Apr 17, 2021

Three Questions about Paul Forman


I first saw spectacular beefcake extravaganzaPaul Forman yesterday in an episode of Frank of Ireland, and wanted to see more.  Preferably a lot more.  I also had three questions:

1. What else has he been in?

2. Where is he from?

3. Is he gay?

IMDB: No biographical information, and only five on-screen credits:

1. Dreams (2018), a short about dreams, in which the Boy (Paul) pursues some girls.

2. Nevrland (2019), an Austrian psychological drama. 17-year old Jakob (Simon Fruwith) suffers from an anxiety disorder, which makes it difficult for him to pursue a relationship with 26-year old artist Kristjan (Paul).  A reviewer on IMDB decries "the artiste, who tries to overlay trash with art, such words as homosexuality, psychoanalysis, hallucinations..."

3. Seagull (2019).  A British thriller.  After 8 years lost on a beach, Rose returns home to settle scores. Connor (Paul) is far down in the cast list.

4. The Spanish Princess (2020), a miniseries about Catherine of Aragon, one of the wives of Henry VIII.  In three episodes, Paul plays King Francis (1494-1547), one of Henry's allies, and the lover of Anne Bolyn.

5. Two episodes of Frank of Ireland.

Twitter:  "The Frenchest Englishman."  From London.  Mostly posts about Manchester United,  the COVD pandemic, and his tv roles,  but he does mention representation by modeling agencies in Britain, France, Australia, and Denmark.

Youtube: mostly exercise videos.

Facebook: an empty page.

  Biographical data!  

Paul attended the Lyceé Francais Charles de Gaulle (in London), then Cardiff University (B.A. in mathematics, 2015) and Drama Studio London (B.A. in drama, 2017). 

Other than acting and modeling, his only job has been bartending at the White Horse (a famous pub in Parsons Green, London).  He is fluent in English, Spanish, and French.

Interesting, but what about my third question?  

A huge gallery of beefcake photos, with captions like "What makes you happy?" and "What is your idea of the perfect vacation?"

Mostly professional -- photo shoots in Bali, London, Copenhagen, and so on.  Not much about his private life.  

But I'm happy just seeing Paul's physique.

Desnudo Homme claims to be a magazine devoted to "male models, fashion, and nudity," but when I visited their website, they immediately logged me into an "online chat" and tried to sell me their clothing.

Paul didn't appear nude.  He's even somewhat skittish about underwear shots; I only saw one or two in his gallery.

I can't imagine why.

Wait -- the very last (earliest) photo in the gallery, apparently before he decided to devote it to his professional work: "Reunited with my bae."

Bae means "boyfriend."  

Gay or bi.

Apr 16, 2021

Frank of Ireland: More than Friends, Less Than Gay


Amazon Prime has just dropped Frank of Ireland, about "a misanthropic fantacist in arrested development" with an ex-girlfriend he wants to win back and a best friend named Doofus.  Doofus?  Does that mean something different in Ireland?  Obviously there won't be any gay representation, but two of the six episode icons show the guys hugging, so maybe some gay subtexts?  And when they're not in doofus makeup, Brian Gleeson (Frank) and Domnhall Gleeson (Doofus) are rather attractive, so maybe some beefcake?

Episode 1 is about Frank trying to win back his ex, so I skipped to Episode 2: Frank tries to prove that P-B is a "yoked-up party boy," but instead "falls under his spell," straining his relationship with Doofus.

Scene 1: Dinner.  Ex-girlfriend Âine (pronounced roughly Ahn-ya) announces that she's moving in with P-B (Peter-Brian, played by Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), because he's a doctor, not a dead-end slacker.  Frank is upset: "I'd always assumed that when my Mum dies, you'd be taking care of me. Can I move in with you two?"

She leaves; Doofus comes in through the dumbwaiter to serve dessert.

Scene 2: Home.  Mother Mary wants to know why Frank can't move in with Aine and P-B.  She has no room for him, as she's moving her boyfriend in, and no money to support him.

Scene 3:
 Frank and Doofus (left) spyng on P-B, looking for evidence that he's cheating on Aine so she won't move in. He's actually eating cheese -- "so fucking posh!"  They plan to prank him with a bag of flaming dog poo, but Doofus brought his own poo instead (yes, we see it).

As Frank is trying to set it on fire, P-B opens the door and invites him in.

Scene 4: A very posh, elegant country house.  P-B and Frank drink whiskey and bond over criticizing Aine and discussing archery.

P-B: We should go to the range sometime (for archery)

Frank: Tomorrow?  Why not tomorrow?  I want to be with you.  Sorry, was that a bit intense?

P-B: No, I liked it.

Goodbye hug on the doorstep.  Frank does seem quite taken with P-B.

Scene 5: 
Doofus massaging Frank in the bathtub.  "You don't like him, do you?" he asks nervously

"No, I'm just hanging out with him to get dirt.  Tonight was the most fun I've had with anyone in ages...he makes me feel like I can be myself...but it's not sexual."

Just then P-B texts Frank. Doofus tries to grab the phone from his hand.  It falls into the water, so Doofus reaches in to fetch it from his crotch (no boundaries, bloke?).

A stranger, Stephane (Paul Forman), comes in naked to use the toilet. Whoa, beefcake!  He explains why he shaves his pubic hair: for aerodynamics (spinning his penis around while the boys watch, agape).

Turns out that Mom is making extra money by renting a room to college student Stephane, to the consternation of her boyfriend.    

Scene 6: P-B teaching Frank how to use a bow and arrow.  Then they hit the hot tub.  Doofus appears, disconsolate (all of them in swimsuits).  Frank: "I can't help it.  I like him, ok?"  Doofus: "What about the plan?  You aren't even trying to break up P-B and Aine!"

When P-B arrives, Doofus tries to get him to confess: "You can tell us if you've cheated on Aine.  It's fine.  We don't mind if it was with men, women, or children.  Not children."

Scene 7: Bicycling home.  Doofus tries to win Frank back: "I've got something in my pocket that you'll like." No, not his penis,  two tickets to the Viking Splash Tour.  Frank hesitates: "Only two tickets?  What about P-B?"  

"I wanted it to be just us.  What's happening to us?  We're drifting apart.  I love you....."  So Frank agrees.

Scene 8: 
 The Viking Splash Tour, which appears to be people in Viking helmets and life preservers sitting in a pontoon boat.  Frank: "This feels wrong.  Besides, I've got to go change for wine-tasting with P-B."  Doofus: "Can I come?"  Frank ignores him.

Scene 9: Frank getting dressed for the wine-tasting.  He goes into the living room, where Mom is getting a massage from the naked Stephane while her boyfriend fumes, to announce that he's going out.  

Scene 10: At the wine-tasting, Frank complains to P-B about Doofus: "I just feel like we're growing apart." Meanwhile, P-B starts complaining about his patients and bragging about all the women he got before Aine.  And a lot since, including his patients.  Darn, he turned out to be a sexist jerk.  At least Doofus was nice (and hung, as we discovered in the swimsuit scene).

Scene 11: Frank visits Aine, but doesn't reveal P-B's cheating: "Basically he's clean.  A boy scout, and not in a bad way."  But Doofus has been on the case, too.  He sent a pack of photos of P-B and Frank together, but with a woman's face pasted over Frank's.  She sees through the ruse, of course, but she still doesn't want to see P-B anymore; "he's too fucking posh."  She prefers Frank.

She tries to get with Frank, even offering to do anal, but he rejects her.  Not interested.  Wait -- didn't he want to win her back in Episode 1?

Scene 12: Frank yells at Doofus for spying on him and P-B, and implying that they were cheating on Aine.  He angrily breaks up with him.

Scene 13: Frank in bed, looking at photos of him with Doofus and P-B.  Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool.  Stephane, in his underwear in the other bed, offers him advice: with Doofus, he's the dominant partner.  If he goes with P-B, he'll be the "bitch."  "It is better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."  This guy speaks broken English, but can quote Milton?

Scene 14: A housewarming party to celebrate Aine and P-B moving in together.  Doofus approaches Frank: "I just want you to be happy.  I know you and P-B are together now, and I won't stand in your way." 

But Frank realizes that he'd rather be with the nice (and hung) Doofus than the rich jerk P-B, so they reconcile and walk off into the sunset arm in arm.

Beefcake: Lots.  Every male character gets a shirtless or swimsuit shot.

Penises: None shown, lots discussed.

Other Sights: Some exteriors of the Irish countryside, one city shot.

Gay Characters: No.

Gay Subtexts:  Very obvious, self-aware conflation of friendship and romance. Frank-Doofus and Frank-P-B are more than friends, but not lovers (unless you count the penis-grabbing).  But I get the impression that it's a Dumb and Dumber conflation, where they guys are so stupid that they can't tell the difference between a friendship and a romance.  We're supposed be laughing at them, thinking "An attraction to another guy!  How ridiculous!"

Irish Slang: According to my research, "doofus" means "stupid" only in America; the Irish term is "eejit."  "Posh" is a derogatory term for someone or something upper-class.  

My Grade: B

Jim Steranko: Escape Artist turned Comic Book Artist

Jim Steranko (born 1938) started out as a stage magician and escape artist, following in the footsteps of Harry Houdini.

With a beefy physique to match.

In the late 1960s, while Frank Frazetta was busily revitalizing Conan the Barbarian, Steranko revitalized Marvel Comics, drawing The X-Men, Captain America, Strange Tales, and Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.  He also wrote one of the first histories of comic books (1971).

I didn't read Marvel comics much when I was a kid, but I knew Jim Steranko's work from the covers of many paperback sword-and-sorcery novels that he illustrated during the 1970s.

His covers differed from the usual Conan and John Carter of Mars stuff: they usually pictured the mighty-thewed barbarian heroes without naked ladies attached to their thighs.

And the stories inside were often free of "rescuing the princess" hijinks.  David Van Arnam's Lord of Blood buddy-bonds barbarian hero Valzar and his servant Lynor.

Isn't Kelwin a rather silly name for a barbarian hero?  He should be winning science fairs, not battling the "yellow-skinned wizards of Hunan."

I bought The Mighty Swordsmen at a used bookstore in Paris without realizing that there was a naked lady on the cover.

Apparently I missed a lot of the ladies in Steranko's work.

I didn't notice his compendiums of pin-up girls, or his comic book art, crowded with shirtless, muscular men and ladies in skintight leather outfits, like that of Mrs. Peel on The Avengers. 

But at least he was an aficionado of the male form.

And recent versions of his Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. title feature a lesbian character.

See also: Werewolf by Night; and Kamadi.

Love Boat/Fantasy Island: Love Won't Hurt Anymore

During the decade that began on September 24th, 1977 and ended on February 27th, 1987, I graduated from high school and college, got my M.A. in English, spent a year on Hell-fer-Sartain, and moved to West Hollywood.  I spent my Saturday nights going on dates, going out with friends, cruising in the bars, at movies, dinners, concerts, potlucks, or as a last resort at the gym.

Only when I was sick, studying for finals, or back in Rock Island for the holidays did I find myself staying home on Saturday nights.

And when I was home on a Saturday night, I watched Gimme a Break, Love Sidney, We Got It Made, Magnum PI, anything but those nauseating anthology series, Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  

But my parents watched.  All of the older people watched.

Love Boat (1977-87) was set on a cruise ship, where the randy Captain (Gavin MacLeod), ship's doctor (Bernie Kopell), purser (Fred Grandy), bartender (Ted Lange), and activities director (Lauren Tewes) made a hobby of facilitating three heterosexual romances per episode (two serious, one funny).

A sports writer and a tennis pro, a minister and an exotic dancer, a chauffeur and his employer, a rock star and a deaf girl, a celebrity and a tabloid reporter, an advice columnist who can't find love, a magician who can't find love.  It goes on like that. For 248 episodes.

Gay people were unknown, except for an episode where two buddies are mistaken for a gay couple.  By the end of the episode, they both find love (with women).  Problem solved.

But I understand that there were there were lots of guest stars in Speedos lounging around the Cabana Deck, like perennial 1970s fave Bert Convy (top photo).

Fantasy Island (1977-84) was more of the same.  The mysterious Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban, known as Khan on Star Trek) and his assistant Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) ran a tropical resort where, for an additional fee of $20,000 (waived for charity cases), he would arrange to fulfill your "fantasy."  Two or three per episode, alternating between serious and  funny.

In the early years, the fantasies involved nothing more than props and actors, as guests wanted to be Latin lovers or cowboys or movie stars.  Later, Mr. Roarke was able to travel in time, conjure up ghosts and genies, and make a deal with the goddess Aphrodite to fulfill the guests' fantasies.  The Devil even dropped.

Here, too, most fantasies ended with hetero-romance.

No gay people existed, but again, there were guest stars with their shirts off, like Bert Convy again.

I always wanted to ask the old people:  why?  Why do you need yet another dose of heterosexism?  You've already married and reproduced, your life is nearly over (actually, in 1977, my Dad was younger than I am now).  What's the "love, love, love!" brainwashing for?

An article in TV Guide explained: "Love Boat for people who live in Iowa and can't get dressed up and go out on Saturday night."

The dig at Iowa roiled me -- hey, we had four-star restaurants, opera, theater, and the symphony!

But I understood -- these Saturday night "love, love, love!" marathons were to keep them assuaged near the end of their lives: yes, yes, it was all worthwhile, marriage and family was a noble goal, the only thing worth doing.

See also: Love, American Style and Ricardo Montalban.

Apr 15, 2021

"Invincible": Teenage Superheroes Dealing with the Drama


The animated Invincible, on Amazon Prime, sounds like a standard "teen superhero juggles saving the world and ordinary high school drama" premise that we've seen on everything from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Spiderman.  But listen to the user reviews: 

"Great until Episode 3 happened: 4th wave feminism to imperialistic white oppressors to our hero being loved for being a simp."

"Abusing the product for political pandering'"

"Quit pushing your political agenda!"

Sounds like some fanboys are objecting to gay and nonwhite characters.  I'm definitely watching Episode 3!

Scene 1: Middle-aged superhero Omni-Man (JK Simmons) presiding over a memorial service for fallen comrades like Darkwing, War Woman, and Martian Man (funny parodies of DC-world superheroes).  Standard funeral-in-the-rain.  The sinister Darkblood is investigating the case, but Omni-Man doesn't doesn't remember anything useful; they were ambushed in the dark, and he's the only one who survived.

Meanwhile, Cecil (Walter Goggins) approaches Robot (Zachary Quinto) and asks him to assemble a new Guardians of the Globe team.

Scene 2: Omni-Man and what I assume are his wife Debbie (Sandra Oh) and his son Mark, aka Invincible (Steven Yeun), go home.  He orders a pizza and cautions Invincible to "not bring the job home" and get all upset over his dead coworkers.  Debbie gets angry: "Mark is a 17-year old boy.  They break easily."

Meanwhile, the sinister Donald Ferguson (Chris Diamantopolous) has them under surveillance.

Scene 3:  Mark (Invincible) sulking in his room.  He decides to call Amber, who gave him her phone number -- on a piece of paper?  How retro!  He gets all stuttery and nervous, and ends up asking her for a study date.  She is disappointed, but accepts. An attractive 17 year old boy who hasn't had any experience with dating?

Scene 4:
Superhero Atom Eve (Gillian Wilkins) arrives at Teen Team headquarters.  In the locker room, she sees Dupli-Kate coming out of the shower.  Suspicious, she checks -- yep, her boyfriend Rex Splode is in there, naked, with some other Dupli-Kates!  "Babe, I can explain!" he cries as she storms out.  

Scene 5: At the Pentagon, Robot is auditioning candidates for the new Guardians of the Globe: Burly, Pangea, Bug-Eye, and so on.  Mark can't audition because his Dad wants him to train at home, but he'll hang around to help his buddy. 

 First test: hand-to-hand combat.  Atom Eve from Scene 4 easily beats the Hunk.  Shrinking Rae defeats a gorilla man by shrinking and flying into his ear.  Black Samson defeats an Elf superhero.  When are we going to get to the constant political pandering?    

Rex Splode makes fun of Monster Girl, who retaliates by accusing him of having a small penis.  He attacks; she turns into a green male monster.  The other superheroes just stand by, not sure what to do.  Finally Mark intervenes, and the two apologize.

Robot announces the new team.  Atom Eve, Shrinking Rae, Black Samson, Rex Splode, Monster Girl, and Dupli-Kate. Uh-oh, drama!  Those three can't work together!

Scene 6: Atom Girl flies off in anger.  Mark follows to ask what's going on.  She vents about Rex cheating with the Dupli-Kates.  Mark obviously has a crush on her, so he's like the teen nerd trapped in the friend zone while The Girl dates an obnoxious jock.

Scene 7: Robot explaining the training schedule to the new Guardians team.  They bicker: Rex doesn't want to get up at 6:00 am, Black Samson wants to be in charge instead of Robot, Monster Girl can't transform often, and so on. 

Scene 8:
Mark's room.  His fruity non-superhero friend William (Andrew Rannells) is helping him prepare for his study date: "Toss this...rearrange this...this has to go." 

William brought some books that Amber likes: Naomi Klein (a bestselling author on corporate greed), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale), Ta-Nehisi Coates (a black journalist and comic book artist).  Is this the nonstop political pandering? Some nonwhite and female authors?  "She's also into spicy food, stand-up comics, and fourth-wave feminism."  Is this it?  A passing reference to fourth-wave feminism?  He's just trying to get with this girl! She could have been into country-western music!

Amber arrives.  William scrams.  She sees the books, which don't seem to be Mark's style, and he comes clean about William bringing them over.  "No problem: what are you really into?" Comic books.  His favorite is Seance Dog, about a Jack Russell terrier who is a master of the mystical arts.

While Amber is in the bathroom, Cecil from Scene 1 beams in: "You want to be a superhero, right?  Fame, glory, pretty girls?"  Mark objects: "That's sexist, but ok."  It's actually heterosexist, dude.  He's got a job for Mark -- who is still in training, when there are dozens of grown-up superheroes around? A rogue supervillain is threatening Mount Rushmore.  Eve is already on the way.

Scene 9: 
As Mark and Eve fly toward Mount Rushmore, Cecil gives them the intel: an evil seismologist named Doc Seismic has invented "earthquake gloves," which he intends to use to destroy the monument.  Why?  Because it memorializes "Oppressors!  Racists!  Slave holders!  Worship me instead!"  Is this the political pandering?  This is a mad scientist talking, not the actual sentiments of the writers.  

Doc Seismic dislodges the Lincoln head and throws it at some innocent boy scouts, but Mark comes to the rescue.  Next he accuses Eve of being a pawn of the patriarchy: "Look at the costume they have you in."  How does a seismologist know so much about power structures?  "Doctorate seismology, undergrad in sociology and women's studies, minor in African Dance."  Is this the political pandering?  The social justice warrior is an evil supervillain?

He conjures a volcano that threatens some innocent campers, but Eve and Mark save them.  "Bah!" he says in supervillain-speak. Finally he gets lava-ed to death himself, in spite of their efforts to save him.

Scene 10: Mark rushes back to his study date to find Amber fuming: "I've been sitting here waiting for you for an hour!  Why did you even invite me over?"  He apologizes.  She moves in, hoping for a kiss.

Scene 11: The giant dinosaur-like kaiju that Omni-Man defeated while Mark was off saving Mount Rushmore?  He brought a piece home to cook for dinner.  He and his wife chat about their days.

Scene 12: Eve in her room, throwing out all of her photos of Rex.  Suddenly there's an explosion.  She checks it out: fireworks that Rex has conjured to impress her.  She forgives him for cheating, but doesn't want to get back together. Instead, she flies over to Mark's house, and is shocked to see him making out with Amber.  You had your chance, girl. 

Scene 13: Dinner time at the supervillain and monster jail. One of the Multi-Pauls (Kevin Michael Richardson) pulls his arm through the door-slot, killing the guard to free his clone and escape.  Then he feels regret: it's Thursday, chicken pot pie night, and now he won't get any.

Beefcake:  Some muscular superheroes, and Rex in a towel.

Gay Characters: William, and maybe Robot.

Heterosexual Romances: 3

Wokeness: Those were just jokes.

My grade: B+

Apr 14, 2021

The Second Chance of "Who Killed Sara"

You may recall that when I watched the first scene of Who Killed Sara? (Quien mató a Sara) on Netflix, I thought I was watching a trite cliche scene in which husband Alex (Leo Deluglio) and wife Sara (Ximena Lamadrid) go boating with friends, discuss how much they love each other, and kiss.  Then  Sara goes parasailing, but the strap breaks, and she dies.  The 3,000th dead wife so far this year.  Yawn.

I am told that Sara is actually his sister; in the States we might be creeped out by brothers and sisters smooching, but it's normal in Mexico.  I'm also told that there are gay characters.  So Who Killed Sara gets another chance.

Scene 2:
  Alex, bearded and depressed after eighteen years in prison, no doubt for Sara's murder. (He is now played by Manolo Cardona, who has many beefcake shots on the internet, but they're mostly secured by .wept, .jfif, and "we can't download photo).  

 He showers (nice butt and prison muscles!), eats his dinner slop, works out (more muscles!), goes to work (something to do with computer components).  A visit from his lawyer: reduced sentence for good behavior!   He's getting out tomorrow!

Scene 3:
Beautiful mountainous countryside. Old Guy Cesar is teaching his grandson Bruno how to hunt: "Let's find out how big your balls are."  Well, he's a little young, but ok....  

Bruno hesitates, so Old Guy Cesar grabs the gun from him and does the job.  He is irate: "I don't want another puta in my family" (I thought it meant asshole, but the subtitles say it's a homophobic slur).

Scene 4: Back in prison, Alex ask his lawyer if the Lazcano family knows that he's getting out.  

Old Guy Cesar gets a phone call:  he knows now!  He's not going to tell his son Rodolfo, since his big promotion is coming up, and this would just upset him.    Besides, the family is very powerful now, and can stop whatever revenge schemes Alex has concocted.  

Scene 5: Back in prison.  Alex in his well-appointed single cell.  After lights out, he opens a secret compartment and pulls out a mysterious key.

Scene 6:
Morning.  Alex collects his stuff, changes clothes, and leaves the prison, flashing back to the day in the hospital when they told him that Sara was dead, then to a young Rodolfo (Andres Baia) and Cesar pretending not to see him during his trial.  You know, dead wife or dead sister, the tropes are the same. The only difference is, now Sara can have a boyfriend to suspect.  

Back home at the Colima de Paz (his house had a name?), Alex chops through the weeds and vines.  He inspects the interior and flashes back to a romantic...um, I mean affectionate incident with Sara, and thinks about how much he loved her.  Then he puts flowers on her grave and apologizes to his dead Mom for revenge he's about to embark on.  

Scene 7:
 A young woman named Elisa is on an airplane, gazing at a picture of Cesar on her cell phone.  The passenger next to her asks if it's her boyfriend?  No -- her father.  Apparently a conflation of familial and romantic affection is commonplace in this society.  

At the airport, Chema (Eugenio Siller) greets Elisa with a bunch of balloons and says how much he loves her.  Must be her brother.  He introduces her to his new boyfriend, Lorenzo (Luis Roberto Guzman, below).  She kisses him right on the lips!  A complete stranger?  I'm nauseated.  I might have to stop watching this because of the disturbing displays of affection, in spite of the gay couple.  

Scene 8: Alex sternly uses The Key to open a safe deposit box at the bank, which an older inmate he befriended told him will "help your revenge plans."  It contains a lot of money and jewelry.   He buys a new car, cleans up his house, adds a lot of surveillance cameras, and prepares for his first target: Rodolfo, whom I assume was Sarah's boyfriend at the time (they are shown kissing, but of course Sara could be kissing her priest, her pet groomer, or the Uber driver).

Flashback to shortly after Sara's death, Cesar telling Alex that his son Rodolfo made a mistake, but he's not going to let it destroy the family. Alex should take the blame for Sara's death.   "You and Rodolfo are like brothers.  You help each other.  Help us, Alex."  Wait -- why is it better for Alex to be destroyed?  And wouldn't a trial have things like, you know, evidence?   

Scene 9:
Modern day Rodolfo (Alejandro Nones) is awakened by his wife, Sofia, who announces that she's ovulating and tries to eat his shoulder.  He doesn't want to have sex  -- or whatever weird kinky thing she is suggesting).  He gets up and goes jogging; or, rather, running at full speed while flashing back to sex with Sara (who kissed her brother on the mouth, but never tried to eat his shoulder).

Scene 10: Alex sternly sets up the video equipment in his house and sits around being depressed.  Meanwhile, Cesar and his grandson Bruno (from Scene 2) are flying home via helicopter, and at a casino, Elisa congratulates Rodolfo on his promotion.  

Chema appears at the casino with his boyfriend Lorenzo.  Mom is angry: "Why couldn't you come alone? Why disgrace the family by bringing him?  And don't call him  'Mi Amor.'  There are people around!"

Cesar gets off the helicopter and complains that Alex sent him a photo of "that slut my son was crazy about."  Out of prison a day, and already causing trouble!  He tells his associate to notify security and "find the bastard."  

Scene 11: Alex going through Sara's stuff, like the diary where she wrote "Sara & Alex" surrounded by hearts.  Sure, girls dream of marrying their brothers all the time.  I am not creeped out.  I am not creeped out.  I am not...   He sends Rodolfo a copy of Sara's ultrasound photo -- she was pregnant when she died!

Meanwhile, Cesar approaches Lorenzo, Chema's boyfriend, to meet him for the first time.  At first he's friendly:  "Where are you from?  What do you do?  Italian, and a lawyer!  The broads must be endless!"  Wait -- you don't know that he's gay?  

Then Cesar turns sinister: "As far as everyone knows, Chema is interested in women.  And so is his boyfriend.  Are we clear?" 

Suddenly Alex appears on all the tvs in the casino and announces that he is coming for revenge against the Lazcano family!  

Scene 12: Cesar rushes back to his office and demands to know how Alex managed to hack into the casino's computer system (I'm wondering that myself.  Did Alex study hacking in prison, or does he have an accomplice?)  Rodolfo is worried, but Cesar says he will handle it.  

Meanwhile, Chema flashes back to an argument he had with Rodolfo just after Sara's murder: "You're a piece of shit!  Alex is your friend, and you're fucking him!  You're fucked up, man!"  Elisa, then a young girl, sees them fighting.

Scene 13:  Rodolfo goes to Sara's old house and flashes back to picking her up on the day of the party and trying to swallow her shoulder.  

Suddenly the curtains open.  Alex is inside!  He rushes away.

Alex gets a text from an unknown number:  "Welcome back!  I know who killed Sara.  It wasn't Rodolfo."

While Alex is wondering who sent the text and remembering how much he loved Sara, Cesar's goons open fire through the windows.  Yeah, kind of obvious -- you should really have chosen another hideout.  He is shot, but I doubt that he is killed.  The end.

Beefcake:  A lot.  Most every guy ends up shirtless.  

Other Sights: Generic rich people's houses and offices.

Gay Characters: Two, at least.  Maybe Bruno, also.

Creepy Brother-Sister Romance: Yes.

Mystery:  Who is texting Alex?  And who killed Sara?

Will I Keep Watching:  Depends on how many creepy displays of affection there are.

Apr 13, 2021

The Best Week of TV Ever: April, 1991

The week of April 8th, 1991.  30 years ago.  I was back in West Hollywood after my semester in Nashville, living with Lane.  The best of times.

Monday, April 8th:

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will Smith as a streetwise kid from South Philly sent to live with his rich relatives in Bel-Air.  Including....sigh...Alfonso Ribeiro as Cousin Carlton.

Blossom:  Mayim Bialik before Big Bang Theory as an unconventional teenager in a family of hunks.  Including...sigh...Joey Lawrence.  Tonight: A woman claims that her baby belongs to Nick (Ted Wass).

Murphy Brown: Candace Bergin as a hard-hitting tv journalist who butts heads with the Reagan administration.  Tonight: fluff journalist Corky lands her first tv special.

Designing Women: Dixie Carter as an interior designer and hard-hitting liberal spokesperson, even supporting gay rights.  Tonight: she babysits a wild child.

Tuesday, April 9th:

Hey, Dude: Early Nickelodeon teencom about the counselors at a dude ranch, including...sigh...David Lascher.  This afternoon: Danny (Joe Torres) becomes a cartoonist.

Who's the Boss:  Tony Danza...sigh...as a live-in housekeeper for Angela (Judith Light before Ugly Betty).  Danny Pintauro, who plays her son =, will come out years later.   Tonight: it's late in the series, and the original kids have grown up, so they bring in a new one, Billy 

Roseanne: Roseanne plays the matriarch of a working-class family in small-town Illinois,  before she got all extremist and weird.  More gay inclusivity than any other show on television; even her Mom came out as a lesbian.  Tonight: rebellious teen Becky starts dating Mark (Glenn Quinn...sigh).  

Wednesday, April 10th:

Tiny Toon Adventures:  Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation) and a crew of teen toons are studying comedy at Acme Looniversity. Today: Plucky and Hampton travel to Ireland to deal with a banshee.

Growing Pains: A nuclear family sitcom featuring teen idol Kirk Cameron, before he got all fundy and weird.  Tonight: late in the series, Mike (Kirk) and his sister have moved to a crappy apartment in New York. 

Thursday, April 11th:

The Simpsons: Back when they were fresh, new, and rebellious, going up against the powerhouse Cosby.  Tonight: Mr. Burns hires Marge to paint his portrait.  "Thank you for not making fun of my genitals." "I thought I did."

A Different World: Cosby kid Denise Huxtable spins off to Hillman College.  Tonight: late in the series, she's long gone.  The plot is about it-girl Whitley planning to "lose her virginity" to math nerd boyfriend Dwayne (Kadeem Harison...sigh).

Cheers: A Boston bar "where everybody knows your name." with Sam the Bartender arguing/flirting with Shelley Long, then Kirstie Allie.  Tonight, dimwitted bartender Woody (Woody Harrelson, before he became all grizzled and weird) gets a role in a tv commercial.

Seinfeld:  Struggling comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his wacky friends, long before they became all mean-spirited and bitter.  Tonight: George finds a statue identical to one he broke as a kid, but the new housekeeper steals it.

Friday, April 12th:

Who watches tv on Friday?  It's party night.

Saturday, April 13th:

Pee-wee's Playhouse: 
 Pee-wee Herman, before he got all weird, as the star of a homoerotic children's program ("Swish...did someone say swish?").   Today: Jimmy Smits...sigh...visits.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Joel and the bots riffing at cheesy movies.  Today: Ring of Terror.  

The Golden Girls: "Thank you for being a friend."  Eating cheesecake in small-town Miami at the height of the AIDS crisis. Tonight; Blanche is visited by her dead husband, and Dorothy has two admirers -- 1970s greats Sonny Bono and Lyle Waggoner.

Sunday, April 14th:

Parker Lewis Can't Lose: High school operator Corin Nemec (before he got all craggy and creepy) and his posse, including...sigh...Billy Jayne.  Tonight: Mikey (Billy) drops out of school to become a musician.

Get a Life: Chris Elliott before Schitz Creek as a 30-year old man who has "failed to launch," still living with his parents and working as a paper boy.  Tonight: Chris auditions for the community theater musical, "Zoo Animals on Wheels."

Married...with Children: An anti-nuclear family, with Al (Ed O'Neill before Modern Family) and Peg (Katey Sagal before Futurama) and their kids, including...sigh...David Faustino.  Tonight: the family fights a heat wave by moving into the supermarket.

I did other things that week, of course.  I had a job. I went to the gym, to church, to the grocery store, to the Different Light bookstore.  Lane and I went out to dinner, went to a party, cruised at the Faultline, probably brought someone home to "share."  But it is the tv we watched that brings those halcyon days most vividly back to life.

Apr 12, 2021

A Teenager Doing Pushups on TV

Today you can go online and see 100,000,000 pictures and videos of naked bodybuilders and athletes flexing for selfies, and every actor with even minimal musculature takes off his shirt at the drop of a script.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, there was virtually nothing.  An occasional Tarzan movie, an occasional teen idol with an open shirt in a Tiger Beat centerfold.  And that was it.

Seeing a man or boy on tv with his shirt off was so rare -- vanishingly rare -- that every instance is indelibly imprinted in my brain, as unforgettable as my first airplane trip or my first date with a guy.

Greg strips down to go surfing on The Brady Bunch .
Stephen Parr shows off his washboard abs on Mystery Island.
Steve Elliot shaves while wearing only pajama bottoms on Petticoat Junction.

And, sometime in the 1960s, I'm guessing around 1968, a Public Service Announcement for the President's Council on Physical Fitness shows a teenage boy doing pushups.


Hard delts, thick biceps, beautiful interplay of muscles as he rises and falls, rises and falls.  His face becomes red.  He is smiling.

The narrator tells us that with every pushup, he's "a little bit stronger, a little bit healthier, a little bit happier than before."


I can't find the original PSA, but it was an iconic moment, a moment when I recognized the beauty of the male physique, in spite of the adult insistence that only women liked to look at men.

By the way, pushups are still widely recognized as a good way to maintain core strength.  The recommended number in a minute differs by age and sex.  50-60 year olds are supposed to be able to do at least 25.  I can do 50, which makes me "excellent" for my age group but only "above average" for a 20-year old.

Gilligan's Island

Gilligan's Island (1964-67), the tale of seven nitwits who set out from Honolulu for a “three hour tour” and end up stranded on a desert island is famous for its ineptness and naiveté, but actually it was no more inept or naive than most other 1960s escapist sitcoms, and it had a lot for gay kids to like.

1. Beefcake First mate Gillian (Bob Denver, below) was slim, smooth, and occasionally shirtless.

Lithe, hard bodied Denny Miller, a 1959 Tarzan (left), appeared twice, as a "jungle man" and as as a surfer who rode a wild wave all the way in from Honolulu.

 In February 1965, Kurt Russell appeared as a jungle boy, wearing only a loincloth (he counts as beefcake when you're five years old)

Even the Professor (Russell Johnson, whose son David was a fixture in West Hollywood) take off his shirt a couple of times.

2. Utter lack of heterosexual interest.

There was lots of heterosexism, of course.  When the Professor wonders why headhunters would abduct only the girls, Gilligan quips “Because they’re boys!”  When Mrs. Howell becomes the recipient of anonymous love letters, they interrogate all of the male castaways. They are innocent.  "But that's impossible!" she exclaims.  "That's everyone on the island!"  It never occurs to her for a moment that either Ginger or Mary Anne might be interested in her. 

The Skipper occasionally bats his eyes at Ginger or Mary Anne, but the other two single men, Gilligan and the Professor, never display the least interest in girls.  (Incidentally, Russell Johnson's son was very active in gay politics in Los Angeles.  Since his death from AIDS in 1994, the elder Johnson has devoted himself full-time to fundraising for AIDS research.)

3. Same-sex bonding.  When Gilligan and the Skipper fantasize about being rescued, they mention hamburgers and milkshakes, but never girls or “settling down.” Perhaps they've already settled down: they’ve been together since the War (probably the Korean War, over a decade ago), without even a perfunctory search for girlfriends or wives. 

Presumably Bob Denver, who had previously played "allergic to girls" on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis played Gilligan as a man-child with “arrested development,” excused from demonstrating heterosexual desire because he hasn’t “discovered” girls yet,

But occasionally we see a hint of an alternative explanation:. In “High Man on Totem Pole” (February 1967), a new batch of headhunters captures the Professor, the Skipper, and Mr. Howell. The girls are disconsolate:

Ginger: All of the men are gone!

Gilligan: I’m still here!

Ginger: [Dryly.] I said, all of the men.

But what sort of man is not really a man?

 In the last original episode of the series, “Gilligan the Goddess” (April 1967), savage tribesmen visit the island in search of a “white goddess” to throw into a volcano. Gilligan pretends to be a girl, donning a wig and a sixties mod dress, so he will be selected (the plan is to go to the other island and call Hawaii for rescue).

 Blustering King Killiwani (Stanley Adams) demonstrates an interest in Gilligan even when he is male, ignoring the other castaways while forcing him to dance, but when Gilligan becomes “Gilliana,” he becmes downright grabby. Unwilling to reveal the truth and ruin the rescue plan, but also unwilling to let Killiwani commit date rape, the castaways try to distract him with food and entertainment.

Mrs. Howell: Anybody for passion fruit?

Gilligan: No passion fruit! I think I’ll have a banana. [He grabs one and peels it, then feeds a piece to Killiwani.]

Girls: And now for your pleasure we present the great magician, Thurston Howell the Third!

Gilligan: [Applauds.] He’s great. He knows a thousand tricks, and I want to see them all.

Killiwani: [Places hand on Gilligan’s knee.] You the only trick I interested in!

Gilligan rejects the passion fruit because he is skittish about getting passionate, of course, but his choice of a phallic symbol-banana instead suggests another dimension, especially when he feeds it to Killiwani. His gesture is natural, almost unconscious, and surprisingly intimate; he behaves as if he really in a romantic relationship. (We should note that he objects to the ruse because he doesn’t want to dress like a girl, not because he dislikes Killiwani’s attention.)

Maybe  same-sex desire was  not beyond all imagining, even in 1967.
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