Dec 3, 2021

Aldo Ray: The Voice, Chest, and Endowment that Wowed Old Hollywood

Aldo Ray is on my list of gay and gay-friendly people born in 1926, but I didn't know anything else about him until I started looking for photos.

He was a blond, beefy screen hunk with a deep voice and a hairy chest, who took off his shirt at the drop of a script.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1926, he served in World War II, married, and was elected Crockett, California town constable before driving his brother to an audition for Saturday's Hero (1951) and getting cast himself.

Gay director George Cukor took a special interest in Ray, and upon seeing him naked (however that happened), made him a headliner at his legendary Sunday afternoon parties, where well-endowed hunks swam naked for the enjoyment of the guests.

Later Cukor cast Ray in Pat and Mike (1952), starring screen legends Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.  Scott Bowers, the legendary trotaconventos of old Hollywood, claims that that Spencer Tracy was only one of the stars who made good use of Ray's superheroic endowment.

Somehow Ray also found the time to hang out at Henry Willson's pool parties with a stable of gay, bi, gay-for-pay, and allied beefcake stars like Farley Granger, Robert Stack, Tony Curtis, John Bromfield, and Rock Hudson.

Ray starred in many movies of the 1950s and 1960s as an assortment of gruff, taciturn bad guys, soldiers, cops, and rednecks.  Among his most famous movies:

God's Little Acre (1958), as a taciturn farmer who has an affair with future Gilligan's Island star Tina Louise.

The Naked and the Dead (1958), as a soldier killed in action after bullying Cliff Robertson.

Four Desperate Men (1959), as a police officer dealing with a hostage situation in Sydney.

Johnny Nobody (1960), as an amnesiac murderer.

Dead Heat on a Merry-Go Round (1966).  Great title, whatever it's about.

What Did You Do In The War, Daddy? (1966), an anti-Vietnam farce.

The Green Berets (1968), a pro-Vietnam farce

Typecast as gruff and gravelly-voiced, Ray faced a career decline in the 1970s.  He appeared mostly in horror movies (Death Dimension, Human Experiments, Don't Go Near the Park, Terror in the Night) and on tv as the recognizable has-been guest star (Police Story, SWAT, Marcus Welby MD, CHIPS).

Aldo Ray died of throat cancer on March 27, 1991, survived by his third wife and four children, including actor Eric DaRe (Twin Peaks).

See also: Jerry Lewis Falls in Love; Henry Willson and Gay Hollywood.

Dec 2, 2021

Captain Underpants and the Perpetual Problem of Presenting Prepubescent Protagonists Who Are Probably Gay

I had no interest in The Epic Tales of Captain Underpants, with an icon of an oval-shaped being in his underwear, until I discovered that one of the main characters is gay.

The tv series is based on a series of illustrated children's books (1997-2015) staring two fourth grade best friends, Harold Hutchins (blond) and George Beard (black), who can make their sadistic, fun-hating principal transform into the titular superhero to fight grade-school supervillains.  Most of the villains have some connection to farting, belching, or pooping: Professor Poopypants, the Wedgie Woman, the Bionic Booger Boy, Tippy Tinkletrousers, Sir Stinks-a-Lot.  

In the last book in the series, the boys travel forward in time to meet their future selves and their families: George has a wife, and Harold has a husband.  They both have kids. This is no big reveal -- "Wow, you mean Harold was gay all along?"  The partners are presented matter-of-factly, without surprise or commentary.

I suspect that author Dav Pilkey didn't plan on Harold being gay from the start;it was just what made sense as he was bringing the series to a close.  But to see if there are glimpses into Harold's sexual identity early on, I checked out Season 2, Episode 8 of the tv series (the only episode that mentions a girl).  

Scene 1:
The narrator (Sean Astin) identifies the two boys: George (Ramone Hamilton, below) with a flat top, and Harold (Jay Gragnani) with wavy blond hair.  They're showing Erica their ideas for a new comic book character, Plungerina.  She disapproves, which makes them recoil in self-doubt: "I'm a hack!  I'm no good!  I should give up comics!"  Finally she likes one of the ideas.

Scene 2: We see the comic book. At a sports stadium, the toilets are all clogged.  A clog-monster climbs out of a toilet and attacks.  Captain Underpants (Nat Faxon, top photo) fights him, and is defeated.  Superhero Plungerina saves the day.

Scene 3:  At school, everyone is reading the new comic book.  Erica claims that Plungerina is even better than Captain Underpants, which causes the boys to screech to a halt.  "How can you say that?"  To prove that Captain Underpants is superior, they clog all the toilets at school (thankfully not with poop) so a real-life clog monster will emerge and Principal Krupp will morph into Captain Underpants and save them.

But Principal Krupp and Melvinborg (a future cyborg version of their enemy Melvin) are attending a principal's convention far away.  The school is helpless!

Scene 4: Teacher Mr. Rected (all teacher names are puns) uses the bathroom, flushes the toilet, and is inundated by water, transforming into Cloggernaut.  And Captain Underpants isn't around to save them.   Fortunately, a real-life Plungerina arrives to clobber Cloggernaut.  Erica was right -- Plungerina is superior!  If their comic book stories always come to life, could they conjure up some high grades, or pizzas, or cute boys/girls?

Scene 5: Who is Plungerina?  An adult, so not Erica.  The boys interrogate their  teachers: Miss Anthrope, Miss Heard, the Lunch Lady -- but find no suspects.

Mr. Rected returns to the bathroom.  The toilet is still clogged, so he morphs into Cloggernaut again!

I'll stop the scene-by-scene there.

Beefcake: No.  The characters are all stylized.

Heterosexism:  None.  No one expresses any romantic or erotic interest of any sort.  Erica is a big sister/antagonist, not an object of desire.

Gay Characters:  No one expresses any same sex interest. The only boys shown are antagonists as well.

What about Harold and George?  Usually inseparable best friends have a strong gay subtext, but here I didn't notice anything.  The boys are not differentiated in any way; they have no distinctive personality traits, no disagreements about strategy, nothing that would provide conflict.  Maybe a gay subtext requires conflict?

Gay Actors: 
No information on Nat Flaxon or Jay Gragnani.  Ramone Hamilton lives in West Hollywood, but since he's only 15 years old, it probably wasn't his idea.

Toilet Humor: Incessant.

My Suggestion:  Wait for the boys to grow up.

Dec 1, 2021

"Snatch": Caper Movie With Two Unintentional Gay Subtexts


Snatch (2000) has a complicated plot with lots of unlikely coincidences, people surviving multiple lethal injuries, and impenetrable dialogue, even with subtitles.

I gathered that there are two interconnected plot arcs: first, something to do with a "diamond as big as the Ritz," which was stolen from a jeweler in Belgium, and passes from hand to hand as everyone tries to track it down; second, a member of the Irish "traveler" (nomadic) community who is a proficient bare-knuckles boxer (played by Brad Pitt, who is frequently shirtless, but his physique is ruined by multiple rings and huge tattoos).

Every pair of criminal partners has a gay-subtext relationship, but here two stand out:

1. Turkish (Jason Statham, top photo) and Tommy (Stephen Graham, left) handle the Irish traveler plotline, but they also run afoul of the diamond several times, and end up with it (and a dog).  Turkish explains that although they're partners, they "don't hold hands or walk along the beach."  Nevertheless, their bond is physical and permanent.

2. Small-time crooks Vinny (Robbie Gee, left) and Sol, (Lenny James, below) mostly handle the diamond plot arc, which means they get into more trouble: they are captured by various bad guys (erm...worse guys, I mean) and are nearly killed several times. Finally they are arrested when the police find several bodies in their trunk (although they didn't actually kill anyone). 

 They have an extremely physical relationship, including hugging, laying heads on shoulders, and at one point holding hands (I think).

Adding to the subtexts is the total lack of heterosexual desire or romance.  There are no major female characters; no one is shown having sex with a woman or ogling a woman. Only the minor character Franky Four-Fingers is even shown with women, and then only in a split-second shot.  There are some naked ladies in photos and calendars on the wall, and once in a pack of playing cards, and that's it. Considering that gangster movies usually feature incessant shots of gangster gals and strippers on poles, this is amazing.

An article from 2000 reveals that Paul O'Boyle, who played the minor character Patrick,  "shocked" Brad Pitt, Lenny James, and director Guy Ritchie during filming, when he mentioned that he was going away for a vacation with his partner.  They asked "What's her name?" "Gareth."  "Funny name for a girl," they responded in heteronormative ignorance, before catching on and being shocked. 

Guy Ritchie didn't fire him on the spot, but I gather from his shocked reaction that the gay subtexts are unintentinal.

Nov 30, 2021

Researching Milo Campanale


I'm not much interested in Elves (2021), the Netflix series about a Danish family vacationing on an island infested by bloodthirsty semi-sentient nisser: it's heterosexual couples all the way down.  But I became interested in Milo Campanale, who plays the lead character's older brother, after a google search revealed this photo from the gay magazine DNA Australia: in his underwear, kissing a snake.

Of course, it's Google Images; this could be someone else.  

Milo has empty Facebook and Twitter accounts and no biography online except for a very poor translation on TV "From that point onward, he additionally showed up in En værdig mand as Rune. He has worked with various experts in the business on different undertakings. In the mean time, he is additionally chipping away at his new venture called Loving Adults, which will be delivered soon."

His instagram account contains about 40 photos, many involving him with other guys.  

This one is captioned fraekke fyre (naughty boys).  Boyfriend, brother, or costar?

This one, prinsen och skuespelleren (the prince and the actor).  So not a costar. And not Prince Christian of Denmark, either, in case you were wondering.

And this one received the comment: i kan godt smutte nu bois (you can slip away now).

No photos with girls.  Hmm

Milo has six credits listed on IMDB:

1. Loving Adults.  Upcoming movie about parents with a sick child.

2. Elves.

3. Stikker ("Snitch"),  a 2020 teen drama about a mysterious instagram account that reveals all your secrets.  I don't know what secret Milo's character gets revealed.  Maybe that he's gay?

4. In two episodes of The Too Late Night Show (2019), Milo  plays "Jonathan from the First Team."

5. The short En vaerdig mand (A Worthy Man) (2018).

6. Mit 50/50 Liv ("With 50/50 Life") (2016):  Louis (Milo) spends half of his life with each of his divorced parents, and has trouble with bullies and girls.  He gets a special thanks "for your lovely smile."

Not a lot of gay roles, but Milo is still young -- he just turned 18 last year.  So he's got time.

Nov 29, 2021

"Here are the Young Men": A Homophobic Gay Subtext in 1970s Ireland


Here are the Young Men:
sounds like an ad for a gay bar.  The icon shows a woman and four young men, two of whom seem to be hugging.  I don't have much patience for local indie productions, and I've been fooled by icons before, so it's fast-forward to find the gay subtext bits.

Minute 3.51:  Looks like Ireland.  Last day of class.  Matt (Dean Charles Chapman, left) and Kearney (Finn Cole, below) hug: "It's good to see you."  They go off to meet a third, Rez (Ferdia Wash-Peelo, bottom photo).

Minute 9:48.  The three at a year-end party, drinking.  Matt goes off to dance with a girl.  Kearney tries to cut in on another couple, and almost gets beat up, but the hot lead singer comes to the rescue.  They climb onto the stage, hug, sing, and spit on each other. 

Minute 12:30.  Matt talking to a girl.

Minute 15.15
.  The next day.  They hug while doing drugs.  Matt discusses his plans to go to America: "Get a gun, get obese, fuck any girl I want."

Minute 20.2: Rez having sex with a girl (his backside and chest, her boobs)

Minute 22.15: Matt kisses a girl..  Later they graffiti their names inside a giant heart.

Minute 35: Another party.  The guys drink and dance with girls.

Minute 42: Matt and Kearney hug, and say "It's good to see you" again.  They get high and play video games.  

Matt  asks "How was America/?"  

Kearney: "Man, it was great.  Girls everywhere begging for sex.  How about you?  Did you hook up with Jen while I was gone?"

Matt: ", sure, of course I did.  She'"  Maybe he doesn't like girls, but isn't out yet.

Minute 48:  Matt with his girlfriend, discussing Kearney.  They try to have sex, but he can't get aroused.

Minute 53: Matt and Kearney try to roll a drunk, and end up killing him.

Minute 63: Yet another party.  Matt apologizes to his girlfriend for "losing his shit" the other day.  They kiss.  Matt goes out to the main party, where Kearney is getting drunk, and tries to talk to him about something.

Minute 69: Kearny tries to have sex with Matt's girlfriend, but she resists. 

Minute 73: Girlfriend tells Matt that Kearney tried to rape her.

Minute 77: Matt's mother wants to know what's going on.  Why is he acting so weird?  "There's a problem, Mum, but I'm going to fix it."

Minute 80:
At a club.  Matt confronts Kearney about the attempted rape.

Kearney tries to reconcile, hugging Matt and saying "I fucking love you," but Matt.  They end up dancing together and hugging.  But then Matt poisons his drink and kills him.

So, was Matt trying to kill his homoerotic desire, or was he trying to kill his toxic relationship with Kearney?  Or both?

Either way, same-sex relationships are being portrayed as necessarily destructive.  At the very least, they prohibit you from the important things in life, like sex with girls. The gay subtext turns out to be homophobic.

Minute 90: At the funeral, Matt tells us in a voiceover that "it was the right thing to do."

Nov 28, 2021

"100% Wolf: Legend of the Moonstone": Australian Werewolves Buddy-Bond


100% Wolf: Legend of the Moonstone
(2020) spins off from the Australian animated comedy about a teenage werewolf, Freddy Lupin (Ilai Swindells), who has to prove that he is "100% Wolf" in spite of morphing into a  pink poodle.  Sounds like a metaphor for failing to meet the constraints of hegemonic masculinity: "All boys like cars and sports, and hate the color pink!"  

The tv series sends Freddy to werewolf school, where he meets the usual friends and enemies.  I watched Episode 8, "Doom and Rune," which features Freddy bonding with insufferable bully Ivan (Will Cottle, below).

Scene 1:
 A human-style class at the werewolf school.  The teacher tells Freddy and Ivan that they have failed their runes test, and therefore cannot attend the big concert tomorrow night.  For a make-up, they must find some ancient runes in a book or a cave, and translate them.  

Scene 2: After school. Freddy is despondent while his girl friend (hopefully not girlfriend) enthuses over  "two whole days of freedom!"  His Dad pushes him into the limousine (apparently Freddy is a wealthy werewolf).  

They see Ivan walking by himself, and Dad insists on giving him a lift, in spite of Freddy's complaints.  Ivan squeezes against Freddy in the back seat, even though there's plenty of room.  Secret crush?

Scene 3: The B Plot involves the girl friend, Batty, turning into a dog and trying to reconnect with her old friends.  They ignore or attack her.

Scene 4: At the mansion.  Dad is showing Ivan portraits of their illustrious ancestors, while Freddy scowls.  Dad suggests that they work on the make-up test together. Ivan: "Cool!"  Freddy: "No, no, no, no, no!"  What's he got against Ivan?  So far the boy has been perfectly pleasant.

Oh, wait, the moment they're alone, Ivan insults him.  He's only nice in front of adults.

Scene 5: 
In the mansion library.  Freddy works while Ivan goofs off.  When Dad drops in, Ivan says that his parents gave him permission to spend the night.  Freddy fumes.  Wait -- why does Ivan want to spend the night with a boy he doesn't like?  A secret crush?

Scene 6:  There are 200 bedrooms in the mansion, but Ivan insists on sleeping with Freddy!  Freddy complains to Dad, who suggests giving him some slack -- he doesn't have a great home life. Why is Dad playing matchmaker so aggressively?

Scene 7: B Plot about a new dog taking over Batty's old territory.  The dog pack plans to disrupt the werewolf concert tomorrow night.  Batty is captured before she can warn the others.

Scene 8:  Breakfast.  Ivan and Dad bond, ignoring Freddy.  Then to the library to work on the runes. Freddy works while Ivan goofs off).  Finally, frustrated, Freddy leaves him alone.  He goes out to the garden, where the band is practicing for tonight's concert. Ivan follows.

Freddy explodes: "I know you're trying to get me expelled!  You think a poodle can't hack it as a werewolf!"  Rejected, Ivan leaves.

The garden happens to have a wall of runes that Freddy can translate for the make-up test.  He pushes some of the stones.  Whoops, a hole opens up and swallows the band.   This isn't good!  He has to find Batty, who is good at runes and can read how to open the hole (or just ask Dad?).

He rushes out of the mansion,  runs into Ivan at the bus stop, and explains the situation.  They jump on the bus.

Meanwhile, Batty has been leashed to a pole to await Animal Control.  Gulp!

Scene 9:  Ivan and Freddy looking for Batty.  Soon it will be dark, and people will start arriving for the concert.  They don't have much time to get the hole open and complete their make-up test.

Batty finds them, but she's lost her moonstone, and can't transform into a human.  Plus she's being chased by a pack of dogs AND Animal Control agents.  They grab her and run, and jump on a bus. That crisis was resolved much quicker than I expected.

Scene 10:  A crowd has assembled in the mansion garden, watching the empty stage.  Where is the band?  The kids rush to the wall of runes, but Batty pushes the wrong stone, and Ivan and Freddy fall into a hole of their own!

Scene 11:
  Freddy tells Ivan to call his parents to rescue them (or wait for Batty to get help?).  But he can't:  his neglectful parents left him alone while they went snowboarding in Liechtenstein.  That explains why he was so interested in joining Freddy's family.  

Ivan: Just go on without me.  I'll wait here for someone who cares.

Freddy: I care....

Ivan: Then why did you treat me so badly when I was staying with you?

Freddy: I was jealous of you and my Dad getting along so well.  That's the reason?  I thought it was because Ivan was being a jerk.

Suddenly a path of rune-covered stones opens up.  They are able to translate them and cross over to the band's hole.  They rise up to the stage.  Wait -- when did Ivan and Freddy learn to read runes?  At least they hold hands and hug.

Scene 12:  Ivan and Freddy stand with their arms around each other while the band sings: "A lone wolf bleeds, but a strong pack leads."  Suddenly everyone turns into wolves.  Ivan and Freddy take a selfie together.

Scene 13:  The next day.  Batty gets a friend to humanize her.  Meanwhile, Ivan and Freddy are taking their make-up test.  The end.

Beefcake: None.  The animated teens are rather cute.

Heterosexism: No one expresses any heterosexual interest.  In the original movie, Freddy kisses a girl.

Gay Characters: Ivan and Freddy have a strongly physical relationship (after they reconcile), but I'm not sure if their bond is romantic or fraternal.  Probably fraternal.  I sampled a few later episodes, and Ivan revrts to being just one of a group of Freddy's friends.

Plot Holes:  They could have solved the problem easily by picking up the phone and calling Freddy's Dad.  And where did they learn runes?

My Grade: B

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