Jan 15, 2022

"Everyone is Doing Great": Gay Couple or Gay Tease? You Have Just Eight Episodes to Find Out


Everyone Is Doing Great: Seth and Jeremy were the stars of a vampire drama.  Five years after the show ended, "they lean on each other as they awkwardly navigate the perils of life and love in a late coming-of-age."

"Leaning on each other" is what boyfriends do.  So are they a gay couple, or is the blurb just a tease?

Evidence for the tease:

1. Three of the five stars listed are women.  

2. Seth and Jeremy are played by creators . James Lafferty (left) and Stephen Colletti (below), who starred on the teen soap One Tree Hill (2003-2012).   I never actually watched, but apparently it was a big deal, back in the day.  There was one minor LGBTQ character, Anna, who comes to One Tree Hill to escape rumors that she's gay, dates a boy, kisses a girl, gets called a "dyke," comes out, and leaves town.  Sounds retro, like those "very special episodes" of the 1980s.

3. No doubt Doing Great is autobiographical., based on the experience of being ultra-famous and then not.  But neither of the two creators/stars have any contemporary photos without their arms around a lady, so either they're both heterosexual, or trying hard to demonstrate that they are.  Maybe Seth and Jeremy are "leaning on each other" as placeholders to pass the time until the Girls of Their Dreams show up.

4. I did a key word search on the title and "gay," and found an article on "The Ten Worst Episodes" of the series, with the phrase "Always unfunny British and gay people LOL."  However, the article itself contained no text, just a title.

5. Decider spilled the beans: One of the guys is married to a woman; the other has lots of sex with female hotties.  They both get drunk, snort coke, throw up, and bemoan their current lack of work.  

Verdict: A tease

Wait -- only eight episodes were produced?  What kind of tv series is that?  You need at least 30 if there's an ongoing plot arc, or at least 60 if it's a problem-of-the-week.  How else are you going to get to know the characters and make them a part of your life?  Eight episodes is not even worth bothering with.

I spent almost as much time trying to find out if the show was about gay partners than it would have taken to watch it.

Jan 14, 2022

Bamm-Bamm's Muscles: Gay Promise on "The Flintstones"

Quick, name a cartoon character who came from outer space, was adopted by a human family, and has superpowers?

Right, Bamm-Bamm Rubble.

In an October 3rd, 1963 episode of The Flintstones, about "a modern prehistoric family," Betty and Barney Rubble are upset because they can't have children -- apparently Barney's sperm count is a little low.  They wish on a falling star, and the next morning a baby appears on their doorstep, asleep in a turtle shell, holding a club.

He can only say "Bamm-Bamm," so that becomes his name. He turns out to have superhuman strength, easily carrying furniture and tossing his adopted father around.

As a kid in the 1960s, I was intrigued by Bamm-Bamm's mysterious origin.  Could he be an alien -- a falling star could mean a UFO!  His white hair certainly looked alien.  And the superhuman strength surely meant super muscles!

I didn't see The Flintstones often, so I didn't notice that the writers failed to make much use of Bamm-Bamm's potential.  His supernatural origins were rarely mentioned, and his super-strength became little more than a comic nuisance.

No gay symbolism: in fact, he began expressing toddler heterosexual interest, mooning over toddler-next-door Pebbles, romancing her in baby-talk.  Eventually they were closing episodes by singing the treacly Sunday-school song "Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sun Shine In)."

In 1971, a highly publicized spin-off appeared, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971-72, and rerun long after).  With the characters as teenagers!  I watched the first episode instead of the beefcake-heavy live-action Barrier Reef, to see if Bamm-Bamm had transformed into Superboy.

Nope.  No mysterous origin.  No superstrength.  Bamm-Bamm wasn't even built -- he had skinny arms and legs and a shapeless lump of a body.  He and Pebbles went to high school and belonged to a rock band, like everyone on Saturday morning in the 1970s.

I didn't bother with the three tv movies in the 1990s that aged Bamm-Bamm into adulthood.  Apparently he and Pebbles marry and move to Hollyrock, where he becomes a screen writer.  They have two children, Roxy and Chip.

A heterosexist conclusion to a story loaded with gay promise.

At least the Bamm-Bamm costume allows for some interesting cosplay.

See also: The Flintstones and Saturday Morning Muscle.

Jan 12, 2022

"The Colony": An Alien Invasion Begins...Slowly, and A Teenage Boy Morphs into Two


A friend from L.A. recommended The Colony (2021) on Netflix: "A mashup of Waterworld, Mad Max, and The 100."

Scene 1: A nuclear family at breakfast: Mom cooking, Ponytail Girl doing girl-coded stuff,  Baseball Cap Boy doing boy-coded stuff.  I already hate them.  The boy, by the way, looks about 9 years old, but he's played by 18-year old Jacob Buster.  I don't get it.

Mom and Dad discuss a work situation (he's a cop, naturally).  They, kiss, say "I love you,"  His black female partner picks him up.  They drive into town.  We pan out to see the L.A. skyline, and some alien spaceships approaching.

Scene 2:  Mom is driving Baseball Cap son to school.  Meanwhile, Alan (Peter Jacobson) goes to work as a purchasing manager for a high school, whatever that is.  He's divorced, with a teenage daughter.  Recruiters for another agency try to lure him away, first with praise, then with blackmail (he's been embezzling).  

Scene 3:
Dad (Josh Holloway in a horrible haircut) and Partner at an old-fashioned diner, having breakfast, discussing escrow or something equally boring.  She bought a new house in Santa Monica with money from the Armenian Mafia.  He disapproves.

When is the alien invasion going to start?  What about Mad Max and Waterworld?

Scene 4: At the office.  Seven VIPS have gone missing in L.A. overnight -- the deputy director of the CIA, the chief engineer at Lockheed, and so on, and the cops are given the job of finding them.  

Scene 5
: Yet another character, Eric (Tory Kittles), gets out of a cab.  It's been awhile -- his white picket fence is overgrown and in disarray.  A older woman, probably his mother, squeals, hugs, cries, and says "Let me look at you."    

Not his mother -- he asks her "How's Mom," and is led to Mom's deathbed.  He holds her hand and says Mom-on-Deathbed-type things. I fast forward through it.  When are the three alien spaceships from the first scene going to land?

Scene 6:  Dad and Partner arrive at the vast estate of the VIP they're supposed to find.  They see a bullet hole in the door, so they break in, guns drawn.  There's a dead woman in the foyer.  Dad says "hello" to a security camera.  It asks for their ids, which they provide.  The VIP emerges from the panic room.  Wait -- if the bad guys just came around last night, and the only other person in the house is dead, how does anyone know that he's missing?

Scene 7:  Closeup of a woman's breasts bouncing around as she does things behind a bar.  Eric comes in. Gasp, giggle, laugh, "I can't believe it!  I never thought I'd see you again!  Welcome home!  What brings you back to small-town Los Angeles?"   He wants to know why a woman with a husband and a couple of kids works at a bar.  Odd thing to say to a close friend whom you haven't seen for several years.

Eric tells her his back story, which as a close friend she already knows: he signed up in the military at age 19 to go "whomp ass" on some bad guys (aliens?)  Then, after his tour of duty ended, he went to work in the private sector, but didn't like it. 

Scene 7: The VIP explains: The bad guys shot the housekeeper, and he ducked into the panic room while they searched the house.  Then they left, but his phone wasn't working, so he couldn't call for help.  They are suspicious: why does an engineer need a panic room? Um...a super-rich VIP engineer who lives on a vast estate with millions of dollars lying around to tempt home intruders?  No, the reason is more arcane -- and secret.  He's one of 1,200 people chosen to survive the Apocalypse and rebuilt society.  

Scene 8:  Some old-fashioned black hearses head toward a gigantic structure in the desert with multiple guard towers.  VIPS emerge, including Alan from Scene 2 (the guy blackmailed into joining).  He's ushered into a cold room.  An alien appears in silhoette.  Finally!

Scene 9: Alan is dropped off at a house, still shaken by the experience.  A woman answers, not happy to see him, but he insists.  Must be the ex-wife.   He tells her to get out of L.A., now!  Something bad is going down!  But he's taking Teenage Daughter with him.  They both resist, but the suits come in and force compliance.  

Scene 10: Bartender and Eric try to get the tv to work, but the satellite's out.  Good!  Let's get some societal breakdown!  Eric gets a mysterious phone call and rushes out.  

Meanwhile, Dad and Partner are bringing VIP into the station.  They start the interrogation.  Um...he's a victim, not a suspect...

Suddenly Bartender gets a call.  Hey, she's the housewife from Scene 1, the one married to the cop!  He tells her to pick up the kids and meet him at the Agency, pronto!

Scene 11:  Bartender picking up her daughter.  She calls another woman -- Sis.  No one in the history of the world has ever called their sister "sis," but you have to establish relationships somehow.  "Grab Rob and Hudson and meet us at the Agency.  Something bad is going down."  

Scene 12: Back at the Agency, Partner tries to convince Dad that they have to leave.  Didn't they already arrange that?  But he refuses.  Suddenly the lights go out.  And all the traffic signals.  And the cell phones stop working.  And all of th cars. 

Bartender and her Daughter are trapped in traffic amid the stalled cars.  They head out to pick up Baseball Cap Son on foot.  

Scene 13:
They reach Son's school.  He grumbles -- it's just a power outage, why worry -- but agrees to go with them.  This morning he looked around 8 years old, but now he's an older teenager. Unless there's another kid.  

Yep, there were only two kids at the breakfast table, but now there are three.  This one is played by Alex Neustaedtler (left, but without the shaggy hair). They still need to pick up Baseball Cap.  Bartender comforts her hysterical daughter.

Meanwhile, Eric walks home from the bar.  He grabs some stuff, including several guns.  Don't you want to check on your dyiing mother and the other lady?

Scene 14:  It's getting dark.  Bartender and Son are at the bar, having lit several dozen candles, gathering supplies.  I thought they were going to the Agency? Well, he actually said the Yonk.  It must be the name of the bar.  

 Dad comes in, and wants to know where his Baseball Cap son is.  "We couldn't get him.  All the cars are stalled."  So he gets on a mountain bike to fetch the boy.

Scene 15:  At the gigantic facility.  Alan and surly Teenage Daughter get out of the hearse.  He meets Helena, the deputy director something or other, who tells him "It's a brave new world, and you're about to become the most important man in Hollywood."

Scene 16:  Eric arrives at the VFW.  Apparently he was called to duty.  He hugs somebody he knows, who explains: A foreign hostile detonated an EMP pulse in the atmosphere, which took out all the electronics.  Eric wonders if it's a good idea to have every soldier in town under one roof.  His friend says "Sure, we can take 'em."  He leaves -- just before the building is bombed!  I saw that one coming.

Scene 17:   At the bar, Bartender comforts her hysterical daughter, while macho son paces and snarls: "We should be doing something!"   Sis arrives with her hysterical pre-teen son.  Her husband was on a plane, so he's gone for good.

Meanwhile, Dad rides his mountain bike through the looting crowds.  He sees the spaceships landing. They build a barrier around the city.

Back at the bar, more hysterical daughter.  Please tell me that Bartender isn't going to sing!  She does.  I try to fast forward, but her horrible song is interspliced with scenes of the alien wall going up.

Scene 18:  Santa Monica Bloc, a long time later.  Dad approaches some guys sitting around a fire outside a fortress, and says he's looking for a 12-year old boy who may be working for Solomon.   They think he's a pedophile and prepare to attack, but he specifies that it's his son.  He just wants to talk to Solomon.  They beat him up anyway.

Meanwhile, Bartender paces in an interrogation room.  Her Older Son is escorted in by armed guards.  "You got two minutes."  He cries and apologizes.  She can't get him out, but "Stay strong."   I have no idea what's going on.

Scene 19: Cop finds his way to a house in Santa Monica, and his ex-Partner!  She is not happy to see him.  The end.

Beefcake: None.

Gay Characters:  None.  Well, maybe his Partner, who doesn't mention a husband.

Cliches: Lots.

I have two questions.

1. Netflix accidentally hooked me up with Season 2.  So, what happened during the entirety of Season 1?  Was it all interpersonal drama leading up to the alien invasion?  

2. My friend actually recommended another Colony, a movie about an astronaut who crash-lands on a savage Mad Max Earth.  Who decides to give two science fiction programs about alien invasions the same title?

Doc Savage: The First Gay Superhero

When I was a kid, I never cared much for Marvel comics, other than the gay-subtext heavy Werewolf by Night, but in the summer of 1972, my eyes were drawn to the gleaming hard-muscle physique on the cover of Doc Savage #1, "the first superhero of them all!"

How was that possible?  We already had Superman, Batman, Spiderman....

Turns out that Doc Savage got his start as a pulp hero, first created by Lester Dent in 1933 (5 years before Superman). His adventures have been reprinted in paperback form from the 1960s through the 1990s.  There have been comic books, two radio series, and a 1975 movie starring Ron Ely of Tarzan fame.

Like Batman, Doc has no superpowers; he relies on his superb physique, scientific gadgets, and medical training to fight evil (when he catches villains, he gives them brain operations to cure them of their criminal tendencies).

Unlike Batman and every other superhero, he doesn't wear a spandex costume; he appears shirtless and bronze and gleaming.

He lives and works on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, accompanied by his team, "The Fabulous Five."
1.-2. Chemist Monk (who has the build of a gorilla) and attorney Ham, who feud with each other.
3. Renny, an engineer with a massive physique of his own.
4. Long Tom, a long, thin engineer.
5. The egghead archaeologist Johnny.

The only regular female character was Doc's cousin Pat, who tagged along on adventures in spite of being told to "wait here where it's safe."

Here are some of the plotlines:

Johnny finds a prehistoric egg that may have hatched into a dinosaur.
Monk runs afoul of the mind-controlling Lucky Napoleon.
Ham witnesses "the rustling death" that drops men out of airplanes.
A naked man is fished out of the Atlantic and hailed as a prophet.

Quite a lot of captures and nick-of-time rescues going on, and not a lot of hetero-romance.

Other members of the team occasionally get girlfriends, but as Monk explains, "There won't be any women in Doc's life."  He has a female companion in the 1975 movie, but doesn't kiss her.  Many rescued damsels-in-distress have tried to snare him, but he tactfully rebuffs their advances.  He has, you see, "no time for women."

Yeah, right, no time.

Philip Jose Farmer's A Feast Unknown (1969) gives Doc Savage and Tarzan an abusive sexual relationship.

Heterosexual fans have faced the "accusation" of Doc's gayness for many years, usually with shrieks of "No way is Doc gay!"  But a surprising number of gay kids found a role model in the Doc


Jan 11, 2022

R. Crumb: From Fritz the Cat to Gay Marriage (Sort of)

Growing up in 1950s Philadelphia, Robert Crumb was a sissy -- he hated sports; he was scrawny; he liked comic books, especially girls' comics like Little Lulu.  According to a 1998 sketch, he "almost turned into a fag."  The only thing that "saved him" was his heterosexual mania.  He liked big women -- tall, broad-shouldered, with muscular legs.  He wanted to ravish a giantess.

In an era when women were expected to be frail and petite, this interest in Big Women marked Robert as "queer," as a sexual outsider. His autobiographical comics read like a gay coming out story.

But he was heterosexual, just too shy and overcome by self-loathing to fit in.  Even when he moved to San Francisco and made a name for himself as an underground comic artist, he was an outsider, observing the sit-ins and love-ins and acid trips from a distance.

When I was in high school in the 1970s, the older kids passed around his underground comics, Zap!, Head!, Home Grown Funnies, and Snoid!  When I was in college, they were a fixture at Adam's Bookstore, but hidden under the counter, away from those who wouldn't understand.

Later I found copies of Fritz the Cat, which became an X-rated cartoon in 1972, and Mr. Natural, about a cynical guru.

R. Crumb's comics were a minefield, grotesquely drawn, full of profanity, sex, and drugs.

And extreme racism. A black female character who speaks with a racist drawl and is named Angelfood McSpade? Really?

And extreme homophobia, grotesque caricatures of Gay Liberation pioneers.

And extreme sexism -- Big Women desire nothing more than complete subjugation by scrawny men.  To be slapped, beaten up, ridden like horses.

There was a lot of male nudity -- mostly scrawny men, but with very long penises.  In the 1970s, just seeing a penis in a comic strip was a cause for celebration.

But any beefcake interest was completely overwhelmed by the female nudity -- Big Women, naked, gyrating, shoving their breasts and buttocks and other parts savagely into every spare inch of the frame.

Yet there was something fascinating about the comics, something almost endearing about R. Crumb's constant self-exploration: castration anxiety, sadomasochistic fantasies, paranoia, weird fetishes, cranky old-man rants about everyday hassles....

And gay subtexts. Pairs of men, or anthropomorphic animals, often set out together to find meaning in a bizarre, meaningless world.  They got laid, of course -- usually sharing the same Big Woman -- but in the end the heterosexual shenanigans could not assuage their elemental loneliness. They found glimmers of happiness only with each other.

Although he submitted a comic to AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) in 1988, R. Crumb is still quite homophobic.  In 2009, The New Yorker commissioned him to draw a cover on gay marriage. Whose crazy idea was that?

He submitted this grotesque parody of a gay couple, and stated that he approves of gay marriage because "How are you supposed to tell what gender anyone is if they're bending it around?"

Um...Robert, did you know that most gay people have a conventional gender presentation?  

He was actually surprised when the cover was rejected!

See also: Gay Comix of the 1980s; Here at the New Yorker

"The Tender Bar": Gay Tease Hides a Homophobic Exterior


Speaking of gay teases, The Tender Bar, on Amazon Prime,claims to be about a man works on his professional and romantic life at his uncle's bar, while the 5-second long icon trailer displays two guys crusiing each other at said bar.  Obviously the man is gay, right?  

I was a little suspicious, so I did some background research.

Wikipedia doesn't give a plot synopsis, but it does list Ben Affleck as the star -- although his relationship with Matt Damon led to a lot of speculation that he was gay during the 1980s, he's actually homophobic.  Back in 1997, he said "A man kissing another man is the greatest challenge an actor can face."  I assume he meant heterosexual male actor.  So kissing a guy is much more challenging than acting in scenes where, say, you are raped or murdered.  

What if a hetero man has to kiss a woman he's not attracted to?  Wouldn't that be a challenge, too?  

Another star is Tye Sheridan, who I thought played Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, but that's Ty Burrell. Tye Sheridan played Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse.  Is Cyclops the one who developed a brief gay-subtext romance before his boyfriend was exploded?  No, that's Banshee.

Google Images claims that this is Tye Sheridan, but when you click on the link, it turns out to be Ben Hardy.  So I give up.

I watched the full trailer on IMDB:

1. Sometime in the 1940s or 1950s, a woman with an Andrews Sisters hairstyle and a 1940s-style car takes her son to live with a crotchety old man.  She tells her son: "You're going to law school," although he's only about ten.  He starts hanging out in the bar.  

2. Heterosexist moment: A bartender asks a patron, "Which sister?  The hot one or the crazy one?"  So it's not a gay bar.   Of course, it wouldn't be in the 1940s, at least not openly.

3. Another guy, maybe the Uncle, takes the boy in, shows him some books, and encourages him to become a writer. He starts banging away on an old Selectric.  (invented in 1961, so Mom must have dropped him off in the late 1950s; she just dressed 10 years out of date).  

 4. Uncle also gives the boy life advice, like: "Never hit a woman." So he's heterosexual, and he assumes the kid is, too, and the trailer wants us to be very certain of that.

5. The boy, all grown up, is entering Yale, class of 1986.  So he graduated high school in 1982.  But if he was 10 in 1959, he'd be going to college in 1967.  So Mom must have dropped him off around 1974.  Why the 1940s costume?  She must be the crazy one, not the hot one.    

6. He  meets a girl, and they have sex (by minute 1.33).  I don't need to watch anymore.

Out gay actor Ivan Leung has a handful of lines as Jimmy, the boy's classmate at Yale, but I doubt that his character is gay.  

All in all, a tease.  The two guys at the bar are apparently Uncle and Boy, just pretending that they are into each other.

And why is the bar tender?  I keep thinking Tender Trap, a 1955 movie about a man who accidentally proposes to two women at the same time.  I read an article specifically entitled "What is the meaning of The Tender Bar title?", but it just said that the boy liked it.

It's based upon a "memoir" by J. R. Moehringer, who, like every writer, debotes his first book to the story of a young man who wants to become a writer (it sounds claustrophobic, but they all do it).  

The word "gay" does not appear in the novel, but in one scene, Uncle Charlie tells a patron that if he finds Sigourney Weaver attractive, he must be "a homosexual."  Huh?  But she's a woman.  

So the memoir is homophobic.  

By the way, Moehringer was born in 1964, so Mom actually did drop him off at Grandpa's in 1974.  She just like to dress like the Andrews Sisters.

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