Oct 3, 2020
The Bay City Rollers
I figured they were from Bay City, Michigan and performed on roller skates.
No, they were Scottish, trying to capitalize on American chic by throwing a dart at a map of the U.S. and naming themselves after wherever it hit.
And "roller" meant "rock and roll."
Consisting of Alan and Derek Longmuir, Eric Faulkner, Stuart Wood, Les McKeown, and for awhile Ian Mitchell (with Tam Paton as their manager), they were so big in Britain that they were compared to the Beatles. There were also big stars in Australia, Canada, and Japan. They established an entire "Bay City Rollers" lifestyle, complete with costumes and slang terms.
In the U.S., they charted in 1975 and 1976, but had only one #1 hit: "Saturday Night," which I remember only vaguely:
Gonna dance with my baby till the night is thru
On Saturday Night, Saturday Night
Tell her all the little things I'm gonna do
On Saturday night, Saturday Night
Maybe that's why I don't remember it; incessantly heterosexist.
The Krofft Superstar Hour on Saturday morning tv, along with such Krofft superstars as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf (which had been off the air for years).
The program was even renamed, briefly, to The Bay City Rollers Show, making it one of the famous short-lived 1970s variety shows, along with The Brady Bunch Variety Show and The Hudson Brothers Show.
By the end of 1978, Les McKeown and Tam Paton left the group, and the remaining guys renamed themselves The Rollers, and then the New Bay City Rollers. Their last official concert was in 2000. But today there are two competing groups: Les McKeown's Legendary Bay City Rollers, plus The Bay City Rollers Featuring Ian Mitchell.
Les McKeown came out as gay on tv in 2009. He states that no one knew, not even his wife of 25 years.
Oct 1, 2020
Jay and Silent Bob are Still Alive, Still Life Partners, and Gay-Positive
Clerks (1994) was a simple, grainy black-and-white indie movie about slackers working in and hanging out at a convenience store in urban-wasteland New Jersey, written, produced, and directed by 24-year old film student Kevin Smith (who happened to be working at a convenience store at the time). That minimalist beginning spun into the Askewniverse, a complex, interconnected, endlessly self-referential series of movies, tv shows, comic books,video games, and everything else imaginable, starring the same group of actors mostly playing the same characters.
Askewniverse mainstays Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith) began as standard stoners, smoking or selling marijuana, hitting on ladies, and being idiots. As the movies, animated tv series, comic books, music videos, and cameos multiplied, they moved into more bizarre terrain: they avert Armageddon and meet God, become the prophets of God, try to sabotage a film that depicted their characters badly, become the comic book characters Bluntman and Chronic, sit on the Jedi Council in the Star Wars universe, and help Santa Claus make toys.
They were intensely homophobic, littering their speech with "that's gay, dude," insulting guys by suggesting that they have gay sex, rejecting ladies who have had lesbian sex, being attacked by gangs of evil lesbians, starting gay rumors to humiliate their enemies. They even subdued a villain by tricking him into going into a gay bar, where he would be gang-raped by the evil gays. Granted, Jay sometimes mentioned an attraction to men, but Silent Bob's look of utter disgust silenced him.
Kevin Smith always claimed that he was parodying homophobia, not promoting it. I didn't agree. So I've seen only a few of his movies, not enough to really understand most of Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (2019).
It's been 20 years since Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), and the stoner dude couple is way old -- "the oldest guys I've ever met," still hanging out at the long-boarded up convenience store, selling weed. When they discover that their characters are being co-opted in a new Kevin Smith movie, they decide to go to a Bluntman and Chronic fan convention in Hollywood to stop it. On the way, they discover that Jay has an 18-year old daughter, Millenium Faulkon (a Star Wars reference). They join her deliberately diverse girl-power posse (a Syrian refugee, a deaf African-American, and a Chinese podcaster), who have reasons of their own for going to the convention.
The adventures, by turns touching and ludicrous, probably reflect scenes from the previous movies.
On the way, Jay learns what it means to be a Dad (and Silent Bob learns what it means to be a Dad's heterosexual life partner). There are two speeches about how family is everything: "When you have a child, your story ends and theirs begins." Or, as Jay says during the final crisis, "I don't mind dying today, because I know a little piece of me will live on in my daughter."
The guys don't chase any ladies -- that part of their lives is over (although the female manager of a fast-food joint drags Silent Bob into the restroom for sex). The gangs of evil gays have vanished, and so have the homophobic slurs, except for an occasional suggestion that an enemy "sit on a dick." There are many suggestions that Jay and Silent Bob are having sex, but they deny it, "except for that one time," and of course masturbating together. They meet two lesbian couples without recoiling in horror, and Justin Long's character seems to be gay -- he gives them his Grindr screen name.
There are cameos from nearly everyone in the Askewniverse, playing either their characters or themselves, or both, plus some recognizable 1990s tv stars: Brian O' Halleran, Jason Lee, Val Kilmer, Tommy Chong, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon (top photo), Jason Biggs, Keith Coogan (who is looking more and more like his grandfather, Jackie Coogan, Uncle Fester on The Addams Family)
All of them are shockingly old, grizzled, chunky, not at all the teen hunks and muscular leading men we remember from the 1990s. Their world is gone; their stories are over; it's time for the next generation to take over.
No doubt the new Askewniverse will be more diverse and gay-positive.
Sep 28, 2020
Mad Magazine: Cynicism, Guilt, and Homophobia
We were expected to never question the fact that America was the best of all possible worlds, an Arcadia threatened only by the evil empire of Communism and the long-haired hippie freaks. To point out a problem invited swift retribution.
Satire was rare; a parody of big business in an Uncle Scrooge comic, a snarky sketch on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, an occasional novelty song like "They're Coming to Take Me Away." And Mad Magazine, bought by an older kid and passed around surreptitiously, like pornography.
I didn't dare buy a copy, and the passed-around copies I read at friends' houses always made me feel guilty. There was no way you could justify them as uplifting, insightful, or beautiful. They were pure trash.
That was part of the fun.
The art was grotesque and unpleasant, though occasionally you saw nudity or muscle. In Issue #202 (October 1978), you even got to see bare butts, as Alfred E. Neumann is stared at for tanning the "wrong" body part (top photo).
But there was one platitude that no one at Mad ever thought to critique: the universality of heterosexual desire. Every boy liked girls, every girl liked boys, same-sex desire did not exist, gay people were ridiculous. I don't remember any gay people in the issues I read, but according to the blog Street Laughter, they appeared 5 or 6 times during the years I read the magazine.
September 1971: "To a Gay Liberationist," illustrated by effeminate guys carrying signs that say "Gay Power," "Freedom for Fags," and "Pansy Yokum is a Misnomer.":
"You shout that you're victimized by bigoted attacks; forgive us if we're more concerned with Indians and Blacks!"
April 1974: A fold-in feature in which couples at a maternity ward turn into limp-wristed gays to "solve the overpopulation problem."
You get the idea.
Maybe it's a good thing that I missed those issues.
See also: R. Crumb's Underground Comix
Confusing Children and Angels: Laugh-In
But Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (1968-73) was for us: not exactly variety, or even sketch comedy, but comedic slogans zapped across the screen at lightning speed.
1. Judy Carne yells "Sock it to me!" and gets socked.
2. Rowan and Martin give the "Flying Fickle Finger of Fate" award.
3. Zsa Zsa Gabor gets big laughs by saying the word "bippy."
4. A Nazi spy peers from the undergrowth ("Verry interesting")
5. A spaced-out Goldie Hawn forgets her line and giggles.
6. Flip Wilson's drag persona Geraldine offers herself to all comers: "What you see is what you get."
7. Pigmeat Martin struts across the stage, jive-talking "Here come da judge!"
8. A dirty old man makes mumbling propositions to a purse-wielding spinster.
9. Gary Owens as a baritone-voiced announcer makes nonsequiter announcements.
10. Jo Anne Worley says "Blow in my ear, and I'll follow you anywhere," and giggles.
But between 1968 and 1973, the jokes were bright and fresh, and risque and cool. Most importantly, they were ours.
No beefcake, except for an occasional hot guest star, like Davy Jones of The Monkees.
Not much bonding, not even from hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, a comedy team since 1952.
No one ever acknowledged the existence of gay people.
1. Alan Sues played Big Al, a feminine sports announcer who had an obsession with a bell he called his "tinkle."
Gay but never out, Alan Sues also played a fey grown-up Peter Pan on peanut butter commercials.
2. Tiny Tim, who looked like a long-haired Dracula, played the ukelele and sang "Tiptoe through the Tulips" in a fey falsetto. He proved he was heterosexual by marrying a woman named Miss Vicky on The Tonight Show.
3. Flower child Henry Gibson appeared with a gigantic artificial flower and recited nonsequiter poems. He was often assumed gay, although he was married to a woman for 40 years.
In his last role of note, Magnolia (1999), he played a cranky older gay man named Thurston Howell (after the millionaire on Gilligan's Islandd), competing with another guy for the attention of hunky Brad the Bartender. He advises: "It's a dangerous thing to confuse children with angels!"
Between 1968 and 1973, we often confused children with angels.
Sep 27, 2020
"Enola Holmes": Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Sister Searches for Her Missing Mother/Girlfriend
Enola Holmes is the most watched flick on Netflix, a family-friendly, teen-friendly, girl-empowerment tale with Sherlock Holmes taking a tangential and completely unnecessary role.
Enola's two older brothers arrive to take charge. They have not visited since they fled to London many years ago, when she was a toddler (Why? Was Smother...um, I mean Mother trying to turn them into lovers, too? I guess they figured that she was just interested in boys, so it would be safe to leave Enola alone with her. They were wrong!).
In order to search for Mom/Girlfriend, who left some cryptic clues to her whereabouts, Enola runs away. On the train to London, she accidentally becomes involved in another story: someone is trying to kill the dreamy but utterly inept 17-year old Lord Tewksberry (Louis Partridge). His father has just died, so he stands to inherit Dad's seat in the House of Lords, and cast the deciding vote on a controversial Reform Bill. So now he has a target painted on his back.