Nov 26, 2016

Ron Glass: The Gay-Vague Cop at the Gym

I was saddened to hear of the death of Ron Glass on November 25th, 2016, at the age of 71.  As a kid in Rock Island, I loved Barney Miller (1975-1982),  a "hip sitcom" about the quirky cops and criminals at  New York police station.

I had a big crush on the dimwitted, muscular Wojo (Max Gail), but I loved the fussy, swishy, stylish, gay-vague Detective Ron Harris.

A glimpse of sophistication and freedom on dark, gloomy Thursday nights in a Rock Island where everyone was terrified to admit that gay people existd.

 Harris was always impeccably dressed, a shining exception to the crumpled cops around him

And, incidentally, he had a breathtaking bulge.

Later, when I was living in West Hollywood, I saw Ron often at the gym.  Not much of a physique: he went for lean and lanky, and he was extraordinarily feminine, not my type. But he could really fill out his gym trunks.  Mega-huge!


It was common knowledge in West Hollywood that Ron was gay but not out, but I don't have any celebrity dating stories about him.  Maybe he wasn't a big enough star to cause a stir at gay parties, when we could be revealing romances with Brad Pitt and Sylvester Stallone instead.

I heard that Tony Geary from General Hospital was his former lover.

Ron Glass grew up in Evansville, Indiana, and worked in theater before coming to Los Angeles in 1972.  Aside from Barney Miller, he was known for The New Odd Couple (1982-83), playing the fussy Felix Ungar to Demond Wilson's Oscar Madison; and the futuristic science fiction series Firefly (2002-2003), playing the religious zealot Shepherd Book (nice name).

But he had over 70 acting roles, mostly in an extraordinary array of sitcoms, from the 1970s (Maude, All in the Family, Good Times) to the 2000s (Friends).

He never lost contact with his Evansville roots, often returning to participate in the life of the community.  He was chairman of the Evansville African American Museum.













I've only found one semi-beefcake photo online.

But it wasn't about the beefcake.  It was about the glimpse of freedom for gay kids lost in the wilds of the Straight World.






60 Movies I Will Never See

There are 6 basic emotions, 1 positive (happiness), 3 negative (sadness, anger, and disgust), and 2 which could be either (surprise, fear)  The function of a movie, book, song, or other work of art is to elicit positive emotions, to make the audience feel better after viewing than they did before.

So I don't understand movies that deliberately elicit sadness, anger, or disgust.  Why would anyone want to watch something that makes you feel bad?  Don't you get enough bad feelings in real life?

Here are 60 movies that I will never see, or that I saw and regretted.

No dying of long, slow, debilitating diseases.  With scenes of yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, sobbing, and holding hands on death beds.
1. Terms of Endearment (1983)
2. Beaches (1988).  No one surfing or swimming, just Bette Midler singing and crying.
3. Steel Magnolias (1989)
4. My Girl (1991).
5. Lorenzo's Oil (1992).
6. Stepmom (1998)
7. Here on Earth (2000)
8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007). With Josh Hutcherson (left, recent photo). They fool you into thinking it's a fantasy movie, like Harry Potter.
9. Moulin Rouge (2008).  Fortunately, I walked out because it was so awful long before the deathbed scene.
10. The Fault in Our Stars (2014).




Especially no dying-of-AIDS.  Yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, and so on, but with homophobia.  Lovely way to spend an evening.
11. An Early Frost (1985)
12. Parting Glances (1986)
13. Longtime Companion (1989)
14. Philadelphia (1993).  I was forced to watch this, but kept my nose in a book the whole time.
15. And the Band Played On (1993)
16. The Cure (1995)
17. It's My Party (1996, left).  AIDS and suicide!  Fun!



No Holocaust as entertainment.  Um... 6,000,000 people died. How can that be turned into two hours of fun?
18.  Sophie's Choice (1982).  She has to choose which of her kids to kill, and later gets a couple of boyfriends.
19. Schindler's List (1993)
20. Life is Beautiful (1997).  Are they kidding?
21. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2009).









No main characters dying, period. Who had th bright idea of killing off the protagonists in car accidents, gunshots to the head, or zombie bites?  Why would I want to get invested in a character, only to have them die?
22. Easy Rider (1969).  I saw this, not realizing that everybody dies, and the movie is ruined.
23. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969),  What's the point of a homoerotic buddy "comedy" if they're just going to die at the end?
24. Thelma and Louis (1991).  I watched this, too.  No one told me that they go over a cliff.
25. Titanic (1997). I was conned into seeing the musical.  Hint: they all drown.
26. The Perfect Storm (2000)
27. Children of Men (2006).
28. Pan's Labyrinth (2006).
29. Into the Wild (2007).  He starves to death!
30. 28 Weeks Later (2007).  Zombie movies are supposed to have survivors!
31. Burn After Reading This (2008).  I went into this thinking it was a comedy, and walked out when Brad Pitt's comic relief character suddenly died.
32. Apollo 18 (2011).


No inmates on death row.  You know they're going to die from the beginning.  Why bother to watch?
 33. The Executioner's Song (1982).
34. Dead Man Walking (1995)
35. The Green Mile (1999)

No war.  War is one of the biggest tragedies of life, not a source of entertainment!  If the movie is about humorous hijinks far from the combat zone, ok.  But angst-ridden, somber music, people dying of bullet holes -- no way!  I don't care if the whole platoon struts around naked.
36. Platoon (1986)
37. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
38. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
39. We Were Soldiers (2002)






No ends of the world.  Nuclear holocaust, giant meteor, whatever.  Even worse than the main characters dying, the end of everybody and everything, the most depressing thing imaginable.
40. Dr. Strangelove (1965). Why would you yell "yahoo" while plummeting to your death on the back of a nuclear bomb?
41. Miracle Mile (1988).  I actually saw this without realizing that the world ends until it was too late, and I was trapped there with a date.
42. 2012 (2009).
43. Cabin in the Woods (2012). I thought it would be a standard horror movie, with survivors at the end, not "the old gods awaken and start the Apocalypse."
44. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)
45. This is the End (2013).  Can you believe it was advertised as a "comedy"!







No LGBT people dealing with homophobia.  Getting yelled at, rejected, beat up, experiencing angst, and dying.
46. Get Real (1998).  I saw this, thinking it would be ok because no one dies.  Horrible!
47. Boys Don't Cry (1999).
48. The Laramie Project (2002).  A movie about a real-life horrific hate crime!  Just the thing to brighten your day.
49. Brokeback Mountain (2005). No way, no way, no way....




No horrifying handicaps.  I don't care if they overcome adversity and find love, having a handicap is depressing.
50.  The Miracle Worker (1962).
51. Johnny Got His Gun (1971).  A blind, deaf, and dumb quadriplegic?
52. Tommy (1975).  A blind, deaf, and dumb boy, plus homophobia.  I turned off the DVD and zapped it back to Netflix.
53. The Elephant Man (1980)
54. Mask (1985)
55. My Left Foot (1989)
56. The Sessions (2012).








No movies where the plot summary makes me nauseous.
57. Harold and Maude (1971).  Gross romance between a teenage boy and an 80-year old lady.  No, I don't think it's at all hypocritical that I'm 55 years old and dating twinks.  She commits suicide because she loves life so much.  Huh?
58. Pink Flamingos (1972).  According to John Waters, they offered Divine a substitute, but no, she wanted to really eat it.
59. Funny Games (1997).  A family is terrorized and killed by a pair of psychos.  Uplifting!
60. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).  He ages backwards!  Can you think of anything more disgusting?  I couldn't even sit through the trailers.

See also: 10 Gay Movies  I Hated.

My Cousin Phil's Boyfriend

Rome City, Indiana, Thanksgiving 1971

A week after my 11th birthday, we are back in Indiana for Thanksgiving.

Grandma Davis, Aunt Nora, and Dad got up at dawn to fuss about in the kitchen, stuffing the turkey, making a scalloped corn casserole, putting little fork prints into pie crusts.  The rest of us watch tv or wander around outside with the dogs, as the house gradually fills up with aunts and uncles, great-aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, their boyfriends and girlfriends, miscellaneous friends invited at random.

I have door-answering duty when my Aunt Edna and Uncle John arrive with their grown-up son Phil.

Dad doesn't get along with his older sister, so we don't see them very often, even though they live only an hour's drive from Rome City.   I haven't seen Cousin Phil since I was a little kid.  Now he's grown up, in college: medium height, clean-shaven, light brown hair cut short, kind of cute but not "dreamy."

But waiting at the front door next to him is the most beautiful man I have ever seen!

Afro-American, and not just brown-skinned, but actually black., very, very dark, flawless.  A head taller than Cousin Phil, with a round smiling face and a huge v-shaped torso that pushes out his blue business suit and white overcoat. Huge hands.

As Aunt Edna and Uncle John head toward the kitchen, I stare, thunderstruck.  Cousin Phil looks nervous.

"Um...Boomer, this is my friend Malcolm from school."

"Hi, Boomer," Malcolm says in a beautifully accented English. "What subject do you study in college?"

"What...no, I'm not in college, I'm in sixth grade!"

He laughs.  "My mistake -- you seem so mature."  We shake hands.  My small hand is engulfed in his.

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


Nov 25, 2016

Christopher Knight/Peter Brady

I was saddened to hear of the death of Florence Henderson, who played (among other roles) Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, surrogate mom to millions of Boomers.

Every Brady Boomer had every episode memorized, and had an ongoing series of crushes on one or more of the six Brady kids.

Most gay guys liked Greg (Barry Williams), the oldest boy, and the self-appointed hunk of the group, but he was obnoxiously girl-crazy.  I liked Peter (Christopher Knight), the middle boy, who hardly ever displayed any interest in girls, and had other traits that would get him dubbed "a Fairy" in my junior high.







He liked to sing; he belonged to the Drama Club; he donned a Campfire Bluebird uniform to sell cookies door-to-door.  A great role model for boys growing up in small towns with no interest in girls or sports.

And, as the years passed, Christopher Knight grew hunkier than Barry Williams.  He was displayed in shirtless spreads in Tiger Beat long after the series ended, and was asked to take off his shirt on tv a lot.




Though he's been busy with various Brady spin-offs and sequels, he's had time for a lot of tv appearances, on The Bionic Woman, Chips, Happy Days, The Love Boat, and others.  He starred on Joe's World (1979-80) and the soap Another World (1980-81), and as himself on The Surreal Life and My Fair Brady (2005-2008).







Today Christopher Knight is probably the most gay-friendly of the exceptionally gay-friendly Bunch.   He starred in two of Greg Araki's gay-themed angst movies, Nowhere and The Doom Generation, and played half of a gay couple (with tv brother Barry Williams) a 2006 episode of That 70s Show.  He was interviewed on the gay talk show Queer Edge. 

And he still has an amazing physique.

See also: Barry Williams/Greg Brady.

Nov 24, 2016

An Interview with Spartacus: Gay Characters, Gay Subtexts, and His Wife

Spartacus (111-71 BC) was a gladiator who led a slave revolt against the Roman Republic, and became an inspiration for rebels of all sizes and shapes, from Toussaint Loverture to Bulgarian soccer teams.  He has appeared in many novels, movies, and tv series, most recently in Spartacus (2011-2013), a popular series on the STARZ network.  I heard it was the "gayest show on television," so I caught up with Spartacus to see just how gay it was.

Thank you for taking the time from your busy slave revolt to talk to me.

Happy to be here.  Give my regards to your wife.

Um...tell me about your life in Thrace before you were sold into slavery.

It was Paradise!  My wife and I spent all our days gazing into each other's eyes!  Every moment with my wife by my side was ecstasy!  Every moment without my wife was unspeakable agony!  I only wish that your readers could know the ecstasy of a man and his wife!

Well, most of my readers are gay.

Oh.  Ok, that's fine, too.  To each his own, I always say.  Did I mention my wife?

Yes, five times so far.  So you were both sold into slavery.  You ended up in Capua, in the gladiator-training school run by Batiatus.  How did you like it there?

Every moment without my wife was unspeakable agony, of course, but I took solace in the fact that Batiatus agreed to find my wife for me.  Every match that I won brought me closer to that moment when I would be reunited with my wife.  Did I mention my wife?

Yes, you did!  Did the Romans generally treat you well?

They gave me the honors befitting a champion.  But their customs were barbaric.  Men didn't spend every moment gazing into the eyes of their wife.  They slept with whoever they wanted, not realizing that the bond between a man and his wife is sacred.  Like my bond with my wife.  Every moment without my wife was unspeakable agony.  Did I mention my wife?

Um...I believe so.  Did you make any friends among the other gladiators?

My best friend was Varro.  He was amazing!

Strong gay-subtext buddy-bond, huh?

No, it's not that.  I respected him. He sold himself into slavery in order to support his wife and child.  Every moment without his wife was agony, of course, but he did what he had to do.  His only goal in life was to make his wife happy.  Just as it should be for all men.  What good is a man without a wife?  My wife was my reason for living! Did I mention my wife?



Any gay guys among the gladiators?

Well, there was Barca, the Beast of Carthage.  Instead of a wife, he hooked up with the young twink Pietros -- I even stumbled upon them having sex one night when I was moaning about my wife.  But then he was killed, and Pietros committed suicide.  They were nice guys.  Did I mention my wife?

Were they major characters?

Not really.  Only a few scenes, and they died rather quickly in the first season.

You were eventually reunited with your wife, but she was mortally wounded, and died in your arms.

The worst moment of my life!  Life is meaningless without a wife!

Did you move on, to concentrate on your profession, meet other women, and so on?

Oh, no!  I moaned about the memory of my lost wife in every episode, and I would never consider looking at another woman.  The bond between a man and his wife is eternal!  I just wish that you readers could know the ecstasy a man feels when he gazes into the eyes of his wife!  It is the reason for existing!  It is Paradise! It is...

Um...remember, most of my readers are gay?

Oh, right.  Whatever turns you on!  Barca had a boyfriend before Pietros, you know.  I wasn't around, but you hear about it in the second season, a prequel, set before I was sold into slavery, when I was still gazing into the eyes of my wife!   A man and his wife....

Got it!  So, is there any other gay content in the ludus?  Any beefcake?

Sure, lots.  We all have bodybuilder physiques, and we work out in posing straps with gigantic bulges -- the ladies in the audience really like it, you see.  And some of the gladiators who don't know the infinite joy of having a wife are assigned to sleep with Roman women.  You see full frontal nudity as they are inspected.

So there's nudity, but only in the context of women's desire for men?

Right.  I mean, it's not the infinite joy of having a wife, but it's what men and women do.  What man would give up the opportunity to sleep with a beautiful woman, except those who have wives?

Gay men generally aren't interested in women

Oh, right, your readers.  I keep forgetting.  The topic just never comes up in the ludus.  Most of the men spend all their time talking about the beautiful women they've been with, or want to be with.  I, of course, moan over the loss of my wife.  My wife!  My wife!  My wife!

Ok, calm down.  So I take it there's a lot of heteronormativity in the series?

Of course not! We don't discriminate!  There are several gay characters.  Agron, one of my top aides in the rebellion, is in love with Nasir.  They last until the end of the series. There's Castus, Nasir's friend. And...and...well, that's about all.  But more than you'll see on 300.  

Besides, isn't every good tv series really about a man and his wife? The only thing that gives life meaning is a man gazing into the eyes of his wife! Without a wife, you're nothing! My wife!  My wife!  My wife!  My wife!

Um...ok, that's all we have time for today.  Thanks for coming in. 

My pleasure. Give my regards to your wife.

See also: The Top 10 Hunks of Spartacus

Nov 23, 2016

In Search of Books and Boyfriends in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas

Hell-fer-Sartain, November 1984

I'm a big bibliophile.  When I move, it takes 30 boxes just for my books.

The highlight of visiting a new town is checking out the bookstores.

If I walked into this scene, I would check out the books before making out with the guy.

So during my awful year in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas,  when I ran ad in the Montrose Voice, Houston's gay newspaper, looking for a boyfriend, I specified "must like books."

It was a boyfriend ad -- I was 23 years old, conservative, romantic, not into "tricking" (the 1980s word for hookups).  I wanted dating, romance, a relationship.  So, to make sure we had a lot in common, I specified more than my sexual tastes: "into bks, tv, f/sf, mus, dts only.

Into books, tv, fantasy/science fiction, bodybuilding.  Dates only (they charged by the letter).

 Most guys who answered didn't even read the ad -- they just answered all of them, in search of an elusive hookup.

Others misunderstood, thinking I meant "pornographic books, transvestism, and fisting in San Francisco."

Others were "into books," but strongly disapproved of the "mindless, infantile dreck" on the rest of my list.

Finally, after about two months of running the ad, I got a response from a guy named Hank, who seemed ideal.

So I agreed to a date.

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

Nov 22, 2016

Hunt Bowman, the Conan Clone of Planet Comics

During the 1940s and 1950s, a Flash Gordon-Conan clone named Hunt Bowman appeared in Fiction House's Planet Comics series.  In a ruined post-Apocalyptic Earth control;ed by evil Voltamen from the Planet Volta (where else would they come from), one "brawny barbarian" leads the fight for freedom.

 His associates are the Martian Princess Lyssa and Bruce, a human who happens to be inhabiting a Voltaman's body (coincidentally the body of the king's son).

So far so good.  Sounds like a lot of opportunities for beefcake and buddy-bonding, if not outright gay sumbolism.  Hunt Bowman sounds like a male stripper's name, and look at his weird short-shorts and leather-fetish harness that leaves his nipples free for the clamps.

And his best friend is named Bruce.


But Planet Comics was not known for its beefcake.  Quite the opposite.

Here are two panels from a story about Hunt and Lyssa escaping from a Voltamen craft to the ruins of New York City.

In the first, Hunt's arm and shoulder get a quarter of the space, and Lyssa's breasts about half.

In th second, Hunt's body is completely covered by Lyssa's bare legs.








The covers are even worse.  Every single one shows Lyssa or some other half-naked babe being menaced by a monster, with Hunt absent.  In the one cover where he's present, he looks like a midget dwarfed by the gigantic Lyssa.  Actually, he's far, far away.



















This is the only cover giving Hunt substantial space without blocking him with girls' legs, although he's stil pushed off to the side, while a girl's body occupies the center stage.

There's a Hunt Bowman on Facebook.  Somebody named their kid after the barbarian hero.




Nov 21, 2016

Three Terrible, Horrible, No Good Days of Cruising in Chicago

Chicago, November 2016

I'm in Chicago for a conference.  I've been here many times, but not recently, and never to the heart of downtown, across the street from the Art Institute.



Day 1

It's a rough neighborhood.  The streets are packed.  There are a dozen panhandlers at every corner, lots of homeless veterans saying "please help," men singing loudly and yelling at no one in particular, and no way to avoid them without hitting the thousands of other scurrying pedestrians.

And even though the streets are arranged on a grid, I can't find anything.  I have to pull out the GPS on my cell phone just to go a block.

There are no decent restaurants around, just ultra-expensive fusion cuisine and scary dives.  No Asian restaurants in walking distance, if we consider "walking" "go outside, get lost, check GPS, get lost again, check GPS, literally trace your steps on the GPS while you are walking."

The hotel is just as bad, a maze of corridors and hallways, half-floors, rotundas, verandas, buildings inside buildings, with a map too small to read and contradictory information on directories.   It charges $240 a night for a "basic room," the size of a closet, looking out on a fire escape, with wifi $20 per day, then offers you a "business upgrade."


Maybe I can assuage this lousy day by going on Grindr  or to the bathhouses in Boystown.

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

The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie

When I was in junior high in the 1970s, the anthology series The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie grabbed kids and teens (and sometimes adults) from live-action sitcoms and put them into badly-animated adventures:

The kids from The Brady Bunch are trapped on a desert island.

The Nanny and the Professor kids tackle spies.

Gidget (who actually hadn't been on tv for a decade) tackles smugglers.

Ann Marie from That Girl goes to Wonderland.



I watched sometimes -- it was pleasant to see some of my mega-crushes, like Greg Brady and David Doremus (from Nanny and the Professor), even in animated form.



And there was plenty of animated beefcake, like this hunk, a cousin of Tabitha and Adam from Bewitched who plays in a pop group in a circus, or something.

Besides, the only other option was Scooby-Doo.

But the stories varied in the quality of their animation, and their level of ridiculousness.

Yogi Bear flies around with Hanna-Barbera characters in a giant ark, ridding the world of bigotry, greed, sloppiness, and lack of niceness (all caused by mad scientists with ray guns).

Warner Brothers stars Porky and Daffy clash with The Groovy Ghoulies from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.



The absolute worst was Popeye and the Man Who Hated Laughter, which aired on October 7th, 1972.

I would love to hear the conversation in the board room at ABC:

"Let's do a cartoon special about newspaper comics!  Kids love reading the newspaper, right?"

Um...no, we didn't.

"Great idea!  We can include all of their favorite comic strip characters -- Jiggs and Maggie, Tim Tyler, Mandrake the Magician, The Little King, the Katzenjammer Kids, the Phantom..."

Right, comic strips that were last popular 40 years before we were born!  

They added Popeye, another character from ancient days who was having something of a renaissance on Saturday morning cartoons.

And a plot was created about a mad scientist who hates laughter, so he kidnaps the source of most of the world's laughter -- characters from doddering, long-forgotten comic strips.  The only way they can escape is to convince him that laughter is not so bad after all.  So they put on an idiotic talent show.

The only song I remember is: "Hi, my name is Iodine, and I'm feeling so fine, doing the comic strip rag."

"Rag" was a dance craze from before World War I.

Well, at least you could see The Phantom and Bluto together.

See also: 1970s Saturday Morning Beefcake; Gay Subtexts in "Bringing Up Father."

Nov 20, 2016

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes: Beefcake Art in the Third Republic

Here's another painting I found at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Fisherman's Family (1881), by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.

Ok, there's a bare-breasted woman, a baby, and an old guy sleeping on the rocky beach, but the central figure is a hot fisherman, naked, a net hiding his penis.

Did this Chavannes have a gay connection?

Born in 1824, he became "the painter of France" during the Third Republic, commissioned for murals across the country.  He drew on the romantic movement of his youth, but he was at heart a symbolist, depicting modern French identity with Classical and Biblical motis.







Like Esau Returning from the Hunt (1859), a common motif in art, but here the men are all naked.
















He painted figures of naked women, too, but male nudity is often present in his work, often in unexpected places.  In The Beheading of John the Baptist (1859), the Christlike John the Baptist is about to be decapitated by a surprisingly muscular Moor.










In Return of the Prodigal Son (1879), we don't actually see the prodigal son in the Biblical parable, just a lot of naked men working at various tasks.

In 1895, Chavannes married his friend of four decades, Princess Marie Cantacuzene.  They both died the following year.

Of course, he probably had lovers during his life.  Male, female, or both, who can say?