Nov 20, 2020

"Boss Baby": "Rugrats" Meets "Dilbert"


 I've been seeing ads for a Boss Baby tv series on Nickelodeon for a long time, maybe years, and I always think "A paeon to capitalist excess!  Disgusting!"  But then this photo icon appeared.

Tell me that doesn't look like two boy babies about to kiss.

Could there possibly be gay representation in a tv series about babies?  

So I turned on the first "new episode," which turned out to be in Season 4.

Four years of this already!

Scene 1:  The Boss Baby  is sending out several teams to do some sort of spy work in the supermarket; they substitute baby magazines for general interest magazines,; they get a dirty diaper disposed of; an operative plays the "peek-a-boo" game with random passersby.  Sometimes they are stymied by adult conventions: they can't use a telephone, since they don't know numbers, and when a passerby plays the "got your nose" game, the operative believes that his nose has actually been stolen.

What is this all for?  How does this make money for Boss Baby's corporation?

Scene 2: The Big Boss invites Boss Baby to lunch in the executive dining room (where they are fed by a French waiter who says "Monsieur, here comes l'avion").  We get an explanation: the corporation is sellng "baby love," trying to get adults to love babies more than other people and things.  Boss Baby wants to control the entire love market: "They can like whatever they want, but when it comes to that bone-deep love, they should only be thinking of one thing: babies."

Hopefully you don't mean making more babies. 

The Big Boss says that Boss Baby is doing everything right, except running a well-organized office.  He disapproves of the "renters": puppies with their own puppy-love business.

Scene 3: Back at the office, Boss Baby explains to his hanger-on older brother, Tim, that he can't just evict the puppies: they have an iron-clad contract and good puppy lawyers.  He has to get creative.

But there's no time: he is scheduled to appear at Tim's Do-Good Trooper Safety Showcase. 

Scene 4: Boss Baby delegates the puppy problem to his employees, and heads for the safety showcase. 

It's older kids on a stage, talking ad infinitum about safety (what to do if you step in poison ivy, drink poison, catch fire, and so on), with the parents in the audience, Boss Baby acting like a real non-sentient baby on his father's lap.  Everyone gets bored and falls asleep.


Scene 5:
The family drives home, but Tim "wanted to walk home with Petrovsky."  A buddy-bond homoromance?

Cut to the two walking home, complementing each other's performance.  

Suddenly a tree crashes onto a parked car, and they rush to the rescue of Frankie, the baby inside.  Why was she in the car alone?  She was on a mission, trying to install a baby love air freshener. 

The adults arrive and praise the boys as heroes, whch angers Frankie: "you swoop in and steal all the love for yourselves!"  Now boy-love is competing with baby-love (maybe "boy love" isn't the best term for it.)

Scene 6: Back at work. (How do the babies get away from supervising adults long enough to go to work?).  The employees explain that they tried to get rid of the puppies by raising the rent so they couldn't afford to stay there, but the puppies just sublet out their space to a third company, "preeks" (pre-kindergarten kids).

Boss Baby is inundated by work, but Tim calls and invites him to the ceremony where he and Petrovsky will be lauded for saving the baby (right now?  not in a few days?).

He quickly comes up with a solution to the puppy-and-preak problem: open office floor plan, no privacy, so they will drive each other crazy and leave).


Scene 7:
At the ceremony, the boys start their interminable safety scenario bit, while the adults all groan.  

Boss Baby runs into Frankie,  who reveals her revenge plan: she has applied lard to the floor, so when the adults try to stand, they will slip and fall, and blame the boys; thus the love will revert back to babies.

Boss Baby wants to save his brother from humiliation, so he calls the head puppy and offers to let his company stay, if they all come to the museum in 15 seconds (seems impossible, but then, this office might not be in our world).

The adults try to stand, slip and fall, and start to blame the boys.  Then the puppies arrive, and the adults blame them, assuming that they were eating chicken and left grease on the floor.  Love for puppies goes down, love for boys remains the same.  No win for babies, but family has to come before business.  The end. 

Beefcake: No.  Some of the adults are cute, in a computer-animated way.

Heterosexism: No one expresses any heterosexual interest.

Gay Characters: Buddy-bonding subtext between Tim and Petrovsky but only for a few seconds, not even enough for a subplot.  We never see the black-haired baby that Boss Bay is almost kissing in the icon.

The grown-up Tim, who narrates the original movie (there was a movie?),  has a wife and daughter, so we may assume heterosexual identity.   The grown-up Boss Baby, now named Ted, does not, so maybe we can assume gay identity.  Some reddits ask "Is Boss Baby GAY?"  

My Verdict: The babies-as-businesspeople  jokes are clever, but there is not enough satire of the corporate world -- everyone seems perfectly nice.  And the premise is inconsistent.  Maybe in other episodes we find out exactly how the adult world-baby world interacts. 

I'd rather watch Rugrats.

Nov 19, 2020

The Bob Cummings Show: Uncle Bob and Chuck

Dwayne Hickman (right) of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and 1960s beach movies started his tv career as Chuck, a high school boy who lives with his widowed mother and sleazy photographer uncle Bob (former film noir star Bob Cummings) in Love That Bob (1955-1959), aka The Bob Cummings Show. 






At first Chuck is interested in hot rods and rock music but not girls, so Uncle Bob tries to instill in him an appreciation of "the important things in life."  Since Bob's job involves drooling over, gaping at, and sometimes photographing girls, he's something of an expert on girl-craziness, and he has spent many episodes promoting heterosexual desire among gay-coded colleagues: his butch lesbian secretary (Ann B. Davis, later  Brady Bunch); a butch lesbian buddy (Nancy Kulp, later on The Beverly Hillbillies); and a "girl-shy" male buddy (King Donovan).

Bob's overenthusiastic attempts to induce girl-craziness in Chuck looks unconfortably like an attempt to displace his own homoerotic attraction.  Even the teen magazines seemed to notice, treating the two as a couple of "bachelors out on the town."  The December 1957 issue of Teen shows Bob and Chuck slurping ice cream sundaeas, gazing into each other's eyes while wearing matching effeminate fur coats.

Eventually Chuck went off to college, his girl-craziness still tentative, in spite of Uncle Bob's constant girl-ogling, and Dwayne Hickman went off to play high schooler Dobie Gillis.

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63) was about a teenager (Dwayne Hickman of Love That Bob) so immensely girl-crazy that in the first season he announced it in every episode: "I'm Dobie Gillis, and I like girls.  What am I saying?  I love girls!  Beautiful, gorgeous, soft, round, creamy girls!"











Other people in Dobie's world are peculiarly low on straightness, however.  His proto-hippie buddy Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver, right, later of Gilligan's Island) shrinks away from the word "girl" as timidly as the word "work," both symbols of heterosexist destiny.

He expressed heterosexual interest only a few times, and usually in the first season.  In "The Gigolo," he is sought after for dates because his lack of heterosexual interest makes him safe.

Scripts sometimes "explain" this lack of interest as shyness, but in his autobiography, Bob Denver insists that Maynard "isn't afraid of girls; he just wants to pursue his own life."






Tomboy Zelda Gilroy (Sheila Kuehl) has a crush on Dobie, but withdraws in horror when he pretends to acquiesce; maybe she is using the crush to avoid any realistic attachments to boys (in 1994, Sheila Kuehl became the first open lesbian elected to the California state legislature).


Even the foppish Milton Armitage (Warren Beatty) seems uninterested in girls for their own sake, merely using them as tools to one-up Dobie.  After the first season, Warren Beatty left the series, replaced by the gay-coded cousin Chatsworth (Steve Franken), a mother-obsessed milquetoast who doesn't even bother with the pretense of liking girls.  Instead, he openly competes with Maynard for Dobie's affection.






Even the intensity of Dobie's attraction to girls is open to dispute.  The "I love girls" speech was dropped after the first season, and most episodes were about groups of friends rather than crushes and dates.

In one episode, Dobie is even suspected of being gay.  He dates a girl who belongs to a family of trapeze artists (Francis X. Bushman, Jud Beaumont, Tip McClure), who wander around the house in togas, discussing the benefits of "the Greek way," an obvious double entendre.

  To demonstrate their enthusiasm for Dobie, they mob him, rip his clothes off, and give him a toga of his own.  Dobie's Dad arrives, mistakes the togas for dresses, and concludes that Dobie has "gone funny" in a household of drag queens.

Dwayne Hickman went on to star in the buddy-bonding Cat Ballou, with Michael Callan.

Nov 18, 2020

"The Flowers": "Mozart in the Jungle," Only With Art

 


The Flowers,
on Amazon Prime, is advertised as a wacky workplace comedy about "young, talented, and eccentric florists."  Sounds fun, and at least one of the florists has got to be gay, so I stream the first episode.

Scene 1: Establishing shot of a resort community.  A woman narrates: "Picasso said thar art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.  But he was wrong.  Art is the truth that enables us to see ourselves.

After weeks of movies about zombies and Christmas, a reference to art is deeply moving.  I like this series already.  I'm going to go take a virtual tour of the Musee d'Orsay and come back later.

Ana walks among the rich white people on a vast cabana, and finally announces "The Playa del Carmen Art Show."  We zoom in to Hunk applauding.  "Run by Benjamin Collins, one of the top art dealers in New York."

I checked.  None of the people being depicted are Mr. Collins (Bradley Gregg, left).

The narrator interrupts: "Lies, sex, jealousy.  That's what makes an art show."

What, no blackmail?

Scene 2: Three days earlier: Painter Eddie (guillermo Ivan, left, but looking much more attractive) and his agent, Jim, bring a shipment of paintings into a posh hotel.   "This is the best work I've ever done! Mr. Collins will go nuts!"  Jim agrees: "This will be the turning point of your career!"

But Mr. Collins is very eccentric and volatile  Let Jim do the talking.

Definitely getting a gay vibe from these two, especially Jim the Agent.  They can't keep their hands off each other.

They have an uncomfortable encounter with Ethan.


Jim:  "Ethan...um...now nice to see you (grimace, grimace)."

Ethan: "Oh, Mr. Collins always brings me everywhere."  I'll bet he does!  Hint hint, nudge, nudge. "Who's the boy toy?"

Jim: "For your information, I'm representing the best Latino artist in the country."

Ethan: "Who, Andy Warmhole?"  Ok, Ethan is obviously Jim's ex-boyfriend, and a bottom, so naturally he assumes that Eddie is a bottom,t oo.

Wait, that's not a pun?  There really is an artist named Andy Warmhole presenting at this show.

Angel, a surly hotel employee grimaces at them.

Scene 3:  Lili at the spa in one of those white terrycloth bathrobes tells another woman "I really needed this.  God bless your hands!'" Wink wink, nudge nudge.  The artist Ximena tries to flirt with her, but she keeps getting annoying phone calls from a man: "I don't know where your passport is.  Well, did you look in the blue bag?"

Ximina explains that she always paints her ex-boyfriends, because she gets her artistic inspiration through "fucking."  And she prefers dating other artists. "Reps and critics are old, boring, and gay."


Scene 4:
 Flamboyant Andy Warmhole and the nondescript Mr. Collins are discussing Ethan.  Andy: "I love him.  He's the best exhibit designer in New York.  But he doesn't have the right...vibe.

You mean you don't get a gay vibe from him?  After  all the catty drag-queen sexual innuendos?

When they leave, Angel the Surly Hotel Employee starts drinking their leftover drinks. Gross!  The housekeeper yells at him for being "disrespectful, gossiy, and cynical."  He explains that he's got a plan to "conquer the artists."  Uh-oh, he's going to blow up something or shoot somebody!

Scenee 5: Eddie the Artist and Jim the Agent (Scene 2) in a hotel room, unwrapping paintings (isn't that Ethan's job?).  Angel delivers a flower basket with a note "with love" but no name.  Eddie assumes that they are from Lili (Scene 3) who is apparently in charge of the show.  

So if Lili is in charge, what's Mr. Collins' job?

Whoops, Lili shows up.  She and Eddie are married!  But I thought Eddie was gay.  And when did he have time to make those annoying phone calls to the spa?  And Eddie doesn't seem at all the needy guy who calls his wife a dozen time to ask "Have you seen my passport?"

But...Lili didn't send the flowers!  They accuse each other of having a secret lover, with Lili a bit more aggressive: "Who sent you those flowers!  Tell me, or I'll kill you!"

Chill, girl.  You were flirting with Ximena ten minutes ago.

They argue about who is having an affair, throw things.  Eddie's paintings all depict women.    

"Tell Mr. Collins how you have captured the essence of a woman.  So vibrant.  So sensual"  Wow, this turned straight fast.

Remember that Ximena said that she paints her boyfriends?  Could these be girlfriends?  "How many times have you fucked her?  I'm gonna kill you!"

Scene 6: Uh-oh, Mr. Collins is here!  He can't interview Eddie in the middle of a fight!  Jim runs downstairs to head him off, explaining that there's been "an emergency," but Collins insists on going up to the room to see Eddie's art (wait -- he's going to decide if Eddie gets to be in the show or not?  I thought it was already decided.)

Upstairs, the argument continues ad nauseam.  I keep waiting for Lili to destroy the paintings.  Instead, Jim arrives and says that Mr. Collins can't make it.  They will reschedule.

Scene 7: Down in the bar, Jim explains how he got Mr. Collins to postpone. Ana, Jim's assistant, appears to talk to them about scheduling. 

I'm getting bored.  Straight people talking about scheduling is not what I signed up for.  Besides, why does an artist who has an agent with an assistant need "a big break"?  Looks like he's already a huge success.

Ethan appears, all schadenfreude smiling: "I hear you flaked on Mr. Collins"  It's been like ten minutes. How does everyone know?

Ethan starts flirting with Ana.

My God, no!  Not Ethan!  He's a swishy, flamboyant boy toy!

Scene 8: Back in the hotel room, Lili paces on the balcony to a song about backstabbing and lies.  She's going off that balcony, isn't she? It' looks like a suicide, but it's actually a murder?

No, darn it.

She goes inside and has an argument with the painting.  Come on, destroy it!

There's a knock on the door. Maybe it will be Ximena, and they will start a lesbian affair.  Nope,  It's Angel, with another card that belonged with the flowers, but got misplaced: "To the newly married couple, with love, the Millers." 

Ha-ha, all that drama for nothing!    The end.



Beefcake:
No.  I can't even find beefcake photos of most of the actors, since they all apparently share names with famous South American soccer players.  Here's a miscellaneous hunk from way down the cast list.

Other Sights:  Nice hotel.

Idiotic Name:  Andy Warmhole

Read It Wrong: The series is about "young, talented, and eccentric artists,' Not florists.

Gay Tease:  Everybody was gay for the first three scenes.  I thought for sure that Eddie-Jim, Ethan-Mr. Collins, and Lili-Ximena were lovers.  Then one by one they  turned straight.  Except Jim -- in episode 3, he has a boyfriend.

I Could Write a Better Story: When the characters continually have chances to do interesting things, but do boring things instead, something is wrong. 

See: Mozart in the Jungle

Nov 17, 2020

"Christmas with the Darlings": Gay Representation (Sort Of) on the Hallmark Channel


Every year beginning just after Halloween, the Hallmark Channel releases a deluge of Christmas rom-coms with the same plot: a woman with a high-power job in the City finds love and fulfillment in a small town.   At Christmas.  

Wait -- aren't small towns places you escape from, and return to at Christmas to have uncomfortable conversations with redneck relatives?

I can't imagine that the intended audience for Hallmark Christmas rom-coms is clamoring for LGBTQ representation, but this year there have been a few non-Hallmark productions with gay brothers and best friends.  Christmas in New York even has a lesbian primary plot.  Anxious to avoid being labeled "square," Hallmark chimed in Christmas with the Darlings.

Terrible name, reminiscent of the Peter Pan stories, and there aren't even any characters named Darlings (they are Darlingtons).  

The plot: Jessica (Katrina Law) has a high-power job in the City, working at the law firm of the hunky Charles (Steve Bacic).  Will they fall in love?  Of course not -- true love can only be found in small towns.  At Christmas.

Charles' Australian brother and sister-in-law have just died, so he has custody of his orphaned nephew and nieces.    Don't worry, they are not at all traumatized by losing their parents.  In Australia Christmas falls in the middle of the summer, so they're excited about their first Christmas in a place where sleighbells ringing, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and guys in red fur suits actually make sense.  


Gulp: Charles has to be away "on business" for Christmas, so where will the kids go?

Could his goofball brother Max (Carlo Marks) take care of them?  No, the "confirmed bachelor" has no place in his life for kids. They'll have to stay in boarding school through the Christmas holiday.

Perfect stranger Jessica swoops in and offers to give them a "real New England Christmas."  Charles agrees, as long as Max tags along to make sure she's not a wacko who intends to sell them, or eat them. 

Jessica doesn't like Max -- he's a goofball, a screw-up, and "arrogant."  Uh-oh, "arrogant" is tv for "sexy."

So they all descend onto the Small Town for sleighbells, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, tree trimming (why do they call it trimming, anyway?), caroling, presents, and lots of red and green color schemes.  Of course Jessica and Max fall in love, and get a ready-made family (presumably Charles won't mind giving up guardianship.)

Beefcake: No.


Gay characters:
Oh, I almost forgot.  Jessica's best friend is a lesbian, who has a blink-and-you miss it flirtation with a barista back home in the City.

What, you wanted a full subplot, with a gay couple descending upon the Small Town to sing carols and trim the tree?

On the Hallmark Channel, even acknowledging that LGBTQ people exist is a big step. 

Nov 16, 2020

"Yo, Adolescente": Do All Gay Stories End with Coffins?

 


Yo, Adolescente  (Memories of a Teenager) 
is advertised on Netflix as a LGBTQ movie.  So why  is the trailer a nonstop description of the boy's girlfriend's eyes?

"She has the most wonderful, amazing, fascinating eyes that I've ever seen.  I can't describe them.  When she looks at you, it's like nothing else in the universe matters.  All you want is tor her to smile at you forever."

Does that sound like a gay kid? Bisexual, maybe.  

Scene 1: A rock concert in Argentina: "Life is hard, I won't lie."   Cut to Nico, coming home to discover that four of his friends died in a fire at that concert.  Or just one.  It's not clear.

He goes up to his room and looks through his memorabilia.  Lots of depressing statements: "I feel empty inside."

Cut to a party. Nico tells a boy "Nice t-shirt," and the boy responds: "The word teenager has nothing to do with suffering."

Is this magic realism?  I have no idea whether this is real life, or in Nico's mind.

Now Nico is named Zabo. He tells us: "I met Pol two years ago.  He was the same age then as I am now." 

Geeze, kid, just say "He was two years older than me."

They hang out, go to concerts, do outdoor things, hug.  Then Pol killed himself.

One friend kills himself, another dies in a fire.  This kid can't cut a break.

Cut to graffiti coming out of Nico//Zabo's head as he writes a blog; "What is a teenager?"

A swirling mass of darkness and despair?

"We're raw urgency in the flesh.  We don't think  about the future.  At least not the future of a house, a car, a dog, a wife.  I'd rather kill myself than have such a future."

I felt the same way growing up with the heterosexist trajectory of house, job, wife, kids being pushed at me day after day.

"Alone, alone, alone!  Somewhere, someone must be going through the same as me."

Scene 2:  Ok, his parents call him Nico, but he prefers Zabo.  He lives in a gray, lifeless suburb of Buenos Aires called Parque Chambuco, and he's in his fourth year of high school (junior year in America), studying construction, which is dreadful.  He doesn't make friends easily because he's "rustic," but he has a group of homies: Luco, Camila, Checho, and Tomas (who is two years older).

Everyone is concilaitory about the sucide of Zabo's friend Pol, but he shrugs it off.  

Ok, they all assume that Zabo is gay, but he doesn't think so.

Maria arrives.  We get the five-minute description of her eyes.

The boy is obviously in love with he -- deeply passionately, Girl of His Dreams, Spend Your Life Kissing the Ground She Walks On in love.  He's obviously straight.  Straight people can have best friends, you know.

Scene 3: Nico is playing video games with his friend Fran (wait -- how many friends does this "loner" have?)..  He wants to have sex with Maria, but he is unfortunately stuck in the friend zone.  Fran dosn't believe that she really exists -- no girl could be so perfect.  So Nico offers to throw a party, and invite them both.

I'm sick of this.  I fast forward.


I come to this.






And this.






And this.










And Pol's suicide note.  "Am I in love with you?  I was afraid to tell you."









And the last scene.  

Did Nico feel guilty because Pol killed himself due to unrequited love?  Or did he feel guilty because he never told Pol that he was in love with him?  Or because his girlfriend got pregnant?  Or...

Do all gay stories have to end with coffins?

Jason Marsden, the Pocket Gay

Jason Marsden is often mixed up with fellow teen idol James Marsden.  James has the muscles, but Jason has the smile.  And he's a stronger gay ally.

An active child star, Jason got his start at age 11, playing A. J. Quartermaine on General Hospital (1986-88) and werewolf-boy Eddie Munster on the remake of the classic 1960s tv series The Munsters (1988-91).










As a teenager and young adult, he occasionally played a girl's boyfriend, but more often, a boy's homoromantic best buddy: his characters bonded with Omri Katz in the paranormal-investigator series Eerie Indiana (1992), Perry King in Almost Home (1993), Brandon Call (left) on Step by Step (1993-98), Will Friedle on Boy Meets World (1994-95), Jeff Bridges in White Squall (1996), and Robert Downey Jr. on Allie McBeal (1997).

In a 2002 episode of Will and Grace, he plays "the pocket gay," who is rejected by Will for being too short but eventually wins him over.

Jason has been doing cartoon voice work since 1990.  He may be best known as the voice of Chester McBadBat, working-class boyfriend of the elite A.J. on Fairly Oddparents (2003-2011); and Max Goof, surly teenage son of Disney's Goofy in Goof Troop (1992-3), two movies (1995, 2002), and House of Mouse (2001-2002), for some reason a gay fan favorite and the subject of lots of homoerotic slash fiction.

His only significant beefcake shots were in Return to the Batcave (2003), an adventure involving the real life Adam West and Burt Ward, Batman and Robin from the 1960s tv series.  As the young Burt Ward, Jason displayed an impressive muscular physique.

He also looked impressive below the belt, but that may have been necessary to the plot, which devotes a great deal of time to the censors fretting over the Boy Wonder's massive endowment. 


Eerie, Indiana: Omri Katz, Paranormal Investigator

Israeli actor Omri Katz played J.R.'s son on Dallas (seen here hugging his gay-vague nanny, played by Christopher Atkins), and a scientist's son zapped into a world of sentient dinosaurs in Adventures in Dinosaur City.  But he's probably most famous for the gay-vague classic Eerie Indiana (1991-92).



It lasted for only 17 episodes (plus an eight-episode spin-off starring Daniel Clark), but it is still remembered and discussed by fans.  One of the first of the teen-paranormal series of the 1990s, it drew on Twin Peaks (1990-1991) to depict a small town with an overarching mystery to be solved, with minor mysteries along the way.

Marshall Teller (Omri) moves with his parents to a small town in Indiana where weird things happen.  Tupperware containers keep you alive forever. Time stops.  ATMs aren't what they seem. There's a tornado every year on the same date.

A world full of bizarre events, where everyone has a secret agenda and nothing is what it seems?  That's the life of every kid, of course, but it also reflects the journey of gay boys as they try to negotiate the mine-field of adult heterosexism, the constant "What girl do you like?" and "You'll meet a girl someday."

Marshall pairs up with local kid Simon Holmes (11-year old Justin Shenkarow) to investigate. They are often assisted by mysterious grayhaired boy, who has no name and no memory of his past, but calls himself Dash X (16-year old Jason Marsden, right).  But more often he has a hidden agenda of his own.

There were few girl-crazy plotlines -- neither Simon nor Dash X so much as glances at a girl -- but there's lots of captures and daring rescues.  However, Marshall remains just a close friend with Simon, while he is quite obviously attracted to the infuriating, mysterious, powerful yet somehow vulnerable Dash X.  If they had more time, the two might have fallen in love.  Unfortunately, the series ended before they could unravel the mystery or develop the homoromance, leaving viewers with more questions than answers

After the excellent "things are not what they seem" Pleasantville (1993), the Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus (1993), and a tv movie, Omri Katz moved to Israel, where he appeared occasionally in short films (which sometimes feature nudity), including the gay-themed Journey into Night (2002).  He now works as a hairdresser in Los Angeles.

Justin Shenkarow remains an actor and producer with credits in Home Improvement, Picket Fences, W.I.T.C.H., and Aliens in America.  

The Naked Ape: Johnny Crawford's First Nude Scene

Other than Burt Reynolds posing on a bear skin rug for Cosmo, this is probably the most famous nude photo ever: a frontal of Johnny Crawford, a Boomer icon for his teen idol songs and his role as the squeaky-clean, innocent kid on The Rifleman, no longer squeaky-clean or innocent, letting it all hang out for the swinging 1970s.  It was used to advertise The Naked Ape (1973). 

But no one has actually seen the movie, unless you went to the theater on the three days in August 1973 when it was playing.








The book The Naked Ape (1967), by Desmond Morris, attributes our behavior today to the evolutionary advantages of our caveman ancestors.  Women are attracted to big muscles, for instance, because they were better for fighting off saber-toothed tigers, thereby enhancing survival.  Men are attracted to big breasts because they can nourish infants better, thereby enhancing offspring survival.

Wait...not every woman likes big muscles, and not every man likes big breasts.  Sometimes it's the other way around.  Physical attractiveness is primarily a matter of cultural norms.

Anthropologists thought it was ridiculous, but the back-to-nature set grabbed copies as fast as they could be printed, creating the first anthropological bestseller since Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa.  

But how do you make a movie out of an anthropological text?

Not very easily, apparently.

It seems to be about two college student (Johnny Crawford, Victoria Principal), who get all horny with each other and hang out naked, while a psychiatrist (John Hillerman) explains their behavior as cave-people grunting.  There are trippy animated sequences.  Robert Ito of Quincey plays a samurai.  Davis Olivieri of The New People is in there somewhere.  Since it was produced by Hugh Heffner of Playboy, I doubt that there is any gay content.



In spite of the word "naked" in the title, The Naked Ape came and went instantly.  Writer/director Donald Driver never wrote or directed any movie ever again.  It received no play on tv, hardly any on cable tv, it's not on youtube or Netflix, and there's no DVD available. It's hard to even find a plot synopsis.

Maybe it's for the best.  After seeing the nude frontal of Johnny Crawford so often for so many years, what movie could live up to the expectation?

You can see the uncensored photo on Tales of West Hollywood.



Nov 15, 2020

Eleven Minutes to Homophobia in "Adventures in Public School"


Amazon Prime added a movie, Adventures in Public School, to the "We think you'll like it" list.  I'll give you 100 to 1 odds that the adventure is about Winning the Girl, so I'll hate it. 

Just for a lark, let's plug it in to see how long it takes for the heterosexism to begin.

One minute: Teenage Liam (Daniel Doheny) is being home-schooled by his mother, because he is too smart, sophisticated, and sensitive to be bruised by the bullies and misunderstood by the morons in public school.  

Sensitive?  Code for "gay." Maybe this movie won't be so heterosexist after all.

Five minutes. Mom is giving Liam the whole school experience, including sports and a prom, where of course she is his date.  

Geez, just have sex with him already.

This is disgusting, but it's "Mom wants to have sex with her son" offensiveness, not heterosexist "The Girl of His Dreams" offensiveness, so it doesn't count. .  

Six minutes: Lame...um, sorry, Liam... wants to be a "real boy" -- and get away from his Smother for a few hours, so he insists on going to public school.  Mom escorts him, giving him fretting helicopter-mom advice about how to survive.  "They will misunderstand you.  They will call you names.  They will accuse you of cheating.  But just remember, you are superior to them.  You are perfect in every way."

So that's why you're not screwing him.  It would be inappropriate to have sex with God.

Will this be a movie about how clinging mothers and absent fathers turn boys gay?


Eight minutes:
No.  Suddenly Lame sees Her across the crowded hallway.  He is frozen in place.  His jaw drops. It is the Damascus Road experience.  He has seen God and lived.

Have you ever in your life responded that way to the sight of an attractive person?  But I guess She is not a person, she's so wonderful that she will be the God of a god.

Suddenly Lame understands the meaning of life, the reason he was put on this earth.  He knows that he will spend his life joyfully, eagerly doing the only thing worth doing, the only thing that matters: basking in the glory of The Girl. 

There it is!  The heterosexist erasure of same-sex desire.  

But I don't get to the "Turn this nonsense off" button soon enough. 

Ten minutes: Lame is a taking a test. There happens to be a homophobic slur etched into his desk.

Eleven minutes: The proctor accuses him of "spreading vicious rumors" about him and the gym teacher, Toby.  "Yes, I have been with a man, and yes, it was Toby, but I'm not a dirty cocksucker."

So just anal, huh?

Eleven minutes to the homophobia.

Sandy Ricks in Trouble

It's been over 50 years since Sandy and Bud Ricks appeared on the Boys with their Shirts Off Show, aka Flipper (1964-67).

It was about two boys and their dad living in the Florida Everglades.  In each episode, one or both would get into a jam, and their pet dolphin Flipper would rush to their aid.  Sort of like an aquatic version of Lassie.

Except neither of the boys owned a shirt



Dad was shirtless sometimes, too.

And the show was in color, giving you clear, bright, beautifully detailed views of muscular chests and taunt biceps.  Especially when they were tied up, and straining at the ropes.

I never saw Flipper during its first run -- it was on Sunday night, when we were in church.  But millions of Baby Boomer kids watched, enthralled by the endless teenage beefcake, getting their first glimmers of same-sex desire.

And they remember.


My childhood favorite was Bud (Tommy Norden), with his impossibly buffed physique, but most Boomer kids seem to have favored the lithe, slim Sandy (Luke Halpin).

Today you can go to an online archive where a fan has digitized thousands of screencaps and pictures of Luke Halpin, and there's plenty of fan art.









On deviantart.com, aard4447 envisions a meeting between Sandy and Robin the Boy Wonder of Batman (1966-68).














Bondageincomics draws Sandy bound and gagged, being kidnapped, and left to drown.  If only Flipper were here!











Korak225 gives us another Sandy Ricks kidnapping scene.













And Sandy being untied by his brother Bud.

Or maybe tied.  Bud was always jealous of Sandy's teen idol status, after all.

All drawings copyrighted by their respective owners.

See also: Flipper Toys

Flipper Toys

When I was a kid in the 1960s, the Saturday or Sunday night tv series Flipper (1964-67) was a great source of beefcake, about two boys, their Dad, and a dolphin in the Florida Everglades. I thought Sandy (Luke Halpin) was too skinny, but Bud (Tommy Norden) had a bodybuilder's physique, and Dad (Brian Kelly) was nicely built, with a hairy chest.

Unfortunately, the Flipper toys usually emphasized the dolphin rather than the beefcake, and the figures at the edge of the picture were bizarrely drawn.

For example, this Flipper lunch box: what is that liquid shimmering on the two boys who look nothing like Bud and Sandy?  They look like contestants in  a greased pig contest.


 And this tie-in novel: why are both the redhead and the blond, who are drawn as several years older than Bud and Sandy, facing away from the viewer?  So we can't tell that they're stand-ins?












This puzzle depicts Bud as somewhat less muscular than on tv, and with the face of an elderly grandmother.












The Flipper comic book series lasted for only three issues.  They all had nice photo covers, but even as a kid, I thought the artwork inside inept.

f you wanted to see the real Bud, Sandy, and Porter Ricks, not a crazy artist's rendition, you had to wait for the show to be rerun.

See also: Sandy Ricks in Trouble
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