Jan 9, 2021
Except for the Dancers at the End of Time (1972-76), a series of novels set in the far, far, far, FAR distant future, when the few remaining humans have practically infinite power. They can change the shape of the continents and the color of the sky, instantly. No one has been born or died for thousands of years; they can be killed, but their friends resurrect them again.
Beings with names like Lord Jagged, Werner de Goethe, the Duke of Queens, Mistress Christia the Everlasting Concubine, Lord Shark the Unknown, and the Iron Orchid spend their time in aesthetic revelry and partygoing.
Sounds like the Aesthete-Decadent Movement of the late 19th century, with power rings.
And substantial beefcake.
They can change their sizes and shapes in order to produce more aesthetically pleasing effects, and what could be more aesthetically pleasing than a gigantic lavender penis?
1. Miss Amelia Underwood, a time traveler from the Victorian Era, is horrified when Jherek Carnelian nonchalantly admits to having sex with "a male friend'!
2. An alien named Yusharisp warns them that they have expended so much energy in their various schemes that the heat death of the universe is imminent. Jherek Carnelian doesn't really believe him, but thinks it would be a lark to accompany him through the universe, warning people.
Yusharisp comes to believe that Jherek is in love with him!
That's a lot more gay content than most science fiction of the 1970s. Actually, it's a lot more gay content than most science fiction today.
See also: Xanth; Samuel Delaney.
And the covers often involve beautifully realized beefcake (drawn by Darrell K. Sweet): utterly naked young men, beefy knights, muscular centaurs and demons. You expect lots of homoerotic buddy-bonding inside.
But you'll be wrong. All significant relationships are heterosexual. Same-sex friends always betray you in the end. And there are no gay people, anywhere.
Every reference to desire, love, or romantic relationships in the book, and in all Xanth books, carefully specifies that it is straight.
“Yes. I have seen creatures there. I couldn’t make out exactly what they were doing, but always male and female.”
Piers Anthony could easily let his “standard love elixirs” target the nearest person, and have the fairy say “they were usually male and female.” But he is doggedly deter-mined to keep Xanth gay-free.
First, as someone who is “110% straight,” whatever that means, he could never create believable gay characters (yet he is easily able to create ogres, demons, centaurs, mermaids, and talking storks).
Second, he is afraid that his publisher will not permit such a “controversial” move (but Avon Books has published many books with gay characters).
Third, he is afraid that including a gay character will ruin sales.
Straight science fiction and fantasy fans do seem to be more homophobic than usual. On an online forum, a fan asked why so many gay men like the genre, and was told that it gives them hope: “since sf has new inventions and discoveries, there would be a great possibility for a cure for it.”
A guide to Science Fiction Conventions advised straights who are subject to a same-sex advance to “refuse politely and clearly” instead of physically attacking their “assailant.”
Since the “new wave” of sociological speculation in the 1970s, many science fiction stories have depicted some form of “alternative sexuality.” There are species with three or more sexes or none at all, species whose sex organs change every season or at random, societies where technology makes changing one’s sex as easy as changing one’s shoes. Nevertheless, every sexual encounter, every romance involves a being who is male (right now) and one who is female (right now). The message is clear: one can be attracted only to beings with complementary sex organs; same-sex desire does not exist.
Some stories are set in future or magical societies in which bisexuality is “accepted,” but not people drawn exclusively to the same sex, not gay people, especially not gay men, and any characters who happen to mention in passing that they are bisexual experience only straight passion during the course of this particular story.
The vast majority of science fiction and fantasy stories do't bother with "alternative” sexualities at all, or even with offhand references to bisexuality being “accepted”: there are straight men and women, period.
So why do I keep reading it?
Because occasionally I will find an Earthfasts, a Something Wicked This Way Comes, or a Lord of the Rings.
See also: Michael Moorcock.
Jan 8, 2021
A new year: new classes, new committees, new Amazon Prime "we think you'll like" selections. Let's see if there are any gay characters or gay subtexts.
Friday Night Dinner: "Brothers Alex and Jonny have Friday night dinner with their folks every week." One of them is probably gay...
Scene 1: The brothers arrive, insulting each other. Da cooughs on them. Everyone screeches and calls each other names.
These people are horrible. I can't watch. I can't believe it stayed on for 8 seasons!
Stepdads: "When infidelity claims the life of Joanna, her children are left in the custody of her fiancee Mike and his brother Jerry."
How do you die from infidelity? And in what universe does Mike get custody? Maybe if Joanna specified in her will; otherwise the birth father, the grandparents, or another relative long before Mike.
Well, at least they'll form a quasi-gay-couple family. no doubt of the button-down stick-in-the-mud/ reckless joie de vivre type.
Whoops, Jerry is "a womanizer." I haven't heard that term for years -- too old fashioned, too sexist, to heteronormative. I'm not watching a tv show written by people who use the term "womanizer."
The Outer Boroughs. "Upon moving to New York, Dan and Pete soon realize that the outskirts of the city are fillled with all sorts of monsters..." They're either a gay couple, or one of them is a girl with a boy's name.
Scene 1: The two guys, a standard stick-in-the-mud/joie de vivre couple, are unpacking and insulting each other. "We shuld have stayed in Queens.": so they've lived in several places together. Straight buds don't do that -- obviously a gay couple.
Scene 2: The one doing a bad Jim Carey imitation says "Let's go out and get us some of those Brooklyn girls."
Not only are they heterosexual life partners, they have only one thing on their minds.
Life in Pieces: "A hilarious new series that features four stories each week about members of one eccentric family!" (Exclamation point part of the blurb.) "They try to savor the moments that add up to what lifes about" (Punctuation error part of the blurb).
Here's what "lifes about": breastfeeding; walking in on Mom and Dad having sex; meeting the new girlfriend, meeting the "gorgeous new girlfriend", finding a nanny, and "Larks first Christmas" (does the apostrophe key not work on this blurb writer's keyboard?).
So basically Modern Family without the gay people.
Washed: "Mark Fields turns 30 and has a quarter-life crisis." He plans to live to be 120? So he looks for the Fountain of Youth (figuratively, I assume) with the help of his bookworm buddy.
The Fountain of Youth consists of: selling drugs; landing a date with Aubrey (don't get excited, it's a girl with a boy's name), and having a contest to see who can pick up the most women.
Peep Show. "Mark and Jez, two dysfunctional friends, share a London apartment."
The Adventures of Captain Allatrice. "In an age where life hangs between two swords, one man and his apprentice..."
Oh boy, buddy bondng!
"...find themselves caught between the conspiracies of the Spanish court and the ladies of their heart, as gorgeous as they are cunning."
Heck with it. I'm going to Netflix.
Unknown. Interesting premise, and it stars the hunky Liam Neeson.
College professor Martin Harris and his wife arrive in Berlin for a conference. They're about to check into the hotel, when he realizes that he left a bag at the airport and jumps into a cab.
Tring to avoid hitting some pedestrians, the cabbie swerves, and the cab goes off a bridge and into the Spree River.
Four days later, Martin awakens in the hospital. His passport, wallet, and cell phone were lost; they don't know who he is, and they had no way of contacting his wife.
He rushes to the hotel, but his wife pretends not to know him, and another man is masquerading as Martin Harris!
A very thorough masquerade job -- even his profile back at his university has the other guy's picture on it!
Martin tries to figure out what's happening, with the help of....the cabbie from his accident, Gina....
Ulp. It couldn't have been a male cabbie? Some buddy-bonding?
I read a plot synopsis.
I won't spoil the mystery, but in the last scene, guess who rides off into the sunset together?
This isn't my day.
Jan 7, 2021
The Slap: "A middle-class Australian community is torn apart after a man slaps someone else's child. "
Something so inanely trivial will tear apart a community? And it's going to be drawn out into an entire tv series? Not even a 15-minute web series -- the first episode is 45 minutes long.
This I've got to see.
Episode 1, "Hector."
Scene 1: A woman smoking a cigarette while having sex with a man. Narrator: "Hector woke to a memory of Connie. For a moment, he luxuriated in the memory of her."
Gross! I thought this was a comedy, not a heterosexual sex schlock. At least we see Hector's chest while he'x luxuriating in the memory of her (aka masturbating).
Hector (Jonathan LaPaglia) does push-ups and sit-ups (nice body, ugly face), then goes downstairs, where Connie is making breakfast. They smooch, cuddle-wuddle, and argue about who wuvs who the most.
In between smooching, he yells at his son, who has a "fat ass" and spents too much time playing video games.
Ok, it must be Connie's son, or else when he gets around to the slap, it won't be "someone else's kid."
Scene 2: Wait, the lady at breakfast was not Connie! While driving, Hector flashbacks to the real Connie , the kids' babysitter. He dropped her off at her house, and they smooched. Narrator: "Hector reflected on what might happen if he allowed things to go further with Connie. Public humiliation, divorce, loneliness, despair, suicide."
All that over sex with the babysitter? Is she underage or something?
Scene 3: Back in the present, Hector goes to the veterinary clinic where Connie works (I guess the babysitting gig was years ago, before she graduated). He claims that he just came by to pick up some Valium, but actually he wants to luxuriate in her some more. He invites her to the party this afternoon (dumb idea, dude).
Scene 4: Back home, Hector is smoking by poolside. His mate Harry (Alex Dimitriades) wants him to come in the water, but he refuses. "You're pussy-whipped!" Harry complains.
So Hector jumps into the pool, and the two start frolicking. I expected them to kiss, but then Hector's teenage son jumps into the pool with them, and his wife/servant gives him a beer. He's straight, and Hector's cousin. No homerotic hijinks, darn.
The barbecue is in honor of Hector's 40th birthday.
Meanwhile, inside the house, the wives/servants are cooking. Sexist gender role polarization! They discuss one of their toddler sons "playing with himself," and assume it's because he hot for a girl. Heteronormative!
Scene 5: Regardless of the house full of guests, Hector goes upstairs and masturbates (full butt shot).
Downstairs, more people arrive. Hector's Mum and a gray-haired lady -- could they be a lesbian couple? No, Hector's Dad is there, too.
They spend about 10 minutes saying hi, how are you, how's the job, the sort of small talk real families might make at a party. Except this is a tv show. Dialogue should be interesting, or humorous, or drive the plot.
What is the plot, anyway? Where's the slap heard round the world?
Scene 6: Outside, the men are firing up the barbie. Hector yells at his son Adam: "Get off your fat ass and help your Grandpa!" Adam (Adrian van der Hayden) refuses and walks off into the side yard. Hector follows...to slap him?
No, he apologizes for yelling.
This is Adrian van den Hayden's only screen appearance. Since 2011, he has grown up and taken up bodybuilding.
More family stuff. "Your papa and I got a present for you," an argument over whether to take a trip to Greece, that sort of thing.
More people arrive. Anouk and her boyfriend Rhys (Oliver Ackland), a soap star. Everybody fawns over him and asks for selfies.
Hector seems particularly smitten, and puts an arm around his waist and leads him into the house. For smooching, I assume? No, just to talk to the wives, who are still cooking in blissful gender polarized harmony in the kitchen.
Scene 7: Upstairs, the kids are fighting. One of the wives goes up to check. Her son says "I want booby!", so she pulls out her breast for him.
Breast-feeding a ten-year old boy? Way, way creepy!
Hector goes up to check, too, and yells at Adam again.
But no slap. Come on, Hector, slap someone!
Another heterosexual husband-wife-kid combo arrive.
Hector and Wifey go into the other room and argue about the trip to Greece and childrearing. Then Hector goes into the bathroom and smokes, drinks, and snorts cocaine, while thinking about leaving his horrible wife, kids, and relatives and running off to South America. I guess the lovey-dovey stuff earlier was just an act.
Scene 8: Back at the party, high, Hector finds Cornnie in the laundry room (where apparently they keep the beer). They almost kiss, but at the last minute Connie backs off and goes to find Richie (Blake Davis). "He's not my boyfriend, he's just a guy I brought." This will become important later.
Everyone sits down to dinner, except for about a dozen people who are gathered around the table but not eating. They start the family criticism:
1. Anouk and Rhys are wasting their lives in the mindless drek of a soap opera.
2. Gary wanted to be an artist but is stuck in a dead-end job as a librarian. Surrounded by books all day! How awful! Darn, I thought Harry was unattached, but some woman smooches him. It's heterosexual couples all the way down.
3. Harry is just an idiot.
4. Hector is great, because he's a good husband and a good father. All the other men at the table are husbands and fathers, too. What makes Hector so special?
Scene 9: Hector sneaks into the bathroom to smoke, drink, and do more coke. Whoa, there are at least 20 people at this party. There better be more than one bathroom, or there will be a line forming.
He hears the kids fighting again, and bursts into the bedroom (the ten-year old is breastfeeding again).
He yells at Adam again, but still no slap!
Scene 10: Hector flirts with Connie while the kids play in the back yard. Breastfeeding Boy grabs a bat and starts swinging around wildly. Harry tell him to stop, but he refuses, and kicks him in the shins. So Harry slaps him.
All hell breaks loose. "You fucking animal!" the boy's father yells, as he attacks. Saying "He deserved it" gets Breastfeeding Mom to attack: "This is child abuse!" Another mom calls the police. Harry's wife is asked: "Does that fucking pig hit you, too?"
Geez, one little slap. I got slapped by the teacher in first grade for refusing to eat my salad (it was gross, chopped-up lettuce swimming in French dressing).
Scene 11: The traumatizing event has made Hector reconsider his life. He gives up the idea of fleeing to South America, apologizes to Wife, and promises to do better.
What did I just watch? This wasn't a comedy about a ridiculous misunderstanding spinning out of control. These people were deadly serious. They thought of a man slapping a crazy breastfeeding boy as a criminal offense.
I looked ahead in the plot synopses: future episodes are named after the person being affected by the horrible tragedy: Anouk, Harry, Connie, Rosie, Manolis, Aisha, and Richie. Harry is apparently arrested and put on trial, and loses everything "his Brighton Beach mansion, his beautiful wife, his son, his successful business."
Beefcake: Lots of Hector, a bit of Harry and his teenage son.
Gay Characters: In the 2015 American version and I assume the Australian version, the police examine Richie's camera, looking for evidence, and discover that he and his boyfriend were victims of cyberbullying. The boyfriend committed suicide, and Richie spent time in a mental hospital. When he got out, he changed his name. But the discovery of the old tragedy compels him to attempt suicide. Charming.
Jan 6, 2021
I'm most of the way through Season 1 of Cougar Town (2009-2015) on Amazon Prime. Thankfully, the premise of older women dating younger men has long been abandoned (although the title sticks around; it really should be called Wine, since everyone has a wine glass in their hand at all times).
Most of the characters have changed dramatically since the pilot. Now it's Friends, with the friends middle-aged instead of young adults:
From left to right:
Dimwitte hunk Joey: dimwitted hunk Bobby.
Nerdish Ross and aggressive Rachel: nerdish Andy and aggressive Elle.
Micromanaging, anxiety prone Monica: micromanaging, anxiety prone Jules.
Dotty Phoebe: dotty Laurie.
Sarcastic Chandler, who ends up with Monica: sarcastic Grayson, who will end up with Jules.
Plus teeange Travis.
It's pleasant to watch the trivial daily problems of rich white people, especially when they form a close-knit family group (which, come to think of it, was the main draw for Friends). But the attitude toward gay people is problematic.
Teenage Travis pretends to come out to the babysitting Grayson (the sarcastic one) so he'll be allowed to have his girlfriend over. Andy notes that he has fallen for the trick before: "He made me go to two Pride parades." He says it like it's a humiliation.
Andy has an unrequited crush on Bobby (the nerd), which everybody knows about and plays with:
Elle: Go off with your boyfriends, Bobby and Grayson.
Andy: Only Bobby is my boyfriend.
When Laurie's Mom thinks that she and Jules are a couple, she asks "Which of you is the dude?" Ok, Mom is ignorant, believing that lesbian relationships are divided into masculine-feminine. But instead of educating her, they play along, arguing on which would be "the dude" if they were a lesbian couple.
In another episode, the friends play the "Everybody is a little gay" game, which involves getting a guy to admit knowing about or liking a girly thing, then yelling "Caught you! You're a little gay!" So being gay means being feminine? And being "caught" suggests that it's a humiliation.
In the same episode, they discuss whether guys can have women friends without wanting to have sex with them. Grayson thinks it's impossible; Jules tries to prove him wrong by calling every male friend she's had since junior hig. They all admit that they wanted to have sex with her (most are still interested_.
But...but..you know about the existence of gay men! Did you forget?
Not homophobic enough for me to stop watching, but troubling.
I read ahead in the plot synopses. No gay characters appear, but Elle and Jules pretend to be a lesbian couple to get some of that gay privilege (a standard plot device in the 1990s), and Grayson gets way upset when someone implies that he is gay (a whole episode devoted to it!).
Maybe I'll stop watching before the show gets more homopbobic. But I do like beefcake: none of the regulars seem to own shirts, and there's a never-ending smorgasbord of hunks for Jules and Laurie to date or one of the guys to be friends with. Most appear for just one episode, but here are some who stick around for awhile:
1. Ryan Devlin as Smith Frank, the sophisticated, wealthy college boy whom decidedly unsophisticated Laurie dates (top photo).
2. Shawn Parikh as Sig, Travis's college roommate. No beefcake photos, but people of color are so rare on this show that I wanted to include him anyway.
3. Nick Zano as Josh, the young guy whom Jules dates until he says that he loves her. Then, of course, she has to dump him.
4. Edwin Hodge as Wade, a soldier whom Laurie dates until he becomes too clingy.
5. Scott Foley as Jeff, an "arrogant" (that is, sexy) real estate client whom Jules dates until he asks for a commitment. Apparently girls just wanna have fun.
6. Ryan Biegel as Doug.
7. 1980s hunk Lou Diamond Phillips as himself.
8. David Clayton Rogers as Matt, whom Jules hooks up with.
See also: Cougar Town
Jan 5, 2021
At 8:00: Space Academy (1977-78), starring Jonathan Harris of Lost in Space as the headmaster of an academy for kids with paranormal powers. The main hunk was second-in-command Chris (Ric Carrott, seen here in a later softcore porn flick). But there was also the super-intelligent Paul (Ty Henderson), the super-strong Tee Gar (Brian Tochi), and their mascot, an orphan boy named Loki (Eric Greene).
Stephen Parr , the robot from Lost in Space, plus their two teen companions, played by Larry Volk and Lynn Marie Johnston.
Whiz Kids), J.R. (J.R. Miller, right), Lil Bill (Johnn Brogan, second right), and Doc (James Bond III, right).
And there were many other with that I missed.
See also: More Saturday Morning Live Action Beefcake
Jan 3, 2021
It's January 3rd, and Amazon Prime's "Movies We Think You'll Like" begins with Christmas Cancellation, Christmas Time, Christmas in the Clouds, Christmas in the Bayou, Santa Fake, All is Bright, and Christmas Survival. Ok, so maybe we're Eatern Orthodox, celebrating until January 6th?
But it also recommends Pitching Tents, Fishing Naked, The Inbetweeners (a woman flashes her breasts at grinning boys), Valley Girl, Riot Girls, and John Apple Jack ("When playboy John discovers that his sister's fiance is his childhood crush..."
So this guy was gay as a boy, but turned straight when he grew up? Sounds dreadfully homophobic. I'm in.
Scene 1: Establishing shots of Vancouver. Closeups of the interior of a fancy restaurant. John (Chris McNally) is cooking. Narrating, John says that he is a "rich, gay slut whore" who at age 25, has had sex with about 1,000 men
Wow, major slut-shaming. "Playboy" is more positive, but I've never heard it applied to a gay man before. And 1,000 sounds like a lot, but if he's been out since age 18, that's only 2.7 men per week, one or two dates and an occasional sex party.
John flashes back to when he had crushes on boys as a kid, and wanted "fairy tale perfection, true love," which doesn't exist. Or you could try a regular relationship. Flashback to being a kid (costumes from the 1960s?) -- kicking his boyfriend out of the treehouse so his mom won't notice them holding hands. To being a teenager (hairstyle and car from the 1950s?) , dumping one boyfriend to date another.
Ok, John is 25. He was a kid around 2005, not in psychedelic hippie days.
Scene 2: Jack is getting a blow job under his desk from a feminine, English-mangling Asian stereotype ("You like?"). His stuffy father (Drummond MacDougall) interrupts, telling him to "leave the titties outside the building." Uh-oh, he's not out.
Scene 3: John inspects the flagship of the 15 restaurants his Dad owns, Childhood boyfriend Jack (Kent S. Leung) is the sous chef! What a coincidence! John pretends not to know Jack, Jack beans him with an apple, John fires him.
Scene 4: Jack the Ex-Boyfriend rejects a Street Hustler (Manny Jacinto), who will become important later.
He shows up at the office just as Playboy John is preparing to screw giggling, English-mangling Boytoy. John rehires him, but he wants more: to modernize the menu with French-Asian fusion dishes and locally sourced ingredients. Jack says he will consider it. They kiss -- just as shirtless Boytoy arrives with coffee, and deliberately spills it on his crotch.
John: "Sorry. I'm not attracted to you -- I was just fooling around. Let's get drinks tomorrow."
Way to send out mixed signals, dude!
Scene 5: Jack in an elevator with coffee on his crotch, looking like he peed his pants. The Security Guard, who will become important later, asks if he's ok.
Meanwhile, back in the office, Boytoy (Alvin Tran) put on cat ears and is meowing around the floor. He throws Ex-Boyfriend Jack's menu ideas out the window to poop on the competition. They land right in front of Jack, who thinks Playboy John has rejected them and gets mad.
Meanwhile, Playboy John is annoyed by the clinging Boytoy and fires him. I see his point -- how can you get any work done, when your assistant is constantly saying "We have sex now?" Boytoy tries to blackmail him into keeping his job, but John has had a string of boytoy assistants, and knows how to cover.
Sceene 6: Playboy John arrives at a restaurant for lunch with his father and sister Vivienne, who hasn't talked to them in ten years for some reason (maybe because they are jerks?). She's brought her fiance for them to meet. Surprise! It's Ex-Boyfriend Jack!
Well, I guess if they grew up in the same 1950s neighborhood, it's conceivable that they would....maybe...know each other.
Marrying your sister would mean "off limits" to most people, but Playboy John keeps trying to grab Jack's hand under the table, and Jack keeps pushing him away. Meanwhile, we discover that Playboy John has issues with Vivienne and is not invited to the wedding, and their parents are stunningly racist.
Playboy John decides to come out: "I am gay. I have alwasy been gay, and I will always be gay. I live in Yaletown, the gayest place on Earth."
Dad:"Please, it's not the 1900s anymore. We know. Everybody knows." He addresses the restaurant patrons: "Hey, everybody, I'm the owner of Jardine's. Raise your hand if you know that my son, John Jardine, is gay?"
Everyone raises their hand. Laugh out loud moment.
John is, surprisingly, not pleased by Dad's acceptance. He yells, criticizes, says the standard teenage line: "You're trying to make me like you, but I'm not like you" That's exactly the opposite of what Dad just said.
Dad fires him. John storms out. What just happened?
Boytoy arrives and "outs" John to get revenge for being fired.. Laugh out loud moment.
Scene 7: Behind the restaurant, Playboy John yells at the waiter (Jag Bal) for giving food to the Street Hustler (left). But he's homeless and was "eating garbage." Besides, the waiter will pay for it: "Please don't fire me. Wait -- you don't work for your Dad anymore. You can't fire me."
Then John asks the waiter for a date. This is not even remotely what a real person would do. Waiter rejects him, naturally.
Ex-Boyfriend Jack comes out and explains that he and Viviane are getting married because they're best friends; "this is about commitment and family, not sex." So you will have a Platonic marriage?
So it's the 21st century, and no one cares if you're gay or not, but you have to be in a heterosexual marriage for your career, working for a gay man and his father, who doesn't care that his own son is gay, so why would...... I'm confused.
Scene 8: Playboy John arrives at work. He can't remember the security guard's name, even though he's seen him twice a day for years, so he calls him "Bruce."
Turns out that John no longer works there, so he can't get in the building. So what does John do? He flirts with "Bruce." Who would do that?
I've had it with this movie. I'm fast-forwarding.
Spoiler alert: John disrupts the wedding, a la The Graduate. This makes everyone extremely happy, even sister Viviane, which makes no sense whatever. Dad is so pleased that he finances their new restaurant, John Apple Jack.