Aug 1, 2020

Diary of the Dead: Film Distorts Reality, and There are Zombies

The Diary of the Dead (2007) is the last hurrah of George Romero's Night of the Living Dead franchise that created the modern zombie,, that ambling, growling animated corpse that attacks the living, leading to apocalyptic chaos and the end of human civilization.  Here we zero in on the first few days of the zombie outbreak through the found-footage of some student filmmakers.

Debra (Michelle Morgan),oneof the survivors, edited the film, added music,and narrates, making asides about how fim distorts and creates reality.  It's obviously George Romero himself ruminating at the end of his career, giving the valedictory address at the end of a cultural phenomenon (although he went on to write four more Dead movies and direct three).  Horror greats Wes Craven, Guillermo de Toro, Stephen King, Tom Savini, Quentin Tarentino, and Simon Pegg stop by to pay their respects with cameos or voiceovers.

There's only one problem: the movie is ludicrous.

The Universtiy of Pittsburgh film students are makinng a horror movie about mummies, under the supervision of their elegant artiste "I was in the thea-tah" Professor (Scott Wentworth).  Professor Artiste would never grant college credit for a vulgar genre film.

They hear some news reports about people assumed to be dead rising up to attack the living.  Professor scoffs; he's old enough to remember the panic from Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast -- 70 years ago!  Impossible! But Ridley (Philip Riccio, top photo) immediately rushes back to his parents' house in Philadelphia, while Jason (Joshua Close) rushes to the dorm to see if his girlfriend is ok. It was just a weird news story!

The dorm is deserted.  All of the students, except for Girlfriend, rushed out as soon as they heard the weird news story.  How would they even hear the story in the middle of the night?  This is before smart phones, so they would all,without exception, have to be watching tv, then panic based on one news story.


Instead of going their separate ways, the film students pile into the van to drive to their parents' houses in small towns across the state, including the Professor, who lives in town and could just go home. Jason keeps filming.   We get some brief back stories: tough guy Tony (Shawn Roberts, left) is upset because he had to do the "girly" makeup for the mummy movie; Gordo (Chris Violette, below) is heterosexual; Eliot (Joe Dinicol, bottom)  is a nerd.

Mary (Tatiana Maslany), who is driving, runs over three people who may or may not have been zombies, and feels so guilty that she tries to kill herself.  They rush her to the hospital,which is deserted except for a few random zombies.  The news reports came in just a few hours ago!




In the ensuing fight, Mary and Gordo die. Pity -- Gordo was one of the cute ones.

It's been about six hours since the news reports started coming in, but society has already collapsed.  They ruminate on the futility of filmmaking and briefly take refuge with a deaf Amish guy.  They haven't seen anyone for hours, but the minute they arrive at Amish Guy's farm, it is overrun by zombies.  Does that make sense?

Next they meet a mysterious stranger with a gun, who takes them to a warehouse in a zombie-free big city, where his crew has been stockpiling supplies. The crew is all African-American. Is the audience supposed to be scared, thinking that black means evil, then surprised when they turn out to be helpful? Weird racist plot twist! 


The mysterious stranger doesn't have a name listed on IMDB, but the next guy they meet does: Sergeant Nicotine (Alan Van Sprang. left), who takes all of the supplies they got from the helpful African-Americans.

Debra (Michelle Moynihan) gets a text saying that her parents and little brother (named Billy, naturally) are still alive.  So they go to their house in Scranton. By the time they get there, however, the family has turned into zombies.

So they go on to to seek refuge with Ridley (remember him?), who has a mansion in Philadelphia.  Isolated, easy to defend, a year's supply of food, six bathrooms.  Perfect place to settle in. The only problem is, Ridley watched his parents and the servants turn into zombies, so he's a little crazy.  Also, he's been bitten.  Also, the mansion is being overrun.

In the ensuing battle, almost everyone dies. I think only Debra, Tracey, and the Professor are left, hiding in the mansion's panic room with a hoard of zombies outside.

No food or water in that panic room.  So how did Debra escape to make the film?

Beefcake:  A couple of shirtless zombies, if you don't mind a little gore with your muscles.

Gay Characters:  No one identified  The Professor has effete, Gore Vidal-esque mannerisms, so I'm guessing he is.  Maybe Elliot also.

Heterosexism: There are two heterosexual couples among the film students, but they don't have much time for erotic expression.

Plot Holes:  We keep our dead isolated from the living, in hospitals, morgues, and funeral homes.  No way there would be enough to cause societal collapse in about 24 hours.

Racism: Other than the "surprise!  not evil!" black guys? The first people to zombify are a family of Arab immigrants.  We see the footage of growlng, snarling Arab zombies over and over.

My Grade: C

My Two Dads

In West Hollywood in the late 1980s, Sunday meant church, brunch at the French Quarter, cruising at  Mugi or the Faultline, then Chinese take-out in front of the tv, watching 21 Jump Street, Married...with Children, It's Gary Shandling's Show, and Tracey Ullman. We certainly never watched My Two Dads (1987-1990), but we were familiar with the controversy.

The premise: 14 years ago, Marcy Bradford was canoodling with two men at the same time.  She never informed either that she was pregnant, and raised Nicole (Stacy Keanan) alone.  Then she dies, and a family court judge tracks down the men and gives them both custody.  Fortunately, they are both still single, and eager to co-parent a daughter they never heard of before:

1. Suave ladies's man Joey (Greg Evigan, the trucker-adventurer of  BJ and the Bear)




2. Skittish button-down Michael (Paul Reiser, who would go on to star in the popular Mad About You).

Housefuls of parenting men were surprisingly common in the 1980s, like the housefuls of single dads in the 1960s, but with double or triple the hetero-romantic plotlines.









The Judge (Florence Stanley from Night Court) moved into the building to keep an eye on the Full House-Minus-One.

Filling out the cast were former football star Dick Butkus as the owner of the diner downstairs, and two boyfriends for Nicole, so she could be like her mom:












1. Cory (Giovanni Ribisi of Friends and My Name is Earl).  Much older in this shot, of course.
















2. Zach (Chad Allen of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, who is gay in real life).

The familiar cast was augmented by familiar guest stars, such as Scott Baio (Charles in Charge), New York mayor Ed Koch, Russell Johnson (The Professor on Gilligan's Island), and Richard Moll (Night Court).

This was long before anyone in Hollywood would acknowledge the possibility of gay men being parents, so the dynamic duo live in a strictly gay-free New York City.  No gay characters, no pretending to be a couple to get some special gay-only privilege, no being mistaken for gay, not even for a double-take instant.

My Two Dads was strictly about heterosexuals.

Even the howls of outrage by watchdog groups was not about any implication of gayness, but because Nicole's mom was fornicating with two men at the same time.


By the way,  Stacey Keanan went on to star on Step by Step, another gay-free TGIF sitcom full of familiar faces, including Patrick Duffy of Dallas and Suzanne Sommers of Three's Company














Jul 31, 2020

THe Only Reason to Visit Limon, Colorado

We think of Colorado as all mile-high cities and ski resorts, but the eastern half of the state is Kansas-flat grassland, with settlements as scarce as hills.  If you're traveling west on Interstate 70, the last city you pass that's bigger than a gas station and a McDonald's is Hays, Kansas, population 21000.

Then it's 250 miles of Big Sky, with nowhere to stop until you hit the bright lights of Limon, population 1,880.  And the Rockies aren't even visible yet; you're still 80 miles from the eastern edge of Denver.













You have to stop anyway, because you haven't had anything to eat except car snacks for 253 miles.   There's a Wendy's and a Pizza Hut right off the highway, but if you drive west on Main Stret, you hit three tiny restaurants: La Posadita Mexican, with the logo of a badger in Spanish Colonial garb, and South Side Food and Drink, in what looks like a feed shed.

La Posadita it is.  Breakfast is pancakes and eggs.  Lunch is Mexican hamburgers and fries.  Not bad, I guess.

The rest of the road trip is on A Gay Guide to Small Town America

The Norsemen: Do You Want a Simpering, Backstabbing, Cowardly Sissy-Man as Your Chieftain?

The Norsemen )Vikingane)  is Monte Python light, finding humor in the incongruity of modern sensibility in Viking times:   "You can't go on the raid, we have a couple's night planned."

It's filmed in a replica of a Viking-Age farm in  Avaldsnes, Norway, usng authetic costumes and implements.  The actors  film every scene twice, first in Norwegian and then in English.  Their accents range from mild to nearly incomprehensible.  This makes the modern references evern more humorous ("Find your bliss!")

It's  quite plot-heavy; if you miss an episode, you're sunk.

1. The Vikings of Norheim pay tribute to the evil, powerful Jarl Varg.  When they discover a map to a new territory in the West (England), he schemes to get his hands on it.



2. When Chieftain Olav is murdered, his brother Orm (left) takes over, even though he's unqualified, having never been on a raid before because he's a weakling and a coward.  He's also gay.

Not open, andwhen he's accused, he denies it, but he has homoerotic drawings and dildos in his bedroom, he won't sleep with his wife, and when he is raped by one of Jarl Varg's men (while dressed as a woman for a play), he enjoys it.  He explains that according to Viking law, only the passive partner counts as "homosexual," so he tried to be as energetic as possible.

So a weak, cowardly, sneaky, underhanded, potential fratricide is gay but in denial?  I don't like that at all.  I don't care if Viking times were homophobic.  They could have made Orm a great warrior, not a sniveling pansy stereotype.  At least he doesn't lisp, and he was only shown sewing in the first scene.




2. Rufus (left), a captured Roman slave, regales Orm with stories of the pansexual  orgies he used to attend (but when he fantasizes about them himself, the players are all women).

None of the Vikings have ever heard of acting, so Rufus talks them into building a theater and letting him put on a play.  He wants to make Norheim the cultural capital of  the North.

Later, Rufus, Orm, and one of the women become outlaws.  I don't think they become lovers.



3. Arvid (left), a great warrior, wins a farm  by challenging its owner to combat, but he dislikes Liv, the wife he gets as part of the deal; she is into "feelings," and he'd rather be out pillaging.  He also apparently has affairs with Chieftain Olav's wife Hildur and Orm's wife  Frøya.

I had to check wikipedia. I can't tell the women apart.  Except Froya, who goes on raids, rapes men, and then cuts off their penis as a souvenir (she wears a chain of them arund her neck).

When Orm is disgraced and forced to flee the village, Arvid becomes chieftain.





There are many other named characters who have little snippets of plot:

1. Kark, a slave who earned his freedom but decided to stay on as a slave ("there's no greater joy than doing backbreaking work for no money)

2. Orn (top photo), who insists on sitting next to his best friend Ragnar during raids.

3.  Sturla Bonecrusher (left), hired as Rufus' assistant/bodyguard when he's working on the theater project. When Rufus tells him to "discipline" a recalcitrant worker, he knocks the guy's head off.  Literally.

Not much beefcake, on or off camera.  Rufus gets the only significant shirtless/bulge exposure.

And the blatant, blatant homophobia is a major turn-off.  I keep hoping for Orm to be redeemed, but throughout Season 1 he just keeps getting worse. Then I keep checking to see if Norway happens to be a homophobic country, but apparently not. So WTF?

Fall 1982: Dancer from the Dance: Gay Ghetto by Andrew Holleran

When I started grad school in Bloomington, Indiana in 1982, I had no trouble finding gay books.  There were no gay sections in the campus bookstore or the White Rabbit downtown, but you could just scan the shelves for titles that were dark and sinister, about secrets and lies and despair, like Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask or Tennessee Williams' A Thirsty Evil.







But one day I stumbled upon one that didn't use code: Dancer from the Dance (1978), by Andrew Holleran, with a shirtless guy wrapped in a yuppie sweater on the cover (he looked like Perry King, bottom photo).  The blurb that yelled: "A haunting novel of romance and decadence in the fast lanes of gay society!"

Wow, no secrets, no lies, no despair!  Maybe even a gay man who experiences a moment or two of happiness, and doesn't die at the end.

No such luck.

The gay men in Dancer from the Dance are all young, beautiful, wealthy, and cursed. They trudge from gym to bar to after-hours club to bathhouse, dancing, taking drugs, having sex, seeing the same faces year after year, but knowing nothing about them except their penis size. They have dozens of lovers but no friends.  They are unable to find any meaning in life, or any happiness.

Every summer they are bussed from the Village to Fire Island, from one prison to another, and they peer out the windows at Sayville, with its husbands and wives sitting contented on porches while kids frolick in front yards, and they think "That's happiness!  But we can never experience it, because we're gay, and therefore doomed."

As one of the characters explains: "The world demands that gay life be ultimately sad, for everyone in this country believes. . .that to be happy you must have a two-story house in the suburbs and a FAMILY."  Andrew Holleran not excluded.

The main character, Malone, vanishes at the end of the novel.  Sex/dance partners are always vanishing.   Some escape, like the character who moves to the Deep South and finds infinite joy in helping a friend install a septic tank.  Others die.  The rest keep on dancing.

Very depressing take on the gay world.  Yet I wasn't depressed, because I knew something that Malone and his coterie didn't: the men they saw day after day, year after year were, in fact, a FAMILY, an adhesive brotherhood that could change the world.

See also: The Violet Quill

Jul 30, 2020

The Fate of "Gilligan's Island"

What Boomer kid doesn't get all wispy and nostalgic upon hearing "Just sit right back, and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip..."

Gilligan's Island (1964-67) was an iconic Boomer tv series, part of the "lost far from home" genre, about seven people who set out from Hawaii on a "three hour tour" and ended up shipwrecked on a desert island.  We didn't care that their escape attempts were ludicrous, or that visitors managed to make it off the island with no trouble.  What counted was the adventure: they fought pirates, headhunters, mad scientists, Russian spies.  They found a Jungle Boy and a buffed surfer.

It was a "boys only" paradise, with no girls or grownups around to spoil the fun.

Ok, the Howells were grownups.  Sort of.

Ok, there were two girls, Ginger and Mary Anne, but no one acted all goofy around them.  They were like big sisters.

Although they paid lip service to the goal of getting off the island, it was obvious that no one really wanted to leave.  Back home they were failures, parodies of themselves.  Ginger was an actress relegated to horrid B-movies, but on the Island, she was a star.  The Professor was a polymath teaching high school science, but on the Island he was a genius.  On the Island they could shine.

There was no ongoing plot arc, as is common in tv series today, nor was there a conclusion.  The last episode of the series leaves them still stranded on the island.

But iconic Boomer tv series don't stay dead for long.  There were endless reruns, and, 10 years later (1974-77), The New Adventures of Gilligan  appeared as a Saturday morning cartoon. Most episodes involved inter-group squabbles, with an 1970s "the more you know" moral, rather than escape attempts.



The characters look considerably younger than the actors they depict.  Gilligan and Mary Anne could be in their teens, and Skipper and the Howells look barely 30.

.

In October 1978, I was a freshman in college,  and like every Boomer kid, I had no choice but to watch the tv movie Rescue from Gilligan's Island .  They finall made it back to civilizatioN!  Except instead of having them shipwrecked for a reasonable amount of time, the premise is that they've been on the island since 1964.  They're obviously older, well into middle age or old age, which makes their stuntwork cringeworthy.

They arrive in Hawaii to a huge crowd of well-wishers and fans (except none of their family or friends).  The moment Gilligan leaves the coast guard ship, a soldier hands him an ice cream cone.

Giving a middle-aged man an ice cream cone rather than a hefty check from the insurance company? Bogus!

 They try to go back to their old lives: the Professor to his research university, the Howells to their snooty friends, Ginger to the movies, Mary Anne to her farm in Kansas.  But it's the midst of the sex-and-sleaze disco era, everything has changed, and they're miserable. Fortunately, they end up being shipwrecked on the same island again.  There's no place like home?

Every Boomer kid watched them being rescued again in The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979).  This time they return to convert the island into a resort, where they proceed to solve guests' soap opera problems.  Apparently this was the pilot to a proposed tv series, with different problems every week, sort of like Love Boat and Fantasy Island.

First up: a workaholic husband whose wife wants him to relax (played by Happy Days' Tom Bosley and The Bob Newhart Show's Marcia Wallace), and an unaccompanied minor (popular child star Ronnie Scribner) turns out to be a runaway.









Plus since this is a tropical island, there is some beefcake among the extras lounging at poolside.

Not many Boomer kids, now young adults, cared enough to tune in to The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981).  The island is still a resort, with the Harlem Globetrotters as guests, but the plot involves the villainous Martin Landau trying to get control of the valuable mineral "supremium."

Jim Backus, who played Thurston Howell III, was in poor health, so he appeared only in a cameo; his character was channelled by David Ruprecht (left) as his never-mentioned-before "son,"  Thurston Howell IV.

The last gasp of Gilligan's Island, except for in-character guest spots and retrospectives, came in 1982-83, with the Saturday morning Gilligan's Planet. The Professor can't built a boat, but he builds an interstellar spacecraft to get them off the island.  They end up spacecraft-wrecked on an uncharted planet.

Really?

I was in grad school at Indiana University at the time, too old for cartoons.  But even if I was 10 years old, the premise seems unbearably far-fetched.

Besides, I had already seen Lost in Space.

See also: Gilligan's Island

How Proust Can Bore You to Death

I have a confession to make: I have a B.A. in Modern Languages, a M.A. in English, and almost a doctorate in Comparative Literature, and I've never made it through more than a few pages of Proust's  Remembrance of Things Past.

I know I should.  It's an essential work of French literature, and an essential part of the gay literary heritage.  A gay writer, with gay characters, published during the 1920s.

I used to own the hefty Motcrieff translation, plus the first volume in French. Now I have it on an ebook.

Seven volumes, 4,200 pages, and you have to read each page several times because your mind keeps wandering.

The narrator as a young boy is in his bedroom, waiting for his mother to come upstairs and kiss him goodnight.  Then, as an adult, he eats a madeleine pastry, and memories come rushing back.  He used to live in a town named Combray...

 And I thrust the book aside.  Or, lately, I click it off my computer screen.

I've read books about it: How Proust Can Change Your Life, Proust's Library, Painting in Proust, Food in Proust.  

And I pick it up and start again.








2,000 characters, mostly divided into four camps:

The Swanns: An upper-class family.  Charles Swann marries the courtesan Odette.  The Narrator dates their daughter, Gilberte.

The Guermantes: Aristocrats that the Narrator envies. The flamboyant, decadent Baron de Charlus is the most important.

The Verdurins: mostly artists.

The Balbec Girls.  To my disappointment, Balbec does not refer to the ancient Middle Eastern city, but to yet another French provincial town, where the Narrator meets Albertine, the great love of his life.

Yawn.  Is there anything on tv?

I bought the graphic novel version, and still didn't make it past the first few pages.  So...so...sooooo...boring....



Can anyone claim to be knowledgeable about gay literature without having read Proust?

Probably.  There are thousands and thousands of pages of hetero-romance.  We don't get to the gay stuff until Volume 4, Sodom et Gomorrah, translated as The Cities of the Plain.when the Narrator discovers that Baron Charlus is gay and that some of the women he is attracted to are lesbians.  This upsets him, because it means that they are not sexually accessible.

Some critics think that the Narrator is gay, too, because he keeps falling in love with women who have masculine-sounding names: Albertine could be a closeted "Albert," and Gilberte could be "Gilbert."  But that sounds like grasping at straws.

By the way, the top photo is a bodybuilder because when you search for "Remembrance of Things Past" on Google Images, he pops up.

Someone must have decided to post a bodybuilder on their Proust page, to alleviate the boredom.

Jul 29, 2020

My Crush on Bazooka Joe

Ok, I admit it.  When I was a kid in the 1960s, I had a little crush on Bazooka Joe.















Bazooka Gum consisted of an individually-wrapped, pillow-shaped square of Pepto-Bismol-colored bubble gum.  You could buy five of them for a nickel at Dewey's Candy Store, across the street from my grade school.  I wasn't a big fan of the gum, but I liked the wraparound comic, about 1.5 x 1", starring a blond boy named Bazooka Joe and his friends.

You can't do a lot of characterization or plotting in 3 or 4 tiny panels and less than 50 words, so the stories were minimal, usually setups for lame jokes or gags.  But none of the setups involved dating or romance; sometimes Joe was shown with a girl, but no doubt she was his sister.





You can't do a lot of detailed drawing in 3 tiny panels, but the artist somehow managed to make Joe a hunk, with a tight, spare frame.  Notice the second panel, where slightly curved lines suggest a rounded shoulder and bicep-bulge.  That took forethought.




His name, Bazooka: a big gun, powerful and dangerous.

His eye patch: he'd lost an eye, like Popeye or a secret agent.  No doubt in a fight with a villain.  No doubt he also had Popeye's superheroic strength.  Perfect for a gay-coded "my hero" rescue!

Muscle, power, danger, everything you want in a fantasy boyfriend, all in a 1-inch throwaway comic!

Turns out I got Bazooka Joe all wrong.  His artist, Wesley Morse, is mostly famous for drawing leggy dames in strips like Kitty of the Chorus and Frolicky Fables, not to mention a series of x-rated porn comics called "Tijuana Bibles."  He wasn't deliberately trying to draw Bazooka Joe as the object of an eight-year old's romantic fantasy.

Bazooka Joe hadn't really lost an eye: he wore the eye patch in a parody of a series of once-popular magazine ads about "The Man in the Hathaway Shirt."

And he did have a girlfriend; I just missed the strips involving heterosexual dating and romance.

The strips appeared in Bazooka Gum for over 50 years, making Bazooka Joe the most recognizable candy mascot in the world.  He has been referenced on Seinfeld, 30 Rock, and Mad Men,  and there is a professional wrestler who calls himself Bazooka Joe (top photo).

Bethlehem Beefcake and Moravian Muscle

When I think of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the first thing that pops into my head is: Moravians.

The Moravian Church, aka the Church of the Brethren, was a German pietist movement founded by Jan Hus in 15th century Bohemia (now the Czech Republic).  He disapproved of some the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church, in effect becoming the first Protestant.

Today there are about a million Moravians in the world, including 60,000 Moravians in the United States.  They are quite gay-positive, performing same-sex weddings and admitting LGBT clergy.

The Bethlehem Beefcake and Moravian Muscle is on A Gay Guide to Small Town America

Jul 28, 2020

"The F***k It List": How Many Times Can You Say WTF? Before Turning It Off?

I started watching The F**k It List because it starred Jerry O'Connell -- sigh -- the epitome of masculine perfection in the 1990s, with a trifecta of face, physique and bulge that made us feel like junior high kids writing his name amid little hearts in our chemistry notebooks

But I turned it off quickly after yelling "WTF!" a dozen times.

1. High schooler Brett Blackmore (Eli Brown)  gets responses from all of the colleges he applied to at the same moment.  WTF?  That can't happen!  The responses trickle in during the spring semester.

2. He gets admitted to seven of the eight, all ultra-exclusive Ivy League, Yale, Stanford, Princeton, Brown -- except he got wait-listed at Harvard.  WTF?  That can't happen!  It's not just a matter of high grades and rich parents.  Admissions committees are highly subjective, so what one likes, another will hate.

3. Brett's rich, driven parents (Jerry O'Connell, Natalie Zen) have been schmoozing, donating, and bribing like crazy.  Dad even tries to bribe the holdout admissions officer by letting him have sex with his wife -- and the horndog agrees!  WTF?  Hey, morally bankrupt jerk, how about letting a kid who deserves it have Brett's spot?

4. A prank that goes wrong blows up the school, so Brett is expelled, and seven of the eight colleges withdraw their offers.  WTF?  That would never happen.  First, it was an accident, and second, once you're admitted, you're admitted.  It would take a lot more than an accidentally explosion to get an admission revoked.











5. So Brett says "F...k it."  He never liked school anyway, he hates the clarinet, and he hates books.  So he burns a pile.  WTF?  Did anyone do any research into book burning?  It symbolizes extreme hatred, Nazis burning books by Jewish writers, that sort of thing.

6. What he likes is kissing the Girl, convincing his best friend to come out, and spending his parents' money.  Which  makes him an internet sensation and social media influencer.  So millions of high school kids are going to say "f...k it," cancel their college plans, burn their books, and start spending their parents' money for a living?  WTF?  90% of the parents in the world can't afford that, and the other 10% won't want to.  





College is starting in about a month, online or on-site or both, and millions of students have to decide whether to go back (or enroll as freshmen) or say "f...k it" and keep their jobs doing curb delivery for Door Dash.  This movie won't help convince them that Learning is Cool.

I almost forgot: Brett's best friend (Marcus Scribner, not pictured) is gay, and apparently learns to say "f**k it," or as we said in a kinder, gentler era, "The adults are lying -- we got to be who we are."  But I didn't stick around for his subplot.






Jul 27, 2020

"Slasher: A Gay Couple, the Other Lesbian, and a Muslim Last Girl. What More do You Want?

There are lots of movies and tv shows called Slasher, so it was hard to find the one that Netflix thinks I have a 93% match with.  Apparently it's an anthology, started in 2016, with the same actors playing different roles, as in American Horror Story.  I started the third season, thinking it was the first.

It's a huge cast, and they aren't good at throwing names around whten a character is introduced, so I have the cast list on IMDB handy, and I'll fill them in as I can.















Prologue: A rave.  Lots of gyrating bodies, hands in the air, glitter, strobe lights, drugs, and sex.  Kit (Robert Cormier), with devil's horns and a nice chest, kisses a guy but selects a girl for nude plowing.

Suddenly Kit is on the deserted street, presumably heading home.  A person in a black robe and glowing mask rushes up and stabs him.  He runs inside an apartment building and starts banging on doors while being stabbed about 100 times.  "Help, I'm being stabbed!" "No, you're a jerk!" "Let me in, I'm being stabbed!"  "No, I hate you!"

Finally Kit gives up and rushes out into the street, still being stabbed.  He is hit by a car, and after a few last words, dies.  Finally! Suddenly the street is crowded with people looking at him.  Where did they all come from?

Scene 1: A year later.  It's morning (the first episode is entitled "6 to 9 am"), and a lot of people get up.  I can't keep track of them all, but there's a gay guy, a homophobe, and a well-dressed guy with a handlebar moustache.  We zoom in on Saadia (Baraka Rahmani), a Muslim girl whose parents caution her to be careful at the party tonight.  It's been exactly a year since...you know.

I don't know if Saadia's dad will be important, but actor Saad Sidiqui is in the top photo.

Saadia lives in the very same apartment complex that Kit the Dead Guy was getting stabbed in and knocking on doors.  On her way out, she runs into the homophobe, who is drunk and trying to get into the wrong apartment.

Scene 2: We switch to  a boy and a girl talking about her final exam today, and finally getting Amber to sleep.  Their baby?  I thought they were boyfriend and girlfriend because one is black and the other Hispanic, but according to IMDB, they are brother and sister, Connor (Gabriel Darku, left) and Jen (Mercedes Morris).

But who's Amber, who she finally got to sleep?  There's a guy sleepng on Jen's lap.  Could that be her?  A transman, or a masculine-presenting nonbinary person?

Scene 3:  I'm getting the idea that everyone lives in the apartment building where Kit kept knocking on doors and screaming for help.  So they're all guilty of "not my problem" selfishness.

Next up:  Frank  (Paulino Nunes) is being abusive to his wife, but not his daughter, who also has finals today.  Then he drives off.

He stops to yell at someone and use racial slurs. The robed figure rushes up  and tries to decapitate him.  It take several blows, and Frank is alive for almost all of them.

Wait -- is the figure stabbing people at random?  If they  wanted Frank, how did they know that he would be stopping at that exact spot?

Scene 4: Cassidy (Genevieve DeGraves) is in bed, mounting a guy with long hair and tattoos (maybe Garrett Hnatiuk?):"Don't you dare go soft on me!".

Aftter they finish, Long Hair asks Cassidy out to breakfast, but she is already on Tinder, looking for the next guy.  Rude!.

Scene 5:  Dan (Dean McDermott), who may be the homophobe from Scene 2,  is writing an anti-Muslim diatribe on his blog.  Suddenly the door opens, and  Long Hair and Cassidy come out!  She is Dan's daughter!  Long Hair didn't know that she was in high school.  Dan yells, Long Hair scrams, Dan continues to yell:

Dan: "You disgust me!  You'll open your legs for any cock!"
Cassidy: "No, only the big ones."

Scene 6: Saadia is at a coffee house, where the barista, Handlebar Moustache from Scene 1, is flirting with her.  She meets up with Jen (who finally got Amber to sleep in Scene 2).  They interrogate each other on history in preparation for their final exam., and discuss the summer solstice party tonight (do high schools get out in late June?).   Handlebar likes Saadia, but hates Jen.  Go figure.

Scene 7: The police have discovered Decapitated Frank from Scene 3.  Newbie Detective Hanson (Lisa Berry) clashes with Detective Singh (Ishan Davé) and yells at the bystanders furiously texting photos of Decapitated Frank to all their frineds.  She remembers interviewing him  last year.

The slasher is named the Druid, by the way.

Scene 8: At the coffee house, Cassidy (the homophobe's daughter) is complaining about her Dad.  Well, he is the worst.  She and her friends discuss whether Handlebar Moustache is creepy or hot ("He's at least 30! Ew!).  Suddenly everyone gets texted a photo of Decapitated Frank -- including his daughter, Erica (Romy Weltman), who freaks.

Scene 9: Saadia and Jen are at school.  Deserted hallway -- they must be early.  Suddenly Cassidy and her Bitch Friends appear and yell at Saadia about Decapitated Frank: "Your people did this!"

Size queen and a bigot? So no black, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern guys?  Poor thing!

Cassidy attacks, pulls off Saadia's hijab, shoves her to the ground.  The principal intervenes and tells them "Back to class!"  Um...class hasn't started yet, right?

Scene 10:  Detective Hanson interviews Decapitated Frank's wife and daughter. She flashes back to the night of the previous murder.  That night, Frank told her that he was sitting in his car, when he saw Kit running out of a building, chased by the Druid, who raised a bloody knife.  Frank raised a gun, and the Druid left.  But he tells the Detective that he didn't have anything to help with except his "tiny fists."

So Frank could have easily intervened, and now he's dead.  Got where this is going?

Scene 11:  The principal gets creepily white-guilt about Saadia having to go tthrough Islamophobic crap. Anyway, the says, you don't need to worry: Cassidy and her ilk will be gone soon.

Is that a threat, Principal Druid?

The final exam starts, but Saadia can't concentrate.  She flashes back to the night a year ago, when Kit the First Murder Victim knocked on her door, but her parents kept her from letting him in.

Scene 14: Aha! Amber was the "guy" asleep on Jen's lap.  She's the Other Lesbian, presenting as male, and now she's dragging around a container of gasoline. Joe (Ilan Muallem, left) and his wife Valerie  look down from a window.  Joe yells "Don't kill yourself!  I'm coming down!  I can help!".  But she douses herself with gasoline -- um, actually water -- while Valerie records his reaction for her vlog.

It was a joke at Joe's expense?  A guy tries to help, and he's made out to be a fool?  Valerie and the Other Lesbian are definitely slasher fodder.  

Scene 15: Joe goes to see another guy.  "I can't keep doing this!" he complains.  They kiss. and hug.





The only male cast member I couldn't identify is Angel (Salvatore Antonio), so that must be the boyfriend.  He doesn't look much like him.

Meanwhile, Violet starts her daily vlog.  It's  one year anniversary of the murder of "bisexual rent boy Kit Jennings."  And now, Decapitated Frank means that the Druid is back!

Scene 16: Saadia lost her cell phone during the fight with Cassidy, so she roams the deserted hallway of the school, looking for it.  She's being followed y a mysterious dark figure, but when she stops for a drink of water, it rushes past her.

On the way to kill Cassidy, Principal Druid?

Scene 17: Yep -- Cassidy isin the restroom, cybersexing with a hookup.  Suddenly the Druid rushes in and dunks her head in a toilet full of acid.  Very gross closeup of Cassidy with her face eaten off.  The Druid leaves.  The end.

Gay characters: Jen and Amber the Other Lesbian.  Joe and his boyfriend, gay but on the downlow.  Probably some others.

Ethnic Diversity:  Lots.  Black, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and a few white people.  It's nice to see a Muslim character doing things other than being Muslim.  Now, if only she turns itno a badass who saves the day.

Beefcake: A bare chest here and there.

Gore:  Lots.

Will I keep watching:  I already know who is druiding, and why.  Do I want to watch people getting sliced up in order of their culpability for Kit's death?

Wait --  Cassidy wasn't as culpable as the Homophobe, who is still around.  Could she be a red herring?  Maybe there are two Druids, working independently.

We can only hope?

Jul 26, 2020

Pembroke Meadows: Grilled Spanish Octopus or a Five Guys Burger?

"Pembroke Meadows Marlins at the Broad Bay Country Club"  Has any phrase ever dripped with more power, privilege, elitism?  You can almost see the Georgian McMansions with manicured lawns and soccer moms in SUVs.

The problem is, there is no city of Pembroke Meadows in the U.S. The Broad Bay Country Club is in the Great Neck neighborhood of Virginia Beach, near such amenities as the Chelsea Green Hill Park, the Broad Bay Estates Park, and the Virginia Beach Country Club..

The rest of my research is on A Gay Guide to Small Town Ameirca.

"The Kissing Booth": Boys Only Kiss Girls

The Kissing Booth (2018), on Netflix, got terrible reviews: "sexist," "misogynistic," "she took every lie told her by the patriarchy and vomited them out."  Sounds awful, but I just want to see if the kissing booth is just boy-girl or permits same-sex smooching.

Prologue: Ellie and Lee (a boy and a girl) were born at the same moment to moms who were BFFs, and they've been inseparable since.

Scene 1: Teenage Ellie in an extremely revealing bikini and less than spectacular Lee in cargo pants at the pool, discussing the Dance Club fundraiser.  Suddenly the bronze Greek god Noah walks by in slow motion.  And he's an obnoxious jerk...um, I mean arrogant, which as we all know is irresistible to women.  Unfortunately, he's Lee's cousin, so off limits to Ellie.

Scene 2:  Lee picks Ellie up in his rich kid convertible for the drive down Sunset Boulevard to Rich Kid High School.  Due to a pants mishap, Ellie had to wear an extremely short skirt, and everyone gawks, points, mocks, and ridicules.  It's not even obvious!   Obnoxious jerk Tuppen grabs her butt, and Noah the Hunk beats him up.

Scene 3: In the principal's office, Noah explains that wearing a short skirt is bound to get you grabbed and molested.  Um...so rape is the woman's fault for dressing provocatively?



Scene 4: The three super-hot OMG Girls enter the Hogwarts-ornate cafeteria in slow motion, while guys gawk and point and adjust their semis.  They flop down at Elle's table, discuss how much they would like to screw Noah, and leave.  Then Lee the BFF flops down and discusses how much he would like to screw one of the OMG Girls.

Scene 5: Tuppen apologizes for the sexual assault by coming into class wearing a short skirt.  Ellie accepts his apology and agrees to a date.  Lee the BFF and Noah the Hunk both think it's a bad idea: he's an obnoxious jerk.

Scene 6:  Tuppen stands her up, but then drops by the video arcade to explain: Noah the Hunk threatened to beat him up if he dated Ellie.  Furthermore, he has been strong-arming all the guys into not asking her out.

Scene 7: Ellie calls Noah to ask WTF?  He is unapologetic: "I'm just looking out for you.  I know what's best."  WTF, indeed.  We get a shot of Noah naked in his chair at home.

Scene 8:  Ellie and BFF Lee present their proposal for the big Dance Club fundraiser. (Why do clubs at this ultra-ultra-ultra elite school need fundraisers?):  It's a kissing booth!  Finally!

The student council disapproves: kissing is the main cause of germs, cavities, shingles, gingivitis, and that weird Brazilian disease that turns your lips blue.  But then they promise that Noah will be working, and the girls all squeal, pant, drool, get aroused, and ok the idea.

Scene 9: At the beach, getting ready for Ellie's family tradition of Sunday lunch with Noah's family.  Mom is Molly Ringwald, Dad some rich smuck who wears a business suit to the beach.  Things are awkward between Ellie and Noah (gee, I wonder why)   

Scene 10: The party.  The OMG Girls are nice to her, since she's getting Noah to work at the kissing booth!!!!   Ellie  actually hasn't asked him yet, so she pulls him away from the girl he's kissing, who objects and calls her names, so Noah calls off the sexitude.  He refuses the kissing booth.

Ellie has never drank before, but she chugs about 15 shots, takes off her clothes (pointing, laughing, jeering, filming), and passes out.  Lots of shirtless guys.

Scene 11:  Ellie awakens in Noah's bed.  He walks by in a towel.  Nothing happened, of course -- he slept in the guest room (wait -- why didn't he put Ellie in the guest room?).  

Scene 12:  Ellie and Lee the BFF are working on building the booth.  Apparently they are the entire Dance Club.  They fight playfully with paint.  Ellie goes into the locker room to clean up, but it's the boys' locker room, where 36,000 boys are pointing, laughing, jeering, and filming her in her underwear (you'd think that some of these boys would like seeing half=naked girls).

Noah in another towel angrily tells her to get out.  She rebels against his paternal intervention.

Scene 14: Time for the Fiesta Fundraiser, finally.  OMG, there's still an hour left.

The kissing booth is actually a stage, where the two kissers are blindfolded.  "A guy for the ladies, and a girl for the guys," Lee tells us.

Yup, no gay people exist.  Or else they're all kept locked away in closets.

That's all I wanted to know.

Parker Stevenson and the Big One

In the fall of 1977, the question most gay boys were asking was: "Shaun or Parker?"

Most chose Shaun Cassidy, the fey, impestuous Joe on The Hardy Boys Mysteries (1977-79), the legendary gay-subtext tv adaption of the Hardy Boys books.

But many chose 25-year old Parker Stevenson (right), who played his older, cautious boyfriend. . .um, I mean brother, Frank.  He was just as dreamy, with brown wavy hair and piercing eyes, and he looked just as good in a Speedo.  Maybe better.

Besides, Parker had already played gay-vague characters twice: Gene, who falls in love with Finney in the boys boarding school drama A Separate Peace (1972); and Chris Randall, who is mentored by the older Rick (Sam Elliott) in Lifeguard (1976).

After Hardy Boys, Parker did the soap opera-softcore porn-thriller of the week thing (Not of This Earth, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Terror Peak, Trapped).  I haven't seen any of them.  His only movie with significant gay interest was Shooting Stars (1983), where he played an actor-turned-detective who buddy-bonds with the gruff Billy Dee Williams.






During the 1990s, he returned to the semi-nude beach shots as an aging lifeguard on Baywatch (1989-99).

In 1991, he came into the spotlight again when his then-wife Kirstie Allie won an Emmy for her work on Cheers.  She thanked Parker for giving her "the big one" for the last eight years.  All of his former fans immediately began scanning old teen idol pin-ups, and going through Baywatch in slow motion, looking for signs of "the big one."









I hadn't noticed anything noteworthy before, but now that she mentioned it....

Parker has been the subject of frequent gay rumors, but he hasn't made any public statements.
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