Jul 10, 2015

Joe Manganiello: Gay Best Friend

Joe Manganiello, who starred as "Big Dick Richie" in Magic Mike (2012), is a strong gay ally, speaking at the HRC fundraiser in 2011, presenting buddy Matt Bomer (below) the GLSEN "Inspiration Award" in 2012,  hanging out with gay friends, being relaxed, even flirty with gay fans.

But is there any gay content in his on-screen work?

His first starring role was as someone named Black Dildo in The Ketchup King (2002).  I have no idea what that means.

Then he played Flash Thompson in Spider-Man (2002).  I walked out after Tobey Maguire made his heterosexist "all stories are about boys and girls" speech.

The evening soap One Tree Hill (2008-2010): he played Owen Morello, a former alcoholic who becomes a bartender and dates lots of women. Nope.

How I Met Your Mother (2006-2012), about a guy taking an interminably long time to tell his kids how he met their mother: he played Brad Morris, who buddies with Marshall, although he dates women.  He also says that he was "born a little different," so he may be intersexed.  Some queering there.

Then we get to some gay-positive projects:

So NoTorious (2007), about the "real life" Tori Spelling: he played Scott, her crush who turns out to belong to a weird cult.  But there's a gay character, Sasan (Zachary Quinto).

True Blood (2010-2013), about modern-day "out" vampires, with Martin Spanjers and Ryan Kwanten: he plays Alcide, head of a werewolf clan, who has sex with women.  But there are several gay characters, mostly vampires, and the gay-vampire symbolism is played to the hilt.

So: No gay characters, but lots of gay-positive work.

Maybe his man-mountain physique disqualifies him from gay roles, since gay men are still stereotyped as soft, fragile, delicate, and wispy.

Jul 7, 2015

Jimmy Olsen, Superman's First Boyfriend

Many gay boys growing up in the 1950s and 1960s dreamed of dating Superman.   In 1954, Daily Planet reporter Jimmy Olsen got his chance: he began to appear in his own comic book title, as Superman's "boy pal."

What, precisely, was a boy pal?  A boy sidekick, like Kaliman's Solin?  An adopted son, like Batman's Robin?  Jimmy wasn't a boy or even a teenager: he was tall and sturdy, with the standard comic book body-by-Michelangelo (since reporter outfits are not particularly revealing, almost every story required him to be in underwear, in a swimsuit, or ripped out of his clothes). 

The "boy pal" relationship differed considerably from ordinary friendships:

1. It was physical.  Superman and Jimmy flew with their arms wrapped tenderly around each other, a position that no one else, not even Lois Lane, rated.

2. It was romantic.  Superman gave no one but Jimmy a gift of jewelry (a special signal watch).

3. It was of public interest: “There goes Superman’s boy pal!” passersby would whisper, and when the duo quarrels in “Superman’s Enemy” (Jimmy Olsen 35, March 1959), every stage of their breakup and reconciliation made Daily Planet headlines. 

4.  It was exclusive: each had other friends and even other sidekicks, but in “Superman’s Super Rival” (Jimmy Olsen 37, June 1959), when Jimmy seems to be courting a newly-arrived superhero named Mysterio, Superman is so jealous that he challenges the rival “pal” to a fight. 

5.  It threatened heterosexual romance: in a fantasy story, “Jimmy Olsen’s Wedding,” (Jimmy Olsen 38, July 1959), Jimmy’s girlfriend agrees to marry him only under the condition that he never see or contact Superman again (one can’t imagine why). He complies for several years, but eventually he cannot bear to be separated any longer, and arranges a secret rendezvous with his “pal.” His wife discovers him in the act (of what?), shrieks in anger. and leaves him.

Such an overt same-sex romance made me scrounge to beg or borrow all of older Jimmy Olson comics I could.  The issues I could buy in the store (the series lasted until 1974) were no good; about 1965, Jimmy and Superman broke up.  Though they stayed on friendly terms, no further stories featured their romance. 

And the special signal watch was never seen again. Perhaps Jimmy returned it the day he told Superman over coffee, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

In 1972, Jimmy found a new boyfriend, an African-American cop named Corrigan, whom he sometimes even called his “pal.”

Unfortunately, the homoromance was not maintained in tv versions of the Superhero.  Smallville gave Superman two boyfriends, but neither were Jimmy Olsen.

Jul 6, 2015

A Beefcake Tour of Cleveland

That's right, Cleveland.

Since flying became such an ordeal, I've been driving back home every year to visit my parents in Indiana, and Cleveland, Ohio is about halfway.

It has the Flex Spa, one of the best gay resorts in the U.S., housed in the old Greyhound Station (2600 Hamilton).  Downstairs there's an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a steam room-maze, a bar and restaurant, lounge areas, and a fully equipped gym.
Upstairs are the private rooms, porn theater, dark rooms, and a rooftop lounge area.

You can get a full-sized hotel room and spend the night, but  it's in a nasty neighborhood, so you should stay elsewhere.

There are two good restaurants nearby:
1. Slyman's Deli, 3106 St. Clair, for enormous portions of corned beef and Christian fundamentalist tracts.
2. Siam Cafe, 3951 St. Clair, for the best Pad Thai outside of Bangkok.

In between sessions at the Flex Spa, drive east on Euclid to University Circle, where all of the museums in town are arranged in a walkable loop: The Botanical Gardens, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Art, the Institute of Art.  Other than the hunky Carnegie-Mellon students jogging around the Wade Oval, the best beefcake sights are in Museum of Art (on East Drive).

1. Hosner's Sleeping Faun (above)

2. Rodin's Age of Bronze.

3. Bandelli's Nude Study (left)

 4. Meynier's Apollo.

5. Jacques-Louis David's Cupid and Psyche.  Ok, he's with a woman, but you have to admire the smirk!

6. Minne's Solidarity, two naked guys hugging.

More after the break

Jul 5, 2015

Bomba the Jungle Boy

Johnny Sheffield began playing Boy, adopted son to Johnny Weissmuller's iconic Tarzan, in 1939, when he eight years old, and finished in 1947, when he had grown bigger, taller, and far more muscular than his movie Dad and could hardly be called a "Boy" anymore.

A couple of years later, he started on a series of 12 Bomba the Jungle Boy movies (1949-55), ostensibly based on the series of boys' adventure novels, but really about a teenage Tarzan -- Bomba borrowed Weissmuller's trademark loincloth and "Me Tarzan" patois, and the short-lived comic book spin-off was subtitled "TV's Teenage Jungle Star."

The Bomba movies, which I saw on tv during the rare Saturday afternoons in the 1960s that didn't have a game or a repeat of The Magic Sword, seemed to have the same plot, with minor variations.

Bomba is summoned by a scientist or colonial administrator, who tells him about the bad guys and introduces his attractive teenage niece, visiting from America. Bomba and niece flirt.  Bomba is captured by the bad guys, but escapes.  The niece is captured, but Bomba rescues her and defeats the bad guys.  The niece goes back to America. Bomba goes back to the jungle.

The 30 or so minutes of action was turned into a feature-length movie through some stock footage of African wildlife and 20-30 minutes of close-ups of Johnny Sheffield's body.

When Bomba takes a nap, we don't get an establishing shot and then a switch to the next scene: the camera slowly travels down the length of his body for a good five minutes.

When he is tied up by the bad guys, he struggles with his bonds for the amount of time it takes the cameraman to go down to the commisary for a sandwich.

When he goes back into the jungle, he climbs a tree, and the camera obligingly zooms in on his semi-nude butt.

This wasn't an accident of direction or editing.  It was obvious that the African adventure and the heterosexist boy-meets-girl romance were just window dressing; the entire point of the movie was to put Johnny Sheffield on display as often as possible, for as long as possible.

Not that the audience, comprised primarily of preteen gay boys and straight girls, was complaining.  They could think of lots worse ways to spend a dull Saturday afternoon than gazing at Johnny Sheffield.

He influenced a generation of muscular, semi-nude jungle boys, such as Gunga on Andy's Gang and Terry on Maya

After Bomba, Johnny filmed a tv pilot called Bantu the Zebra Boy, which is available on youtube.  He then went to UCLA, got a degree in business, and had a successfully fully-clothed career in real estate.  But was always happy to chat with his fans, gay or straight -- Johnny was refreshingly gay-friendly for someone of  his generation.

He died in 2010.

See also: Why is Bomba the Jungle Boy always tied up?


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