Jan 16, 2018

Out Our Way: Teenagers Before Girl-Craziness

When I was a kid in the 1960s, I was jealous of the comics they got across the river in Davenport, Iowa.  They got Peanuts, we got Winthrop.  They got The Wizard of Id, we got Apartment 3-G.  I sort of liked Alley Oop and Prince Valiant, but what was up with the single-panel strip, Out Our Way? 

 It was about an unnamed family -- mom, young adult daughter, teenage son, younger son -- drawn in grotesquely realistic detail.

They spoke in nearly incomprehensible slang and had bizarre customs. There was an "ice box" instead of a refrigerator, a gigantic radio instead of a tv.  They bathed in a tub in the kitchen.

The older son had a job, though he looked barely fifteen.

Confused, repelled, yet fascinated, I tried to decipher the strips day after day, week after week.  The world they portrayed was vastly different than the world I knew.

Boys in my world were always fully clothed, except in locker rooms, but in Out Our Way, they stripped down for baths and for bed and to swim.  They were naked in front of each other!  They displayed a remarkable physicality, an awareness of the way their bodies looked and felt and moved.

Boys in my world did not touch each other, except during sports matches and fights. We were expected to find physical contact abhorrent.  But in Out Our Way, boys un-selfconsciously pressed against each other, draped their legs over each other's bodies, hugged, slept in the same bed

In my world, every trait, interest, and concern was gender-polarized.  Boys carried their books at their waist, girls across their chest.  Boys said "p.e." but "gym class," and girls "gym" but "p.e. class."  And the punishment for transgression was severe. But in Our Our Way, boys un-selfconsciously wore dresses.  The teenager performed "women's work," cooked (in an apron), cleaned, tended to his young brother.

Boys in my world were expected to groan with longing over the girls who walked in slow-motion across the schoolyard, their long hair blowing in the wind. They were expected to evaluate the hotness of actresses on tv, discuss breasts and bras, and claim innumerable sexual conquests.  But boys in Out Our Way never displayed the slightest heterosexual interest.  Instead, they consistently mocked the silliness of heterosexual romance.

What sort of world was this?

Many years later, I found that the comics I read in the 1960s were reruns from the 1930s and 1940s,  and even then, many had been nostalgic, evoking the author J.R. Williams' childhood at the turn of the century.

I was gazing into a time capsule, into a era when heterosexual desire was expected to appear at the end of adolescence, not at the beginning, so teenage boys were free from the "What girl do you like?" chant.

Jan 15, 2018

Eddie is an Eye-Witness to Prince Charles Having Sex with an Extremely Muscular Scottish Athlete

Boomer: Hi, Eddie.  Did you know that I'm the sixth cousin, once removed, of Prince William?  His mother, Princess Diana, and my mother share great-great-great-great grandmothers.

Eddie:  Brilliant!  You should pop over to Kensington Palace and say hello.  Maybe Wills will invite you in for a sandwich.

Boomer:  I don't think so.  William probably has about six thousand sixth cousins.  You're much closer to the royal family than I could ever be..  You went to Eton with Harry and got a sausage sighting of him in the shower.  You've met William, Charles, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne...the Queen?

Eddie: Not formally, but I've been in the same room with her.  I was eight years old, not impressed.

Boomer: I know what you mean.  I met President Johnson when I was five, and the only thing I could think was 'He's not cute'!  But I was wondering, with all the insider scoops you've been privy to over the years, if you can substantiate the 'Prince Charles is Gay' rumors.

Eddie:  Not gay, though, really?  Bi, maybe.  My Dad tells me he had a girl for every day of the week before he met Diana.

Boomer:  I found a list on the internet: Caroline Longman, Lady Tryon, Laura Watkins, Angela Keating, Camilla Hipwood, Rosie Vestey, Davina Morley...well, the list goes on and on.  If he slept with all of those women, he'd be a regular Lothario.  But was there time on any of those days of the week for men?

The rest of the story, with explicit details of Prince Charles, the future king of England, having explicit gay sex with an extremely muscular Scottish athlete, with nude pictures of the athlete, is on  Gay Celebrity Dating Stories.

Gay Hints on "Let's Make a Deal"

Monty Hall, who died last year at age 92, was not exactly a gay icon, like Tarzan or James West, but he offered a few gay hints during my childhood.  He was the host of Let's Make a Deal, the game show that aired at noon or in the early evening from 1963 to 1986.

I never watched an episode all the way through -- game shows, gross!  -- but I saw snippets here and there, as I was walking through the living room on the way to do something else, or waiting for it to end so I could watch something else.

Glimpses of Monty Hall, a very well-dressed man with a beautiful smile, asking contestants to choose between Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3.  If they got a good prize, like a bedroom set or a car, "the lovely Carol Merrill" would run her hands over it while announcer Jay Stewart extolled its benefits in an obvious advertising ploy.

I never saw men in business in everyday life, except in church on Sunday, so watching Monty Hall walk up and down the aisles brought a frisson of erotic interest.  Nothing as intense as Tarzan or James West, but a frisson.

The end credits said "A Mark Goodson/Bill Todman Production."  I didn't know who Mark Goodson and Bill Todman were, but -- two guys together?  Come on, I thought, they must be boyfriends, sharing a house and a life.

Born Monte Halparin in Winnipeg in 1921, wearing a business suit even as a student at the University of Manitoba in 1944, Hall worked in radio before hosting the Canadian game show Who Am I? on television (1952-59).  He moved to New York in 1955 and hosted children's shows, sports programs, and of course game shows before developing Let's Make a Deal.

Over the years he appeared on many other talk shows and game shows, and played himself, or a parody of himself, on That Girl, Laugh-In,  Love, American Style, Love Boat, Providence, The Nanny, and That 70s Show.

Sometimes you don't need to flex anything.  A beautiful smile and a business suit are enough.

By the way, Mark Goodson, Bill Todman, Jay Stewart, Carol Merrill, and Monty Hall were probably all heterosexual.