Aug 15, 2020

"The Peanut Butter Falcon": Can Two Men Find Freedom Together?

The Peanut Butter Falcon -- "A modern-day Mark Twain adventure that will melt your heart."

I don't find it entertaining to have my heart melted but I'm all for the increased representation of the mentally disabled on screen, so I went through it on fast forward.

Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a 22-year old man with Down Syndrome, is trapped in an assisted living facility in the Deep South.  His caretaker praises him for setting the table properly -- far below his ability!  He wants to become a professional boxer.  So one night he runs away -- in his underwear.










He's in his underwear for the first 30 minutes of the movie.  Butt and bulge shots.  I'm not sure what that's supposed to indicate.  Humor?  Innocence?  Sexiness?

He hooks up with Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), a down-and-out ne'er-do-well on the run from bad dudes, and together they head down the river, a la Huckleberry Finn

Tyler teaches Zak how to shoot guns, dance, box, wear a watermelon helmet, and generally experience Freedom.

You expect two men well into adulthood to have a homoerotic gay-subtext bond, but from fast-forwarding it looks more paternal, Tyler as a Dad teaching Zak about life.





Although when it comes time for the heart-to-hearts and hugging, Zak takes on a nurturing, maternal role.  He knows all about hugs.

The Girl is Eleanor (Dakota Johnson), a joyless social worker who wants to send Zak back to the assisted living facility and limit his Freedom.

And get into Tyler's pants, of course.

I'm not sure that professional boxing is an ideal career choice for someone with Down Syndrome, and anyway Zak doesn't look he can throw a punch, but Tyler says "You want to do it, go for it!  Freedom!"

They end up at a small-town exhibition attended by snarling rednecks; one expects the Duke and the Dauphin from Huckleberry Finn to show up. 

Zak appears in his Peanut Butter Falcon costume and gets booed; he changes to ordinary clothes, and starts the fight.  According to Wikipedia, he wins.  But at that moment the bad dudes (led by John Hawkes, below) catch up with Tyler and pummel him.

I expected Zak to come to the rescue, but no, in the next scene, he and Eleanor are waiting in the hospital, and in the final scene, they're in a car,.  But not going back to the assisted living facility -- on their way to Florida.





Surprise ending: Tyler didn't die in the attack.  He's lying in the back seat.  He reaches out and touches Eleanor's shoulder, and she grabs his hand.

Heterosexual nuclear family wins out over the homoerotic freedom of the river.  No "Come back to the raft again, Huck Honey" for these three!


Shipwrecked: Jens Builds a Family


Blue Lagoon, Paradise, and the various  Swiss Family Robinson adaptions of the 1980s and 1990s were heterosexist fables, with the shipwreck on a tropical island just an excuse to get a girl out of her clothes and into a boy's arms.

At first glance, the 1990 Håkon Håkonsen (released in the U.S. as Shipwrecked) is no different.  Haakon (14 year old Stian Smestad), cabin boy on a ship in the 1850s, meets a young stowaway, who turns out to be a girl named Mary (Louisa Millwood-Haight).

But the romance between the two stars is minimal; they behave more like best friends than boyfriend and girlfriend.


Meanwhile hunky sailor Jens (Trond Peter Stamsø Munch) expresses no interest in women and takes a big-buddy interest in Haakon.  Although he doesn't express any romantic interest, he does acknowledge the boy's erotic desirability.  When they are on shore leave, Jens steers Haakon away from the ladies of the evening, admonishing him to “protect his valuables."











Although Jens steps aside to permit alone time with Mary, the result is not so much a romance as a familial connection.  At the end of the movie, all three return to Norway together.











The lack of a heterosexist fade-out-kiss can be attributed to the original 1878 novel Haakon Haakonsen: A Norwegian Robinson, which minimized the girl, as was common in juvenile fiction of the era (I can't read Norwegian, but she seems to disappear for large passages).   Or to director Nils Gaup, who also directed the Sami drama Pathfinder.

Trond Peter Munch has not acted outside of Norway.  Stian Smested is currently a director, specializing in documentaries.

The Cheerios Kid



From the mid-1950s to the late 1970s, the Cheerios Kid, a cute black-haired boy about twelve years old, was one of the beefcake-heavy breakfast cereal icons.  In a series of "damsel in distress" commercials.  His companion Sue would be grabbed by a monster, pirate, space alien, or mad scientist, and yell "Help, Kid!" in a weird Southern accent.  The Kid would then eat Cheerios, flex a gigantic o-shaped bicep, and pound the bad guy.  Sue would gasp "My hero!"

Extremely heterosexist plotlines -- that is, if Sue was his girlfriend, not a gal pal or sister -- the nature of their relationship was never specified.  No matter, the gigantic o-shaped muscles were nice to look at, and gay boys often removed Sue from the scenario and imagined that they were the ones being rescued and gasping "My hero!"

By the 1970s, Sue was an equal partner, eating the cereal with the Kid, flexing muscles of her own, and helping pound the bad guy.

Aug 14, 2020

Chai Hansen and Josh Thomson One to Hook Up with, One to Date

On The New Legends of Monkey on Netflix, Chai Hansen (front) plays Monkey, the deposed god, and Josh Thomson (rear) his sidekick Piggsy.  Pick one for a 15-minute hookup and one for a romantic date: dinner, cuddling on the couch, overnight, breakfast in the morning.















I choose Chai for the hookup and Josh for the date.

Sure, muscles are nice to look at, and so on, but cuddling with a slab of granite?  I'll take the belly any day.

I wanted to see moreof Josh Thomson.  His most famous starring role is in the Kiwi film Gary of the Pacific.  Youtube has the trailer.

Not a good start: Gary's girlfriend asks him to marry her.  But then we see Gary's bare butt (is it supposed to be humorous, not sexy?).



The plot:Gary is the son of the chief on an unspecified South Pacific island. He goes to New Zealand to get educated, and meanwhile gets an American girlfriend for some reason.  Then his father dies, so he has to go back home and take over. The economy is a mess, the island is sinking due to global warming, and there are sharks.

 Girlfriend, who tags along for "the wedding of her dreams," is less than thrilled by crass South Pacific culture. Auckland, it ain't.













Sounds rather heteronormative.  It's not available in the U.S., so I have no idea what this scene is about.

Thomson has been in about a thousand other movies and tv series, none available in the U.S.  But he's a big star in New Zealand.




No wife listed on wikipedia, but it's hard to research whether he's gay or not.  There's too much interference from another Josh Thomson, a  MMA fighter who compared gay marriage to incest, and then backtracked "I'm not against gay rights."




Maybe I should go on the date with Cha Hansen, instead.

Inner City Prettyboy: What's Happening!!

In 1971, there were no network television programs with all-African American casts.  In 1976, there were six, including such hits as Good Times, Sanford and Son, and The Jeffersons.  But only What's Happening!! featured teenagers (yes, two exclamation points in the title).

It began as a four-episode summer series about the exploits of Shirley (Shirley Hemphill), a sassy waitress in a poor African-American neighborhood.  When the regular series began, Shirley was still present, but the focus was on the bookish high schooler Raj (Ernest L. Thompson, right), his best friend, the rotund schemer Rerun (Fred Berry, left), and Duane (Haywood Nelson, center), a shy younger boy who was happy that they let him hang around.  Filling out the cast was Raj's imposing, no-nonsense Mama (Mabel King) and his little sister Dee, whose catchphrase "I'm telling Mama" enjoyed a brief popularity.

There were immediate complaints about the simplistic plotlines and the cultural stereotypes. Weren't Raj and Rerun just a teenage Amos and Andy?  And Mama just a new version of Aunt Jemima?  Mabel King wondered why her character had to be a maid.  Why not have her go back to school, get a better job, start a business?  It didn't happen, and at the end of the second season she left.  Without Mama as a moral center, the series limped along with low ratings and was finally cancelled.


But there was a lot for gay kids to like in What's Happening!!  

1. Minimal heterosexual interest.  During the first two seasons, no episodes involved Raj and Rerun liking girls or getting girlfriends (two involved Duane).

2. Homoromantic buddy bonding between Raj and Rerun.  In the third season, they even move into an apartment together.



3. Duane was shy, soft, passive, pretty -- gay-vague.  Maybe that's why he got girls, because audiences need reassuring about his sexual identity.

4. No shirtless or semi nude shots, but lots of bulging.  Duane looked good coming and going.

A sequel, What's Happening Now!!, aired from 1985 to 1988.  The gang was now young adults.  Raj, newly married, was working as a writer. Rerun sold used cars. Duane was a computer programmer with a spectacular bodybuilder's physique (but he took off his shirt in just one episode).  They also added a couple of teenage best friends (Martin Lawrence, Ken Sagoes).  The homoromantic subtexts were all but forgotten.
Ernest L. Thomas has busy since the 1980s, most recently in a recurring role as a creepy funeral director on Everybody Hates Chris.  I met him in Hollywood in 1988.

Fred Berry died in 2003.

Haywood Nelson was a popular teen star during What's Happening. His roles included The White Shadow (1979), where he got to buddy-bond with Timothy Van Patten (right), and Evilspeak (1981), where he had a nude scene.  Today he is well known as an inspirational speaker.  There are gay rumors, but he hasn't made any public statements.

Nude pics of Hayward Nelson are on Tales of West Hollywood.


Aug 13, 2020

Fall 1980: Billy Budd: Gay Sailor Romance

In the fall of my junior year in college, just after I cruised the Miracle Mile and bought my first gay book, I took a class in "The American Renaissance," the burst of creative energy in the mid-1800s: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Whitman, Melville.

Our professor (not the one who taught the execrable class in Modern American Literature) admitted that Melville was "a little light in the loafers," but he tried to heterosexualize the texts as much as possible, so he merely claimed that Billy Budd (1888) was about a Christ figure destroyed by the world's evil.









The book cover tried to heterosexualize Billy Budd, too, conveniently placing a woman in the background.  But how could you miss the same-sex desire?  During the Napoleonic Wars, a young cabin boy, described over and over as stunningly handsome, draws the wordless longing of Captain Vere ("Truth") -- and the homophobic ire of Claggart, who falsely accuses him of conspiring to mutiny. While being interrogated, Billy accidentally strikes and kills Claggart, so under British naval law he must be hanged.

Billy forgives the Captain; his last words are "God bless Captain Vere."  But carrying out the sentence destroys Vere; his dying words are "Billy Budd."  I couldn't help but think of Aschenbach, destroyed by his obsession for the beautiful Tadzio in Death in Venice. 





TV adaptions of the novella have appeared twice, in 1955 (with William Shatner) and in 1959 (with Don Murray).


 There's also a 1962 feature film, with Billy played by Terence Stamp (later in Meetings with Remarkable Men and Priscilla Queen of the Desert). 










In 1951, gay composer Benjamin Britten produced an opera version, with libretto by gay novelist E.M. Forster.  It  has Vere survive to old age, when he reflects that once he knew what true beauty was.  It has been filmed in 1988 (with Thomas Allen) and 1998 (with Dwayne Croft), and remains a staple of the theater.  

Recent productions feature a shirtless, muscular Billy, such as those performed by Nathan Gunn (above) and Simon Keenlyside (left).

Also see his gay-subtext filled Benito Cereno.

The Pinkerton Academy: Can Beefcake Ever Be Boring?

Astros Wrestling is coming: Be Relentless!

When hunkitude is at stake, I'm surprisingly relentless.  But who are the Astros?  Sounds like something out of The Jetsons.











Or is that too antiquated a reference?

The Astros are the team of the Pinkerton Academy (no connection to the detective agency), so named because its most famous alumnus is Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

He orbited the Earth in Project Mercury in 1961, a very big deal at the time.  By the mid-1960s Space: the Final Frontier was everywhere, in comic books and Little Golden Books, in movies, on tv.  No wonder the Academy adopted Alan Shepard as its mascot.

The rest of the beefcake (but no Alan Shepard) is on A Gay Guide to Small Town America

Aug 12, 2020

"Killing Hasselhoff": Three Strikes, and I'm Out

What's worse, a half-naked, oiled-up David Hasselhoff or a bullet in your chest?

If your answer is "a bullet in your chest" and you are a guy, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news: you are heterosexual.
The good news: you will like the movie Killing Hasselhoff

In case you haven't been paying attention, David Hasselhoff was the star of Baywatch (1989-2001), a drama about mostly-female lifeguarts jiggling along the beach and having personal problems.  He's spent the last 20 years judging a lot of talent shows, becoming a pop star in Germany, and doing a lot of self-parodying.  Some people, not understanding parody, think that the aging prettyboy is just full of himself, and get vicarious pleasure out of wishing him ill.  Thus the movie.










Scene 1: Chris (Ken Jeong) doesn't actually dislike Hasselhoff; in fact, he got the Hoff to appear at the After Party at his nightclub this weekend, hoping that the draw will revive the failing business.  But he also happens to belong to a betting pool run by his friend Tommy that will pay out $500,000 to the person who correctly guesses the first celebrity to die.  His celebrity is David Hasselhoff.

Scene 2: The club's main investor Fish is distraught because his girlfriend is cheating on him with a guy with a big penis named Sebastian Hollingbone (Victor Turpin, left). She writes poetry to it.  Plus, as Tommy points out, he is gorgeous, with a massive, chiseled chest.  But Tommy's straight.   He tells Fish to wait for the After Party to revive the nightclub; after that he'll be swimming in....um...dates.

Scene 3: At the After Party.  Chris has a girlfriend who obviously doesn't like him; Tommy has a crush on girlfriend's roommate, but she's not interested.  Wow, heterosexuals have a lot of relationship problems.  

Cut to Fish from Scene 2 is at his day job, imagining that two of his coworkers turn into girlfriend and Big Dick and go at it on the conference table.  He disrupts the meeting and attacks the CEO. Uh-oh, I guess he won't be doing any investing.  And that means that he won't be appearing again.  Neither will Sebastian Hollingbone.  Darn!

Back at the After Party, Tommy, Chris, and a third friend Bill (Run Funches) toast the club's Hasselhoff-induced success.

Scene 4: Hasselhoff's block long limo.  Hasselhoff is kissing half-naked girls, while his agent (Jon Lovitz) tells him how great it is.  They decide to go to Orchid and blow off the After Party. Agent calls the guys to cancel, and calls Chris a "cocksucker."  That's Strike One, jerk.  I expected heterosexism for days, but not a homophobic slur.

Chris has another problem: he invited Gina, a 16-year old kid's tv star to the party, and she's in the VIP Suite, popping quaaludes, having alcohol poured on her, kissing other girls (gasp!).  There are even shirtless fat guys!  She gropes Chris, and when he resists, calls her mother to talk him into it.  Chris is outraged: "I will not have you turn this Judeo-Christian friendly nightclub into a whorehouse!"  Heterosexual kissing, no problem, but two girls kissing is the ultimate in degradation and evil!  That's Strike Two!

Scene 5: The next day, Gina tells all the tabloids that Chris sexually assaulted her.  Girlfriend kicks him out of the house.  Plus Mr. Wasserstein, the parable-spouting, zen-meditating loan shark, wants his $400,000 in 72 hours.  (His bodyguard gropes Chris while searching him for weapons).

Scene 6: Chris discusses his problems with a friendly homeless guy, who offers to give him a free hand job.  Suddenly the night club catches fire.

Scene 7:  Chris goes home to try to talk to his girlfriend, only to find her having sex with his friend Tommy (bare butt close-up is supposed to be disgusting, I suppose)  He runs to his car and has a meltdown (wouldn't you?)

Scene 8: Fish from Scene 2 at the mental hospital where he was sent for evaluationa after attacking the CEO.   He still sees Sebastian (and we do, too, lifting weights in his underweear)  Chris visits, and they discuss killing Hasselhoff to get the death pool  money.

Scene 9: Hasselhoff is lifting weights at his mansion while Chris gathers intel.  Agent brings him some scripts, but he wants to make his own superhero musical: Electric Man, who shoots lightning bolts out of his dick.  Agent wants him to focus on attainable goals.

Hasselhoff, Agent, and assistant get into his car, which he pretends is KITT from Knight Rider


They go to an autograph session at Venice Beach (closeups of girls in bikinis). Some of the fans are male, though.  Hoff tells one guy, "You look just like me.  Get his number -- I'll call you if I ever want to fuck myself."

Chris follows with a pizza loaded with shellfish -- Hoff is allergic.  But he insults the fans, they beat him up, and the pizza is ruined.

Scene 10: Wasserman's bodyguard meets with hired killer Redix, who is gay.  Bodyguard can't believe it because he is big and buffed: "You people confuse the hell out of me."

Scene 11: More close-ups of girls' boobs and legs.  A lot more.  I guess after the trauma of finding out there's a gay character in this movie, the audience needed reassurance.  Chris goes on to his next plan.  He knocks out an Asian dude.  Then, after about more 20 minutes's worth of close-ups of girls' boobs and legs, we're at Hasselhoff's party.  Chris appears as a waiter (why did he have to knock out an Asian dude?)  He poisons a glass of grapefruit juice and gives it to Hoff, but someone else drinks it.


Scene 12:  Long, lingering closeup of a girl's bare legs, up to her thighs, her stomach and -- bare breasts!  A closeup of bare breasts!  Filling the screen!   That's Strike 3.  I'm outta here.

Let's Hear it for the Boy

In the early 1980s, I listened mostly to classical music.  I was too old for teen idols,  and adult music was dreadful, all about hetero-romance, hetero-sex, or large breasts.  Especially when MTV began playing music videos to illustrate the songs.

For instance, let's look at the charts for the spring of 1984, when I was working on my master's degree:

Phil Collins, "Against All Odds": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Lionel Richie, "Hello": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Ultravox, "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Julio Inglesias, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before."
Nik Kershaw, "Dancing Girls."  'Nuff said.

But there were exceptions.  A dozen songs of the early 1980s could be appropriated, read as gay-positive regardless of what the performers intended.  Especially "Let's Hear it for the Boy," by Deniece Williams


The lyrics are standard pop hetero-romance, about the female singer's boyfriend, who is not rich, a fancy dresser, or a good singer, but nevertheless provides hetero-romance.  In the music video, however, she praises a variety of boys, starting with with a tap dancing little kid (Aaron Lohr, later photo), who of course is not her boyfriend.

Here's another recent photo of Aaron, in a stage version of  The Full Monty.

The scene shifts to a teenager who plays the piano and dances, badly, then to more teenage boys and adult men, playing chess, playing football, dancing with her, dancing with each other.  Some are athletic, some aren't, some are shirtless, some aren't, but all of them are beautiful due to their exuberance, their energy, and their fun-loving joie de vivre. Who has time to even think about muscles?




 Finally there are thirty men and one woman on stage.  The song has become a paeon to the entire male sex.














And that's not all.  It's the background music in the intensely romantic montage in Footloose (1984) where city boy Ren (Kevin Bacon) teaches redneck Willard (Chris Penn) to dance, and they end up posing, running, frolicking, hugging.










With the absence of a female focus character, it becomes a paeon to men loving men.

See also: Ocho Rios: Tracking Down a Jamaican Bodybuilder.

Aug 11, 2020

Cursed: The Holocaust Revisied in Medieval England

Nimue is the mysterious witch who imprisoned Merlin in a tree for hundreds of years in the Arthurian mythos -- an interesting subject for the new Netflix series Cursed.  I also wanted to see if Daniel Sharman, who plays the Crying Monk, cries with his shirt off,  and if Arthur (Devon Terrell) has a gay-subtext romance with Merlin (Gustav Skarsgard)

I'm pretty sure that Devon Terrell is gay in real life.  A Google search revealed an instagram post where he said "I am a 32-year old gay man."  But it also said he was from Perth, Australia, whereas his wikipedia page says he's from California.

On to Cursed:

Prologue: A bleeding girl in a warrior outfit falls into a lake and sinks.  Voicerover narrator asks "Where to begin?  With water, or with fire?"

Scene 1: Teenage witch Nimue orders two hunters out of her forest, then turns a rope into a snake to strangle one of them, while instaneous flashbacks go by too fast to figure out what they are depicting.  Her mother intervenes, and orders her to reimburse the hunter she assaulted. She complains that she can't control her powers.

Sigh.  Where are Aunts Zelda and Hilda when you need them?

Scene 2: An ethereal Druidic procession around a bonfire under a full moon -- sending the recently deceased Summoner off to the spirit world.  Nimue isn't impressed with the ceremony -- it's, like, totally lame or whatever.  But then the gods choose her as the new Summoner, in spite of the complaints of the villagers: "She's marked by Dark Gods!  She's a witch!"

Um...weren't the Druids all about magic?

Nimue doesn't want the job anyway.  It's, like, lame.

Scene 3: Bronze Age village, daytime.  Mom tells Nimue that the Gods chose her, so she's Summoner whether she likes it or not.  Not!  Nimue packs her stuff and takes the next boat out of town.

Scene 4:  A rocky hillside.  An elderly man in a monk's habit and a little boy are discussing doing God's will and banishing the demons that invest the land.  He presses a leaf to the boy's hand, and it turns green!  A demon!   Others take the screaming boy away to be executed.  We pan out to a whole village in flames as the band of evil red-robed monks ride away.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Did I just see a child die?  You can't kill kids on tv! Even Freddie Krueger confined himself to teenagers!

Scene 5: A Moon Wing, a sort of fairy who survived another Christian-led massacre, shows up at Nimue's village. Flashback to her forest burning, and the Crying Monk stomping out to be all evil and snarling (the crying is just war paint).

I didn't sign up for a show about the Holocaust.  And where are Arthur and Merlin?  Or any guy who's not a "burn the witch!" mass-murderer?









Scene 6:  A Medieval inn.  Hook (not Captain Hook) and his buddy approach Merlin to collect the debt he owes.  He doesn't want to pay, and scares them offH with threats and bravado.

Merlin has an ugly face and a bare chest, and is always falling-down-drunk.  











Scene 7: The scary castle where Hitler...um, I mean Uther Pendragon (Sebastian Arnesto, who looks way too young to be Arthur's father) lounges on his throne, saying things like "Silence!" and "You will pay for your insolence!"  He's been sending the Red Paladins out to kill all the...um, Fae.

In the Arthurian mythos, Uther has no objection to magic. They stole that from the tv series Merlin..which is much less depressing.

He summons Merlin and yells at him for not doing his job.  "I hired you to find others of your kind, so I could kill them all. So get with it."

Merlin goes to a tower room, where some twitching, whimpering, dying fairies are arranged in a circle.  They mew like kittens being tortured.

Kids murdered, animals tortured.  I've never seen anything so sickening.  We're less than halfway through the episode, but I can't watch anymore.

My grade: I'm too disgusted to grade it.

Joel and Jody McCrea: The Bisexual Cowboy and His Beach-Movie Son

Speaking of showbiz families, Joel McCrea (1905-1990) was a tall, lanky, and muscular, perfect for roles as white-hat cowboys.  And he played a lot of them during his 50-year movie career.

But you're probably more interested in his movies with gay subtexts, such as The Silver Cord (1933), where he plays a young doctor with a domineering mother, or Ride the High Country (1962), where he and Randolph Scott play a pair of long-term cowboy partners.



Or at least the ones where he disrobes, such as the European-in-Polynesia romance Bird of Paradise (1932).

Bisexual in real life, he was married to actress Frances Dee from 1933 until his death, but also had male lovers, including Montgomery Clift.












Joel's oldest son Jody (born 1934) was tall and athletic, and a dead ringer for his father.  He started out playing cowboys, too.












But he is best known for his comedic roles, playing dopey sidekicks named Deadhead, Bonehead, and Big Lunk in six Frankie and Annette beach movies of the 1960s.  He still got to display his bulge in a swimsuit, when he wasn't self-consciously trying to hide it.

Typecast as boneheads, he retired from acting in the early 1970s, and became a rancher in New Mexico.










Of Jody's five children, only Wyatt is interested in show biz.  He has appeared in a few tv series, and produced Gen's Guiltless Gourmet (2009).  He also manages his grandfather's ranch, a tourist attraction in Thousand Oaks, CA

See also: Beach Movies 1: The Beefcake



Aug 10, 2020

More 1970s Saturday Morning Beefcake

During the late 1970s, I watched several live-action Saturday morning tv programs, like Space Academy and The Kids from C.A.P.E.R., but the 70s Live Action Kid Vid website gives some details about many that I never heard of.  They vanished quickly, and left little trace on DVD, though you may be able to find uploads on youtube.  Here are the four that look most interesting:

1. Ark II (1976-77): a sort of futuristic trucker show about Jonah (Terry Lester) driving around in a post-apocalyptic world solving people's personal problems, accompanied by his teen sidekicks Samuel (Jose Flores) and Ruth (Jean Marie Hon), plus a talking chimp.  Terry Lester, who was gay in real life, went on to become a soap opera hunk on The Young and the Restless.









2. Dr. Shrinker (1976-77), a segment of the Krofft Supershow: the teens Brad (Ted Eccles) and BJ (Susan Lawrence), plus their goofy friend Gordie (Boomer MacKay), are trapped on a desert island with a mad scientist who shrinks them.

Child star Ted Eccles starred in In Cold Blood (1967) and My Side of the Mountain (1969), and muscled up to hug James Coburn in The Honkers (1972) and get terrorized by Scott Jacoby in Bad Ronald (1974).





3. Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977-78), another segment of the Krofft Supershow: Bigfoot (Ray Young) and his teen sidekick Wildboy (Joseph Butcher) roam the Pacific Northwest, solving people's personal problems.  Sounds like some interspecies buddy-bonding occurred.







The Krofft Supershow was a very busy program. It also featured musical groups like The Bay City Rollers and Michael Lembeck (center) as Kaptain Kool (with the Kongs).



4. Jason of Star Command (1978-81): Jason (Craig Littler) and his assistants (including James Doohan, Scotty on Star Trek) work to keep the evil Dragos from taking over the galaxy in this Space Academy spin-off.

Craig Littler performed in many movies and tv programs, including Blazing Saddles (1974) and Laverne and Shirley.  In the 1990s, he became the voice of Grey Poupon mustard in tv commercials ("Pardon me -- do you have any Grey Poupon?").


Aug 9, 2020

"We Summon the Darkness":: Gay Heavy Metal Fans?

It's the distant, magical summer of 1988. Thursday night means Cosby, A Different World, Cheers, and Night Court.  Saturday is movie night: Die Hard, Cocktail, Rambo, Who Framed Roger Rabbit,   Everyone is listening to Cheap Trick, Tracy Chapman, and Madonna, or if you are into heavy metal, Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, and Thrasher  And in the distant, magical country of Indiana, three little girls are driving to a heavy metal concert.   Their names are Alexis, Beverly, and Val, but that's not important. What's important is that they are just like millions of other little girls growing up in the distant, magical summer of 1988, discussing sex and fashion and Teen Bop magazine  and who ate the last Ding Dong.

At a gas station, the attendant is watching a televangelist scream about the evil of heavy metal music.  This is the summer of Satanic panic, the unfounded fear that thousands of kids were being abducted by their neighbors, the pastor, the school principal, or the mayor and sacrificed to Satan.  Somehow the two are connected. Foreshadowing? The girls scoff and move on.

You are probably guessing what will happen next.  You are wrong.

Continuing down a rural road in Indiana, they are passed by a blue van, which chucks a milkshake at their windshield.  OMG, what's wrong with people?

The girls arrive at the concert, negotiate scalpers and "Jesus Saves" protestors, and guess what?  There's the blue van!  Makes sense -- where else would anyone be going on that desolate country road?  They get revenge by throwing firecrackers into the van.  Three boys emerge:

Mark (Keean Johnson, top photo), Kovacs (Logan Miller), second photo, and Ivan (Austin Swift, left).

Turns out that they are aspiring musicians.  Yeah, in 1988, who wasn't?

Surprisingly, they don't do a ot of flirting with the girls. One might suspect that they are gay, except there aren't a lot of gay heavy metal fans.

They discuss Ozzy Osbourne and the epidemic of Satanic ritual murders. 15 so far this summer.  Gulp!

They go to the concert together, jump up and down, yell "Hail Satan!"

You're probably wondering, when are the real Satanists gong to show up?'''

Spoiler Alert:  




There aren't any real Satanists.

After the concert the girls invite the boys to "my dad's gigantic, elegant mansion," 30 minutess away.

Wait -- if they live 30 minutes away, what was with the driving for hours through the Indiana wilderness?

There they tie the boys up in their underwear, and prepare for the sacrifice.

Turns out that the girls belong to Daughters of the Dawn, the church of the pastor on the tv at the gas station.  They kill people and make it look like Satanic ritual murder, in order to illustrate the evils of heavy metal music.



What follows is a melange of unexpected visitors showing up to disrupt the plans, Pastor showing up to help, a lot of beefcake, and a lot of "I'll save you!" buddy-bonding.

One of the girls has a change of heart, and escapes with the Last Boy.

But other than the heteronormative ending, there's no  hetero-romance, and endless gay subtexts. (No texts, unfortunately).

And plot twists that I actually did not see coming.

My grade: B
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