Feb 13, 2016

Oh, Calcutta!: The First Nudie Musical

The sexual liberation of the hippie generation led to a number of plays with momentary nudity and casual references to sex, but Oh! Calcutta! was all-sex, all-nude.  It debuted off-Broadway in 1969 and ran for 1,314 performances, with an additional 5,959 performances in the 1976 revival.  There was also a 1972 movie version, plus references in tv shows such as All in the Family and One Day at a Time, making it one of the iconic musicals of the era.

In case you are wondering, the title comes from the French phrase "O quel cul t'as!", "What a nice butt you have!"




It's a series of not-very-funny comedy sketches, written by such high-brow luminaries as Sam Shepherd, Jules Feifer, and Samuel Beckett.   A boy tries to rape a girl; a girl learns to become less inhibited; a young couple investigate wife-swapping; a boy learns to masturbate.

Notice what's missing?

Right -- no gay people, no reference to same-sex desire or behavior of any sort.






Author and producer Kenneth Tynan was an old-school libertine, into many different heterosexual activities with multiple partners, but tremendously homophobic -- he invented the term "gay Mafia," which he called "the homosexual Mafia," in 1967.  He insisted that there be no crossdressing or "perversion," by which he meant gay people.

In the end, for its pretense of controversy, Oh! Calcutta! preaches the heteronormative message of boys and girls gazing into each other's eyes.

Still, it's an interesting study of mainstream resistance to changing sexual mores, with an amazing amount of full-frontal male nudity.




The most hunky of the cast was the muscular and gifted-beneath-the-belt George Welbes (top photo), who appeared in only three movies before he died in 1974.

But the most famous was certainly Bill Macy, who played the husband of the "uncompromisin', enterprisin', anything but tranquilizin'" Maude (future Golden Girl Bea Arthur) from 1972 to 1978.   When I was in high school, we whispered that he had been a "porn star" and watched hoping to get a glimpse of his superheroic endowment.  Unfortunately, we never saw anything.

In 1976, The First Nudie Musical appeared, with lots more 1970s tv stars.

Feb 12, 2016

My Little Black Book

Someone asked "How can you remember all this stuff? Names, dates, the exact restaurant you went to?"

Cruising in Tucumcari in 2004
The Great Redneck Roundup of 1995.
Having lunch with Michael J. Fox in 1985.
Learning about oral sex in the church parking lot in 1975
My first date with a boy, in 1968, when I was only 7 years old.

Here's how:

1. In gay neighborhoods, when friends get together, they often swap stories of erotic, romantic, and homophobic encounters.  I've told some of these stories dozens of times.

2. I fill in the details with research.  I didn't remember the name of the bar where I met the Nebraska Cornhusker in 1995, so I looked up a likely suspect -- hopefully it didn't just open in 2015.

3. I take artistic license for the purpose of plotting.  I'll invent conversations, modify details, change the people involved, in order to get from incident to story.

4. I have a Little Black Book.

When I was 13 years old, one of my Christmas presents was a diary -- a red, square book with gold-laminated pages and a lock and key, one of the few times that my parents consented to give me a girly gift rather than macho sports equipment.

I used it as a date book, to keep track of my concerts, parties, church activities -- and, of course, boys that I liked.

At Indiana University, when Viju and I began picking up guys in bars, I kept records, as a safety precaution.  If you came down with a STD, you should call all of the guys you've been with recently.



In West Hollywood, there were so many things going on, dates, dinners, movies, parties, classes, jobs, festivals -- that you needed a calendar to keep track of it all.  I recorded almost all of my social activities, so now I can go back and see what happened on my first date with Alan, or my third date with Raul, or with the guys that Lane and I shared.

In the early 1990s, I transferred it all to a computer file, and I've kept it up, sometimes faithfully, sometimes not.

When I have a partner and don't hook up often, I tend to go into more detail.

Here, for instance, is my entry for the night of my first experience as a bottom in ten years, in Barcelona in 1994:

June 24th.  Worked out, very nice gym.  Sagrada Familia, Picasso Museum.  Bear Night/Sauna Condal.

Busy!  Raul, Chinese Catalan, grandparents didn't speak Mandarin, spoke Wu.  "Have you eaten?" = "Hello."  Him and a muscle bear at the same time.  Into Catalan Independence Movement.  Went to El Quatre Gats, where Picasso hung out.  Dinner with roommate, big hairy bear, curved dk.   Trinxat, cabbage quiche.  Split for bedroom, me and Raul, small, passionate, was G.A. (!).  No breakfast.


With that prompt, I remembered a lot more.  I just had to add some conversations and a few details.



But here is my entry for my date with the Nastiest Guy in the World, in New York in 1998:

February 11th.  Crazy Troy from chatroom said he had room to rent in the City, actually had a studio, tricked me into going there just for a date!

Other than that entry, what I remembered was Troy belittling everyone in the chatroom, him picking me up at the train station, driving forever to get to his apartment, and sitting on the couch, where I suddenly realized that it was a single.

I had to make up whole conversations, the restaurant we went to -- I just remembered Indian -- and what his apartment looked like.

It's an odd experience going through the entries, recalling people that I knew back then, as friends, boyfriends, dates, or hookups, who are probably still living and breathing and going about their daily lives in some city far away.

I wonder if they remember.

When they're sitting around with their friends, swapping stories of dates from hell, gigantic penises, guys with too many weird quirks to date a second time, and beautiful men who got away, does my name come up?

And which one am I?

Feb 11, 2016

The Thirteenth Year

Every now and then the Disney Channel airs a movie over-brimming with teenage and young adult beefcake, only to hide it in a vault and refuse to release it on DVD, as if the network bigwigs find it embarrassing: Jumping Ship, Luck of the Irish, Johnny Tsunami, Full-Court Miracle.  But the most egregious is The Thirteenth Year (1999), which seems little more than an excuse to display 17-year old Chez Starbuck and his friends in swimsuits.















Chez plays Cody Griffin, a "normal" 13-year old whose main problems are: 1) the swim team, where he competes with star athlete Sean (Tim Redwine, left), and 2) his marine biology project, where he is partnered with the uncool science nerd Jess (Justin Jon Ross).  Oh, and his body is changing, and not just the expected changes of puberty: he's developing gills and scales.

Jess performs some tests, and concludes that Cody is turning into a mermaid -- or rather, a merman.  Turns out that his mother is a mermaid, and he will eventually transform altogether.

In spite of the "keeping my secret" hilarity, the movie is rather disturbing.  The transformation is painful and traumatic, and when it is complete, Cody will no longer be human.  He must abandon his human friends and seek out "his own kind" in the ocean.

But there's substantial gay content, and not just the endless swimsuit shots.

1. Although Cody has a girlfriend -- this is Disney, after all -- he ends up buddy-bonding with Jess.  The climactic rescue comes when he saves Jess from drowning, and then uses his mermaid electrical power to revive him.

2. None of the main characters other than Cody express any heterosexual interest.  They all seemed extraordinarily focused on him.

3. The "fish out of water" looking for a place where he can be himself.  Ok, gay symbolism.

Chez Starbuck hasn't done much acting since The Thirteenth Year.  He played a jock in Time Share (2000) and got undressed in the MTV series Undressed.  He appeared as himself in the reality series The Real L-Word (2011), about real lesbians, and for some reason made a plaster cast of his penis.


Feb 10, 2016

Chris Demetral: Dream On

Star Trek fans will recognize Chris Demetral from his role as Riker's son on a 1990 episode of The Next Generation.  The 14-year old Michigan native had only been in Hollywood for two years, but he had already landed guest spots on several high-profile tv series, including Mr. Belvedere, The Wonder Years, and The New Lassie, and he would go on to guest on several more.


Chris became best known for playing Jeremy Tupper, son of book editor Martin Tupper (Brian Benben) on the HBO series Dream On (1990-96). Advertised as an "adult sitcom," it mostly featured Martin pursuing women (with lots of cable-tv nudity).   Jeremy has his share of dates and romances, and even has sex during the December 18, 1993 episode.




But the heterosexist part didn't prohibit buddy-bonding elsewhere. In the spring of 1993, Chris became a series regular on Lois and Clark, playing a homeless teenager named Jack, whom Clark/Superman (Dean Cain) takes in.  Designed as a replacement for Jimmy Olsen, with some buddy-bonding and nick of time rescues, Jack didn't click with Superman purists, and he was written out.

In Blank Check (1994), Chris plays Damian, the brother of the 12-year old who cashes a check for $1,000,000.  Damian's relationship with his brother Ralph (Michael Faustino, younger brother of David Faustino) is called into question when a computer repeats "Ralph and Damian sleep butt to face."




Chris's last major role was in The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (2000), a Canadian tv series.  The French science fiction writer travels around with his friends, Phileas and Rebecca Fogg (Michael Praed, Francesca Hunt), and his servant Passepartout (Michel Courtemanche), fighting monsters and the League of Darkness.

Not much buddy-bonding, but Jules is certainly gay-vague. Whenever the group meets a damsel in distress, the horny Phileas takes over.  Jules spends most of his time striking up conversations with strange men.


Chris disliked the "Hollywood lifestyle," so he retired from acting and moved back home to Michigan. He currently works for talkhumor.com, where his bio states that he is "a reformed smartass" known for his love for his wife, family, friends, the Lakers, and his saviour Jesus. I didn't find any gay-positive or homophobic content on the site.

Feb 9, 2016

Charlton Comics: More Gay Subtexts than Casper


When I was a kid in the 1960s, my staple was Harvey comics: gay-vague pacifist Casper the Friendly Ghost saving the world from science-fiction threats.  I liked the Gold Key jungle comics, Little Lulu, Archie, and occasionally a Marvel or DC title, but I hated the bottom-of-the-barrel Charlton comics: cheaply printed on bad paper, amateurish illustrations, horrible dialogue, stupid stories.

Until one day my boyfriend Bill  suggested that I take another look: "They're all full of best men."

That was our word for gay romantic partners.









I wasn't convinced.  "No way.  Harveys are lots better."  I picked up the first on the pile.  "Abbot and Costello?  My Grandma talked about them -- they were on tv like a thousand years ago."

"The big guy has to rescue the little guy all the time."

A same-sex rescue was our main test of whether two guys were friends or "best men."






"What about Timmy the Timid Ghost? It's stupid!"

It was a blatant knock-off of Harvey's Casper the Friendly Ghost.  There was even a tough derby-wearing ghost, Manny, a blatant knock-off of Harvey's Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost

"Do Casper and Spooky live together?" Bill asked pointedly.

No.  Casper lived with his uncles, and Spooky lived alone.  Their paths rarely crossed in the vast Enchanted Forest.

Domesticity -- male characters living together -- was our second test of best men!



The only original characters made no sense, like Surf n' Wheels: good surfers vs. evil motorcyclists in one issue, then crime fighting surfer-motorcyclists in the next.

But Bill pointed out that they had their shirts off for about half of every issue, more than you ever got with Harveys.

Beefcake -- guys taking their shirts off, or even better, wearing only underwear or swimsuits -- was our third test!









Bill pointed out that some Charlton titles, like Hercules, Jungle Jim, and Robin Hood, were even more beefcake-heavy than the Gold Keys.

Beefcake, same-sex rescues, and domesticity.  What else could you ask for in a comic book?

Good stories, interesting artwork, and dialogue that made sense.  I still didn't like Charlton.














Feb 8, 2016

Twenty Years, 10,000 Naked Men, Part 1: Asian to Hung

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, you never saw a penis except in the locker room after gym class.  No pictures.  There were plenty of pictures of naked women, but male dangly bits were deemed de facto obscene, so there weren't any. Maybe on a statue or a naked Amazonian Indian in an occasional issue of National Geographic.  Otherwise you had to make do with looking for bulges.

When I turned 18, I could buy "dirty" magazines, but they were all about women except for Playgirl, which I didn't dare buy.  Sometimes I bought Hustler, because nude men would be shown alongside the women.

In grad school in Bloomington, I finally found porn magazines aimed at gay men: Blueboy, Honcho, In Touch.  You could see penises, but they were frightfully expensive, $3, $4, or even $5 (twice my hourly salary) for nine or ten pictures.

In the 1990s, the internet allowed you to go to online bulletin boards, pay a monthly fee, and download jpgs, hundreds of them.  Guys who had been bereft of erotic imagery for the last 30 years suddenly found themselves spending an hour or twoevery morning just looking at and downloading images.  Maybe 20 a day, or 7300 per year.


Then in the 2000s, bulletin boards were replaced by blog sites like tumblr, and suddenly every hunk with an i-phone was posting nude selfies.  Today you can see uncountable thousands of pictures instantly.

But the guys who were bereft of erotic imagery earlier in life were still overwhelmed.  It's like you were starving for half your life, and suddenly you are invited to a nonstop banquet.  You gorge yourself, worried that the display will someday end.  So you continue to spend an hour or two every morning downloading images.

And before you know it, you have 10,000.

I've used many of them as illustrations on this blog, but there are thousands more.  Here are some of my favorites.  In each category.

Asian.  (Top photo.) Lots of men from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and South Asia.  I like this sultry Desi with a Kielbasa+.




Ballet and Opera Bulges. (Second photo.) Admit it -- you go to the ballet primarily for the bulgeworthy tights.  Here's a trio of buddy-bonding guys with tripods beneath the belt.

Batman and Robin.  I have a whole folder of pics of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder, both canonical and fan art.  Nightwing -- Robin all grown up -- shows a fabulous physique but no basket in this canonical drawing.











Black. It's the insouciant attitude and the cap that makes this photo.  And the baseball bat between his legs.















Bulges.  Charlie Day of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia displays the second most important reason I'm a fan.  The first is his comedic talent.  Ok, who am I kidding? His comedic talent is #2.













Celebrities.  I have over 1000 pictures of shirtless and nude celebrities.  Most I've seen in things, or at least heard of.  This one is labeled Casey Moss.  I have no idea who that is.

Ok, I just looked him up.  He's the one on the right, a star of Days of Our Lives.  

But I'm really more interested in following that trail of hair down his abdomen to his...

His friend is invited, too.






Comics.  Comic book and comic strip characters saying and doing fun things, especially things that, taken out of context, sound dirty.  Looks like Mr. Magoo's sexual expertise was too much for the twink he hooked up with.














Dads and Sons.  Not sex photos, but shirtless or naked, at the beach or in the sauna.  This is an interesting series, Dad and Son photographed every year, as dad gets a little saggier and son gets a little more buffed.  The changing hair styles are fun, too.













Dwarfs and Other Unique Men.  Men who are very short, very tall, or have other unusual physical qualities. Some interesting -- and hot -- nude photos, but I'm going to go with this muscular swimmer who is missing a leg.












Fine Art.  Lots of reproductions of male beauty in statues and paintings.  Franz Metzner was a German sculptor known for his stylized musclemen.  In this poster, two nude men are hoisting a flag to celebrate the International Exposition of Industry and Labor in Turin in 1911.














Hung.  My file of supersized guys contains some whoppers, but I like this amateur shot of a Spanish guy posing for the camera in his attic.

Ran out of space.  Next up: Kilts to Pairs and Punks to Urinals.

The uncensored photos are on Tales of West Hollywood.






Feb 7, 2016

Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Goal of Every Journey

You know my history with graphic novels -- growing up with comic books, I keep wanting to like them, but they always turn out to be the depressing angst-ridden memoirs of Millennials, and immensely heterosexist, with The Girl as the goal of every journey.  

But I've heard so much about the Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman -- it's complex, woven in with mythologies, philosophical, cool -- “Expansive and atmospheric, jammed with brainy, contemplative moments and dry humor...stunning, gorgeous artwork."

And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is scheduled to play the Sandman in the movie version.

So when the "Overture" of the series came out recently, I bought it, figuring it would be a good introduction, plus something stunningly great.  So I forked over my $15.00, got the hardcover, read the cover blurbs: "Gorgeous from start to finish": "A sweeping and extravagant prequel."

And opened it.

Remember, I have almost a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature.  I speak three languages.  I've read James Joyce, William Faulkner, T. S. Eliot.  I know all about Derrida, Foucault, and Baudrillard.

I'm really, really smart.

So I opened it...and...

WTF?????

Terrible is not the right word.  Terrible implies that there's something to evaluate.  There's nothing here to read.   I can't make out the meaning of a single one of the images --- and there are hundreds of every page.  Or the self-important purple prose.

1. A planet full of sentient plants that never dream start dreaming of death.
2. In London in 1815, a businessman named Ian Stuart receives a mysterious visitor who tells him that he brings news, but not about his brother.
3. Destiny of the Endless (that's his name) gets a visit from his sister,  who is worried about Dream, a hundred galaxies away.
4. George Portcullis, who has a portcullis instead of a face, gets a mysterious visitor, the Corinthian, who he sends to see the Master, who tells him that he won't get a trial.
5. Sigmund Freud talks to a pumpkin-headed man.
6. Lucien is pulled "halfway across the universe in the one fraction of forever."  A group of people and a giant cat, who are all him, ask "What kept you."




And that's just the first ten pages.  It goes on like that.

All I can figure out is, something bad is happening in the universe.

And the goal of every journey is Hugging Naked Ladies.

The Dream of the Endless, and a giant cat who is also the Dream of the Endless, plus the daughter of a dead blue guy, go on a journey to...somewhere.  

Dream hugs and kisses a lady, whose name is Delight, and "makes a world" for another lady, who is also Delight.

Then a chapter happens with people talking.

Then Dream hugs another lady, named Dusk.

Then the giant cat talks to a giant bird lady.

And another lady, who is probably Desire and Delight and Dusk, discovers that "in the grand dance of creation and destruction, the worlds are ending and she is there for all of them."

Dream gets naked to roll around in agony in the endless night:  rather skinny, with a good sized penis.

Then "there is nothing but the circle and the dark"

And a grey alien lies "deep beneath the ground, in a room lit by candles," and "it begins."

WTF?????

I'd rather read a 60-year old Tarzan comic.

Or James Joyce.