Aug 15, 2015

Playing Outside

When I was a kid, I hated bright, sunny days.  I much preferred dark, cloudy, and rainy.

I know, it made me weird.  In People of the Lie, M. Scott Peck states that people who prefer cloudy days are evil, probably demon-possessed.

But I had a good reason for it:

Dark, cloudy days meant that I could stay inside and read, watch tv, or play with my toys.  But the moment the sun came out, my parents would demand "It's a nice day!  Go play outside!"

"But there's nothing to do out there!"

"Nonsense!  Use your imagination!"

They then deposited me on the doorstep with the demand that I not return for two hours.  It was 2:00 pm.

2:00: Usually I sought refuge with a friend whose parents weren't so unreasonable, but one day in the spring of 1970, when I was in fourth grade, my boyfriend Bill was off visiting his grandmother and Greg (who gave me my first kiss) was sick. I knocked on Joel's door, but he wasn't home. I was stuck "playing outside."

2:10: I walked around, admiring the architecture of the houses, trying to distinguish between types of trees, examining ant hills and dandelions.

That took about 5 minutes.

2:15: I walked to Dewey's Candy Store on 22nd Avenue, avoided Dick the Mean Boy, browsed the aisles carefully, and selected a Mars Bar.  About 15 minutes.

2: 30: I walked to Schneider's Drug Store on 38th Avenue, avoiding the Face of Pure Evil (now it's an Aldi's). I   immersed myself in Donald Duck, Casper, and Little Lulu until the clerk yelled "Buy something or get out!."

2:45.  An hour and 15 minutes to go!

I saw a boy I knew from school, and asked "Want to play?"

Ok, but play what?  All of my games are inside.

Um...when my parents were kids, they divided into groups called "Cowboys" and "Indians" and tried to kill each other.

Sounds gross! I'm a pacifist!

We could race down 41st Street.  Whoever gets to 18th Avenue first wins!

Discussion, walking to the starting line, race, congratulations: 15 minutes total.

3:00.  A whole hour to go.  Would this torture never end?

Then I started noticing things.

A teenage boy mowing his lawn. A short-sleeved shirt open to reveal a patch of his tanned hairless chest, his biceps brown and hard.

Two guys repairing a roof, one older guy, one younger, maybe his son.  Their shirts tucked into their pants pockets.  Rippling muscles in their backs and shoulders.

My neighbor from down the block washing his car, naked except for plaid shorts and tennis shoes, husky, hairy, pale.

Three teenagers playing basketball in the schoolyard, their shirts off, their muscles gleaming in the sun.

Two guys hanging out in their backyard, wearing only swimsuits, probably getting ready to go to Longview Park Pool. One massive and solid, the other slim, with a tight chest and abs.

After that, I didn't mind playing outside, at least during the summertime. It gave me lots of opportunities to use my imagination.

See also: The Face of Pure Evil.

Aug 14, 2015

Parker Lewis Can't Lose

The 1980s was the era of the teen operator, the teenager who works behind the scenes, enraging tyrannical assistant principals and college deans.  He starred in virtually every TGIF sitcom, from Family Ties to Growing Pains; he used his stealth to save the day in Toy Soldiers; he ruled the school in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Parker Lewis Can't Lose (1990-93) was a late entry in the teen operator canon, a Ferris Bueller clone that aired on Fox on Sunday nights.

Parker (Corin Nemec, left) ruled the school with flashy costumes and surreal antics, along with his bud, the uber-cool Mikey Randall (Billy Jayne, previously Billy Jacoby, below), and their  nerdish protege Jerry Steiner (Troy W. Slaten).

They had several allies, including inarticulate man-mountain Kube (Abraham Benrubi) and Nick Comstock (Paul Johannson), manager of their diner hangout.

And several nemeses, including the cartoon-villain principal Grace Musso (Melanie Chartoff), who was obsessed with men with "big hands," and her vampiric crony, Lemmer (Taj Johnson), who could appear and disappear at will.

There was a lot of heterosexism; about half of the episodes involve somebody trying to get with a heterosexual crush.

But Parker and Mikey made a cute couple, with Jerry as their surrogate son, and later Kube found a soulmate in the obese Coach Kohler (John Pinette), in spite of their respective hetero-crushes.

In the third season, hunky bricklayer Brad Penny (Harold Pruett) became interested in Parker, and tried to win his "friendship."  When Parker rejected him, he got revenge by stealing Jerry, who dropped  out of school to join him in the career of bricklaying.

After Parker Lewis, Corin Nemec had a stable career, mostly playing sleazoids: two serial killers, an Adolph Hitler lookalike, and "himself" (in the webseries Star-Ving with buddy David Faustino).

He was the associate producer of the evangelical Christian film Hidden Secrets (2006), and starred as an ex-gay guy who can't accept God's forgiveness for his sinful past.  Yuck.

Billy Jayne had some acting and directing credits, but he's better known now as a commercial producer.

Troy Slaten is now an attorney.

Cruising in the Cub Scouts

I was never a Boy Scout, but I was a Cub Scout -- for about five minutes in the winter of fourth grade.

They promoted it heavily in school, with film strips and guest speakers, and a giant assembly where they extolled the wonders of the Loud Thunder Boy Scout Camp.

Lots of cute boys hugging in swimsuits.

It sounded like a good way to increase our cruising options, and get more cute boys for our sleepovers, so Bill, Joel, and I joined.

I liked the cool blue uniforms, the Indian lore, and the various guidebooks that demonstrated how to win merit badges: swimming, diving, life saving.

And our  pack consisted mostly of boys we didn't know from class, so we did get some new opportunities for meeting cute boys.

The pack leader was cute, although I never saw him like this.

Bill and I always cut out just before the final song, "God Bless America," and ran home through the dark winter night to catch The Partridge Family.  It was fun being out after dark by ourselves.

But the benefits were far outweighed by the horrible arts-and-crafts activities!

First, we had to glue something together.  How was I supposed to know that new tubes of glue need a pin-prick?  I squeezed and squeezed, and the whole thing burst all over my scout uniform.

Not the best way to attract the attention of a cute boy.  My mother never did get it clean again.

And we were supposed to build cars out of a block of wood, and paint them.  Smelly, messy, disgusting.

But the worst was the Boy Scout Jamboree that we had to attend downtown.  Boy Scouts demonstrating inane skills, like gardening and being nice to old people.

The one I remember the most vividly is "how to build a fallout shelter" for nuclear war.  Way to put a damper on the afternoon!

The opportunity for cruising wasn't worth it.  Bill and I dropped out.  Joel stuck around.

A few years later, Harvey comics featured a series in which Casper becomes a Cub Scout.   Spooky and Hot Stuff join, too.

Apparently they are all eight years old.

I couldn't figure out why someone who regularly fights mad scientists, monsters, and aliens would want to spend his evenings glueing things together and carving cars out of wood blocks.

Unless Casper was looking for new cruising opportunities, too.

See also: Looking for Beefcake on the Swim Team and The Hookup at the Sleepover.

Aug 13, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

I missed most of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68).  First it was on past my bedtime, and then there were too many competing choices (The Time Tunnel, Hogan's Heroes) -- so I watched only sporadically, when one of my friends insisted.  But I had more than one friend who thought it was "good beyond hope."

 It was a buddy spy series, like I Spy and Wild Wild West, but with an interesting twist.  In the heart of the Cold War, we heard over and over that "Russkies" were all evil monsters plotting our destruction.   But one of the secret agents was Russian.

The premise: The USSR, the United States, and other countries have set aside their differences and formed U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) to fight the evil THRUSH (acronym unknown), which wants to "subjugate the human race."

The plots were much more extravagant than anything seen on Mission: Impossible, rivaling Batman in campiness:
THRUSH tries to bring Hitler back to life.
THRUSH invents a deadly hiccup-inducing gas.
THRUSH invents an exploding hula-dancing doll.
Pat Harrington, Jr. (later on One Day at a Time) steals a rare book containing THRUSH code.
Sonny and Cher play clothes designers with THRUSH code hidden in one of their dresses.

But the main draw was the "The Man,"  American Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn, previously seen shirtless in Teenage Caveman), and his partner, the Russian Illya Kuryakin (Scottish actor David McCallum).  They were not only spy partners: they seemed to live together (and when traveling always took hotel rooms with just one bed).  They expressed their affection with the easy nonchalance of Starsky and Hutch.  And, contrary to James Bond style, they mostly ignored women.

Solo was a no-nonsense man's man (notice the use of his last name).  By contrast, Illya (notice the first name) was soft, quiet, intellectual, "feminine."  As a result, he was captured by the baddies a lot more often: 8 times (Solo was captured alone 4 times, and they were captured together 10 times).

Sometimes the capture was specifically to egg Solo on.  For instance, in "The Deadly Quest Affair," Viktor Karmak (Darren McGavin) tells Solo that Illya has been sequestered somewhere in New York City, and he has 12 hours to find him before Illya is killed by nerve gas.

There were also many shirtless and underwear shots.  David McCallum had the blond, shaggy-haired dreaminess that appealed to preteens, so he received the lion's share of coverage in teen magazines.

There were lots of book tie-ins and miscellaneous toys.

After U.N.C.L.E., the two moved on to other projects, but returned to their characters in The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983). They are called back into service 15 years after they broke up.  Dig their civilian careers: Solo became a computer developer, and Illya. . .um. . .a fashion designer.

The Youngest Guy I've Ever Dated

The story about Scott, the theater major with the professor fetish, is probably the most risque on the blog.

The bondage isn't the most risque part.

He was 22 years old, and I had just turned 54, an age gap of 32 years.

That's not the most risque part, either.

Read the whole story on Tales of West Hollywood

Aug 12, 2015

The Cornhole Champion of Western Ohio

When Chuck, my Friend with Benefits in Dayton, said that he was the cornhole champion of Western Ohio, I was mildly surprised.

"No, really, I've won trophies.  They're still on display in my parents' house."

I was even more surprised.

"Mom and Dad took me to my first cornhole tournament when I was five, and I've been a fan ever since."


Turns out that in western Ohio, but nowhere else in the world, cornholing is a game where you have to throw a beanbag full of corn kernels into a hole.

It's rather difficult.  Even the top players rarely get more than 50% "ins."

It was invented by the German immigrants in Cincinnati during the 19th century, and spread through the region.  They played it at school carnivals, fairs, festivals, and at home.  Alone, or in teams.  There were tournaments and prizes.

Ohio residents who moved out of state soon discovered the other meaning of the term "cornhole."  That didn't stop them from promoting the game.

The American Cornhole Association has a list of dozens of tournaments scheduled this summer, most outside of Ohio.

At the Wyoming State Fair
At the Parkersburg, West Virginia Homecoming Festival
In Jacksonville, Florida.
There's a Battle of the Bags Cornhole Tournament in Napa, California, with a $100 per team entry fee.

The players are mostly male, and often cute, although shirts generally stay on.  The fun is in watching them play, and thinking about the more common meaning of "cornhole."

And wondering what other interesting pursuits German immigrants have brought to the U.S.

See also: My Friend with Benefits.

Aug 11, 2015

The Bisexual M&M

I really dislike advertising mascots who belong to the group that is being eaten.  There's something grotesque and ghoulish about sentient beings proclaiming how good they taste after being killed and cooked.

The scariest of the bunch are the M&Ms, sentient, three-foot tall versions of the candy, three male (red, yellow, blue), two female (green, brown).

They are eager to participate in human society.  But every time they make friends, get jobs, get invited to parties, or in this case, go on a date with William Levy (top photo), they discover that their human "friends" actually want to eat them.

The M&Ms follow stereotypic gender roles, with females distinguished from males by their eyelashes and lipstick.  And there are occasional homophobic jokes, as in this commercial when the Orange M&M (Eric Kirchberger) discovers that a pretzel person will be going inside him.

But there has been at least one M&M commercial with a bisexual text.  The Brown M&M (Vanessa Williams) is at a party, when her friend warns that she should stay away from the cruising Kristen: "She'll devour you!"

The savvy Brown M&M hooks Kristen up with the Red M&M (Billy West), who is shown being dragged off to what he hopes is a night of sex.

So Kristen is into both men and women -- or at least male and female pieces of sentient candy.

I don't know if Rob Pruitt, who plays the Blue M&M, is the same Rob Pruitt as the artist, but the artist (the naked one with the panda on his penis) is gay.

See also: Scary, Heterosexist Ads of the 1960s.

Andy's Gang: Beefcake and Bonding on 1950s Children's TV

The earliest generation of Boomer kids have fond memories of tv programs that, at least to modern sensibilities, seem outlandish and bizarre.  You Can't Do That On Television in the 1980s can't even begin to compete with the weirdness of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, Pinkie Lane, or Howdy Doody.  

But the weirdest of all was Andy's Gang (1955-60), hosted by long-time Western sidekick Andy Devine (previously a radio and tv series hosted by Ed McConnell, and called Smilin' Ed's Gang)

1. A scary kid with blond page boy curls and one eye perpetually closed announced "I'm Buster Brown...I live in a shoe.  Here's my dog Tige...he lives in there,too."  Whereupon the studio audience went wild with laughter (actually, it was the same clip of a hysterical kid, over and over again).

2. The anarchic Froggy the Gremlin kept popping in to skewer human pretensions and stir things up.  Cue the same clip of a studio audience going into hysterics.

3. A cat named Midnight could talk. But she said only one word: "Nice," and it sounded more like a meow.  Cue the hysterical laughter.

But gay kids in the audience were waiting for the "Story Time" segment about Gunga, an Indian boy (surprisingly buff college student Nino Marcel).  He was supposed to be Indian, but he looked sort of like Jay North on the similarly-Indian themed Maya, or an older version of  Jonny Quest.  I'll bet he had blond hair under that turban.

Although they lived in India, Gunga and his boyfriend, Rama (a surprisingly buff Vito Scotti) got into Bomba the Jungle Boy-style adventures with animal poachers, lost cities, and savage cannibal tribes.

But unlike Bomba, they had no interest in girls.  Rama was the one who usually needed rescuing.

They were amazingly physical in their interactions, always hugging, clinging together, touching arms and shoulders.

Afterwards, Andy would end the program by underscoring the buddy-bonding:  "We're pals, and pals stick together!"  Then, to keep Christian fundamentalists happy, "Remember, Sunday school or church tomorrow!"  (No Hindus in the audience, apparently.)

Nino Marcel also played his Gunga Ram character, but with a different premise, in the feature film Sabaka (1954): he is a young elephant trainer who vows revenge against the evil cult that killed his family. His costar was none other than the famous Boris Karloff.

You can watch the full movie here.

See also: Burr Tillstrom, the gay puppeteer behind Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.

Aug 10, 2015

Mackenzie Astin: Bisexual-Inclusive

In 2011, Mackenzie Astin starred in Caught at the Zephyr Theater in Los Angeles.  He played a gay man blissfully planning a wedding with his partner (Will Beinbrink), when suddenly his Bible-thumping sister arrives for some screeching.

I hadn't heard much about Mackenzie, son of John Astin and Patty Duke, younger brother of Sean Astin, since the 1980s.  His biggest claim to fame then was a starring role on The Facts of Life (1985-88), about four girls in a private boarding school.

By the time he hit the series, the girls had graduated and were working in a boutique, Over Our Heads.  He played Andy Moffett, an orphan adopted by end-of-series lead Beverly (Cloris Leachman).

Teen magazines gave Mackenzie some attention, but not a lot.  Maybe because he wasn't very muscular.  He was soft, pretty, and feminine, a tween version of Kurt from Glee.

During the 1990s, he grew hard, hairy, and rather gaunt, as he tried to distance himself from his gay-coded teen years with macho hetero-roles: Iron Will (1994), about a dogsled competition; the Western Wyatt Earp (1994); Ernest Hemingway's wartime buddy in In Love and War (1996).

But Mackenzie played a lot of gay characters, too. In Stranger Than Fiction (2000), he plays a gay man named Jared who kills someone and asks his straight friends to help him hide the body.  In the short-lived tv series First Years (2001), he played a gay lawyer living in San Francisco.

Out as bisexual, Mackenzie is married to a woman, and a gay ally.

See also: The Patty Duke Show.

Aug 9, 2015

Son of Mr. Blowfish: Hooking Up in the Professor's Office and Everywhere Else

In the summer of 2003, I visited my old speech teacher, Mr. Lundquist, aka Mr. Blowfish, in Washington, Iowa.  I ended up asking my sister-in-law if I could borrow her car for another day, then driving an hour north to Mount Vernon, Iowa, to spend the night with his son, Sam.

Well, Sam was extremely hot: shorter than me, dark skin, red hair, and a tight, lean physique.

Besides, I was suffering from Florida's dearth of Asian men, and Sam was Asian (actually half Vietnamese, half Swedish)..

Besides, he had just taken a tenure track job at a small college in the heart of the Straight World.  I sensed that this might be my future, and I wanted to see what it was like.

He had literally just moved in to his apartment in someone's house a few blocks from the campus.  We had to walk through a clutter of boxes to get to the bedroom, where the bed was unmade and the lamps were sitting on the floor.

"Sorry about the mess," he said, wrapping his arms around me.  "When you drive down to spend the day with your Dad and brothers, you don't really expect to bring someone home."

Sam was very energetic and very passionate -- maybe too passionate.  We didn't get much sleep that night -- every time I dozed off, he would initiate another session.  Of course, he was 26 years old, but still, it seemed odd.

In the morning he took me to breakfast at a weird diner stuck in the 1950s, where scruffy men in overalls ordered things like "The Farm Boy": 3 eggs, 3 slices of bacon, 3 sausage links, hash browns, pancakes, and toast.  He tried to grab me under the table, but I pushed his hand away.

Then we toured downtown -- 3 blocks of depressing brown brick buildings, mostly bars and small, deserted boutiques -- and the campus -- more of the same.

"Why Cornell College?" I asked.

"Well, I wanted a liberal arts college where I could really get to know the students.  And I'm basically going to be the entire art history program.  This year I'm teaching Italian Renaissance, Asian, and Precolumbian.   Try doing that at Stanford."

"Did you get an offer from Stanford?"

"Actually, my only other offer was in Utah.  Mormon country, full of rattlesnakes and homophobes!  Cornell is much more gay-friendly."

"But does it have a gay presence?"

"Um...I don't think so.  There's a gay bar in Cedar Rapids, about 20 miles away."

"20 miles isn't bad."  I didn't have the heart to tell him that I lived a 3-block walk from a dozen gay bars, restaurants, beaches, and boutiques.

"Besides, Des Moines is only 2 hours away, and Chicago is 4 hours.  I'll be driving to one or the other every weekend."

We both knew that he wouldn't -- once the semester began, he'd be too busy, or the weather would be too bad.  On most weekends, he'd be stuck in Mount Vernon.

Next Sam took me to his office, which was very nice, with real bookcases and a window looking out onto the quad -- actually, an alley, but if you stood right up against it and looked to your left, you could see the King Chapel.

He shut the door, drew me close, and started kissing me.

"Hey, wait -- this is your office!" I exclaimed, shocked.  "Anybody could walk in at any moment."  Besides, I was sweaty from walking around the campus on the second-hottest day of the year.

"Come on, it's Sunday -- there's nobody around," he murmured, nuzzling my neck.

I've spent my whole life on college campuses, as student and professor.  But that was the first time I actually had an erotic encounter in a professor's office.

Sam drove us into Cedar Rapids that afternoon.  It was more of a city: there was a nice Vietnamese Restaurant, a nice park with jogging trails -- he tried to kiss me on the jogging trail, but I refused -- and an art museum that specialized in the work of Grant Wood.

He suggested that we finish the day in Cedar Rapid's one gay bar, but I was tired from lack of sleep, so we went back to his apartment in Mount Vernon and watched a movie instead.

Followed by another night of outrageously energetic bedroom calisthenics and another gut-buster breakfast.

"How long are you going to be in the area?" Sam asked.

"My flight to Fort Lauderdale is on Wednesday."

"Great, that gives us three more days...."

He wanted me to spend the rest of my visit with him?  But -- I came back to the Midwest to visit my family and friends! "Well, I have to get my sister-in-law's car back."

"No problem.  I'll follow you to Rock Island, you can drop off the car, and then we'll drive back."

"'s about 70 miles."

"I don't the country, you have to drive a lot."

"Besides, I need to get to the gym," I continued.

"You can use the campus gym as my guest."

Suddenly I realized what was happening: Sam had latched onto me as an escape from Straight World isolation and tedium. If I didn't act fast, I would become "the boyfriend."  He might even ask me to stay in Mount Vernon.   "I have a better idea.  Let's spend the day in Rock Island -- I want to introduce you to some friends of mine.  I just have to make a couple of phone calls first."

After we worked out, Sam followed me to Rock Island, where we dropped off the car and toured all the old sights of his childhood.  In the evening we had dinner with Dick, my old bully, now a muscle bear in his 40s, and his partner Jack.

A night of energetic sharing followed.

Dick is bigger than me, both in height and in beneath-the-belt gifts -- #7 on my Sausage List, a Kielbasa+.  Sam was suitably impressed.

The next day he drove back to Mount Vernon with their phone number in his pocket and an invitation to visit anytime.

And I got to visit my family and friends.

See also: My Night with the Son of Mr. Blowfish. and Hooking Up with the Pizza Boy

10,000 Naked Men, Part 3: Punks to Urinals

During my first 30 years, there were no photos of naked men available anywhere, or you could get them only occasionally, in expensive, hard-to-find magazines.  Then suddenly, around 1995, internet bulletin boards made hundreds of photos available. Then, with guys posting smartphone selfies, thousands.  So I started collecting them.  During the last 20 years, 've accumulated about 10,000.  Here are some of the highlights of my collection:

Punks and Chavs.  Emos, scene kids, beatnicks, gang bangers, mods and rockers, various bad boys with beards, blue hair, mohawks, pierced tongues, tats, and enormous beneath-the-belt gifts.

Rednecks and Cowboys.  Farm boys, country boys. anyone wearing a feed store cap,  standing next to a tractor, listening to country-western music, or asking "Y'all wanna climb up to the barn loft?"

Richie Rich.  Yes, I have a full collection of comic book scans from that brief period in the 1970s when Richie Rich, the previously nondescript rich kid of Harvey Comics, joined a gym (or, I suppose, had a gym constructed in his mansion, lifting bags of money and giant diamonds).  It only took a few lines to suggest pecs and biceps, but what a difference it made!

Sleeping.  You're asleep, having an erotic dream, and the covers start to tent.  Or you kick the covers off, giving your buddy a full view.  He thoughtfully takes a picture and posts it on the internet for thousands of strangers to admire.  If only he included your telephone number, your date requests would skyrocket.

S/M.  Guys tied up, struggling against the ropes, gagged, blindfolded, like Tarzan and Bomba the Jungle Boy in the old movies of my childhood.  Except here they're naked.

Snow.  I never take my shirt off outside when the temperature is under 70, and rarely until it reaches 80.  There's something sexy about a guy who walks around in the buff when it's cold enough to be snowy.  And exhibits no discomfort.  Or shrinkage.

Sports.  Guys in sports uniforms, or preferably out of them.  Unless they're wearing wrestling singlets that show off their packages.  A surprising number of wrestlers become aroused during the match.

Suits.  Nazarenes required men to wear suits to church, three times a week, but since leaving the Nazarenes, I've worn suits maybe once or twice a year.  Guys who wear them all the time are extremely sexy.  Especially when they show you their equipment while still wearing the suit.

Teams.  Preferably swim teams or wrestling teams with bulges displayed, but groups of guys are fine, too.  Here a frat displays its underwear and ties.

Urinals.  Guys whose friends snap their picture just as they are pulling it out at the urinal.  I also have some of guys doing more than that.

Vintage.  Old black and white photos, some Victorian porn, but mostly guys from my parents' and grandparents' generation hanging around nude.

Such photos are very rare.  In those days photo developing services usually rejected male nudity, so if you took a nude selfie, a camera-buff friend had to develop it for you. And you'd be too embarrassed to let it survive for your heirs to scan and put on the internet.

See also:
10,000 Naked Men, Part 1: Asian to Hung
10,000 Naked Men, Part 2: Kilts to Pairs