Jan 9, 2016

The Iceland Fisherman: Gay Romance in Collier's Encyclopedia

When I was little, there weren't many books in the house except for the Bible and the thick, black, ponderous volumes of the 1955 edition of Collier's Encyclopedia.  I used to leaf through it, looking for muscular semi-nude men (try "African Tribes," "The Circus," and "Egypt").   The last volume contained the Reading Guide, a list of the best books ever written, and among them was The Iceland Fisherman (1886), by French novelist Pierre Loti (1850-1923).

Why was a Frenchman writing about Iceland, I wondered.  Because of the Northern Thing, the Viking ships and horned helmets and "Baldur the Beautiful"?  Because it was a place of wild freedom, where men could hug, kiss, and marry?

The mystery of the French Icelander stayed with me for years.  When I took French in high school and then college, I was surprised that no professor ever mentioned Pierre Loti or The Iceland Fisherman-- wasn't it the "best book ever written"?  It wasn't in our library.  But one day I ordered a copy from interlibrary loan.

No professor mentioned it because it was a symbolist novel, no longer in style.  And gay-themed.

A group of Breton fishermen sail to Iceland each summer in search of cod. Sylvestre, "a girlish boy," befrieds the big, muscular Yann, who disapproves of women and says he'll "marry the sea."

Back in France, Sylvestre courts women, in darkness, "dreaming of death," but in the summer he goes out to sea again, and leans against Yann, and they go on "gaily with their fishing in the everlasting daylight."

When Sylvestre dies in Indochina, Yann is heartbroken, and finally marries his sister, so at least some part of him will remain.  But that is not enough, so in the end Yann surrenders to the sea.  But even in death they cannot be together, for Sylvestre had "gone to sleep in the enchanted gardens, far, far, away, on the other side of the earth."

The novel is famous in France.  Pecheur d'Islande has been filmed several times, notably in 1959 (with Jean-Claude Pascal, left, and Georges Poujouly) and in 1996 (with Antony Delon, top photo, and Marius Colucci).  The film versions apparently emphasize The Girl.

Pierre Loti was himself bisexual, sleeping with women but longing for the wild homoerotic freedom of Turkey and the Middle East.  He filled his home with mementos of his journeys, including many paintings of semi-nude men, such as these Easter Islanders, as well as semi-nude photos of his own muscular physique (most destroyed after his death).

Jan 8, 2016

The Hookup Contest, Part 2: Gabe and the High School Boy

The Plains, January 2016

Remember the hookup contest Gabe and I had before Christmas?

We each chose someone for the other guy to try to hook up with on a dating app. I had to approach the 18-year old Bastian, a high school senior whose profile said explicitly "no older guys" and "no hookups -- dating and relationships only."

So I offered to set Bastian up on a date with Gabe, and tag along "for moral support."

All's fair in love and cruising.

The date was scheduled for December 20th, but Bastian cancelled. He said we could reschedule for after Christmas.

I figured that was the last we would hear of him-- younger guys wimp out all the time.  But he did text me a few days after Christmas, asking for the date to be scheduled on January 3rd, a Sunday night: dinner at a Mexican place, then the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.

He didn't want his parents to know he was gay, so he arranged to spend the night at a friend's house.  We had to pick him up and drop him off there.

Bastian was slim, a little shorter than me, with sandy-blond hair, blue eyes, and sharp features.  He was wearing an Adventure Time sweater, no coat, and carrying a backpack.  "In case we spend the night," he said, sliding into the back seat next to Gabe.

Driving to the restaurant, I kept mostly quiet.  It was their date, after all.  Their conversation consisted of:

Gabe:  So you're a senior in high school. What are your college plans?

Bastian:  I applied to UCLA, Columbia, Florida State, and the University of Hawaii.  I'm going to wherever the guys are the hottest.  Boomer, you lived in California.  Were the guys big there?

Me:  Well...um...

Gabe:  What do you want to major in?

Bastian:  Art.  I want to start a fashion blog.  I'm really big into fashion.  Like, do you shave your down there?

Gabe: [Embarrassed pause].  Um...no, I never tried that.

Bastian:  Oh, it's great!  It makes you look a lot bigger.  Here, have a look.  You too, Boomer." [A cell phone is shoved at me, showing Bastian nude, very big, with shaved pubes.]

The questions continued at the restaurant, including the sort of questions one doesn't ask in public in a small town on the Plains:


And, he was rubbing his leg against mine under the table!

When Bastian went to the bathroom, Gabe turned to me: "I thought this was a quiet, shy, conservative guy who wanted to date and get to know you.  Sounds like he won't even make it to the end of the movie!"

"I know, it's weird. He was brushing my leg under the table.  And I thought he didn't like older guys."

"Consider yourself lucky.  He was trying to grope me!"  Gabe laughed.  "Man, this aggressive bit is a big turn off.  We should take him home, so he can take a cold shower!"

"No, let's go to the movie, and see what happens.  Maybe he'll calm down.  Besides, I've been looking forward to seeing it for weeks."

At the movie, Bastian sat between us and held the popcorn, so we would reach in to get some and grab his hand instead.  Plus he used his free hand to brush against my thigh.

Plus [censored]

And he kept peppering us with comments.

"I bet Finn has a big one!"

"You think Finn and Poe are together?"

"Han Solo is one hot Daddy! I'd do him in a minute!"

I shushed him, but the comments continued.

Afterwards we walked out into the lobby and then into the mall parking lot.  Bastian linked arms with both of us.  "Hey, let's get frozen yogurt!" he said.

"Well, I'm a Vegan," Gabe said.  "They probably won't have anything I can eat."

"Ok...so then, back to your apartment?"

Gabe flashed a "no way!" look at me, and said "Well...I have a roommate, so I can't bring anyone home."

Bastian's grip on our arms tightened.  "Then let's go back to Boomer's place.  He can watch.  Or join in!"

We got to the car.  Bastian climbed into the front seat, next to me.  Gabe climbed into the back.

"Ok, your place, right?"  he asked, putting his hand on my knee.

"I'm a little tired," I said.  "We'd better just take you home.  Or to your friend's house."

"But...you know, it's a date," he said in a small voice.

"We should just take you home," I repeated.

"I thought...but aren't we?"

Was the kid starting to cry?

I put my arm around him.  "What's wrong, Bastian?  You've been on dates before.  Sometimes things happen, sometimes they don't."

His shoulders were trembling.  "No, I haven't.  I've never been on a date before. Or had sex.   I never even met anybody gay before. Everybody at my school is straight.  Church, too.  I download porn and get hit on by Creepy Old Guys on that dating app, and that's it."

"So why all the questions about rimming and golden showers?"

"And the hands everywhere?" Gabe added.

He looked up teary-eyed.  "That's what gay guys do, isn't it?  I didn't want you to think I was just an ignorant kid..."

"That's not at all what gay guys do," I said.  "What they do is this."  I wrapped my arms around him and hugged Bastian, and kissed him on the cheek.  He didn't want to let go.

"Maybe I'm up for some frozen tofu, after all,"  Gabe said.  "Then we'll see what happens."

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

Rudeness, Insensitivity, and Downright Craziness: 20 Things People Do That Grind My Gears

As you get older, you're supposed to get crankier, with petty annoyances building up over the years.  But I've been annoyed by these examples of rudeness, insensitivity, or craziness my whole life.

On the Street

1. When you're walking alone on the street, why do people walk very fast and overtake you, as if they're planning to attack? They should keep their distance!

2. When a group is standing around, why do they wait until the exact moment you have passed to start laughing hysterically?  It's really disconcerting.

3. Why do parents let their toddlers run wild, bumping into people with their chocolate stained hands, saying "hi" 50,000 times, or just staring?

4. When there are double doors going into a building, why does everyone clog one side?  Are they afraid to try the other side, for fear it will be locked and they'll look stupid?


1. Why do cars zoom around and cut you off?  Are they trying to demonstrate their macho superiority?  Sometimes I just move into the other lane, so they can go past without cutting me off.  Or I follow a truck, so they'll cut them off instead.

2. Conversely, why do they drive 10 miles under the speed limit, when there's no traffic and the weather is fine?

3. I don't understand why anyone would listen to music while driving anyway -- it's incredibly distracting.  But why revv it up to ear-splitting levels when you're stuck at an traffic light?

4. Why do driving apps take you on the absolute shortest route, even though the tiny, meandering side street with fifty stop signs is 5.3 miles from your goal, and the limited access highway 5.2.?


1. Why does the server come swooping out of nowhere in the middle of your meal to ask "Are you doing ok?"  It's always when you're in the middle of an intimate, embarrassing conversation about your body odors or preferred sexual activities.

2. On the Plains, it's even worse. He asks "How is everything tasting?", precluding the possibility of you asking for more water or a new fork.

3. Why does the server snatch your plate away the second you're done eating? It's disconcerting to have a plate suddenly vanish from in front of you!.  I always leave a little food on my plate, to keep it there.

4. Why would anybody ask for a bit of food from someone else's plate, or a sip of their soda?  It's disgusting!  Get your own!

In Shops

1. Why do floorwalkers latch onto you the minute you walk in the door, and won't take "Just looking!" for an answer?

2. Why does the person ahead of you in line always have a cartful of crazy, nonsensical items, like 8 Gatorades, 3 bags of donuts, eyebrow tweasers, and a can of bug spray?

3. And he doesn't realize that he has to pay.  When he is informed, he looks confused, then slowly fishes around in the big bag for the little bag, fishes a checkbook from the little bag, and writes a check.  Which requires the manager's approval.

4. Why do salesclerks always make sarcastic comments about your purchases, like "Going to do some heavy reading tonight?" when you buy a magazine?  Isn't buying things what the store is all about?

5. And try to sell you a rewards card, a 10% off card, a subscription to the newsletter, a membership, a chance to win a prize, and a duck, when you just came in to buy batteries?

With Friends

1. Why does everyone assume that everyone is a drunk, so when they invite you over for dinner, they have nothing but booze and seltzer to drink, and they serve some disgusting booze-laced concoction like soup with beer in it?

2. And, if your appetite isn't already ruined, they insist on playing the most depressing whiny torch songs they can find as "dinner music."

3. Why would someone go out with you with the expectation of hooking up with someone and abandoning you in some bar?  When you go out together, you come home together, no exceptions.

4. Why would you leave a room without saying "excuse me"?  Don't just vanish and have everyone wondering where you went and waiting around like idiots for you to get back!

5. When you spend the night with someone, you get breakfast the next day.  Take them out, fry some eggs, slap down some Cheerios, something.  Don't just kick them out the door on an empty stomach!

Jan 7, 2016

The Bear with the Sweeney Todd Fetish

November 1987, Silverlake

I met Will  at Sunset Junction, the gay street fair held every October in Silverlake, L.A.'s second gay neighborhood.

He was about five years older than me, short, compact, with a little belly and a  very hairy chest, one of the first "bears" I ever met.  He told me that he worked at the Eagle, a leather bar in Silverlake.

I was a little nervous about accepting a date with a bartender -- he must get drunk a lot.  But Will was attractive, different from my usual Asian and Hispanic guys, and besides, I wanted a tour of Silverlake.  It was 15 miles from West Hollywood, way out where Santa Monica met Sunset, so we didn't go there much.

We had dinner at La Casita, a very bright, colorful Mexican restaurant -- rather a treat, since there were no Mexican restaurants in West Hollywood at the time.

Then Will took off his shirt, put on a leather vest, and took me to the Eagle.

It was my first time in a leather bar.  Older crowd, a lot of bears, a lot of chaps and leather jackets and cigarette smoke.  I was the youngest guy there, a little out of place in my cruisy tank top and jeans.

Will got himself a bottle of beer and me a soda, and introduced me to some of the regulars.  One asked "Isn't it past your bedtime, kid?"

I wasn't amused.  "I'll be 27 next week."

Will escorted me away.  "Don't mind him -- he's just jealous,  We don't get many young guys at the Eagle.  The rule is, West Hollywood for twinks and creepy old guys, Silverlake for daddies and bears."  He paused.  "So, what do you like to do?  In bed, I mean."

The question was surprising, even shocking.  In West Hollywood we never asked -- we just brought the guy into our bedroom and found out.  It must be a Silverlake thing.

"Oh, um....the usual." I stammered.  "You know, a lot of kissing and cuddling and...well, the usual."

"What about non-vanilla sex?  Like, you know, bondage? BDSM scenes?"

"I'm not very experienced with that," I said.  "My first boyfriend Fred liked to be tied up and spanked, and I met a guy at Mugi who had a closetful of whips and paddles.  But I've been reading Cavelo and Sean since I lived in Indiana."

"Wow, Cavelo and Sean, that's hardcore stuff!  You're probably ready for a scene, do you think?"

"What kind of scene?"

"Kidnapping and POW are my favorites, but my super super favorite is cannibalism."

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

12 Sausage Fondlings, Gropes, and Grabs

I always say that I had 1 1/2 sexual experiences before that  December afternoon a couple of weeks after my 18th birthday, when I went home with Andy the Little Person Postal Worker.

But I've been using a narrow definition.  What if I include sausage fondlings, gropes, and grabs?  I had at least 12 of those before my 18th birthday.

Grab = You just touch it.
Grope = You manipulate it inside his pants
Fondle = You take it out of his pants

Denkmann Elementary School

1. Mark. December of fifth grade, my wild night: a cute boy named Mark talks me into crossing forbidden 18th Avenue and then going back to his house, without telling my parents where I am.  Before I know it, it's dark out, and I'm in big trouble.  But I do get a sausage fondling..

2. Javon. In April of fifth grade, I visit my Indian cousins, and we play a game involving tying up my older cousin Javon and "torturing" him for information.  Including a sausage fondling.

3. George.  Speaking of cousins, that summer I visit my Cousin George in South Carolina.  We take a bath together and sleep together nude: "Only fools wear pajamas."    And indulge in sausage gropes.

4. Marty. At Nazarene camp the summer after sixth grade, Marty shows me how to "hit a home run" with a girl, and pushes my hand against his pants. I get a major grope of his baseball bat.

Washington Junior High

5. Dan.  My boyfriend through junior high. He is a little standoffish, not effusively physical, but once in blue moon we hug and grope a little.

6. Buster.  One day when Cousin Buster and I are alone in the trailer, he goes to the bathroom.  After awhile he calls me in.  He's sitting on the toilet.  Ok, this one doesn't really count.

7. David.  The summer after ninth grade, two twelfth grade best buddies named Terry and David teach me about oral sex in the church parking lot.  The lesson includes an incidental grope.

8. Aaron. I build a private place in the attic of our new house for the purpose of sexual exploration, and soon start inviting other guys there.  My conditions are: no girl magazines visible -- hide the covers -- and I get to watch.  Tom, Aaron, Craig, and Marty (not the same Marty as in #4) do it in my room at different times, and once Aaron invites me to help him out. He seems embarrassed by the incident, and doesn't come up to my room again.

Rocky High

9.Todd.  The night of my first sexual experience, at summer camp with Todd the Lebanese violinist, involves fondling and oral.

10.  Verne.  We date all through the spring of my junior year, breaking up only when he gets a girl pregnant and has to marry her. Sometimes alone in his room he gets a hankering to "think about girls," which oddly involved sausage fondling.

11. Tyrone.  In the school parking lot after the Harvest Dance, Tyrone takes it out and lets me work on it for a few minutes.

12.Dino.  During the summer after my senior year, I go to a guy-only party with Dino, and we play naked Slip N Slide.  There's some incidental groping in the mass of naked bodies.

I've lost contact with 3 of the boys, 3 are gay, and 6 are straight (or at least they married women and had children).  Does that mean that both gay and straight men like sausage fondling?

The full list, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Why Is Bomba the Jungle Boy Always Tied Up?

Johnny Sheffield (1931-2010) spent the first 24 years of his life being filmed in a loincloth cut to the thigh, first as "Boy," son of Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller in 8 movies (1939-1947), and then as the teenage Bomba the Jungle Boy in 12 movies (1949-1955).  After all that, it proved impossible to find a fully-clothed role, so Johnny went to UCLA, got his degree in business, and had a successful second career in real estate.

The movies were on tv constantly during my childhood, and now they're all available on DVD. 

I noticed something interesting: in all of the Tarzan movies featuring the adolescent Boy, and in all but one of the Bomba movies, Johnny gets tied up. 

Did the directors have a bondage fetish?

Or is it a matter of maximizing beefcake?

Johnny begins to get an impressive physique in the last 3 Tarzan movies, which are terrible.  Maureen O'Sullivan refused to do them, so Jane was recast with Brenda Joyce.  

The Bomba movies are even worse: endlessly recycled stock footage of African animals, and an endlessly recycled plot about Bomba falling in love with a visiting colonial administrator's daughter while fighting poachers or insurrectionists.  

How can you get audiences to fork over money to see such stuff?

Easy: show some pecs and biceps, and maybe a loincloth-bulge now and then.

So you add a few scenes of Johnny asleep, or else unconscious after falling out of a tree.  The camera zooms in for a close up of his face, shoulders, chest, stomach, and loincloth.  Then it starts over again.  Before we're done, we've been staring at Johnny's body for five minutes.  

But sleeping/unconscious shots show the muscles at rest.  Audiences want big, bulging, flexing muscles.  Fight scenes with bad guys or wild animals cause bulges, and sometimes the loincloth rides up to reveal the underwear beneath, but there's too much moving around for a serious gawk at Johnny's body.

Idea: why not have Boy/Bomba tied up, threatened by poachers or about to be sacrificed by an evil cult or something? That way he can strain against the bonds, flexing his muscles, but he's not moving.  The camera can zoom in, and audiences can stare as he struggles for five minutes.

I'd pay money to see that.

Jan 5, 2016

The Beach Boy and the "Fag"

Wilton Manors, June 2004

"I've found him!" Kelly exclaimed over the telephone.  "The One!  We've only had one date, but that's enough to know!"

Kelly was one of the fitness trainers Barney's Gym: in his 30s, about Yuri's height, with a long face, brown hair, good biceps and excellent abs and a smooth, less-than-spectacular chest.  Beneath the belt he was average, cut, with shaved pubes.  Somewhat shy and quiet, one of those high-school nerds who found self-confidence at the gym.

He was primarily interested in big guys -- big in every way possible.  Fat, no problem.  Superchub, even better.

His dream guy was fat, young, smooth, and supersized beneath the belt.

Not easy to find!  In Florida, where the beach is a few blocks away and guys wear next to nothing year round, the Wilton Manors norm was heavily muscled with 3% body fat.  Husky guys were uncommon, and fat rather rare.  Young fat guys practically unheard of.

And for whatever reason, fat guys tend to be a a little small beneath the belt.  

So who was this Tobias, the Man of Kelly's dreams?

On the night of their third date, they came over for dinner so Kelly could introduce him to his friends: Barney, Yuri, his boyfriend Jim, another fitness trainer, me, and Wade the Beach Boy.  Yuri made his famous moussaka.

Tobias was in his 20s, tall, chubby, with a smooth chest, employed as a bartender at a hotel near the beach.  Obviously smitten by Kelly: he kept his arm around him the whole evening.

But I was turned off by his greasy slicked-back hair, tattoos, rings, and unattractive leer.

And his speech, littered with profanity: "Little Kelly here, he's the best f*king lay in the business!  Holy f*k!"

And the fact that he had been in prison: "There was a little queen at Kissimmee [juvenile detention center] that was on his knees every night, I kid you not!"

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

Gregory Harrison: Not For Ladies Only

While Magnum and Buck Rogers were grunting and posing, Gregory Harrison was quietly making a name for himself on Trapper John, MD (1979-86) as Gonzo Gates, the irreverent surgeon who lived in a trailer  (don't surgeons make a steady income?) and sunned himself semi-nude in the hospital parking lot.  Lot of beefcake, some minimal buddy-bonding, and two "gay episodes":

In 1981, a swishy gay guy named Judy is hospitalized after a hate crime (they called it "gay bashing" back then). All gay men are drag queens, I get it.   But at least all drag queens aren't homicidal maniacs; Judy turns out to be nice.

And in 1985, one of Nurse Libby's old boyfriends turns out to be gay and have AIDS -- the third AIDS-centered episode on network television.

Gregory Harrison is no stranger to beefcake.  In 1973, he played one of a group of students who romp around nude in The Harrad Experiment, along with Don Johnson, and during the 1970s (and 1980s and 1990s), he was often asked to appear shirtless in his tv and movie appearances, not to mention Battle of the Network Stars. 

But in 1981 he went all the way (or as far as the censors would allow), playing an aspiring actor who becomes a stripper in For Ladies Only.  In spite of the heterosexist title, he got many gay fans and write-ups in gay magazines like Christopher Street.

Nor is he a stranger to bonding.  In North Shore (1987), he plays Chandler, an experienced surfer who lives on the North Shore of Hawaii and begins a buddy-bonding romance with Arizona transplant Rich (Matt Adler, right).  In Red River (1988), he plays Cherry Valance, who buddy-bonds with Matthew Garth (Bruce Boxleiter) during a cattle drive.

Greg has always been quick to acknowledge his gay male fans.  In an interview, he estimated that about a third of his fan emails are about his role in the gay-angst movie It's My Party (1996), in which a gay man with AIDS invites his friends to a party, after which he will commit suicide.

He has also toured as Billy Flynn in the gay favorite Chicago.

Jan 4, 2016

Alan's Arrests: The Vice Cop, the Gay Basher, or the High School Boy?

West Hollywood, July 1988

"Ok, do you guys want to pick at ice cream like little sissy girls, or do you want to EAT?"  Alan asks.

If you say EAT,  you get six scoops "for starters."

We're at a barbecue at Derek's house near Sunset Boulevard. About 10 of us, including Fred, Matt, Raul, Marcus, and Will the Bondage Boy, are swapping our best stories about disastrous dates, gigantic penises, or hookups with celebrities.  Now it's time for dessert, and Alan's turn:

"I'm going to tell you about the time I was arrested."

This should be good.  Alan does everything BIG.  A Pentecostal theology student turned porn star turned English teacher, he is exuberant, effervescent, full of crazy schemes.  He says whatever pops into his head, does whatever he wants without considering the consequences.  It's not hard to imagine a lot of circumstances where he would draw the wrath of the heterosexual police state.

"Better yet, I'll tell you about three incidents, and you have to decide which resulted in my arrest.  They all happened in the early 1980s, before any of you met me."

"What do we win if we get the right answer?" Raul asks.

"Twenty minutes alone in the bedroom with me."

We glance at each other and grin.  Alan is very big beneath the belt,

#1: The Vice Cop

Alan didn't approve of public cruising -- not because of any immorality in anonymous contacts, because it was dangerous.  Undercover cops were everywhere, waiting to haul in "perverts" on "lewd conduct" charges, even if they did nothing but talk.

One day Alan and his friends had a picnic in Griffith Park, and he decided to go on a hike.  A cute guy cruised him.  In his thirties, with blond curly hair and a smooth chest -- well, who wouldn't follow him into the woods?  No way a vice cop would be prowling this far from a gay neighborhood!

They found a secluded spot.  The cute guy unzipped Alan's pants and fondled him.

Then he flashed a badge.  "LAPD Vice,"

I go into the kitchen and bring Alan another soda.  Obviously the contest is over -- this must be the one.

#2: The Gay Basher

In the early 1980s, before people knew about AIDS, "tricking" was commonplace -- you went out to the bars, met someone, and brought him home that night, without waiting for a date or introducing him to your friends or anything.

One night at the Gold Coast Alan met a truck driver -- in his 30s, very tall and muscular, with a beard and a hairy chest.  Alan usually preferred soft and smooth -- but what a bulge!

The guy said "I want take you home and pound you!"  Alan was not usually into anal sex, but he figured, the guy was hot, why not?

They went back to Alan's apartment.  When they walked in the door, Alan drew him in for a kiss.  The guy called him a  "f*king faggot", and punched him in the face.

Alan sprang back in shock, and the guy was on top of him, punching and kicking and yelling "f*king faggot."

"More ice cream?" Alan asks.  "I brought lots."

#3: Staying After Class

Every high school teacher and college professor knows that male students often get aroused in the classroom. You're supposed to pretend that you don't notice.  But Alan doesn't pretend.

He was so cute!  18 years old, tall, slim, Hispanic, a little feminine, with thick black hair -- and what a bulge!  He had a Mortadella, easily.  And he was aroused, right in the middle of the lecture.

Alan leaned down and whispered in his ear, "Do you want to go to the bathroom and take care of that?"

The boy blushed and shook his head.  But after school he came back to "talk about his grade."  His bulge returned.  So did Alan's.

The school was empty except for some kids doing after-school activities and the the janitor making his rounds.  So they did it right at his desk!

"Ding, ding!" Alan exclaims.  "Write your answer on a slip of paper, and I'll tally the results."

Most guys guess The Vice Cop.  I mean, come on, the guy flashed his badge!

"No," Alan says. "He let me off with a warning -- after we had sex!   He was on a power trip -- he got off on intimidating guys."

Some guess Staying After Class.  Sex with one of your students, right in the classroom!  Who cared that he was of legal age -- the police would have a field day!

"No," Alan says,  "We hooked up after class several times.  We're still in contact -- he went to UC Santa Cruz, majored in philosophy."

Only Will the Bondage Boy, who has never met Alan before, guesses The Gay Basher.  "You look like you can take care of yourself," he says. "I bet the basher ended up in the hospital, and that didn't sit well with the straights."

"Precisely!" Alan exclaims.  "He got a broken nose and three broken ribs.  My crazy roommate called the police, and of course they arrested me for 'enticing' a poor innocent straight boy."

So Will and Alan go into the bedroom for 20 minutes.  They don't tell us what happened there.  Probably something like this.

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

The Shield: TV From the 2000s, Homophobia from the 1960s

You already know the most homophobic contemporary movie -- Chuck and Buck, the savagely homophobic "comedy" by Mike White.

Outside of Fox's animated sitcoms, TV series tend to go for erasing gay people from existence rather than excoriating them, but I found an exception.  Excoriations of gay people week after week for six years.

It's The Shield (2002-2008), a police drama set in contemporary Los Angeles.


In the real L.A. in the 2000s, there were gay police offices.  The LAPD advertised for recruits at gay pride festivals.  Police cadets got  training in LGBT issues.

But on The Shield, all of the cops are intensely homophobic.  "Queers" and "fags" drop from their lips every five seconds, along with the usual heterosexism that we find everywhere on tv.

The key character, Detective Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis)  is a blustering homophobe -- but so is everybody, so not a problem.  But he is also boorish, stupid, vulgar, racist, sexist, violent, corrupt, and unfamiliar with the concept of "due process."

Oh, he loves his wife and kids -- so much so that when they leave him and go into hiding, fearing for their safety, he pays private investigators $20,000 to track them down.  Then he bursts in and starts yelling.

I guess that's supposed to be positive?

One of his nemeses is detective "Dutch" Wagenbach (Jay Karnes), who's actually intelligent and therefore the butt of constant jokes.  He grinds my gears by offering far-out psychoanalytic interpretations of every suspect, proclaiming that he "studied criminology."

Um...criminology doesn't teach you that nonsense.

But even Dutch is a first rate homophobe.  He asks, "What do they think causes people to be queer?  Is it biological, so they can't help themselves.  And if so, should we condemn them?"

Who's condemning them, Dutch?  I suppose the writers' perception of the intended audience as homophobic.

Criminals are homophobic too -- way homophobic.

There are occasional gay characters -- swishy queens who all have AIDS.
"Are you sure he has AIDS?"
 "Just look at him."

One of the cops, Julian Lowe (Michael Jace), happens to be gay.  Completely angst-ridden, overcome by guilt: it's a terrible urge inside him that he hates and can't get rid of.

He participates in a brutal gay-bashing with his fellow cops, tries to commit suicide, then tries to become "ex gay" through prayer and sex with a woman.

Oh, and he's also being blackmailed -- Vic is threatening to reveal his gayness to the precinct, where he will certainly be fired in disgrace.

Um...anti-discrimination laws for police officers have been in place in L.A. for 30 years.

By the way, the cops are uniformly racist, too.  When a Muslim asks why he is a suspect when he hasn't done anything, he is told: "Because a group of men who look like your twin brothers killed 3,000 Americans."

Um...there are Muslim Americans....

Even though I can't find shirtless shots of the regulars, there is a lot of beefcake on the show.  Criminals -- mostly drug dealers and gang bangers, with an occasional serial killer thrown in -- are often shown lounging around shirtless or in their underwear.  Danny Pino, a drug dealer that Vic extorts and then kills, always finds a way to cover up the bulge in his black briefs.

But, really, a precinct full of racist, sexist, homophobic jerks -- who writes this stuff?

Ok, it was created by Shawn Ryan, who was born in 1966 and grew up in Chicago, and was a staff writer on Nash Bridges and Angel.   In an interview, he said that the "Boys in the Bar" episode of Cheers, in which the bargoers recoil in homophobic horror from two guys that they think are gay, influenced how he "thought about homosexuals."

Homosexuals?  Is this, like, 1973?

On The Shield, it is.

See also: Chuck and Buck.

The Gay Adventures of Billy and Mandy

One of my favorite gay-subtext series of all time was The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy (2003-2008) on the Cartoon Network, about the friendship between two kids, the sinister Mandy (voiced by Grey Delisle) and the dopey Billy (Richard Horvitz), and the Grim Reaper, a skeleton with a Jamaican accent (voiced by Greg Eagles, left).

 No tv series aimed at a juvenile audience has ever gone so far in hinting about the existence of gay people.

1. Inclusivity.  Classmate Irwin’s mother turns out to be a decaying, 5,000-year old Egyptian mummy; his father advises that “No one can tell you who to fall in love with.”

In Billy and Mandy Save ChristmasSanta Claus turns out to be married to a female vampire, who has bitten him several times over the years. “You can’t control who you love,” he explains.  Although these relationships both pair male and female creatures, they tacitly validate same-sex bonds, which certainly would be far more conventional.

2. Hints about Same-Sex Practices.  When Billy gets a girlfriend, his father yells to his mother, “Hey, Gladys, Billy is in love -- with a girl!  You owe me five dollars!”, suggesting that there has been some good-natured speculation in the household about the boy’s sexual orientation.

 In a Lord of the Rings parody, a fey elf is overcome with lust as he praises a dwarf’s “thick, sinewy muscles,” and “bulging, compact thighs,” and a scene at the end of the episode shows a cabaret occupied entirely by same-sex elf-dwarf couples listening to Billy sing.

3. References to Gay Culture.  Billy’s parents speculate about his sexual identity in an episode entitled “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” a well-known euphemism for same-sex love.  “Dad Day Afternoon,” a play on Dog Day Afternoon, has nothing to do with bank robbery, but the plot about Grim hiding his grim-reaper career from his conservative father might be read as a parable for a closeted gay identity, like that of the primary pair in the movie.

4. Gay Marriage.  In “One Crazy Summoner” (August 5, 2005), Billy and Mandy attend summer school in a sorcery academy modeled on Harry Potter’s Hogwarts.  A misdirected potion makes Dean Toadblatt (John Vernon) fall in love with one of the male teachers, a human-sized squid (Weird Al Yankovic), who eagerly returns his interest.  In the next scene, they graphically kiss, then ride away on a broom decorated with tin cans and a “Just Married” banner, while the students cheer.

5. A Gay Romance.  In “Most Greatest Love Story Ever Told” (April 9, 2007), Billy's cousin Nergal, Jr. rejects a girl’s offer to walk him home from school, suggesting a lack of interest in preteen heterosexual practice; but he eagerly accepts Irwin’s offer to “hang out.”

Later he agrees to ask Mandy to the school dance for Irwin, and ends up with the date, whereupon Irwin angrily breaks off the friendship. Nergal is heartbroken, and he never “liked Mandy that way” in the first place, but he can’t call off the date and disappoint his unaccountably enthusiastic father (perhaps Nergal’s parents have been speculating about his sexual orientation, like Billy’s parents, but with less nonchalance).

At the dance, Nergal and Irwin fight, and Mandy rejects them both.  They look at each other.

Nergal says “So this is what love is?”  Irwin nods.

They begin to slow dance, holding each other closely as the camera pans out.  Nergal was never interested in Mandy, or in any girl, so his statement makes no sense unless he is referring to Irwin.  Perhaps not coincidentally, this was the last regular episode of the series.

Unfortunately, the last season hasn't been released on DVD.

Maxwell Atoms, the show's creator (center, with producer Noah Z. Jones and Atticus Schafer of The Middle), complains on his blog that his grandmother believes him to be gay.

Jan 3, 2016

Charles in Charge: The First Teencom

Fresh from his tenure on Happy Days, Scott Baio made a dent in the "servant saves dysfunctional family" genre with Charles in Charge (1984-85), about a college student who works as a male nanny, a surprisingly gender-bending role for 1984.

Willie Aames, who had starred with Scott in the teen sex comedy Zapped! (1982), would play his girl-crazy best friend Buddy.

Charles' rather disturbed charges would include painfully shy teenager Lila (15-year old April Lerman), tween mad scientist Douglas (14-year old Jonathan Ward), and preteen juvenile delinquent Jason (Michael Pearlman).

Charles himself would be rather nerdy, fond of suspenders, ties, and shirts buttoned all the way up.  To preclude any gay suspicions, he would have a steady girlfriend, Gwendolyn (Jennifer Runyon), and Buddy would be indefatigably girl-crazy.

Charles in Charge premiered on October 3, 1984 in a block with John Stamos' teen-oriented sitcom Dreams. There were a few things to like about it, like Jason's blatant crush on Charles.  But the teens who were expecting a hot teen idol stayed away, and the adults were busy watching The Fall Guy and Highway to Heaven, so the show tanked after 22 episodes.

A retooled Charles in Charge appeared in first-run syndication on January 3rd, 1987.   Lots of retooling:

1. The theme song was revamped to sound sexy and risque ("I want...ooh...I want Charles in charge of me!").

2. Charles was now a collegiate hunk, with an updated wardrobe, when he wasn't wandering around the house in a towel (or a hot dog suit).  A Charles-of-all-trades, he supplemented his nanny income by working as a teaching assistant at the college, and at the local pizza parlor hangout.

3. Buddy's girl-craziness likewise faded away; he became a dimwit instead.

4. There were strong adult characters, grumpy Walter Powell (James T. Callahan) and Charles' mother Lilian (Ellen Travolta).

5. And Charles' new charges, the Pembrokes, were not at all dysfunctional: glamorous future model Jamie (14-year old Nicole Eggert), bookish future writer Sarah (13-year old Josie Davis), and preteen athlete Adam (12-year old Alexander Polinsky).  Justin Whalen played Cousin Anthony.

This time teen viewers took notice, and Charles quickly becoming the #1 syndicated program on the air (Mama's Family was a close second).  It lasted until 1990, and inspired a whole genre of beefcake-heavy 1990s teencoms.

Of the three kids in the first incarnation of Charles, only Jonathan Ward had a significant acting career as a teenagerHe starred in the "boys alone" drama White Water Summer with Sean Astin (1987) and in the E.T. ripoff Mac and Me (1988), plus his own "my secret" teencom, The New Adventures of Beans Baxter (1987).  In 1994, he wrote and starred in a Discovery Channel documentary, Understanding Sex. 

Of the three kids in the second incarnation, both Nicole Eggert and Josie Davis went on to successful acting careers.  Alexander Polinsky does voice-over work and is involved behind-the-scenes in model construction.

See also: The Sound of Music

Spring 1987: My Celebrity Boyfriend

When I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, I found that half of the residents were aspiring actors, directors, writers, models, dancers, or singers.  Most of my friends and acquaintances had been in something, and some had been in several things.

But I only dated one "real" celebrity, someone whose name you would probably recognize.

He's not Michael J. Fox, Rob Lowe, Robin Williams, Neil Diamond, David Cassidy, Cesar Romero, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Jimmie Walker, Ron Glass, Philip McKeon,  Lou Ferrigno, or Richard Dreyfuss (although I did go on a "date" with Richard later).   I'll call him Steve.

No real names because he's closeted, and  I don't want to get sued -- how crazy is it that in 2013, you can be sued for slander for "accusing" someone of being gay.  But I can tell you that he's a couple of years older than me, tall and slim, with dark hair and dark eyes.  He was most famous at the time for an adventure tv series which I watched at Indiana University in the early 1980s, but since then he's starred in a cop show and appeared in some soap operas. Shouldn't be hard to figure out.

The rest of the story, with uncensored pictures, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

My Date with the Nickelodeon Star

Fort Lauderdale, April 2002

I dragged Barney to the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale to see  The Tempest. the Shakespeare play about an aging magician on a desert island.  Playing Stefano, the King's butler, was an actor named Sean Stuart: mid 20s, slim, with light brown hair, a round face, and a very bulgeworthy leotard.

I never approached an actor backstage for a dressing-room flirtation before, but my friend Dick, back in Rock Island, did it last fall, and last Christmas he announced that they were a couple.  Emboldened, I went backstage amid the other well-wishers, walked past the actors who played Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban, and congratulated Sean on his performance.

"I studied Shakespeare in grad school," I said, not the best opening.  "I was going to do my thesis on gay subtexts in The Tempest...."

The unmistakable twink eye-widening.  An invitation to a late dinner.  Sean suggested the Quarterdeck, a seafood chain restaurant nearby.

Barney wasn't interested in Sean -- his taste in men went to the older bodybuilder types.  But he had a rule -- when you go out together, you stay together, no matter what.  So he agreed to "share," if I could seal the deal.

"You're probably wondering why I changed my name," Sean said as we sat down.  "It's to avoid all the gushing fans who saw me on tv.  I got really tired of people coming up all starry eyed, like  'Oh, I had such a crush on you when I was a kid.'  That's why I like going out with older guys -- you play it cool."

Barney and I exchanged mystified glances.  We had no idea who this guy was.  But in order to seal the deal, I had to pretend to be a fan.

"I lived in L.A. for ten years," I told him.  "I'm used to celebrities.  I've been out with Michael J. Fox, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter Barton..."

His eyes glazed over.  I was losing him.  These guys were not of interest to a 25 year old.
"Don't forget Nate Richert," Barney added.  "Harvey on Sabrina the Teenage Witch."

"Melissa Joan Hart!" Sean exclaimed.  "Such a diva!  And not all that gay-friendly, if you want to know.  Actually, Nickelodeon studios was a bit on the homophobic side when I was working there.  Look at Kricfalusi on Ren and Stimpy."

These were all clues!  Today I would just pull out my Smartphone and look up whatever vehicle Melissa Joan Hart was in during the 1990s, but in 2002 I just smiled and nodded.

"So, you've made a new career for yourself on the stage," Barney offered, trying to help me change the subject.

But Sean would have none of it.  "Some of the writers tried to add some gay hints.  Remember the time I got a crush on a rich kid?  And Ferguson -- definitely gay, am I right?  Jason and I still hang out sometimes.  He's straight but cool."

Ferguson?  Jason?  I tried desperately to think of what Nickelodeon tv shows I had seen in the 1990s.  Rocko's Modern Life, Ren and Stimpy, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Rugrats, The Adventures of Pete and Pete.... 

"I always thought the older brother on Pete and Pete was cute..."

"Straight, though.  You want to know who's gay?  Tim Eyster, Sponge on Salute Your Shorts. We dated a little, but it had to be on the sly, you know.  If the studio found out, we would have both been fired."

For a guy who didn't like to be surrounded by gushing fans, Sean talked about his tv series a lot!

"So, Ariel in The Tempest is often played as gay..."

"Did you think Sam had a sort of gay ambience?  I tried to play him that way, in spite of the scripts making me girl-crazy."

The check came, and with it blessed relief.  "We should get together again," I said.  "Tomorrow night?"  That would give me a chance to do some research on Sean's famous tv show.

He grabbed my knee under the table. "What's wrong with tonight?"

Well, at least he'd have to shut up during bedroom activities.

The moment Sean fell asleep in Barney's arms, I rushed to my room, turned on my computer, and googled Melissa Joan Hart, Jason, and Ferguson.

I found Clarissa Explains It All, which aired on Nickelodeon from 1991 to 1994, about a junior high girl (Melissa Joan Hart) who addresses the camera to explain tween problems like acne and book reports.  She had a bratty little brother, Ferguson (Jason Zimbler), and a skateboarding best friend, Sam (Sean O'Neil).

Sean O'Neil was born on November 29, 1977, and grew up in Orlando, Florida.  He sang in a boy band before going to work on the series.  When it ended, he majored in theater arts in college.  He had two voice-over credits on his film resume, but not much else.  Apparently he had moved into the theater.

I went back to bed.

In the morning we had breakfast and discussed Clarissa some more, and then sent Sean on his way.

Later I began to wonder if Sean Stuart was putting us on, not really the guy from Clarissa at all. It doesn't make sense to change your name to avoid fans -- you want fans to come to your performances.  In West Hollywood was commonplace for guys to try to increase their desirability by claiming to have been in a popular tv show or movie, where they worked with someone famous (and usually dated them).

But claiming to have been in such a minor tv show, and to have dated a guy from another minor tv show?

If I was going to make something up, I'd claim to have been on Beverly Hills, 90210 and dated Jason Priestley.

It's been over a decade, and I'm still not sure.

Here's a picture of Sean O'Neil today.  What do you think?

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