Jul 20, 2017

The Bad Boys of Boston

When you think of Boston, you think of Harvard, Boston Commons, the elegant shops and restaurants of the Back Bay, the gay bars and bathhouses on Tremont and Boylston.  Most traveler never get any farther west than the Museum of Fine Arts.

But there's another Boston: Jamaica Plain, out past Brookline,  Mattapan.  Hyde Park.  And "The Combat Zone," east of Washington and south of Boylston, near the Tufts Medical Center.  Neighborhoods of unmown lawns and broken windows, unemployment, poverty, and battling gangs, where kids grow up fast and tough, where fun, friends, work, and school are equally dangerous.


Several photographers have taken the train south and west to document these bad boys, their games and sports, their fights, their gay and heterosexual loves.

Here John Goodman (the photographer, not the actor) shows a carload of cute guys in the Combat Zone in th 1970s, driving with their Saturday night entertainment, a six pack of Schlitz beer.









Jules Aarons (1921-2008) spent his career investigating Boston street life.  Here two boys in the 1950s chat beside their car.
















A muscular South End boy in the 1970s offers his friend a light.

















Jerry Berndt (1943-2013) taught at the Art Institute and photographed Boston street boys from 1955 through 1985.  These smoking boys look like they're from the 1980s.










Jack Lueders-Booth (1935-) taught at Harvard and, in the 1980s, photographed the Neighborhoods of the Orange Line.  He found this father and son working on their car in Jamaica Plain.











 Sally Mann (1951-) specializes in images of decay and death, although she mad an exception for this very muscular Boston boy.

Who is Tony Dow's Boyfriend?

This photo is causing a bit of speculation.

It looks like Venice Beach in Los Angeles (the cabana in the background says "Charter 0").

The guy on the right is Tony Dow, the teen hunk of Leave It to Beaver, shirtless, in his standard white shorts. Sometime in the early 1960s.

He's with a guy who is about his height and age, buffed, with a severe military haircut, wearing a dark t-shirt and cut-off jeans. They're both barefoot, and they both bulge to the left.

Tony is looking at the photographer, while the other guy is facing away, not sure what to do.  It's not a posed photo, it's a candid, two guys caught in an informal moment.  Hanging out together, or on a date.

But who is Tony's boyfriend?

I cropped the photo, but the original doesn't display any more information.  There are three guys sitting on the left, and there's a partial watermark: eart.ltd edit

Three possibilities have been suggested:

1. In "Wally the Lifeguard," a episode of Leave It to Beaver that aired on October 22, 1960, Wally thinks he has been hired as a lifeguard, and is embarrassed to discover that he will be selling hot dogs in a ridiculous outfit instead.  Some scenes are set at the beach, where the real life guard is played by 25-year old Dick Gering. Maybe he and Tony Dow bonded.

Severe military haircut, but the guy in the photo doesn't look like him.









2. Tommy Rettig, the star of Lassie, four years older than Tony Dow, became one of his closest friends during the early 1960s, and starred with him in Never Too Young (1965-66)

The guy in the photo is definitely not Tommy Rettig.
















3. John "Butchie" Davidson.  Not the actor, the physique model. He was in Los Angeles for only a few months in the spring of 1965 before shipping out to Vietnam (he died tragically en route).  But during those months, he starred in several Athletic Model Guild films and got the cover of Physique Pictorial.  

Same haircut, same hands, same face.

Tony Dow never appeared in Physique Pictorial, but he mostly likely knew about it.  It's not inconceivable that he met Butchie, and was showing him the sights that day when an anonymous photographer snapped his picture.

There are nude photos of John Davidson on Tales of West Hollywood.


Jul 19, 2017

Nude Wrestling in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

Rock Island, July 2017

It's the morning after the most disgusting hookup ever.  Bob the 19-year old economics major and I are at having egg white omelets and fruit cups at the Quad Cities Pancake House.

"So, what's on the schedule for today?"  Bob asks.

"Chicago, about three hours from here.  We'll hit a couple of the museums, spend the night, and then drive on to Cleveland tomorrow."

"Would you mind if we take a little side-trip first?  I have a cousin I haven't seen since we were kids.  It's a couple of hours out of the way."

"Where?"

"Fond du Lac, Wisconsin."

4 hours out of the way!  But this is Bob's trip, too, so he should have a say in the itinerary.  Besides,  I have a history with Fond du Lac.


During my senior year in high school, although I was still Nazarene, I became obsessed with all things Catholic.  I read The Seven Story Mountain and The Dark Night of the Soul, learned to say the Rosary, and even went incognito into a Catholic Mass. I didn't actually convert, but I was considering it.

 And I considered applying to Marion College in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

One day in January 1978, Dad drove me up for a tour.  I remember a vast snow-covered campus with round white buildings, pristine, pure, as quiet as a cloister.

You could feel the presence of God everywhere.

I imagined living in an austere dorm room, all white, empty except for a bed with white covers, some statues of saints, and a shelf of contemplative classics: the Little Flowers of St. Francis The Cloud of Unknowing.  Of walking among buildings of brilliant white other-worldly splendor every day, en route to my classes in medieval philosophy, Catholic theology, Ecclesiastical Latin, and Koine Greek.

On the four hour drive to Fond du Lac, Bob tells me more about Cousin Tark (short for Tarkington).  He's older than Bob, a big brother who used to babysit him and sneak him into R-rated movies, until he went away to college in Wisconsin, and then got a job in Fond du Lac.

"Was he cute?" I ask.

Not an athlete, but big and tall, with a thick beefy chest and nice biceps.

"Any sausage sightings?"

"Man, we used to wrestle in the nude.   Really big -- and thick!  Man, that thing was like a beer can!"

 A beer-can penis somehow seems out of place in a world of quiet contemplation.  Surely trivial matters like sex fade away when you are in the presence of the Divine.

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