Mar 19, 2016

Martin Spanjers: 8 Simple Rules for Playing Gay

In case you're wondering who this boy is who showers wearing a towel and seems very happy to be looking at the muscular adult hunk, his name is Martin Spanjers, and he was playing the teenage Rory on the TGIF sitcom Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (2002-2005), about an overprotective Dad.  It wasn't as heterosexist as it sounds

1. Dad was played by the gay-friendly John Ritter, who originated the "straight pretending to be gay" bit on Three's Company (1977-84).
2. Mom was played by the gay ally Katey Sagal, star of Married with Children and Futurama.
3. The teenage daughter takes a girl to the prom in order to make a stand for gay rights.
4. At the same prom, Rory's date turns out to be a lesbian.

5. Grandpa (James Garner), brought in after the tragic death of John Ritter, thinks the school principal is hitting on Rory.
6. James Garner originated the "attracted to a guy who's really a girl"  in Victor/Victoria (1982).
7. Rory is one of the standard gay-vague sitcom kids, soft, shy, pretty, and struggling valiantly to act girl-crazy.

After Eight Simple Rules, Martin did the usual guest star bit, on 90210, Family Guy, and Good Luck Charlie.  Then he got a starring role on the vampire drama True Blood, with Joe Manganiello. When his parents discover that the teenage Sam Merlotte is a shapeshifter, they abandon him -- he comes home from school to find the house deserted.  A lot of gay kids could relate to parents unable to accept their true identity.  He drifted for a long time, through a series of failed relationships, unable to find a home anywhere, not even among werewolves.  Finally he grew up (into Sam Trammel), and opened a bar in Bon Temps, Louisiana, where he dated women but had erotic dreams about men.

Martin has also made some quirky black comedies, such as Sassy Pants (2012), in which a teen (Ashley Ricards) runs away from her oppressive mother to live with her deadbeat Dad, and bonds with her Dad's much younger boyfriend (Haley Joe Osment).  Martin plays her younger brother, who is also gay.

Justin Morrit, the Guy Who Shared Rob Lowe

Have you seen the famous Rob Lowe sex tape?  It depicts then-Brat Pack star Rob Lowe and a friend having sex with two women in a hotel room in Atlanta in 1988, on the night before the Democratic National Convention.

Only one of the women appears on the tape, plus Rob Lowe and his friend.

I didn't know that heterosexuals had the West Hollywood custom of "sharing."

They don't do anything specifically with each other, but one assumes that they did off-cameras.

Unfortunately, the tape doesn't show much of the second guy other than a muscular silhouette.  This is a better picture.

Not a bad boyfriend candidate.  I can see why Rob invited him to Atlanta.

His name is Justin Moritt.  He doesn't have any credits on IMDB before 1988, so I don't know how he and Rob met.  Since then he's worked as a production assistant, then a production manager, and finally a producer, of films like Ghost (1990), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995).

 He was married to actress Krista Allen from 1996 to 1999.

They have a son, Jake Moritt, born in 1997, now eighteen years old and working as a production assistant.

According to his Facebook page, he likes Tim Allen, Radiohead, bodybuilder Casa Wilson, and the Marani Hair Salon in L.A.

When you search Google Images for "Justin Morrit," this picture pops up of a tall guy with a tattooed nipple and his pants falling off.  Obviously not our Justin Morrit, but maybe a relation.

And some pictures from one of Rob Lowe's many on-screen homoerotic relationships, this one with Doug Savant in Masquerade (1988).

Is this what was going on in the hotel room in Atlanta that night?

See also: Mario's Date with Rob Lowe

Mar 18, 2016

Summer 2002: Kicked Out of the Russian Army for Being Gay

Wilton Manors, Summer 2002

Whenever he's asked for his coming out story, Yuri tells about that night in December 1997, when he was a 23 year old graduate student, new to America, who claimed to be straight until he came as my date to a Christmas party and spent the night later.

Everyone assumes that there was nothing before, just 23 years of silence and darkness.  He's only told a few people about his gay life in Russia.

But in the summer of 2002, at a party during the visit of John, the Shy Boy in the Third Row,  John asks "How did you get through high school and college without knowing?  Even in Russia."

"And without doing anything?" Wade adds.

"Well, I didn't do anything until I was 23, just like Yuri," John says.  "But I knew when I was about twelve."

"I don't know there was anything to know," Yuri answered.  "I thought I was straight, because I knew nothing else.  And for sex, all I did was..."  He stops and looked around the room in alarm.  "Um...all I did was drochit, jerk off."

"Oh, no, you were going to say something else!" Wade exclaims.  "You  were with someone before you came to America!"

Yuri shoots me a pained look.  He really wants to "share" John the Bodybuilder tonight, and he thinks his "real" coming out story will seal the deal.  But it's embarrassing.

"Ok, you will hear it," he says, finally.  "But Boomer will tell it, so I'm not embarrassed."

Volgograd, Summer 1992

Yuri grew up in Volgograd, in the south of Russia, a cosmopolitan city where you could hear people speaking Turkic languages of the steppes like Kazakh, Tatar, and Kalmyk, plus Armenian, Ukrainian, and even an archaic form of German, spoken for centuries by the Volga Nemtsy.

"Enough languages!" Yuri exclaims.  "Go to the gimnaziya."

He didn't learn about the existence of gay people until high school, when teachers began including them in lectures as pitiable examples of capitalism gone awry, men brainwashed into believing that they were really women.  Fortunately, there were none in the Soviet Union, teachers said.

But there were men: slim, smooth technology students from Latvia, barrel-chested weight lifters, hairy-chested bears with massive bulges. Nudity was much more common than in the U.S.  Yuri "knew" that he was straight, that he would one day marry a woman, but he still looked -- in the weight room, in the park, in the sauna.

He looked.

You know how to check out a straight guy's basket.  A quick downward glance.  If he notices, he'll just think you're trying to avoid eye contact.  Nothing more blatant.

Yuri didn't know that.  He looked openly, longingly, evaluating baskets, trying to determine the size and shape of the guy's beneath-the-belt gifts.

No one took offense, or associated it with being golubyye, "blue."  Yuri assumed that every guy did it.

Yuri graduated from the gimnaziya in June 1992, and was immediately drafted and sent to a military base on the Caspian Sea: the Soviet Union was breaking apart, transitioning into a democracy, and soldiers were needed to maintain order.

He didn't fit in well: he was smaller than most guys his age, bookish and intellectual.  He was bullied, called names.  He was stripped and thrown out of the barracks naked.  His bunk was messed up just before inspection, so he'd get a demerit.  His packages from home were confiscated.

But Sergeant Andreivich, a middle-aged career soldier in charge of his barracks, took an interest in him, buying him sodas, giving him books on military history, inviting him for late-night conversations in his room a little off the main dormitory.

Andreivich was in his early 40s, bald, with a hairy chest, nice pecs, a little belly, big hands -- and a big bulge.  Yuri couldn't take his eyes off it!

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

The Rich Kid and the Muscle Bear

Louisville, Kentucky, April 1984

I was at Indiana University to get my M.A. in English, but on a campus that offered Elementary Lithuanian, Sufi Poets, Mongolian Civilization, and Serbo-Croatian Epics, who could stand still for dull William Wordsworth?

In the fall of 1983, I enrolled in Tibetan Culture (for both graduate and undergraduate students), and one of my classmates was Richie Rich.

Not his real name, of course.  .

A slim, tanned blond who was majoring in Central Asian Studies, mostly to annoy his Dad, a state senator who played golf with President Reagan. and consistently voted anti-abortion, anti-Russia, and anti-gay.

Richie was vehemently opposed to his father's politics, but he didn't mind the infinite wealth.  He spent every summer at the beach house on Cape Cod.  He drove a new Jaguar.  He spend hundreds of dollars on bohemian-chic fashions.  He always looked like he was trying out for a road tour of Fame.

He had just discovered Bullwinkle's, where he chatted up guys but rarely hooked up; no one ever saw him taking anyone home.

Richie wasn't really my type: he was tall, thin, and blond, and even in 1983 I preferred short, dark, and muscular.

But he was interested in religion, and he was...well, rich, two points in his favor.

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

A Teenager Doing Pushups on TV

Today you can go online and see 100,000,000 pictures and videos of naked bodybuilders and athletes flexing for selfies, and every actor with even minimal musculature takes off his shirt at the drop of a script.

When I was a kid in the 1960s, there was virtually nothing.  An occasional Tarzan movie, an occasional teen idol with an open shirt in a Tiger Beat centerfold.  And that was it.

Seeing a man or boy on tv with his shirt off was so rare -- vanishingly rare -- that every instance is indelibly imprinted in my brain, as unforgettable as my first airplane trip or my first date with a guy.

Greg strips down to go surfing on The Brady Bunch .
Stephen Parr shows off his washboard abs on Mystery Island.
Steve Elliot shaves while wearing only pajama bottoms on Petticoat Junction.

And, sometime in the 1960s, I'm guessing around 1968, a Public Service Announcement for the President's Council on Physical Fitness shows a teenage boy doing pushups.


Hard delts, thick biceps, beautiful interplay of muscles as he rises and falls, rises and falls.  His face becomes red.  He is smiling.

The narrator tells us that with every pushup, he's "a little bit stronger, a little bit healthier, a little bit happier than before."


I can't find the original PSA, but it was an iconic moment, a moment when I recognized the beauty of the male physique, in spite of the adult insistence that only women liked to look at men.

By the way, pushups are still widely recognized as a good way to maintain core strength.  The recommended number in a minute differs by age and sex.  50-60 year olds are supposed to be able to do at least 25.  I can do 50, which makes me "excellent" for my age group but only "above average" for a 20-year old.

The Homoerotic Horror of Edgar Allan Poe

When I was a kid in the 1970s, Chuck Acri's Creature Feature broadcast a lot of very loose adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories: The House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, Tales of Terror, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, The Tomb of Ligeia.  They were all terribly cheesy.

I loved them.

And the original short stories, which I first encountered in a Scholastic Book Club edition of Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Groff Conklin, with a drawing of a naked man (by Irv Doktor) illustrating "Metzengerstein."

It's about a man killed by a ghost horse. The nudity was completely unnecessary, but certainly welcome.

Even without the nudity, the stories were amazingly homoerotic, male narrators visiting male friends to hear their tales of murder and madness, with few or no women around, except for a few husbands who hate their wives.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838).  Pym and his boyfriend Augustus stow away about a whaling ship and have adventures.  After Augustus dies, Pym hooks up with Richard Parker.  The two have more adventures.

"The Fall of the House of Usher" (1839).  Roderick Usher and his sister are killed by the evil house.  His sister, not his wife!

 "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841). The narrator and his buddy solve a murder.

 "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1842). The narrator is tortured by the pit and the pendulum, but rescued by the strong arm of a French soldier.

(Left: New ABC series with Edgar Allan Poe as a paranormal investigator.)

"The Tell-Tale Heart" (1843).   The narrator (played on film by Stephen Brockway) "loves the old man," but kills him anyway.

"The Gold-Bug." (1843). The narrator, his buddy, and their servant search for buried treasure.

"The Cask of Amontillado" (1846)  Montresor gets revenge on Fortunato by walling him up.  But why is he so upset?

No wonder he was not mentioned in my class in American Renaissance Literature at Augustana, though he lived at the same time as Melville, Hawthorne, and Emerson.

But why was so much of Poe's poetry -- "Annabel Lane," "To Helen," "Lenore," "The Raven" -- about men mourning dead girlfriends?  (Left, Jeremy Renner in The Raven).

Maybe because if the women are dead, the men don't have to worry about any of that icky hetero-romance. 

Poe certainly spent a lot of time courting women through his life, but usually they were sickly or dying, like his 13-year old cousin Virginia Clemm, whom he married in 1836, when he was 27.

Maybe he found some solace in glimmers of same-sex desire.

See also: The Gay American Renaissance.

Mar 17, 2016

Fall 1987: Mario's Date with Rob Lowe

West Hollywood, Fall 1987

When I first arrived in West Hollywood in 1985, Rob Lowe was an androgynous prettyboy who took off his shirt a lot in Brat Pack classics like The Outsiders (1983), Class (1983), The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), Oxford Blues (1984), and St. Elmo's Fire (1985).

His fire faded a bit during the late 1980s, and his career almost fizzled out in 1988, after a tape surfaced of him and friend Justin Morritt having sex with two women in a hotel room the night before the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.

Such shenanigans didn't ruin his popularity with gay fans, or the belief that he was probably gay himself. Even though he, and his Brat Pack buddies, made some of the most horrifically homophobic movies of the 1980s.  Even though he married Sheryl Berkoff in 1991 and had two children (Matthew and John Owen).

We still figured he was gay.  Why else would he star in the gay subtext-filled Bad Influence (1990) and The Finest Hour (1992), as  the psychiatrist treating the dead gay guy's sister in Suddenly Last Summer (1993), and as the mute, angelic, asexual Nick Stavros in The Stand (1994)?  Why else would he appear at so many AIDS Walks and AIDS benefits?

Why else would half the guys in West Hollywood claim to have dated him?

During my 10 years in West Hollywood, I heard about a dozen "my date with Rob Lowe" stories.  The one that sounds the most believable is from Mario, the wannabe actor who picked me up at the Different Light Bookstore.

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

Mitch Vogel: The Bulge and Biceps of Bonanza

We needed as many freckle-faced redheaded boys as possible during the 1970s: Ron Howard on Happy Days, Johnny Whitaker on Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Mitch Vogel on Bonanza (1970-73).

He played Jamie, a teenager adopted by the Cartrights to give Ben someone to offer fatherly advice to (and, apparently, to give Michael Landon some competition in the bulge department).

But before he blossomed into teenage biceps and bulges, Mitch was a popular child star, with roles in Adam-12, Ironside, The Young Rebels, and The Immortal.  

He was best known for The Reivers (1969), set in turn of the century Mississippi, as an 11-year old who tags along with his free-spirit relative (Steve McQueen) on a trip to a brothel in Memphis, sees naked ladies, and "comes of age" (although he doesn't actually have sex with anyone).

But the teenage Mitch did a lot of buddy-bonding, too.

In Two Boys (1970), Jud (Mitch) and his boyfriend Billy (Mark Kearney) "come of age" in a small Midwestern town.

In The Boy from Dead Man's Bayou (1971), Jeannot (Mitch) and Claude (Michael Lookinland from The Brady Bunch) buddy-bond as they wrest a church bell from the jaws of a giant alligator.

His characters got girls on Little House on the Prairie  (1975) and State Fair (1976), and were backwoods outsiders who didn't get anyone on Here Come the Brides and Saturday morning's The Mighty Isis (1975) and Ark II (1976).

His last credit movie role, Texas Detour (1978), is a Dukes of Hazard clone about three hippies stuck in a hayseed town.  Except it's a drama.

Today Mitch lives in Southern California, where he is active in directing, music, and church groups.

But gay Boomers will always remember him for the bulge and biceps of Bonanza.

Mar 16, 2016

The Bodybuilder and the Teenage Underwear Thief

Wilton Manors,  Summer 2001

I have just moved from New York to Wilton Manors, Florida, to live with Yuri and his housemate, bodybuilder turned gym owner Barney.  On my first weekend in town, in an attempt to fix me up with an instant boyfriend, they have invited two guys over for dinner: Kevin, a bodybuilder in his 30s, and Jordi, a slim, eyeglassed twink from Romania, who teaches at Florida International University.

After dinner, we sit in the living room with dessert (yogurt-covered strawberries), cruise, decide who is going to share who, and exchange stories about dates from hell, celebrity hookups, and gigantic penises.  Kevin asks Barney, "Do you think they'd like my story of the Great Underwear Thief?"

"I think so," Barney says, "It starts out weird, but I like the ending."

Buffalo, New York, Summer 1995

Kevin was 25 years old, a recent graduate of Canisius College, working in an office and training hard for the Mr. Olympia contest in Atlanta (he didn't place).

Bodybuilder or not, when you live in apartment, you spent a morning once a week trudging a clothes hamper to the laundry room at the other end of the hall or down the stairs, putting my clothes in the washer for 30 minutes and the drier for 45 minutes, returning to your apartment to wait in between.

He didn't worry about thieves.  Washers don't open during the cycle, and who'd want to break into a drier to get damp clothes?  Especially when they don't know what's there?  Could be the wrong size, the wrong gender, crappy?  It's not worth the trouble, right?

"Well, maybe for a pair of your Speedos, I would take the trouble," Jordi says.

Kevin laughs.  "That's exactly what happened."

One week he couldn't find his favorite blue briefs that cost him 50 francs in Paris.  He checked under the bed, in all the drawers, even under the couch.  He figured a hookup stole them.

Then he couldn't find his favorite Speedos.

Then, when he was folding laundry, he found only two pairs of underwear.  There should have been seven.

Was he being targeted by an underwear thief?

Kevin decided to catch the culprit in the act.  The laundry room was adjacent into the boiler room, a perfect place to hide and see who was coming and going.

He  put the laundry in the drier, and then instead of returning to my apartment, hid.

Sure enough, after about 30 minutes -- long enough for the clothes to be dry, but before anyone would be coming back -- someone came in, knelt, and stared going through his stuff.

A kid!  Teenage, tall, slim, long dirty-blond hair, brown eyes.  Big hands and feet.  Bubble butt.

"Hi!"  Kevin said,  jumping out from behind the boiler.

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

Mar 15, 2016

A Hookup with the Waiter at a Christian Pizza Restaurant

Plains, Spring 2015

Restaurants in the Straight World are a gamble.  You never know which are gay friendly, and which are homophobic, until you get there.

Except for the Pizza Ranch.

I ate there once when I first moved to the Plains.  It has an annoying cowboy theme and a gut-sloshing buffet of deep fried chicken, mashed potatoes, pizza, and frozen custard.  A few paltry carrots and cucumbers on the "salad bar."

The other patrons were all obese heterosexual couples with passles of kids.

And it was openly Christian.  Bible verses on the walls, Christian music for sale at the front counter, a prominently posted Mission Statement:  “To glorify God by positively impacting the world."

The only highlight was the wait staff, who were there mostly to bus tables.  They were all teenage and college-aged boys, rare on the Plains, and incredibly cute.

There were photos of the staff members who weren't there, engaging in wholesome activities like singing, playing a violin, playing football, fishing, posing in a studly fashion.

Surely they're hired for their hotness, I thought.  This is a male version of Hooters.

The hotness of the staff almost made up for the deplorably unhealthy food and deplorably fundamentalist ambiance.  I've been persuaded to return several times by gay friends, who usually say things like "Who cares about their politics, when the eye candy is so incredible?"

 Besides, it's rather fun to go undercover, knowing that if the staff and other patrons found out about me, they would either run from the restaurant in terror or pull out a Bible and start screaming about Leviticus.

One false move, and you're history.  The deception is the excitement.

One day in the spring of 2015, I wondered, How far can I go without being discovered?

I didn't want to actually get outed, and be banned from the nightly hunk fest for life -- or worse, rile the fundamentalists so much -- Imagine!  A sodomite in this holy pizza restaurant! -- that they would move from screaming to punching and kicking.

But how close could I get to the edge?

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

Mar 13, 2016

The Great 2007 Hookup Contest: Midwest Muscle vs. West Hollywood Street Smarts

West Hollywood, February 2007

I fly from Dayton to LAX for a job interview at Los Angeles City College.  After an interview with the recruitment committee, my job talk, and dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I am dropped off at my hotel.

I change into my West Hollywood clothes, and my ex Lane picks me up.  We go to the French Quarter for dessert with my old friends Marshall and Will the Bondage Boy, plus Marshall's boyfriend Mark and a Cute Young Thing named Jake, who doesn't seem attached to anyone.

I have two nights in Los Angeles, and I want to go to all my old haunts.  The Different Light Bookstore!  The Bodhi Tree!  The gay synagogue!  The Faultline! My old gym!

"I have an idea," Lane says.  "Remember the Great Redneck Roundup of 1995?  We can spend the night tricking -- 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!"

"And I really wanted to go to my favorite places again..."

"Why not do both?"  Mark suggests.  "There are five of us.  Each will take you to one of your favorite spots for an hour, and whoever can pick up someone wins."

"Are you ready to pitch your Midwestern farmboy muscles against our West Hollywood street-smarts?" Lane asks.

During the next two nights, the Great Hookup Contest takes place at:

1. The Different Light Bookstore, with Mark.

2. L.A. Fitness, with Marshall

3. The Bodhi Tree, with Jake

4. The Synagogue, with Lane.

5. The Faultline, with Will and Lane

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

Summer 1990: In Search of Remembrance and Penises in Poland

West Hollywood, Summer 1990

I'm working at the Getty Consternation Institute, my first actual 9-5 office job, and I hate it.  The same four walls, day in and day out, five days a week.  My summer vacation is coming up -- a paltry two weeks (they get four in Europe).

And I want to make the best of it.

"How about the first week in Rock Island, and the second in Paris?" I ask Lane.

"How about staying in West Hollywood and going to the Rage?" Lane counters.

"How about a week in Paris, and a week in London?"  I ask.

"Why should I go anywhere else?  I'm already here."

"You mean you've never been out of Los Angeles?"

"I spent a year on a kibbutz in Israel.  Nowhere else to go, really.  There's nothing else there but howling homophobes."

But I like traveling.  I've been to Europe four times, plus Australia, Colombia, India, Japan, Turkey, and Thailand.  This summer I want to go somewhere!

"Ok, how about this -- I visit my relatives in the Midwest by myself, and then you join me on a trip somewhere.  Anywhere you want."

Lane hesitate.  "Well, now that you mention it, there's someplace I've always wanted to go."

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