Dec 31, 2013

Christian Boeving: Fitness Expert turned Porn Star turned Movie Monster

With a name like Christian Boeving, you expect someone from Belgium or the Netherlands, but in fact the 45-year old bodybuilder was born in Dallas, Texas, and grew up in Missouri.  He began posing for muscle and fitness magazines at the age of 18, and is one of the most photographed people in the world, appearing on over 400 covers to date.

He's also a fitness writer, consultant, and spokesperson for bodybuilding supplements, though he has lost status in the industry after admitting that he had been using steroids since age 16.

He broke into show biz with a gay porn video, Posing Strap (1994) and a tv pilot, the aptly named Muscle (1995).  

Guest roles in a number of tv series and movies followed, usually roles requiring musclemen: Prey, Nash Bridges, Malcolm in the Middle, and Sheena.

He also continued his porn career in the gay Coverboys (1996) and the softcore straight Andromina: The Pleasure Planet (1999).  

Although Christian starred in a man-mountain "let's rescue someone in Southeast Asia" movie, When Eagles Strike (2003), his most important roles have been in sci fi and fantasy:  The monster Grendel in Beowulf: Prince of the Geats (2007);  Jack Stone in Apocalypze Z, aka Zombie Disaster (2013); Andre in Legend of the Red Reaper (2013).

Not a lot of gay roles, except for the porn, but what do you expect for a bodybuilder?  Hollywood likes its gay male characters wimpy and wispy.

Dec 30, 2013

Goon: Canadian Ice Hockey, Beefcake, Bonding, and a Gay Brother

I hate sports and sports movies, but if I have to see one, it helps if there's beefcake, gay characters, and a gay subtext. Like the Canadian ice hockey movie Goon (2011).

Doug (Seann William Scott) feels out of place in his successful family  -- his dad and brother Ira are both physicians, and he's just a bouncer in a bar.

One night at a hockey game, a player calls his friend Pat (Jay Baruchel) a homophobic name, and Doug pummels him.

His brother Ira, played by David Paetkau, is gay, so he won't stand for homophobia).

As a result, Doug gets a job with the Halifax Highlanders as an "enforcer," aka a "goon," a player with the job of protecting his teammates against violent or dirty acts from the opposing team.

There's a substantial amount of homophobia on his team -- such as the scene where he refuses to let other guys sign his penis, and is therefore labeled "gay."  But a substantial amount of nudity and camaraderie, too.

He's assigned to mentor and room with troubled player LaFlamme (Marc-Andre Grondin), who is afraid of being hit after receiving a concussion from a "dirty player."

They buddy-bond; when another player hits LaFlamme, the protective Doug beats him up and is suspended for a game.

Meanwhile he butts heads and exchanges insults with Rhea (Liev Schreiber), who gave LaFlamme the concussion in the first place.   Rhea was a promising player, but his violence got him demoted to the minors, and now he plays for the St. Johns' Shamrocks, the Highlanders' rival team.

Of course, in the climactic game, Doug and LaFlamme work together to triumph over the evil Rhea.

There's a hetero-romance, but it's just there because every movie has to throw in a hetero-romance; it's completely irrelevant to the gay text and subtext.

The Most Homophobic Statement I Have Ever Heard

"What do they think causes it?"
I've heard lots of homophobic statements over the years, ranging from the ignorant (mostly from "friends"):

"Are you the boy or girl in your relationship?"
"What do they think causes it now?"
"If you've never been with a woman, how do you know you like men better?"

To the raving (mostly from preachers).

"The homa-sekshul would just as soon kill you as look at you."
"No nation that has tolerated homa-sekshuls has ever survived!"
"Homa-sekshuls are possessed by the Spirit of Evil!"

But the most homophobic statement I ever heard consisted of five little words:

"Oh, you mean that place."

Not Ralph in underwear
Mr. Manary was a young, hip teacher at Rocky High, who insisted that students call him by his first name, Ralph.  I never actually saw him in his underwear, but close scrutiny during lectures suggested that he looked like this: tall, thin, clean-cut, tight-muscled, and bulging.

During my sophomore year, I had Ralph for American History.  He wrote a book on the Quad Cities, so he had us investigate Rock Island during the 1920s, and learn about gangster John Looney and jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke.

When we got to the 1950s, we read some writers of the Beat Generation, including Allen Ginsberg's "Supermarket in California", and we watched the classic anti-Communist allegory I Married a Monster from Outer Space.  

Have you ever heard of anyone so cool?

During my junior year, I had him for political science.  We took a field trip to the courthouse to see a real criminal trial,  about a shooting that took place in the Hawaiian Lounge, Rock Island's gay bar.  One of the witnesses, the "swish  on the double date", helped me figure out what gay meant.

Eugene McCarthy
When we held a mock 1976 presidential election.  Jimmy Carter won by a landslide, but Ralph came out in favor of the liberal independent, Minnesota senator Eugene McCarthy.

Ralph was the first person to encourage me to think about college.  He even got the head of the history department at his alma mater, St. Olaf College, to invite me to apply.

During my senior year, I had him for AP American History.  Sometimes he held study sessions at his house, and his wife made cookies.

We had to parse Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, about the oppression of the Native Americans.

Fast forward 20 years, to January 2002: I was living in Florida but back in Rock Island for the holidays, starting to research the book that would eventually become The Boy Who Loved Robbie DouglasSo I contacted Ralph, the local history expert.

Ralph's house
Now in his mid-50s, he was still teaching at Rocky High, still living in that small two-story house on 7th Avenue, with a white picket fence and an old-fashioned gas streetlamp.

We talked about Rock Island history:  scandals and floods and riots.  Local celebrities.  Iconic businesses.

Then: "What can you tell me about the Hawaiian Lounge? It was a Rock Island institution, and then suddenly it was gone, and JR's took its place.  Do you know how and when it closed?"

His eyes flashed.  "What lounge, now?"

 "You know, the Hawaiian Lounge.  Our poly sci class sat in on a trial about a shooting that took place there."

"Can't say I remember it."

I didn't notice his attempts to not know. He was a liberal, sensitive to minority struggles, and just plain cool, so why wouldn't he be gay-friendly?

That Place

"It was just a few blocks from here, on 4th Avenue.  You had to drive past it to get downtown...." I stopped short and stared.  His face was contorted into a mask of disgust.

"Oh, you mean that place."

He emphasized the word that: alien, other, stranger, savage.  Something wicked.  Something awful.  That place.

I quickly made an excuse and left, and drove aimlessly around in my sister-in-law's car for a long time.  I have rarely felt so depressed.

One of my childhood heroes hated me.

See also: Age Trumps Beauty.

Dec 29, 2013

Why You Should Visit Turkey Next July

I have always hated playing sports, but if I have no choice, I'll pick wrestling: no projectiles hurling at your head, no teammates to get all huffy when you miss a point, just you and your opponent in revealing singlets straining against each other's bodies.  Some of my first homoerotic feelings came when I was on the wrestling team in junior high.  Later, at Indiana University, I learned about bokh, or Mongolian wrestling.

When I moved to West Hollywood, Ivo, the Bulgarian bodybuilder who was insanely jealous of Michael J. Fox, told me that he played an interesting variation, common in Turkey and parts of the Balkans: yağlı güreş, or oil wrestling.  

The players, called pehlivan, are naked except for leather pants (kisbet).  They grease up with olive oil, and try to throw each other.

Since they're all greasy, the only way to win is by putting your hand inside the other guy's kisbet -- you know, where his sex organs are.

It's as if the sport was deliberately designed to be homoerotic.

Knowing the Ottoman Empire, maybe it was.

Guys of all ages participate.  You don't need to be muscular, but it helps.

I saw a local tournament when I was in Turkey, but not the Kirkpinar, the national tournament held every year in June or July in Edirne, near the Bulgarian border.  If you want to go, book your hotel room far in advance; the town fills up fast.

I can see why.

(But be careful; Turkey is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the Middle East, which means extremely homophobic by European standards, and for Americans, about as homophobic as the rural South).

The Triplets of Belleville: Jazz-Age Lesbians and the Androgynous M

In the animated Triplets of Belleville (2003), professional bicyclist Champion is kidnapped during the Tour de France, so his grandmother, Madame Souza, goes off to search for him.

In the bustling city of Belleville, she encounters the Triplets, a famous jazz act of the 1930s now fallen on bad times.   They eke out a living as a novelty "acoustic" band, making music with a refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and newspaper.  Madame Souza joins the act with a bicycle wheel, and eventually they become successful again.

Oh, and they rescue Champion in a colorful chase sequence.  The movie ends much too abruptly, with the now elderly Champion reminiscing about the adventure.

There is very little dialogue.  The characters are drawn grotesquely, so there's no beefcake.  So what's the gay connection?

1. No one expresses the slightest heterosexual interest, ever.

2. The Triplets, who have been living and working together for 70 years, can be read as a lesbian family rather than blood relatives.

3. Flashbacks show them performing in a Jazz Age nightclub, along with gay and bisexual icons like Josephine Baker, Glenn Gould, and Hoagy Carmichael.

4. Androgynous singer Mathieu Chedid, known as M, recorded a music video of the song "Belleville Rendez-vous."

He tells a psychiatrist about various ways to spend the last years of his life: in Singapore eating petit-fours, in Katmandu playing a "dou," and most significantly, in Acapulco, dancing with a gigolo ( a male prostitute).  

The English lyrics closet the verse to "dancing cheek-to-cheek."

But then he decides that he wants to be "wicked, twisted, swinging," like a Triplet of Belleville.

This irks the psychiatrist, who straitjackets him and gives him a tranquilizer injection.  That's the fate of those who try to escape gender and sexual confomity, like the Triplets of Belleville.

Dec 26, 2013

David Barry Gray: Not as Homophobic as Chevy Chase, Probably

Chevy Chase may be one of the more homophobic actors in Hollywood, as his cast mates from Saturday Night Live and the National Lampoon's Vacation movies can attest, but the naked man on top of him, David Barry Gray, is not.  Not very, anyway.

Not as homophobic as Chevy Chase.

The New York City native, heir to the Pepsi Cola fortune,  has appeared on many tv series, beginning as a teenager with William Tell (1987-88); he played William's son, Matthew.  Other series include 21 Jump Street, The Client, JAG, Medium, Ghost Whisperer, and Rizzoli & Isles.

Not a lot of gay subtext vehicles, although you could include his role in S.F.W. (1994), as the brother of hostage-survivor Stephen Dorf, and the "rescuing people from Southeast Asia" movie Soldier Boys (1995), as Lamb, who steps on a land mine (sacrificial lamb -- get it?).

Man-mountain Michael Dudikoff stars.

No gay characters, although he did star in the mega-homophobic Lawn Dogs (1997):

A lonely ten-year old girl and her only friend, the reclusive Trent (Sam Rockwell), both have problems with unwelcome sexual advances from a couple of sleazoid roommates: the girl from Brett (David), and Trent from Sean (Eric Mabius).  Not to worry, the evil gay guy is killed, but the pedophile isn't.

So he played the teenage version of homophobic President Richard Nixon, and more recently, Todd Palin, husband of homophobic Alaska Governor and VP contender Sarah Palin.  That doesn't mean he's personally homophobic.

Does it?

His sister-in-law, Ariel Winter, stars in the gay-positive Modern Family as the brainy teenager Alex Dunphy.

Doesn't that suggest that David is gay-positive?


Well, at least he has a nicely toned physique.

Dec 25, 2013

Fall 1991: Outing a Medieval Knight

Ever since my junior high boyfriend Dan and I plotted to escape to Saudi Arabia, I have been plagued by sudden obsessions with countries or historical periods: Russia, China, Renaissance Italy, the Middle Ages, and so on.   Suddenly it's all I can think of.  I buy 1,000 books, start learning the language, plan trips, and decide to devote my professional life to it.  For 3 months, 6 months, maybe a year, and then it fades away.

In 1991, I became obsessed with Ancient Israel. I bought 1000 books on the topic, studied Biblical Hebrew, planned a trip to Israel, and applied to university programs in Old Testament Studies.

Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee admitted me, so I drove out in August 1991, got a small apartment near the campus and an adjunct teaching job, and registered for classes.

My partner stayed in West Hollywood, but we had an open relationship, so I started dating.  The first guy I dated was a Medieval knight.

In the mundane world he was a buffed, bearded high-school history teacher named Larry, but in "real life" he was Lucien de Peletier from the Shire of Galedenfeld in the Kingdom of Meridies (the Society for Creative Anachronism, which "recreates the culture of Medieval Europe," divides the U.S. into regional "kingdoms").

Vanderbilt Divinity School
Lucien signed his letters "1191" instead of "1991," listened to Medieval music instead of rock or country-western, and pretended to know nothing of current events.

That was all fine with me.  The problem was, he was strictly closeted, not only at work (which was understandable), but among his SCA friends.

"But you dress in Medieval costumes and joust each other," I pointed out.  "Surely they would be ok with gay people."

"It's not historically accurate.  There weren't any gay people in the Middle Ages, so my character is straight."

No gay people in the Middle Ages?  Of course there were some. Lots.

In October he invited me to the SCA Harvest Banquet, but cautioned that we had to bring female dates.

After six years in West Hollywood, I wasn't going to stand for closeting!

The banquet was held in a private room at F. Scott's Restaurant and Jazz Bar, about 20 people in costume and a dozen in street clothes.  I came stag, and sat next to a heavily-embarrassed Lucien and his "date", a middle-aged English professor named Dame Lucille.

When it came time to dance, I walked up to a young, cute bard and said something like "Prithee, in my land of West Holly-Wood, it is customary for men to wont their troth upon whoever they find smokin', be they swains or maids.  Wouldst dance with me?"  (They don't really talk like that.)

The bard grinned.  "T'would be a scandal, milord!"

"If it be scandal, then let the tongues wag."

There were, indeed, a lot of stares and whispers as we joined a roundelay, breaking up the boy-girl-boy pattern.

I glanced over at Lucien.  He was staring ashen-faced.

When the dance ended, I approached Lucien and Dame Lucille.  "Ah, another goodly squire, pleasant of mien, hot of bod.  Lady, prithee allow me to borrow him for a dance?"

Giggling, she nodded, but Lucien growled, "Are you crazy?"

"If this be madness, then send me to bedlam, milord.  I die for a single dance."

"Stay in character!  There weren't any gay people in the Middle Ages!"

"Then, perhaps a kiss, such as that Sir Gawain bestowed upon his swain."

"He speaks sooth, milord," Dame Lucille said.  "It's in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight."

All eyes were trained on me as I bent down.  For a moment I thought Lucien was going to permit the kiss.   Then suddenly he pushed me roughly away, jumped up from his chair, knocking over a wine glass, and ran from the room.

The bard and I had to give Dame Lucille a ride home.  That was the last I heard of Lucien.

The story of my semester in Nashville continues here, with my date with the country-western singer.  At least, I thought he was a country-western signer.

Today gay people, "the blue feathers," are fully accepted in most kingdoms of  SCA.  In 2011 the Board of Directors ruled that barons could have same-sex consorts, but crown contenders "must be fighting for a consort of the opposite gender."

Fall 1981: The Priest with the Pushy Mom

I began my senior year at Augustana (1981-82) with a single burning question: grad school or a job?

My professors claimed that I could use an English and Modern Languages major to launch a career in journalism, public relations, advertising, translating, or publishing. Surprise -- you needed specialized training for all of those jobs.  300 resumes, and not a single bite.

So I applied to grad school:
1. Russian, University of Iowa (I know, I was just in first year, but I really liked my Russian major friend in Iowa City)
2. Law, Indiana University
3. English, Indiana University
4. Spanish, Tulane University
5. Linguistics, University of Chicago
6. Byzantine Studies, University of Chicago

Why Byzantine Studies?

With my new Russian obsession, I wanted to try out Russian Orthodox Church, but the nearest was in Chicago, so I picked the next best thing: St. George's Greek Orthodox Church in Rock Island.

I was disappointed: the liturgy was in English, not Greek, there were pews (I heard that the Orthodox stood), and the sermon was on heterosexual marriage.  But I did meet Peter, formerly a Greek Orthodox priest, now a private investigator for an insurance company.

Being a clergy groupie, I eagerly accepted his invitation to dinner, even though he was substantially older than me, in his 40s.

He lived in a big house in Davenport with his elderly parents, a bedridden Dad and a frail, tiny Mom who talked incessantly of the old country (she left Greece at the age of five, but still remembered it as a "good place").

The dinner was awful -- lamb in some kind of disgusting white sauce, undercooked potatoes -- what happened to the moussaka, spanikopita, and stuffed grape leaves?  No desert -- not even baklava.  And Peter and his Mom drank incessantly.

Afterwards, Peter invited me into his study to see his books on Orthodox theology, Byzantine history, and modern Greek.  He told me about the Russian Orthodox Saints Boris and George, who were gay, and suggested that the Byzantine world was a "good place."

At least it was bright and colorful.

We went downstairs to the basement rec room, where his Mom was watching Fantasy Island. When it was over, she said goodnight and went to bed, and we watched a late movie on tv, something with Bette Davis in it.  Then Peter asked if I wanted to spend the night.

We went into his bedroom and began to get intimate.

Suddenly the door swung open, and Mom walked in.  No knocking, no words, no nothing.  She saw us, shrieked, and ran out.

"What was...why..."  I stammered.

"Oh, don't worry," Peter said.  "Mom knows that I'm gay."

"Why did she rush in like that?"

"She didn't realize that you were spending the night."

That wasn't a satisfactory answer.

In the morning Mom was perfectly gracious.  There was no breakfast except coffee and juice -- the Greek Orthodox fast before Communion.

Peter invited me over for dinner several more times in the fall of 1981, and afterwards Mom always asked "Boomer, will you be spending the night?"

I loved hearing about the Byzantine World, and Peter was a bona fide member of the Horsemen's Club, but he never wanted to go out in public, not even to the Greek Festival.  We would have dinner -- the food was terrible -- and watch tv -- it was always Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  Besides, Mom was a little creepy.  After about two months, I called it quits.

But not before I applied to the Byzantine Studies Program at the University of Chicago.

I ended up going to Indiana University to study English.

Dec 24, 2013

Viva Las Vegas: Elvis and Cesare Danova Find Each Other

Viva Las Vegas (1964) is a comedy-drama produced during the height of early-1960s cool, when Vegas still meant gambling, booze, and the Rat Pack.  And at the height of the 1960s Italian craze.  How could it go wrong?

Two racing enthusiasts, working-class country boy Lucky (Elvis Presley) and elite Italian Count Elmo Mancini (Cesare Danova) accidentally encounter each other at an auto garage.  They know each other by reputation, but have never met before.  Mancini offers Lucky a job driving his car in upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix, and Lucky refuses.  He will drive his own car.  They will be competitors.

The association would usually end there, but not in Lucky Las Vegas. Both guys have fallen in love at first sight with a girl named Rusty (Ann-Margret), but they don't know much about her.  They decide to join forces to try to track her down.

They spend the next several days together, hitting the Vegas nightspots, ostensibly looking for Rusty, but obviously having a wonderful time without her.

Then they find her.  They are in Mancini's hotel room, getting dressed -- wait, have they been sleeping together?  -- and Elvis says it's time to say goodbye.

Only he doesn't leave.

The two "competitors" spend the rest of the movie vaguely competing over the race and the girl, but it's obvious that they don't care much who wins, as long as they can cling together like long-lost brothers.

The final scene involves a wedding, but Mancini, Lucky, and Rusty are so tightly enclinched that one is not entirely certain who is marrying whom.

The gay subtext is blatant, yet so dependent upon intonation and gesture, that one wonders if Elvis and Cesare Danova were really into each other.  Elvis has long been rumored to be bisexual.  I haven't heard a lot of gay rumors about Cesare Danova, only that he became a born-again Christian in the 1970s, and had his tombstone inscribed with "Praise the Lord."

The music is energetic, and the dance numbers are great. Ann-Margret steals the show.  Highly recommended.

Fall 1991: My Date with the Country-Western Star

I spent the fall 1991 semester in Nashville, where I studied Hebrew at Vanderbilt Divinity School, taught English at a state college, outed a Medieval knight...and dated a country-western singer.  At least, I thought he was a country-western singer.

I'll call him Randy.

We met at a restaurant near near campus, when he saw me trying to translate a passage from the Hebrew Bible and came over to ask if I was "a Christian."  Turns out he went to Bible college, planning to become a missionary, but dropped out, and now he was working as a waiter and at a guitar store while honing his musical craft.

Naturally, I started going to the restaurant for lunch almost every day, at the end of the rush when he had time to chat.

Randy was a country boy, all about fishing, hunting, working on cars, and following sports, but he never mentioned a girl, so I figured he was gay. Besides, there was something about his open face and appreciative smile that made my gaydar go off.

Nashville was the country-western music capital of the world, so I started trying to impress him by listening to Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Charlie Pride, and Roy Acuff.  I couldn't stand the dismal, depressing, ballads about being poor, tired, hungry, lonely, rejected, replaced, and generally miserable, but if they helped me get into Randy's good graces, it was worth the depression.

I asked his opinion of Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks,  and Randy Travis.

I did extensive research, until I was able to talk to him about the history and genres of country-western: honky-tonk, rockabilly, country pop, the Bakersfield sound.  Bluegrass, banjo pop, Outlaw Country, Western Swing, neotraditionalism.

After a few weeks of buttering him up, Randy finally made his move: "I'm performing this weekend.  I know it's not really your kind of music, know, if you want, you could come.  And maybe we could have dinner afterwards."

Randy's gig was in the Paradise Park Trailer Resort, a dark, dingy redneck bar downtown where the floors were coated with Astroturf (I'm not kidding).  There was lawn furniture against the walls.  There was a Spam exhibit.  The other patrons looked like refugees from Duck Dynasty. 

I got there at 9:00, just as Randy was going on.  He walked onto the small, dingy stage with guitar in hand, nodded at me, and sang:

Farm people, book wavers, soul savers, love preachers!  Lit to pop and nobody is gonna stop!

It sounded familiar...wait...was it "Stop," by Jane's Addiction?

That's me in the corner, that's me in the spotlight, losing my religion, trying to keep up with you.

What kind of country-western singer performs "Losing My Religion," by R.E.M.?

And then his own composition:

The world keeps on turnin'
I can't decide if it's night or day
Your jaws keep on movin'
I can't decide if you know the way

Protest conformity, rage against the machine, raise your fist against the injustice of the world!  Indie rock!

All this time, I had just been assuming he was a country-western singer!

Later, over dinner, I praised his song effusively.  Randy said "That's a relief!  You're such a big fan of country-western music, I didn't think you would find anything to like in indie rock."

"Oh, I'm versatile," I said with a suggestive leer.  "I can find something to like in just about everything."

Job Interviews with Ben Foster, Star of "The Laramie Project"

I keep going on job interviews with actor Ben Foster in the audience, or in the next room.

In January 1985, when I living in Texas but back in  Rock Island for the holidays,  I applied for a job at a boys' prep school affiliated with Maharishi International University (my friend Corey from Augustana went there).  They called me to campus, gave me a tour, had me teach a sample class, and I never heard from them again.  Ben, then aged 4 1/2, was enrolled in the preschool, so I probably saw him during the campus tour.

In 1996, I applied for a job at Disney Studios.  Ben, age 16, was then starring in the teencom Flash Forward.  (It was actually filmed in Canada, but he spent a lot of time in Burbank).

In 2003, when I was living in Florida, I applied for a job at the University of Tampa.  During my interview, Ben was on campus filming The Punisher.

Ben specializes in playing scruffy, craggy sociopaths (and the superhero Angel in the X-Men series).  But gay audiences might know him best for The Laramie Project (2002), based on the Montana hate crime: he played Aaron Kreifels, the bicyclist who discovered Matthew Shepherd.

He also has some gay and gay subtext work:

Six Feet Under (2003-2005): Russell Corwin, a straight guy who has sex with men.

The remake of The Mechanic (2011): a retiring hit man (Jason Statham) teach his craft to his apprentice/boyfriend (Ben).

The Beat Generation murder mystery, Kill Your Darlings (2013): gay writer William Burroughs (right, with Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg).

Teen Idol Cagatay Ulusoy: 10 Things You Should Know

1. He's a 23-year old former teen idol from Istanbul.

2. Turkey is one of the most-gay friendly countries in the Middle East, which means that most people are no more homophobic than your average Protestant fundamentalist in the U.S.

3. He is of Bosnian and Turkish-Bulgarian ancestry.  According to the World Penis Map, Bosnians average 15.6 cm, and Bulgarians 15.02 (Americans only 12.9).

4. The Turkish national sport is oil wrestling, in which half-naked guys grease up with olive oil and try to pin each other.

5. Cagatay started modeling in 2009, at the age of 19, and won the Best Model of Turkey contest.

6. His first acting role was in the adventure film Anadolu Kartallari (Anatolian Eagle, 2011), but now he concentrates on soaps.  In the soap Adini Feriha Koydum (2011-2012), he played rich kid Emir.

7. In the Turkish version of The O.C., Medcezir (2013-), he plays the Ryan Atwood character, Yaman Koper.  He's got a girlfriend, but the gay subtext seems to be retained.

8. Cagatay has never fallen in love, although he gets lots of offers.

9. He is heterosexual, but does not currently have a girlfriend.

10. He loves his gay fans.

Dec 23, 2013

Summer 1971: How to Catch a Fisherman

When I was a kid in the 1970s, whenever we visited my relatives, my Uncle Paul (of the Naked Man in the Peat Bog)  or Cousin Joe (whom I saw naked when I was seven) or Cousin George would announce "I'm going to take you fishing!"  and expect me to bounce around the room in ecstasy.

I didn't bounce around in ecstasy.

1. You sit in a rickety boat or on a rickety dock, with only a thin veneer of wood separating you from 40 feet of gross, dank water.
2. While the mosquitos eat you alive
3. You bait a hook with gross, squishy worms.
4. You dunk the worms in the water and wait.

5. And wait and wait and wait.
6. Eventually a fish takes the bait, and you pull it onto the dock or the boat, where it struggles wildly and finally dies.
7. Then you have to scale it and gut it.

But fishing had some advantages.

It got very hot, so shirts came off, and the ripple of shoulders and biceps as Uncle Paul or Cousin Joe battled Fish was a beautiful sight.

And we weren't alone.  There were lots of cute boys taking off their shirts to battle the fish, and they were surprisingly easy to catch.

When I was little, I played "inept," fumbling around with baits and lines, and waiting until a cute boy offered to teach me.  Hopefully a fish would take the bait, and he would put his arm around me while helping me reel it in.

But when I visited Cousin George in the summer of 1971, I caught a fish, and paraded around with it until a cute boy offered back-slapping, hand-on-shoulder congratulations and questions of how I did it.  I ended up with a buddy for the rest of my visit.

Cousin George was surprisingly nonchalant about me using fish to pick up guys.

I found out why a few years later.