Jun 13, 2015

10 Things I Hated About Summer (and Still Do)

I'm getting sick of summer: it's too hot, there's nothing to do all day but course prep for the fall, I'm gaining weight from sitting around, and there's nothing on tv at night but reruns.

It was the same way when I was a kid.  My favorite season was fall, when school started, with new books and classes, and the leaves started to change, and there was a little chill in the air.  And it was marked the beginning of the great holiday season that began with Halloween, picked up momentum with my birthday and Thanksgiving, and careened into Christmas.

Winter was great, too, with bright skies and biting cold air, wrestling tournaments, sledding, and snow men. I even liked shoveling snow (my brother and I started a snow-shoveling business).

I didn't care much for spring: all rainy and muddy, and no good holidays.  Valentine's Day?  St. Patrick's Day?

And summer -- don't get me started!

Here are the Top 10 Things I Hated About Summer (and still do)

1. With school out, there was nothing to do.

2. It was too hot to play outside.

3. But my parents insisted that I play outside. 

4. I could get sunburned in 10 minutes (in those days, we didn't use sunscreen).

5. There were thunderstorms almost every night, so we had to unplug the tv, thus missing our favorite programs.

6. There was nothing good on anyway, just reruns.

7. I had to go to bed when it was still daylight, and I could look out the window and see all the other kids in the neighborhood playing.

8. My parents kept holding barbecues, picnics, and other activities where you had to eat outside, off paper plates, with the bugs and the dirt, and the wind that  blew everything away.

9. We always went on a horrible week-long camping trip, with nothing to do but swim in muddy water, hunt rabbits, and walk around in the woods.  What gay kid wants to mess around with that gross stuff?

10. And I spent another week at Nazarene summer camp, sleeping in drafty cabins, with nonstop sermons (mostly about boys liking girls) and sports, and the bathroom down a mosquito-ridden path (where I saw Brother Dino naked in the shower).

But there were a few things that made summer bearable (almost).

See also: 10 Things That Made Summer Bearable; Roadside Beefcake; and the Kensington Runestone.

Jun 12, 2015

Sausage List #14: The Drag Queen on my Sausage List

You probably know my top 10 turn-offs: tall, thin, long faced, wearing jewelry, alcoholic, sports nut, and so on, until we reach #10: feminine traits.

Politically, I'm a strong supporter of your right to be as butch, femme, or androgynous as you want to be.  I won't blink an eye if you sashay across the room in bedazzled couture, stanking up the place with your Chanel #5, and call me "girlfriend."  But it's not likely to get you the key to my bedroom.

So how did I end up going home with Miss Chita Taboo?

Well, I didn't know about Miss Chita Taboo.

One night in the spring of 2002, Yuri dragged me to the Manor, the twink bar in Wilton Manors, and I was cruised by Victor, a slim, smiling twink from Brazil (this isn't him).

He had three of the five traits I find attractive -- shorter than me, dark-skinned, and religious (devout Catholic).  And he had only a few feminine mannerisms, the sort that twinks get when they grow up in a super-macho environment where every hint of androgyny is punished -- they tend to go overboard, and sashay a bit.  Not a big turn off.

Besides, he was very persistent.  He taught me how to say "I want to kiss you." in Portuguese.

Eu quero te beijar

So I accepted the date.

I thought something might be up when I got to Victor's apartment, which was large, elegantly-furnished, and so close to the beach that you could hear the waves.

In his living room, instead of a couch, there was an enormous pink daybed with a zebra canopy and a photo of Madonna behind it.

"Who's the hunk?" I asked, pointing to a framed portrait of a very attractive older man, shirtless, with a hairy chest, gigantic pecs and delts.

"Oh, that's my Michael, my ex-husband," Victor said.  "Bodybuilder -- he went to Barney's Gym, where you go.  We broke up a long time ago.   We're still friends  -- we can share sometime -- but don't worry, you have no competition!"

Gay men did not call their partners husbands in 2002, unless they were modeling their relationships on heterosexual boy-girl models.

Ok, Victor was way too feminine for my comfort zone.

But I already agreed to the date -- I couldn't back out now.

We had dinner at a Brazilian restaurant, and then walked hand in hand along the gay beach.

"How can you afford that swanky apartment?" I asked.

"Oh, Daddy is the mayor of Belo Horizonte, He sends me money every month so I stay away from Brazil.  I embarrass him.  And I make money from my entertaining, too."

I didn't ask what his entertaining entailed, but I got an idea from the rest of our conversation, mostly about pop music.  Victor was a big fan of Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Carlton, Lane Ann Rimes, Brandy, Pink, and Aaliyeh, but he also liked the classics.  He had just been to a Cher concert, and he had a copy of Madonna's first album (1983), which had her all-time best number, "Lucky Star."  He began singing it for me, right on the beach, complete with hand gestures.

You may be my lucky star, but I'm the luckiest by far....

Getting serenaded by Madonna songs by moonlight is quite an experience.

Still, this guy was way too feminine.  I decided to excuse myself and go home without the obligatory kiss. Then Victor cozied up to me and said, "I have a surprise for you. Bolo de rolo, guava cake.  A special Brazilian dessert.  I made it myself."

He already made the cake.  It would be impolite to refuse.

We sat in Victor's elegantly furnished kitchen, eating small slices of the very rich, spicy cake and drinking coffee.  I tried to steer the conversation away from popular music.

How about the gym?

"Oh, I do jazzercise every morning.  I keep my girlish figure."


"Oh, I want to see the Powerpuff Girls movie so bad! I love them so much -- Girl Power!  Which one is your favorite, Blossom, Bubbles, or Buttercup?"

"Um...do you have any interests that involve men?"  I asked.

"Horny already, you naughty boy?  Wait a minute...I'll be back...."  Before I could say anything, he vanished through the bedroom into the bathroom and shut the door.

Oh, no -- he thought I was interested in bedroom activities.  I had to turn him down fast!   I followed to tell him I was going home.

The bedroom contained:

A gigantic bed with a black bedspread and red plush pillows.

A chair shaped like a high-heel shoe.

A vanity desk cluttered with jars, vials, chalices, styluses, Eau de Parfum, nail polish, polish remover, lipstick, sponge applicators, brow gel, eyeliner, toner, moisturizer, bronzer, mascara, hair gel, moisturizer, pink razors, tweezers, powder.

And a framed photo of an elegant drag queen.

"Who's the drag queen?" I asked through the door.

"That's me -- Miss Chita Taboo.  I've won Miss Gay Fort Lauderdale twice!  I could go on to Miss Gay Florida last year, but that Yvette DeLong beat me out!"

"Oh,.,that's very interesting," I said.  "I'm not..I mean, I support your right to do drag 100%.  I just like men who are a little more...you know...masculine."

No answer.

"I think I'm going to be going.  But thanks for the rolo de bolo.  It was very tasty."

No answer.

Had he collapsed?

"Victor?  Are you ok?"

No answer.

Was he sobbing over the rejection?

"Miss Taboo?  Are you still there?"

The door breezed open.  "Sorry, I didn't hear you with the toilet running."

Victor stood in front of me, naked, smiling.  Hung.

Bratwurst+.  Maybe bigger.

"What did you say, babe?"

"Um...um..I said I'd love to see your act sometime."

"How sweet!  But why are your clothes on still!"

Well, I never turn down a Bratwurst+.

See also: The Pitcher with the Secret Move; and My Sausage List.

The Hardy Boys

When I was a kid in the 1960s, I preferred science fiction and jungle adventures, but I didn't mind detectives, if they were Sherlock Holmes and Watson, or the Hardy Boys.  Frank and Joe Hardy, high school aged sons of the famous detective Fenton Hardy, began by butting into their father’s cases in 1927, but soon found trouble enough on their own: they captured smugglers and counterfeiters, thwarted spies, investigated haunted houses that weren’t really haunted after all.

Although they are both in the same year of high school, the Hardys are a year apart in age.  , but their personalities are complementary: the older Frank is reasoned, logical, and serious, while the younger Joe is impetuous, emotional, and something of a jokester.   Since they managed to endure and even prosper while other boys’ book series failed during the 1960s, we may conclude that they provided something hard to find in the movies, tv programs, and comic books of the era.

1. Intensive beefcake.  Frank and Joe share the Herculean physiques and breathtaking good looks of the boys in  British boy annuals and American adventure series, and the covers and interior illustrations (not to mention the 1970s tv series, starring Shaun Cassidy) often show off their physiques.

2. Contemporary boy scientist Tom Swift was girl-crazy, but the Hardys lacked heterosexual interest. Frank has a “favorite among all the girls of his class,” Callie, and Joe has “an attachment” to Iola.   However, Callie and Iola appear in only four of the first ten installments, and never as girlfriends.  No individual boy-girl dates are planned or discussed, no romantic attachment fuels any plot, and the only fade-out embraces occur between siblings.

Callie and Iola dance with the Hardys at parties, invite themselves along on their picnics, and run into them downtown, not so much objects of hetero-romantic desire as emblems of the “ordinary time” that frames the call to adventure.

3. Intensive bonding. In the first six installments, the brothers have particular boy friends, whom they do invite out on dates, to picnics and movies and camping trips.  Frank favors chubby, good-natured Chet, who frets over household chores, befriends girls, and eventually goes to art school.  Joe favors Biff, with “muscles like steel,” who dislikes household chores, dislikes girls, and plays every school sport (he is named after a famous boxer relative).

Later, however, Biff is demoted to a  minor character, and Chet becomes a ubiquitous best friend, confidant, tag-along, and comic relief.  After the mystery is solved and explained, he returns the Hardys to ordinary time by saying something about sitting down to dinner or else “We’ve heard the story.  Now let’s dance!”  He no longer favor either brother.  Instead, the Hardys live for each other.

The Hardys sleuth out clues together, piece together mysteries together, befriend the innocent and excoriate the guilty together, and in ordinary time attend all of the parties and picnics as a pair; one has to read through a great many pages to find a scene where they separate by choice.  They touch wrists and shoulders; they finish each other’s sentences; they express a world with a glance.  At least once per story, one of the brothers is captured, tied up, and threatened with torture or murder, and he is rescued by the other brother.

The two share the intensity, intimacy, and exclusivity of homoromance, and perhaps the permanence, since they never discuss their immanent entry into adulthood, except to vaguely declare that they want to become detectives.  All that separates them from homoromance is the fraternal bond: their passion is the passion of brothers, not of lovers.

Why are Frank and Joe brothers?  By boys’ book convention, they should be strangers who meet for the first time as competitors on a high school gridiron, or else in darkest Africa, when one saves the other from being sacrificed to the Leopard God.

Even the Hardy series must fudge a bit with the back story, alluding vaguely to an “illness” that kept Frank out of school for a year to explain why they are in the same grade.  For that matter, why must they be in the same grade? They are rarely shown in school, so it would make little difference except that to establish that they cannot bear to be apart for even the fifty minutes of an algebra class.  Real brothers sometimes require time alone, or with other friends.  Not the Hardys.
 Men in mass culture are often cast as brothers when the plot requires that they care deeply for each other,  when one will be rescued or have a deathbed scene,  since the fraternal bond allows for an intensity and a intimacy that would otherwise signify romance.

 But the Hardys display none of the easy jocularity, the good-natured ribbing, the posturing and the bullying of real brothers, in mass media or in real life.  They behave precisely as if their bond is romantic rather than fraternal, as if they are in love.

Jun 10, 2015

Fall 1996: Tearoom Trade

The website cruisingforsex.com lists hundreds of places guys can go to cruise.  The few bars, bath houses, and sex clubs are overwhelmed by the public places, dozens in every city: beaches, adult video stores, gyms, highway truck stops, and lots -- lots of public restrooms.

Some of them have holes between stalls where guys insert things.  Otherwise you go under the barrier, or just use the same stall.

Why would you want to meet people that way, when there are community organizations, churches, bookstores, pride festivals, museums, art galleries, and any number of more comfortable places?

And if you meet someone in a t-room, why not take them home?  T-rooms are gross and  uncomfortable, and people could interrupt you at any moment.  Not to mention the risk of arrest for "lewd behavior."

But, in the fall of 1996, my friend David, who cruised constantly in bars, bathhouses, public parks, and public restrooms, talked me into giving "tearoom trade" a try.

The rest of the story is too risque for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding; you can read it at Tales of West Hollywood.

Jun 9, 2015

10 Things They Don't Want You to Know About Turning 40 (or 50, or 60)

I often hear complaints  that "Gay culture is too youth oriented!  Older guys are shunned!"

One of my dissertation respondents said "I hate being gay!  It's ok now, but what about when I'm 50?  I don't want to still be dancing at the Rage!"

Another said, in all seriousness, "There aren't any old gay men.  They all die before they reach 40."

Crazy ideas.  There are, and always have been, lots of gay men in their 40s.  And 50s.  And 60s, And so on.

And they have a big secret that they aren't sharing with the young guys:

Gay life gets better after 40.  And better than that after 50.

If you haven't hit those milestones yet, here are 10 things the older guys don't want you to know:

1. Every twink in town will want to date you. The cute 20-somethings who give major Attitude to their peers will be pushing and shoving to get their phone numbers into your hand.  Prepare to be annoyed by constant texts: "What u doing? Can I come over?"

2. Everyone will want to hear your stories.  Forget about Grandpa Simpson, who bores everyone with his tales of jitterbugging on the Hindenburg.  Everyone will be interested in your stories of the Dark Ages, when gay people were invisible, closeted, assumed not to exist.  And the riotous years of Gay Liberation.  Mention the concept of "sharing" one's roommates and boyfriends, and watch their eyes widen.

3. It won't take a lot of work to have a nice physique.  Many guys over 40 fall victim to lowered metabolism and a sedentary lifestyle, and start to put on the pounds.  Which means that just an hour in the gym every day -- or even every other day -- will make you stand out in the crowd. .

4. You'll have a lot more stuff.  When I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, I had $100 in my pocket and everything I owned in the back seat of my 1975 Dodge Dart.  Now I have roomfuls of furniture, 1000 books, 1000 DVDs  and Blurays, 2 computers, about 50 shirts, a retirement account, and more than $100 in the bank..

5. You'll be able to stay home on Saturday night without guilt.  In your 20s and 30s, you have to be going out on a date or out with friends, or inviting someone over, every Friday and Saturday night, no exceptions.  Staying home alone is a sign that you are antisocial, socially inept, or a loser.  Now I can stay home if I want, no explanations, no apologies.

6. You will have a ready-made excuse to get out of anything.  
I can't do the laundry -- I pulled a muscle at the gym.
I can't go to dinner with your parents -- I'm coming down with a cold.
I can't make it to work today -- I ate something that disagreed with me.  
Those excuses didn't work when you were 15, but at 45, no one disputes your body aches or finicky stomach.

7. No one will pressure you to date women.  In your 20s and 30s, it's a constant, from everyone you're not out to, and quite a few that you are: Do you have a girlfriend?  Are you looking?  What about her?  Or her?  Or her?"  In your 40s, the interrogations stop.  If you're not married with children by now, they figure, you never will be.  Peace at last!

8. You will have a toolkit to handle any problems that arise.  Chances are, whatever happens to you -- romantic problem, boss from hell, noisy neighbor -- has happened to you before.  You will know how to handle everyday hassles and even major crises.

9. You will remember a time when things were much, much worse.  Today we tend to measure homophobia by whether or not you will cater a gay wedding. In the 1980s, it was whether or not you wanted gay people sent to concentration camps.

10. You will have a lot to look forward to.  Chances are you'll live to age  80, or longer.  If you came out at age 20, that means that only 1/3rd of your gay life is over by age 40.

You have 2/3rds of it left, in a well-furnished apartment with a decent physique, and an army of Cute Young Things banging at your door.

See also: A Guy with Daddy Issues Tears My Clothes Off; and  10 Easy Steps to Hooking Up with Twinks

William Shatner, Teen Idol

William Shatner will forever be remembered as Captain James T. Kirk, who taught alien babes how to kiss and got his shirt ripped off by alien demigods on the first incarnation of Star Trek (1966-1969).

Or maybe as T.J. Hooker (1982-86), the veteran cop paired with rookie Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed).  But in a 50-plus year career, he's played hundreds of characters, including some beefcake and buddy-bonding roles.

Especially early in his career:

 Billy Budd, the young cabin boy who draws the erotic interest of the captain in a 1955 tv adaption of the Herman Melville novel.

The kind, sensitive, gay-vague Alexei in The Brothers Karamazov (1958), with Yul Brynner as Dmitri.

Peter Gifford in The Explosive Generation (1960), who causes a scandal by teaching sex ed in high school (his students include Lane Kinsolving, Billy Gray of Father Knows Best, and a very young Beau Bridges).

The gay Greek emperor Alexander the Great in a 1968 tv movie (heterosexualized, of course).

In Vanished (1971), a powerful presidential adviser (Arnold Green) vanishes.  The White House tries to cover up the fact that he was gay. Shatner plays a reporter trying to uncover the truth.

Not a lot of gay roles, but he did appear on the drag queen-friendly Madame's Place in 1982, and he played a homophobic lawyer on a 2007 episode of Boston Legal, assigned the case of a judge who is suing a company for not "curing" his "same-sex attraction disorder."

And in his 2010-2011 sitcom $h*! my Dad Says, his Ed has a gay assistant.

Jun 7, 2015

Superhero Sidekicks in Bondage

Pulp magazine covers often featured a woman drawn in the style collectors called GGA or Good Girl Art, tied to something and about to be murdered or violated by a drooling villain, while the hero rushes to the rescue.  But in superhero comics of the 1940s, the teenage sidekick was either tied next to the GGA woman, or else tied up all alone, and while GBA is not an official comic book term, his muscles were displayed quite as prominently as her breasts, providing hours of fun and excitement for gay kids of the pre-Boomer generation.

The Human Torch’s sidekick Toro, nearly-naked, muscles straining, chest heaving, is tied spread-eagle in the path of a tank , tied to the barrel of a cannon, or being lowered into a buzz-saw machine.

 3 of the first 10 covers of Detective Comics after the introduction of Robin, and nine of the first thirty, feature a surprisingly fit Boy Wonder tied up and about to stabbed, shot, drowned, or otherwise violated, while Batman rushes to the rescue.

As World War II progressed, many other superhero comics followed suit. The magazine racks of every drugstore were overflowing with images of superheroes rushing to the rescue of bound-and-threatened GBA sidekicks.

Captain America rescues Bucky in eight of the first ten covers of his comic book, and fully half of the first thirty.  Bucky is often (but not always) drawn as a muscular teenager, and his green-skinned, fairy-tale ogre captors have devised much more creative methods of execution than Robin’s.  He is strapped to an operating table next to a monster, while a leering Nazi doctor prepares an injection; mummified and threatened with an Iron Maiden.

He is hanging from his wrists and threatened by hot coals; in a cemetery, about to be buried alive; thrown overboard with a 500-pound weight around his neck; strapped to a table while a bed of spikes lowers onto him.

Roy the Super Boy, his massive chest jutting out of his red-and-white striped shirt, is tied to a rocket about to be launched into space, or about to be doused with nitroglycerin and ignited, while his superhero, the Wizard, rushes to the rescue.

Dusty the Boy Detective, in a skin-tight blue costume, is about to be stabbed, or tied to a runaway jeep.

The Black Terror's sidekick Tim is tied up, muscles straining in GBA form, about to be run over by a jeep, castrated by a buzzsaw, executed by a Nazi firing squad, or used for archery practice by a weird cult.

Comic books and pulps were not alone in featuring attractive people tied to things and about to be violated in sexually symbolic ways. Men were rescuing women everywhere, in order to create suspense and clarify the emotional investment of rescuer and rescued, who finally realize how much they care for each other.  The woman generally reacts to the narrow escape by melting into the man’s arms for a fade-out kiss.

But superhero comics presented boy instead of girl bondage threats, identifying the teen sidekick as an alternative to the spunky girl-reporter as an object of desire. The comic book superhero and sidekick walked into the sunset together through the War and for several years afterwards, but by the 1950s, Robin, Buddy, and Bucky had surrendered to girl-craziness or retired.

It's a Man's World: A Gay Threesome from the 1960s

 Speaking of Ted Bessell, before That Girl, he starred in It’s a Man’s World (1962-63) as Tom-Tom, a college student obsessed by Beat poetry and jazz, both emblematic of the multisexual bohemian subcultures of the 1950’s.  

Tom-Tom lives on a houseboat with his teenage brother Howie (Michael Burns, right) and boyfriend Wes (Glenn Corbett, abovewho by the way was bisexual, and appeared in Physique Pictorial under the name Glenn Robinson).

But the couple is not happy; they are always arguing about chores and money.  One night Tom-Tom can’t take it any more.  He wanders into a waterfront tavern, where newly-arrived country boy Vern (Randy Boone, left) is playing the guitar. 

In perhaps the first gay pick-up in television history, the two exchange suspicious glances and then knowing grins.  The next scene shows them returning to the houseboat to spend the night together, and in the morning Tom-Tom tells Wes that it was not just a bar pick-up – Vern is moving in.  

Wes gets somewhat snippy about this new threat to his dominance, but soon he decides that having a cute farmboy around might be fun, and the episode ends with the trio splashing about in the water, the first gay three-way relationship in television history.

This series was before my time, and I only saw one episode, thanks to an ebay collector.  Unfortunately, according to tvobscurities.com, later episodes backed away from the gay subtext -- really more of a text -- and gave them girlfriends.

See also: That Girl: Will and Grace for the 1960s; and Get Your Beefcake on Route 66