Jan 2, 2016

I Hook Up with a Dakota Boy, Sort of

Sioux City, South Dakota, August 2014

I have always been attracted to Native American men, but I rarely meet any.  So, when I moved to the Plains, home to some of the biggest tribes in the U.S., I started going to pow wows.

I wandered the stalls where they sold embroidery, jewelry, capes, books, and artwork, as well as scary conservative political slogans.  Many Native Americans are hard-core Republicans.

I ate fry bread, "Indian tacos," corndogs, or the healthiest alternatives I could find.

I listened to long speeches and watched processions, dances, and ceremonies.

There were a lot of cute guys around, but none of them cruised me.  They barely made eye contact.

I figured that Wacipis were mainly for connectiong with your cultural heritage and socializing with Indians from other parts of the country.  Outsiders were welcome, but meeting them was not a big priority.

Well, I'm Indian, sort of.  My father was adopted into the Potawatomi tribe, so I had Indian cousins and a grandmother, and my mother traces her ancestry back to Charles Renatus Hicks (1767-1827), an important Cherokee chief.

So I bought a t-shirt reading "Ask me about my tribe" and went undercover.

I got more eye contact and smiles when I wore my tribal t-shirt, and even a cruisy gaze from a hot teenage dancer, but I managed only a few very brief conversations.

Maybe everyone was too busy to meet new people.

Or else too attached to mothers and fathers, wives, cousins, and friends to respond to a same-sex cruise.

Wacipis are very family friendly (read: gay people erased and ignored).

One day in August 2014, at a pow wow in Sioux City, South Dakota, I stopped by a booth that advertised "Five Cousins Roshineers."

Roshineers is Midwestern for "roasting ears," roasted corn on the cob eaten as a snack.

There were only three cousins at the booth, two young teenagers and a very muscular twink with black hair and a smooth brown chest.  His t-shirt said Tyler.

"Where are the other cousins?" I asked after ordering my corn.

"There's actually only four of us now," Tyler told me, pausing to wipe his brow.  His t-shirt was damp with sweat.  "The fifth, that's my brother Deacon, he started the business, but he got a job in Minneapolis, you know, and can't do it anymore.  I'll probably drop out when I get out of college, too."

"Oh, you're in college!" I exclaimed.  "Where do you go?"

"Northern State in Aberdeen, right near Lake Travers, home of the Sisseton Dakota nation, you know."

He must have grown up on the reservation!

"What are you majoring in?" I asked, trying to keep up the conversation going.

"Geology.  But I'm minoring in American Indian Studies, and I'm on the wrestling team.  Want to see a picture?"

He pulled out his smartphone and showed me a picture of his hands on his opponent's crotch.

"Nice."  I saw my opening.  "You have quite a physique.  I used to work for Muscle and Fitness magazine in L.A, and I met all the bodybuilding greats -- Schwarzenegger, Ferrigno, Hanley."

His eyes lit up.  "Really?  Hey, do you think you could check out my form sometime?"

"Sure -- is today good?"

"Well, I'm a little busy today.  Tell you what -- come on out to the college -- it's right near the rez, you know -- and I'll give you the grand tour.   Let me call you, so you have my cell phone number, right?"

He sent me a nude selfie!

Aberdeen, South Dakota, September 2014

I drove out to Aberdeen, rented a hotel room, and met Tyler for the "grand tour."  A small but very scenic campus, a small, seedy looking downtown.  We had lunch at a place called Daddy's Bar and Grill -- way to remind me of our age difference!  I talked about growing up in the small-town Midwest, figuring "it" out, my years at Muscle and Fitness, working at Barney's Gym in Florida.

"You know so many bodybuilders!" he said.  "Are all of them gay?"

"Not all, but quite a few.  What about here at Northern State? A lot of gay guys?"

"No, man.  If they are, they're closeted.  And homophobic.  That's what I like about Indians -- you're open.  You don't care if someone likes guys or girls or both.  Have you heard about the two-souls?"

We spent the night in my room, and in the morning said goodbye.

"Thanks for spending time with me," he said.  "So many Indians are into older guys, I didn't think you'd want a kid."

"Kids have their advantages."  Suddenly it dawned on me. "Wait -- do you mean that you're not Indian?"

"Me?"  Tyler laughed.  "Thanks for the compliment, but I'm German.  But I'm way into Indians.  That's one of the perks of working the pow wows, right?  I get to meet a lot of rez boys."

The full post, with nude photos and a description of the sexual encounter, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

What the Butler Saw: Crossdressing, Nudity, and Churchill's Penis

Your high school drama club won't be performing What the Butler Saw (1969) anytime soon.  45 years after it opened, the play by gay playwright Joe Orton is still scandalous, homoerotic, and very funny.

There's no butler in What the Butler Saw.  The phrase comes from a British divorce case in 1886, in which a butler peered through a keyhole to see his employer having an adulterous affair in the dining room.  It became a catchphrase for risque sex.

There's no sex in What the Butler Saw, either.  But there's a lot of discussion of sex.  It's a spoof of the 1960s medicalization of sexuality, "normal" heterosexual monogamy against "sick" perversions.  Lots of them.

A psychiatrist, Dr. Prentice, tries to seduce Geraldine, who is interviewing for a job as a secretary.  His wife, Mrs. Prentice, has promised the job to her lover (and blackmailer), the bellhop Nicholas.

Nicholas and Geraldine end up switching clothes.

A government inspector and a police officer arrive.

There's crossdressing, incest, mistaken identities, homoeroticism, nudity (if the production is particularly daring, full frontal nudity), and Winston Churchill's penis.  What more could you want in an evening at the theater?

Since Nicholas Beckett spends most of the play in his underwear, he must be played by an actor of substantial hotness: Hayward Morse in the original production, David Tennent (the star of Blackpool), Nick Hendrix (top photo), Parry Glasspool, and Ewan McGregor (left).

It's been filmed once, a 1987 BBC adaption starring Tyler Butterworth as Nicholas.

If you can't find a stage performance, there's always a print version.

Jan 1, 2016

Chrononauts: Sometimes Buddy-Bonding Is Not Enough

This is why I don't read science fiction anymore.

Amazon was aggressively pushing the graphic novel Chrononauts at me.   It's about a big, buffed, square-jawed scientist named Corbin Quinn, who gets lost in time, and his big, buffed buddy, Danny Reilly, goes out looking for him.  Sort of a Time Tunnel thing.

I read the reviews very carefully.  "Jaw-dropping!" "Magnificent!" "Breaktaking!" "Big and fun!"

"A bromance for the ages!"

I searched for the authors, Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy, with the keyword "gay."  Mark Millar included gay characters in his comic books The Authority and Jupiter's Circle, and celebrated the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality by offering fans free downloads.

Ok.  I clicked on "buy."  Chrononauts arrived yesterday.

Quinn and Reilly are indeed bromantic partners.  They are constantly hugging and putting their arms around each other's waists and shoulders.  They rescue each other from danger.  When one exclaims "Leave me and escape while you can!" the other refuses.  "I won't go without you!"  They call each other "companions,"

But they are also heterosexual.  Boy oh boy, are they heterosexual!

Why do they want to go on the time travel mission?  Scientific curiosity?  Adventure?  No - girls: "You'll be banging every co-ed from here to Timbuktu."

Meanwhile Reilly is in love with a woman, and Quinn has an estranged wife.  He wants to stay unstuck in time because he has nothing to live for in the present: "No wife, no family."  But to assuage his pain, he's been dating women from a dozen time periods, including Marilyn Monroe.  He needs a chart to keep track of them all.

At the end of the story, Quinn uses his time travel ability to go back and be a better husband, so when he returns to the present, she and their child are waiting for them:   Unfortunately, when Reilly proposes to his girlfriend, she is already married due to time distortion.

Girls, girls, girls, as the goal of every journey!

Heterosexual romance as the meaning of life!

I did all the research I could, and still got caught in a firestorm of frenzied heterosexism.

I don't read science fiction anymore.

See also: Time Tunnel.

My Date with the Teen Mayor

[Names and places in this story have been changed.]

In 1995 my parents and sister moved from Rock Island to a small town in southern Indiana.

Outside of Indianapolis and Bloomington, southern Indiana is deeply conservative.  There are more fundamentalist churches than people.  Billboards extoll "family values." Homophobic diatribes fill the letters section of the local newspapers.

So when I came for my annual Christmas and summer visits, I stayed mostly in the house, unless my parents dragged me out to a restaurant or antique store, or I got to drive up to the gay venues of Indianapolis.

In December 2007, on the way back to Dayton on Christmas Day, I stopped at the Works, a bath house with a fully equipped gym, a maze, a steam room, and several dark rooms for anonymous activity.  It was surprisingly crowded -- I guess I'm not the only one experiencing angst or infinite boredom during holiday visits.

A young guy approached me in the maze: short brown hair, cute round face, smooth, not particularly muscular body.  He looked a bit too young.  Instead of touching his chest, the standard bath house ice-breaker, I asked "How old are you?"

He looked offended.  "How old are you?"

"Ok.  When was the first national election you voted in?"

"2000."  So he was at least 25!  "I voted for Al Gore for president, and David Johnson for senator.  But Lugar won by a landslide.  So, we gonna talk politics, or you gonna invite me back to your room??"

"Ok, you talked me into it. My name is Boomer."

Chatting afterwards, I discovered that he was 26 years old, he graduated from Indiana University with a history degree in 2002, and now he and his brother ran a storage company.

"Do you want to go back to my place," Jim asked, "Maybe get some dinner?  I live a few miles out of town, but I'm up for having you spend the night."

"Sorry, I'm due in Dayton tomorrow morning."

"After New Year's, then?  Come out for the weekend.  I'd love to introduce you to my boyfriend."


He wrote down his address -- New Bern, a small town about thirty miles from my parents' house.  We sometimes drove out to visit the antique shops.  I wasn't impressed.

"I've been through New Bern!" I exclaimed.  "Even more scary conservative than the rest of Southern Indiana.  Full of gun stores and fundamentalist churches!  How can you stand it?  Don't you get crosses burnt on your front lawn?"

He smiled.  "Oh, I manage.  Come down next weekend, and we'll show you around."

On January 5th, I drove out to New Bern.  Gun stores, fundamentalist churches, "Beads by Emily," a non-ironic 1950s diner, an old-fashioned barber shop.  I could feel the waves of suspicion and hatred from the townsfolk.

Jim lived alone in a very nice two-story house near the outskirts of town: his back yard abutted a horse farm.  Apparently running a storage company paid very well.

His boyfriend Calvin was a few years older, probably around thirty, and considerably more muscular, with a smooth hard chest and xylophone abs

He explained that he worked at one of those trendy clothing stores in the Mall in Greenwood, so he had to look good.  Every day before work he spent two hours at the Y, pumping iron.

We had lunch in a Mexican restaurant where the ornate murals featured muscular, half-naked Aztecs meeting Cortez and his conquistadors, quite a refreshing bit of beefcake in the straight world.

Everyone seemed to know Jim and Calvin.  The waiter gave us our drinks on the house, and two people came up to say hello.  One had a lot to say about the upcoming ice-carving festival.

Then I got a tour of New Bern.

The high school where the students performed the gay-themed drama Angels in America.

The house where Emily of "Beads by Emily" lived with her "girlfriend."

A Lutheran church that was "welcoming," and had several open gay couples in the congregation.

All gay public employees, by the way, were protected by a non-discrimination policy.

Finally we went to the park where Jim used to watch Calvin playing baseball, before they started dating, when they knew each other only vaguely, the way guys in small towns do.  Oblivious to passersby, they pulled each other into a kiss.

This was small town scary conservative Indiana?

"You guys are quite the civic boosters," I said.  "Next you'll be telling me that you're members of the Rotary Club, Toastmasters, and the Chamber of Commerce."

"Close,"  Jim said, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.  "I'm the mayor."

My head exploded. 

"You said you run a storage company..."

"In a small town all elected offices are part time."

"You got elected mayor of a conservative small town at age 26...."

"He was 25," Calvin corrected me.  "One of the youngest mayors in Indiana history, but not the youngest.  That was a 23-year old up in...."

"And the gun-owning, fundamentalist townsfolk elected a gay guy?"

"Well, I'm not exactly out," Jim said.  "I've never actually made a coming-out speech.  I don't bring Calvin to official functions.  But everybody in town sees us together all the time, and we never have girls around.  The young people don't care, and the older ones pretend not to notice."

In ultra-conservative small-town Indiana?

"There are homophobes here," Calvin added.  "Bible-thumping preachers and in-bred rednecks and the like.  But you get those everywhere.  I bet you even got them out in West Hollywood."

I didn't "date" Jim and Calvin again, but it was nice to know they were there.

By the way, the first "openly" gay mayor in Indiana is Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, who came out during his first term in June 2015, and was elected for a second term with 80% of the votes.  Apparently his being gay was less controversial than his plan to return two-way traffic to one-way Michigan Street.

The uncensored story, with sexual content and nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Dec 31, 2015

A Nude Party with the Golden Boy and His Buddies

Rock Island, June 30, 1978.

Exactly one week ago, I figured "it" out.  My elation at finally solving the mystery, understanding who I am, has given way to depression.  There are no books on gay topics in the library, no gay organizations, no meeting places except for a gay bar that I'm too young to go to.

And I can't tell anyone.  Everyone thinks that gay people are either horrifying monsters or swishy jokes.  

What do I do now?

My friend Aaron invites me to a Marx Brothers Film Festival held at the Augustana College Student Union: The Cocoanuts and Animal Crackers tonight, and Horse Feathers, Monkey Business, and Duck Soup tomorrow (this was before DVDs).

Jana, a girl I know from Rocky High, comes into the first screening.  With the most beautiful guy I have ever seen.  Greek or Italian, rather short, short black hair, sharp features, flawless skin.  He is wearing a yellow tank top that displays his smooth chest and nicely bulging biceps.  But no verbal description can do justice to his amazing confidence and energy.  He is a Golden Boy.

"Who...who is that guy with Jana?" I ask, transfixed.

Naturally Aaron assumes that I'm interested in the girl.  "Dunno.  But I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. He looks like a college kid, so at the end of the summer, he's out of here!"

During intermission, I drag Aaron over and get an introduction.  His name is Dino.

"Are you related to Dino []?" I ask.

"Uncle Dino?  Sure.  We don't see him much, though.  He joined a crazy fundamentalist church, Nazarene or something, and decided that we were all possessed by demons."

"He was my Sunday School teacher at the Nazarene Church!"

His face falls.  "Oh...um...I didn't mean..."

"That's ok, I know they're crazy fundamentalists.  I've been trying to get out."

"No, no, I shouldn't have made that crack.  Let me make it up to you.  Come by Lagomarcino's tomorrow, and I'll fix you up with a box of candy.  Your friend, too," he adds, glancing at Aaron.

"Are you working there for the summer?"

"Sort of.  My grandpa owns it."

Moline, July 1st

The Lagomarcinos are one of the wealthiest families in the Quad Cities.  They own several businesses, but they are best known for their landmark candy store in Moline, open since 1908.  It sells ice cream cones and sodas, but mostly you go there for the fancy chocolates. (In 2015, one-pound assortments begin at $24, double the price of one-pound Whitman Samplers).

We arrive about 2:00 pm.  Dino is working behind the counter, wearing a white apron, but still muscular, athletic, alive.

Before I can catch myself, I blurt out: "For someone who makes candy for a living, you have a really nice physique."

Dino smiles.  "Thanks.  I was on the swim team in high school, and I studied karate and boxing."

"Cool!  Aaron and I used to go to the Davenport Athletic Club on Saturday afternoons to..."  I catch myself before saying "to look at the cute guys."

"I worked out there when I was a kid.  Tommy Campbell was the best!"  (See Rock Island Boxers on Boomer Beefcake and Bonding).

"Maybe we saw you..."

"Probably."  He pauses.  "Hey, are you guys doing anything for the 4th?  I'm having some guys over to see the fireworks -- Mom and Dad are in Europe.  Our house is on River Drive [in Davenport],  so you get a really good view from the front porch.  We'll have some barbecue, drink some beers."

Who could turn down an offer like that?

Aaron could.  "Can I bring a date?"

He looks confused.  Does he think we're a gay couple?  Are we a gay couple?

"It's guys only.  We don't want any women messing up our fun, do we?"

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Gay Fan Art 1: Max Goof

Go to deviantart.com or one of the x-rated yaoi sites and do a keyword search for "Max Goof slash."

You'll find dozens of fan-produced pictures of the Disney character kissing a guy, hanging out in his underwear with his boyfriend, or having explicit sex with him.

His boyfriends include the portly P.J., 1980s-lingo-spouting slacker dude Bobby Zimeruski, and one of the 101 Dalmatians.

There are also pictures of Max having sex with women, but they are far outnumbered by the homoerotic pictures.

Apparently fans enjoy envisioning Max Goof as gay.

Ironically, the character appeared during the 1980s conservative retrenchment, when the cartoon characters of previous generations came under scrutiny.  Quasi-romantic same-sex bonds, gender ambiguity, any hint of a potential gay subtext had to be erased.  Sometimes they were transformed into children, but more often they were explicitly heterosexualized, given husbands, wives, and children.

So, in the tv series Goof Troop (1992-1996), Goofy, the gay-vague sidekick of Mickey Mouse in many Disney comic books, became a widower raising his 11-year old son, Max.   Most of the episodes involved Max's embarrassment over his less-than-cool Dad.

The characters spun off into two movies with similar "embarrassed Max" plotlines.

A Goofy Movie (1995) has a teenage Max torn between going to a concert with the girl he likes, and going on a father-son fishing trip with Goofy.

In An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000), Max heads off to college, hoping to be rid of his less-than-cool Dad once and for all, only to discover that Goofy has enrolled along with him.

Both father and son have hetero-romantic plotlines.

In his last incarnation, the Disney Channel series House of Mouse (2001-2003), Max works as a valet at Mickey Mouse's nightclub.

It's not a very long pedigree, nor are there any major gay subtexts, but it still resonated with fans.

Maybe it's because Max is voiced by Jason Marsden, long-time gay ally and all-around hunk.

(All pictures borrowed from the artists on deviantart.com.)

See also: Jason Marsden, the Pocket Gay; Tijuana Bibles; and Gay Fan Art 2: Invader Zim

Dec 30, 2015

I Find Out about Sex in the Church Parking Lot

You're probably wondering, when I had my first sexual experience with Todd at music camp, the summer after my sophomore year in high school, how did I know what to do?  After all, this was an era of utter silence, when everyone was unaware, or pretended to be unaware, that gay people existed.  Or same-sex practices.

Preachers, teachers, parents, and peers talked about sex a lot, without defining it, and when I pressed them, they described a penis and a vagina, nothing else.  Where did I get the idea to do other things?

I learned from our Nazarene Youth Minister.

The Preacher might be elderly, but the Youth Minister had to be young, cool, and attractive enough to keep kids interested.  Ours was Brother Bob, fresh out of Olivet, in his early 20s, tall, with enormously broad shoulders, a barrel chest, and gigantic hands.

Unfortunately, I never saw him shirtless -- he always wore a suit and tie, the Nazarene equivalent of a clerical collar.  But when I went down to the altar to get saved or sanctified, he came down and wrapped his huge hard arm around me, and I could feel his hard barrel chest against my back.

I never got a Sausage Sighting either.  But you could hardly miss the gigantic Mortadella+ swinging around in his pants every time he moved. Particularly in NYPS, when we were kneeling to pray, and he walked from person to person to see if we needed help: his crotch was exactly at eye level.  And at least once, when he hugged me after altar call, I felt it press against me like.

One Sunday night during the summer after ninth grade, I walked out into the parking lot during altar call to escape from the frenetic shouting, and saw Terry and Dave, twelfth grade best buddies, talking in the shadowy area by the church bus.

Dave was a member of church royalty, with perfectly cut black hair, perfect teeth, and an athletic physique.  Last year  I got a Sausage Sighting at summer camp: impressive, maybe a Bratwurst, cut.

Terry was slim, with dirty-blond hair almost too shaggy to meet Nazarene standards, an aspiring Gospel singer from an unsaved family who started coming to church last fall.  He backslid every few weeks and had to go down to the altar again.

I didn't usually associate with twelfth graders -- the three year age gap seemed unbreachable.  But I had to say "hello," or they might think I was spying on them.

"Twelve inches, easy!" Dave was saying.  "Brother Bob's is bigger than Brother Dino's by a long shot.  No way it's happening!"

The rest of the story is too risque for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding.  You can read it on Tales of West Hollywood

Even Stevens: Shia Labeouf's Gay Subtext Teencom

Today Shia LaBeouf stars in quirky independent movies, but in the early 2000s, he was the Disney Channel's Next Big Thing, given as much screen time as Simon and Milo music videos. He starred in two Disney Channel movies, Hounded (2001) and Tru Confessions (2002); he guest starred on  The Proud Family and The Nightmare Room; he appeared on all of its reality programs, including Express Yourself, Movie Surfers, and  Super Short Show.

And he starred in Even Stevens (2000-2003), about Louis Stevens, a mischievous middle-school boy who bedevils his upper-middle class Jewish family, especially his older sister Ren and older brother Donnie.

Not a big fan of the gay community, Shia Labeouf today is the source of casual heterosexism, makes casual homophobic comments, and punched a guy in the face for "accusing" him of being gay.  But his Louis Stevens would probably be a strong ally.  He is intensely girl-crazy, and gets a steady girlfriend by the third season, but he is surrounded by gay people.  

His best friend, Twitty (A. J Trauth), is flamboyantly feminine, rarely expresses any interest in girls,  and has an obvious crush on him.  

A.J. Trauth's soft features and flamboyance prompted many real-life gay rumors, particularly when he was photographed wearing a t-shirt that read "Boy Toy."  A boy toy is an attractive younger man who has sex with an older man in exchange for money and gifts. 

But he is apparently heterosexual.  Today he lives in Odessa, Texas and performs in the band Maven.

Ren has a gay-coded best friend, Nelson Minkler (Gary LeRoi Gray), who is prissy, intellectual, not interested in girls, and obviously interested in Louis' older brother, Donnie.  After Even Stevens, he starred as a gay teenager in Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom (2003), the film sequel of the Logo tv series about a group of gay black men.

Donnie Stevens (Nick Spano) is a bodybuilder who wanders around the house shirtless, providing ample beefcake.  He also expresses no interest in girls; in one episode he states that he has "a date," but carefully avoids pronouns, to leave the question of his date's gender open.  However, he is frequently seen with boys, and he has a particular interest in his coach (Tom Wise).

Prior to Even Stevens, Nick Spano played mostly muscular hunks who were required to take their shirts off, or everything off.  He starred in two gay-themed movies, The Journey: Absolution (1997) with Mario Lopez, and Defying Gravity (1997).  No word on whether he's gay or straight in real life.

With all of that gay-friendly talent and gay subtext, Shia must have felt rather uncomfortable on the set.

See also: Shia Labeouf's "Female Fans"

Summer 1988: A Preacher, a Porn Star, and Two Cute Young Things

Alan the ex-porn star returned to West Hollywood in late May 1988, having failed to start gay Pentecostal churches in Japan and Thailand.  Always optimistic, he planned to try again -- this time in France.

So he spent the summer garbling his high school French to everyone in earshot and listening to annoying French pop songs.

Meanwhile, my ex-boyfriend Fred accepted the offer to attend the Claremont School of Theology, in spite of the objections of his Cute Young Thing (real name: Matt).  They moved to California in July 1988, and found an apartment in Pomona.

I hadn't noticed before, but Alan and Fred came from similar backgrounds, had similar personalities, and had similar physiques (tall, buffed, gifted where it counts).  They were both infinitely attractive to Cute Young Things.  What would happen, I wondered, when they met?

Would they become arch-nemeses, like Superman and Lex Luther?  Would the world explode?

One way to find out:

In July 1988 I invited them over for dinner: Alan and his new boyfriend Jin, Fred and Matt, and my sort-of ex Raul. I made chicken a l'orange, asparagus, and garlic bread, and Raul brought over some kind of flan for dessert.

They were both perfectly polite during dinner, neither argumentative nor cruisy. We discussed Hollywood, Barney Frank, my doctoral dissertation, Raul's new job, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Married...with Children, and our coming out stories (in 1988, gay men always told their coming out stories to every new person they met).

So far so good.  Then we sat down to watch a movie I rented (in 1988, watching movies at home was a new, exciting experience, the focus of many parties).

Then it began:  "I'm moving to France next month," Alan announced, "To start a gay Pentecostal church."

"Aren't they mostly Catholic?" Fred asked.

"That's why God called me there.  57 million people means 6 million gay people who need the Lord."

"So...you don't think that Roman Catholicism is a legitimate spiritual path?"

"Of course not.  It's all about going through intermediaries, like the Pope.  You need a personal relationship with Christ."

"Hey, I teach at a Catholic college!" I protested (I was an adjunct at Loyola Marymount College).  They ignored me to argue about universalism.

And revelation, incarnation, glossolalia, eschatology, exegesis, while the rest of us tried to watch the movie.  Jin and Matt looked bored, cruised each other, and eventually vanished into one of the bedrooms.

"Hey, your boyfriends are making it!" I exclaimed.  But Alan and Fred didn't care (in 1988, "sharing" one's boyfriend was commonplace). They kept disputing and exhorting and contextualizing.

The movie ended. It was time to go.  In 1988, parties in West Hollywood traditionally ended with everyone::
1. Going to the bars; or
2. Pairing off and going to the bedrooms..

But they kept theologizing and philosophizing.

So I tried my ace in the hole. Alan had been trying unsuccessfully to trick with Raul for years, so I sent Raul over to gently squeeze his thigh.

That worked!

Alan got flushed and tongue-tied, and tried to grope Raul.  Then he said,  "It's about time I tracked down Jin."

They both stood, and Fred put his arm around his waist.  "I'll go with you." He stopped half way up the stairs, turned, and grinned. "Thanks for a great party, Boomer and Raul!  See  you in the morning!"

Many theological disputes can be solved in a bedroom.

My Terrible Year in Philadelphia

In 2005, when I moved into the straight world after twenty years in gay neighborhoods, I swore that I would soon be back home again.

But gay neighborhoods tend to be in the heart of fabulous big cities that everyone on Earth is desperate to live in, so academic jobs are extraordinarily competitive.  Every opening gets 300 or more applications, not only from the U.S. but worldwide, not only from new Ph.D.'s but from experienced, even tenured faculty.

Still, I kept trying, sending out applications to colleges near gay neighborhoods year after year, occasionally getting an interview but never being offered anything.

Finally, in 2013, my seventh year in the straight world, I got an offer: a small private college near Philadelphia had been stymied on its search for a tenure-track opening, so it needed someone to teach the Freshman Seminar, Research Methods, and "Law and Society"courses for a year while they were looking again.

A one year temporary position.  But in Philadelphia!

Philadelphia's version of West Hollywood is Washington Square West, an 8x12 block square bounded by Walnut, South, Lombard, and Sixth.  It is cluttered with gay bars (The Tavern on Camac, The Bike Stop), bath houses, restaurants, retail outlets, a Community Center,  and Giovanni's Room, one of the oldest gay bookstores in the world,

I was there!

I moved down in August 2013, leaving Troy and most of my stuff in my apartment Upstate. There seemed no point for him to move down for just a year.

I hated it at first, but figured that all new cities take a little getting used to.

Three months later, I was still hating it.

Six months later, I was desperately applying for every job I could, as long as it was nowhere near Philadelphia!

What went wrong?

1. The Expense. I got a frightfully expensive apartment that took up 50% of my take-home salary.

But my apartments in San Francisco and the East Village were frightfully expensive too. 

2. The Crime. It was in a high-crime neighborhood.  I always heard about robberies, assaults, shots fired.  I was afraid to go out at night.

But I used to walk down Santa Monica Boulevard at Highland without giving it a second thought.

3. The Commute.  My college was 11 miles away, about an hour by train, there and back every day.  Seemed like I spent my whole life on that train.

But when I was in grad school, I regularly took the train two hours from my apartment in Manhattan to Stony Brook, took classes, and returned with no problem.

4. The Size. It was one room, only big enough for a futon that doubled as a couch, a small table/desk, and a bookcase.

But my first apartment in West Hollywood was one room, with no bed, a built-in desk, and a microwave but no stove.  

5. The Boyfriend.  Troy was back Upstate, so every weekend I drove up to him, or he drove down to me.  So half the weekends I was out of town.  It's hard to maintain friendships or relationships that way.

In West Hollywood, I spent a semester in Turkey, and another in Nashville.  Then I returned and started right back, with no awkwardness or lost connections.

6. The Lateness.  The bars and bath houses catered to the after-midnight crowd.  Go at 9:00 pm, and you could hear the crickets chirp.  I had to get up at 6:00 am to get to work, and I was too tired to go out.

But I got up at 6:00 am my whole life, and I was never too tired to go out.

7. The Emptiness.  West Hollywood, New York, and Florida had organizations for black, Asian, and Hispanic gay men, gay doctors, lawyers, fathers, runners, Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Jews, gardeners, movie buffs, football fans, Republicans, Democrats, atheists, pagans...you name it.  Philadelphia had a Community Center and some self-help groups.

In West Hollywood I belonged to some groups, but in New York and Florida I didn't.  You could meet men anywhere. 

8. The Heterosexuals.  I lived right down the street from a straight bar with pictures of 1940's pin-up girls on the ceiling  There were heterosexual couples in my building.  I saw boy-girl couples on the street all the time.

There were heterosexuals in West Hollywood and New York, too.  We always shared our community with a few daring yuppies and a few oldsters who had been living there since before the Flood.

9 The Twinks.  There were a dozen gay bars, restaurants, and retail outlets within a few blocks of my apartment, all entirely occupied by twinks.  I rarely saw a guy over 30, and almost never over 40.  No matter where I went, I was the oldest person in the room.

But I was a twink magnet.  All of those 20-year olds wanted to get with me.

Remember "Hey, Nineteen"?

No, we got nothing in common
No, we can't talk at all
[But] please take me along when you slide on down.

10.  The Tourists.  The streets were crowded with guys who drove in from small towns, to spend a few hours or a few days dancing, drinking, doing drugs, and hooking up.  We had tourists in West Hollywood, San Francisco, the East Village, and Wilton Manors, especially on the weekends, but then they went home, leaving small towns populated by guys who were survivors, who had escaped from the homophobia of the straight world.  We called it Oz and Heaven, walked around smiling, unable to believe, year after year, that we were finally home.

In 2012, the homophobia of even the most backwards of towns was nowhere near as fierce, and as universal, at the homophobia of 1982, 1992, or 2002.

You could come out to straight people without being lectured at, screamed at, or asked "What do they think causes it?"

You could come out at work without being instantly fired.

The sense of community, the belief that "we are all survivors" was gone.

It was just a neighborhood with a lot of gay people. It wasn't home.

The uncensored version of this post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch

I don't care for rap music, but who in 1991 wasn't paying attention to rapper Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, whose "Good Vibration" reached #1 on the US Pop Charts?

We really weren't paying attention to the song; we were watching the music video, which showed Marky working out with his shirt off (and, unfortunately, having sex with a girl).

In live performances, he also took his shirt off, revealing an astounding bodybuilder's physique, and during the number he dropped his pants and grabbed his crotch, obviously aware that fans weren't paying attention to his musical talent.

Born in 1971, Marky Mark (Mark Wahlberg) was the younger brother of Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block (and a member himself for a few months).  A young gang-banger,he was  always getting into trouble. At age sixteen he was charged with attempted murder for a hate crime perpetrated against a Vietnamese youth that left him blind in one eye.  While in juvenile detention, Mark "got his act together" and moved into music.

Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch didn't last long.  Their first album, Music for the People (1991) went platinum, but their second, You Gotta Believe (1992), peaked at #63.  The group disbanded in 1993.

His biography on the IMDB claims that his decline and fall came when he was being interviewed on a British talk show, and fellow rapper Shabba Ranks called for the extermination of gay people.  His failure to comment was taken as agreement, and ended his career (I doubt it; aren't lots of rap fans homophobic?).

Mark then capitalized on his underwear notoriety by modeling for Calvin Klein (often hugging a girl).

Then he moved into acting, playing lots of muscular but dangerous/violent characters, or any role that capitalized on his physique and penis, such as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights (1997).

No gay roles.  No gay-friendly roles.  Now over 40, the actor has distanced himself from the racism of his youth, but he continues to make homophobic comments -- such as the script to Brokeback Mountain freaked him out -- although he claims that a closeted gay uncle taught him "tolerance."

See also: Looking for Beefcake on MTV.

Dec 28, 2015

Looking for Muscles on the Carol Burnett Show

Variety shows are out of style now, but in the 1960s, they were all the rage.  At least among the adults.  In 1969, they could watch 9 hours of variety per week: Leslie Uggams, Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Glen Campbell,  Jim Nabors, Tom Jones, Jimmy Durante, Jackie Gleason, and Andy Williams (programs all named after their star).

All of the kids I knew hated variety. Passionately.  Except for our own Smothers Brothers and Laugh-In, of course.  Slow songs from dinosaur times, lady dancers in skimpy costumes, jokes involving heterosexual desire, comedy sketches featuring characters popular on radio a thousand years ago, and bathetic closing numbers involving sad clowns or cleaning ladies.

I usually managed to get out of watching variety shows by claiming homework, or when my brother and I got our own tv set, watching something else -- anything else.  But for some reason I saw a lot of Carol Burnett, hatred or not.

There were only three reasons to watch:

1. Co-host Lyle Waggoner, a former male model who appeared nude in Playgirl.  He played the leading-men and hunks in comedy sketches.  Unfortunately, because they were comedy, he never appeared nude or even shirtless on the show.

2. Frequent guest star Ken Berry (previously of Mayberry RFD), who sang, danced, and appeared in comedy sketches.  He had some muscles, and often wore extra-tight pants that would give Frank Gorshin some competition in the bulge department. Unfortunately, his numbers usually involved heterosexual romance.  One, called "Love Stolen from the Cookie Jar," was about how much he enjoyed  grabbing the butts of strange girls.

3. Occasionally other hunky guest stars, like Steve Lawrence and John Davidson.

4. The "Mama's Family" sketches, about a dysfunctional Southern family, featuring Carol as the brash Eunice (left), Harvey Korman (not pictured) as her husband, and the much younger Vickie Lawrence as crotchety Mama (right).  Gay actor Roddy McDowell (center) appeared occasionally as Eunice's highly educated, sophisticated brother, who lived to regret his visits. Alan Alda and Tommy Smothers appeared as other brothers before it was established that Mama had only one son, Vinton (Ken Berry).

 Anything that skewered the myth of the deliriously happy nuclear family was fun.  And it spun off into the sitcom Mama's Family, which was a must-watch program of the 1980s due to the hunky Alan Kayser.

See also: Once Upon a Mattress.

Summer 1976: On My Knees in a Cute Boy's Bedroom

June 1976, Minnesota

Every year the family spends a week camping somewhere in the northwoods, fishing, swimming, hiking -- and, on Sunday, finding the nearest Nazarene Church.

Even when it's in Brainerd, Minnesota, an hour's drive away.

"But Nazarenes can't eat out on Sunday, so we'll have to drive back here and cook dinner!" I protest.  "It will be after 2:00 when we eat!"

"Jesus prayed and fasted all night," Mom pointed out.  "Besides, there might be some cute girls there."

I sigh.  Not the "what girl do you like" litany again!  What about cute boys?

"And what about the soulwinners? We'll be mobbed!"

"Oh, stop complaining.  We'll just call ahead and tell them we're coming!"

I sigh.  Not the "what girl do you like" litany again!

The most prestigious thing a Nazarene can do is soulwinning, talking sinners (which basically meant all non-Nazarenes) into accepting Jesus as their Personal Savior, thereby winning their souls for our team.

We take classes in soulwinning, hear sermons about it, read stories about it, evaluate scenario.  Our Sunday School teacher often asks "How many souls did you win this week?"

Usually none at all.  It's not easy.  When you were 14 years old, would you have been able to walk up to this guy and say "Hi, do you have a moment to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?"

If you aren't "spiritually mature" enough for soulwinning, you can witness instead: tell the sinner that you are ecstatically happy every moment of every day because you're saved, or just demonstrate with a broad smile.  The sinner, immersed in the unrelenting agony of the unsaved life, will eventually want to know more.

Soulwinning is so prized that casual visitors to a Nazarene church can easily be mobbed by people grinning at them and trying to start soulwinning conversations.  Unless they come with a member, signifying that they are "taken," or call ahead.

When we walk through the foyer of the Brainerd Church of the Nazarene, looking for all the world like a family of sinners who stumbled in by accident, we are nearly mobbed, but the Sunday School superintendent, the one we called earlier, comes to the rescue.

"This is Brother Davis and his family, from the Rock Island Church of the Nazarene," he announces, and the wannabe soulwinners back off.

But in my Sunday School class, they haven't gotten the word.

Ten or so high schoolers are sitting on folding chairs or chatting before the class begins, and every one of them looks up and flashes me a toothy witnessing grin.  Two girls and a boy approach, intent on starting soulwinning conversations.

"I'm from Rock Island..." I begin.  Then a tall, black haired boy with a strong physique, obviously church royalty, leaves his cluster of admirers and exerts control.  The others back off.

"Welcome!  I'm Roald," he say, offering a warm, tight handshake and a more subtle witnessing smile.  He's done this before!  "Is this your first time?"

This could work to my advantage!

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Dec 27, 2015

What We Do in Shadows

What We Do In the Shadows (2014) is a mockumentary about four vampires sharing a flat in contemporary Wellington, New Zealand:

1. Viago (Taika Waititi, who also wrote and directed), a Byronesque partyboy.
2. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), a sexually voracious Dracula.
3. Deacon (Jonathan Brugh, left), a newby (only 183 years old).
4. Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8,000 year old inarticulate Nosferatu.

They are old-school vampires who vaporize in sunlight, have no reflection, and dislike crucifixes, but they have modern problems, like problems over chores, squabbles with friends and slaves, and how to meet potential victims in the increasingly tech-driven world of modern New Zealand.

Vladislav (left) butts heads with a shrewish female ex-lover, and another re-unites with his long-lost girlfriend.  There are no identifiably gay characters.  I counted at least one homophobic slur.  Yet there is a strong gay subtext in the struggles of four men living together.

Particularly with the newly-vampirized Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), who displays no heterosexual interest, before or after, and who "comes out" as a vampire to his best friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) in scene full of gay symbolism.

Vampires think of humans as either slaves or prey, so human-vampire friendships are scandalous.  Yet when Stu starts hanging out with the vampires, they all come to love him.  Then Stu comes as Nick's date to a vampire-zombie-witch masquerade ball, and they risk their lives to save him from becoming an appetizer.

None of the cast is apparently gay, although in interviews they often compare vampires to gay people, who also must "walk in shadows," hidden from a persecuting world.

In 2014?  Really?

Still, a perfect little vehicle for getting your mind off the roar of Christmas.