Dec 10, 2021

Charles Vandervaart: Everyone's Favorite Younger Brother Beefs Up


Charles Vandervaart may not be handsome, but he's got a jaw-dropping physique.  His IMDB biography tells us that he acquired his muscles: "playing hockey, rock climbing, basketball, soccer, football, swimming, kayaking, sailing, cross country running, triathlons and combat training."  How do you play combat training?  Born in 2000, he's been on screen since 2010, but I'm only going to check out his performances since 2017 for gay roles or subtexts.

Lost in Space (2021): a remake of the classic sci-fi series about a family of colonists getting lost en route to their new life in Alpha Centauri.  Charles plays Liam Tufeld, one of the competitors for daughter Penny's attention.

Holly Hobbie
(2018-2021): Wasn't there a Holly Hobbie doll in the 1970s?  This is a live-action teencom on Hulu starring a girl with Big Dreams in a small Canadian town.  Charles plays her brother, Robbie Hollie.  I watched his only centric episode: "Heather suspects that Robbie is hiding a secret."  No, not being gay.  He's secretly making artisanal jams, like blueberry-bacon. 

The Murdoch Mysteries (2013-2021): Charles plays John Brackenreid in 22 episodes.  In "The Republic of Murdoch," his father believes that his interest in the arts signifies that he's gay, and forces him to fight to prove that he's actually straight.  Dismal.

The Craft: Legacy
(2020): Some high school girls are witches.  Charles plays the brother of the main witch.  He's got a closeted older brother and a bisexual buddy (Nicholas Galitzine, left), who is murdered (not for being bi).   

Every Day
(2018): A teenage girl falls in love with a disembodied spirit named A, who inhabits a new body every day.  Boy and girl bodies, cisgender and transgender, but she ends up with Owen Teague. Personally, I'd rather date Colin Ford (left). Charles isn't one of the bodies.

The Stanley Dynamic
(2014-2017).  A Canadian teencom with an odd gimmick: Twin brothers, one live-action (Charles), the other a toon (Taylor Abrahamse). Apparently both are retro girl-crazy.

It appears that Charles has played mostly straight guys who you come out to.  But he's only 21.  Give him a few more years of kayaking, swimming, triathlons, and combat training.

Dec 9, 2021

"David and the Elves": A Gay Elf Bonds with a Misfit Boy. At Christmas.


Decider wants you to skip David and the Elves (2021) in favor of the "far superior" Elf (2003).  But David and the Elves has two benefits that its predecessor does not: first, it's in Polish, and second, there is none of that "somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me" hetero-romance meshugenah.  Of course, one doesn't expect gay characters in a movie from homophobic Poland, but there is a surprisng gay subtext.

Up at the North Pole, where everyone says "Ho ho ho" instead of "Hello," Albert the Elf (Jakub Zajak) is a celebrity, signing autographs and giving speeches about how he solved this or that toy-delivery problem.  But he is dissatisfied (otherwise be lousy story): he is losing is love for humans; how can you love someone who doesn't know you exist? 

 His buddy Erwin (Piotr Rogucki) examines him (by touching his chest) and determines that he has lost the life-power.  If he doesn't find some way to rekindle it, he will shrink, and eventually turn back into a toy!  So it's off to Warsaw, Poland, to restore his love of humans.  First stop: Piotr and Dawid, the father and son who waved at him during the airborne toy-delivery last year.

Albert knows almost nothing about the human world, and trying to follow Elf norms in Warsaw, Poland results in some humorous mishaps.  For instance, he tells a former client, "Mr. Klaus and I were at your house!", which makes her husband think that she's cheating.  And  Piotr (Michel Czernecki) thinks he's gay.

Albert; Remember me?  Last year in the mountains.  I looked at you, you looked at me....

Piotr: There must be some mistake.  I'm happily married.

Albert: No...I mean I'm an Elf.  

The photo depicts Michael Czernecki in a Polish play called Osoby (The Men). Definitely looks gay.

Piotr has a job in glass-and-steel skyscraper with a boss who says"The big presentation is tomorrow," so he needs a little Christmas now.  However, he has lost his ability to believe in Santa Claus -- or Elves, and he thinks Albert is a delusional mall employee.  11-year old Dawid (Cyprian Grabowski) believes -- especially after Albert conjures up a drum set for him, but his parents think he's crazy. 

Piotr: There is no Santa Claus.  There are no Elves.

Dawid: What about the beautiful costumes I get every year?  Beautiful costumes?  Is this boy into dressing up?  

Piotr: Your Mom and I make those.

Albert tries to rekindle his love of humans by spreading Christmas cheer, with humorous results.  When a man at the mall says that he'd rather be fishing than fighting the crowds, Albert zaps him onto a rowboat in the middle of a vast lake.  

Eventually he reconnects with Dawid, who due to a mix up is playing one of the Three Kings in a bunny costume.  He fixes that mess, and they bond as two misfits, aliens in the human world.  Eventually they go on the road.  But Albert is shrinking!

I'm not sure why Albert lost his power (life-energy), or how he gets it back.  We get two explanations: first, experiencing a "real Christmas Eve," with mistletoe, pirogies, and hay under the dining room table; and second, finding a human to love.  Back at the North Pole, he tells Erwin that Elves don't need to love all humanity, just one special person, like Dawid -- or Erwin.

The two Elves say they love each other, hug, press foreheads, and sip their hot chocolate.  Then Erwin wipes some hot chocolate from Albert's lip.  Aww....

Beefcake: None.

Other Sights:  Lots of exteriors in Warsaw.

Heterosexism: Two romantic couples, Santa and Mrs. Claus and Piotr and his wife.

Gay Characters:  Albert doesn't express any heterosexual interest, and he has sort of a romantic moment with Erwin in the last scene.  Dawid is a typical shy outsider boy who can be read as gay, but there are no boys his age around except for some bullies.

Polish Christmas Carols: "Two cakes are rising in the oven, getting tastier and tastier.  We could eat poppy seeds out of the bowl all night.  The cat squints its eyes, the table is all set, it's all white." 

My Grade: B

Dec 8, 2021

T.S. Eliot. Oh, Swallow, Swallow!

When I was studying for my M.A. in English at Indiana University (1982-84), my professors and most of my classmates agreed that Literature consisted of:

1. Ulysses, by James Joyce
2. The Waste Land, by T.S. Elliot
3. The Tin Drum, by Gunter Grass
4. The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner
5. A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

And maybe a little Shakespeare.  Everything else was footnotes or hack work.

I hated all of the pretentious rot, but I loved to hate The Waste Land the most.  The only way my friend Viju and I could get through it at all was to imagine a gay theme.

It begins with a quote in Latin in which the Cumaean Sybill speaks Greek.  I knew smalle Latin and lesse Greek (see, I can be pretentious, too), but we assumed that anyone speaking Greek is talking about gay people.

Tom (T.S.'s real name) is watching the sunlight over the Starnbergersee (in Munich), saying "We're not Russian" (in German), and calling someone the Hyacinth Girl.  Hyacinth was the gay lover of the Greek god Apollo, so we assumed the Hyacinth Girl is a boy.

Then, wandering around London, Tom sees a guy he knows and asks if the dead bodies he's buried have risen yet.  Tom calls him "mon semblable,—mon frère!"  My double -- my brother!  Charles Baudelaire, who was probably bisexual, wrote it in the gay-themed Fleurs du Mal.  

After a chess game and an elitist dig at pop culture, Tom meets with Lil.  Her husband Albert keeps wanting sex, but she won't put out because she keeps getting pregnant.  Meanwhile someone keeps saying "Hurry up, it's time" (presumably time to die).  Aha!  A critique of the futility of heterosexual marriage!

Tom wanders around London, saying bad words in Elizabethan English.  Mr. Eugenides, who has a pocket full of currants (or maybe he's just happy to see Tom) invites him to a weekend at the Metropole.  Presumably that's a gay hotel, so he wants a homoerotic liaison.

Illustration to Eliot's "Animula" (1927)
Suddenly Tom turns into a man with breasts -- so he thinks that taking the passive role in sex is feminine?   

He watches as a working-class man sexually assaults his girlfriend.  She says "Well, I'm glad that's over" and puts on a record.  A critique of heterosexual sex!

Then he takes a barge down the Thames and says "Highbury bore me."  It bores me, too.

A dead guy, Phlebas the Phoenician, floats by.  Tom thinks "he was once handsome and tall."  We were all for depictions of masculine beauty, even in a poem about how we're all going to die.

Then Tom goes to a dry desert where everybody is dead, and wonders if the person walking next to him is a man or a woman.  Androgynous, huh?  Or maybe a drag queen?

The young Tom Eliot
Tom and a friend reminisce about  "the awful daring of a moment’s surrender, which an age of prudence can never retract."  Sounds like you guys had a hot fling in your youth: "by this, and this only, we have existed."

So sex is the meaning of life?

Or is it surrendering to passion: "your heart would have responded  gaily, when invited, beating obedient to controlling hands."

Then everything goes crazy.  People say things in Italian, Latin, French, and Sanskrit.  Come on, Tom, you were born in St. Louis, and everybody knows it.

Somebody quotes an obscure Elizabethan playwright and a 19th century French Romantic poet.  Tom responds "oh, swallow, swallow."

At this point, Viju and I couldn't stop giggling.

This interpretation might not be orthodox, but it did get us through a late-night study session.

We were too shy to walk up to random guys and say "Oh, swallow, swallow!"

By the way, some contemporary biographers think that Tom was gay, but deeply closeted.

Dec 7, 2021

The First 10 Hunks and First 35 Heterosexual Romances of "The Wheel of Time"

And you thought The Lord of the Rings was over-long.  Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time spanned 14 books, plus companion volumes, a role-playing game, and now a tv series on Amazon Prime.  I wanted to see if there was anything gay, lesbian, or queer in the series.  I'm going in fresh, with no exposure to the books.

Scene 1:
A naked woman gets dressed during lengthy plot exposition, which I ignored.  In Creative Writing 101, the first lesson is: "Show, don't tell."  

Scene 2: Some women on horseback chasing two men up a mountain (nice scenery).  When they catch them, Young Man (Roman Dvorak) yells "Don't hurt him!  It's not his fault!", but he turns out to be alone.  The head woman explains that the Power is for women only, and he touched it, so he must die.  She kills him with her mind.

On top of the mountain, Lan Mandragoran (David Henney) and Moiraine something or other are watching.  "He's not the Chosen One," Moraine concludes.  Ya think?  "Let's check the Two Rivers next.  There are supposed to be four ta'vera there." I'm guessing ta'vera are men who have the Power.

Scene 3: A woman named Edwene or something (I really hate these names) is being initiated into the Woman's Circle.  First they braid her hair; then they throw her off a cliff into the river!  She survives, but still, it seems a bit barbaric.

Scene 4: 
An elderly farmer and his hot son Rand (Josha Stradowski) bringing wool to town to sell.  Uh-oh, Rand has a thing for Edwene, the girl who was just initiated into the Women's Circle.  No doubt hetero-romance is forbidden!

Scene 5:
Establishing shots of a village.  Looks like early Middle Ages.  People frolicking in a pub, including Rand the Farmer's Son, Gambler Mat (Barney Harris, left), and Perrin (Marcus Rutherford, below).  They discuss their various heterosexual interests and the rumors of war.

Suddenly Edwene comes in.  Everyone congratulates her on a successful initiation (she didn't drown). Rand gives her a Girl-of-His-Dreams gaze.

Boots come walking in the door.  It's Lan Mandragoran and Moraine from Scene 2, searching for the Chosen One!   Everyone is terrified and obsequious, as if Moraine is the boss, the school principal, and Darth Vader all rolled into one.  When she leaves, Perrin scoffs: "She doesn't look like a God of Infinite Power!"  "Quiet!" Rand tells him. "She can hear you!"

Scene 6: A woman working at the forge.  Perrin comes in and asks why she didn't go to the initiation ceremony earlier.  "I love you," he says.  "I know."  Girl, that's harsh!  You have to say it back!


Scene 7:
Back at the pub, the barmaids wonder what Moraine the Great and Powerful is doing in their village.  The boss (Michael Tuahine) asks Rand the Farmer's Son and Egwene to finish cleaning up ("I'll just leave you two alone, hint hint).

They smooch.

Scene 8:  Moraine the Great and Powerful taking a bath.  Lan Mandragoran joins her.  We see his butt as he climbs into the tub. He thinks the water is too cold, so she warms it.  (That's what she uses infinite power for?).  They discuss a disturbance in the Force -- the Chosen One is close by!

Scene 9:   Rand getting dressed after sex with Egwene (shirtless shot).  Egwene has an invitation to become Nyaenve's apprentice, but Rand disapproves: "Being a Wisdom is lonely.  No husband, no kids."  No same-sex marriage in this world, I take it.

Scene 10: 
 Hooves come clomping into town, at night, in the rain.  Could it be Gandalf?  We don't know: we switch to a candy-seller named Padan (Johann Myers) driving around wishing everyone a happy Bel Tine (could you get any closer to Beltaine?).

Then we switch to Perrin and his girlfriend or wife in bed together.

I'm out.  It's heterosexual couples all the way down.  But in case you are interested, here are a few more hunks from the series.

Alvaro Morte appears in four episodes as Logaine Ablar, an Asha'man of the Black Tower and a False Dragon.  

Taylor Napier appears in four episodes as Maksim, one of Alana Mosvani's warders.  He doesn't appear in the books, but Maksim, Alana, and the other warder Ihvan have a polyamorous bisexual relationship.  Although they're never actually shown kissing. 

Peter Franzen appears in three episodes as Stepin, warder to Kerene Nagashi, who leaves the White Tower with her when she is sent by Tamra Ospenya to find the newborn Dragon. He is murdered by the Black Aja.  Aren't you sorry you asked?

Dec 6, 2021

"Go! The Unforgettable Party": Forgettable Christmas Fun-in-the-Sun


Go! The Unforgettable Party
 (2019) drew my attention by an icon of a cute guy, shirtless, lying in a hammock.  

Prologue:  An outdoor party.  Two guys are playing guitars and singing to each other, but in a sort of macho competition.  I get the impression that we're supposed to be familiar with this characters already.  Is this a sequel to a tv series?  

Scene 1: Establishing shot of a resort town in Argentina.  At Christmas.  Four sunglasses-wearing women burst into a hotel.  A girl rushes to the front of the check-in line, but Mom advises her that they should act like regular people.  The Entitled Girls  squeal that this will be the best week of their lives, because Mia isn't around.  Mom and her friend are happy because Ramiro isn't around.

Meanwhile, three cute guys-- their brothers? -- are unloading the van, wondering why Mom and the girls brought so many suitcases.   One (Santiago Saez, top photo) gets texts from Mia; another (Dani Rosado, left) advises him that it will bother the third (Jose Giminez Zapiola, below), who is trying to take a break from his obsession with her.  "But he is her brother!"  Say what?

Meanwhile, Ramiro (Gaston Ricaud) arrives!  With two girls, including Mia!   The hotel manager apologizes that the other hotel was overbooked, so they had to be transferred here.  Uh-oh, everyone that the others hate or are obsessed with!

Got all that?  If someone doesn't take his shirt off soon, I'm leaving.

Scene 2:  The Mia-text boy has his shirt undone as he and his brothers leave their room en route to the breakfast buffet (not enough beefcake).  They discuss how great it is that Mia isn't around.  But Ramiro and the girls are staying two doors down!

At breakfast, the Entitled Girls are obsessed with Joy (oy vey, not more drama), while Mia's friend attacks a mascot.  Surprise -- he turns out to be their third best friend Simon (Paulo Sanchez Lima), working at the hotel during Christmas break.  If he's hetero, I'm leaving.

Everyone encounters each other and yells "What are you doing here?"  

No need to go further.  You know what will happen: mildly amusing mishaps and shenanigans, a few heart-to-hearts, two parties filled with Argentine celebrities, and lots of impromptu teen pop songs.  Turns out that this movie appeared after the second season of the Argentine Glee clone Go: Vives a Tu Manera, which is available on Netflix. 

 Two of the boys in swimsuits, but just in one scene.  Some background hunks.  Not nearly enough beach scenes for a "fun in the sun" movie.

Heterosexism: Who will Mia choose?  Maybe neither she just wanted to spend time with her friends and Ramiro (who, she just discovered, is her biological father.  Always more and more drama in these telenovelas). 

You're Her Brother: Alvaro's mother, was married to Ramiro, who turned out to be Mia's father. No biological connection, just drama.

Gay Characters: Simon and Nico don"t display any heterosexual interest and work together on some comic-relief capers (Simon has to hide in bed and pretend to be Mia, and then gets trapped in the shower with his clothes on.)  But I don't feel any particular romantic vibe.  The Spanish fan wiki states that Nico has a crush on Lupe, and Simon "may have" a crush on Zoe. 

Argentina legalized same-sex marriage back in 2010.  You'd think the producers would have the cajones to identify Simon as gay.

My Grade: D.

The Guys Who Made Harvey Comics Gay-Friendly

When I was a kid, I loved Harvey Comics, especially Casper, Spooky, and Hot Stuff, the residents of the Enchanted Forest.  Their pacifist nonconformity and buddy-bonding gave me some of my first hints of gay potential.

It didn't hurt that I usually read them while spending the night with my Cousin Buster in the trailer in the dark woods.

I also read Harvey Comics set in the real world, about kids with weird obsessions: Richie Rich, Little Lotta, Little Dot.  They were evocative, but didn't provide the magic of the ghosts.

It never occurred to me, by the way, that the stories were supposed to be humor.  Jokes detracted from my deadly serious quest to find a "good place," where boys could live together without being forced to express an interest in girls every five seconds.

The Harvey character style was instantly recognizable. Male or female, ghost or human, they were all drawn the same:

Disproportionately huge heads (especially when compared with real boys)

No necks.

Pear-shaped heads, large oval eyes with black pupils, pug noses, mouths curving downward a little lower than on a real person.

I was confused by some stories with a different character style:  far less attractive: fat, dumpy, with a bigger head and bigger head and bigger eyes.

Eventually I realized that those stories were reprints from the 1950s and early 1960s.  The house style changed abruptly in 1966.

There was a change in the plotlines, too.  In the early stories, Casper and company visit mythological and fairy-tale creatures.  The Milky Way is full of actual milk, and the sun is a sentient being.

Later stories are mostly realistic science fiction, with mad scientists and alien invaders.  In 1972, Casper goes to the moon on the Apollo 16 (he was, in fact, the mission mascot).

The same thing happened to the human Harvey characters.  In 1966, Richie Richie Rich became slimmer, with smaller eyes, and a smaller tie.

By the 1970s, he even had a muscular physique, and he had moved from humor stories to adventure, espionage, and science fiction.

Harvey Comics never divulged the writers or artists, so it wasn't until many years later that I discovered who was responsible for the change: Sid Jacobson  who began working at Harvey in the 1950s, and became story editor in 1964.  He tried to modernize the Harvey stories for the space-oriented 1960s.

Meanwhile Warren Kremer, the art editor, spearheaded a new, attractive, "hip" character style.

Ernie Colon, who joined Harvey in 1967, completed the transformation.  He and Sid Jacobson collaborated on most of stories for the next 15 years, until Harvey stopped publishing comics in 1982.

When Harvey Comics folded, Colon moved to DC Comics, where he worked on such projects as Arak, Son of Thunder, Arion, Prince of Atlantis, and the graphic novel Ax.

  He and Sid Jacobsen collaborated on several graphic novels, including, a history of the African-American experience, the story of Anne Frank, and The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaption.

Kremer moved on to Star Comics, where he created two new characters, Planet Terry and Royal Roy.

I don't know if any of them were gay, but they certainly helped some gay kids find meaning in the homophobic 1970s.

See also: Casper the Friendly GhostSpooky the Tuff Little GhostLesbian Subtexts in the Harvey Girls; Richie Rich Joins a Gym.

Dec 5, 2021

Koloman Moser: The Male Nudity of "Wayfarers"

When I was growing up in Illinois, teachers and professors kept inundating us in Scandinavian culture,  from  Icelandic sagas to the the bawdy Seven Brothers to the dense psychodramas of August Strindburg.  Norwegian literature was my least favorite: Ibsen's A Doll's House and An Enemy of the People, Undset's Happy Times in Norway, Hamsun's Growth of the Soil.  All dark and dreary and over-realistic.

I was drawn to this cover to Knut Hamsun's Wayfarers (Landstrykere, 1927): a hard-muscled guy, naked, striding across the world.  But the stupid story turned out to be about a guy named Edvard who wanders around, living off the land and getting crushes on unsuspecting women.

(Trond Peter Stamsø Munch, top photo, who played Edvard in the 1990 film adaption, also starred in the Disney movie Shipwrecked.)

Ok, so maybe the artist was gay?

He was Koloman Moser (1868-1918), an Austrian artist who specialized in graphic design.  His work is reminiscent of tBritish Decadents like Aubrey Beardsley, with some Art Deco thrown in.

His repertoire contains a lot of female nudes, but also quite a few male nudes.  That walking figure appears again and again, in various poses.

Here a golden boy with a very small penis wins a fight.

The Battle of the Titans from Greek mythology becomes a lot of naked, swaying men throwing rocks at each other.

You even see male nudity in unexpected places, as in this scene of Wotan and Brunhilde from the Ring of the Nibelungs.  Notice how cleverly the god's cloak has been torn away to reveal his sex organs.

Moser didn't marry until he was 37, and his wife turned out to be the wealthy Editha Mautner-Markhof.

The verdict: Impossible to tell if he was gay in real life or not. But he did produce some nicely homoerotic paintings.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...