Dec 17, 2017

Richard Thomas: Falling in Love with a Photograph

When I was in junior high and high school, this was one of the most recognizable faces in America: Richard Thomas, who played Depression-era teenager John-Boy on The Waltons (1971-77).

I never saw a single episode, just snippets as I walked through the living room on my way upstairs to watch hip sitcoms like Welcome Back Kotter, Barney Miller or What's Happening!!!  Who wanted to watch a boring drama set a thousand years ago, when my parents were kids?

But I saw the parodies on Saturday Night Live and in Mad Magazine, I heard all the jokes, and I had a big crush on Richard Thomas.










Ok, not much of a physique, but that hair, those eyes, those  lips! Tell me you can look at that face without wanting to kiss him.




He wasn't a big teen idol, with no shirtless centerfolds in the teen magazines, barely a mention as they poured out articles about Donny Osmond, Leif Garrett, and Shaun Cassidy.  Maybe he was too old, in his 20s (born in 1951).  Maybe he was too married.  Or maybe he just wasn't androgynous.

But I didn't know he was married, and nine years older was the perfect age for me.  And the pictures in TV Guide, Parade, and other general-interest magazines were enough to spark my romantic interest.

In an interview, Richard stated that he was studying Mandarin Chinese for fun.  I was into languages!  Maybe we would meet and study Arabic together.

I like your smile.
Ana uhibu aibtisamatak

May I kiss you?
Hal li 'an 'aqbalak?

The first erotic dream I remember, around 1975 (ninth or tenth grade), involves kissing Richard Thomas.  I replayed that dream in my head a thousand times.

 I hadn't even figured "it" out yet, and I was fantasizing about kissing Richard Thomas!

During high school and college, I saw him in 3 movies:

1. Roots: The Next Generation (1979).  He played a boy involved in an interracial romance.

2. No Other Love (1979).  He played a mentally handicapped boy who wants to get married.

Both roles about forbidden love.  Could Richard be gay, and trying to "come out" in a roundabout fashion?

3. The 1980 Star Wars rip-off Battle Beyond the Stars (he played Luke Skywalker to George Peppard's Han Solo and Sybill Danning's Princess Leia).

For some reason I missed his role as a gay wheelchair-bound Vietnam vet in Fifth of July.  It aired on March 9, 1982, during my senior year in college.  Most likely I just didn't know about it.

I haven't seen Richard Thomas in anything since.  He generally appears in movies and tv series that I would have absolutely no interest in, religious (The Easter Story, Touched by a Angel), hetero-romantic (Linda, Time after Time), or sad (To Save the Children, Anna's Dream).  No more gay roles, that I know of.

Besides, he has not aged well.  His eyes have narrowed, his lips have shrunken, his face has panned out.  Kissing him would not be out of the question, but it's certainly not the first thing you think of when you see this photograph.

And his photograph was what I fell in love with.

See also: The Waltons: The Gay Connection


Dec 16, 2017

12 Current and Future Beefcake Stars of "Freaks and Geeks"

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) was a high school comedy-drama created by Paul Feig and Judd Apatow.  Although it won a lot of critical acclaim and regularly appears on "best tv" lists, it couldn't find an audience -- an hour long comedy that kept switching time slots, competing with Veronica's Closet, Ally McBeal, and Everybody Loves Raymond, then dumped to Saturday night?  18 episodes were produced, but only 12 were aired.  All 18 are now streaming on Netflix.

I find it derivative of 1980s high school nerd movies, complete with sneering bullies, sadistic teachers, and The Girl walking across the room in slow motion while every guy in the class stares at her in rapture.  Hetero-horniness is endemic; gay people do not exist.

And I have a lot of nit-picks:
1. It's Michigan, but always warm and sunny, even in winter.
2. Characters are introduced, then vanish, never to be seen or mentioned again.
3. The fundamentalist Christian girl crosses herself -- only Catholics do that.
4. And her church holds a dance -- fundamentalist Christians do not dance.
5. The time frames make no sense.  They go trick-or-treating for hours in broad daylight.  Lindsay goes to dinner at the Mean Girl's house, hours of plot time pass, and she goes home -- where her family is just sitting down to dinner.  Do they eat at 9:00 pm?

Still, the characters have an endearing quality, the 1980s references give me a nostalgic glow, and there is ample beefcake.

Here are the top 12 beefcake highlights:

The Freaks: a group of slackers and stoners (although they never mention pot).

1. Teddy bear Ken (Seth Rogen)













2. James Dean wannabe Danny (James Franco)













3. Aspiring musician Nick (Jason Segel).

If these three sound familiar, it's because they've been starring in each others' movies for 17 years.

Plus Mean Girl Kim (Busy Phillips) and focus character Lindsay Weir (Linda Cardellini)







The Geeks: a group of underdeveloped, non-athletic Star Wars fans:

4. Tall, thin, laconic Bill (Martin Starr).  He's still tall, thin, and laconic.














5. Jewish stereotype Neal (Samm Levine).  The hottest of the cast, then and now.

















6. Prepubescent focus character Sam (John Francis Daley) was 18 at the time, although he could easily pass for 14.  He's grown up a lot since.










More after the break.


Dec 15, 2017

70 Years of Archie Beefcake

For over 70 years, Archie Andrews and his pals and gals have been presenting an idealized portrait of the American teenager, with countless thousands of comic book stories, plus cartoons, tv series, radio series, movies, and songs.  Preteens look to Archie for a glimpse of their future, and adults, for a nostalgic look at their past.  And gay boys can find in Archie comics more shirtless and swimsuit-clad hunks than anywhere else in children's literature.

I wanted to see how Archie and the gang have changed over the years, becoming more and more buffed, more defined to meet the changing expectations of masculine beauty.






1948.

Archie is thin, even underdeveloped, with little attention to realism in his arms and shoulders.  He looks like a cartoon character.












1959.

Archie and Jughead appear in the Dan Montana house style, with some indication of pecs and maybe a line down the stomach to indicate abs.











1973.

When I was reading Archie comics as a kid, there was a lot more attention to the detail of pecs, shoulders, and biceps, particularly in the "muscle bound" Big Moose.











1989

The guy's got a chest and abs, but no biceps.
















2002.

A rather realistic Archie, with chest, abs and biceps.













2013

Whoa, Reggie's got a 6-pack, plus shoulders, pecs, and biceps.  Of course, he's parodying the tv show Jersey Shore, but still, he's come a long way in 70 years.