Feb 20, 2016

General Whitman and his Cold War Boyfriend

When I was a kid in the 1960s, my parents hated books.  Comic books were suspect enough -- but full-sized books would brainwash me into believing atheism and evil-lution, keep me away from healthy masculine activities like sports, and "strain my brain"!  Maybe they were worried that reading would make me want to escape the future of factory job, house, wife, and kids they had mapped out for me.

So I could only get away with reading only if I could convince them that it was required for school.  That made General Whitman's Adventures ideal.

They were brief, 15-page storybooks, accompanied by "adventure maps,"  written by George S. Elrick (who also wrote tie-in books for tv series like Flipper, Batman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.).  They were published by comic book company Whitman (talk about product placement!).

General Whitman's Adventures in Intriguing Europe
General Whtiman's Adventures in Exotic Asia
General Whitman's Adventures in Exciting Africa

After that they ran out of adjectives, and just had him traveling to Australia, North America, South America, the United States, and Around the World.

General Whitman,  a "global troubleshooter for the armed forces," was a thin, middle aged white guy carrying a globe.

In each story, he traveled across the designated continent with his assistant, Lieutenant Scott, on on a top secret assignment.  In South America, for instance, he was assigned to inspect rivers that might provide "juice for mission control centers, "and to select likely sites for camouflaged missile silos."

This was during the Cold War, after all.

Meanwhile he pontificated about the continent's history and geography -- with what today seems a very paternistic, Orientalist superiority complex:  "Before this continent was discovered, the poor savages were uncivilized."

And Lieutenant Scott expressed constant disgust or amazement over local customs. In Tibet, he exclaimed: "That lady's making a sandwich out of her face!"

"Butter is often used as a beauty aid here," the General explains.  "The Tibetans are too primitive to have our modern scientific cosmetics."

Still, it beat National Geographic, with its boring "This country is a study in contrasts, embracing its rich traditions and looking toward the future."

And I could claim "research for my geography class."

And neither General Whitman nor Lieutenant Scott mentioned wives or girlfriends back home.  I was pretty sure that they were best men (my childhood term for gay partners).

12 Public Hookups

Hookup websites list lots of places to meet guys in public: restrooms in shopping malls and on college campuses, heavily-wooded parks, secluded beaches.  But I've never understood the attraction.  It's dangerous, illegal, and uncomfortable.  Why not just invite him back to your apartment?

I haven't had a lot of experience with public activity, but there have been a few times when I gave in to temptation.

High School

1. My second sexual experience, with Tyrone my workout buddy, took place in his car in the high school parking lot.


2. In Rock Island a lot of men went cruising at the levee, and did things right there in their parked cars.  I was too skittish to do it there, but I did go home with Professor Burton, who held the annual handcuff parties.

3. During my senior year in college, I hooked up with a student in my Photojournalism class.  We didn't have anyplace to go -- I lived at home, and he lived in the dorm -- so we went to the stacks in the library -- deserted on a Saturday night,  PK section.

4. Trapped at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis later that year, I learned about cruising in public restrooms.

5. When I was visiting India, just after getting my M.A. from Indiana University, Viju took me to Jahanpanah City Forest in Delhi.  I met Arshad the Zoroastrian, who took me out to dinner and then on a tour of the spiritual pilgrimage sites in Delhi.

6. Later that summer, on the way to my first teaching job in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, I spent the night in Oxford. Mississippi, and met three country boys in the woods outside of the Faulkner mansion, including Elmer, a University of Minnesota undergrad who came back to my hotel to spend the night.

West Hollywood

7. At a conference at Notre Dame, I met a Catholic undergrad, who took me to a path that went around St. Joseph lake on the Notre Dame campus.

8. In the spring of 1989, during my semester teaching in Ankara, I found that Turkish men were cruising each other constantly, in the park, on the metro, in the hamams.  A lot of the college boys cruised in the wooded hills beyond Bilkent University, but I met an older guy there: Turkish moustache, furry chest, thick Bratwurst.

9.  During the Great Redneck Roundup of 1995, we stopped at a rest stop near Laramie, and I climbed into a truck cab.

San Francisco

10. One day my effervescent, outrageous friend David tried to get me to pick up a clerk at Macy's in a public restroom.  But I wimped out and made a date with him instead.

New York

11. During my summer in Paris, I went to Suam Thai for dinner almost every night, and got extensively cruised by the chef.  One night he invited me into the kitchen to discuss something, and one thing led to another.  We ended up making out in the supply room.

12.  When I was living in Manhattan and commuting to Long Island to work on my Ph.D., I I had three choices: take guys home on a two-hour train ride; borrow Yuri's apartment; or entertain them in my office -- in a secluded corridor in the Social Science Building.

I shared with three other graduate students.  But I knew their schedules, so it was safe.

Still, every time I brought someone in, I listened carefully for the sound of a key in that lock.

Nothing in public since 2001 -- I have an apartment with a nice soft bed, only about ten minutes from here, so....

The uncensored post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Feb 19, 2016

A Boy, a Man, and a Caribbean Island: Two Stories of Hookups Gone Wrong

Norfolk, Virginia, Summer 1993

"Ok, I'm going to tell you about the white boy who turned me into the fine, upstanding gay man you see today," Sandy says.

Alan, his partner Sandy, their friend Tarik, and I are swapping stories of funny or memorable dates and hookups.  I tell about my date with Michael J. Fox.  Tarik tells about the blue-eyed demon.  Now it's Sandy's turn.

Sandy grew up in Washington, DC., graduated from Howard University with a degree in international relations, and went to work in the foreign service.  He was stationed in Senegal, the Comoros Islands, and finally Barbados, where he became the Public Affairs Director at the American Embassy.

Barbados was black-friendly, but not at all gay-friendly.  There were no gay bars or gay organizations.  Gay men were criminals, and homophobic violence was commonplace.  The few guys he met were on the downlow.

So, five to ten times a year, Sandy flew home to Washington, to take a sex holiday in the bars, dark rooms, bathhouses, and sex clubs.

"But I wasn't into that blue-eyed devil nonsense,"  Sandy says.  "I loved white boys.  Especially the blonds  Fresh-scrubbed all-American jocks, like Ricky Schroder."

"I had a crush on him, too," Alan says.  "When you were dating the Celebrity, I kept hoping he would fix us up."

"Um...I think Rick Schroeder is straight."

But last summer Sandy met his own Rick, a Howard University pre-law major, white, with dark blond hair, a round androgynous face, a tight smooth chest, and thick biceps.

"But his best feature was his mouth," Sandy says.  "I could kiss him for hours."

They saw each other for three days, and then, on a whim, Sandy bought him a plane ticket back to Barbados.  They settled into Sandy's house on Back Ivy Road, and Sandy looked into getting him a job at the Embassy.

But Rick was not used to the closeted, downlow lifestyle of Barbados.  He started cruising in straight bars, picking up tourists on the beach.

"What a jerk!" I exclaim.  "Sharing is one thing, but public sex!  No matter how big he was beneath the belt, I'd show him the door."

After only 10 days, he was arrested for public sex in the woods behind the Yellow Bird Hotel and deported.

And he named names, outing Sandy as his boyfriend.  The State Department didn't cotton to "homosexuals": Sandy was promptly fired  He returned to the States, and found a job in public relations in Norfolk.

"But it was worth it!" Sandy says.  "I hated being closeted, doing things on the downlow with married men.  Thanks to Rick, I got the courage to be true to myself.  And...I met my soulmate, Alan."

I sigh. This Rick guy still sounds like a jerk.

New York, November 1999

"Ok, I'm going to tell you about my weirdest hookup," Barry says.

Yuri is in the City, spending the weekend with me.  Barry and I have taken him to  dinner, and now we are in my apartment, swapping stories about good, bad, and ugly dates, boyfriends, and hookups.  Yuri tells about how he tricked Ravi the Bear into sharing his boy toy.  Now it's Barry's turn.

Barry grew up in a very conservative Catholic household in Williamsburg, Virginia, so when he went to college, he went wild, cruising guys right and left, sneaking into gay bars and bathhouses, tricking every night, but always hoping to meet The One, the Man of His Dreams.

And one night he did: Guy, a tourist from St. Lucia, in his 40s, black, muscular, huge beneath the belt.  Plus a wealthy, sophisticated world traveler.  He worked for the Ministry of External Affairs, so he was traveling all the time, throughout the Caribbean, to Europe, to Asia.  He had just been to China to negotiate a trade agreement.  Barry had never been outside the U.S.

After a courtship of just three days, Barry packed a suitcase, grabbed his passport, and flew back to St. Lucia with Guy.  They moved into his house on Pansy Drive.

At first it was great.  Castries was beautiful, colorful red and yellow houses  set against the white beaches and mountains.  The population was mostly black.  Gorgeous guys everywhere.

Many states in the U.S. criminalized gay people, but Barry wasn't prepared for the ferocity of the homophobia, the constant diatribes, the deep closets.  There were no gay bars or bathhouses. Guys met on the downlow, in back alleys and public restrooms.

One day when Barry got home, the police were waiting for him.  They told him that Guy had been arrested for "public indecency" in the woods behind the Captain's Cellar Restaurant.  They arrested Barry, too, as an "accomplice," but dropped the charges and sent him home on the condition that he never return to St. Lucia, and never try to contact Guy again.

He didn't listen.  The moment he got home, he wrote to Guy.  No answer.  Three letters and a long-distance phone call.  No answer.

"What an idiot!" Yuri exclaims.  "He just leaves you when things get bad."

"Serves me right."  Barry takes a sip of his Coke.  "Serves me right for flying halfway across the world to be with a guy I just met."

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, December 1999

I notice the parallels right away: college student and older man fly from Washington DC to a Caribbean island, where one of them is arrested.  The college student is white, and the older man is black. The two stories take place about the same year.

But: different islands, different names, different person getting arrested.  Barry is only average beneath the belt.  Sandy is slim and rather feminine, not muscular.

I show Barry a picture of Sandy.  "Nope, definitely not him!" he exclaims.  "My Guy was hot!"

I send a picture of Barry to Sandy.  "No, definitely not him!" he writes back.  "My guy was hot!"

Still not satisfied, I arrange for the two to meet.  Sandy and Alan have moved a few times since the last time I visited them: now they're in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, about two hours west of Manhattan.  We drive out for the weekend.

Barry and Sandy greet each other as strangers, but as they get to talking, sharing their memories, they realize that they were describing the same incident, perceived differently at the time, changed in the haze of years, and then changed again through the art of storytelling.

It was Barbados.  Sandy was the one arrested.

Psychics tell us that we're surrounded by the same people in every lifetime.  They play different roles: our father in one life may be our sister in the next, our lover in a third, and a memorable hookup in the fourth.  But it's the same souls, over and over.

Maybe, in their next life, Barry and Sandy will be lovers.

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Kyle XY

In the spring of 2006, ABC Family started showing ads about a new series, with a teenage boy raising his shirt to display his abs.

Oh, wait, is he supposed to be showing us that he lacks a belly button?  I missed that.

But there's a midriff-bare girl gazing longingly at him, and I suppose he's named XY to accentuate gender polarization -- guys are guys, and guys like girls!  Heterosexist garbage.  So I didn't watch.

But upon hearing that star Matt Dallas is gay (here showing his real-life navel, along with Tahj Mowry, Jean-Luc Bilodeau, and Derek Thaler) I thought I'd check to see if there were any subtexts.

The online episode guide suggests that Kyle XY (2006-2009) was indeed about Kyle and the Girl of His Dreams working together to investigate the mystery of his origin  (I'm guessing he's a clone).  There are also some teenage allies, who fall in love and break up in staid heterosexual pairs.  Season 2 ends with Prom Night.

There were a lot of characters, and most of the girls had boys' names and boys had girls' names, making it difficult to ascertain homoerotic liaisons without a score card, but I think I came up with three possibilities:

1. A security guard, Foss (Nicholas Lea), takes a paternal interest in Kyle: "Everything I did was to protect you, to keep you safe.  You've got to trust me."  He doesn't have a girlfriend.

2. High school ally Declan (Chris Olivero) sleeps with lots of girls, but becomes Kyle's best friend, and they team up to solve this week's mystery.

3. Kyle's foster brother, Josh (Jean-Luc Bilodeau), sleeps with a girl named Andy, but he helps Kyle meet with a grounded girlfriend by hiding in her bed in a blond wig, thus fooling her mother and moving into drag.

I thought Jean-Luc Bilodeau was either Popeye's antagonist or a French crooner from the 1930s, but surprise, he's only 23.

And then there's the implicit homoeroticism of the nudity.

A lot of nudity.

Feb 18, 2016

Public Cruising in Mississippi in 1984

August 22, 1984

I've just finished my M.A. degree, and I'm on my way south to Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, a far northern suburb of Houston, where I will be teaching English at Lone Star State College.  I stop for the night in Oxford, Mississippi, the home of Ole Miss.

I tour the university and the William Faulkner house, get take-out fried chicken from Lenora's Family Restaurant, and check in to my hotel to settle down for an evening of Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court.

I'm not planning to go out.  I have to take occupancy of my new apartment by 5:00 pm tomorrow, or I'll be stuck in hotels all weekend.  That means getting up at 5:00 am.

Besides, I'm in Mississippi, the heart of the heart of the most horrifyingly homophobic state in a horrifyingly homophobic country.  Where is there to go?

My Gayellow Pages listed only 1 bar in the whole state, in Jackson.

And I definitely am not going to go to a straight bar!

Still, I'm restless.  I have to go somewhere.

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

Feb 17, 2016

Steven Ford: from President's Son to Soap Hunk

Born in 1956, Steven Ford was the youngest son of Gerald Ford, President of the United States from 1974 to 1977.  By that time he was in college far from the White House, studying ranching at Utah State University.  But the acting bug bit, and he started making the rounds.

With or without the cachet of having a famous Dad, he got lots of two-fisted roles in Escape from New York, The Eleventh Commandment, and Body Count.  

But his blond hair, square jaw, and chiseled physique got Steve more attention as a heartthrob.  From 1981 to 1987, he starred on the soap The Young and the Restless as private detective Andy Richards (right), where he buddy-bonded with fellow p.i. Paul Williams (Doug Davidson, left).  The extremely girlish-looking bottom guy is Michael Damian, who played singer Danny Romalotti.

Afterwards Steve hosted the tv series Secret Service and continued to act, with roles opposite action heroes like Al Pacino in Heat, Richard Griego in Against the Law, and Casper Van Dien in Starship Troopers. Today he spends most of his time on his ranch and giving motivational speeches about alcoholism.

Steve has never married, so he's been the subject of lots of gay rumors.His Mom, former First Lady Betty Ford, was a proponent of gay marriage.

Feb 16, 2016

Michael Landon, Gay Ally

Michael Landon arrived in Los Angeles at age 19 and immediately started landing roles as tortured outcasts and juvenile delinquents, such as the gay-vague protagonist in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957). He also cut some teen idol records and posed for innumerable beefcake shots before landing the role of Little Joe, youngest of the three sons of widowed rancher Ben Cartwright (Lorne Green) on Bonanza in 1959.

For the next 14 years, Little Joe played the part of "teen hunk," strutting about shirtless and bulging, giving thousands of boomer kids their first crushes.  Unfortunately, he had little significant buddy-bonding, as he was constantly consorting with women, culminating in a marriage -- and the tragic demise of his bride -- 1972.

When Bonanza finally ended in 1973, Landon had acquired a reputation as a stable, solid, and "wholesome," a conservative remedy to the endless sexual innuendo found elsewhere on prime time.

But his next series, Little House on the Prairie (1974-83), was not exactly conservative.  It offered cynicism, backstabbing, contemporary social issues -- and an endless supply of beefcake.  According to Alison Arngrim, who played the bitchy Nellie Oleson, Michael Landon was quite aware of the program's gay male fans, and catered to them by mandating that the cute guys on the show often appear shirtless -- and engage in some buddy-bonding plotlines.

Never far from a tv screen, Landon continued after Little House with Highway to Heaven (1983-89), about a wayfaring angel who displays little heterosexual interest and travels with a male companion (Victor French).

He was in declining health, but he lived until 1991, long enough to express his support of his gay son, 16-year old Christopher.

February 1987: My Celebrity Boyfriend and I Hook Up With....

West Hollywood, February 1987

Valentine's Day

I've been dating the Celebrity, a former teen idol (I promised not to reveal his name), for a little over a month, and he's met almost all of my West Hollywood friends: Alan, Raul, Marcus, Michael, Mitch, Thanh. But I've never met any of his.

Dating a celebrity, I naturally expected to do some "sharing" with his celebrity friends.  John Travolta, or Rob Lowe, or Ralph Macchio.... 

But he doesn't even introduce me to anyone.

Maybe tonight will be different.  "I'm going to go all out," the Celebrity promises.  "This will be the most memorable Valentine's Day of your life."

Wow!  What's memorable to someone who starred in his own tv show?

200 doves flying out of a cake?

A charter jet taking us down to Tijuana for dinner?

Scott Baio naked in his bed?

Breathless with anticipation, I arrive at his house at 6:00 pm

The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood

Feb 15, 2016

12 Valentine Dates, Boyfriends,and Hookups

My least-favorite holiday is Christmas, but Valentine's Day comes a close second: a corporate-controled paeon to heterosexual desire, with millions of male-female couples paraded out to proclaim that their emotional bond is the most important thing in the world, the meaning of life.

And therefore you should spend money on maudlin cards, boxes of gut-busting candy, and dead flowers.

In gay neighborhoods it was ok, but in the straight world, same-sex couples who try to participate get stared at in restaurants, laughed at at the flower shop, jeered at the candy store.  Or at least they feel hideously out of place amid the cooing boys and girls.

And God forbid you're single!

Here are the highlights of Valentine's Day seasons past, some ok, some bad, some horrendously bad.

Not counting childhood, when everybody in the class got a valentine from everybody else, regardless of gender.

1. My First Gay BarValentine's Day, 1983. At Indiana University, my friend Viju talks me into driving up to Indianapolis.  I've never been in a gay bar, or any type of bar, before, and I'm blown away by the light, color, and camaraderie.  Nothing like the dark, sleazy, leering gay bars they show on tv.

2. T, the Thug from Catch On.  Valentine's Day, 1986.  There aren't a lot of black men in West Hollywood: if you want to meet them, you have to go to Jewel's Catch-One.  Alan and I go, and get cruised by a thug wannabe named T.

3. My Celebrity Boyfriend.  Valentine's Day, 1987.  The Celebrity and I have only been dating for about a month, and he says he wants to go "all out" for Valentine's Day.  I wonder what a famous ex-teen idol considers "all out."  A thousand doves swooping down from a helicopter?  A life-sized box of candy?  Sharing Scott Baio?  Turns out to be him on a heart-shaped blanket.

4. A Boy for Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day, 1990.  I'm dating Lane, and still thinking of that "sharing Scott Baio" thing.  I don't actually pick up Scott Baio, but I get a nice substitute with Raul's friend Dominic, a cute Mexican twink.  While Lane and I are having dinner, Raul lets Dominic in the house, where he puts on a Cupid outfit and hides in the bedroom.  

5. The Estonian Word for Valentine.  Valentine's Day, 1998.  Yuri and I are both dating Jaan, the Estonian mountain climber, and we both want to impress him.  We plan a three-way date involving Estonian food, Estonian music, Estonian everything, until Jaan gets sick of it and kicks us both out.

But there's a nice side effect to gay dating: if the guy you both want rejects you, you can always spend the night with each other.

6. The Boy Who Cried Fabulous.  Valentine's Day, 2005.  What could be worse than to be dating the annoyingly cheerful, annoyingly upbeat Florian on hearts-and-flowers day?  Nothing.  A 5-pound heart-shaped box of candy, a dozen roses, a card two feet square with a horrible pun, and a teddy bear with a heart-shaped bib reading "I Wuv You."   He doesn't even love me, he wuvs me.

7. The Wild Night of Tricking.  Valentine's Day, 2007.  I'm back in West Hollywood for a mid-February visit, and Lane suggests that we hit the bars.  On Cupid Day?  It will be all depressed single guys.

"Precisely," Lane says.  "We can spend the night tricking, like we did before AIDS -- pick someone up, bring him home, do him, kick him out, back to the bar for the next guy."

"But we were Cute Young Things back then.  I'm 46!"

"So what?  I'm 51!"

8. The Asian-American Family Valentine Dinner.  Valentine's Day, 2009.  I'm dating Chad, who is second-generation Korean-American.  He invites me to dinner with his family, which turns out to be like a Korean Thanksgiving: tons of food, relatives you only see once a year, and innumerable questions about the new guy Chad is dating.

9. The Guilt Trip. Valentine's Day, 2010.  I'm dating Troy, a newly-graduated French major who says "Oh, I hate Valentine's Day.  Let's not celebrate at all."  Fine with me.  Until February 14th, when I awaken to candy, flowers, expensive jewelry, and dinner reservations.  Fooled you!

10. I Become a Creepy Old Guy.  Valentine's Day, 2012.  #9 is probably the reason I hate Valentine's Day now.  I insist that we don't celebrate.  At all.  We go to a bathhouse instead, the River Club in Albany, where I become a Creepy Old Guy.

11, The Youngest Guy I've Ever Dated.  Valentine's Day, 2015.  A 22 year old theater major.  Fortunately, we start dating too close to the Day to celebrate it.

12, My Ex-Student Naked in the Locker Room.  Valentine's Day, 2016.  A 19-year old political science major who wants to become a lawyer.  Our first date is the night before.  I wake up, go down on him, give him a bagel, and kick him out.

I get to spend The Day alone in my apartment, doing course prep, downloading porn from the internet, and watching The Walking Dead.  

Best Valentine's Day ever!

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

Bubba Lewis: Not Just Zac Efron's Life Partner

Bubba Lewis is best known as the BFF of teen idol Zac Efron -- the two have been passionate heterosexual life partners for eleven years, ever since they starred together as autistic twins in a sappy tv movie, Miracle Run (2003).  

But the Georgia-born singer, dancer, and good old boy -- who took the name "Bubba" to emphasize his country-fried heritage -- does more than bask in the glory of High School Musical fever.  He has a resume of his own, full of serious dramatic vehicles.

Very serious.

Snap (2005): A teenage boy must defend himself from a killer (Ian Ford) who has invaded his home and murdered his parents.

Flags of Our Fathers (2006): About the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima during World War II.  Bubba plays one of them as a boy.

The Bottom (2007): A boy working at a gas station "in the ruins of America."

It's Dark Here (2013): A boy has a schizophrenic breakdown in front of his horrified parents.

Plus episodes of Saving Grace, Medium, ER, Numbers, and Dexter. 

He doesn't do many comedies.

Just Weather Girl (2009), about a Seattle weather girl who moves in with her little brother and romances his bff (Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin).

And The In-Betweeners (2012-2013): A sitcom about four misfit boys in high school who band together.  And, apparently, take their clothes off.

Notice that Bubba hasn't played any heterosexual romantic leads.  Not one.  It's all about the BFFs.  Which is always good for gay subtexts.

February 2016: An Ex-Student Naked in the Locker Room

Plains, February 2016

When I first arrived in the Plains, twinks were approaching me right and left.  I couldn't walk through the student union without getting a dozen cruisy smiles.  I couldn't go on Grinder without getting 20 messages in 10 minutes.

But during the last few months, things have become decidedly quiet.  Fewer cruisy smiles.  Dead silence on Grindr.

In January 2016 I "shared" my friend Gabe's date, had a date of my own with a college boy named Dustin, went to a couple of M4M Parties...and that's it.

In February, nothing.

What could be causing this dating slump?

Hubris?  Just before my dry spell began, I was bragging to Gabe that I could get any guy under 30.  Maybe the hookup gods are punishing me.

Supply and Demand?  There must be a finite number of 20-29 year olds who are gay, single, living in the Plains, and into older guys.  Maybe I've met everyone available.

Physique? . I had an accident in October that limited my running and upper body work, and then the Halloween-to-Christmas sugar rush began.  Now I have a little belly, plus I'm no longer lifting more than any other guy at the gym.  Did I lose my competitive edge?

Age?  I turned 55 in November.  Could that be the upper limit of attractiveness?  40 to 54, hot Daddy, and 55+, Geezer?

Why should this bother me?  I can get all of  older guys I want. Who cares if I'm not a viable bed partner to someone who was born in 1997?  

Is it because the new generation is going on happily without me, my contributions unneeded, obsolete?

Is it reminding me of my upcoming decline and fall?

Second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Nonsense!  Barring accidents and unexpected calamities, I have at least 20 active years yet.

And I've never been one to go gently into that good night.  I've got a lot of tricks up my sleeve.

1. Pile on the wit and charm

Many people who are deficient in jaw-dropping gorgeousness get more than their fair share of phone numbers by making themselves the life of the party.

I revise my online dating, Facebook, and Twitter profiles, making the descriptions fun, sharp, and witty, throwing in quotes from Verlaine, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, claiming to be interested in indy music and video games.  Then I sit back and wait for the "hi!" messages to begin.

Crickets.  Nothing.

2. Show your smarts

If your wit and charm don't work, there's always your intelligence.  Mention your published books and articles.  Throw around a few graduate-school words like liminal and discourse.  The younger crowd goes wild over erudition.

I go to the Black History Month lecture on the political importance of the "Black Lives Matter" movement.  The lecture hall is full of politically-involved, socially-aware, articulate, intellectual African-American men looking to demonstrate that they are not uncomfortable with interracial hookups.

At the reception afterwards, I see a likely candidate, tall and slim, wearing a bright purple t-shirt.  Short-cropped hair and four earrings, two for each ear.

Drink in hand, I approach.  "Hi, do you think there are social parallels between Black Lives Matter and the Zoot Suit Riots of the 1940s?"

Presumably he'll have no idea what the Zoot Suit Riots were, so I can explain, and one thing will lead to another.

"That's an interesting idea, sir."


No eye-widening, no smile, no spark.  Nothing.  Our intellectual conversation is purely intellectual.

Maybe the 40+ crowd isn't so bad.  Of course, on the Plains, most of the older gay men have vanished into gay neighborhoods far away, leaving the married, bi-curious, downlow, "I love women, but sometimes I want to be with a guy," "I've never tried anything like this before," "Let's do it while my wife is out shopping."  


3. Flex your muscles

Ok, I've lost a little muscle mass, and I've put on an inch or so around the belly, but darn it, I still have a 48" chest and 15" biceps, and I can do 50 push-ups in a minute, more than 90% of the twinks at the gym.

I go to the campus gym, put on a t-shirt a size too small, grey to show the outline of my physique better, and start pumping.  Vigorously.

The college athletes walk around me, oblivious  I'm not part of their world.

I walk up to a thin, pimpled guy struggling with the Nautilus incline press.  "Can I squeeze in between your sets?"

He says "Of course, sir."  


I push the pin down to twice the weight he's lifting.  He ignores me and goes onto his cell phone.

My workout over, I go to the locker room.  Just down from my locker, I see Eli, who was in my big lecture class last semester.  Not a great student; he got mostly C's.  But he was memorable even in a class of 100 for coming in late every day, and for the muscle shirts he wore even in winter: his hard bare shoulders and hint of a smooth chest livened many a winter lecture.

Today, as he's changing into his gym clothes, I get a better look.  Short, slim.  Round, angelic face.  Firm chest, swimmer's build, tattoo of a lion over his left nipple.

 He is ignoring me.

"Hi, Eli," I say.  "I didn't know that you worked out here."

He looks up without smiling.  "Oh, hi, Professor.  I usually work out with the team."


"Swim team."  He turns his back to me to take his pants off.  Purple underwear, nice butt.

I understand -- I always avoid getting naked in front of my ex-students.  There is some information I don't want to become general knowledge on campus.

But today I'm mad at the world, and I figure, "What the heck?  Give him an eyeful."

I wrap my towel around my shoulders instead of my waist and turn back to Eli just as he has finished pulling up his gym trunks. He looks at me.  His eyes go to crotch level.

"I used to be a big swim fan," I say.  "I'll have to come to one of your matches.  Who are you going against next?"

He looks up, embarrassed.  "Northern State.  Um...you know...um...I can score you with some tickets, if you want..."

"Only if you let me take you out to dinner afterwards."

"Sounds great!  KIK me at Lion342."

4. When all else fails, show them your penis.

It doesn't even have to be big.  The fact that you still have one, that you don't suddenly become a eunuch at age 40, is endlessly surprising...and erotic.

The details of our date, and uncensored photos, are on Tales of West Hollywood.

Feb 14, 2016

Pogo: The Gay Possum of Okefenokee Swamp

There have been three major comic strips devoted to the naivete, colorful traditions, and homespun wisdom of the hillbilly:
Li'l Abner, about a backwoods Adonis allergic to hetero-romance.

Snuffy Smith, who doesn't seem particularly romantic toward his towering wife Loweezie.

And Pogo, about a possum who lives in Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia.

Created by Walt Kelly for a line of Dell comic books in 1941, Pogo premiered in The New York Star in 1948, and entered national syndication in a year later.

The titular Pogo, "a possum by trade," is laconic and soft-spoken, the foil, best friend, and sometime domestic partner of the loud, blustering Albert the Alligator.  (we see a similar "forbidden" predator-prey relationship in the animated Sitting Ducks)

 They are intimates, sharing a house and a bed.  Moreover, their physicality, the grabbing of arms and shoulders, the hugging, the casual pressing against each other, is quite surprising for the 1950s, and suggests a homoerotic subtext even more strongly.

Pogo's other friends include the turtle Churchy LaFemme ("Ah loves yo', Churchy"); the misanthropic Porky Pine, who doesn't like anybody -- except Pogo; Howland Owl; Beauregard the Hound Dog; and the young "sprat" Rackety Coon Chile, who is studying to become an elephant when he grows up.

But Pogo makes new friends easily, with a zeal that veers into the homoerotic.  In a 1951 continuity, a carrier pigeon arrives with a "secret message," and the next day the two are shown walking off together, a new male bond formed.  One wonders what the "secret message" was.

The swamp animals have little use for heterosexual romance.  The flirtatious French skunk Mam'zelle Hepzibah is sometimes an object of affection, but more often a "sivilizing" attempt to introduce culture into their backwoods idyll.  When she presses the matter, Pogo admits that "I'm just not the marrying kind," 1950s code for "gay."

On November 10th, 1950, the entire cast watches the sunset, dismal over the conservative turn in the midterm elections (the Democrats lost 28 seats in the House and 5 in the Senate).  And the political satire began.

Pogo ran for President regularly, with a campaign platform supporting various liberal causes.

Political figures were regularly satirized, beginning with witch-hunting senator Joseph McCarthy, and moving on to Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Spiro Agnew.

But the gay subtexts continued unabated until the strip ended with Walt Kelly's death in 1973.

Although probably not intended in this "Gay and Fey" association between Albert the Alligator and his creator.

Everyone sees Albert in Pogo's bed, and assumes that they're married.

A male flea asks Beauregard Dog to marry him.

A male cat begins chucking bricks at Beauregard, and the other characters conclude that he is in love with him.

On and on, giving us the impression that everyone in Okefenokee Swamp is either gay, or nonchalant about gay people.

See also: Krazy Kat, the First Gay Comic Strip Character; and The Surprising Gay Origin of "Deck us all"

Your Grandfather's Beefcake: Circus Acrobats

Back before physique magazines, Johnny Weissmuller movies, and superhero comics, there were few options for beefcake: J.C. Leyendecker's magazine ads, statues of Greek gods -- and the circus.

The 3 Moros (the Three Moors) was a brother act.

Actually, they were mostly brother acts, whether they were actually related or not.

Unfortunately,it was beefcake only, and the guys didn't appear alone; there were usually scantily-clad women in the act.

Not a lot of gay symbolism.  In fact, the whole drama of highwire acts, with a woman tumbling and a man catching, replays a heterosexual drama.

The circus is so soaked in heterosexual imagery that it's hard to find references to gay performers.  Bob Yerkes of the Flying Alexanders was married for 40 years, and  a born-again Christian, so probably not.

The acrobat tradition started failing in the 1950s, facing stiff competition from tv and movies.  The last world-famous acrobat was probably Jimmy Cavaretti, and he supplemented his circus fame with appearances on tv and a spread in Playgirl.

For instance, why wasn't Scott Osgood (top photo) a superstar?  He performed with the Sailor Circus in Orlando in the 1980s, and got excellent reviews.  Today he owns a rigging design company.