well!"

No one else displays any heterosexual interest either, that I remember.

3.Brad Pitt has a hidden motive for helping Bruce. It might be explained at some point,but it looks a lot like romantic interest. At least in one of the time frames.

Mar 20, 2020

Searching for TV Shows of Gay Interest on Amazon Prime

For awhile, Amazon Prime was offering dozens of gay-themed movies and tv shows.  Then, about the same time that we began social isolation due to the coronavirus -- and started watching more tv -- the gay themes dried up.  Now we have to sort through innumerable shows "we think you'll like," checking wikipedia and IMDB before committing. Gay characters?  Same-sex friendships?  If they are entirely heterosexist, is there at least some beefcake to look at?  

Afsos: "A suicidal man and a deadly assassin (what other kind of assassin is there) encounter the world of immortality (whch would make both of their goals difficult).  Is it too much to hope that they're both guys?

They aren't - Nakul (Gulshan Devalah) wants to die, so he hires assassin Karima (Heeba Shah) to kill him.  Then he changes his mind.  How much do you want to bet that they fall in love?  Next!

Blanding: An eccentric aristocrat, his crazy family, and their rambling house, set in the 1930s.  That was the heyday of the gay aristocrat.  Could Blanding be?

No, Lord Emsworth (Timothy Spall) is straight, as is his son Freddie (Jack Farthing,left).  But his "imperious sister" is played by Jennifer Saunders of Absolutely Fabulous.  Maybe

Drifters: "After graduating from University, Meg, Bunny, and Laura share a flat and negotiate the ups and downs of life."  OMG, sounds like a British Girls.  Are there are least some cute guys?

Meg's boyfriend Philip McGinty: No.
Meg's brother Sam Jackson (left): Yes.
Laura's boyfriend Bobby Hirston: No.
Manager of the cell phone shop Nick Mohammed: No.
Not good enough.  Next!

Green Wing: "Genre-defying comedy set in a hospital but with no medical content."  Caroline is torn between Guy and Mac, Martin is in love with Caroline, Sue is in love with Mac, Alan is in love with Pippa, and I'm outta here!

I Love You 2: "At the age of 35, Hector (Francois Vincentelli) meets his childhood love Louise, and falls in love with her all over again."  Problem: he's in a relationship with Jeremy (Olivier Barthelemy).  So it's basically a "cheating on your partner" comedy, with a "nobody is really gay" twist.  The guys are attractive, but...ugh! Next!

London Irish: "A hard-drinking ex-pat community of Northern Irish in London." Like a British Friends, or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  Packy (Peter Campion) and Conor (Kerr Logan) are both straight. Cute, though (top photo). Maybe they have a subtext?  I'll give it a try.

The Lost Room: Detective (Peter Krause) has a key that unlocks a hotel room full of mystical objects, which he uses to search for his missing daughter.  Various other people have objects or want objects.  There are three secret societies: The Collectors, the Legion, and the Order of Reunification. All that in only three episodes? And everybody is heterosexual.  Next!

Laid: An Australian woman named Roo discovers that her ex-lovers are dying in unusual ways, and tries to save the remaining ones. Could some of those lovers be women, or at least cute guys?

Her scoobies include Zack (Toby Truslove) and Charlie (Abe Forsythe).  Not particularly attractive, and no gay content.  Next!

Wonderland: "A warm and engaging relationship drama revolving around four couples at very different stages of life."  The guys are:
1. Tom (Michael Dorman), who makes a bet that he won't have sex with anyone in the apartment complex.  Then the Woman of His Dreams shows up.
2. Steve (Tim Ross), just married to Dani (a woman).
3. Rob (Ben Mingay), in a long marriage.  With a woman.
4. Carlos (Glen McMillan, left), who has just moved in with his girlfriend.
One episode involves Dani's "emotional challenge" when her mother announces that she is marrying a woman.  Otherwise three seasons of heterosexism.  Next! 

 Whoops, that's the end of the list.  No gay characters (a gay guy in love with a woman doesn't count).  Two potential subtexts.  Amazon Prime drought.

Mae West: Gay Diva of the 1930s

She appeared in ten movies between 1933 and 1943 -- a rather small body of work (during the same period, Mickey Rooney appeared in over fifty).  And two others during the 1970s.  Yet she is instantly recognizable today, and her lines are still being quoted:

"It's not the men in your life, it's the life in your men."

"Goodness had nothing to do with it."

"Why don't you come up and see me sometime?"

Like 1970s sitcoms, comedy movies of the 1930s were about people not having sex.  The Hays Code forbade any implication of sex, premartial, marital, or extramarital, so you could only talk about it through code, hints, and innuendos.  Mae West was an expert on innuendo -- her body language and intonation could make the most innocent line sound like it wasn't.

Maybe that's why she became an icon for gay men of the pre-Stonewall era.  Faced with police-state repression, where discovery would be catastrophic, they learned to communicate with body language, gestures, code-words.  That's the origin of the term "gay."

She was also a favorite model for drag queens of the era.  In fact, she claimed that she invented drag.

Mae West had a number of close friends who were LGBT, such as bisexual Cary Grant, and wrote the first play to openly mention gay people. It was closed down by the police during a run-through in Connecticut in 1927, but copies are available.  Her attitude was rather progressive for the era: she believed that gay men were feminine souls trapped in male bodies, and thus doomed to sad, empty lives.  But they weren't innate criminals plotting the overthrow of civilization.

Unfortunately, her attitude stayed the same as seasons changed, and by the 1970s it was old-fashioned and homophobic.

In her last film appearance, Sextet (1978), Mae West is presented as an ongoing sex symbol.  There's nothing wrong with the elderly having active libidos, but seeing the 85-year old actress surrounded by fawning musclemen and married to 34-year old Timothy Dalton is rather ludicrous.

Still, we get to see the musclemen.

See also: Madonna.

Mar 18, 2020

The Pajama Game: 1950s Beefcake

There once was a man who loved a woman
She was the one he slew a dragon for.

The American musical has traditionally been a vehicle for unvarnished heterosexism, two interspliced boy-meets-girl plotlines and as many songs about "love! love! love!" as a Cody Simpson album.  But with so many gay actors, writers, directors, choreographers, and producers, gay subtexts invariably sneak in.

The Pajama Game (1954) ran for 1,063 performances on Broadway, with revivals in 1973 and 2005, and a movie version in 1957 (starring Doris Day).  The title sounds risque, but it's actually about the Sleeptite Pajama Factory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Romantic plot #1: Manager Sid and worker Babe, who is petitioning for a 7.5 cent raise.
Romantic plot #2: Boss's assistant Gladys and her jealous boyfriend "Hine-sie" Hines.

Gay subtext #1: Hines seems more interested in Sid than Gladys.
Gay subtext #2: Gladys has many masculine-coded traits, veering close to a stereotypic movie lesbian.
Gay subtext #3: Beefcake.  At the end of the movie, Sid and Babe unveil the new pajama style, Sid shirtless, barechested, and muscular, so risque that it was shocking in 1954.

  John Raitt (left) is the archetypal Sid, appearing in both the original Broadway and the movie versions.  University performers include Chris Ellis (top photo) and Stephen Boyd (above).

The Pajama Game is a favorite of high school and college drama clubs, for both actors and fans who can see their favorite hunk semi-nude.  Usually skittish directors insist that he perform with a t-shirt instead, as Harry Connick Jr. did in the recent Broadway revival.

For a high school production that displayed Sid  in his marble-sculpted glory, see "The Pajama Game Greek God" on Small Town Beefcake

Mar 17, 2020

"Cucumber" : Lots of Sex Amid the Tear-Jerking.

"Henry and Lance are a long-time couple, but after a disastrous date night, life will never be the same again.  Freddie draws battle lines. Only Cliff is devious enough to work out the truth."

Cucumber, on Amazon Prime, sounds like a gay Revenge, with plot twists, hidden agendas, and people who are not what they seem. But before committing, let's just take a look at the plot synopses on Wikipedia, to be on the safe side.

The title comes from a measure of erectile hardness, from tofu (semi-soft) to cucumber (rigid).

Episode 1. A  bald middle-aged gay guy, insurance salesman Henry (Vincent Franklin, middle), and his boyfriend Lance (Cyril Nri, right) get into a coffefe when Lance brings in Francesco (Peter Caulfield, left) for a three-way.

Henry calls the police and has the two arrested (on what charge?), then moves out.He seeks refuge with his twink friends from work Dean and Freddie (Fisayo Akinade, Freddie Fox).

And starts flirting with Freddie.

Episode 2: Henry is upset because Freddie rejected him, but hooks up with another old guy Cliff (Con O'Neill, left). 

Meanwhile Lance tries to hook up with straight guy Daniel (James Murray).

Episode 3: Henry's sister Cleo and her hot teenage son Adam (Ceallach Spellman, right) arrive to stay forever. 

Meanwhile Lance empties the joint checking account.

Meanwhile Freddie gets into a fight with his  abusive ex-lover (Edward MacLiam)

Episode 4:  I can't even. Henry, Lance, Cleo, and Freddie all go on dates, switch beds, hook up with  dates' roommates, bail when the date is bad in bed, whatever.

We did all those things in West Hollywood, but never on the same night.

Episode 5: Henry makes extra money by sellng videos of his nephew Adam and his friends having sex (see Episode 3).

He finally gets to to spend the night with his twink crush Freddie, but Freddie is into Leigh (Phaldut Sharma), who Henry hooked up with while on a date with someone else (see Episode 4) .Got all that?

Meanwhile, Lance is still obsessed with straight guy Daniel (see Episode 2), who is milking the attraction because he likes to dominate people.

Episode 6: Daniel finally agrees to have sex with Lance.  The ghost of Hazel Tyler from Queer as Folk warns him not to go, but he ignores her.  After sex, Daniel is overcome by gay-guilt and panic, so he hits Lance with a golf club and kills him.

Wait, I thought this was a comedy?

Episode 7:  Cliff, who Freddie hooked up with in Episode 2, is the Queen's Counsel (prosecuting attorney).  He informs the gang that Daniel has pled not guilty to the murder.  Meanwhile they are evicted from their various apartments and move into Henry's old house.

Episode 8: Daniel is convicted.  The gang eventually breaks up, and Henry is alone again.  Years later, Henry runs into Freddie, and they reminisce about happier times.


This makes me very sad.  It reminds me of West Hollywood: parties with prizes for the best celebrity hookup story, dates that ended up in the roommate's bed, "sharing" with friends, cruising at Mugi, Alan, Lane, Infinite Chazz, Yuri, David, Fred and Matt, a gang that has long since vanished or settled into mudane married life, a world of boundless joy that I will never see again.

No way I'm watching Cucumber.  But you might like it.

Mar 16, 2020

"My Sister is So Gay": A Bald Fetish, a Gay Sister, and Internet Confusion

A gay-themed tv series with a homophobic slur in the title: My Sister is So Gay.  Really?  Who thought that anyone gay would watch that?

58-year old actor/writer Terry Ray, creator of the Here! gay network.

Turns out that it just means "I think my sister is gay," but I'm still uncomfortable with it.

But one of the stars is gay, another has abs, and there are only three episodes, so....

Wait, only three?  The Amazon Prime series, which is dated 2019, has three episodes:
1. Old Nuts
2. The Wedding March
3. Jamaican Train Wreck

On IMDB, the series is dated 2016-2018 and has twelve episodes, including  "Old Nuts" but neither of the other two.

Well, I have to go with what I saw:

The middle aged, bald, and rather homely Seth (Terry Ray) is beset-upon by his semi-estranged sister Amanda (Wendy Michaels), who is slightly homophobic, plus demanding and neurotic -- she carries a loaded gun at all times in case someone tries to rape her., and she has to have the only two pillows in the apartment, leaving Seth with none.

In the second episode, their exuberant, boozy, horny Mumsy shows up to meddle.  Mumsy is played by Loni Anderson, best known as the existentialist receptionist on WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982).  She is 74 years old, and looks exactly the same as she did 30 years ago.

Amanda's plotline:she left her husband after he cheated with her best friend, but she's more upset over the best friend's betrayal. Therefore Seth thinks that she's gay.  She starts having romantic feelings for her shooting instructor, Becca (Debra Wilson), who is dating Parker (Rae Dawn Chong).  The plot is never resolved.

Seth's plotline: he is engaged to the much younger, much hotter Beau (Tilky Jones).  What's the attraction?

In West Hollywood, we assumed that ugly guys who got lots of dates were hung to their knees, but in this case, we know that it's small (Amanda and Mumsy see it while spying). 

Beau is obviously a bald fetishist: he keeps touching, kissing, and licking Seth's bald head.

Amanda and Mumsy snoop around, and discover Beau's web page full of elderly bald men x-ed out.  Is her a serial killer?  This plotline is resolved, even though, according to IMDB, Beau appears in 9 episodes.

Beefcake: We see Beau semi-nude, when Amanda and Mumsy are spying on him.  Nobody else: the guys have only female friends.

Other Sights:  None.  All of the action takes place in Seth's apartment, or in the parking lot below.

Gay Characters:  All of them except Mumsy.

Verdict:  The head-licking is disgusting, the difference between the IMDB and Amazon Prime versions confusing, and the title still makes me queasy. Nope.

Mar 15, 2020

Roadside Beefcake

Every year during Dad's vacation, we spent a week in a cabin on a lake somewhere in the northwoods, usually Minnesota, occasionally Wisconsin or Michigan, once Manitoba.  It was awful -- no tv, no movies, no museums or art galleries, just a lot of swimming, boating, and fishing (though once we visited Alexandria, Minnesota, site of the Kensington Runestone).  I might as well have stayed in the cub scouts.

But if you knew where to look, you could find beefcake anywhere, and not just in the shirtless man-mountains wandering the country roads, who could sometimes be persuaded to flex for you.

Many of the small towns we passed featured statues honoring local Native Americans, like Big Chief Germain in St. Germain, Wisconsin. There actually wasn't such a person; the bulging biceps came from the sculptor's imagination.

The descendants of Scandinavian immigrants have erected many statues that celebrate their Viking heritage (or to promote the theory that Vikings explored the region during the 13th century).  This one in Gimli, Manitoba, near Winnipeg, was constructed by George Barone in 1967. At the time I thought the Viking was bare-chested, but maybe he's just really, really muscular.

State and provincial capitol buildings were always good for beefcake based on Greek or Roman mythology.  When I was a kid, the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul was capped with this statue, "The Progress of the State," by Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter.  The muscleman represents prosperity.  In 1995 it was moved to the southern entrance.

But the Holy Grail of Roadside Beefcake was the Golden Boy (real name: Eternal Youth), sculpted by Georges Gardet and perched atop the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg: amazingly muscular, golden, and naked.

I couldn't get close enough to see him this clearly, but as a symbol of Manitoba, his image adorned decorative plates, spoons, key chains, pin-backs, postcards, and toys.  When I spent my allowance on a few, Mom and Dad seemed happy that I was taking such an interest in my Canadian heritage.

See: The Biggest Beefcake Draw of Winnipeg

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