Sep 11, 2020

Cristian Letelier: From Romance Novel Model to Swishbuckler

Did you know that there are models who specialize in the covers of romance novels?  It takes a special look -- they have to be super-buffed yet soft and sensitive, exotic yet down-to-earth, rebels waiting to be tamed by the love of a woman.

Over the years, Cristian Letelier has lent his soft, sensitive yet rock-hard physique to dozens of romance novel covers.  He's been involved in many other aspects of the man-mountain industry.  He's a runway and print model, a former Chippendales dancer, a kickboxing instructor, the host of a Spanish-language fitness program broadcast in 32 countries, his own line of fitness products.

We attended USC at the same time, but I didn't meet him.

He's also been in 12 movies and tv series, including Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan (1982), as one of the genetically engineered superhumans in Ricardo Montalban's crew; Look (2007) as a "Stripper Cop," and First Strike (2009), as a buffed scientists trying to stop a terrorist-unleashed supervirus.

And Swishbucklers (2010), the only movie I've ever heard of produced in Monaco. When their beloved dojo is threatened with closure by an evil corporation, three "macho" martial artists try to raise money by joining an all-gay production of The Three Musketeers.  

I've only seen the trailer on youtube.  Horribly homophobic!  Catty queens from the 1960s swishing about.  What did you expect from the title?

So I'm going to guess that Cristian is not a gay ally.

The Gay Rat Pack

Between 1960 and 1965, when all-American beefcake was giving way to suave, sophisticated, and cool, The Rat Pack ruled Las Vegas.  They were five actors and singers, performing regularly at casinos like the Sands.  They were famous for living the Cool Life, drinking, gambling, sporting, chasing dames, and having fun. They were famous for their connections to the mob and the Kennedys.  But mostly they were famous for being friends. When one appeared, he was asked about the others.  Their spats and reconciliations made front page news.

The homoerotic subtext of the Rat Pack bond is obvious -- today, anyhow.  They were all about male bonding, with the intensity and physicality of romance.  And audiences cheered them for it.

Some of them were bisexual in real life.  Others were homophobic -- even more than what one expects in the homophobic 1960s.  In order, from least to most gay-friendly, they were:

5. Frank Sinatra, age 45 in 1960 (top photo), The Chairman of the Board, a teen sensation of the 1940s, still releasing old standbys and finding a whole new generation of fans. Although he starred in the gay symbolism-heavy On the Town, he also starred in one of the more homophobic movies of the 1960s, The Detective (1968), and was reputedly so homophobic in real life that he threatened reputedly-gay Johnny Mathis.

4.Joey Bishop, 42-year old comedian, sitcom star, later talk show host. Married during the days of the Rat Pack womanizing, kept to himself a lot.  Bff of future talk show host Regis Philbin.

3. Dean Martin (left), age 43, whose comedy act with Jerry Lewis in the 1950s had distinctive, perhaps intended homoerotic undertones.  In the 1960s he released some popular songs, had a comedy-variety show and starred in the detective-spoof Matt Helm series. His son, Dean Paul Martin, was bisexual.

2. Peter Lawford, 37 year old former child actor, later a tv star (he was on The Doris Day Show).  Everyone thought he was gay; Louis B. Mayer went as far as to order testosterone injections as a "cure." Got married to Pat Kennedy, the future President's sister, over the objections of her father -- he didn't want his daughter married to a gay guy. Reputedly had relationships with Tarzan Gordon Scott, Rock Hudson, and Merv Griffith.

1. Sammy Davis Jr., age 35, "Mr. Show Business," dancer, singer, actor.  Converted to Judaism.  Kissed Archie Bunker on a famous episode of All in the Family.  Bisexual, tended toward men, preferred clean-cut all-American types.  Closeted to the other Brat Packers (except maybe Peter Lawford), but opened up to teen idol Paul Anka, whom he thought was gay (everyone did at the time).  Mentioned being bisexual in print as early as 1978. Died in 1990.

See also: Dean Paul Martin

Sep 9, 2020

The Strange Ones: Pedophile and his boyfriend may be the same person, or they may be dead

The reviews say that the relationship between the boy and the man in The Strange Ones is a mystery, but it's not a mystery to me.  Strange is often used as code for gay, as in The Strange One, or Alex Strangelove.  The boy and the man are lovers, promoting the stereotype that gay men are all pedophiles (or in this case ephebophiles).  So I'm watching it, to see how a homophobic movie could get made in 2020.

Scene 1: 14-year old Sam (James Freedson-Jackson) walks through a burning house and looks down at his father, who is dying.  Cut to a car trip through the wilderness of upstate New York, no doubt where Sam and his 20-something boyfriend Nick (Alex Pettyfur) are fleeing after the murder.  They stop for gas, and Nick throws away some incriminating evidence, while Sam gets a text from a friend asking "Why haven't you answered?  Are you dead?"  Sam texts back "Yes."

Maybe he really is dead?  He died in the fire, and Nick is the Angel of Death escorting him to the afterlife.

Scene 2: Back in the car, they share a sandwich (so the dead still eat?) and drive down a deserted highway.  They're heading for a cabin that Nick knows about from his childhood (hey, what if Nick is adult Sam?). 

Scene 3: They stop in a diner.  Nick asks "Are you having fun?"  Weird question to ask of someone who is on his way to the afterlife.

Nick makes a coffee cup disappear to prove that this isn't the real, physical world.  It's all happening in Sam's mind, no doubt during the last few seconds of his life.  But he reiterates their cover story: two brothers on a fun camping trip.

Scene 4: The car breaks down (Charon never had that problem on the River Styx!), so they walk to  one of those old fashioned hotels where every room opens onto the parking lot. While Sam jumps in the pool and pretends to drown, Nick makes arrangements with the flowsy manager, Kelly  She's so turned on that she lets them stay for free.

Sam gives his name as Jeremiah, which reviews latch onto as proof that he doesn't know who he is, but it's obviously an alias.  He doesn't want to be identified as the kid who started the fire.

Scene 5: Kelly calls for a tow truck, and then gives them a ride to the repair shop.  Sam is stuck in the truck bed (grr -- a girl getting between him and the Angel of Death!).

Back at the hotel, where they are sleeping in the same bed, Sam suggests that Nick have sex with Kelly.  Nick shrugs.  Might as well -- beats sex with an underage dead kid.    He leaves Sam to his drawing of a swirling void and goes to the office for the seduction.

Scene 6: Sam is watching a tv news story about the fire and his dead Dad.  I would usually find that odd, but in movies whenever you turn on a tv set, there's a story about your situation on.  He looks out the window, where Nick and Kelly are frolicking in the pool.  This makes him jealous, even though it was his idea.

Later, Nick sneaks in, washes off his dick, and climbs into bed.  He suggests that they stay at the hotel permanently instead of going on to the afterlife.  A girl is keeping you tethered to our world?

Scene 7: Sam wants to keep going -- the afterlife has to be nicer than this dump!  -- so in the morning he tells Kelly that NIck is gay (ya think?) , and just flirting with her to get a free room.  Also everything he has said since they arrived is a lie (well, he can hardly come out as the Angel of Death.  And he might be a kidnapper or a murderer.

I'd be calling the police, thinking that Sam was in trouble, but Kelly idiotically tattles to Nick: "He said you were a kidnapper and a murderer and..."  Nick yells at Sam and slaps him.

Scene 8:  Kelly goes to clean the room, and sees that only one bed was slept in (Not smart, guys -- everybody knows that you always muss up both beds).

Meanwhile, at the auto garage, the car is fixed.  Nick asks "Do you hate me now?"  Sam says "You can go ahead and kill me now."  Too late, buddy.  You're already dead.

Scene 9:  On the road again, through the mountains.  They stop and walk into the woods with camping gear and a shotgun.  Uh-oh.  They run into some hikers, who complain that it's not hunting season yet.  Nick says "'re going some target practice!"  Gee, you'd think the Angel of Death would be a little more adept at prevarication.

Scene 10:  They reach the isolated cabin.  Nick chops wood while Sam watches, turned on by his muscles.  Then they start a campfire and drink beer and chat.  Sam looks into the fire and starts to cry.

Scene 11: Morning.  Nick really is teaching Sam how to shoot.  Then they explore a cave where Nick spent the night once when he was a kid, after he ran away from his abusive father.  He came out a new person, "like time travel."

They hear a rustling in the woods, and suddenly Nick is shot!  He orders Sam to run, and then hides in the cave.  Sam, running awy, looks down and sees a man lying dead on the grass, and another approaching with a gun.  I'm lost.  What just happened/

Scene 12:  Sam hides in a barn, where two boys, Luke and Jeremiah (Owen and Tobias Campbell), find him.  "Are you new?" they ask.  "I don't think he's one of us."

Weird -- this shot of Tobias is not in the movie, and he's on the hotel set, not at the commune.

 Sam gets food, a shower, fresh clothes, and a bed at a mysterious cult/commune for teenagers.

Scene 13:  Gary, the commune leader, interrogates Sam  Sam says that he doesn't remember anything about his life before the camping trip "with his brother."  Yeah, dead people gradually forget their past life.

Scene 14:   Morning.  The boys get up and join a group assigned to do weeding.  Later Sam takes a shower, and flashes back (or forward) to watching deer with Nick.

Scene 15: Morning.  As Sam walks through the commune, he sees two police cars parked by the main building.  He turns and runs, but they catch him.  A  friendly social worker says "You're a real brave kid.  You've been through a lot."  Also, Nick is dead.

She interrogates him about his relationship with Nick and his father.  Nick lived across the street.  Sam used to spend the night when his father worked late.

So, just a gay kid and his adult boyfriend killing his homophobic father, burning down the house, and running away?  That's so darn mundane.  I was expecting a journey to the afterlife, or Nick as the adult Sam.

Scene 16: Sam is in the hospital, being checked for evidence of sexual activity.  Later, a girl visits with a get-well card signed by the whole class.

Scene 17:  The girl and her mother take Sam in.  They talk about Nick -- he was dating a woman his age before, so how could he know? This is getting more homophobic by the minute.  Where's the Angel of Death when you need him?

The girl wants to know if Nick just "did things to" Sam, or if Sam "did things to"   Nick.  He says "Both."  She tries to start sex, but Sam pushes her away.  Rejected, she says "It's obvious that you were in love with Nick." (So Nick can just wait three years, and he'll be legal in the State of New York.  Or go to Ohio and wait two years.  Or go to Spain and have at it)

Scene 18:  Sam runs away, goes into the woods, and suddenly he's with Nick again.  And suddenly he's talking to Gary at the commune about his nightmares. Then Dad is apologizing for abusing him.  Then Gary says "It's not real.  It's all in your head."  Then Sam follows his spirit cat to the cave where Nick spent the night as a kid and turned into someone else.

Beefcake:  Nick shows his chest, and in one scene his butt.  Sam shows a lot more, if you're into that sort of thing.  A couple of cute guys wandering around the commune.

Gay Characters: Both Sam and Nick are gay, but it's all mixed up.

Homophobia:  Equation of being gay with pedophilia.

Disappointed:  Very.  I wanted something a little more interesting than two guys on the run after a murder.  But then there's the final cave.  Maybe Sam will spend the night there and come out as Nick.
It's fun to speculate.

My Grade: B

Sep 8, 2020

Bad, Bad Men: Ok Movie

Bad Bad Men: (2016): After being taunted at a coffee shop, a timid young man enlists his two best friends to help him track his newfound bully down and put him in his place.  Maybe one of the three is gay, or at least there will be some homoerotic buddy bonding.

Scene 1: After seeing 15,381 movies that start with naked women escaping from facilities, I'll give a big thumbs-up to any movie that begins with a naked man in bed.  Even though we don't see anything but close ups of body parts: a hand, the back of his neck, the side of his arm -- as he showers, shaves, eats Pop-Tarts, and gets dressed.  By the time we finally see his face, 5 minutes of screen time have pased, he's in his car, and his Mom is bringing out his sack lunch, which he finds humiliating.  By the way, his name is Josh, he's a real estate agent, and this is Memphis, but no one has a Southern accent.

Scene 2:  Josh (Allen C. Gardner) stops for coffee, takes forever to decide, then changes his order a dozen times while the barista struggles to keep her smile on and a long line is forming behind him. Jerry (Adam Burns), standing in line, complains that he "can't even order a coffee.."   

He goes back to his car, and starts to cry: "Why were you so mean to me?"

That moment of well-deserved rudeness bothers you?  Wait until a guy yells "Faggots burn in hell!"

Josh decides to go confront Jerry but he is on his cell phone, talking about dicks and balls.  He climbs into his SUV with the license plate BALLER-1 and drives away.

Scene 3:   Josh is showing a house and going off the deep end: "You're a nice couple, not like some people.  You deserve this house because you're nice.  I want you in my house because you're nice."  Ulp -- needy weirdo!

Scene 4: At the office, which looks more like a car dealership than a real estate office, Josh awkwardly flirts with the receptionist. 

Two of his coworkers are talking: big, boisterous, "let's ram our dicks into some hoes!" Royce (Drew Smith) and Steven (Matt Mercer), who wears gay-coded purple (or lilac), but is introduced by full-screen shots of photos of his wife and kids so we know he's not.  Josh comes in and complains about the coffee shop bully.  They decide to get an early lunch and talk about revenge.

Scene 5:  Royce knows a cop who told him to call "if you're ever with a hooker who won't wake up."  Nice guy.  Maybe he can track the BALLER1 plates.

Scene 6:  Why is the "cop" Rex (Gabe Arredondo) squatting in one of their empty houses?  Turns out he was fired after they caught him selling drugs.  A Hispanic drug dealer, how cliched! But he sells to cops, so he can still get the plates run. 

Scene 7: The guys are playing golf, discussing their youthful dreams that were crushed by getting married. (Yeah, heterosexual romance ruins everything!). Royce wanted to be a DJ.  Steven wanted to be a magician.   Rex arrives with the license plate information. 

Sorry, I can't find beefcake photos of any of these actors.  They've only been in a few local Memphis productions. But several of them strangely have the same name as bodybuilders, like Drew Smith (top photo) and Adam Burns (left)

Scene 8:  Jerry is a financial analyst in a  beautiful glass-and-steel office with abstract art on the walls.  The guys wait in high-backed chairs, reading magazines, until he arrives with his possee (two beer reps).  Royce confronts them with threats and insults. What the heck is a choad?  Josh simply says "You're mean!  You're a bully! Does anybody actually like you?  Do you have any friends?  I might get awkward, I might get scared, but I get to walk out of here and not be you."

Scene 9: Back in the office.  Gary (Jonny Victor), their very nice boss, doesn't mind that they took most of the day off.  In fact, he has some real estate leads for them.  For some reason this angers them, and Royce uses the same speech Josh used on Jerry earlier.  They take the rest of the day off.

Scene 10: The guys and the Receptionist in a bar.  Josh and Receptionist flirt.  Then she goes to the bathroom and never comes back.  Investigating,they find her purse and a ransom note!

Oh, heck -- the oldest, most cliched, most heterosexist plot device in the book.  Josh will prove his manhood by saving The Girl, with a heteronormative fade-out kiss!  Why not kidnap one of the friends?  They have a stronger emotional bond anyway, and it would be less heterosexist!

I'm going to keep watching anyway.  Maybe this move will redeem itself, somehow.

Scene 11: The guys meet the two beer reps, Clive and Owen, at a deserted warehouse.  Beer reps use a homophobic slur (dick-licker) and ask for $25,000, or The Girl gets it. They leave; Rex shows up to help.

Scene 12: In order to get the money, they use knives to rob a gun store. Ken the Gun Store Guy is happy to be robbed.  He hates guns.  He just works there because his horrible wife is making him.  (Does any guy in this movie actually like girls, or are they all closet cases?).

Then Rex steals the money.

Scene 13:  The guys sit in their car, crying and saying "We're all in this together."  Steven sneaks into his house and opens his Box of Lost Dreams.  Inside is his magic stuff and an envelope conveniently containing $25,000   Then his family wakes up.  "Dad, where were you?  We were going to play catch today!"  "Daddy, read me a story!"  Barf!  No wonder he hates his life!

Scene 14: They return to the warehouse.  Jerry, the Beer Reps, and Receptionist arrive.  She squeals: "Hi, Guys!  I can't wait for you to rescue me!"  Apparently she is having a fun evening.

They make the exchange,  Receptionist leaps into Josh's arms.  The end.  Wait -- still 31 minutes left! That's a long fade-out kiss!

Scene 15:  They drop Receptionist off at her house: "I had such an amazing time tonight!"  Sounds like she would be fun to hang out with.  She is trying to kiss Josh, who acts like he's absolutely not interested, when Jerry arrives to apologize.

Turns out that he wasn't into the kidnapping; the Beer Reps forced him to go along, with it because they're in deep with a bookie and need the $25,000.  He wants to make things right by getting the money back.  Rex wants to help, too, because he really likes Steven. (Finally, a homoerotic subtext!)

Scene 16: Their plan: Go to Owen's house and tattle to his wife  (another guy who hates his wife!).  She has a kid in a cowboy outfit running wild (anachronistic, and isn't it like 2 am?)  Maybe Owen is out bowling, but she hates him, so she's not sure.

Scene 17:  They drop off the crazy Receptionist and go to the all-night bowling alley.  Yet another guy who hates his wife directs them to the snack bar, where the Scary Bar Guy (Memphis-area singer Marty Ray) is so upset by their story that he calls his friend Frank for muscle.

65% of the population of Memphis is black, but Frank is the only black guy in the cast.

Meanwhile, Jerry and Josh have a heart-to-heart and decide to be friends.  They're going to go this homoerotic buddy-bonding?  It feels like a thousand years since this morning.

Scene 18: They track down the Beer Reps and yell at them: "You're not nice people!  You're mean!"

The Bookie arrives, sits them down, and talks about the bully he had as a kid.  He returns the money and gives the Beer Reps a week's extension to pay him.

Scene 19: On the way home, at dawn.  They're all hugging and patting each other.  The end.

No, they still have to confront their own bullies.  Royce tells his wife that he hates her.  Steven gets his wife's permission to go to magic school.  Josh meets with the Receptionist.  She says: "I'm a little crazy.  When I am into a guy, I want to go full throttle.  So let's go inside and get crazy."

She opens her raincoat.  He says "Sure, let's go."  The end.

Boo!  He wasn't interested until she showed her boobs!

Scene 20: The three run into Gary the Nice Boss outside the coffee shop.  Royce apologizes for dissing him earlier; they hug.  After they leave, Gary calls them "Fuckin' losers!  Fuckin' idiots!" Royce comes back and attacks him.  The end, finally!

Beefcake: No.

Gay subtexts: Jerry and Rex don't flirt with women or talk about women, and they seem to be into Josh and Steven, respectively.

Heterosexism:  I'm not sure.  Nearly every guy has a set piece about hating his wife, but there are two fade-out-kiss scenes.

Plot Twists: Lots.

Weird character motivation:  I don't understand Josh not liking then liking the Receptionist, or Gary being nice, then not nice.

My Grade: B.

Sep 6, 2020

Crikey, It's the Croc Hunter's Kids, All Grown Up and LGBT Allies

Remember Steve Irwin, the Croc Hunter, the naturalist who devoted his life to preserving and de-mythologizing Australian wildlife, especially crocodiles?  Sure, they're ancient predators, but if you treat them with respect, they probably won't eat you.  When he died in 2006, he left his widow, Terri, and two young children, Bindi and Robert.  Both grew up to be conservationists and tv personalities in their own right.

Bindi, now 22 years old, has starred in several tv series: Bindi the Jungle Girl, Bindi's Bootcamp, Steve Irwin's Wildlife Warriors, and most recently Crikey, It's the Irwins (2018-).  Plus she has competed in Dancing with the Stars and recorded several music albums.  In 2018 she received a LGBT Ally Award

She is married to Chandler Powell, a Florida-born professional wakeboarder (like water skiing).

I assume that the guys on the left are both Chandler, although the second one looks far more buffed than the first.

Robert (no connection to the Arabic literature specialist) is also multi-talented.  He has co-written a series of books, Robert Irwin: Dinosaur Hunter.  He is an award-winning nature photographer.  He has brought interesting animals to guest on The Tonight Show 11 times, including a "gay" ostrich in November 2018.  Co-host Kevin Hart freaked out, thinking that the ostrich wanted to have sex with him.

And he has starred in several tv series, including Robert's Real Life Adventures, Wild But True, and of course Crikey, It's the Irwins.

That's quite a lot for someone who is only 16 years old.

Robert has such fey mannerisms that I wanted to know if he was gay in real life.  I found a promising Reddit: "What is the connection between Robert Irwin and Anduin Wyrnn?  Are they dating?"

Anduin Wyrnn is a character in the World of Warcraft, and not canonically gay.  Did they mean Josh Keaton, who does his voice?  No -- Josh is over 50, married, with children.

So that question is nonsense.

Crikey, It's the Irwins doesn't help.  It's more about wrangling rattlesnakes in Arizona than who Robert is inviting to senior prom.  So I still don't know if Robert is gay or not.

No doubt his Mom and big sister will be fine with it, either way.

Johnnie Whittaker and David DeCoteau: A Match Made in Homoerotic Heaven

Johnny Whitaker, the star of Sigmund and the Sea Monsters in the 1970s, has appeared on screen occasionally since.  Perhaps his weirdest roles are in two direct-to-video movies directed by David DeCoteau, A Talking Cat (2013) and A Talking Pony (2013).

Wait -- David DeCoteau is that crazy director who churns out 38 homoerotic horror movies per yer: A serial killer stalks a fraternity during the guys-only underwear party!  Yet he swears up and down that he has no homoerotic intent, that he is not even aware of the existence of gay men. 

These movies seem a little out of his m├ętier, but looking at his more recent movies, he seems to have expanded from the Haunted Fraternity and Voodoo Academy softcore-schlock to "family friendly" movies about fundamentalist Christians finding love..

Except DeCoteau seems to always sneak in his trademark "gay people don't exist" homoeroticism by depicting some teen hunks frolicking in the pool or buddy-bonding in their underwear.  In Talking Cat, Justin Cone and Daniel Dannas.

During the last seven years, Daniel Dannas has grown up -- aand bulked up -- into an actor/model/heartthrob (top photo).  I assume he's gay.  Why wouldn't he be?

In Pony, James Lastrovic (left) and Max Gray Wilbur (below).  I assume they're both gay, too.

On the iconic Mr. Ed, the owner of the talking horse is named Wilbur.  Coincidence?   Or Cosmic Trigger?

I can't wait to fast forward through  some of his 2019-2020 works: The Wrong Stepmother, Stepfather, Boy Next Door, House Sitter, Wedding Planner, Real Estate Agent, Cheerleader, Tutor, and Mommy

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