Apr 16, 2016

Toy Soldiers: Muscle on Parade

Every once in a while, a movie producer hires all of the teen hunks he can find, puts them in an all-male environment, and orders a script that involves fighting a common adversary with their shirts off, thus ensuring the avid interest of every gay boy in the world: Tom Brown's School Days, Bless the Beasts and Children, Lord of the Flies, White Water SummerWhite Squall.  In 1991, the movie was Toy Soldiers.

The plot: terrorists take over an elite prep school for the sons of the wealthy and powerful, and take the boys and their headmaster hostage.  The boys use their troublemaking skills to gather intel on the terrorists, and wise-cracking operator Billy Tepper (20-year old Sean Astin, left) sneaks out to brief the adults.

When they turn out to be ineffectual, Billy and his friends, including comic relief Snuffy (21-year old Keith Coogan, middle) and surly bodybuilder Ricky (19-year old George Perez, right), go on the offensive, incapacitating several terrorists, disabling their bomb, and leading the  younger kids to safety, just in time to be "rescued."

Other boys include the rich "jerk" Joey (19-year old Wil Wheaton, well known for playing Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: the Next Generation).

And T. E. Russell as the pragmatic Hank.

Sean Astin (Billy) was a major teen idol of the period, with roles in The Goonies, The War of the Roses, White Water Summer, and Rudy).  

Keith Coogan (Snuffy) was a former child star with credits in Adventures in Babysitting and The Book of Love.  

There's some buddy-bonding between Billy and Snuffy, but with a large ensemble cast, it's not well developed.

However, heterosexual interest is absent, except for a scene in which Billy confiscates a Playboy from one of the younger kids.  There are references to getting laid and masturbation, but no one mentions a girlfriend or a desire for girls.

Absence of expressed heterosexual desire is almost unheard-off in a teen movie of the 1990s, giving viewers permission to read one or more of the boys -- or all of them -- as gay.

And the parade of underwear-clad, towel-clad, and shirtless teenage muscle (or rather young adult muscle, since all of the actors were over 18) didn't hurt.

Sean Astin would go on to lasting fame as Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings.  

Keith Coogan now hosts The Call Sheet, a celebrity interview podcast.

Both are vocal gay allies.

Apr 15, 2016

New Template

You may have noticed that I changed the template.  After four years, it was time for a change, thought "magazine" style looked cool.

The indexes are still there, but they'll pop up in the text.

You can still get to the most popular posts, the blog feed, and the other features on the right sidebar.  And you can change the format of the "magazine."

If readers don't like it, I can always go back to the original template.

18 West Hollywood Stories of Celebrity Dates and Hookups

In the gay neighborhoods of West Hollywood and San Francisco, not so much in New York or Florida, everyone had a celebrity dating or hookup story.  Here are the most famous or most believable I've heard.

I'm making no claims about the sexual orientation of any of these celebrities except #1 and #10. Some of the stories are probably exaggerations, a non-romantic lunch becoming a romantic date, a casual meeting becoming a vigorous all-night orgy.  Some are probably pure inventions.

1 Cesar Romero (1907-1994) 1940s heartthrob and the Joker on the old Batman tv series.  My boyfriend Lane hooked up with him in the early 1990s.  When he told the story, Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) were in the mix.

2. President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) He was just a local radio announcer when Oscar, the retired set designer from Des Moines, claims that they dated. The biographical details check out.

3. Tony Randall (1920-2004) star of the Odd Couple (1968-1975).  Marcus, the first person I met in West Hollywood, said that they met through a mutual friend, and hooked up in a hotel in Westwood.  Marcus was in the industry, and introduced me to several celebrities, including Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams, but there's no evidence that Tony Randall was gay.

4. Tony Curtis (1925-2010), the movie star who went in drag for Some Like It Hot (1959).   Drake, the leather teddy bear artist of South of Market, claimed to have tricked with him when he was starring in Trapeze (1956), about a circus love triangle.  Tony Curtis was married to women five times, but his androgynous prettyboy looks made him the subject of many gay rumors in the 1950s.

5. Dick Sargeant (1930-1994), Cary Grant (1904-1986), and Groucho Marx (1890-1988), all on the same night, in the same bed!  In 1958, when he was a teenage navy recruit, Randall (the bear with the pierced penis) told us that he hooked up with Dick Sargent (future star of Bewitched), who took him to a gay party.  There Groucho and Cary both invited him home.  They compromised.

6. Richard Chamberlain (1934-)  The now-out star of Shogun (1980) and I competed over Thanh, the Vietnamese grad student, one night at Mugi. Thanh and I dated once, and then became friends.  He immediately sought out Chamberlain for a dinner-and-bedroom date.

7. Peter Fonda (1940-), actor and political activist.  This is actually a buffed model representing his iconic role in Easy Rider (1969).  Will, the Bondage Boy with the Sweeney Todd fetish, told us that they hooked up at a bath house in Mexico in 1978.  Fonda, who has been married three times, has been the subject of gay rumors.

8. David Cassidy (1950-) teen idol and star of The Partridge Family (1970-1974).  My housemate Derek, a former fitness model, told us about a romantic weekend of motorcycling through Wales with him in 1974.  At that time David Cassidy was the most famous pop star in the world.  If it really happened, why is there no news coverage?

9. Mark Hamill (1951-), the iconic Luke Skywalker of Star Wars (1977).  He's done a lot of theater, too.  He was starring in The Nerd on Broadway in 1987, when Blake the Opera Buff said that they met and went out on several dates.  Hamill is not out, but there has been a lot of speculation about his sexual identity.

10. Dan Butler (1954-), who played the ultra-macho sports announcer Bulldog on Frazier (1993-2004). Marshall the Virgin dated him several times shortly after we took him to his first Bear Party in 1994.

11. Kip Noll (1958-2001) the porn star.  My friend Alan, the Pentecostal porn star, worked with him on a film in the early 1980s.  Does it count as a hookup if your sexual activity is part of your job?

12. Ronald Reagan, Jr. (1958-),  the President's son, estranged from his father, a ballet dancer, who got married very quickly and suspiciously when his father took office -- what were we to think? Half of West Hollywood claimed to have dated him.  My ex Fred told me that they met at a bathhouse in Chicago during the summer of 1979.

13. Rob Lowe (1964-), teen idol and brat packer.  Mario, who picked me up at the Different Light Bookstore, worked with him on a tv pilot when they were both teenagers.  According to Mario, they had dinner, went up to Rob's room, and one thing led to another while they were watching Magnum, P.I.

14. Keanu Reeves (1964-).  The brooding star of the Matrix movies has played gay characters several times, but he had barely begun his career in 1988, when my friends Will and Scott ran into him at the Rage.  They described a wild night that included making out on the beach and skinny-dipping in a pool of a house in Beverly Hills that didn't belong to them.

15. Luke Perry (1966-), star of the teen drama Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000).  Remember the Family Guy episode, in which Meg accidentally "outs" him in the school newspaper, and he sues for slander?  My friend Barry, the Colonial Williamsburg boy of Long Island, claimed to have met him while cruising in Hollywood one night in 1996.  Perry was married with children at the time, but ok.

16. Leonardo DiCaprio (1974-), the indy movie star who has played gay characters several times, and receives nearly as many gay rumors as the big boys, Tom Cruise and John Travolta.  Lots of guys claimed to have dated or hooked up with him, but the most believable story came from Farshad, the French Moroccan on my sausage list, who said that they met in Paris in 1995.

17. Prince Carl Philip of Sweden (1979-).   Zack, the photography student at the Rhode Island School of Design, said that he spent the night with him when they were teenagers, both boarding school students in Connecticut.

18. Dylan O'Brien (1991-),  star of the Maze Runner movies (2014-2017) and the tv series Teen Wolf (2011-).  In April 2014,  Jimmy, the Boy Toy of my platonic friends,  told me that they went to high school in Hermosa Beach, California together.  They used to do it in his parents' garage.  This was before I had heard of Dylan O'Brien, so he's an odd person to try to impress me with, and there are some gay rumors.

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

Ryan Potter: Asian Gay Superhero

Ok, he's half-Asian, and he hasn't actually made a public "coming out" statement, but he's definitely a superhero.

Supah Ninjas (2011-13) was a Nickelodeon teencom about a boy, Mike Fukanaga (Ryan Potter), who learns from the hologram of his dead grandfather that he's a supah-ninja.

He recruits his friends Owen (Carlos Knight) and Amanda (Gracie Dzienny), and they try to juggle lives of ordinary school problems with battling super-villainy.  Including heterosexism.

1. Mike and Owen are scripted, according to teencom tradition, as absurdly girl-crazy.  But they have a strong, overt, amazingly physical buddy bond, behaving precisely like boyfriends.

2. Mike is obviously being played as gay, regardless of the girl-craziness the script calls for.

3. The boys tacitly acknowledge the existence of gay people.  When they are assisting a woman, Mike asks "Is there anyone you could call?  A husband or a boyfriend?"  Owen adds "Or a life partner?"

4. You're not going to find many teenage actors who are more aggressively gay-friendly than Ryan Potter (here voicing his opposition to California H8, the ban on same-sex marriage).

5. For a change, there's a lot of Asian and Black beefcake.

6. Grandpa is played by venerable gay icon George Takei.

7. Dad is played by Randall Park, a busy comedian who starred in the gay Asian-themed movie The People I've Slept With (2009).  He's not actually gay, according to the article "Randall Park's Coming Out Story" in The Korean-American Experience (he came out as an actor).

8. Brandon Soo Hoo has a recurring role as Cousin Connor, who is scripted as even more obnoxiously girl-crazy than his older cousin (writers seem to think that barely-pubescent boys making graphic sexual propositions to older girls is hilarious).  But he has also been involved in several gay-friendly projects, such as the buddy-bonding movie Everyday Kid (2010).

More recently Ryan has starred in Senior Project, Underdog Kids, and Lab Rats: Elite Force.  He's also a martial artist.

Apr 14, 2016

Buster Keaton: Gay Icon of the Silent Screen

I've never understood the comedy of the early 20th century, whether it's comic strips, silent movies, or the short stories of P.G. Wodehouse.   Maybe it's the cultural barrier.

Silent movies, especially: in the absence of substantial dialogue, they make do with slapstick, which is basically people falling down and getting hit by things.

Buster Keaton (1895-1966) was one of the great comedians of the silent film era, taking limitless abuse without comment, his "Stone Face" expressionless or grim.

Although he was rather raw-boned and ugly, he had a respectable physique for the period, and was not shy about taking his clothes off.

His films tend to be heterosexist boy-gets-girl vehicles.

Sherlock Jr. (1924) is about a mild-mannered film projectionist who becomes a sleuth to track down the thief who stole his girlfriend's father's prized watch (it's the local studmuffin).

The General (1926) is about a railroad engineer during the Civil War who is too much of a weakling to join the Union army.  He routes the Confederates anyway, becoming a war hero.  It ends with a famous scene where Keaton is trying to kiss his girlfriend, but has to continually salute passing troops.

Battling Butler (1926) is about a sissified rich kid who tries to get the girl by pretending to be a macho fighter, the "Battling Butler."  He manages to best his opponent, the "Alabama Murderer," by being sneaky.

Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928) is about a collegiate nerd who disappoints his macho father by falling in love with Dad's business rival; it ends with a famous scene in which Keaton proposes to his girlfriend as they're floating around in lifebuoys.

Not a lot of buddy-bonding: in fact, other men are portrayed as oily competitors for the girl or as big, menacing brutes.

But still, Keaton was apparently quite popular among the gay men of the 1920s.

They identified with his characters, butterfly-collecting sissies, beanie-wearing nerds who save the day in spite of their lack of machismo.

And his many shirtless shots didn't hurt.

Keaton continued to perform in comedy shorts into the talking-picture era, and was a recognizable screen and tv presence through the 1950s.  In the 1960s, he had ongoing roles in Frankie and Annette's beach movies, an elder statesman reveling in the antics of youth.

See also: Beach Movies; The Collegians

Apr 13, 2016

Sausage Sighting: The Ex-Wrestler with the Kovbasa

Long Island, Spring 2000

When I was a graduate student at Setauket University, New York, I wanted a sausage sighting of Dr. Chester, a former professional wrestler who taught the history and sociology of sports.

 He was in his 50s, massive, with a huge barrel chest, a bull neck, gigantic wrists and hands.  Unfortunately, he wore a business suite, uncharacteristic for college professors, with slacks that hung straight down and didn't offer a bulge.

He had a wife and kids, so he probably wouldn't be asking me for a date, or showing up at Ravi's Bear Parties on Long Island.

He didn't use the campus gym.

He never taught classes at any time convenient for "accidentally" using the fourth floor restroom.

Then, one day in April 2000, late in the afternoon, I was on my way out of the Social Science Building to meet Yuri for dinner.  I didn't really have to go, but I decided to do a pre-emptive, just in case.

I unlocked the outside door walked through the swinging security door into the faculty men's room.  It was very small, really only big enough for one person, with a toilet stall and a single urinal right next to the sink.  And there, at the urinal, was Dr. Chester.

The rest of the post is on Tales of West Hollywood

Mason Gamble

In the science fiction thriller Gattaca (1997), young Vincent (Mason Gamble) is "different," "inferior" in a society of genetically engineered supermen.  He excels anyway, besting his brother Anton (Chad Christ) at a swimming contest and longing to participate in an elite space-exploration program that's open only to the genetically superior.

Obvious gay symbolism -- the "inferior" outsider who longs to be a real boy.  Plus bonding: when Vincent grows into an adult (Ethan Hawke), he "borrows" the DNA of crippled athlete Jerome (Jude Law), and rather overtly falls in love with him.

Throughout his career, Mason Gamble has played outsiders who challenge heterosexist strictures.  At age six-and-a-half, he beat out 20,000 hopefuls for the role of Dennis the Menace in the feature film (1993), which, challenges the myth of the heterosexual nuclear family, the tight triad of Dad-Mom-Kids that is presumably all you need and will ever need, until the Kids grow up, marry, and form Dad-Mom-Kids triads of their own.

In the myth of the heterosexual family, other friends are irrelevant, other relatives unwelcome intrusions, and strangers malicious (as we see in the MGM Tarzan series).  But even more than in the comic strip and television versions, Dennis seeks out emotional connection outside, with Joey, with Margaret, and with Mr. Wilson.  Not romantic bonds, certainly, but nevertheless bonds which, according to the myth, do not and cannot exist.

In Rushmore (1998), Mason plays Dirk, a shy, quiet outsider who is drawn to the eccentric high schooler Max (Jason Schwartzman).  Max is aggressively heterosexual, dating two older teachers (in a modern update of the 1980s "sex with the babysitter" genre), but Dirk is not.  They quarrel, plot acts of revenge against each other, and finally reconcile.

A Gentleman's Game (2002) is about a teenage golf caddy (Mason) who discovers a dark sexual secret (not that dark secret) involving his best friend, and meanwhile tries to hide his interest in golf pro Foster Pearce (Gary Sinise).

Now tall, slim, and square-jawed, Mason still acts occasionally, while working toward a degree in marine biology.

Apr 12, 2016

Bobby Darin: Dream Lover of the 1950s

Bobby Darin (1936-1973) grew up in East Harlem, New York.  His first foray into the music business was as a songwriter, paired with future radio great Don Kirshner.  But he hit the big time in 1958 with "Splish Splash" (I Was Taking a Bath), a humorous take on the teen dance crazes of the era.

Splish, splash, I was taking a bath
On about a Saturday night

Bing, bang
I saw the whole gang
Dancin' on my living room rug.
Flip flop
They was doin' the bop
All the teens had the dancin' bug.

He illustrated the song with a nude, censored photo of himself in the shower, a rarity in 1958.

More songs, humorous, romantic, and just weird, appeared, six albums in 1960 alone.  Perhaps the weirdest is "Mack the Knife," about a murderer:

Now on the sidewalk, sunny morning,
Lies a body just oozin' life,
And someone's sneakin' 'round the corner
Could that someone be Mack the Knife?

Well, at least it's not heterosexist.

In the 1960s Bobby moved into moved into jazz, country-western, and folk, became a dramatic actor, and ran a successful music publishing company.

In 1960 he married Sandra Dee, the star of Gidget (1959), a gay icon and role model to young lesbians of the era, here being wooed by James Darin (no relation) and some other beach hunks.

The couple divorced in 1967, leaving a son, Dodd.

Bobby was married again, briefly, in 1973.

He was politically liberal, and heavily involved in the campaign to elect Robert F. Kennedy as president.

There's not much evidence of Bobby being gay in real life.  The 2004 biopic Beyond the Sea, starring Kevin Spacey, contains a few gay jokes:

Sandra tells Bobby that if he thinks acting is so easy, he should try kissing Troy Donahue (who was rumored to be gay).  Bobby smiles, as if he's considering it.

But that may be a take on the gay rumors of Kevin Spacey himself.

On the other hand, most of Bobby's songs drop pronouns, and could apply equally to male and female lovers:

You're the reason I'm living
You're the breath that I take
You're the stars in my heaven
You're the sun when I wake.

The nude photo is on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: Ricky Nelson

Apr 10, 2016

Cameron Boyce: Gay Ally?

You probably remember 17-year old Cameron Boyce from Jesse (2011-2015), the most heterosexist/ obnoxious teencom on the Disney Channel.  He played Luke Ross, the privileged rich kid who somehow found himself orphaned and adopted by an even more privileged, rich family.  Luke is n aggressively girl-crazy heterosexual who keeps making leering sexual advances at every woman in sight.  Not my favorite teencom.

For some reason audiences liked him  -- maybe it was his abs -- and Cameron started appearing everywhere, as Luke on The Ultimate Spiderman and Austin and Ally, as someone else on Shake It Up and Liv and Maddie, as himself on The Hollywood Christmas Parade, Teens Want to Know, Disney 365, Win Lose or Draw, and Piper's Picks ("Cameron Tells What He Looks for in a Girl").

Jesse ended in 2015, but Disney's love for Cameron continued.

Fortunately, his obnoxious heterosexism did not.

In Descendants, the movie and animated series about the children of Disney movie heroes attending high school together, he plays Carlos DeVill.

Son of Cruella DeVill, the elderly fashion enthusiast who wanted to make a jacket out of 101 Dalmatians (1961).  I would have sworn she was past menopause.  Maybe he's adopted.

He doesn't have a lot of heterosexual interests, but he does buddy-bond with Jay (BooBoo Stewart), son of Jafar from Aladdin.  

Good choice.

In 2015, Disney gave him a star vehicle, Gamer's Guide to Pretty Much Everything, the second type of Disney plotline (someone famous tries to be normal).  Here he's Conor, a famous video gamer (I guess there are such things) who is forced to retire and go to a normal high school, where he envisions normal activities as video games.

He hangs out with video game-playing friends, two male nerds, one girl, but doesn't seem to have much interest in girls (it was on Disney XD, the "guy's channel").

Most recently, he's had an episode of Code Black, the medical show, playing Brody, who was abused at a camp for troubled teens.

I can't find out if Cameron is gay or gay-friendly in real life. When I do a google search with a keyword "gay," I hit too many gay fan fictions.

See also: Jesse