Nov 17, 2017

Eric Shares the Rifleman and His Son

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.

Nov 13, 2017

Tad's Wild Night with the Rifleman and His Son

Readers have been asking for a story about a Chuck Connors - Johnny Crawford romance ever since I started this blog.

I don't know why.  Most Baby Boomers have never seen The Rifleman (1958-63), about single dad Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) raising his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) in the Old West.  It was before our time during its first run, and who wanted to watch the reruns?  Westerns were square; the 1960s was all about blasting off in rocket ships and zapping aliens with ray guns.

Plus Johnny Crawford was 12 years old when The Rifleman began, so any sexual activity would be the predatory grooming of a pedophile.  During the last season, he was 16-17 years old, still off limits for any consensual romance.  But maybe later, when they were both adults.

Here are the 2 hookup stories I heard about them in West Hollywood.  The first comes from a guest at one of Will the Bondage Boy's parties in 1999, a young BDSM bottom.  I don't remember his name, so I'll call him Tad.  I added a few details.

Hollywood, Spring 1986

I was a Cute Young Thing, 19 years old, still living with my parents, working at a video store in Eagle Rock.  I was tall and skinny, kind of homely, with a big nose and acne scars, o muscles, no selling point except my willingness to bottom, which as you know was unusual in the 1980s.

So every weekend I hung out on Hustler Corner, Highland and Santa Monica. Not hustling, though I wouldn't say no to a new shirt.  But the closeted married men who came out after their kids were tucked into bed didn't care that I was poor, homely, small, or didn't belong to a gym. All they cared about was getting off.

 I met a lot of closeted actors on Hustler Corner, cruising themselves or sending an assistant out to make the deal for them.

Well, one night this blue Camero pulls up, and a very handsome guy sticks his head out -- in his 30s, black curly hair, dark skin -- and asks if I like older men.  He's not really older, but I say "Sure" and get into the car with him.

We drive to the parking lot on Selma.  "Do you mind if I inspect the merchandise first?" he asks.

"Be my guest."  He asks me to raise up so he can feel my butt.  "Nice and firm!  Do you do Greek passive?"

"As long as you use a condom."

"Great -- these days Greek passive is hard to find.  Is bondage ok?"

I wasn' t ready to admit my BDSM interest yet, so I said "As long as there's no pain."

"Another plus.  And you're cute.  I think you'll do great."

"Thanks," I said, wondering if I was going to a trick or an audition.

"It's a bit of a drive, so my boss would like you to spend the night, and if things work out, the weekend.  It pay $200.  Is that ok?"

"As long as I'm back for work by noon Sunday."

He gets onto the 405 and drives us north, over the mountains and then farther through the San Joaquin Valley.  I don't mind -- there are snacks and beer in the car, and Mike has a lot of funny stories.  Originally from Albuquerque, he came to L.A. ten years ago to become an actor, but ended up a pool cleaner and lawn maintenance guy for some of the wealthy residents of Bel Air.  For the past three years, he has been a personal assistant for Chuck Connors.

Chuck Connors!  I can barely hide my excitement!  You may think I'm too young to remember The Rifleman, but when I was growing up, they were playing the reruns every day after school. I had lots of fantasies about Lucas McCain and especially his teenage son Mark.

After about two hours, we come to a gated community up in the mountains near Bakerfield, and drive into what looks like a ranch called Medicine Hat Oak.  The main house is all done like a Wild West ranch, too, with wood paneling and deer and moose heads and guns on the walls, and that old-fashioned Colonial furniture.

Mike lets me use the bathroom, then takes me into a guest room.  More Wild West motif.

"You won't meet Mr. Connors until tomorrow," he says.  "Do you need anything?"

"A shower," I tell him.  "And maybe you could join me?"  We start kissing. 

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

Nov 12, 2017

Johnny Crawford: Growing Up in the Old West

Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s were good for beefcake but not for bonding.  The days of the cowboy and sidekick were long gone, replaced by single fathers and womanizing card sharks.

The Rifleman (1958-63) was no exception.  The tale of widowed Lucas McCain (Chuck Connors) and his son Mark (Johnny Crawford) had two men living together and caring for each other, and lots of nick-of-time rescues -- Mark seemed to get tied up and threatened by bad guys just about every week -- but they were father and son, and neither developed a significant relationship with anyone else, male or female.

On the other hand, there was lots of muscle.  A former basketball player (and reputedly the star of a gay underground film), Chuck Connors was lean, lanky, and craggy.  As Johnny Crawford grew into a teenager, he surpassed his father, developing a ripped bodybuilder physique.

But that didn't mean that he stopped being the object of "my hero" heroics.

They were also shirtless in comic books, coloring books, big-little books, and every other tie-in imaginable.

Johnny Crawford appeared in Indian Paint (1965), some teen beach and horror movies, such as Village of the Giants (1965) with Tommy Kirk (the movie I saw on my first date, in October 1968).  He was even fully nude in The Naked Ape (1973) and The Great Texas Dynamite Chase (1976) before settling down to a career as a singer.

But he has continued to appear occasionally before the camera; for instance, as Deputy Noah Paisley on an episode of Murder She Wrote (1985), or as Art in the children's movie Rupert Patterson Wants to Be a Superhero (1997).

In The Gambler Returns (1991), Kenny Rogers' Gambler encounters some of the most famous figures of the Old West, including Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, President Teddy Roosevelt -- and Mark McCain!

There's a Johnny Crawford hookup story on Tales of West Hollywood.

Nov 11, 2017

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novels were popular in my junior high, and I read all of them, even those with language somewhat too complex and florid: The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine, The Golden Apples of the Sun. My parents disapproved, thinking that any book with “Martian” or “Sun” in the title must be atheist science fiction, but actually Bradbury wrote nostalgia, evoking a Mars or future Earth identical to his own childhood in Indiana, with church steeples, moving-picture shows, ice cream socials, rummage sales, and lots of heterosexual nuclear families. he men were all strong and decent and slow-talking, the women all stoic and once-beautiful, the boys all rambunctious, the girls all timid. But there was always a sadness in his heterosexual Arcadia, as the men lay next to their wives at 3:00 am, staring out at their own mortality and desperately wishing that they were boys again, because through marrying and making families and getting their stern decent jobs, they had lost something precious and vital, a primal connection with the world and with each other. What did they lose? And how?

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962) is an unrecognized gay novel.  Bradbury tells us of Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade (played by Shawn Carson and Vidal Peterson in the 1983 movie), thirteen-year old boys growing up – or, rather, being, for their lives are eternal and immutable – in a bucolic 1920’s Midwest.

 They are quite obviously in love, with an instinctive, inevitable bond, as integral to their world as the rhythms of school and home and swimming-holes and rock-strewn lanes, accepted without question by children and adults alike. But the week before Halloween, just days before they turn fourteen, the Cooger & Dark Pandemonian Shadow Show rolls by night into Green Town, Illinois, and their lives change forever.

They peer through a window and see people who “let fall clothes to the rug, stood raw and animal-crazy, naked, like shivering horses, hands out to touch each other”

They peer into a movie theater and see “a woman’s face. . .shadowed by the motion of her lips. . .the snow-pale death-shimmering illumination from her cheeks”

That is, they move from innocence to experience: they acquire knowledge which means sexual knowledge which means heterosexual knowledge, which got Adam booted out of Paradise and causes once-brave men to tremble in their beds at 3:00 am. Here heterosexual desire is purveyed by the sinister carnival owner Mr. Dark. Jim Nightshade is the oldest, so Mr. Dark eats his soul first, transforming him into a cold, dead thing with eyes that can’t see anymore and ears that can’t hear anymore.

You’d think that Will Halloway would be powerless to do anything against the elemental power of Mr. Dark, anything except hold his beloved tightly in his arms and cry. But he’s not about to give up without a fight. He and his Dad force back life into Jim’s soul like you would breath life into a drowned body: they sing “Swanee River” badly, off-key, and play leapfrog, and do the silly, inconsequential things that lovers do, cavorting and dancing “as it must have been in the first year of Creation, and Joy not yet thrown from the Garden." And gradually, painfully, Jim returns to them.

I read the novel as a metaphor for the pubescent "discovery of girls" that everyone was always talking about.  Twelve, thirteen, fourteen year olds were "destined" to be struck down by Mr. Dark, and their souls would wither, and the girls who had been mere classmates and playground buddies would become tantalizing figures in pink lace who winked and gestured and sashayed off into the darkness. And they would eagerly follow them, even if they led the boys right out of the Garden. They would take a job in the factory, watch tv and swear, and wake up sweating with night dreads over the joy they had lost. And – perhaps the most sobering thought of all – they would conclude that it was worth it, that the pursuit of girls was terrible and noble, far surpassing the trivial loves of men for men.

No wonder I analyzed movies and tv programs and comic books fervently, looking for an escape.

Nov 10, 2017

The Sons of Two Famous Actors Hook Up with Tarzan

This story comes from Zack, the ex-boyfriend of Drake the Teddy Bear Artist, who apparently heard it from Gordon Scott:

Rome, June 1964

Jim Mitchum, son of action-adventure star Robert Mitchum (Night of the Hunter, Bandido, Thunder Road), was 22 years old and making his own name in Hollywood, appearing in Westerns, comedies, and dramas, often as a second banana or buddy-buddy.

He dated girls, of course -- was there any way around it? -- but everybody except his father knew, even his little brother Chris (an undergrad at the University of Pennsylvania).  In fact, he seemed to get cast deliberately in vehicles overloaded with hunks with similar proclivities.

That's how he got most of his boyfriends: Harold Lloyd Jr. in Girls' Town (1959),  Jimmy Lydon in The Last Time I Saw Archie (1961), Vince Edwards in The Victors (1963).

But Jim was after bigger game.  He wanted Tarzan.

Not Johnny Weissmuller, the Tarzan of his father's generation, middle-aged and paunchy, with ridiculous hair.  The Tarzan Jim saw as a teenager in the 1950s, when his hormones were kicking in and his erotic fantasies were in high gear:  Gordon Scott, cowboy, lifeguard, fireman, bodybuilder, and Lord of the Jungle.

Scott played Tarzan in five movies (1955-1960).  From three different studios, speaking a jungle patois or perfect English, but they all had one thing in common endless beefcake shots of the  6'3", 280 lbs of broad-shouldered, hard-torsoed, bicep-bulging, loincloth-bulging man-meat.

Have you ever in all your life seen a chest like that?

When Jim "came out"in 1959, he found out something else: Scott was a Friend of Dorothy!  He tricked with Scott's former lover Robert Walker, and heard about several others, including Sal Mineo, Brandon DeWilde, Marlon Brando, and Drake.

Unfortunately, he was no longer in Hollywood.  His Tarzan franchise ended, he had moved to Italy to star in sword-and-sandal peplums: Maciste contro il vampiro, Il gladiatore di Roma, Il colosso di Roma.  

Jim was just barely beginning to negotiate the heavily closeted gay community of Hollywood; no way did he have the time or money to cruise in Italy!

Then -- it was fate!  Kismet!  Sergio Corbucci cast him in Massacro al Grande Canyon, a spaghetti western about a boy avenging his father's death.  They would be filming in Rijeka, Yugoslavia, and Trieste and Rome, Italy.

When he arrived in Rome, Jim had his agent call Gordon's agent, claiming that he wanted to talk about a new African adventure movie his father was producing (Mister Moses, 1965).  They arranged to meet for lunch at a taverna near the Ponte Sisto.

Gordon was bearded for a role and deeply tanned by the Italian sun, but he was still amazingly buffed, the Tarzan of Jim's adolescent fantasy.  It didn't take much -- a hand brushed across the knee, a few names dropped of common lovers -- to get an invitation back to Gordon's villa for a dip in the pool and, no doubt, a tryst in the bedroom.

But when they arrived, there were two other people lounging by the pool: Natalie Wood (Rebel without a Cause, Splendor in the Grass), and that weasel David Niven!

The son and namesake of actor David Niven, a year younger than Jim, and everything Jim hated.  They grew up in the same neighborhood in Pacific Palisades, but Jim was a regular fellow, going fishing and watching football on television.  David -- never Dave -- was busy exchanging bon mots with Noel Coward, dancing with Fred Astaire, and sunbathing with Princess Grace. He wore an ascot and reeked of perfume.  He was a flamboyant, elitist, foppish, priggish sissy.

But there was a more pressing problem.  How could Jim maneuver Gordon Scott into bed with two other people in the room?

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

Nov 8, 2017

70 Years of Archie Beefcake

K. J. Apa is not the first beefcake star to portray perennial comic book teenager Archie Andrews.  Archie has been around since 1941, after all, and there have been five other tv versions.

Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again (1990) starred Christopher Rich as an adult Archie returning to Riverdale for his high school reunion. 

It also featured Sam Whipple as Jughead and Gary Kroeger (left, on Saturday Night Live) as Reggie.

The Archie Situation Comedy Musical Variety Show (1978), a tv pilot based on the 1976 Saturday morning special Archie (1976), starred Dennis Bowen as Archie and Jim Boelsen as dimwitted athlete Moose. 

They look like Richie and Potsie, don't they?

Here's a shirtless Dennis Bowen from Caddyshack II

A 1964 tv movie, Archie, starred John Simpson as Archie and Wayne Adams as Reggie.

Life with Archie (1962) featured Fred Bank.

And don't forget Archie on radio (1943-53) played by Bob Hastings (also known as Captain Video's teenage sidekick), and the many animated cartoons, with Archie voiced by Dal McKennon and J. Michael Roncetti,