Sep 26, 2020

The Most Boring, Stupid, and Heterosexist State Songs

At every school assembly when I was a kid in Rock Island, we had to sing the state song.  You were also forced to sing it at football games, wrestling matches, and political rallies:

By thy rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois,
O'er the prairies verdant growing, Illinois, Illinois,
Comes an echo on the breeze.
Rustling through the leafy trees, and its mellow tones are these, Illinois, Illinois.

Has any state song been more reviled and made fun of?

Yep.  Across the river, Iowa's state song is just as bad, if not worse:

From yonder Misissippi's stream
To where Missouri's waters gleam
O! fair it is as poet's dream, Iowa, oh  Iowa.

Who decided that states should have official songs to be foisted upon schoolchildren and the audiences of football teams, and who decided that they should be uniformly so awful?  And heterosexist?

I took it upon myself to read the lyrics of all 50+ state songs (some have more than one).

It was dismal.  Song after song of nonsense.

This state is full of badgers, this state is full of sod,
This state is full of sandwiches, this state is under God.

Ok, I just made that one up.

New York's is hands-down the stupidest:

New York is special. New York is diff'rent' cause there's no place else on Earth quite like New York and that's why I love New York.

What, "Start spreading the word, I'm leaving today" was taken?

Contrary to what you might think, that nonsense was not composed by a 5-year old, but by Steve Karmen, an accomplished tv commercial jingle writer: "Aren't you glad you use Dial?", "When you say Budweiser," "The Great American chocolate bar."

Maryland's state song is grotesquely bloody:

Avenge the patriotic gore that flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore, Maryland! My Maryland!

Colorado's is all about mass extinction due to over-hunting:

The bison is gone from the upland, the deer from the canyon has fled,
The home of the wolf is deserted, the antelope moans for his dead

Fortunately, they replaced it with John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" in 2007.

Over half of the state songs are disgustingly heterosexist, making schoolkids and football teams sing about "Aren't you glad everybody is heterosexual?  Aren't you glad those pesky gay people don't exist?"

 How many times have you heard Indiana's "On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away," without knowing who ir what was on that riverbank?  Some guy's dead girlfriend:

Long years have passed since I strolled thro' the churchyard.
She's sleeping there, my angel, Mary dear,
I loved her, but she thought I didn't mean it,
Still I'd give my future were she only here.

Georgia has Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind," in which the guy thinks of his ex-girlfriend while he's in bed with other women.

Other arms reach out to me, other eyes smile tenderly
Still in the peaceful dreams I see the road leads back to you

By the way, when you google "Georgia football player shirtless," what you get is Darian Alvarez, a soccer player from Honduras.  Not that I'm complaining.

Before countering with "South Carolina On My Mind" in 1984, South Carolina's state song was a little more graphic about the guy's girlfriend getting with other guys..

Thy skirts indeed the foe may part,
Thy robe be pierced with sword and dart,
They shall not touch thy noble heart!

After that, Michigan's state song about lost love is sort of a relief.  The girlfriend is receding into the distance, while the guy moans  "What am I supposed to do without you?"

Tennessee has "The Tennessee Waltz," which we had to sing in grade-school music class; "I was dancing with my darling, etc., etc."  Missouri has "The Missouri Waltz," which has a whole complicated story about a father reminiscing to his children about his dead wife.

Oklahoma adopted "Oklahoma!" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which is all about getting married and moving to the land stolen from the Indians:

Ev'ry night my honey lamb and I
Sit alone and talk and watch a hawk makin' lazy circles in the sky know that hawk is searching for small animals to kill and eat, right?

Utah's state song is all about Brigham Young, Family with a capital F, and the "No Child Left Behind" Act.

Utah! With its focus on family,
Utah! Helps each child to succeed.
People care how they live.
Each has so much to give.
This is the place!

I just wish these guys were from Mississippi, so there'd be ten of them.

No state song extolled same-sex friendship, and the only one with any beefcake was Alabama's, mentioning two Native American heroes with muscular physiques:

Fair thy Coosa-Tallapoosa
Bold thy Warrior, dark and strong,
Alabama, Alabama, we will aye be true to thee!

Whoops, my mistake.  Those are both rivers.

Still, I imagine that grade school kids in Alabama have a lot of fun thinking of dirty meanings to Coosa-Tallapoosa.

"Why Don't Ya Come Ovah?": Tarik Hooks Up with a Ghost

Norfolk, July 2000

Tarik was 32 years old, working as a dietician in a hospital and cruising for older white guys, preferably cops.

Norfolk was a rough town, and rather homophobic, so you had to be careful: a lot of the cops would let you go down on them, then rob you or beat you up.  But there weren't a lot of gay venues other than the bars: he went to the MCC, the gay church, and wrote for Our Own Community Press, the local gay newspaper.

It was at the MCC that he met Mitchy: in his 50s, short, thin, greying, a bit on the femme side  (I have an image of Leslie Jordan), and something of a dollar-dropper (trying to attract guys with an ostentatious display of wealth).  Three minutes into the conversation, he had mentioned that he lived in Linkhorn, the wealthiest neighborhood in Virginia Beach, and that he owned a Rembrandt.  All in a thick Tidewater accent: "Hello theah, deah.  Ahm'm from Linhohn.  Ah own a pictuah by Rembrandt."

Maybe because he grew up poor and a member of the black-supremacist Nation of Islam, Tarik always found topping rich white guys very erotic, so he accepted Mitchy's invitation to "come ovah."

Not a great hookup.  A 45 minute drive, and turns out that Mitchy wasn't into anal; he was an oral top, and not even hung.  Plus his house was very cold, the Rembrandt was of a woman, there was another picture of a naked woman in the bedroom, he had torch songs playing constantly, and he was a bit racist: "Would you lakh to heah something else?  I know y'all lakh rap..."

But Tarik was not used to being pursued, so when Mitchy called two nights later and asked "Why don't yah come ovah?", he agreed.

More boring oral sex while a naked woman looked down on them and torch songs played, and it was so cold that they had to stay under the covers.

Three nights later "Why don't yah cove ovah for dinnah?"

Mitchy served pork chops!  Tarik didn't belong to the Nation of Islam anymore, but he still avoided pork.  He filled up on mashed potatoes and green beans, and then there was more oral sex right at the dining room table, before dessert.

And Mitchy insisted that he spend the night.

This was turning into a full-fledged relationship, except Mitchy never wanted to go out.  Apparently he was too closeted to go to the bars, and the day they met was the only time he attended the MCC.  He looked up in online chatrooms, and went out to First Landing State Park, the outdoor cruising area in Virginia Beach.

Great, an unwanted boyfriend who wasn't into anal, who wasn't hung and who was in the closet!

Tarik accepted "Why don't yah come ovah?" invitations two or three more times before getting the gumption to say "No.  Sorry, I don't feel like it tonight."

"But deah, I'm horney.  I have needs."

It was always about Mitchy's needs, wasn't it?  "Sorry, I don't feel like it."

"But deah, if you won't come ovah, I'll have to go to the park to meet a fella."

"Do what you want.  I'm not coming over."  Tarik hung up on him.

The next day when he went to the office of Our Own Community press, they were talking about a newspaper article. "Does anyone know if he was gay?  Was it really a bashing incident?"

Mitchy's housekeeper found him dead in his bedroom.  He had been beaten and strangled.  Nothing was taken. The police were baffled, but Tarik figured that he had gone out cruising and propositioned the wrong guy. 

Tarik felt guilty, of course.  If he hadn't said "no" that night.  But Mitchy made the decision to pick up rough trade.  He made the decision to stay in the closet.

A few weeks later, Tarik was lying in bed, just dozing off, when the phone rang. 

"Hello, deah.  Why don't yah come ovah?"

A prank call? But Tarik had told only a few people about his hookup/dates, and no one about Mitch's signature phrase or thick Tidewater accent.

Mitchy still pestering him for a hookup from beyond the grave?

The full story, with explicit sex and nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Sep 25, 2020

The Mystery of Lee Kinsolving Solved

You asked about the hunk on the left in this publicity shot from The Explosive Generation (1961).

Short answer: 

He's high school student Dan Carlyle (Lee Kinsolving), helping classmate  Bobby Herman (Billy Gray) hold up a girl in a scene that doesn't appear in the movie (it's about teaching sex education).

You're probably more interested whether there are any more beefcake shots.

So am I.

Long answer:

Arthur Lee Kinsolving Jr. was born in Boston on August 30, 1938, son of Rev. Arthur Lee Kinsolving, Rector of Trinity Church, and Mary Kemp Blagden.  He had three younger siblings (born in 1940, 1942, and 1948).  In 1947, Rev. Kinsolving became Rector of the extremely prestigious St. James Episcopal Church at Madison and 71st in Manhattan.

Going by "Lee" to distinguish himself from his father, the younger Kinsolving graduated from Episcopal High School, an exclusive private boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1956.

He enrolled at Trinity College, an exclusive private college in Hartford, Connecticut. The summer after his freshman year, he was performing at the Westchester Playhouse, when a Broadway scout signed him on to star in Winesburg, Ohio (which ran from February 5th to 15th, 1958, at the National Theater).  He played Seth.

 Next Agent Richard Clayton, the gay agent who signed on such gay and gay-vague stars as James Dean, Tab Hunter, and Richard Chamberlain, signed Lee on and got him gigs on some East Coast tv programs (Playhouse 90, Alcoa Theater).  

I wonder if Richard Clayton had a casting couch.

After graduating from Trinity in 1959, Lee moved to Hollywood, and  appeared in a variety of tv programs, mostly in dramatic roles and Westerns (Have Gun -- Will Travel, The Rifleman).

His movie credits include: All the Young Men, The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (which won him a Golden Globe nomination), Ah Wilderness, and The Explosive Generation.

He retired from acting in 1966 due to "personal frustrations with the business."  That is, he hadn't worked in 2 years.

He managed the hip restaurant Toad Hall in Manhattan from 1968 to 1969.  I wonder if it's the same Toad Hall in Soho today.

In 1969 he moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where he managed the Lillian Phipps Gallery and later the Wally Findlay Gallery, which "became the opulent setting for flamboyant openings for socially prominent artists."

Must have been some gay people wandering around.  Wally Findlay himself died in 1996 at the age of  92, never married.

Lee also raced speedboats and acted as the captain of the DuPont Family yacht.

This guy was well-connected!

He was linked romantically with Tuesday Weld and Candace Bergen, and was married to  model Lillian Bishop Crawford from 1969 to 1972.  I don't know what "linked romantically" means, but such a short marriage may indicate that he was gay and closeted.

Sometime in 1974, he contracted a respiratory disease that didn't display any symptoms, so no one was aware that he was sick until, on December 4th, he collapsed at his apartment and died.  He was 36.

The Photos of Celebrities Website claims that the following shirtless and nude photos are of Lee Kinsolving.  Which ones are real?

1. Doubtful.

2. No way.

3.  Not even the right hair color.

Sep 23, 2020

Searching for Non-Heterosexist Amazon Recommendations, Part 2


It's time for another game of "finding something to watch on Amazon Prime that's not about the Girl of Your Dreams."

The Hippopotamus.  Sounds like something Ionesco would write, but it's actually Based On The Best-Selling Novel by Stephen Fry (all in caps). A semi-famous poet investigates a series of miracle healings.  And, apparently, a pink hippopotamus. The trailer shows none of that, however.  The aging ex-poet drinks, meets four women, and falls out  of a boat.  

The trailer also shows a cute guy named David, who is bisexual.  According to the plot synopsis on wikipedia, he has "morally dubious sex" with two girls and a guy. Whoa, homophobia.  Or biphobia.  And no pink hippo.  At least there are two beefcake shots.

The Hungover Games. 
Four guys go to Laughlin, Nevada to celebrate the upcoming wedding of their buddy to Tracey, who "has an Adam's apple and a penis."  None of them are particularly attractive, but Damien Bray (left) plays a scuba driver.

They find themselves transported to the future for a parody of The Hunger Games. Goiing through it on fast forward, I find no other gay references, but a lot of boobs, and a last scene where one of he guys meets the Girl of His Dreams.

Drowning Mona. 
When a woman (Bette Midler) drives her car into the river and drowns, everybody in town is suspect. There are several recognizable stars, including Danny DeVito, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Casey Affleck.  But the icon shows Danny DeVito surrounded by hot babes.  And it ends with a wedding. Next!

The Courier.  A female motorcycle courier must fight off a sadistic....  Next!

Dirty Thirty.  On the eve of Katie's thirtieth birthday, her friends Eve and Charlie (a girl) throw her a party that goes out of control.  According to the plot synopsis on wikipedia, Charlie is a lesbian, about to marry the Girl of Her Dreams. Not heterosexist, but I still don't want to see it.

The New Guy.
  Is this a take on The New Girl tv series?  No, the guy is shown with two hot babes hanging over him.  In the wikipedia page, it's three, one naked.  He's a high school student who seeks out the advice of a prison inmate on how to get babes.  

Butt Boy
.  A guy is killing kids and stuffing them up his butt.  What?  Sounds homophobic, or bottom-phobic, or something grotesque.  This picture doesn't seem to have anything to do with the movie, but beefcake is beefcake.

  Two "deliberate vagabonds," a "pirate" named Dirty Freddy and  a "peak oil fanatic" named Bruho (it's spelled "brujo") loot vacation houses in the Catskills.  Until they meet a runaway teenage boy and a young woman.  

"Peak oil" is the point in time when oil reserves start to decline, and eventually run out.  Depending on the rate of extraction, oil will run out between 2100 and 2200.  Why is that a fanatic obsession?  Won't we all be dead due to global warming long before that?

The trailer flashes "doomsdays" a hundred times and shows them hitting each other, but I don't see any actual post-Apocalyptic, psycho-slasher , or peak oil doom going on.

I wonder if they are a gay couple.  No, according to a review, Fred falls in love with The Girl.

It's 3:00 am, and I have Season 1 of Designing Women waiting downstairs.

Sep 22, 2020

The Feathered Serpent: Gay British Aztecs

During the "British tv invasion" of the late 1970s, I discovered The Prisoner, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Upstairs Downstairs, and The Tomorrow People, but I missed The Feathered Serpent (1976-78).  It was never broadcast in the U.S., maybe because it's not set in Britain.  It's set in a mythic pre-Columbian kingdom that mixes Maya and Aztec (and a little Inca), stage-bound -- no exteriors, but with some nicely decorated sets.

The Emperor Kulkulkhan (Tony Steedman) wants to ensure peace with the neighboring Toltecs by having his daughter, Chimalma (Diane Keen), marry the young Toltec prince Heumac (27-year old Brian Deacon).  Meanwhile the evil priest Nasca (Patrick Troughton) tries to sabotage the wedding and generally make trouble, sometimes with supernatural assistance.

Although their wedding is an overarching goal of the series, Heumac and Chimalma do not behave at all like lovers; they are diplomatic allies about to create an alliance.  They become friends -- especially when they must work together to fight Nasca -- but there is no tenderness or  longing between them.

Instead, Heumac devotes all of his attention to his young servant, Tozo (19-year old Richard Willis, right).  Twice Tozo is captured by the bad guys and tortured, prompting Heumac to attempt a daring rescue.  They also go on a perilous quest together.  As the series ends, Heumac, Tozo, and Chimalma sit on the royal platform together, as if they will be co-rulers.

There is also significant beefcake.  In the first season, Tozo's long hair and two-piece servant costume make him somewhat too much like a girl to be of interest, but in the second season he drops the suit, often wearing only a revealing Mayan pouch.

Heumac usually wears a sleeveless robe, but during the perilous quest he strips down to another revealing Mayan pouch.

And other characters often display muscular physiques, or at least revealing pouches.

Brian Deacon was very busy on British tv before and after Feathered Serpent, with roles in Love and Mr. Levisham, Good Girls,The Emigrant, and Jesus.  The movie Zed and Two Noughts (1986), about twin brothers (played by Brian and his brother Eric) involved in a three-way relationship, features frontal nudity.

Richard Sheridan Willis, who was born on Stratford-on-Avon and named after the famous playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, is mostly active in theater in Britain, Canada, and the U.S., though he occasionally performs on television and in movies.  Here he encounters pirate Peter Sellers in Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973).

Buster Brown Comics: 1940s Beefcake at the Shoe Store

The first generation of Baby Boomers watched some crazy kids' shows on their brand-new black and white tvs, like Andy's Gang, aka Smilin' Ed's Gang (1951-1960), with the screechy-voiced hosts Andy Devine or Smilin' Ed McConnll, the demonic hell-beast Froggy the Gremlin, and the live action adventures of a very Nordic "Indian boy" named Gunga (1955-60).

It was sponsored by Buster Brown Shoes, an attempt to get kids interested in the most boring item of clothing imaginable:  an elderly Little Person in an Edwardian sailor suit would say -- very slowly:

"I'm Buster Brown....I live in a sho....He's my dog Tige....He lives in there too.

The crazy advertising mascot derives from Buster Brown, an early 20th century comic strip (1902-1921) about a mischievous boy who has adventures and then writes a "resolution" to behave more appropriately in the future.

Like many tv series of the 1950s, it had a predecessor on radio, Smilin' Ed's Buster Brown Show (1944-1953), with Smilin' Ed McConnell hawking the shoes and reading the adventure stories.

With a tie-in comic book, Buster Brown Comics.  45 issues were published between 1945 to 1946.  You could get them for free at local shoe stores and department stores, which conveniently printed their addresses on the front cover -- presumably while picking up your comic, you (or Mom) would do some shopping.

Each issue featured a humorous story starring Smilin' Ed and the Gang, plus an adventure story starring a muscular teenage boy: "Leathern Cord of Magic," "Dude Ranch Desperado," "Leopard Men," "Desert Raiders," "Ghanga the Elephant Boy."

Most were scripted by Hobart Donovan, the head writer of Smilin' Ed's gang, and the husband of voice actress June Foray (best known for Rocky and Bullwinkle).  A number of artists drew the stories, including Ruben Moreira, Ray Willner, and future fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta.

Remember, this was an era where movies never showed shirtless men except an occasional Tarzan or Bomba the Jungle Boy, and tv was a small black-and-white box with ghostly, hard-to-see images.  Comic books were your only source of beefcake images.

And you could get free beefcake comics every other month just by dropping in to a shoe store.

Sounds bizarre, but sign me up!

See also: Andy's Gang

Sep 21, 2020

Young Rebels: Hippie Spies of the American Revolution

In the wake of Woodstock, ABC wanted to capitalize on the hippie counterculture, and someone noticed that the key players of the American Revolution were young, too: in 1776, Alexander Hamilton was 21, James Madison 25, and Thomas Jefferson 33.  But somebody asked for spies, too, to capitalize on the Cold War spy craze.  The result was The Young Rebels (1970-71), about a trio of young-adult spies working to undermine the evil Redcoats.

1. Jeremy (Rick Ely, right), son of the local pro-British mayor.  (No relation to Ron Ely, the first tv Tarzan).

2. Isaak (Louis Gossett, Jr., bottom), a former slave and Civil Rights advocate.
3. Elizabeth (Hilary Johnson), a Women's Rights advocate.

Their mentor, Henry, was an elderly Ben Franklin clone (though played by 28-year old Alex Henteloff, left).

Most of the buddy-bonding occurred between Jeremy and Isak, who went on most of the missions together (and Isak required lots of rescuing).  But I liked the interaction between Jeremy and the Marquis de Lafayette (Philippe Forquet), a real historical figure who came to the U.S. to fight in the Revolutionary War.

The network had high hopes for the program, and heavily invested in tie-in novels, lunch boxes, and comics.  Rick Ely and Philippe Forquet got significant teen idol treatment, sharing the teen magazines with David Cassidy and Davey Jones (Rick Ely even released a teen idol album). My social studies teacher even discussed the series, the first time I had ever heard any teacher talk about tv except in a sneering dismissal of "Brain-rotting junk!"

But there was a problem: Sunday night was already crowded with kid-friendly series, Lassie on CBS and The Wonderful World of Disney on NBC.  Besides, if you wanted a trio of hippies, you could watch Mod Squad. 14 episodes aired in the fall of 1970, and a 15th in January 1971, and that was all.

Afterwards Rick Ely had guest spots on Marcus Welby, MASH, and Gunsmoke, did some soaps, and played a gay prisoner on I Escaped from Devil's Island (1973).  His IMDB filmography ends in the early 1980s. I heard some rumors that he is still alive, still living in Los Angeles, and gay.

Philippe Forquet, who was a French aristocrat in real life, was heralded as the most handsome man in France, and had been busily playing sultry boyfriends to sexually-liberated women: In the French Style (1963), Three Nights of Love (1967), Camille 2000 (1969), and so on.  Afterwards he worked on several tv series before retiring to oversee the family estate and businesses.

Louis Gossett Jr. and Alex Henteloff have both had long careers before the camera. 
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