Oct 29, 2016

The Unique Gay Romance of "Crashing."

In Britain, "property guardians" move into an abandoned property that wasn't designed for permanent habitation in the first place -- an office building, a school, a warehouse.   In exchange for "protecting" the property, they get cheap rent, about 55 pounds a week ($400 a month).  The downside is, the place is usually falling apart, with inadequate plumbing and heat, no bathrooms, no kitchen...

The upside is, there's lots of room for comedy material.

Crashing is a British tv series (2016-), now on Netflix, about a group of young adults who become the property guardians at an abandoned hospital.  Big, spooky rooms where people once got sick and died, now used for comic misunderstandings and buddy-bonding, sort of like Friends if they lived in the entire apartment complex, and had more snogging.

1-3. Anthony (Damien Molony, left) negotiates the sexual tension with Lulu (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and his fiancee Kate (Louise Ford).

4.-5. Hip French artist Melody (Julie Dray) pursues the portly middle aged Colin (Adrian Scarborough), though he can't for the life of him figure out why.

6.-7. Effervescent real estate agent Sam (Jonathan Bailey, who gets blond highlights and a beard so he doesn't look exactly like Damien Molony) courts the uptight Fred (Amit Shah).  Each claims to be "not gay."

The reviews all skip over 6.-7., concentrating on 1.-.3 and calling it a "two girls and a guy dilemma" sitcom, Archie torn between Betty and Veronica.

But the gay romance  is what makes the series unique.

Episode 1: Sam and Fred bond at a party scavenger hunt.  Piggy back ride, forehead bumping, forehead kissing, "beautiful eyes," "handsome face," but each claims that he's "not gay."

Episode 2: Sam lures Fred away from his dull office job for a wild day of rebellion.  They end up in bed together.  Fred hugs Sam, who protests: "This ain't never going to happen!  Ever!"

Episode 3:  Fred, who has admitted that he is gay, starts dating the effervescent Australian Will (Lachie Chapman).  Sam explodes in jealous rage.

Episode 4: Sam and Will compete for Fred's affection.  They get into a fight.  Sam tries to get them to break up by seducing Will, but it doesn't work.  So he has sex with Lulu instead.

Episode 5:  Will gets a new flat, and asks Fred to move in.  Sam seethes.  He accosts Will in the shower.   They kiss.

Fred finds out about the kiss and freaks out.

Sam claims that he was trying to tempt Will on purpose to prove that he's a bad guy.  Will claims that Sam is in love with him but won't admit it.  Everyone gets into a fight.

Will turns out to be a controlling jerk who insults Sam and all of his friends.  They break up.

Episode 6:  Fred and Sam are still at loggerheads.  Fred wants them to be lovers, and Sam insists that he is not gay, so they can only be best friends.  Then Fred collapses, and goes to the hospital.  Sam admits that he's in love with him.  They kiss.

Oh, I almost forgot, the other couples have romantic complications, too.  Melody and Colin and Anthony and Lulu end up together.  I think.  I wasn't really paying attention to them.

A Hookup with the Nephew of My First Time

I found the guy I had my first sexual experience with!

I was fifteen years old, a high school sophomore, at music camp in Decorah, Iowa.  I shared a dorm room with Todd (not his real name).

My first big crush: soulful eyes, tight smooth chest, nice abs, square hands.

His mother was Lebanese.  I've found Middle Easterners sexy ever since.

He was Catholic, not Muslim. I've found Catholics sexy ever since.

Afterwards I tried everything to make Todd my boyfriend, including dating his girlfriend, but nothing worked.  He didn't even want to be friends.  During my junior year, we barely spoke.  I don't recall seeing him at all during my senior year.

The years passed.  I went to college, then grad school, moved to West Hollywood, moved to New York, got my Ph.D., moved to Florida, taught in Ohio, Upstate, and the Plains, had friends and boyfriends and hookups.

In 2016, 40 years after that night in Decorah, Iowa, he enrolls in one of my classes!

Plains, September 2016

Ok, it's not him.  This Todd doesn't even look like my Todd.  Much paler, thin, with an oval head and short black hair.  Nice hands.  Cute, but far short of the angelic beauty of my Todd, at least in my memory.

But it's not a very common name, so there must be a relation.  Could this guy be my Todd's son?

Not likely.  Maybe  nephew or...gulp...a grandson?

I stalk this Todd on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  He's 20 years old, from a small town in Minnesota.  He played hockey in high school.  He's a social work major who volunteers at the domestic abuse shelter, and he is a canvass leader for the Democratic Party.

There are pictures of him fishing, playing hockey, and with his arm around a girl.

And with a rainbow flag over his profile stating "We are Orlando."

Probably straight, but certainly a gay ally.

The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood

Richard Oliver Gross, the New Zealand Sculptor of Male Nudes

Ok, I had to find out about this Richard Oliver Gross, who scattered statues of nude men all over the Kiwi landscape.   He doesn't appear in most directories of 20th century artists, but there's a brief biography in Te Ara, the online encyclopedia of New Zealand.

Born 1882 in Barrow-in-Furness, England.  That's my new favorite English village name.

Studied under Albert Toft, "an academic sculptor heavily influenced by the classics."  Moved to South Africa, where he married Ethel Jane Bailey in 1912.  They had three children.

Later they moved to New Zealand, and took up dairy farming near Helensville, on the North Island.

After World War I, he moved to Auckland, where he specialized in memorial sculptures, in association with two architects that he met at the Quion Club (a club for Auckland-area artists): William Gummer and M.K. Draffin.

Under their association, he sculpted at least 9 memorials, 8 with barechested or nude men.

1. The Cambridge Memorial (1923): a shirtless man digging.

2. The Auckland Grammar School Memorial: a naked man atop a sword.

3. The Havelock North Memorial (no nudity)

4. The frieze at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

5. The Wellington Cenotaph.

6. The Athlete (top photo).  It was so controversial that the headlines booted out the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

7. The Holland Memorial (left)

8. The One Tree Hill Memorial.  A Maori warrior, not nude, but with muscular arms.

9. The Memorial to Michael Joseph Savage, the Prime Minister.

When criticized for his male nudity, Gross said that it represented our efforts to reach "spiritual accomplishment."

Right.  When I see naked men, I'm not usually thinking of spiritual things.

Gross disapproved of the new modernistm in art, and didn't do a lot of original works in the 1940s and 1950s.  He turned to writing poetry, and held many administrative posts, including president of the Auckland Society of Arts.

He died in 1964, survived by his wife and one son.

No specific evidence that he was gay.  But he did gay men everywhere a service by insisting that the male body could be inspiring and beautiful.

See also: Top Ten Public Penises of New Zealand

Oct 28, 2016

Yuri Hooks Up at a Russian Orthodox Seminary

East Village, February 1999


"I don't visit you in Manhattan next weekend," Yuri said.  "I must go to Russian Orthodox seminary Upstate."

"A seminary?  Whatever for?"

"There is a weekend for sveŇ°tenik kandidata, guys who want to be priests."

"What?" I repeated, shocked.  "You want to be a priest?"  He had been out for less than two years.  Had he succumbed to religious fundamentalism? Was he trying to turn "ex-gay"?

"No, of course I don't really want to be a priest." Yuri said.  "It is to keep...closet.  So I don't tell them I am gay, and I can still go to services."

When I met Yuri, I never expected him to be religious.  But when he was a kid in Volgograd, his grandparents took him to Mass nearly every week.  He loved the candles, the incense, the droning liturgy in Old Slavonic, and especially the icons, visual images of the Saints, reaching out to him in friendship and love.

 When he went to graduate school in America, all the way across the ocean, thousands of miles from what he knew, he looked back with nostalgia on those hours in church.  Going to church was an anchor, a memory of home.

The only problem:  you absolutely, positively had to be closeted in the Russian Orthodox Church. If anyone found out, you would be kicked out the door -- after the screaming.

Teenage girls flirted with him.  Middle-aged ladies tried to fix him up with their daughters.  Every guy he tried to cruise asked him to evaluate girls.  There were constant questions: "Are you married?" "Are you seeing anyone?"  "Why not?"

How else could he signal that he was not interested?

Then the idea came: he could say that he wanted to become a priest!

"Sorry, I am considering a priestly vocation.  I can't date."

That stopped the fix-ups altogether, and the other guys stopped asking him to rate girls.

Unfortunately, word got around to the parish priest, who started giving him smiles and gifts and hand-on-shoulder talks. and told him about a weekend for postulants (men thinking of the priesthood) at a seminary nearby.  And even offered him a ride up with two of the other pre-seminary boys.

There was no getting out of it -- Yuri was going to go on a postulant weekend.

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

Oct 27, 2016

Top 10 Public Penises of New Zealand #1: The North Island

People in the U.S. tend to think of New Zealand as Australia's smaller, more remote cousin, notable only for Maori culture and some very weird movies.

But it has its own culture, with a distinctive English dialect, distinctive customs, foods, and folklore.

And a lot of beefcake.

Here are the top 10 public penises of New Zealand.    

1. Starting with Auckland, a city of 1.3 million on the North Island.

"The Athlete," at the gates of the Domain, Auckland's largest park, was sculpted by local artist Richard Gross in 1936.  Apparently he specialized in male nudes.  The City Council and church groups caused a fuss and forced him to cover up the dangly bits, but they're still visible on the nude runners in the frieze below.

2. This is a sculpture of a cloud and raindrops, according to sculptor Gregor Kregar.  It's outside the railroad station in the Auckland suburb of New Lynn

3. Paihia, a three hour drive to the north, is the site of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the British and the Maori came to an agreement in 1840.

Maori wood carvings, whakairo, often include nude men with unabashedly enormous sizes.

4. As you can see from this aroused whakairo in Hamilton Gardens, about 1 1/2 hours south of Auckland.

According to Google Translate, "ko haua" means "Is cut."a

5.  Te Kuiti, about an hour south of Hamilton Gardens,  is the sheep shearing capital of the world.  It hosts an annual World Sheep Shearing Competition (David Fagan has won 5 times).  And a statue of "The Shearer"

More after the break

ABBA: Not Drag Queens

I first heard of ABBA in the spring of my sophomore year in high school in 1976, when "Fernando" hit #13 on the U.S. charts.

It was about a freedom fighter in a South American country and his "friend":

There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me.

The tale of a same-sex love!  Quite different from the "Girl! Girl! Girl!" songs elsewhere on the radio.

"Dancing Queen" followed in the fall of 1976, just as I was figuring out what "gay" means.  I knew that a queen was a drag queen, so I assumed that the "girl" referenced in the song was a gay guy.

"Take a Chance On Me," 1977.  No pronouns.  The person waiting "first in line" to fall in love could be male or female.

Who was this group?  Abba meant father in Hebrew.  Were they Israeli?

 In the fall of of 1978, when I was just starting grad school at Indiana University, my friend Joseph, the secretary of the gay student group (and the first "out" gay person I ever met),  told me, "They're Swedish.  Four drag queens."

"No way!" I exclaimed.  "They'd never let drag queens' songs on the radio."

"They pretend to be straight, but you can tell. Like the Village People."

Sure enough, in 1979 "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)" was about a gay guy who wants a man "to chase the shadows away."

It must have been too obvious, raising the ire of homophobic censors.  ABBA disappeared from the radio, and I moved on to the gay subtext songs of the 1980s, like "Physical" (Olivia Newton-John, 1981), "I'm Coming Out" (Diana Ross, 1981), and "It's Raining Men" (The Weather Girls, 1982).

But there was always a soft spot in my heart for ABBA, the first gay group I ever heard of.

Fast forward 13 years.  In 1992, I happened to walk through the room where my partner Lee was watching MTV, and saw four drag queens performing "Take a Chance on Me."

So that's what ABBA looks like, I thought, mildly interested.  But not interested enough to stick around.

In 1994, the drag queens in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert perform a medley of ABBA hits.  Figures.

Fast forward 16 years.  In 2008, along with the buzz from the musical Mamma Mia, the music of ABBA became popular again.  And the group was interviewed.

Two heterosexual couples, married at the time!  According to the interview, "very heterosexual," and "shocked" to discover that they had become gay icons.  They thought they were describing an exclusively heterosexual world.

"Fernando" is about a guy who lost his girlfriend.
"Dancing Queen": who knew that "queen" meant "gay"?  It's about a woman.
"Take a Chance on Me": heterosexuals only need apply.
"Gimme, Gimme, Gimme": it's a woman who wants a man after midnight.

And the drag queens I saw on MTV in 1992?  Erasure doing a homage.

I'm crushed.  Next you'll be telling me that Shaun Cassidy was straight.

Oct 26, 2016

Scary, Heterosexist Ads of the 1960s

I hate tv commercials where women take a bite of yogurt, cereal, or chocolate, and then roll their heads back and stiffen in orgiastic ecstasy.  Or kids see the cereal, macaroni and cheese, or hot dogs on the kitchen table before them, and they hug mom ecstatically in gratitude. (Men are expected to prefer quantity over quality, so they usually just shovel it in and say "Great meal, Honey.)

1. They're sexist, replicating ancient gender stereotypes.
2. They're heterosexist, replicating the nuclear family myth, Mom, Dad, and Kids as aggressively as A&W's Papa, Mama, and Baby Burgers (see "Bill and I Become a Mama and a Papa.")
3. If every bite causes a shuddering orgasm of joy, how do you ever get through a meal?

When I was a kid in the 1960s, print ads were even worse.  Not dependent on real humans, they drew faces with bizarre contortions of ecstatic abandon that real actors could never get away with, except maybe in horror movies.

Who ever thought that this picture would encourage kids to ask Mom for Sugar Krinkles?  I'd be worried that the clown would climb off the box and eat me.

Who wears hats to dinner?  And why is the demon girl levitating her plate of human meat, peas, and orange things?

What, exactly, did she put in those drinks?  And why is she serving four of them to one victim?

I've heard people say "O--oh-h Boomer!" before, but they usually don't follow with "It's a Schwinn!"

"Room for one more.  Join us!"

See also: The Bisexual M&Ms

Fall 1998: Landing My Boyfriend's Roommate

Blake: Manhattan Elite
I met Blake in the fall of 1998, when I was in grad school in New York.  At first he seemed like an ideal boyfriend, with four of the five characteristics I find attractive: religious (devout Episcopalian), dark-skinned, muscular, and mega-gifted below the belt (#10 on my Sausage List.)

But there were problems:
1. He was pretentious, one of those intellectual-artsy guys who doesn't own a television set, has season tickets to the opera, and won't eat at any restaurant without a Zagat rating.

2. He was closeted, bringing a female "beard" to work-related events. Who in 1990s Manhattan was closeted?

3. He always had a glass of wine in his hand.  I can't stand drinking.

4. He slept to opera music.

Time to dump Blake, right?

Except I was entranced by his roommate,  Joe.

The full story, with nude photos and sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

10 Upstate Vacation Hookups

I lived in Upstate New York for four years (2008-2012), twice as long as in San Francisco, but with far fewer dates and hookups.  It was a very small town, with a limited number of gay men, so you found a partner and held on.

Sharing and bear parties were unknown; I tried to introduce them, with little success.  There was a bath house about 2 hours away, but small and not very busy.

Gay men of an earlier generation fled from the oppressive homophobia of London, Paris, and New York for sex holidays in the Middle East, where same-sex desire was open and accepted, and nearly every man was available.  I fled to the Gay World as often as I could.

Here are my top 10 Upstate holiday hookups:

1. Indianapolis.  I visited once or twice a year to visit my parents and sister, who actually about a 45 minute drive away.  A full gay neighborhood with bars, restaurants, organizations, and two bath houses, lots of guys, but the most memorable was my ex-boyfriend Fred's son.

2. Cleveland.  A good stopping-off place between Upstate New York and Indianapolis, with the Flexx Club, one of the best sex clubs anywhere, a huge facility with two swimming pools, a disco, a restaurant, two saunas, several video rooms, and mazes of private rooms.  An an outdoor patio with a nice view of downtown.  In 2012, Troy and I hooked up with Lester the Shy Boy, whose friends told him that he couldn't leave until he had been with five guys, or one guy five times.

3. Dayton.  If you spend the night in Cleveland, you're in Dayton about noon, perfect for having lunch with old friends and "sharing" with their boyfriends du jour before taking th next two hours to Indianapolis.  And if I timed it right, I could go to Rode's M4M Party and reunite with Shawn, the winner of the Biggest Penis Contest.

4. New York.  Upstate was only about four hours from New York City, but that meant two hours through narrow, winding country roads in the Catskills and two hours of wall-to-wall traffic, so I only visited a few times.  My favorite visit was with Yuri; we reunited with Blake the Opera Buff, the ex-boyfriend of both of us, and "shared" his boyfriend, an opera singer.

5. West Hollywood.  Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, but whenever I made the six hour flight back to West Hollywood, it was warm, comfortable, and inviting.  As long as you skipped the twink bars: my friends, all in their 50s and 60s, disapproved of dating younger guys.  But what was a twink magnet to do?

6. Philadelphia.  There for a conference in November 2009, I hated it.  My hotel was shabby, the sightseeing was mediocre, and the hookup options were very limited.  How did my friend David from San Francisco have so much success there?  My only hookup was with a tourist from Omaha.

7. Washington, DC.  I love DC, with its gutsy Dupont Circle a stone's throw from the White House, but when I went there for a conference in November 2011, I was concerned.  My last visit was with my friend Alan, who died in 2005.  Would I be seeing his ghost everywhere?  Actually, I ended up channeling his enormous joie de vivre, and his uncanny ability to attract Asian guys.

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

Oct 25, 2016

Steve Sandvoss: From Gay Mormon to Goat Farmer

I liked Max Sandvoss back when he was Steve: Latter Days (2003) is #3 on my list of the 10 Gay Movies I Love.  Maybe because he was playing a Mormon missionary, and I have a thing for clergy-types.

But I haven't been too thrilled by some of his more recent work.

Rumor Has It (2005): Jennifer Anniston discovers that her family was the inspiration for the Dustin Hoffman classic The Graduate (1967).  It's even sillier than it sounds, and there's no gay people. Max plays her fiance.

Kiss the Bride (2007):  Matt who discovers that his ex-boyfriend Ryan is abandoning his "alternative lifestyle" (who uses that phrase anymore?) to marry a woman, so he tries to talk sense into him.  Instead Matt falls for the girl!

Yeah, I know: the love of a good woman "cures" gay men all the time.  At least in Hollywood movies: it's the heterosexuals' idea of a happy ending.

Max isn't one of the two guys.

Fling (2008): A guy and his girlfriend have an open relationship, but their partners are strictly heterosexual.  No gay content.

He has retired from acting and moved to East Bethany, New York, to run the First Light Farm and Creamery, making goat cheese with his brother Trystan.

Better than acting.

Oct 24, 2016

Yuri's Beefcake Tour of Minsk

Yuri is even more devoted to beefcake art than I am, and every time goes back home, he sends me photos.  A few years ago he was visiting a cousin in Minsk, Belarus, and couldn't stop talking about both the performers at the Grand Ballet (left) and the public art.

Most people know little about Minsk except a song by Danny Kaye:
I have a friend in Minsk, who has a friend in Pinsk, whose friend in Omsk has a friend in Tomsk, with a friend in Akmolinsk, whose friend in Alexandrovsk has a friend in Petropavlovsk,who somehow is solving now the problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

Or Seinfeld, where the fictional musical Rochelle, Rochelle was about "a young girl's strange, erotic journey from Milan to Minsk." 


It has a tragic history.  Before World War II, 
over half of the population was Jewish.  But 80% of the Jewish community died in the Holocaust, and most of the rest immigrated to the U.S. or Israel.  

Today it is struggling to overcome its past.  It's very conservative and very homophobic, but nevertheless there are more muscular, semi-nude men than you would expect in a former socialist and staid Eastern Orthodox state.  

1. A rather skinny Orpheus, erected in 1979 by Valentin Zankovich near the Glinka Musical College, to memorialize victims of the Nazis.

2. Muscular, shirtless, but not nude, athletes over the entrance to Dynamo Stadium (left).

3. A fig-leaf covered Boy with Swan, maybe a take on the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan, in a fountain in Alexander Park.

4. Behind Independence Square, there's a fountain called Youth, with a nude boy and girl, facing each other, holding pans of water.

5. This one isn't in Minsk but it's still cool.  Yuri thought it looked like a penis, but it's actually a man's face carved out of a 33-foot high granite mountain.  The monument to Courage in Brest.

6. Another gigantic sculpture of a nude soldier stretched out on the ground.

7. Ok, this one is pushing it. An 1843 statue of Mercury at the National Arts Museum.

8. A clothed but very muscular image of writer Maxim Gorky (who, by the way, was even more homophobic than Stalin.  He said: "exterminate all [gay people], and fascism will vanish."

9. The Island of Tears, installed in 1996, is a memorial to the Belarus soldiers who died during Soviet Times, featuring crying cherub, the "Guardian Angel of Minsk." You’re supposed to touch his penis for luck.

10. In September 2013, Igor Arinich revealed his collage of a nude guy on a horse composed of 3,000 Soviet-era bank notes. It's a copy of a famous painting, "Bathing of the Red Horse," by gay Russian artist Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin.

See also: A Beefcake Tour of Eastern Europe; Yuri  Finds the World's Biggest Penis.

Fox's Heterosexual Rocky Horror Picture Show

I'm not a purist who believes that The Rocky Horror Picture Show  is sacred writ.  I'm all for sanding down the plot inconsistencies, booting the jokes that mock women and the disabled, adding some racial diversity, and modernizing the dialogue ("You look like you're both pretty groovy.")

But I would have preferred the new version which aired on Fox last week to keep it gay.

The problem is, same-sex activity is not nearly as shocking  today as it was in 1975.  Richard O'Brien intended for Frank's same sex desire to be disquieting, and his "wedding" to be downright diabolical, far more sinister than Eddie's murder.

Today married men are commonly shown on tv commercials, eating soup.

How to restore that frisson of dread?

How about making Frank transgender?  Transpeople receive far more hostility and fear than gay men and lesbians.

How about Laverne Cox, arguably the most famous transgender person in the world, as Frank?

So far, so good.  Except:

1. Only a few lines are changed, mostly to eliminate profanity.  Frank is still a "sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania."

A transvestite is a man or woman in drag.  Not a transperson.

Columbia's story of first meeting Frank still has the line "He had a pick up truck and the devil's eye."

For awhile, I thought Cox was playing Frank as a male drag queen, but no, in all the interviews, she says "transgender."

2. This changes the dynamic of the movie immeasurably.  Making it more sexist.

The scenes where Frank seduces Brad and Janet no longer involve sex.  They involve Benny Hill antics of sexual harassment: leering, chasing, butt-slapping.

For that matter, all of the sexual activity is sexless.  When Janet sings "Touch me!", Rocky obliges by touching her...shoulder!

The attempted sexual assault ("You'd Better Wise Up, Janet Weiss") is much more violent, with Frank and Janet getting into a "girl fight" melee.

I guess we shouldn't expect oral sex jokes and breast-fondling with High School Musical director Kenny Ortega at the helm and two former Disney teencom stars as Brad and Janet.

Or anything gay.

3. It's way heterosexist.

The original had three gay male relationships -- Frank with Eddie, Brad, and Rocky -- and six heterosexual (count them!).  No lesbian, unless you count Columbia and Magenta grabbing at each other.

The new version has two lesbian relationships -- Frank with Columbia and Janet -- and seven heterosexual  (count them!).  No gay male.

And lesbian relationships are much more acceptable to the heterosexual "male gaze," so they're worth only about half as much in queering the text.

Meanwhile, the Transylvanians dance "The Time Warp" in strictly boy-girl configurations.

In the original, Rocky shows no interest in Frank during "I Can Make You a Man."  In the new version, Staz Nair plays him as obviously into the buxom leading lady.

In the pool scene ("Don't dream it, be it!"), Brad and Rocky look like they are about to kiss, but Janet intervenes.  Boys don't kiss!

This is a heterosexual Rocky Horror.

I don't care if there are  a few rainbow flags scattered about.