May 31, 2014

The Beefcake Museum of Los Angeles

Los Angeles was home for 13 years, but you never go sightseeing at home; you're busy with the rhythms of everyday life.  When I got out-of-town visitors, they always wanted to go to the French Quarter and the Rage (if they were gay) or to Disneyland (if they were straight).  No one wanted to go to the museums.

So I only visited the Getty Museum once (the Getty Conservation Institute, where I had the worst job in the world, was in a different building.)


It's a beefcake paradise.

J. Paul Getty, oil tycoon and grandfather of the Paul Getty Jr. who was the object of my junior high fantasies, built as a replica of an ancient country house from Herculaneum (near Pompeii), filled it with art from all over the world, and opened it to the public as a museum in 1974.

In 1997, the main collection was moved to Brentwood, and the Getty Villa was closed for renovation until 2006.  Now it houses the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art.





So you have to go to both.

Start with the Getty Villa, on 7985 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, open every day except Tuesday from 10 to 5. There are 44 galleries arranged by theme, such as Gods and Goddesses, The Trojan War, and Athletes and Competition.  Naked muscle gods in every single one of them.


Such as the "Nude Youth" (above) and the Lansdown Herakles (left)






And this wine cup with an Athlete Applying Oil on its base.  You had to turn the cup upside down to see it, which I suppose gave you a motive for drinking fast.



For a guy who was married five times, J. Paul Getty certainly liked looking at naked men.

Next go to the Getty Center, 1200 Getty Center Drive in Brentwood, an ultra-modern structure on a hilltop, open every day except Monday from 10 to 5. It features European and American art from the Middle Ages to the present.  Look for the Rubens Hunting of the Caledonian Boar (left).

And the photograph that Thomas Eakins took of his students, and used for his famous The Swimming Hole (top)

More after the break.




Fall 1973: Junior High Fantasies of Paul Getty Junior

During the summer of 1973, just after 7th grade at Washington Junior High, I started reading newspaper articles about Paul Getty Jr., the 16-year old grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, who had mysteriously disappeared from his apartment in Rome.

Soon I discovered that it wasn't a paranormal disappearance: he had been kidnapped, with a ransom demand of $18 million.  His father and grandfather refused to pay, believing that he had somehow arranged the kidnapping himself.

The articles didn't say anything else about Paul, but the photos showed a cute, long haired guy with a slim build and dainty, feminine hands.

He obviously liked boys, not girls.  I imagined flying to Italy to mount a daring rescue, and getting a "my hero" hug and kiss.

Was he tied up with his shirt off?  Or naked? Was he struggling against the bonds, his chest heaving, his slim biceps straining?

On November 10th, a week before my 13th birthday, the kidnappers sent Paul's mother a package containing his severed ear, and warned that they would start returning him "by bits."  What body part would they cut off next, I wondered.  A finger -- or maybe his penis.

How big was his penis, anyway?

When I stormed into the dungeon where he was tied up naked, I would find out.  Then we would...

It never occurred to me to feel guilty over using Paul's ordeal as the subject of my junior high fantasies.

The elder Getty finally negotiated a deal, and delivered $2.9 million.  On December 13th, Paul was released.



He dropped out of the news, and I heard nothing more about him; I didn't even realize that Balthazar Getty, a noted actor of the 1980s, was his son.  But recently I began to wonder about the object of my junior high fantasies, and looked him up.

Apparently Paul was not as innocent as I imagined: living with a girlfriend, hanging out with criminals and mafiosi, using and selling massive quantities of drugs.

But he was bisexual: his biography notes experiences with both men and women.

After the kidnapping, he continued his jetsetting, bon vivant life.  He was married from 1975 to 1991, but pursued many friendships with gay men.  He partied with gay celebs like Elton John and Andy Warhol, who managed to talk him into nude photos.

It didn't take much talking.  Friends describe him as amiable, uninhibited, and eager to explore the risque.

And his tastes in clothing veered toward the Quentin Crisp style.

Paul was interested in show business, and starred in two movies, The Territory (1981) and The State of Things (1982).

But he continued to use massive quantities of drugs.  In 1981, at the age of 24, he drank a nearly-lethal mixture of alcohol, valium, and methadone, and suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed and nearly blind.

The tragedy did not destroy his spirit.  Friends say that he remained positive, amiable, and charming up to his death thirty years later.

See also: The Gay Anthropologist and the Cannibal; and The Disappearance of Sean Flynn.



May 29, 2014

Was Renato Salvatori in Playgirl?

Speaking of misidentified photos, I'm told that this nude photo from a 1975 issue of Playgirl is of Italian film star Renato Salvatori (1933-1988).  But I don't believe it.  Too tall, too much chest hair.













Besides, there are plenty of beefcake photos of the real Renato Salvatori.










The handsome, boyish actor started out in historical dramas like The Three Pirates (I tre corsari, 1952) and light romantic comedies.

Look for him in Poveri ma belli (Poor but Beautiful, 1957), about two poor but beautiful boys (Renato, Maurizio Arena) triangulating their romance into a competition over a girl.  With lots of soulful looks, suggestive touching, and semi-nude scens.




And I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street, 1958), about four bumbling crooks planning to break into a pawn shop.  There's some substantial buddy-bonding, as well as Vittorio Gassman in the boxing ring.













Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and his Brothers, 1960)
returns to the triangulation theme, this time with two brothers, Rocco (Alain Deloin) and Simone (Renato), competing over a prostitute.  Simone (Renato), who works as a male prostitute, is apparently bisexual.

Later in his career, Renato moved into dramas and thrillers.










No word on whether he was gay in real life.  He was married in 1962, but soon separated.  His two children, Giulia and Nils, both became actors.


My Gay Family Tree

When I was in grad school in Bloomington, I became interested in family history -- not just my grandparents and uncles and aunts, but generations of Jacksons, Howards, Hicks, Allens, Praters, and Youngs.  Thanks to the internet and my Cousin Eva, I now have a list of over 2000 ancestors from England, Ireland, France, Prussia, Switzerland, and the Cherokee Nation, extending back to the Middle Ages.

2000 people were born, married, had children, and died.

2000 people are remembered for their heterosexual acts.

My  great-great-great-great grandfather William Allen (1783-1854) grew up in Virginia, then settled on the "frontier" of eastern Kentucky, where he married Caty Gearheart and had fifteen children.

Another  great-great-great-great grandfather, Robert Hicks (1680-1718), was born in Dutch New York, moved to the Chowan River of North Carolina, settled among the Cherokees, married, and had a son, all before his nineteenth birthday.










My  great-great-great-great-etc. grandmother Margaret de Umfreville (1397-1444), was born in Castle Harbottle, Northumberland, England. While still a teenager, she married William Lodington, an elderly judge. He died a few years later, and she immediately married a younger man, Sir John Constable.

But were my ancestors necessarily heterosexual, simply because they engaged in heterosexual acts?

Maybe William Allen had many children due to prudence, not passion: you need a lot of kids to help you on a frontier farm.

Maybe Robert Hicks got married to ensure the goodwill of his adopted tribe, not because he was in love, or attracted to women at all.

Maybe Margaret de Umfreville married her second husband so quickly because women in Medieval England could not inherit property, and she needed the financial security.

Did these ancestors seek out same-sex lovers? Or forge intense, passionate bonds with life-long friends? The record  doesn't say.


My great grandfather William Henry Jackson (1839-1910), called "Small Bill" because he was only 5'3", moved from New York to Indiana at the age of 21, accompanied by a young man named Alvin Mooney.

But there is no mention of Alvin Mooney again, through William's long life.  What happened to him? Did he and Small Bill share a friendship, a romance, or something in between, a “romantic friendship”?  Did they ever hold hands, or kiss?  In the early years of the new century, did they sit side-by-side on rocking chairs on the porch of Small Bill’s farmhouse, and talk about old times, and smile?

I don't know. Whatever bond they had is lost.

What of those great-uncles and great-aunts, the brothers and sisters of my ancestors, who never married in spite of the social pressure and economic necessity?

Like Nicholas Prater (1553-1589), who was born at Latton Manor, Wiltshire, England, but moved to London during his teens. He never married.  In 1588, he suddenly moved back to Wiltshire, where he died at his brother's house.

As an aristocratic man-about-town, he certainly attended the theater, so he might have known gay playwright Christopher Marlowe, a bisexual actor named William Shakespeare, and many other actors, poets, and ordinary people who sought out same sex loves in the relatively open Elizabethan society.

Was he gay?

Or did he spend his entire 36 years on Earth bedding ladies?

There is no way to know.

See also: Was My Grandfather Gay?

May 28, 2014

What Seth Gabel Looks Like Naked

According to the TV Line website, this person is Seth Gabel, with and without the shirt and glasses.  But I think they made a mistake. It looks like two different people to me.

The Seth Gabel on the right has a long, narrow face, which you may recall as one of my Top 10 Turn-Offs, regardless of his buffed physique.

The Seth Gabel on the left is kind of cute.

So which is correct?

The 33-year old actor has been trucking around Hollywood since 2002, when he played a "Sweet Young Sailor" on Sex and the City.  Sounds provocative.

His first major role came in a five-episode story arc on Nip/Tuck (2004) as a teenager who is having an affair with his mother.  When she dumps him for a non-relative teen, he tries desperately to get her back, even trying to kiss the new boyfriend.  Bisexual and incestuous!

Another role that sounds provocative: "Kissing Man" in something called Good Dick (2008), which is also about incest, paranoia, and various sexual dysfunctions.

On to the character of Jeremy Darling on Dirty Sexy Money (2007-2009): the troubled son of multimillionaire Tripp Darling, a chain-smoking cocaine addict who keeps getting involved with the wrong people.  Never saw it, but he is apparently bisexual.

To avoid being typecast as sexually dysfunctional types (which, according to Hollywood, includes bisexuals), Seth starred in Gothica (2013), a tv series pilot that weaves together all of the 19th century horror plotlines, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to Poe's Fall of the House of Usher (he plays Roderick Usher). Dorian Gray was wandering around, so there must have been some gay content.

On Fringe (2010-2013), he played Lincoln Lee.  Something to do with parallel worlds.  Never saw it, but apparently he was gay or had a gay subtext.

And on Salem (2014), about real witches in Colonial Massachusetts, he plays the famous Cotton Mather as a bigoted, homophobic, hypocritical,witch-hunter (yes, there are gay witches in Salem).  With a buffed, hairy physique.








In real life, Seth is married to a woman with a boy's name, Bryce.  I don't know who the flamboyantly feminine friend is.

So which of the top photos is Seth?  All evidence points to the left, and the right as the significantly less attractive Stephen Amell.

TV Rage doesn't know what it's talking about.

May 27, 2014

Wil Horneff, Gay-Subtext Teen Idol of the 1990s



Born in 1979, Wil Horneff first drew teen idol attention with The Sandlot (1993), one of the misfit-kids-play-sports movies popular during the decade.












Next came Ghost in the Machine (1993), about a comatose serial killer who takes over the electrical grid to terrorize a single mother (Karen Allen) and her son Josh (Wil).  Although Karen Allen and her love interest Chris Mulkey were ostensibly the stars, the director played to the teen audience by giving Josh many shirtless and underwear scenes, as well as a gay subtext buddy-bond with the standard Black best friend Frazer (Brandon Quinton Adams).

The Yearling (1994) was a boy-and-dog tearjerker, with a deer standing in for the dog.

The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994) was based on the novel with a gay theme: Willie Marsden and his friend Ned walk off "hand in hand" to fight in the Civil War.  When Ned is killed, Willie is devastated: he "walked around numb for weeks."  He grows up, goes through his life numb with grief, and at age 50 marries Lucy, the narrator.

I never saw the movie, so I don't know if they kept the gay theme.  Wil plays Willie Marden, and Garrette Ratliff Henson plays Ned.


In the 1997 remake of The Shining, Wil plays the teenage Tony, appearing as a kind of future ghost to keep his younger self safe.

None of his teenage film roles called for him to display significant heterosexual interest.

In 1998, Wil graduated from high school and took a hiatus from acting to attend college and travel (he spent a year in Russia).

In 2005 he returned in The Roost, about four friends (Will, his sister Vanessa, Karl Jacob, Sean Reid) trapped in a farmhouse by zombies.  Still no heterosexual interest.

In the upcoming Longest Swim (2014), two friends are staying in an isolated cabin, when Ben (Stephen Ohl) goes into diabetic shock, so Matt (Wil) has to swim across the lake to get help.  There are no boats on that lake?  Sounds like a lot of buddy-bonding going on, but to keep audiences from getting the "wrong" idea, there are also flashback scenes of Matt in bed with his wife.



In addition to acting, Wil is a long-time participant in the sport of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  Today he teaches adult and children's classes at the Training Grounds Jiu-Jitsu & MMA in Westwood NJ.

He's been married to a woman since 2008, so probably heterosexual.  No word on whether he's gay-positive or not.


May 26, 2014

Chicago, the Musical: Skip the Movie, See it on Stage

I hate the movie version of the musical Chicago (2002), directed by Rob Marshall.  It's set in the Jazz Age, but there are no scenes set in  speakeasies or vast Great Gatsby-style estates, or streets clogged with Model-Ts and movie marquees advertising Rudolph Valentino.   It's completely stage-bound.

There's no beefcake, not even an undone button, just lots of women in slinky leather outfits gyrating like exotic dancers.

And the lesbian angle is only hinted at, briefly.

The plot: during the 1920s, Roxy Hart (Rene Zellweger) is arrested for murdering her lover, and sent to Cook County Jail in Chicago to await her trial.   She becomes a cause celebre, and draws the attention of glitterati lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), to the consternation of his previous client, celebrity murderess Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones).


Velma and Roxy begin competing to see who can gain the most celebrity. When another murderess hits the news, Roxy ups the ante by getting pregnant (or pretending to).  Velma counters by sabotaging Roxy's case.

Finally Roxie is acquitted, but she misses the limelight, so she and Velma team up to do a celebrity-murderess act.

Yawn.  Why couldn't Richard Gere at least have taken his shirt off?




Fortunately, the stage versions take care of those problems.

Well, it's still stage bound, of course, but prison matron Mama Morton is definitely a lesbian, who helps Roxy in exchange for sexual favors.

And there's lots of beefcake, male dancers along with the women strutting their stuff with fedoras and jazz hands.

Not to mention shirtless, muscular Billy Flynns played by Jerry Orbach, Ben Cross, James Naughton, Christopher Sieber, Patrick Swayze, Billy Ray Cyrus, Taye Diggs, Adam Pascal, Mark Fisher, Joel Warren, Tony Yasbeck, David Hasselhoff, Tom Wopat, and Gregory Harrison.

You're not going to see a high school or community college production anytime soon, but it's worth checking out in the various national tours.

Raoul Bova: Don't Come Out, Think of the Children!

Italian heartthrob Raoul Bova has been the subject of many gay rumors over the years.  There has even been a Facebook petition asking him to "please come out!"  But he refuses.

"If I were gay, I would not say it.  I would not come out.  I hate being labeled."

Any label except heterosexual, that is.










What about these grainy photos of him in a underwear-clad lip-lock with Marco Bocci?  It seemed so real!   He explained that in the upcoming Scusate se esisto (Pardon Me for Existing, 2014), he plays a married heterosexual who has an affair with a gay guy.  You can play gay characters without being gay, you know.

He goes on to explain that he can never come out because of the horrible damage it would do to children.  His kids are  already getting taunted in school: "Your father is sick, your father is gay!"

To quote Helen Lovejoy: Don't come out, think of the children!

Who knew that Italian society was so homophobic? Or maybe it's just Raoul Bova.

The 43-year old Bova got his start as a competitive swimmer, and broke into acting with the sex comedy Mutande pazze (Crazy Underwear, 1992).  He quickly put his amazing physique to use in movies about men who excite uncontrollable passion in women, sometimes comedies, sometimes tragedies (as in La Lupa, 1992, based on the story by Giovanni Verga).


More recently he changed slightly to movies about men who bring romance rather than horniness, as in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003).

But not wanting to be known as just a bicep and bulge, he also sought out fully-clothed roles as police officers, soldiers, and terrorists, which permit some buddy-bonding in spite of his fear of being labeled gay.

Look for Il Quarto Re (The Fourth King, 1997), a German movie about a young bee-keeper who is shanghaied by the Three Kings to help them deliver the gifts to the Christ Child.  He keeps griping about his wife back home, but the other Kings (including a gay-vague Gaspar played by Billy Dee Williams) display n heterosexual interest.



And I cavalieri che fecero l'impresa (The Knights Who Start a Business, 2001), about five Medieval knights (including Raoul Bova, Edward Furlong, and Marco Leonardi) who buddy-bond during their quest to find the sacred Shroud of Turin.


May 25, 2014

Why Everyone in West Hollywood Listened to Madonna

When I first moved to West Hollywood in 1985, Madonna was everywhere, part of the backdrop of everyday life, as universal and taken-for-granted as working out, drinking Perrier, and reading Frontiers magazine.

When a Norwegian conman stole my boyfriend, "Material Girl" was playing.

When Alan met Raul for the first time, we were listening to "Open Your Heart."

When we ran into Fred and the Cute Young Thing during brunch at the French Quarter, "Live to Tell" was blaring from a car stopped at a red light on Santa Monica Boulevard.


During 300 Saturday nights at Mugi, "One Night in Bangkok" was always followed by "Papa Don't Preach"

When I was teaching Gay 101 at Juvenile Hall, I went to a party, and three guys started lip-synching to "Vogue."

But in the early 1990s, the Madonna fad started dying down.

In 1992, the book Sex bombed in West Hollywood.  I knew only one guy who actually bought a copy.

By 1993, record store commercials had people complaining "I'm bored with Madonna!", and all of the cars stopped at red lights on San Vicente were blaring "I'm too sexy for my shirt!" instead of "Bad Girl."


Madonna is still expressing herself, still recording songs and performing for millions of fans, but she is no longer an inevitable part of daily life in West Hollywood.

Nearly thirty years later, I wonder why Madonna became a gay diva.  Her songs had no gay subtexts: they were all about heterosexual women being touched for the very first time, living in a material world, picking up boys on the street, and asking "Come on, girls, do you believe in love?"






Maybe her hot male backup dancers, like Victor Lopez, Jull Weber (top photo), and Mihrab (left).  Many of them were gay, and worked out next to us at the Hollywood Spa.  They were family.

Maybe because she was a gay ally, outspoken in her support of LGBT people, a rarity in the 1980s.

Maybe because she was constantly offending 1980s conservatives with her frank lyrics and suggestive dance moves.  Gay people were constantly offending 1980s conservatives just by existing.  It was a match made in heaven.

See also: Mae West, Gay Diva of the 1930s and Let's Hear it for the Boy.