Feb 3, 2024

"The Summer I Turned Pretty," Season 2: As God is my witness, I heard Spike say he was dating a boy


I reviewed The Summer I Turned Pretty last summer, and said it had a lot of gay potential.  The second season just dropped on Amazon Prime, so I'll see if any of that potential was realized.  The premise: a poor girl (actually upper-upper middle classt and her famous-writer mother spend the summer with Mom's ultra-rich ex-girlfriend and her two hot teenage sons, both of whom are in love with her.  

Season One Recap: Not promising.  I lost track of the number of boy-girl smooches.  It looks like both brothers and a third guy are in love with her.  For a girl named "Belly," she gets a lot of action. The only other plot point appears to be either Mom or her ex-girlfriend dying of cancer.  

Scene 1
: It's the second summer that Belly's been pretty.  She lounges by the pool, the two brothers.  Psych!  It was a daydream!  She's actually in class, she's broken up with Conrad, and the lady with cancer has died.  "Escaping to your dreams is easier than living with your memories," she muses. But not to worry, Corey (Louis Tomeo, left), the hot guy who sits in front of her picked this moment to flirt. Except we never see him again.  He's just there to signify that everyone is intensely attracted to Belly.

Switch to Belly smooching with Conrad (Christopher Briney, top photo), the first of the brothers  "This almost doesn't seem real."  Psych!  This one isn't a dream -- it's a memory from last summer.  

The memory continues:  Conrad tells her how much he loves her, Belly drops a bombshell: "Your brother and I have been dating, too.  He's got a bigger cock than you, but you are better looking.  I don't know which to choose."  Ok, I may have edited the dialogue slightly. 

Conrad talks her into breaking up with Cock Boy.  They sneak into the house and talk to Cancer Mom, who is delighted to see that her son is heterosexual.  They grin and giggle for a long time, enjoying their shared heterosexual privilege. 

Scene 2:
Back in the present, the teacher dismisses the class for the summer.  Despondent, Belly starts unloading her locker.  A clump of girls tries to talk  her into volleyball camp, and Steven (Sean Kaufman, left) whoops and hollers about going to Princeton in the fall.  He just found out now?  

His friend, a long-haired boy named Spike (Colby Burton),  rushes up, exuberant about the upcoming graduation party: "I'm dating the singer."  One of the girls complains that his boyfriend is a  "Machine Gun Kelly wannabe." 

Since when do 1930s gangsters sing?  Oh, he's actually an alternative rock/hip hop singer. So unless I misunderstood the dialogue, Spike is dating a boy.

Next Belly's counselor tells her that  her grades took a nosedive, and she dropped out of volleyball, so her chances of getting into a good college are nil.  That's not true.  I got a D in chemistry and still got into a...um...college.  "Have you thought of Finch Blockhead Academy?  They let in anyone with money."

More Cock Boy after the break

"Soap": The First Gay Human on TV

During the 1970s, gay characters were rare on tv. Maybe three or four times a year, there would be a killer transvestite on a drama or a "visiting friend comes out"on a sitcom.  But even those three or four would be invisible, described in TV Guide as "a shocking killer" or "a visiting friend has a secret."

That all changed on September 13, 1977, a Tuesday night, at 8:30 pm, the end of a night of blockbuster must-see tv: Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three's Company.  Then, while sprightly music played, an announcer said:  ""This is the story of two sisters—Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell".

Later episodes would give a brief plot synopsis, followed by "Confused? You won't be after this episode of...Soap."

You needed the plot synopsis!  Soap was a soap opera spoof, with plotlines as over-the-top as anything General Hospital or One Life to Live could throw at you.

The two families were:

The wealthy Tates

1. Ditzy, horny Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond,  later known as the ditzy, horny Mona on Who's the Boss).  She has affairs, goes on trial for murder, and ends up in a coma in South America (but still butting in).

2. Stick-in-the mud husband Chester (Robert Mandan), who mostly just has affairs and goes to prison

3. Teenage Billy (Jimmy Baio, left), who joins a cult and is seduced by his teacher (then, when he dumps her, she keeps trying to kill him).

4.  Twenty-something Corinne (Diana Canova), who has various boyfriends, including the priest Father Tim (Sal Viscuso) and the criminal Dutch (Donnelly Rhodes).

5. The sarcastic butler (Robert Guillaume).

The working-class Campbells

1. Stable, sane Mary (Cathryn Damon), Jessica's sister.

2. Her dopey husband Burt (Richard Mulligan), who accidentally killed some people, thinks he's invisible, and gets abducted by aliens and replaced by a clone.

3. Their "sons," Chuck and Bob (Jay Johnson, right).  Chuck is the living one, Bob the ventriloquist's dummy...um, I mean assistant, who everyone treats as real.

4. Danny (Ted Wass, top photo), another son, a gangster who has a variety of girlfriends who die or get kidnapped or reject him.

5. Jodie (Billy Crystal), who is gay.

You heard me.

The first gay regular character on network television!

The writers didn't quite know what "gay" meant.  Jodie starts off planning a sex-change operation so he can be with his closeted boyfriend.  Then he's gay.  Then he falls in love with a lesbian, so I guess he's bi?  Then he's gay again.

But he has no swishy mannerisms.

And his family is completely supportive, even if they don't understand (which gives him an opportunity for several Gay 101 lessons):

Jessica:  You know, Jodie, in my day there were no such thing as homosexuals.
Jodie:  Aunt Jessica, there have been homosexuals since ancient times.
Jessica: Who?
Jodie:  Aristotle, Plato.
Jessica: Plato????  Mickey Mouse's dog was gay?

Plus Jodie was a full participant in plotlines that weren't about him.  He wasn't there just for the Gay 101 lessons.  He lived an everyday life (as everyday as the Tates and Campbells got, anyway), discussing the day's crisis along with everyone else.  An equal.

For the first time in television history, we could tune in every week to watch a gay person being human.

"Big CIty Greens": Disney Channel Cartoon with Gay Characters (If You Freeze Frame and Use a Magnifying Glass)


Big City Greens is a Disney Channel animated series about a family of hillbillies -- Dad Bill, tween son Cricket, preteen daughter Tilly, Grandma -- who move to the big city (named Big City), where they start a farm.  Sounds like the Beverly Hillbillies so far.  It's reputed to have a gay character, so I watched the season 1 episode "Valentine Dance."

Scene 1: Cricket complains as the family (plus Bill's lady friend) go to a "mushy Valentine's Dance."  Tilly supports "love in its many forms," but Grandma disapproves: "in my day, you didn't dance until you were married."

Inside -- two male-female couples dancing -- Tilly vows to be like Cupid and "make someone fall in love tonight."  Cricket meets his friends, who ask if he's going to "ask a girl to dance."  He says no, since "dancing with a girl is the gateway to falling in love.  Love takes away your freedom. Better to just do dude stuff, like those two guys."  

We see a blue-purple gay couple dancing together.  So there are gay people in Big City, but Cricket, being from the country, is unaware that they exist.

Scene 2:  The adults get their assignments: Dad Bill mans the snack table, and Lady Friend and Grandma will work as a chaperones.  Wait -- is this a kids' dance?  Looks like mostly adults on the dance floor.

Meanwhile, Cricket and his friends are reveling in their freedom from girls, yelling: "Boys! Boys! Boys!"  That's my motto, too.   Suddenly a girl interrupts to ask Cricket to dance.  Gasp!  It's the Girl of His Dreams, all glittery in slow motion!  Heterosexist cliche, but I guess if you're five years old, it's new to you.  

Uh-oh, now Cricket is torn between loyalty to his friends and his libido.  He runs away, only to bump into the teenage Gloria. He reveals his conflicting emotion, and she diagnoses: "You have a crush on this girl!"  

Scene 3:  Tilly has taken the bow and arrow from a statue of Cupid, and is shooting people at random: Gloria, plus the male half of three male-female couples.  But no one is falling in love, so she prays to Cupid for guidance.  

She shoots her last arrow at the blue half of the gay couple, saying "You poor pitiful creature, you're about to fall in love!" (he has a boyfriend!  But I guess that doesn't count).  He bends over at the last moment, and the arrow boomerangs and hits Tilly.  She falls in love with a statue of a muscular man.

Meanwhile, Cricket is horrified by flashes of visions about marrying The Girl, feeding her grapes, kissing her, and so on.  He rushes into the gym and climbs into the swimming pool, hoping that the water will keep his heterosexual feelings at bay.  But The Girl is there, for some reason, so he runs back to the dance. 

Scene 4:
If he can just surround himself with guys, Cricket won't fall in love (that never worked for me).   But all of his guy friends are now dancing with girls!  His last defense has fallen!  Wait -- maybe if he turns on the sprinklers, he can dampen the boys' ardour and save them.

Lady Friend stops him before he can dampen the party, and wants to know why he's so averse to falling in love.  "Because love creates nothing but pain."  She says that love creates joy, too, so Cricket decides to face his destiny.  He finds the Girl of His Dreams and tells her that he's ready to embrace his love.  But he was acting so weird that she asked another boy to dance instead.  

Scene 4: Cricket ends up dancing with the teenage girl (whose boyfriend never showed up), Dad dances with Lady Friend (actually his ex-wife, Nancy), Tilly dances with the statue.  We pan out to a dance floor occupied by eight boy-girl couples, and if you freeze frame and look carefully, the bottom halves of the gay couple from Scene 1.  

By the way, the gay couple is Alexander (the blue one) and Terry (the purple one, who never speaks).  They appear in six episodes.  According to series creator Chris Houghton, they are intended to be a gay couple, but no one ever identifies them as such, to provide deniability: "They could just be best friends." Just in case Mom and Dad don't want Junior to know that gay people exist until he turns 21. If then.

But that tiny bit of representation is drowned out by incessant heteronormative "love means boys and girls!"  

Feb 2, 2024

"Asteroid City": Bleak 1950s play within a play within a play, with one tiny gay kiss and some bonus butts and dicks

Movie night was Asteroid City (2023), which I thought would be about atomic testing in Nevada in the 1950s.  Instead, I was watching the Theater of the Absurd.  Maybe Ionesco, where your mother turns into a giraffe and offers you brownies,  or a Monte Python episode where one sketch bleeds into another, so Vikings are suddenly talking to the Minister of Finance about the hippodrome tariff. 

Link to NSFW version

As far as I can tell, there are two plays with plays.

1. In an old-fashioned black and white tv studio, a narrator tells us that what we are witnessing is a story, not real. The curtain opens to reveal:

2. The Playwright (Edward Norton, top) auditioning an actor for the lead in his play (Jason Schwartzman), who brings him ice cream, changes into a different costume, and delivers a nonsequiter monologue.  They kiss.  But don't get excited: it's in the distance, and never referenced again, while there are three or four heterosexual romances coming up. We cut to the main story:

A lot of people arrive for the Junior Stargazers' Convention in Asteroid City, Nevada, where an asteroid crashed a long time ago (they mean a meteor).  During the opening speeches, an alien descends from a spaceship and grabs the asteroid.  Everyone is put under quarantine, while the government tries to convince them that nothing happened.  After a week, the government is about to lift the quarantine, but the alien returns and gives the asteroid back.  The quarantine is on again, but everyone riots, and the next day they are gone.  Maybe it was all a dream.

While all this is going on, there are several soap opera stories.  Steinbeck (Jason Schwartzman again, I think) arrives with his son and three young daughters.  He was going to leave the son and go on to his wealthy father-in-law's house to bury his wife's ashes, but his car broke down.  During the quarantine his three daughters, who are witches, bury the ashes in the desert and perform a spell to resurrect her.  She isn't actually resurrected, but she apparently appears in a flashback or flash-sideways scene.

Left: This is Jason Schwartzman's penis.  It is not Jason Schwartzman's penis, it is a salami.  It is not a salami, it is the diary of a 17th century French poet who wrote about salamis.

I figured that Steinbeck must be the famous novelist and nude model, who was active in Hollywood at the time, so I went scurrying to wikipedia for his biography.  It doesn't match.

Matt Dillon plays a mechanic who is examining Steinbeck's car, when a part he has never seen before falls out and starts sputtering. He never appears again. 

More nonsequiters after the break.

Jak and Kelton visit the Citadel: Beach Day, Dick Day, wrestling, modeling, dating, and a tour of the campus


Jak Kristowski is a South Carolina-based media influencer, actor, producer, model, Disney fan, Baptist, missionary, and surfer.  His stage credits include  Aladdin: the Musical, David vs. Goliath, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jr., and Anastasia, and he is the executive producer of the fan-based movie Spider-Man: The Dark Age.

Link to NSFW version

In Episode 3.9 of The Righteous Gemstones, Jesse sends his wayward son Pontius to The Citadel, the South Carolina military college.  Jak was cast as one of Pontius's classmates. 
His scene was cut. but he got to meet Jody Hill, Danny McBride, and Kelton Dumont, he got a free lunch and a campus tour, and of course he still was paid.  He posted some pics of his experience on his instagram, and I added some of my own.

The Citadel enrolls  2,300 cadets who want the military-style education they might receive at West Point or Annapolis, but without the obligation of entering the military after graduating.  No Battle Logistics: you major in one of the standard academic subjects, like English or history.

The library and student union don't look much different from those of other colleges, except for the uniforms

More cadets after the break

Peter Parros: Hookups with the Hunk of "Knightrider"

I never saw Knight Rider (1982-1986), with 1980s hunk David Hasselhoff as a secret agent with a magic talking car. I had other things to do on Friday nights, and besides, the premise made me uncomfortable:
The title is a pun on "night riders," the Ku Klux Klan.
Michael Knight works for the Foundation for Law and Government, which sounds right-wing reactionary.
And the car, KITT, is voiced by William Daniels, who played a disgusting homophobe on St. Elsewhere.

But I did like Peter Parros, who played Michael's sidekick in Season 4. A scene where they are tied up side-by-side in muscle shirts got saved to a VHS tape, and made the rounds of West Hollywood parties, along with frequent stories of hookups.  (But usually in a three-way with David Hasselhoff, which made the veracity of the stories suspect.)

Is there anything else you need to know about him?

How about: Knight Rider was his first starring role.  He moved on to play a variety of soap opera hunks, on One Life to Live, The Young and the Restless, and As the World Turns.

In The Haves and the Have Nots (2013-), a soap opera with a primarily African-American cast, Peter plays David Harrington (nice soap opera name!), who is supportive of his gay son in spite of his wife's homophobia.

Peter has never made any public coming-out statements, but I know several guys in West Hollywood who claim to have seen his beneath -the-belt attributes  (in a word, spectacular).

"Killing It": Scotty McArthur as a python wrangler with a bulge, a butt, and a gay subtext. With bonus old man dick.

Killing It
 (2022-23) is a satire on the Horatio Alger myth: that anyone can and should become rich through hard work and ingenuity, so if you're not rich, you're lazy and stupid.  Craig Robinson (right) stars as a mild-mannered nebbish trying to make some easy money as a python hunter.

Link to NSFW version

I reviewed Episode 1.4, "Carlos," because it features the bulge and butt of Scotty McArthur.

Intro: A rather hunky dad and daughter are playing miniature golf.  The ball rolls into a castle but doesn't come out, so Dad reaches in to fetch it -- and you know what happens next, right?  

Scene 1:
 Craig and his friend Jillian tromping through the Everglades, looking for pythons so they can collect the big prize.  She complains about a guy she met online: she pretended that she was rich to lure him in, and now he wants to meet.  But if he discovers that she is really poor, he'll dump her.  What to do?

They're interrupted by two bushes that turn into python hunters in camoflauge suits: Brock (Scott McArthur) and his teenage son Corby (Wyatt Walter), who videotapes him killing the pythons to post online and make a fortune. Hopefully.  .

Dad and son continue to argue: "I can never do my homework because I'm always editing your stupid videos." "I'm trying to set you up for life. Would you rather know geometry or Adobe?"  Geometry, dude. Adobe sucks.

They order Craig and Jillian off their hunting grounds, 

Scene 2:
 Craig and Jillian are still tromping through the swamp, when they hear someone yelling for help.  It's the teenager, Corby: Dad is being strangled by a python!  Its head is near Brock's dick, so Craig kills it with a bolt gun ("don't cut off my dick!").  Brock rips off his camoflauge suit revealing a thong and a nice bulge.  He claims that he was just pretending to be strangled for the video. 

Then why did he pee?  "That's snake piss.  The snake pissed on top of my penis."

So who gets to turn in the snake?  They argue, and finally decide to turn it in together.

Scene 3: Whoops, the agent won't let them chop the snake in half.  Only the part with the head counts.  So, one of you turn it in, and split the money.  Besides, they can't win: they're too far behind the cool guy who is getting off his motorcycle, only his boots visible: Carlos.  He's brought in 20 pythons in the last four days!

"Hey, save some for the rest of us," Craig jokes.  Carlos glares, and tromps out to kill some more.

Brock suggests that they work together: "Two archenemies teaming up to vanquish a common foe." 

Scene 4: They go to Brock's house so he can change clothes -- outside, so he doesn't alert his wife.  If she sees him, she's going to want sex, gross!  If you don't like girls, dude, why did you marry one?  

Scene 5:
 When Corby was taping the exterior of the Wildlife Office for the video, he accidentally got a shot of Carlos' motorcycle.  They take it to the DMV so Brok's friend Matt can run the plates.  Did Brock  just grab Craig's hand? At first he refuses, but then Brock points out that Matt is sleeping with his wife, so....

Actually, Brock doesn't care about the affair.  He can't have sex with his wife anyway, because of his elbow injury. I'm no expert on heterosexual sex, but is an elbow really so essential?

(Notice the gratuitous muscle on the van behind Corby.)

 All Brock cares about is losing his best friend. Aww, gay subtext.  Matt is guilted into running the plates: the bike is registered to Family Fun Time Adventure Park.  

Meanwhile, out in the parking lot, Jillian asks teenage Corby for advice: Is it ok to pretend to be rich so a guy will like you?  Corby thinks it's unethical.  For instance, he was playing an online video game with a guy he thought was his own age, but he turned out to be 50!  A major betrayal!

"Maybe he thought that if he told you the truth, you wouldn't like him," Jillian suggests.  

"Dude, he's 50! Older than my Dad!"  Besides, it was just an online game.  The guy wasn't hitting on Corby.

She continues to press the issue.  "But have you thought about meeting with him in person, to see if you have a connection?"  

"He lives in Arizona.  And he's married."  So you'd be into meeting a guy your own age who lives nearby? 

"Are you going to throw away something so special because of one little lie?" 

"So you want me to hook up with him?"  Jillian is actually talking about her own thing, but she obviously thinks that Corby is gay, and he doesn't deny it. Gay character?  

Scene 6: Reunited, the group goes to the Family Fun Park.  They describe Carlos to some employees, and are directed to Condom Carl, who has a job moping up the puke and picking up the used condoms (teenagers have sex at the park a lot).   They wonder how this Superman of python hunting can also be a lowly condom wrangler.  If he's working full time at the park, how does he even have time for hunting?  And what about the double-locked maintenance shed?

Scene 7: Craig, Jillian,and Brock return late at night, and break into the maintenance shed.  Ulp, he's got python incubators!  He's hatching his own! 

Jillian wants to to notify the authorities, but Brock wants to kill the snakes and bring them in for the prize. An ethical dilemma!  Craig agrees with Brock. "They are pythons.  No one said you had to find them in the swamp. Besides, everyone lies.  Everyone cheats. This is the world we live in." 

Uh-oh, Brock was standing too close to one of the space heaters used to incubate the snakes.  His camoflauge costume is on fire!  He manages to get it off (more thong shot.  They run  out just as flames engulf the shed, and spread to the rest of the fun park. The end.

I skipped the B Plot, where Isaiah (Rell Battle) gets a job helping shady business mogul Rodney with his scams.  Rodney gives him a "welcome to the company" gift: the body of his predecessor!  "Do you like it?  I would have put a bow on him, but I ran out of time. Now let's go eat some fajitas."  It's linked to the episode's theme, that everybody cheats, but no one interacts with the characters in the A Plot.

Beefcake: Scotty's bulge and butt.

Gay Characters: Doubtful, but both Brock and Corby have gay subtexts.

Python Overpopulation:. Over the last twenty years, the Burmese python population in Florida has exploded -- no natural predators in the ecosystem. They have eaten virtually all mammals in the Everglades, and they are headed into populated areas.  The government has hired dozens of "python removal agents," and holds regular hunting competitions, with cash prizes.  This stuff is real.

My Grade: The ethical dilemmas were unexpectedly interesting, and I understand that Craig and Brock's choices become increasingly immoral, until they are completely corrupt -- but rich.  Plus I liked the subtexts. B.

Now who wants to see an old man's dick?

Scotty's bulge and butt and J.B. Edwards' dick are on RG Beefcake and Bonding

Feb 1, 2024

"Bumper in Berlin" Episode 1,1: The Jerk from "Pitch Perfect" turns into a nice guy, moves to Berlin, and doesn't get The Girl


Remember Bumper, the insufferable jerk from Pitch Perfect played by Adam Devine?  In November 2022, he spun off into his own tv series, Bumper in Berlin.

Link to NSFW Version

The only other male character in the regular cast is Pieter Kramer (Flula Borg, left).  Not many opportunities for buddy-bonding gay subtexts here, but Adam is one of most handsome men on Earth, and Flula is one of the most muscular, so maybe I'll watch with the sound off just for the face and physique.  Besides, the episodes have cute German titles like Backpfeifengesicht (face in need of a fist -- sounds like Bumper).

Scene 1: Bumper singing a capella with some old guys.  "Baby, I'll show you how a real queen behaves."  Not necessary -- I've seen Kelvin.  "You may think I'm weak without a sword, but if I had one, it'd be bigger than yours."  Tell me more about your...um, sword, Bumper. 

"If all the kings had queens on their throne, we'd toast champaign...I'll be your queen."  Girlfriend, that's as homoerotic as a song gets.  Did you forget that you're not playing Kelvin?

Lights go up.  This is a rehearsal for Bumper's new group, the Tonehangers. They'll be performing at a retirement center next month. Whoa, the old people won't know what hit them.

The other guys have to go -- wives, kids, stuff to do.  Bumper claims that he has stuff to do, too, but actually he's all alone. I hate the heterosexist equation of wife and kids with success, but I'll give it a pass due to the homoerotic song.  And he's working as a security guard at his old college but he's still planning on becoming a famous singer, somehow. Bummer, Bumper.

Scene 2:  Bumper is locking up as part of his security guard duties, when he gets a phone call from Germany: a fan of his college performances and his recent appearances on game shows and Tik-Tok.   "Wait -- how do you know all this?" Bumper asks, horrified. "Are you a pervert?"  Come on, dude, any fan would know those things.  I know that Adam was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Well, to be fair, I just remember it because my home town is nearby.  

"I'm a pervert for talent," the voice says --revealed to be Pieter Kramer.  "We have met before." Turns out that he belonged to Das Sound Machine, a rival a capella group.  "You are a big Tik Tok star in Germany."  His TikTok involved making funny faces while singing the very sad song "Neun und neunsig Luftballon."  "You got 7.6 million views!"

"That's like a million views!" Bumper exclaims.  

Pieter wants him to move to Berlin and become his client.   "It's all happening!" he exclaims.  "All of those failures were worth it, because now I'll never fail again."  Har-har.

Scene 3
: Bumper arrives at a horrible, graffiti-filled, run-down building in Berlin.  Pieter greets him.  They hug; Bumper is so excited that he won't let go, but to his credit, Pieter does not recoil in homophobic contempt. 

Upstairs to his horrible office with a window facing the train tracks.  Pieter's assistant Heidi arrives: Sarah Hylund, who played Adam's girlfriend on Modern Family!  I guess we know where the sparks will fly.

An American, an airhead, she gives him American cheese (almost impossible to find in Germany) and a caffeine pill (to avoid jet lag). Sparks fly.

Pieter has prepared a comic strip of Bumper's path to superstardom, culminating in a gig as "the hottest new singer" at German Unity Day in two months.  

Scene 4: 
 The three walking through Brandenburg Gate, getting a sandwich from a food truck: "It's made with dead animals."  "Oh, it's meat."  

A stranger (Govinda Cholleti) and his crew recognize Bumper from his Tik-Tok!

They arrive at the horrible youth hostel where Bumper will be staying.  The scary lady manager scowls at him: "I truly am meeting you."  Har-har. 

They want to leave him alone in his horrible dorm to "get some rest," but he wants to go with them: "I'll get nervous if I'm alone."  And scared of the scary lady?

More after the break

"The Line of Beauty": Thatcher-era gay guy settles in with a conservative MP, dates closeted guys with dicks


Amazon Prime has been pushing The Line of Beauty, a British drama about a poor boy who moves in with his ultra rich, ultra powerful classmate.  The trailer shows him smooching with an old guy, so apparently he seduces the Dad. There are three parts, each an hour long, set in 1983, 1986, and 1987.  I'll review the 1983 episode, "The Love Chord."

Link to NSFW version

Scene 1: Closeup of a huge mansion in the ritzy Notting Hill section of London. Two guys arrive. "Is this where you live?" Nick Guest (Dan Stevens) asks, overwhelmed. Guest, har har.  His classmate Toby (Oliver Coleman): "Well, where my parents live."  Sounds like a Saltburn or Brideshead Revisited coming up.

Nick continues to gawk as Toby leads him through the house. An elderly lady with an Italian accent shows him his room: quite a let down, tiny, with awful wallpaper. Don't worry, you'll be in the master suite as soon as you seduce a few family members. 

Scene 2: 
 Dinner time.  Dad (Tim McInnerny) has just been elected a Member of Parliament for the Conservative Party.  In the homophobic 1980s!  Their affair is going to cause quite a scandal.   

Left: Tim McInnerny prepares to go down on a bellhop in What the Butler Saw.

Plot dump: Nick has graduated from Oxford with a First in English, and is now is working on his doctorate, researching Henry James. He has agreed to housesit all summer, while Mom and Dad are in France and Toby is traveling through Europe.  Wait, I thought this would be a Nick-Toby romance, or at least Nick seducing Toby first on his way through the family.   "Oh, we forgot to mention that you will be taking care of our mentally ill teenage daughter, Cat."

Cut to Toby shaving in a towel (nice physique!), giving Nick the deets.  Cat used to cut herself, but she's on medication, and feeling better. 

"Does she know...?"  Nick asks.  Sure, and she's fine with it.  Say the Word, idjits!  He gazes at Toby's butt.  Not good enough -- say it!

Scene 3: Mom, Dad, the housekeeper, and Toby say goodbye and drive away.  That night, Nick is reading a Henry James novel, when Cat appears in a bathrobe with booze and two glasses. She lights up a marijuana joint. I thought she knew?  Maybe Girlfriend wants to snag herself some gay cock

"What's it like being gay?" she begins.  "It seems perfectly normal to me."

Next question: "Have you shagged Toby?"  No, he's straight. "But you fancy him."  Of course not. Are we going to get an unrequited love plotline?   Nick isn't dating anyone at present, so Cat decides to find him a guy. 

Scene 4: Nick comes home to find Cat talking to an elderly working-class man, who keeps grinning and gazing lustfully at him.  Ulp, not Nick's type!  Psych: he's not a hookup, he's just visiting.  She has actually been searching the personal ads (remember those?).  "Black guy, late 20s, very good looking."  

Nick calls to make a date with Black Guy, Late 20s, then rushes downstairs to tell Cat.  But she's gone -- and one of the knives is missing from the kitchen!  She's cut herself.  But she was so happy before.   He bandages her wound, then goes to her room and confiscates her knife collection.

Scene 5: As they walk in the garden, Nick asks if Cat knows what causes the urge to cut herself, or if she can tell when it's coming.  She doesn't get any advance warning: her mood has nothing to do with it.  Suddenly everything suddenly goes "black and glittering," and she has to stop living.  He wants to call the parents, but she assures him that it won't happen again. If  she has no control over it, how can she promise that?

Cut to evening. Cat doesn't want to go back to her room, so she sleeps on the couch, while Nick plays the piano. Hey, she's trying to sleep!  

Scene 6:
 Nick rushes to an outdoor restaurant for his date with Leo (Don Gilet), the personal ad guy.  It's rather awkward.  Leo looks for an excuse to dismiss Nick as racist, is disappointed to discover that he isn't rich, and is annoyed when he misunderstands "Let's get going."  Neither has a place, so they end up kissing and doing anal in the private garden.  Nick is the top.  A little of Leo's butt is shown. 

Scene 7:  Mom and Dad return from France with gifts of foie gras and perfume.  Nick and Cat agree that everything was brilliant, so they suggest that he stay on as Cat's attendant. Shouldn't he have training in mental illness, crisis intervention. and such? Of course he can still work on his degree, and he can bring friends over.  But can we screw in my bedroom?

Scene 8:  They visit Hawkeswood, Mom's brother's estate, which is loaded-down with French impressionist art. Uncle is impressed by Nick's knowledge of 18th century furniture.

Uncle says "Come with me -- I want to show you something," and the whole family flashes salacious grins.  This must be the old guy that Nick is snogging in the trailer. 

Psych!  He doesn't want to show Nick his dick: he has some photos from Henry James' visit to the manor in 1903. 

They discuss the guest list. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher can't make it, but a lot of Conservative MPs and the Home Secretary will be there. Ugh!  Everyone hates him.

The occasion: Toby's 21st birthday (Nick's school friend, the one who set up the housesitting- attendant gig).   He's driving down with his girlfriend.  Uncle to Nick: "There are umpteen bedrooms here.  As to the precise arrangements, I avert my eyes."  Why tell Nick this?  Surely he doesn't expect Nick to sleep with Toby.

Scene 9:  The party. Cat introduces Nick to Russell, a photographer for The Face.  Ulp, she's kissing him!  But she doesn't like him: "he's a blinding fuck."  Later they have sex on the grass; maybe "blinding fuck is a good thing."  

Next up, Nick's other school friend  joins him in evaluating the waiters' hotness, especially Tristao from Madeira. In other news, the world-famous, mega-rich Wani Ouradi (Alex Wyndham) is engaged. We see him wading through paparazzi. 

Scene 10: The dinner.  Toby's Dad gives a speech. Ulp, Tristao from Madeira, the waiter, is glaring at Nick!  

Cut to the young people's dance.  Amid the drinking, drugs, flashing lights, and Duran Duran, Nick follows Tristao the waiter, but before they can hook up, he finds himself in the sedate old person's party, being asked "What do you think of the 'coloured question'?" Then back to the chase: Tristao offers to meet him at the Main Stairs at 3:00 am.  But he looked like he was ready to attack!  Apparently in Madeiran culture, "murderous rage" indicates romantic interest.

But Nick is so drunk and tired that he falls asleep on a couch, and misses the hookup!  

I'll stop there.

Beefcake: Just Toby in a towel and a bit of Leo's butt

Gay Characters: A lot, but all closeted.  It looks like Nick will continue dating Leo, plus the mega-rich Wani Ouradi (right) and whoever the old dude is.

Toby: I was upset when he turned out to be a minor character.

Cat: The two sections, with Cat as a fragile, easily-disturbed mental patient and suave, self-assured socialite, don't seem to match.

Homophobia: We're starting the Reagan-Thatcher era of political conservatism, an AIDS panic, and homophobic backlash (the "don't mention those types" law, mentioned in my Dr. Who review, appeared during the Thatcher years). I read ahead: lots of Nick's friends and lover die of AIDS, and when Mom and Dad discover that he is gay, they reject him with extreme hatred and nasty accusations.  

And I'm worried about a homophobic ending. A review in The New Republic gives the original novel a bad rap: "an anachronistic vision of the [gay person] as a figure always doomed to be unhoused and exiled from happiness, solitary and lonely, without family or friends." 

Will I Keep Watching: Probably not. I enjoyed the first episode but things are going to get very dark very quickly. 

Everyone's butt and at least one dick on RG Beefcake and Bonding

Watching Monty Python's Flying Circus

When PBS came to Rock Island, it brought us a full-fledged British invasion. Sitcoms (Father Dear Father, Good Neighbors), science fiction (The Prisoner, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), costume drama (Upstairs Downstairs) -- and since they were on PBS, they were all educational, approved even by teachers who derided all other tv as "mindless trash."

Monty Python's Flying Circus was the most bizarre of the lot.  Ostensibly a comedy-sketch show with a regular troupe of performers, like Saturday Night Live, it had sketches that bled into other sketches, or stopped halfway through, weird semi-animated characters commenting on the action, visual puns, in-jokes, moments of sudden chaos.  In Britain, there were antecedents in The Goon Show  and This Was the Week That Was, but in America we had never seen anything like it.

And we loved it.  We repeated catch phrases over and over (I still use "Nudge nudge, wink wink!").

We discussed the inner significance of sketches with the zeal of literature scholars.

We sang "The Lumberjack Song.": "I like to put on lady's clothes and hang around in bars.."

We went to the movies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979).

In retrospect, we didn't like Monty Python very often.  Many sketches were incomprehensible, too bizarre, too busy savaging British programming conventions that we had never heard of.  And why are men in drag portraying elderly women with Yorkshire accents by definition hilarious?

But some of the sketches were -- and still are --anarchic gems.

Dead Parrot ("This is an ex-parrot!")

Hungarian Translation ("My hovercraft is full of eels.")

Nudge Nudge Wink Wink ("Is your wife...into photographs?")

Spam ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!")

There was a fair amount of nudity, many more exposed chests and abs than you would ever see on American tv.  Eric Idle (left) was particularly likely to be displayed in the altogether.

And  there were few swishy stereotyped gay characters, After Graham Chapman came out to the other troupe members in 1967, they were careful to avoid overt stereotyping of gay men, although their distaste for drag queens is often apparent.

In fact, a number of sketches skewered homophobia, as when one character suspects that another is a "poof," and casually shoots him.  Or a "Prejudice Game," in which anti-gay prejudice is placed on equal footing with racial and religious prejudice.

See also: Saturday Night Live.

Jan 31, 2024

"Doctor Who," 2005 Series: Hints, hunks, subtexts, suprise, and off-camera dicks


Doctor Who has been wildly popular in Britain for 60 years: 26 doctors in 39 seasons (1963-present), plus spin-offs, over 200 novels, and enough tie-in products to rival Star Trek in the U.S.  

Link to NSFW version

I've tried watching at various times, but it's like trying to read a Marvel comic: you're dropped into the middle of a long story, with references to characters and situations from years ago or different series: "But I thought you returned to the sub-galactic empyrion in Episode #1314!  How's Jenna?"  I even bought a history of Doctor Who to try to figure it out, but it was all studio gossip about why this or that doctor was cast.

The 2005-2021 series just dropped on MAX, starring Christopher Eggleston (below) and then David Tennant (top photo) as the Doctor (he keeps regenerating). This one is different: most episodes are self-contained, with the occasional call-back to previous series actually explained, instead of assuming that viewers have watched every episode since 1963. We even find out who the doctor is.

The premise:
 The Doctor is a Time Lord, able to zap through time and space on his Tardis vehicle (which looks like a 1960s British police box from the outside). He has a tragic back story which might be new to this series: he is the only surviving member of his species.  They were all wiped out by the evil ("Exterminate!") Daleks, but he destroyed their species in retaliation (until they return).  Now he travels around for fun or to seek out and fix time/space anomalies that threaten to destroy the universe.

Zombies plague the Victorian London of Charles Dickens.

Evil aliens are masquerading as Members of Parliament

In the year 200,000, an alien is controling the Earth.

The Doctor is in the habit of saying "It's hopeless!  There's no escape!  There's nothing I can do -- we're all going to die!"  Or "the universe will collapse at any moment, and there's no way to stop it!"  Or 'we're stuck forever on this parallel world where Britain has a president instead of a prime minister, and they've invented helicopters but not airplanes!"  Then, after the commercial break: "I've figured it out!  All we have to do is recalibrate the time coordinator and push it backwards through the space-time continnum!"  

I'm reminded of the old Star Trek series, where Captain Kirk says "The odds against us getting out of this jam are a million to one!"  Then he does it easily, and starts deciding what to wear for his promotion to Admiral.

The companion: In the first episode, the Doctor meets Rose Tyler, a working-class shop girl from 21st century London, and invites her to join him.  Rose has a tragic back story, too: her father was killed in a traffic accident while she was a baby.  Somehow the Doctor's missions often put them in parallel worlds where he's still alive (but she can't see him, or time/space will collapse), or back in time to the moment of the accident (but she can't rescue him, or flying gargoyles will destroy the world).

I don't know if the Doctor fell in love with his previous female companions, or this is a new innovation, but he and Rose are definitely falling in love.  It's a slow burn romance -- we're halfway through Season 2, and they haven't kissed yet.  Of course Rose has a boyfriend, and the Doctor is busy falling in love with the lady alien or distant-future babe of the week (even Madame de Pompadour, when he tries to prevent distant-future cyborgs from stealing her brain). 

Occasionally they pick up a second companion, a guy, but the Doctor resents the competition and quickly boots him.

The Guys
: While they are in 21st century Utah, investigating an underground museum of alien artifacts, they pick up  "boy genius" Adam Mitchell (Bruno Langley).  He is fired in the next episode, when the Doctor catches him transmitting technology from the year 200,000 to his Mum's answering machine back home.  Langley also played Todd Grimshaw, the first gay character on the long-running soap Coronation Street, from 2001 to 2003. He is heterosexual in real life.

Next, they end up in blitz-besieged World War II London, where alien technology has transformed a dead boy into an "empty boy," wandering around and asking "Are you my Mummy?"  If he touches you, you turn into an "empty boy," too.  During this adventure, they hook up with Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a loveable rogue time-traveler, and openly bisexual, flirting with men and women.  Rose is shocked by this -- apparently LGBT people do not exist in 21st century London -- but the Doctor points out that Jack is from the 51st century, when "anything goes."

Harkness left at the end of Season 1 to star in the spin-off Torchwood.  At least he kisses the Doctor goodbye.  

Barrowman is gay in real life, and married to architect Scott Gill.  He "accidentally" posted a nude photo of his husband, penis and all, to Facebook.

Eventually Rose's comic-relief boyfriend Mickey (Noel Clarke) gets tired of her having all of the adventures and talks his way into tagging along.  The Doctor thinks that he's a goofball, but eventually comes to appreciate his spunky attitude.  Mickey, by the way, is the first nonwhite companion (after 60 years?).

Gay Subtext: In the two-part "Age of Iron" (2006), the Doctor, Mickey, and Rose are trapped in a parallel world where the Big Bad is planning to replace all humans with mechanical cybermen. Mickey joins a resistance movement led by Ricky, his counterpart in that world, and Jake (Andrew Hayden-Smith), his...um...well, what are they, coworkers or boyfriends?  When Ricky is killed, Jake becomes somewhat more grief-stricken than one would expect from a good buddy.  Then Mickey steps in, and the two hug and do the hand-on-shoulder thing a lot.  Finally he decides to stay in the parallel world -- with Jake?  But also with his Gran, who is alive here.  The episode fade-out shows Jake and Mickey in their van, driving to Paris to fight the cybermen and party.

A deleted scene reveals that Ricky and Jake were canonical boyfriends.  Can't have viewers knowing for sure, can we?  

Andrew  Hayden-Smith is gay in real life. He came out in Attitude Magazine in February 2005, a year before his story arc on Doctor Who.

LGBTQ Representation: A lot of hints and nudge-nudge-wink-wink asides.  This was just after Parliament repealed Britain's infamous "don't mention that type" law, so maybe the writers were still a bit skittish.  Still, the Doctor Who wiki reveals that they continue to hint around through the end of the series, never actually Saying the Word.  This is still a heteronormative universe, where Rose can believably be shocked that men who kiss men exist.

Both of the doctors and most of the guy companions (and their real-life husbands) nude on RG Beefcake and Boyfriends.

Jan 30, 2024

Gemstones Episode 2.1 Review: Junior likes dicks, Kelvin likes pecs, and f*k yeah, we got both!


Link to NSFW review

Season 2 of The Righteous Gemstones began over two years after the Season 1 finale, and the back stories, personalities, and even the genre has changed.  Remember, Danny McBride likes his seasons to be complete stories, with no or few call-backs, so new viewers easily understand what's going on.  In fact, it may be fun for us to start afresh, watch as if we have never seen or heard of these people before.  

Memphis Soul Stew: Memphis, 1968. Teenage Eli Gemstone, the Maniac Kid (Jake Kelley), is playing a heel, a pro wrestling villain: "from the wrong side of the tracks, a newcomer to the League, all muscle, all attitude."  He fights dirty, pretending to reconcile with opponent Kyle Hawk, then throwing him out of the ring.  

As he fights, his manager Glendon Marsh (Wayne Duvall) cheers. Glendon's teenage son Junior (Tommy Nelson) watches, sometimes happy but usually disturbed.  Is he jealous of the attention Eli is getting?  Is he a rebellious teenager during the era of the Generation Gap?.

Nice Cock
:  In the locker room, Glendon offers Eli "some bonus pay on the South Side," while Junior looks on, smoking a cigarette, still either jealous or angry. As they leave, they pass a naked guy. "That's a nice cock, Ernie," Glendon says.  Junior is so busy looking that he trips, and then looks back again.  The boy is definitely into cocks and butts.

Jim Crow Must Go:  As they drive through a black neighborhood on the South Side of Memphis, near where Martin Luther King, Jr. will be assassinated on April 4th.  Junior looks out at the townsfolk in disgust. 

Suddenly they are surrounded civil rights protestors: "Jim Crow must go!" "We protest injustice."  Junior calls them "bums," which was usually applied to hippies, not African-Americans, leading me to believe that something changed between writing the script and hiring the background actors.  Glendon punches him: "they just want what everybody wants, a piece of the fucking pie."

Ok, Junior is racist, and Glendon is abusive, but why this scene? Hiring background players, costume, and staging must have been very time-consuming, with no payoff: civil rights are never mentioned again.  

The Loan Enforcer: Glendon is a loan shark as well as a wrestling manager: the job involves beating up a deadbeat.  Eli and Junior both go, squabbling over who's the boss.  

"Kill 'em!" we hear.  Psych!  It's the tv.  We meet a slovenly, drunken, foul-mouthed, abusive jackass of a husband.  While Junor subdues his wife and baby, Eli punches him a few times and asks for the money, and when he doesn't have it, breaks his thumbs. Junior laughs "derangedly" (according to the subtitles).

Afterwards Glendon drops Eli off, hands him some money, and tells him, "Buy yourself something nice." This is a feminizing statement. 

As Eli drives off on his motorcycle, we hear Buck Owens' "Tall Dark Stranger":

 They say a tall dark stranger is a demon, and  that a devil rides closely by his side.

 So if Junior is the demon, Eli must be the devil riding beside him.  How long will they ride together?

Abusive Daddies all the way down:  Eli drives to the Gemstone residence (it's not a stage name, apparently), where his abusive dad chastises him for being late for dinner. So they're eating after Eli's wrestling match?  Like at 11 or 12 pm?   There's also a mousy, skittish mom and a little sister, May-May (important in Season 3). 

Ordered to say grace, Eli jokes: "Good food, good meat, good God, let's eat," which makes May-May laugh.  Dad slaps him.  End of flashback.

We're fine with the faggots:  In 
2022, elderly Eli Gemstone is a megachurch pastor and televangelist.  He and the satellite church ministers are discussing the case of Pastor Butterfield (Victor Williams), caught videotaping his wife and another woman having sex in a dance club restroom, while they were all high on Molly ("we thought they were Sweetarts").  The story made the front page of The New York Times, thanks to reporter Thaniel Block (Jason Schwartzman), who has made a career of publicizing ministerial sex scandals.  Eli wants to be lenient, but the others object.  (Left: random pecs)

A Spanish speaking pastor explains: "My church is ok with the maricones (roughly faggots), but we're not ready for swinging and tropus."     Pastor Diane translates: "His church is really cool with the gays and the queers, but not so much about the swingers and the thruples."  They fire Pastor Butterfield; he tries to commit suicide.

 Why did Pastor Diane translate maricones with two words, gays and queers?  Why queers, doubtless with the old pejorative meaning rather than the contemporary reclamation? I get the impression that the pastors are not really ok with maricones, so any gay ministers might want to stay in the closet, especially with the reporter snooping around.  Since this is the first scene in the present day, it is doubtless setting up one of the main conflicts of the season.  But who is the gay minister  Eli, Junior, or someone not yet introduced?  

The full review, with dicks and pecs, is on RG Beefcake and Boyfriends

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