Nov 23, 2017

10 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is the Gayest Holiday

If you're not from the U.S. you might not be familiar with Thanksgiving, a holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November (it's also celebrated on different dates in Canada, Liberia, and Grenada).

It's my favorite holiday.  And the gayest:

1. It's in November, so it's cold outside, and dark at night like it's supposed to be.  No one is forcing you to go out and "enjoy the outdoors."

2. There are no tv commercials depicting heterosexual couples giving each other gifts or watching in rapt joy as their children unwrap gifts.

3. There's no religious significance, so you won't feel guilty if you accidentally say "Happy Thanksgiving!" to someone who is Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, or atheist.  Although sometimes vegans will lecture you.

4. Gay men spend many extra hours at the gym in anticipation of over-indulging on Thanksgiving.  As a result, at Thanksgiving they're more buffed than at any other time of the year.

5. Everyone gets to demonstrate their culinary skill.

6. You only get Thursday and maybe Friday off work, so there's no time to take a plane ride 2000 miles to the place you grew up.  Thus, "home" is no longer in the past, it's the place you are today, and "family" is what you make of it.

This Advocate cover shows Howard Cruse's character Wendel being served Thanksgiving dinner in bed.  But why is the kid wearing a mask?  Is he the famous Thanksgiving character, Zorro?

7. If you do go home to visit extended family, Thanksgiving dinner is the traditional time for making Big Announcements, like "Guess what?  I'm gay."

8. Most of the bars, clubs, and bathhouses have special Thanksgiving Day events, so you don't have to waste all Thanksgiving afternoon watching football.

9. The origin story, about 17th century Pilgrims and Indians coming together to share a meal, is an imperialist myth, masking a history of conquest and genocide.  But it does lend itself to some interesting ideas for homoerotic revisions (picture from Crow821 on

10. Gay people have a lot to be thankful for.  They grew up in a culture where they told, over and over, that "discovering the opposite sex" was inevitable and universal, that no gay people existed except for grotesque monsters.  And they survived.

Nov 21, 2017

The Gay World of Dr. Seuss

When I was a kid in the 1960s, I hated fairy tales, but I liked Dr. Seuss.  No heterosexist boy-girl plotlines, no boy-girl romances of any sort, just pleas for tolerance of diversity, ambiguity, nonconformity.  Lots of alternative families.  Lots of gay subtexts.

Horton Hatches the Egg (1940): Gay man takes over for a neglectful mom, and proves to be a wonderful father.

Horton Hears a Who (1954): Nobody will believe that a community exists until they all shout "We are here!"  Sounds like the Gay Rights Movement.

The Cat in the Hat (1957):  An emissary of chaos, accompanied by the gay couple, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957): a gay outsider is accepted by the community.

Green Eggs and Ham (1960): People are into all sorts of different things.  Deal with it.

The Sneetches (1961): Insignificant personal characteristics, like whether you are attracted to men, women, or both, can create crazy prejudices.

But Seussical, the 2000 musical, is a disappointment.  It amalgamates a huge number of books, including some that I never heard of, into two confusing plots -- one for adults, one for kids.

Wait -- those books have no continuity.  They take place in different universes, some populated by humans, some by animals, some by other beings.

And there's a hetero-romantic primary plot, between Horton the Elephant and Gertrude McFuzz (a bird in Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories who thinks her tail isn't fancy enough).

The secondary plot is promising: Oddball outsider JoJo (here played by teen idol Aaron Carter) is ridiculed for "thinking thinks" and finally sent to military school.  He helps save the day without getting a girlfriend.

He buddy-bonds with Horton, but there's not much of a gay subtext between the little boy and the adult elephant.

Except in some local productions where the two actors are the same age, and Horton's elephantness is conveyed through pin-on ears, not an elephant costume.

Nov 19, 2017

Academic Nudes: 18th Century Beefcake

It's a myth that the muscular modern physique didn't exist until the 20th century, when scientific weight-training and nutritional supplements bulked us up.  The muscular physique has always been a source of desire and joy.

In the 18th century, painters went to the Academy of Art to learn their trade.  To learn to draw figures, they drew nude male models.

Very buffed models.

This is not just artistic license: They were supposed to be drawing realistic "life" portraits.

Complete with penis (frontal nudity is legal on a G-rated blog if it's art).

There were flourishing academies in France, Spain, the Netherlands, England, and Italy.

Usually there is no background, but sometimes mythological themes are added.

I wonder what these models did in real life.  Were they workmen?  The lovers of the artists?  Both?

Here's a print of the Academy of Arts examining a male model.

And a rather more buffed one.

Some of these guys would not look out of place in a bathhouse today.

The Midnight Hookups of Philadelphia


I'm back in Philadelphia, where I lived for an execrable nine months.  It was ugly, dirty, crowded, expensive, dangerous, and it had the most unfriendly gay people anywhere.

My horrible flight lands at 2:00 pm.  I check into a hotel about 6 blocks from my old apartment.  It's even worse.  A grim, grotesque pageant of self-absorbed yuppies and homeless people sleeping on air vents.  My crappy hotel is costing me $300 a night.  I can't go a block without being panhandled.  Giovanni's Room, the oldest gay bookstore in town, is gone.

And it's impossible to find a decent guy to have sex with.

Club Philly is only a block away.  When I lived here, it was a gym and private rooms.  You had sex in the steam room and sauna.

Now the gym is gone!  A rack of free weights!  Plus no steam room, no sauna.  They have a glory hole maze now, but it's deserted.  4 floors, rickety stairs, and there's nobody there.

I meet a very hot black guy in his 20s with a slim muscular physique,  So far so good.

 A young Hispanic guy motions me into his room.  He seems to be mute -- he motions rather than speaks.  He motions for me to screw him.  I refuse.  He motions aggressively.  I leave.

I talk to a couple sharing a room.  An elderly guy, chubby, with red scaly psoriasis all over his body, and his boyfriend, elderly, slim, who doesn't speak and seems a little off. 

I go on Grindr and find that there are 3 guys within 20 feet, in the same club.  I say "hello" to them.  Nothing.

So much for Club Philly.

Chinese food for dinner, then back to my hotel.  I put an ad on Craigslist Philadelphia, "hosting downtown."  Nothing.  Not one response.  Back home I'd have 20 guys by this point.

Back to Grindr. There are like 300 guys within 30 feet.  I say "Hi" to about 20 of them.

Nothing.  Crickets.

As a last resort, I put an ad on Craigslist: hosting downtown.  Back home, my ads get 10-20 responses.

Nothing.  Crickets.

Bob calls.  He went to work, then hung out at the gay-friendly coffee house.

A gay-friendly coffee house?  Sigh.

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

Nov 18, 2017

David Cassidy

The oldest of a show biz family (his brothers are Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan), David Cassidy got his start on The Partridge Family (1970-74), about a family of pop singers who tour the country in a psychedelic bus (Danny Bonaduce played his younger brother). It aired on Friday nights in a block of gay teen "Must See TV," including The Brady Bunch, Room 222, and The Odd Couple.

His character, Keith Partridge, was interested in girls, but never portrayed as a absurdly girl-crazy, like most teenagers on prime-time in the 1970s. And, although pop superstars were presumably dream dates for every girl on earth, Keith frequently encountered girls who disliked pop music, who had never heard of his group, or who simply did not find him attractive. This self-deferential parody, a teen idol who can’t get a date, destabilized the myth of universal heterosexual desire; if some girls are not attracted to Keith, perhaps some boys are.

In “Days of Acne and Roses” (November 1971), Keith teaches a shy delivery boy named Wendell (Jay Ripley) how to date girls. He demonstrates the “yawn, stretch, and arm around” maneuver on Wendell, and then pretends to be a girl so that Wendell can practice his pick-up lines. Keith is remarkably unself-conscious about the physical contact and the mock flirtation, and he is not the least worried about someone overhearing and thinking that he is gay. When most of his fellow television teens recoiled in heart-pounding terror at a buddy’s touch, Keith’s nonchalance seems aggressively gay-friendly.

The teen magazines went wild with shirtless, swimsuit, and towel-shots, revealing David's slim, androgynous body, but in this case they were justified in praising his talent: his music was good.

And gay-friendly.  Songs credited to The Partridge Family (studio musicians except for David and his mother, Shirley Jones) almost entirely eliminated the incessant “girl!” that deadened most bubblegum pop lyrics in the 1970s. In the emblematic “I Think I Love You,” David awakens to the disturbing realization that he is in love:

I just decided to myself, I'd hide it from myself
And never talk about it, and [so I] didn't go and shout it
When you walked in to the room.

Why does he “never talk about it”? Heterosexual teenagers in love do nothing but talk about it. In 1971 I concluded that there must be something more to “a love there is no cure for,” perhaps a love that dares not speak its name.

David’s solo numbers also eliminate almost all gender-specific pronoun or refrainsof “girl!”  For instance in“Where is the Morning,” he laments a failed hookup that could be with either a boy or a girl:

I can’t sleep tonight. I found someone.
You smiled at me and said you were free. And I was alone.
Would you meet me again? 

My friend Derek claimed to have dated him, but David doesn't mention any same-sex relationships in his memoirs, C’mon, Get Happy (1994).

He does graciously acknowledges his appeal to gay boys: “I had a pretty strong gay following. I kind of liked it. Gay publications ran pictures of me; I was named gay pinup of the year by one. I’d get fan letters from gay guys saying things like ‘I can tell by the look in your eyes that you’re one of us.’”

And in a sense, he was “one of us,” an ally, demonstrating that same-sex desire was not only possible, but valid and worthwhile.

Today David lives in Las Vegas. He is still writing songs, still performing, for audiences of both men and women.

See also: Derek and the Pop Star.

Nov 17, 2017

Eric Has Sex with the Two Stars of "The Rifleman" After Johnny Crawford Grew Up

This is the second Chuck Connors-Johnny Crawford hookup story I heard when I was living in West Hollywood.  I don't remember who told it.  Probably one of Will the Bondage Boy's friends:

Hollywood, Fall 1975

One morning Johnny Crawford called his  Rifleman co-star, Chuck Connors.

"I found a guy for you," he said.

Instead of "What's he look like" or "Are you sure he's gay," Chuck immediately asked "Does he like Greek?"

Johnny expected it.  He had known for years that Chuck Connors was Greek active, an anal top.  Even when he was a kid growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s, Chuck was a sucker for a shapely derriere -- his first time, in fact, was when he was an altar boy, 13 years old but already hung and horny, already a top.  (The bottom was his parish priest.)

Men or women, either were fine.  With men, Chuck liked them masculine, muscular, dark-haired, cowboy sidekicks.  No femmes, no fairies, and especially no "Gay is Good" liberationists.  Keep it in the bedroom where it belonged.

Back in the 1960s, he used to cruise Sunset Boulevard looking for hustlers to bring back and "share" with his second wife Kamala, but since gay liberation took off, the hustler population had declined.  He was too famous, and besides, he claimed that the nightclubs were full of hippie chicks and gay liberationist boys who thought getting plowed was degrading.  So he had some friends scope out the studios, looking for cute young things and ingenues who might like to get plowed by the Rifleman.

Like Johnny Crawford, 29 years old, his teen idol days long gone, trying to make it as a serious actor, but he mostly getting offers to play cowboys. Johnny was bisexual, but he and Chuck had never tricked together.  It would be creepy, like a father and son.  Besides, Johnny was into the young, slim, androgynous hippie sort, and Chuck Connors had never been androgynous.  Or a hippie.

"I'm filming The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976), about a couple of hot chicks who rob a bank and go on the lam," Johnny told Chuck. "I play a cowboy they pick up on the road.  The three of us stop at a fancy hotel and have a bisexual orgy with this hot bellhop."

The bellhop was played by Eric Boles, a 25-year old celebrity kid (his dad was also in the movie): short, black hair, handsome movie star face, cute but a little too masculine to be Johnny's type.

"But that's not the best part," Johnny continued.  "In the first scene, a naked girl walks across the set to seduce him, and he wasn't at all interested.  No interest.  Nothing.  And in the orgy scene, he wasn't looking at the girls at all -- he was trying to get a peek at me."

"Nice, but that doesn't answer my question," Chuck said.  "Does he like Greek? Remember, I'm well hung, and I like to take my time."

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

Justin Long: The Biggest Homophobe in Hollywood?

You have to be careful with mainstream Hollywood movies.  Reviews don't always warn you that they're homophobic.  That's why I usually stick to juveniles and sci-fi, set in worlds where gay people do not exist at all -- so no homophobia.

But I have a sure fire way to tell that a movie is homophobic: is Justin Long in it?

Ironically, the IMDB calls him "likeable," and he makes pro-gay statements.  But every movie I've seen him in has been overwhelming homophobic.

Jeepers Creepers (2001): the soon-to-be murdered teenager is driving with his sister.  They see a Gay Pride bumper sticker, and she quips "That one's for you," teasing him with implications of gayness.

Ok, maybe that one wasn't his fault.

But then the homophobic movies came fast and furious.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004): a group of misfits play the sadistic grade-school game in order to save or win something, while making endless "Aren't gay people gross?" jokes.

Waiting (2005): a group of waiters do disgusting things to customers' food while making endless "Aren't gay people gross?" jokes.

Accepted (2006): a high school slacker can't get into college, so he starts his own, while making endless "Aren't gay people gross?" jokes.

The Break-Up (2006): Horrific gay stereotype character (played by Justin, naturally).

Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008): Justin plays a gay porn actor with a ludicrously homophobic list of starring roles. He gives Zack and Miri the idea of making money through hetero porn.

For a Good Time, Call (2012); Two women start a phone sex line. They have a gay-stereotyped best friend (Justin, naturally).

Surprisingly, after all the hatred and disgust spewing from his characters, Justin says that he has "respect" for gay people.

Excuse me?

A Hookup with an Abuse Survivor

Plains, November 2017

When I was a Nazarene, most Sunday school classes were about finding God' Will for our lives.

It was an important question.  If we followed God's Will, we would be blessed with riches, love, and infinite happiness.  If we didn't, we would be poor, unloved, and miserable.

There were two main questions for boys: God's Will for your career (usually it was the ministry) and God's Will for your future wife.  (Girls just had one question, their future husband, since they were expected to be housewives.)

But there were thousands of smaller questions.  God was intimately concerned with every detail of your daily life.  Should I have the chicken or the fish? Should I do my math or English homework first?  Should I walk down this street or that street? If you followed God's Will in those minor decisions, you would be blessed: you might meet someone whose soul you could win, or find a dime on the sidewalk.  If you didn't, you would miss out on those opportunities, and maybe get hit by a truck.

So life was a continuous series of "What should I do next?" questions sent up to heaven along with the various requests in Jesus' name (which God was honor-bound to agree to):

"Is it Your Will for me to take the early bus or the late bus?"  Ok, the early bus.
"In Jesus' name, let there be donuts in the cafeteria."
"Is it Your Will that I sit with my regular crowd or next to that cute guy?"  Ok, regular crowd
"In Jesus' name, let that cute guy look at me."

40 years later, I still believe in God, but I don't believe that the Creator of the Universe is deeply concerned with which bus I take, or that He provides hookup opportunities, whether or not you end your request with  "in Jesus' name."

Most of the time, anyway.

There's a kid at church -- Derek -- 19 years old, tall, thin, rumpled black hair, horn-rimmed glasses, remarkably cute.  He has a background of abuse; he's living with foster parents.  I get a definite cruising vibe from him.

Once, instead of shaking hands at the "Sign of peace," I hugged him.  Wow, definite chemistry!

I keep wondering if he's gay or bi.

I want to make a move, but there are problems.  What if he's straight?  What if his abuse was sexual, and my cruising triggers something from his past?  Or what if I start something, and he wants a deep, lasting romance rather than a hookup?  He should be with someone his own age.

Why can' I stop thinking about this kid?

I friend him on facebook, finding nothing that indicates gay or straight identity.  I talk with him at church.  I see him at the art center, smile and nod at his chatter.

I want to kiss him.

Once he's getting something off a high shelf, standing on a footstool, and I grab his sides to steady him.  Erotic desire shoots through me like getting zapped by electricity.

I try to get my mind off him with hookups and classes.  No use.  I'm totally infatuated with a kid half my age, who is a victim of abuse and probably straight.

What to do?  I pray.  It feels like being a 15-year old Nazarene boy again.  "God, if it is Your Will that I interact with Derek, help me to get alone with him.  In Jesus Name."

That night I get a phone call.  "Hi,'s me, have...I mean, I have someone...for my class..could you...I mean..."

A prayer in Jesus Name actually worked?  God's Will is for me to hookup with Derek?

Or just mentor Derek, help him come out?

I invite him over the next day to be interviewed.

We talk, drink sodas, play with the cat, sit on the couch to talk about art.

I have to play this cool -- no sexual harassment, no predatory behavior, nothing that makes him uncomfortable.

He's sitting with his arms crossed, classic "keep away" form.

We both pet the cat.  Our hands touch.

Every time we touch, I go crazy!  I can't stand it!  How am I supposed to mentor this kid when the erotic energy is so overpowering?

Is he gay and into me, or gay and not into me, or straight, or suffering from arrested development, still a kid?  I can't tell.

We do the interview.  It's about my job.  Nothing about being gay, except I say I'm writing a paper on LGBT issues.  He nods.

We discover that we both have birthdays coming up next week, 1 day apart.  "I'll buy you a present," he says.

"Great.  I'll buy you one, too."  I grab his shoulder.  Electric energy!  I can't stand it.  

I look at his crotch.  No bulging.  He is not aroused.

It's been two hours.  He says "I'd better be going" and puts on his coat and backpack.  I escort him to the door.

"I had fun hanging out with you," he says.  Suddenly he pulls me in for a hug -- a very awkward hug -- our heads almost bump one way, his mouth brushes against the side of my head as we try the other way.

Was he just trying to kiss me?

I release him from the hug.  He says goodbye and leaves.

And I still don't know if he's gay but not into me, gay and into me, or straight, or asexual, or not yet developed....

"God," I pray, "That was fun, but I have another request."

Later in the day, I get a text from Derek:

"Want to hang out again sometime?"

I can't stand it.

This story with nude photos is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Nov 16, 2017

Dylan Playfair: Some Assembly Required

Speaking of retreads, Disney's True Jackson, VP was about a 15-year old girl who becomes the vice president of a quirky fashion company.  The Canadian series Some Assembly Required (2014-) goes one step farther: when a defective chemistry set destroys Jarvis Raines' house, he sues the toy company, and ends up owning it!

Jarvis (Kolton Stewart, right, previously the star of the dance drama The Next Step) has a lot of ideas for interesting toys, so he moves in, along with an eclectic group of employees from his school:

1. Piper (Charlie Storwick, a center), a computer whiz who has a crush on Jarvis.

2. The gay-coded fashion-plate Aster (Travis Turner, left), hired as designer.

3, Geneva (Sydney Scotia), an it-girl hired to be Jarvis's  assistant.

4.  Bowie (Harrison Houde of the YTV series Spooksville), his best friend, who later becomes company president.

5. Knox (Dylan Playfair, right), a jock recruited as the product tester.

The former owner, Candace (Ellie Harvey of The New Addams Family) sneaks in as cleaning lady "Mrs. Bupkis" to undermine the company.

Heterosexual romance is in the air: Piper has a crush on Jarvis, and Knox has a crush on Candace. But there is also a nearly-gay character, and Jarvis can't seem to keep his eyes off Knox's muscles.  

By the way, Dylan Playfair is the son of Jim Playfair, a former Canadian hockey star who is now an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes.  Groomed for a career in hockey, Dylan played all through high school, but after suffering a concussion during a game, decided that he wanted to do something else with his life: act.

How did Dad respond to this less than macho career ambition?

He was surprisingly supportive.

So Dylan attended Vancouver Acting School, did some modeling, and worked as a bartender while auditioning. Within a year, he was cast in Grave Encounters 2 (2012)

His character is introduced smoking marijuana.

Dad wasn't happy.

Since 2012, Dylan has been very busy, playing three hockey players, a college student in a murder mystery, and a high school runner in a buddy-bonding movie.  In 2016, he starred in the tv series Haters Back Off.  

Good advice.

He's gay-positive.  In 2012 he tweeted about gay marriage in the U.S.: "it's the Apocalypse for redneck, homophobic, racist, prohibitionist, religious extremist ignorants.  Everyone else is ok."

See also: Mr. Young

Jerry Mathers as the Beaver

Teenager boys in the 1950s were expected to be girl-crazy, but preteens were expected to find girls odious, to make their presumed pubescent "discovery" more dramatic.  Thus, teenage Wally (Tony Dow, left) of Leave it to Beaver (1957-63) was indefatigably girl-crazy, but preteen Beaver (Jerry Mathers, right) snarls:  "Go see a girl? I'd rather smell a skunk!"

The anxiety for his big brother and parents (Ward and June) is that Beaver might not "discover" girls, abandon the same-sex bonds of childhood for a girl-crazy adolescence.

Gender transgressions are the most problematic, as in "Beaver's Doll Buggy" (1956): Beaver needs some wheels for his soapbox car, and a girl donates her old doll buggy.  As he wheels it down the street, everyone assumes that he is playing with dolls. His peers laugh, and an adult recoils in homophobic panic: "The new generation has gone sissy!"  Eddie Hasell is too stunned to wisecrack, and Wally solemnly advises, "Guys always pick on someone who's different."

Though Jerry Mathers is 14 years old when the series ends, and physically adolescent, his body noticeably harder and tighter, his body noticeably deeper, Beaver never "discovers" girls. But he becomes increasingly adept at feigning interest.

In "The Mustache" (1963), June is perplexed because Beaver and his buddy Gilbert (Stephen Talbot) failed to go to the high school to watch Wally's basketball practice.  (She assumes without question that they would be interested in ogling high school boys).  Beaver says that they decided not to go when they realized that girls would be watching, too.

 Alarmed, June asks: "You mean you and Gilbert don't like girls?" Realizing that to not like girls at his age would be suspect, Beaver quickly backtracks: "We like girls fine, but not with sports."

"Don Juan Beaver" (1963) is a masterpiece of feigned girl-craziness.  With everyone agog over the upcoming Sadie Hawkins Dance, Beaver claims enthusiastic interest, and accepts invitations from two girls.  They discover his two-timing and dump him, leaving him alone in his room, dateless, on the night of the big dance.

We see him happily dancing the twist by himself.  Then he hears Ward coming, so he quickly switches the record player off and sits on the bed, looking dejected. Ward invites him downstairs to be with the family, but Beaver refuses, saying he would rather be alone.  Ward leaves, and Beaver jumps up and starts dancing again, grinning broadly.

It is a remarkable scene.  Why is Beaver so obviously happy?  Why does he want Ward to believe that he is miserable?  The deception makes no sense unless Beaver has cleverly achieved what he wanted all along: he has met the social mandate to display girl-craziness without having to actually date a girl.

Nov 15, 2017

Ike Eisenmann: Beefcake Summer

Ike Eisenmann has had a long career in acting, production, and voice work, but for gay boys growing up in the 1970s, he was famous for this scene:

Before 1978, he was a child actor, cute if a bit scruffy, doing guest roles on tv (Mannix, Gunsmoke, SWAT) and in tv-movies requiring country boys with Texas accents, mostly airing on After-School Specials.  He didn't quite make it as a Disney Adventure Boy, like Jeff East or Kurt Russell, but he appeared in a few Disney movies.

In Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), the 12 year old played Tony,  a gay-coded "kid with a secret"; he and his sister Tia (Kim Darby) are aliens.  Of the magical power variety: Tony is telekinetic, and Tia can open locked doors (useful if you've lost your key, or if you've been kidnapped).  They are trying to reach Witch Mountain to reunite with their people while an evil industrialist tries to capture them to make money from their powers.

Then came the sequel, Return from Witch Mountan (1978), with scenery-chomping Bette Davis as a new evil industrialist.  Except Tony is now 15, well into adolescence, and his lack of interest in girls is striking in an era of incessant teenage girl-craziness.  And if the gay-coding isn't enough, there is an extensive scene in which the shirtless, hypnotized Tony stands around with his small but firm muscles on display.  During the 1970s, shirtless shots were almost unheard of in Disney movies, but here it was, plain as day, for a good five minutes, with no plot justification whatsoever.

In the era before DVDs, some gay boys saw the movie five or six times, just so they could memorize that scene.

Ike has continued to act and do voice work. He had a memorable role as a racist teen who has a change of heart (and wore extra-tight jeans) on The Jeffersons (watch the complete episode here).   In 2009 he wrote and directed a tv series called The Chefsters, about people with names like Scrub B. Pots and Chefona Kitchens teaching proper nutrition.  But gay men who were children in the 1970s will always remember that bright spring day in March 1978.

Nov 14, 2017

Heterosexual for a Day

Remember "What do the Simple Folk Do?" from Camelot:

What do the simple folk do
To cheer them when they're feeling blue?
When they're beset and besieged, the folk not noblesse obliged,
How do they manage to shed their weary lot?

In West Hollywood, it was easy to cheer up when you were feeling blue: buy some books, look at art, have lunch at the French Quarter, go cruising at the Gold Coast.  But West Hollywood is 2000 miles away, and I'm surrounded by heterosexuals.

What do you do on gloomy Saturdays in November, at the start of the "Ho Ho Ho" madness, when all of the melancholy songs are playing but it's not even your birthday yet, and your 5K running speed is down by 5 minutes, and West Hollywood is 2000 miles away and you're surrounded by heterosexuals?

"How do hetero men spend their Saturdays?"  I ask my boyfriend Bob, who is 19 years old and has lived in the Straight World his whole life.  He writes me out a list, then leaves for work.

It sounds like a fun game: see how the other half lives.  Spend a day as a heterosexual, doing everything that hetero men do.

9:00 am: They work on cars.

You mean, like, open the hood and stuff?   In gay neighborhoods we walk or take the subway.  I know how to put gas in those car things, and steer them, and that's it.  But maybe I could get an auto mechanic to do something, like change the oil.

Score!  The guy at the Jiffy Lube is in his 30s, short and buffed, with a round face and square workman's hands.  And he squirts things with lube all day....

10:00 am: They hunt things.

Like, um...cuddly bunnies and such?  I've never once in my life held a gun, but I can certainly hunt.  How about antiques?  I can look for some additions to my beefcake art collection.

Score!  "A Surf Boy Tiki Mug" from Orchids of Hawaii, a restaurant supply company operating out of the Bronx during the tiki craze of the 1960s.  An evil Dennis the Menace.

Besides, there;s a hot father and college-aged son at the Antique Mall, scoping out some antique model cars.  I make eye contact with the son, and get a cruisy smile.

11:00 am:  They play baseball.

I would prefer to avoid having projectiles hurled at my head.  But working out the gym is the same thing, nght?

1:00 pm: They have lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries

I would gain ten pounds just walking into that joint. Fortunately, there's a Jersy Mike's next door, which not only has turkey subs, it has some cute college boys for me to exchange witty banter with.

2:00 pm: They shop for tools.

Kitchen supplies count as tools, right?  I go to Cooks Plus and buy a frittatta pan.

3:00 pm: They drink beer and watch the game.

Diet Coke will have to substitute for the beer, and I can't watch sports on tv -- I only get Netflix.  But I happen to have some old bodybuilding contests on DVD.  Will the 1985 Mr. Olympia, with Lee Haney, do?'

6:00 pm: Bob comes home and cooks dinner (frittattas).  

"How did your day as a heterosexual go?" he asks.

"Great!  I worked on cars, hunted things, played sports (if bench pressing counts), had lunch, shopped for tools, and watched a game.  There's just one thing on the list I didn't get around to.  I thought of it after you left this morning."

I show him the last thing hetero men do.

"I'm totes up for that!  After dinner and some making out, that is.  We can't do it until about 9:00 anyway."

The last thing hetero men do, plus explicit sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Charles Addams/The Addams Family

The 1950s was obsessed with marriage and reproduction. Movies, tv programs, presidential speeches, school textbooks, and Sunday morning sermons all pushed the heterosexual nuclear family with salary-man dad and cake-baking mom as the pinnacle of societal perfection, not only the way everyone should live but the way everyone did live (In the U.S., anyway).  But there were critiques, carefully-worded inquiries about whether everyone in every nuclear family was by definition deliriously happy, and every single person by definition miserable.

Cartoonist Charles Addams offered one of the most popular critiques.  He began publishing macabre cartoons in The New Yorker in the 1930s.  By the late 1940s, most were gently skewing the nuclear family experience.

On Christmas morning, two kids play gleefully with a guillotine.  Or they start a fire in the fireplace in anticipation of Santa Claus's visit.

A boy brings models his scout uniform, while his disgusted parents look on.  "He certainly doesn't take after my family," the mother exclaims.

A woman dressed in a black shroud dissects the mania for civic holidays: "I couldn't make it Friday -- I've so many things to do.  It's the thirteenth, you know."

Addams never intended for his unnamed characters to be taken as a single macabre family, but they appeared together so often, and in so many different contexts, that readers assumed that they were related.  Eventually he gave in and called them the Addams Family.

During the monster mania of the early 1960s, they spun off into a tv series, The Addams Family (1964-66).  Now they had names: Gomez (John Astin), Morticia (Caroline Jones), their children Wednesday and Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, their butler Lurch, and "It," a sentient hand. They were not quite as homicidal as their counterparts in the New Yorker cartoons; indeed, many episodes involved them helping neighbors, friends, or strangers with their personal problems. They were as close-knit and supportive, and as aggressive in promoting heterosexual romance, as any sitcom family of the 1960s.  But still, they constantly blurred the boundaries between "normal" and "abnormal," making them a favorite of gay kids who felt "different."

By the way, if you remember the series, you might be interested in seeing Ted Cassidy, who played the Frankenstein-like butler Lurch, in a swimsuit (top photo).  Apparently he was quite a hunk.