Dec 3, 2022

The Top 8 Hunks of "Siesta Key"


Siesta Key (2017-), on Hulu, is the last tv show I would ever consider watching: "an exclusive group of friends come of age in the most beautiful beach town in America."  Fire Island?  The half-page illustration features a bikini-clad blond woman in the foreground, with some more bikini-clad blond women in the background and three blurry guys, one with his shirt off. Not even a token person of color?   

The icons of 16 of 18 Season 1 episodes feature a woman having emotions. In Season 2, some of the icons show men interacting with the women.  And the episode descriptions: all about women choosing between two men, deciding whether to tell their friend that their boyfriend is cheating, getting upset because their boyfriend is cheating, getting sleazy at a party, pursuing their bikini-modeling careers, and running on the beach in slow motion.  

I was planning to review an episode, to prove that I can find gay subtexts in anything, even this heterosexual-male-gaze-obsessed series about the romantic lives of Playboy centerfolds, but the endless shots of jiggling bikini babes would be too much for me (some gay men are neutral about feminine pulchritude, and some even enjoy looking at it, but many find it disgusting).  Let's just look at the background hunks instead.

Research update: this is a reality show on MTV, 5 seasons to date, and Siesta Key, Florida is a real place, a barrier island about an hour's drive south of Tampa.

1. Alex Kompothecras,
rich, decadent, and a player (what we used to call a playboy). The phrase "coming of age" usually refers to teenagers, who are not adult yet, but this guy is in his mid-30s.  Quite muscular, but not as morally upright as one would expect from the beefcake in a bouncing-bikini show: he got in trouble for animal cruelty (to a shark, not to his dog), and then was fired from MTV for a series of racist tweets. 

2. Brandon Gomes
, the fun-loving partier and an aspiring musician. A person of color, he didn't appear in the pilot.  Did someone point out that 41% of the population of Florida is African-American or Hispanic?  (Brandon is actually Cape Verdean)

3. Garrett Miller
, the nice guy, a jock with an 8-pack.  Or is that a 12 pack?  He has a centric episode entitled "Garrett Gets a Girlfriend," so maybe he's the shy type as well.  He left the series at the end of Season 4. 

4. Sam Logan,
introduced in Season 5 to fill the good-guy void after Garrett left.  Since this is a bikini-centric program, I was unable to find any beefcake photos of Sam where he's not kissing a girl or standing behind a girl in a bikini.  This is the most beefcake-heavy, although his chest and abs are partially obscured by a potbelly pig, and a bikini girl is hanging on his shoulder. 

5. Paul Apostolides
(Pauly Paul), an aspiring rapper and all-around annoyance.  He was fired (I assume) after a series of videos emerged where he discusses drug use, threatens to have his "black friends" beat up two castmates, and brags about sex with an 11-year old boy.  He doesn't like adult men, however, just bikini babes.

6. Ben Riney,
an ex-boyfriend who shows up to cause complications for Maddison, cheat on her, and vanish to Sarasota.

7. Carson Wall,
who appears in Seasons 1-3 to kiss girls.  His instagram page contains 3,540 girl-kissing photos and 13 beefcake photos unaccompanied by bikinis.

8. Joe Jenkins, the only LGBTQ person in the State of Florida, was introduced in Season 3, and came out as bi during Season 4.  He only dates women on the show, of course.

Dec 2, 2022

The Nutcracker: Men in Tights

When I was a kid, our church forbade movies, theater, carnivals, circuses -- basically anything that had a plot.  And my working-class parents disapproved of anything "long hair."  So ballet and opera were completely alien.

Except at Christmastime, when we would go to see "The Nutcracker" at Centennial Hall on the Augustana College campus, or at Rock Island High School, or both.  One year the Youth Symphony participated, so I got to be in the orchestra pit for eight full performances.

The plot is heterosexist -- Elsa receives a nutcracker shaped like a toy soldier for Christmas.  He comes to life, fights an army of mice, and reveals that he is actually a prince.  They return to his kingdom, the Land of Sweets, where he makes Elsa his queen.

But who pays attention to the plot?  No matter what people tell you, they go to ballets for one reason, and one reason only: to celebrate male or female beauty.  Dances in form-fitting tights, swaying and twisting, making every curve and muscle visible.

No other art, not even bodybuilding, displays the male physique so openly and extensively.  You don't just get a glimpse or a hint -- everything is out there, through the entire performance.

No wonder every gay kid in town, even those who were otherwise obsessed with sports, couldn't wait for Christmas.

 The only ballet dancer I knew by name was Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), who danced in a tv version of The Nutcracker in 1968.  I also saw him on The Muppet Show in 1977, and in Romeo and Juliet in 1982 (which also has a heterosexist plot, but who cares?)

I didn't know at the time that he was gay in real life, and dated a number of celebrities, including Raymundo de Larrain and Tab Hunter (left), plus his long-time lover Erik Bruhn.  I responded to his passion, his obvious joy at being an object of desire, and his superlative physique.

He was even able to invest The Nutcracker with gay symbolism, transforming the Prince into an outcast, a wooden soldier who longs to be a "real boy."

I discovered Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948-) in a 1977 tv version of The Nutcracker, and later in Carmen (1980) and Don Quixote (1984).  He was more muscular than Nureyev, and an accomplished actor, but his aggressively heterosexual stance bothered me, as if he wanted to "redeem" ballet from its gay reputation.

Good luck.  Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), the first ballet superstar, was gay, and caused a scandal with his erotic movements (the audience rioted at the premiere of The Rites of Spring).

So was Tchaikovsky, who scored The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

See also: Erik Bruhn, Closeted Ballet Great.; Ten Nutcracker Beefcake Boys

10 Gay Things You Didn't Know about "White Christmas"

1. White Christmas is not about Christmas.  It's a backstage musical that just happens to end at Christmastime.  Backstage movies were well-known for gay subtexts.

2. The songs are by Irving Berlin, who looked good in a swimsuit.

3. It's about two showbiz partners, Bob and Phil (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye), who find their relationship threatened by women.

4. The women, Judy and Betty (Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney), are sisters.  At least, they perform as sisters, although their numbers would work well in a drag act.

God help the mister, who comes between me and my sister
And God help the sister who comes between me and my man!

5. Bob and Phil perform as "sisters," too.

6. Rosemary Clooney was a gay icon and reputedly bisexual.

7. Early in his career, Bing Crosby was the roommate of gay jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke.

8. Danny Kaye was bisexual.  He had a long term romance with Sir Laurence Olivier.

9. He played gay fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Anderson, whose psychiatrist coined the word "homosexual."

10. John Brascia was in the cast as a "special dancer."  You can see his physique, and his bulge, in several numbers.  As far as I can determine, he didn't have any gay rumors.

Nov 29, 2022

Behind the Iron Curtain: A Radio Free Europe Commercial from the 1970s

During the early 1970s, when fear of the Soviet Union was rampant, a tv commercial appeared depicting a boy with rusty chains wrapped around his head, being brainwashed by Soviet propaganda.  A voiceover solemnly intoned "They took his country.  Now they're taking his mind.  Millions of children are growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Albania ... Bulgaria ... Czechoslovakia ... Hungary ... Poland ... Romania ... Yugoslavia."

I thought the boy was cute.  Maybe I could rescue him from his brainwashing!

In the school library, I found books on most of the countries "behind the Iron Curtain," with lots of pictures of boys and men.  They weren't sitting in dark rooms with chains around their heads.  They were dancing in traditional costumes, swimming in public pools, going to school, or just posing in groups.

But that made the brainwashing more insidious, I reasoned.  It was even more important to go to those countries and rescue them:



Czechoslovakia  (now the Czech Republic and Slovakia)




Yugoslavia (now divided into several countries, which I'm not going to list here, because if I make a mistake, I'll get in trouble).

I recently found the commercial on youtube.  It was directed by Jack Goodford, who also directed Mr. Magoo Cartoons for the UPA Studio.

Radio Free Europe was an anti-communist group broadcasting news and information from its base in Munich.  It still broadcasts to 21 countries in 28 languages.

R.E.M. has a song called "Radio Free Europe."  I don't understand the lyrics:

Keep me out of country in the word
Deal the porch is leading us absurd
Push that push that push that to the hull
That this isn't nothing at all

Public Penises of Eastern Europe


You'll find a lot of muscular guys in Eastern Europe, where bodybuilding is nearly as popular as soccer (pictured: Bulgarian bodybuilder Dimitar Dimitrov).  But outside of the Czech Republic and Hungary, beefcake in public art is scarce.  The combined influence of Slavic churches and Soviet-era puritanism has taken its toll.

When someone does erect a nude male statue, there's usually a public outcry.  This statue of a nude Roman Emperor Trajan, one of the founders of Romania, placed on the steps of the National Museum of Romanian History in Bucharest, has caused jeers of derision. 

Both for his nudity and for the fact that he's holding a wolf with a scarf (it's actually the Capitoline Wolf, who fed Romulus and Remus, attached to the Dacian Dragon).

When a nude statue of Prometheus the Fire-Bringer was erected in the Park of the Heroes of Macedonia in Skopje, public outcry forced Macedonian officials to give the god golden underwear.

But there is still beefcake to be found, often in the most unexpected places.

Like this naked man seemingly hovering in mid-air over the Bryda River in Bydgoszcz, Poland, commemorating Poland joining the European Union.

Or the Naked Swordsman at the University of Wroclaw, erected to warn students against incautious spending (apparently he was a student who bet everything he owned, except his sword, and lost).

More after the break.

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