Aug 17, 2013

Nick Roux: Underwear Model Turned Disney Boyfriend

Nick Roux is a  22-year old California-born actor-model.  Here he's posing with an American flag for a French underwear ad,.  The Franglish caption: "I want to be a super-heroes."















Here he models Superman underwear.

But he also has some Disney Channel credentials.

He appeared in The Suite Life on Deck (as Jean Luc, whom Bailey dates after breaking up with Cody) and Wizards of Waverly Place (as Chase Riprock, who has a crush on Alex).








In the Disney Channel movie Lemonade Mouth (2011), he played Scott Pickett, a jock who heads the rival band.  He has both a girlfriend and a best buddy (played by Chris Brochu), so there may be some triangulation going on.  I didn't see it; the title "Lemonade Mouth" was too much of a turn off.

The ABC Family series Jane by Design (2012) was about a 16-year old girl who gets a job in the fashion industry.  He played her boyfriend.

Not a lot of gay content in his onscreen work, but one wonders why the Disney Channel so often grabs up young hunks who specialize in homoerotic advertisements, and gives them girlfriends.

Worst Travel Day Ever

Worst travel day ever.

Lunch
1. We stopped for lunch, and couldn't get out of the parking lot, because a lady in the car ahead of us just sat there, while cars behind us zoomed around her to turn left and right.
2. We finally turned the wrong way (impossible to turn the right way), and ran into about 100 people all leaving a Burger King at the same time, darting across the street in different directions, raising their hands to stop traffic as they ran.
3. We finally got on the freeway going the wrong direction, and had to turn around.

Hotel
1. No restaurant on site
2. No fitness center

Dinner
1. Restaurant was half empty,but they seated everyone together, so you were sitting in each other's laps.



Club
1. The club was deserted.
2. On a Friday night
3. Two hours later, it was still deserted.

Getting Back to the Hotel
1. The interstate was closed, so we were struggling with the GPS and the cell phone while driving through downtown Cleveland in utter darkness.  By the way, you can't work a GPS in the dark.
2. After a few wrong u-turns, we finally found the highway exit with our hotel.  But our hotel wasn't there.  We drove up and down Broadway for a mile in each direction, but it wasn't there.
3. Turns out there are 2 Exit 23s, identical in every way, except one is right next to the hotel, and the other is 5 miles away, through a neighborhood of very slow speed limits and hundreds of stop lights.


Aug 16, 2013

Spring 1974: They Called Him the Streak

In the spring of 1974, when I was in the eighth grade, streaking was all the rage: in high schools and colleges, at sporting events, on Main Street, young men would doff their clothes and run naked past a shocked and titilated public.

On April 2nd, a streaker named Robert Opel ran across the stage during the live broadcast of the Academy Awards, causing presenter David Niven to comment on his "shortcomings."  A novelty song called "The Streak," by Ray Stevens, hit the top of the pop charts with humorous lyrics about a hick constantly exhorting his wife "Don't look!" as the streaker ran past.

They call him the streak -- he likes to show off his physique.
If there's an audience to be found, he'll be streaking around,
Inviting public critique.

Who could refuse to participate in such an iconic 1970s moment, and plus get to see a lot of naked guys?

My friends Darry and Dan positively refused to do it, remembering the fallout from our protest of evil-lution two months before.  But Craig, who you remember from the Swim Team post and the graduation party -- he had a last name close to mine and therefore sat next to me in every class from third grade to high school -- agreed.

Plus a tall, husky Asian guy appropriately named Peter, who went swimming with us at Longview Park Pool, and a ninth grade Viking whose name I don't remember, but who turned out to not have any "shortcomings."  I don't think any of them were gay.


We waited for the last day of school, where you could sneak out without causing much attention.  Just as the principal called a final assembly, we found a deserted art room, left our clothes with a confederate, and, flushed with joy and fear, ran down the hallway.

To our disappointment, it was deserted.

Peter led us to a side door, and onto the stage, where the principal, vice-principal, and guidance counselor were sitting on folding chairs.  The band was playing the theme of "The Entertainer."

And we ran.

Laughter and applause filled the room as we dashed across the stage, pausing only to give peace signs.  I got a glimpse of the principal.  He was grinning.

We ran down the hallway again, ducked into the art room, threw our clothes on, and hid until we could make our way out of the school in the crowd of students.

We weren't punished.  The administration, heavily embarrassed, acted as if nothing had happened at all.

We didn't even make it into the yearbook.  To this day, alumni argue whether the streaking incident happened at all.

My friends often asked how a conservative fundamentalist boy, who carried a Bible around and couldn't even go to movies, managed to pull off such a stunt.

I did it to see naked guys.

We've gotten much more conservative in the U.S. since.  Today streakers are arrested and charged as sex offenders.

See also: The Naked Pumpkin Runs.

Aug 15, 2013

Gay Characters with Girlfriends



Why are so many gay male characters attracted to women?  And even state that they find women far more attractive than men?

Of course, a few gay men are attracted to women, and a few straight men are attracted to men.  They are technically bisexual.  For the overwhelming majority of gay men, women can be friends, period, just as, for the overwhelming majority of straight men, men can be friends, period.
In Party Monster (2003), homicidal club kid Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin) is identified as “gay,” not heterosexual, not bisexual.  But gay producers Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey found it necessary to give him a girlfriend.  With her help, he almost escapes from his destructive “homosexual lifestyle.” 

 In Transamerica (2005), Kevin Zegers plays a teenage hustler named Toby, who again is “gay” but never glances at a boy. Instead, like “all” gay teenage boys, he spends a lot of time kissing girls and putting the moves on older women. 

 

On the Logo series Noah’s Arc, aspiring filmmaker Noah (Darryl Stephens) falls for the “straight” Chance Counter (Doug Spearman), who tells him that they can be together only if there is a woman involved. At first Noah is horrified, but then he reconsiders. He goes to the rendezvous, and begins kissing the woman enthusiastically until Chance calls things off.


On Shameless, Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is "gay," but has frequent romances with women.

The Chelsea Boys comic strip, which appears in many gay weeklies, not only proclaims that gay men are attracted to women, it criticizes those gay men who refuse to recognize this "law of nature."  In one continuity, the gang returns from the New York Gay Pride Parade to stumble upon the muscular na├»ve gay male Sky with a woman.  They are outraged: Sky  has obviously been brainwashed into believing that only heterosexual romance is valid.  But Sky argues that this is what Gay Pride is about in the first place, the freedom to have sex with whomever you want, male or female.

Although I agree that adults of any gender should be free to engage in consensual sexual relations, that's certainly not what Gay Pride is about.  
  
Sheer heterosexism again, proclaiming that all men, gay or straight, are interested in women. 

My Crush on Bazooka Joe

Ok, I admit it.  When I was a kid in the 1960s, I had a little crush on Bazooka Joe.















Bazooka Gum consisted of an individually-wrapped, pillow-shaped square of Pepto-Bismol-colored bubble gum.  You could buy five of them for a nickel at Dewey's Candy Store, across the street from my grade school.  I wasn't a big fan of the gum, but I liked the wraparound comic, about 1.5 x 1", starring a blond boy named Bazooka Joe and his friends.

You can't do a lot of characterization or plotting in 3 or 4 tiny panels and less than 50 words, so the stories were minimal, usually setups for lame jokes or gags.  But none of the setups involved dating or romance; sometimes Joe was shown with a girl, but no doubt she was his sister.





You can't do a lot of detailed drawing in 3 tiny panels, but the artist somehow managed to make Joe a hunk, with a tight, spare frame.  Notice the second panel, where slightly curved lines suggest a rounded shoulder and bicep-bulge.  That took forethought.




His name, Bazooka: a big gun, powerful and dangerous.

His eye patch: he'd lost an eye, like Popeye or a secret agent.  No doubt in a fight with a villain.  No doubt he also had Popeye's superheroic strength.  Perfect for a gay-coded "my hero" rescue!

Muscle, power, danger, everything you want in a fantasy boyfriend, all in a 1-inch throwaway comic!

Turns out I got Bazooka Joe all wrong.  His artist, Wesley Morse, is mostly famous for drawing leggy dames in strips like Kitty of the Chorus and Frolicky Fables, not to mention a series of x-rated porn comics called "Tijuana Bibles."  He wasn't deliberately trying to draw Bazooka Joe as the object of an eight-year old's romantic fantasy.

Bazooka Joe hadn't really lost an eye: he wore the eye patch in a parody of a series of once-popular magazine ads about "The Man in the Hathaway Shirt."

And he did have a girlfriend; I just missed the strips involving heterosexual dating and romance.

The strips appeared in Bazooka Gum for over 50 years, making Bazooka Joe the most recognizable candy mascot in the world.  He has been referenced on Seinfeld, 30 Rock, and Mad Men,  and there is a professional wrestler who calls himself Bazooka Joe (top photo).


 

Aug 14, 2013

The Pow Wow: A Naked Indian God

Every summer the Sauk and Fox Indians, who used to live on the site of Rock Island, returned for a Pow Wow at Black Hawk State Park.  On the Fourth of July weekend in 1970, just after fourth grade, Bill's big brother Mike and his girlfriend took us to see it.

We wandered the booths where Indian ladies sold beadwork, moccasins, feathered headdresses, little toy drums, fried bread, and ice cream sandwiches. For some reason, the phallic Weinermobile was there, selling hot dogs.

Mike bought me a small green-plastic statue of an Indian with a round face, long flowing hair, and bulging muscles.


The lady at the booth said that he was Wisakeha, a beautiful youth who created all of the world's rivers.  He fell asleep on the day the White-Eyes first bridged the Mississippi, but someday he would awaken and banish war from the world forever.

Mike got quiet after that, maybe thinking of Vietnam.

The show came later: Fancy Dancers fluttering with fringed shirts and enormous feathered headdresses, Medicine Dancers in animal masks, Eagle Dancers with red and green streamers fringing from their pants. A Wild Indian blew cigarette smoke through his nose and scared the little kids with his tomahawk. Sauk women marched single-file across the dirt, chanting to the corn spirits.   Teenage boys wearing only buckskin pants marched across the dirt, pounding on drums and screaming. They invited the kids to scream as loud as we could to awaken Wisakeha.







When a white-haired old man in a red-beaded headdress began to screech in the old Sauk language, Bill and I decided to look for Indian arrowheads in the hickory-oak woods. We walked up a steep trail that led away from the Pow Wow until we could no longer hear the shrill song or the murmuring voices. Sometimes we caught a glimpse of the river through the foliage, glinting down past a white-brick dam.

Suddenly the woods became very quiet. We saw a figure standing a little down from the path, facing the river.  An Indian! One of the teenage performers, I thought, still in costume, except his buckskin pants were down around his ankles, leaving him naked. I saw the side of his thigh, the curve of his clenched buttocks, his thin striated belly, his massive chest painted green like the forest. He was peeing, I realized with a start -- and he had a garden hose between his legs!  It took two hands to direct the stream of urine into the undergrowth.


I had only seen three penises before, or what the grownups called "shames": my brother's, my cousin Joe's, and my Uncle Paul's.   (I didn't count the Naked Man in the Peat Bog, because I thought he was a monster.)

He couldn’t be a real Indian boy! I thought. He was too muscular, too alien, too beautiful. His chest was green, but the rest of his body was dark gold, like a statue. He must be Wisakeha, the god that the Sauk and Fox worshipped, who would soon banish war from the world. We watched in utter silence, afraid to move or breathe.

Suddenly the boy noticed that we were watching. He turned, his muscles taut, his eyes pools of black. And he screamed. It wasn’t angry, like the screams of wild Indians on tv, or the preacher at church – he was screaming with joy.  He wanted to be seen.

But we were too terrified to stick around.  We ran back to the Pow Wow as fast as we could, and collapsed yelling into Mike’s arms.

Maybe we did awaken a sleeping god that day.

The uncensored story is on Tales of West Hollywood

Aug 12, 2013

Steve Lawrence: All the Sad Young Men

Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were mainstays of The Carol Burnett Show during the 1970s, appearing in 27 episodes.  He also appeared by himself on The Hollywood Palace, Ed Sullivan, Laugh-In, Here's Lucy, even Sanford and Son.








When I was a kid, I disapproved of adult music as a point of pride, so I avoided him whenever possible,  although I remember a gently anti-War song on Carol Burnett: Steve is recounting the horrors of War to his son (played by a teddy bear), who doesn't understand, and keeps asking eager questions like "Did you kill anyone?  Did you have any fun?"   Finally he says "Daddy, bring me some war," becoming a bona fide hawk (not likely for a kid during the Viet Nam era).

And "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men":

All the sad young men, sitting in the bars
Knowing neon nights, and missing all the stars

All the sad young men, drifting through the town
Drinking up the night, trying not to drown

All the sad young men, choking on their youth
Trying to be brave, running from the truth

I didn't know what "gay" meant yet, but I interpreted the song as a critique of gay men who were too stupid or scared to resist heterosexist brainwashing: they kowtowed to Big Brother, dutifully seeking out women to date and marry, and never experiencing real, true, meaningful same-sex romance.

(I may have been a little off in that interpretation: it's the title of a book of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald.)

Steve had the looks and the voice, but he never tried to make it as a teen idol.  Maybe he started a few years too early, in 1952, before the teen subculture really took off with Elvis and Ricky Nelson.  Or maybe his songs were too square even for the 1950s: "The Banana Boat Song," "Autumn Leaves," "Pretty Blue Eyes."   But he was on the Adult Contemporary Charts though the 1970s.

He acted in a few movies, playing a stay-at-home husband in the "women's lib" comedy Stand Up and Be Counted (1972), and as Maury Sline, manager to The Blues Brothers (1980).  

I haven't been able to discover if he is gay friendly in real life.  Men of that generation always keep silent.

Colette's Cheri: A Male Prostitute Finds Love

The French novelist Colette (1873-1954) was a sexual libertine. Early in her career, while performing in a pantomime, she caused a scandal by kissing another woman on stage.  She was married to men three times, but was open about her numerous lesbian affairs.

Her most famous novel, Gigi (1944), is about a girl being trained to become a prostitute who falls in love with her intended client.  It was made into a Broadway play and movie musical by deleting the prostitution angle and adding lots of heterosexism, such as the line "Thank heaven for little girls -- without them, what would little boys do?"

But the novella Cheri (1920) and its sequel The Last of Cheri (1926) are LGBT classics.  Cheri is a beautiful, indolent male prostitute with many gender-atypical traits, such as a fondness for pearl necklaces.  He and his coworkers are used to high-class clients and the finer things of life, and they often fall into bed with each other, but never fall in love.

Except he does fall in love -- with Lea, an older female prostitute.  He gets married to Edmee and has a long term gay affair with the wealthy Vicomte Desmond, but in the end returns to Lea, or tries to.

Meanwhile a lesbian prostitute named Pal, who runs an opium den, is also in love with Lea.

The fluidity of desire and practice was quite shocking in the 1920s, and perhaps it still is today.

Cheri has been filmed several times, omitting the same-sex relationships, and often the characters of Desmond and Pal.

In 1950, with Jean DeSailly.
In 1962, with Jean-Claude Brialy (top photo)
In 1973, with Scott Antony
In 2009, with Rupert Friend (left)

It has also been a play (1959) with Horst Buchholz and a ballet (1980) with choreography by Peter Darrell.

Evan Hofer's Crew Kickin' It

Leo Howard and Mateo Arias aren't the only bromantic duo on Kickin' It.  Evan Hofer had a recurring role as Randy, a teen martial artists who buddy-bonds with the nerd Milton (Dylan Riley Snyder).













Evan also appeared in the movie Everyday Kid (2010), which was about a boy who acquired a new superpower every day.  It apparently was never released.














He and Dylan Riley Snyder quickly became buds in real life.  Prior to Kickin' It, Alabama boy Dylan played the Young Tarzan and Pippin's adopted son on Broadway, and starred in a few short films.












Harrison Boxley (left), who battled Milton as the King of the Dark Knights on Kickin' It, is the third member of their crew.  He's had the most exposure on juvenile tv, also appearing on Big Time Rush, The Incredible Crew, and Sam & Cat.  Plus he has the most gay cred.

He has appeared in a number of short films, usually playing either the girlfriend or the gay best friends of girls undergoing crises.  For instance, The Bedwetter (2010) is about an 11-year old tomboy (Kaitlin Morgan) who wets the bed, gets bullied at school, and is getting her first crush on a girl.  Fortunately she has a gay best friend (Harrison Boxley).

Since they're in their teens, and heterosexism insists that only adults can be gay, they haven't been asked, although there is speculation.

Aug 11, 2013

Fall 1982: The Gays of Eigenmann Hall

After meeting no gay people  at all (that I knew of) in high school, and only a few in college, I moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1982 to work on my M.A. in English, and within a few weeks I met four!

Four gay men right in Eigenmann Hall, the graduate student dorm, right in the 13th floor tv lounge!

Well...sort of.


Read the rest of this story on Tales of West Hollywood.

Running Scared: A Hint of Emotional Connection

Running Scared (2006) is a mess.  It stars Paul Walker (left) as Joey Gazelle, a Mafia thug entrusted with getting rid of some guns.  He takes them home, where his son Nicky (Alex Neuberger) and best friend Oleg (Cameron Bright) find them.  Oleg uses one to kill his abusive, racist, homophobic stepfather. Distraught, his mom kills herself by blowing up the meth lab in the basement.






Oleg goes on the run, pursued by Nicky and Joey and the mob.  He meets prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, and so on.  He is grabbed by a pair of ridiculous fairytale bogeymen (I'm not kidding).  There's some sort of confrontation at an ice hockey rink, but I'm not paying attention anymore.  Then Joey dies, but he doesn't really, and the movie ends happily with him retired from the mob and moving to a farm with his wife, Nicky, and Oleg.

There are way too many monsters;  one thinks, "Who's Oleg going to run into next, Freddie Krueger?"  And even the "positive" characters, Joey and his wife, are grim, mean, homophobic, and say f*** every third word: "The f*** gun is on the street. This whole f*** g*** thing is about to f*** blow up."

But there's a gay connection: a homoerotic buddy bond between Nicky and Oleg.


Or maybe it's just a regular friendship, but with all the ridiculously over-the-top nastiness going on, you latch onto any hint of emotional connection.

Paul Walker is, of course, a superstar. Cameron Bright has been in a few gay-subtext movies, notably The X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).  Alex Neuberger (left) retired from acting after the horrible boy-meets-girl Underdog (2007).


Bill's Big Brother Sings About Men


When I was a kid in the 1960s, I knew that lots of boys liked boys, not girls, but the adults always pretended that there was no such thing.

Like my friend Bill's big brother Mike.  Sometimes when he was babysitting, he played us his comedy albums like The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.  Or he played the guitar and sang for us.  One night, probably in the summer of 1969, he taught us David Seville's "Witch Doctor."

On another night, he sang us some Flemish songs (his grandparents were from Belgium).

 “Ik hou van allen vrouwen, dat is een groot verdriet, met een kan ik maar trouwen!” He translated: “I  love all women, and it’s a big problem, because I can only marry one!”

I must have made a face, because Mike asked “Don’t you dig it, Bud?”

“It was good,” I said politely. “But I’d rather hear a song about a man who loves all men, but he can only marry one.”

Mike stared at me as if I were speaking gibberish.  “A man who. . .what?”




“You know – ” Bill explained. “A boy who loves boys, not girls. Like Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons.”

“Like Chekhov and Sulu on Star Trek,” I added.

“Um. . .gee, I don’t think I know any songs about that. How about a song about men with beards?” Without waiting for an answer, he began: “Al die willen te kaap’ren varen, moeten manner met baarden zin. If you want to be a sailor, you have to be a man with a beard.”

Thinking that Mike was just pretending not to know, we looked through all of the sheet music and music books stored in the seat of the piano, but we couldn’t find any songs about a man who loved men, or a boy who loved boys. Mike must have hid them!  Why did the adults want us to believe that there were nothing but boy-girl loves in the world?

The story of Bill continues here, when we see a naked Indian god.