Sep 13, 2014

10 More Public Penises of the South

I've already covered the public penises of the Deep South, the reddest of the red states.  Now it's time to look at the Southeast, which has some mind-numbing homophobia, plus nice gay neighborhoods (in Atlanta, Savannah, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale), top-ranked museums, musical theater rivaling Broadway, beaches where the ocean is as warm as bathwater, and lots of hunks in speedos (on a few beaches, out of their speedos).

And a lot of interesting public art.  Here are the top 10 public penises of the Southeast.




1. Norfolk, Virginia, on Chesapeake Bay, is one of my favorite cities, with an interesting historic district and a nice gay neighborhood.

On the grounds of the Chrysler Museum of Art, there's a statue of a statue of a nude horseman reaching down to a reclining nude comrade.  It's "The Torchbearers," by Anna Hyatt Huntington.

2. King Neptune was erected in 2005 in Neptune Park in nearby Virginia Beach, to honor the city's maritime heritage.








3. The old Lucky Strike building in Shockoe Bottom, east of downtown Richmond, VA features a muscular, 25-foot tall Native American peering out over a parapet.  Named "Connecticut," he originally peered out over The Diamond to watch Richmond Braves baseball games.








4. Many people in the South are upset about the Civil War, where the Union "invaded" and "conquered" their sovereign nation.

When I visited my Cousin George in South Carolina, we didn't go to The Memorial to the Confederate Defenders in Charleston, with a half-naked man being escorted to Valhalla by a Valkyrie.












5. "No Goal is Too High if We Climb with Care and Confidence," in downtown Atlanta, depicts a group of naked students climbing a pile of books with care and confidence.  It was sculpted by art students at Georgia State University.

More after the break.







Sep 12, 2014

Fall 1985: A Norwegian Con Artist Steals My Boyfriend

Maybe the cold makes people want to hug, but I've found the wintertime to be good for starting a new romance: I started dating Fred the Ministerial Student in December, Verne the Preacher's Son in January, and my Celebrity Boyfriend in January.  Christmas is particularly erotic: kissing Brian under the mistletoe, meeting the bully in the gay bar, catching Cousin Joe in the act.

But you have to be careful if you're already in a relationship.  The last two weeks of December are a mine field, especially if you go back to the Midwest.

In the fall of 1985, shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I liked Alan, one of the two ministerial students at All Saints Metropolitan Community Church (the gay church).  I'm a clergy groupie, and his former job as a porn actor sweetened the deal.

But it took a long time to incite his interest -- I was tall and rather muscular, and he liked small, slim guys -- so we didn't start dating until early November.

I assumed that we would be monogamous.  And we were.

For about six weeks.

On December 15th, a guy named Kristian appeared at church.  Small, slim, passive, smiling, handsome, early 20s. I could see Alan's face light up.

After the service, Alan practically knocked me over in a mad dash to get to him at the coffee hour.  I followed and heard his story.  It didn't quite add up, like that of my first West Hollywood boyfriend, Ivo the Bulgarian Bodybuilder who was insanely jealous of Michael J. Fox.  But I didn't question him:

1. Kristian was born in Norway, and moved to the U.S. with his parents at age 5.  His father was a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, and his mother wrote children's books.
2. He graduated from UCLA's Film School and was now working as a production assistant at Paramount.
3. He had totalled his car in an accident that wasn't his fault, so now he was taking the bus everywhere.
4. He had just broken up with his lover, and needed a place to stay until January 1st, when his new apartment would be ready.

"You can stay with me!" Alan exclaimed.  "I have two roommates, but you can...um... camp out on our couch."

Watching my boyfriend's eyes gleam with erotic anticipation, I offered Kristian an alternative plan: "I'm going home to the Midwest on Tuesday,a and I'll be gone for two weeks, so you can have my apartment all to yourself."

I know what you're thinking -- hand over my apartment key to some guy I just met?  But I thought: Kristian has no car, and Alan lives 5 miles away. It will be impossible for them to get together!

It never occurred to me that Alan could easily drive over and pick him up.

When I returned to Los Angeles on January 2nd, Kristian had moved out of my apartment and into Alan's bed.  "Um...um...we didn't plan on it...it just happened," Alan told me. "Can we still be friends?"

During the few days he spent at my apartment, Kristian stole a pair of jeans, pawned my grandmother's silverware, and ran up $200 in phone calls to Norway.  Fortunately, Alan got my silverware back and wrote me a check for the $200, explaining that it was "a misunderstanding."  Kristian thought my grandmother's silverware was part of the deal?

By the end of January, Kristian had taken Alan for all he could and gone on to the other ministerial student at the church, and a month or so later he moved on to West Hollywood Presbyterian.  I don't know if he was a clergy groupie, or thought a minister would be a soft touch.

I did some checking: nobody with Kristian's name had graduated from UCLA Film School, or was working at Paramount.  I'll bet he wasn't even Norwegian.  He just let his soft, small, passive frame and killer smile work for him.

See also: Dating a Pentecostal Porn Star

Dore Alley: the San Francisco Fetish Festival

When I was living in West Hollywood, many people made the six-hour trek north to San Francisco often, once a month, even once a week.  West Hollywood might be a gay mecca, but San Francisco was Gay Heaven, with constant crowd-drawing events and activities.  I went up once or twice a year, whenever a friend invited me, and for awhile we even managed to live there.

So I've been to my share of film festivals, art exhibitions, bar nights, and benefits.  I've been to Gay Pride, Folsom Street, and the Castro Street Fair.  I've been to Dore Alley.

Once.





Dore Alley is a leather-fetish fair held on Dore Street between Howard and Folsom -- the historical heart of SOMA (South of Market), and the center of the gay leather-fetish community.

The neighborhood used to be very run-down and sleazy, but it has undergone a renaissance in the years since I was there last.  .

Dore Alley is a place to let it all hang out.  Lead your slave on a leash on all fours, with doggy ears and a tail.  Practice BDSM on a nude model.  Demonstrate golden showers.  Put beer bottles places where they ordinarily don't go.  Walk around naked and fully aroused.  Be as sleazy as you wanna be.

The participants are mostly gay men, the fetishes on display all same-sex, but gay, bi, and straight participants are apparently welcome.  Drag is just as good as leather.  A combination of the two, even better.

I only went once.  It scared me.

My problem was: for 40 years we've been telling the heteros, "Gay is not about sex. It's about a shared history and culture, about fighting oppression, about finding a community."

Dore Alley is definitely, aggressively about sex in all of its variations, all of its fetishes.

And the heterosexuals know it.  They come, take horrified pictures, and rush back to their homophobic churches to report.


A few weeks after Dore Alley, every homophobic church in the country sees a film of gay men urinating on each other and leading each other around on leashes, and preachers yell "Do not be deceived by the liberal Hollywood agenda.  This is what homa-sekshuls are really like!  This is what they want to teach in school, and force your kids to do!!"

And when a gay rights bill comes before the city council, they show the film and yell "If the bill passes, this is what homa-sekshuls will be doing openly on the street!  They are already doing it in San Francisco!"

And the Gay Rights Movement is set back a few years.

 See also: Why San Francisco is Gay Heaven.; and Sean and the World of Gay Leathermen

The Gay Connection of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays

I hate sports.  I've never seen a sports match on tv all the way through.  I have no idea who belongs to what team, or what RBA the MVP has with what blocking average and defense in the line draw.

I also hate it when people assume that because I'm a guy, I'm naturally obsessed with sports.  Random people stop me on the street and proclaim "The Vikings are ahead 3-2!"

Vikings?  Like in Thor and Odin?

Or ask "How's the game going?"

The game?  You mean Tetris, on my computer?  It's going ok, I guess.

When I was little and went in for a vaccination, the doctor advised "Be brave!  Be like your hero, Mickey Mantle!"

I was so offended by the imputation of hero-worship for a sports star that I forgot to be afraid of the shot.

Actually, Mickey Mantle (1931-1995) was one of three baseball players that I had actually heard of.  I even know that he played for the New York Yankees during the 1950s and 1960s (because they mentioned him on Seinfeld).  He set some records and stuff, and he has some gay connections:

1. He drew gay rumors, even though he was married for many years, and had many affairs with women. There are homophobic rants online complaining that he doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame "because he was a f***"

2. His nephew Kelly is a famous drag performer, with credits in movies, theater, music, and tv, including RuPaul's Drag Race.






3. He had quite a nice physique, and was apparently gifted beneath the belt.














The other baseball player that I've heard of is Joe DiMaggio, because of that song, and the third is Willie Mays (1931-), who played for the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants, known as the "Say Hey Kid" for some reason.  He's got a gay connection, too.

1. On an episode of Bewitched, he shows up at a party for witches.  Darren is shocked that Willie Mays might be a ....you know, but Samantha retorts, "The way he hits?  What else?"  So ever after, I thought that Willie Mays did his sports things with witchcraft.

Witchcraft was code for...you know, so I figured that he was gay.

2. Apparently he's straight but not homophobic.  He appeared in a tv commercial for Coors Beer along with gay Olympic medalist Bruce Hayes.  When asked if baseball was "ready" for an openly gay player, he responded: "Can he hit?"

3. He had a very nice physique, and a super-sized baseball bat.

See also: Joe DiMaggio's Nude Frolick

Sep 11, 2014

Beefcake, Bonding, and a Movie Called "She"

H. Rider Haggard (1856-1925) wrote adventure novels about swashbuckling, devil-may-care heroes exploring lost civilizations in Africa, precursors of both the Tarzan books and the Indiana Jones movie series.

The Rock Island Bookmobile had three of them.  I rather liked King Solomon's Mines (1885), but couldn't slog through Alan Quartermain (1887), and I wouldn't touch the novel called simply She (1886).

For obvious heteronormative reasons, it's his most popular novel, a "classic of imaginative literature" according to wikipedia.

The heteronormative, racist, imperialist plot:  Professor Horace Holly, his young ward Leo, and their servant are shipwrecked in East Africa, and journey to the interior, where they run afoul of a lost civilization ruled by Ayesha, She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed (or "She" for short).   

She is immortal, and so beautiful, naturally, that any man who sees her is driven mad with desire.

She becomes convinced that Leo is the reincarnation of her long-dead lover, Kallikrates.  He is in love with someone else, but Ayesha kills his girlfriend, hypnotizes him with her beauty and takes him to a volcano, where he will bathe in hot lava and thereby become immortal.  But at the last minute he refuses.  She reverts to her true age and dies.

See any gay subtexts yet?

Holly is hypnotized by Ayesha's beauty, like everyone else, but otherwise he displays no heterosexual interest. He has an avuncular interest in Leo that can often pass over into the homoerotic.

Leo is not really interested in Ayesha.  In the end he chooses Holly over her.

There is no heterosexist boy-girl fade-out ending.

It has been filmed about a dozen times, including a silent version (1925) with the buffed Carlyle Blackwell as an Egyptian-clad Leo.

The most famous version (1965) starred Peter Cushing as Holly, John Richardson (top photo) as Leo, and Ursula Andress as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.

A homophobic 1982 version was set in a Road Warrior post-apocalyptic world, with Man-Mountain brothers (David Goss, Harrison Muller) and She (Sandahl Bergman) questing to rescue their kidnapped sister.

En route they run afoul of a giant transvestite, effeminate Pretty Boy, who hosts a party for dancing werewolves, a gay-vague mad scientist, and a chair made of loincloth-clad men.





In the 2001 version, the clueless Leo (Ian Duncan) brings his girlfriend Roxanne along, and she and She fight it out to win his affection.




Sep 8, 2014

Charlie's Angels

You've got to be kidding.  What interest would gay boys or men have in the 1976-81 drama about three women (originally Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith) who graduated from the police academy, found their talents underutilized by a patriarchal system, and went to work as private detectives?

Who use their brains to solve the murders and their brawn to knock out the bad guy?

Who go undercover in health clubs, spas, cruise ships, and other places crowded with men wearing only towels and swimsuits?

That's why.

1. There was quite a lot of jiggling, but there was also an immense amount of beefcake.

Where else could you see game show host Bert Convy in a speedo?



Or Dirk Benedict take off his Battlestar Galactica uniform?

Nearly every hunk in Hollywood guest starred, and usually took off his shirt: Timothy Dalton, Bo Hopkins, Tab Hunter, Randolph Mantooth, Vic Morrow, Dack Rambo, Tom Selleck, Robert Ulrich, and Lyle Waggoner.





Even Norman Fell, Mr. Roper of Three's Company.












2. Several episodes featured predatory lesbians, swishy-queen gay men, or demented transvestites.  But that was the way LGBT people were nearly universally portrayed in 1970s detective and cop shows.  And the homophobia was diluted by the gay-vague Bosley (David Doyle), the Angels' longsuffering assistant.

3. In the end Charlie's Angels was about empowerment, saving the day in spite of people assuming that you were weak, flamboyant, feminine.




4. And, like The Golden Girls,  it was about the friendship.

Most of the Angels are gay allies. Kate Jackson starred in Making Love (1982), which featured the first positive portrayal of gay men in a Hollywood film.

Farrah Fawcett, who died in 2009, was unfailingly gracious to her gay fans.

Jaclyn Smith played the mother of a gay son in Family Album (1994).  Incidentally, her husband was played by Michael Ontkean, Kate Jackson's husband in Making Love. 






Love Boat/Fantasy Island: Love Won't Hurt Anymore

During the decade that began on September 24th, 1977 and ended on February 27th, 1987, I graduated from high school and college, got my M.A. in English, spent a year teaching at Hell-fer-Sartain State University, and moved to West Hollywood.  I spent my Saturday nights going on dates, going out with friends, cruising in the bars, at movies, dinners, concerts, potlucks, or as a last resort at the gym.

Only when I was sick, studying for finals, or back in Rock Island for the holidays did I find myself staying home on Saturday nights.

And when I was home, I watched Gimme a Break, Love Sidney, We Got It Made, Magnum PI, anything but those nauseating anthology series, Love Boat and Fantasy Island.  

But my parents watched.  All of the older people watched.


Love Boat (1977-87) was set on a cruise ship, where the randy Captain (Gavin MacLeod), ship's doctor (Bernie Kopell), purser (Fred Grandy), bartender (Ted Lange), and activities director (Lauren Tewes) made a hobby of facilitating three heterosexual romances per episode (two serious, one funny).

A sports writer and a tennis pro, a minister and an exotic dancer, a chauffeur and his employer, a rock star and a deaf girl, a celebrity and a tabloid reporter, an advice columnist who can't find love, a magician who can't find love.  It goes on like that. For 248 episodes.

Gay people were unknown, except for an episode where two buddies are mistaken for a gay couple.  By the end of the episode, they both find love (with women).  Problem solved.

But I understand that there were there were lots of guest stars in Speedos lounging around the Cabana Deck, like perennial 1970s fave Bert Convy (top photo).







Fantasy Island (1977-84) was more of the same.  The mysterious Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalban, known as Khan on Star Trek) and his assistant Tattoo (Herve Villechaize) ran a tropical resort where, for an additional fee of $20,000 (waived for charity cases), he would arrange to fulfill your "fantasy."  Two or three per episode, alternating between serious and  funny.

In the early years, the fantasies involved nothing more than props and actors, as guests wanted to be Latin lovers or cowboys or movie stars.  Later, Mr. Roarke was able to travel in time, conjure up ghosts and genies, and make a deal with the goddess Aphrodite to fulfill the guests' fantasies.  The Devil even dropped by from time to time.


Here, too, most fantasies ended with hetero-romance.

No gay people existed, but again, there were guest stars with their shirts off, like Bert Convy again.

I always wanted to ask the old people:  why?  Why do you need yet another dose of heterosexism?  You've already married and reproduced, your life is nearly over (actually, in 1977, my Dad was younger than I am now).  What's the "love, love, love!" brainwashing for?

An article in TV Guide explained: "Love Boat for people who live in Iowa and can't get dressed up and go out on Saturday night."

The dig at Iowa roiled me -- hey, we had four-star restaurants, opera, theater, and the symphony!

But I understood -- these Saturday night "love, love, love!" marathons were to keep them assuaged near the end of their lives: yes, yes, it was all worthwhile, hetero-romance was a worthwhile, noble goal, the only thing worth doing.

See also: Love, American Style and Ricardo Montalban.

Summer 1971: Donald Duck's Double Life


When I was a kid in the 1960s, my favorite comics were the Harveys (CasperRichie Rich), followed by Gold Key jungle heroes (Tarzan, Korak, Brothers of the Spear), and then Archie, and maybe some Marvel and DC if I could get them.  Disney's Donald Duck was not as low on the list as Bugs Bunny, but it was down near the bottom.
The problem was that Donald led a double life.  I liked the stories where he was an adventurer, brave, resourceful and intelligent, setting out with his rich Uncle Scrooge to explore lost Atlantis, the Yucatan, Tibet, Antarctica, or the Seven Cities of Cibola, in plotlines as macho as Treasure Island, as passionate as Time Tunnel.  It was a man-only world, with no damsels in distress to be rescued and no girls waiting back home at the story’s end.

In fact, no one expressed any heterosexual interest at all, though the nephews sometimes swooned over male crooners and teen idols.  (During the 1990s, Don Rosa retconned the characters to give Uncle Scrooge a long-ago romance with dance-hall girl Glittering Goldie).

But in other stories, Donald transmutated like a zombie into a single father living in the town of Duckburg, where he was saddled with a series of dismal jobs: janitor, gas station attendant, door-to-door salesman, delivery boy. And  he had a girlfriend, Daisy Duck, who was constantly natting her disapproval of  every single one of his interests, hobbies, goals, and dreams (precisely like Poil's disapproval of Spooky's passion for scaring).

The two could not be more different. Donald exuded toughness and aggression, Daisy was dainty to the point of idiocy. Donald bellowed at baseball games, Daisy drank tea at the Tuesday Afternoon Ladies’ League. Donald puttered around in junkyards, Daisy puttered about in her petunia bed.







It was disgusting! Donald had not only abandoned his life of swashbuckling adventure, he could not even enjoy the simple pleasures of boxing matches and working on cars. Instead, he sat bored on a frilly white chair at the Bon Ton, while Daisy tried on hats. Why would he do it? If they shared no common interests whatsoever, why would he even want to hang out with her?

In "The Double Date," Daisy and Donald go on a double date with Clara Cluck and Rockhead Rooster.  Donald and Rockhead exhibit an instant, eye-bulging attraction to each other, and become so engrossed in discussions of cars and sports that they ignore the girls.  They even dance together at a party.  Daisy and Clara agree that "They shouldn't see each other again."

One rainy afternoon in the summer of 1971, when we were sitting on the floor in Bill's family room, reading comic books, I brought up my concerns.  "I don't get it.  Donald Duck has a lot more fun on his adventures with Uncle Scrooge, and he doesn't anything that Daisy likes.  Why does he hang out with her?  What's the big deal?”

Bill's older brother Mike happened to be passing through on his way out, wearing a raincoat and tossing his keychain in the air. He pulled the comic from my hands and leafed through it, murmuring “Hmm…very eenterest-ing,” like the Nazi spy on Laugh-In. Then he returned it with a grin. “Een mine professional opinion, Uncle Scrooge ees a boy, und Daisy Duck ees a girl.”


“So what?” I asked.

Mike  laughed, and reached down to tousle my hair. “So what!” he exclaimed in his normal voice. “Just wait ‘til you discover girls. Then you won’t ask ‘so what’? You’ll say ‘gimme her number!’”  And he was gone. I heard him repeat “so what!”, chortling to himself, as he clomped through the kitchen and out the back door.

Suddenly chilled, I scooted over to sit next to Bill, our backs against the couch.  He smiled, and we sat together, quietly.

Abandon the Seven Cities of Cibola to drink tea from fragile cups and discuss poetry! The idea was absurd!

See also: Heterosexualizing my Childhood Hero

Sep 7, 2014

10 More Public Penises of Africa

Tired of African muscle yet?

I didn't think so.

This time we'll work our way through the countries of East and South Africa.











1. In Ethiopia most of the population speaks Amharic, an Afro-Asiatic language related to Arabic and Hebrew.  Poverty and puritanical religion have minimized public art, but I like the Ethiopian-Cuban Friendship Memorial.  It shows two stylized men, one comforting the other, with his head on the other's shoulders.

2. War-torn Somalia isn't even a country anymore, but it still managed the Dhagax Tuur monument, a young man on a very high tower running toward the future.









3. Uganda, site of dictators, genocide, and "kill the gays" laws, has a lot of statues of smiling despots, but only one with beefcake: the Commonwealth Monument in Kampala.














4. A stylized, muscular rider, calling his people to war, from Malawi.















5. I knew a guy from Zambia.  You never saw such a snob.  But the Freedom Statue in Lusaka, a 50-foot tall guy breaking his chains, is one of the more impressive on the subcontinent.

More after the break.














Billy Warlock

Some teen idols never grow up.  As the years pass, they may hone their acting skills and take on more mature roles, but they never lose their youthful exuberance, their passion, or their innocence.  Every day they wake up newly surprised that they are the object of someone's desire.

It's a short list. I would include Shaun Cassidy, Robby BensonMario Lopez, and certainly Billy Warlock.

Born in 1961, Billy burst into the picture in 1982, during the last season of  Happy Days, hired to up the beefcake quota of the doddering sitcom by wearing a trademark cut-off t-shirt.  The teen magazines went crazy, and soon Billy's pin-ups were pushing aside such luminaries as Scott Baio and Ralph Macchio.



Some small roles in movies and tv shows followed, mostly of a type that would allow Billy to appear with no shirt at all, such as Swimsuit (1989) and Class Cruise (1989).  His starring role in Society (1989) was particularly memorable for three reasons:

1. The teenage Bill (Billy Warlock) feels that he is an outsider, not quite fitting in. Gay kids could relate.

2. Although he enjoys the company of woman, Bill enjoys some strong buddy-bonding and rescue moments with his friend Milo (Evan Richards)

3. A woman seduces Bill by ripping off his pants.  They kiss passionately. While this is occurring, the camera is aimed directly at his briefs.  You can imagine what happens next.





For three seasons (1989-1992), Billy played lifeguard Eddie Kramer on the beefcake- and cheesecake-heavy Baywatch.  After that he specialized mostly in soaps:

Days of Our Lives (1988-1991, 2005-2006)
General Hospital (1997-2003)
The Young and the Restless (2007-2008)
As the World Turns (2010)
One Life to Live (2010)










But Billy is more than a great set of pecs.  He is deeply involved in social issues, including gay rights.  A gay ally, in 2004 he made his Broadway debut, playing a gay writer who becomes one of the first casualties of the AIDS pandemic in The Normal Heart.