Apr 1, 2017

Lane Cruises a Gay Barber from 30 Years Ago

West Hollywood, January 1982

This is Lane's weirdest paranormal experience:

When he was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, he and his  parents often went to the Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. It was one of those old-fashioned multi-story department stores with everything under the sun: sportswear, furniture, candy, bedspreads.  He especially liked the toy section, where cute sales clerks would always ask "Can I help you, sir?" and make him feel special.

As an adult, Lane preferred gay-themed shops, so he went to the Broadway only occasionally, when he needed something that you couldn't get in West Hollywood.

That day in January 1982, he was shopping for a new comforter for his bed -- housewares, on the sixth floor.

As he walked down the aisles of sheets, towels, bedspreads, and pillows, he suddenly felt light-headed, and the room seemed to get darker.  He thought he might faint.

Looking for a place to sit down, he walked toward the north side of the store, and saw a sign reading "Barber Shop."

He didn't remember a barber shop on that floor, but he pushed through a frosted-glass doorway.

It was very old fashioned, nothing like the modern hair salons that Lane usually went to.  Wood paneling, fluorescent lamps, frayed red chairs, jars of weird green liquid with combs floating in them.  Hair on the floor. An old black-and-white tv set was playing the 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, with the sound off.

Several men in suits were waiting their turn, leafing through Field and Stream magazine or newspapers.  One was staring a the tv screen.

There were two barbers working, one very young, in his 20s,  with broad shoulders, a  pleasantly solid physique, and very nice hands, thick, square, masculine.  He had classically handsome features, high cheekbones, a dimpled chin, dark soulful eyes -- and a dorky crew cut.

You'd think barbers would have nice haircuts, Lane thought.

The other barber was middle aged, wearing horn-rimmed glasses.  They must be father and son.

Lane wasn't feeling sick anymore, and his cruising instincts started up.  Maybe he could flirt a little with the young barber (he thinks he was named Steve),  find out if he was gay.  He sat down in a chair that gave him a good view.

Soon Steve said "You're next."

"No, these other guys were here first," Lane protested.

"They're regulars.  I get all the new customers," he said with a smile.  "Dad insists."

The full story, with nude pictures, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

My Date with the Grooms' Grandson at a Gay Wedding

Salt Lake City, Utah, September 2015

One day in the summer of 2015, a few weeks after the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S., I get a wedding invitation in the mail, and a request to be in the wedding party.

My first gay wedding!  I can't wait.

Besides, it's from my ex-boyfriend, so all of my West Hollywood friends will be there.

I've only met his partner Ben once, when I flew back to West Hollywood for a week-long visit.  A week was way too long!

He was in his early 60s, tall, rather buffed -- he spent every afternoon at the gym -- with greying salt-and-pepper hair and a moustache. Attractive, but elitist, conservative, and a bit crotchety.

No sharing, no parties, no going out to the bars to cruise.  I couldn't even invite a guy over to spend the night with me.

And when I was asked out by a 20-year old, all hell broke loose

"What are you doing dating a guy young enough to be your son?"  Ben exclaimed.  "Stick to guys your own age!"

"Um...I'm a twink magnet.  I can't help it."

"Nonsense.  You just like twinks because you can't handle the responsibilities of a grown-up relationship."

I check the invitation again.  It's not even in West Hollywood.  It's at Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City, Utah

A gay wedding in Salt Lake City?  Homophobic Mormon country?  Whatever for?

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

Mar 31, 2017

Jeff East: from Disney Adventure to Superman

During the 1950s and 1960s, Walt Disney single-handedly selected and groomed boys whom he thought could represent "youthful masculinity" -- and make money for the studio: Tommy KirkKurt Russell, Tim Considine, James MacArthur.  After his death in 1966, the Disney Adventure Boy was a rarity.  Ike Eisenmann came close, but perhaps the last was Jeff East.

Born in 1957, the tall, lanky, curly-haired teenager made a string of Disney moves in the mid-1970s, all set on the 19th century frontier.  However, Disney curtailed the shirtless shots that made Robbie Benson's Westerns a success -- Jeff displayed his chest (and nude backside) only in Tom Sawyer (1973) and Huckleberry Finn (1974), when he was barely pubescent.(That's a surprisingly muscular Johnny Whitaker next to him).

In his teenage roles, Jeff was stunningly handsome, but fully clothed.  Maybe for that reason, he remained relatively obscure,  receiving almost no notice in the teen magazines.

In 1977, Jeff moved on to his first "adult" role, as a college student who participates in a deadly hazing in The Hazing, also released as The Case of the Campus Corpse.  As if overcompensating for the censorship of Disney studios, he takes everything off -- he spends about half the movie in nothing but a revealing jockstrap.

And he has a painfully intense, overt same-sex romance with his costar, fellow college student Charles Martin Smith.

His most famous role came in 1978, when he played the teenage Clark Kent (but not his voice) in the blockbuster Superman.

Afterwards he continued to act, but mostly in low-budget projects.  Pumpkinhead (1988) was memorable for the same-sex romance between his harassed camper Chris and country boy Bunt (Brian Bremer), but most were of little interest for gay fans.

Today, somewhat chunky, no longer blond, but still handsome, Jeff East has retired from acting and works in real estate.

Is Sex Fun?

I get annoyed when people on dating apps say they are up for "some fun."  Especially the one who keeps sending me Grindr messages that consist of his penis and the phrase "Fun Fun."

I never thought of sex as fun, like riding on a roller coaster or watching a stand-up comedian.

It's pleasurable, of course, but you can't use the term "fun" to mean any pleasurable act.  Fun is lighthearted, frivolous, provoking laughter.  When you are having fun, you are laughing, or at least smiling.

No one ever smiles when they're anticipating sex, or laughs while doing it.  Arousal and response is serious business.

I find all of these activities pleasurable: doing historical research, doing the laundry, studying languages, having dinner, jogging, watching tv, looking at bulges, reading, going to museums, buying books, listening to a lecture, sleeping, writing blog posts, holding conversations, sex, lecturing in front of a large crowd, lifting weights, playing "fetch" with dogs, hanging out in coffee shops.

But most of them aren't "fun."

We decide to participate in an activity based on a "hedonistic calculus": calculating the amount of pleasure it will provide, minus the cost.

If the theater and a movie are equally pleasurable, but theater tickets cost $40 and movie tickets cost $10, we will probably decide on the movie.

If a good restaurant is ten miles away, and a terrible restaurant is right next door, we will probably decide on the good restaurant.

Sex is relatively low cost: little risk of disease or victimization if you follow the right procedures, not very time consuming, and free.

(You can't count the time, money, and energy expended in trying to find the sex partner).

And it provides a great deal of pleasure of five types.

1. sensual (expressing erotic desire)

2. aesthetic (appreciating his physique)

3. emotional (making an emotional connection).

4. psychological (boosts our self-esteem).

5. social (gives us something to discuss with our friends).

Therefore the pleasure far outweighs the cost, making it one of our most preferred activities.

But I still can't say it's fun.

The x-rated version of this article, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Mar 30, 2017

The Gay World of Frank Sinatra

The first teen idol, Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) had bobby-soxers and gay greasers swooning  with syrupy-voiced romantic ballads like "Night and Day" (1942), "Begin the Beguine" (1946), and "I've Got a Crush on You" (1948).  

Like all teen idols, his fan base aged with him, so by the late 1950s, his songs had become "old favorites," the songs middle-aged couples danced to while they reminisced about when they first met: "My Blue Heaven" (1961), "I Love Paris" (1962), "It Was a Very Good Year" (1965)

By that time, he was making a splash in Hollywood, as the romantic lead in buddy musicals like Anchors Aweigh (1945), On the Town (1949), and Guys and Dolls (1955), in serious dramas like From Here to Eternity (1953), The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), and Von Ryan's Express (1965).

By the 1960s, he had re-invented himself as a fast-talking middle-aged sharpie who loved the fast life and had connections with disreputable types.  He played parodies of himself in Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), Tony Rome (1967), and The Detective (1968), which apparently contains some savage homophobia, even by 1960s standards.

He was also in Las Vegas, singing, boozing, and clowning around with the fabled Rat Pack: Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop.

He continued to perform though the 1980s, although more and more often as a relic of the past, an American institution whose work was revered rather than enjoyed.  His last studio album, released in 1994, included "Come Fly with Me," "The Best is Yet to Come," "Embraceable You," and "My Funny Valentine."  One imagines that the elderly couples who first danced to his songs as teenagers fifty years before were sitting on rocking chairs, reminiscing.

The gay connection: Frank was quite homophobic in real life, but he had strong emotional ties with the mostly-bisexual Rat Pack, he starred in many gay-subtext movies, like On the Town, and his daughter Nancy Sinatra is a gay ally.  She tweets: "Tell me if you are homophobic and I will unfollow you.  Don't like bigots."

See also: The Gay Rat Pack; On the Town

Mar 29, 2017

Joseph Cali: from Physique Model to "Saturday Night Fever"

Joseph Cali was a familiar face in the late 1970s and 1980s, playing handsome Italian Stallion types:  John Travolta's friend Joey in Saturday Night Fever (1977), Joey Santorini in Trapper John MD (1981), Vincent D'Acosta in The Lonely Lady (1983).

He  starred in several short-lived tv series, such as Flatbush (1979), Today's FBI (1981-82), Santa Barbara (1989-90).

In the 1990s, roles became sparser.  Finally he retired from acting.  Today he is the co-owner of Cello Music and Film Systems, which sells home theater systems averaging $42,000 each to celebrity customers such as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

But there's more to Joseph Cali than meets the eye: a lot of nude photos online.

When he was in his early twenties, around 1970, he was discovered by George Haimsohn in the gay cruising area of Washington Square Park, and invited to model.  Haimsohn, who worked under the pen name Plato, published several sets of nude photos.  Later Cali posed the Model of the Month Club and Photozique, and after he moved to Los Angeles, Vulcan Studios.

Cali is apparently heterosexual or bisexual in real life: he's been married twice, most recently for 31 years, and he has four grown daughters.

But it's nice to know that he displayed his physique, and more, for gay fans in the past.

The nude photos are on Tales of West Hollywood

Mar 28, 2017

10 Things You Should Know about Dating Introverts

Alan, Lane, David, Yuri, Troy, Gabe, Dustin -- almost all of my friends and boyfriends have been extroverts: outgoing, aggressive, the life of the party, never wanting to stay home, always eager to get out there and meet new people.

But occasionally I've dated an introvert: quiet, shy, doesn't like meeting new people, likes to stay home in the evenings.

Dating an introvert has some has some intense pleasures, but it's very different from dating an extrovert. You have to be careful -- it's easy to misunderstand his intentions.

Here are 10 things you should know:

1. Cruising. Meeting new people is always intimidating for him, so even if you're a twink magnet, he won't make the first contact. He'll wait for you to approach him.

2. The Initial Interview.  Those small-talk exchanges of  "How are you? Fine -- how are you? Fine" make no sense to him.  He prefers to ask and answer real questions.

3. Getting Coffee. He doesn't understand why people hang out in coffee houses, gay-friendly or not. There's coffee at home. (Which is your excuse to get him home).

4. The Date.   Bright lights, noise, and crowds are not fun, they're exhausting.  They can deal with them for short periods, but they will need occasional breaks to go somewhere quiet and recharge.  Take him somewhere nice and quiet, like a play, or a museum.

5. Saturday Night.  Don't be surprised if he doesn't want to leave your apartment at all, even on Saturday night.  He thinks of staying in for an evening as a blessing, not a curse.  He looks forward to it.

6. The Kiss. Touching someone is always intimate, so he does it only if he has a strong emotional or erotic connection. He dislikes casual touching by strangers, like shaking hands.  Lay off the groping until the end of the date.

But once he's ok with touching, he won't stop.  You might never make it out of the bedroom.

7. The Phone Call.  He won't initiate an after-date phone call or text.  It's not that he didn't have a good time, it's just that initiating contact with someone is very stressful, so he will constantly put it off.    You'll have to contact him.

8. The Duck Around. If he sees you on the street or in the hallway, he might duck around the corner to avoid contact.  He's not trying to be rude; it's just that seeing someone outside of a familiar context is very stressful.  What should I do?  What should I say?

9. The Introductions.  By the third or fourth date, you will want to introduce him to your friends.  Don't do it with a party -- he is uncomfortable in large groups.  He will stick to your side and not mingle (See #1.)  Introduce him to one friend at a time.

10. The Intensity.  Be prepared for nights of quiet intensity, where every statement is meaningful and every touch is passionate.  In the morning you will be physically and emotionally exhausted, but anxious to see him again.

The X-rated version of this list, with nude photos and sexual content, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

See also: 15 Simple Rules of Gay Dating.

Mar 27, 2017

My Big, Flashy, Screaming-Queen Cousin and the Gay High School Boy

Indianapolis, September 2006

When I was a kid, we visited my Mom's dad and brothers and sisters in Garrett twice a year.  We also visited her brother in Kentucky, and we drove all the way down to Florida to visit her high school friend.

Why did we never visit her cousins in North Manchester?

It was only about an hour's drive from Grandpa's farmhouse, and about half an hour out of the way on our usual route home.

And -- Mom grew up with them.

 In 1942, when she was five years old, she moved to northern Indiana with her family, so her dad could take advantage of factory jobs during World War II.   Cousin Crit and his family moved into the Old House on the hill, about a quarter mile away.

Mom must have seen Cousin Crit's kids every day.  They must have gone to school together, played together, visited each other constantly, year after year, from 1942 to 1959, when she married my father.  Why did she never see them as an adult?

There was something fishy here, some scandal.  And there was probably a gay connection.

In the fall of 2006, I made a few phone calls.

1. Mom

"There's no mystery.  We only had a week to spend in Indiana, and just count up all the people we had to visit: my Dad, two brothers, three sisters, their families, your Grandma Davis, your Aunt Nora, your Aunt Edna, their kids.  There was no time for any side-trips."

That answer didn't hold up.  Most of Mom's family came by Grandpa Prater's house to visit us.  There was plenty of time for a side trip.

"Besides, most of Cousin Crit's kids weren't living in North Manchester.  Only Wilkie and Alice."

I checked the list I copied from the family Bible.  Wilkie, born in 1939, probably named after the presidential candidate.

"Wilkie was only two years younger than you.  Were you close growing up?"

There was a long pause.  "Not really.  He had his own friends and his own activities.  All that long-hair stuff, theater and music.  Nothing to do with me."

My gaydar went off.  "I see that he never married.  Was he gay?"

"Of course not," Mom said definitively. "There were lots of reasons not to get married in those days."

2. Aunt Mary, Mom's older sister.

"There's no big mystery.  None of Cousin Crit's kids were your mother's age.  They were separated by something like five years, which doesn't seem like a lot when you're a grownup, but it's a big deal when you're young.  Who wants to hang out with a baby?"

"Wilkie was only two years younger than Mom, though."

There was a long pause.  "Oh, right, I forgot about Wilkie.  He and your Mom used to be friends when they were little -- they played dolls together, that sort of thing.  But around high school, they drifted apart.  Your Mom was all about dating and boys, and Wilkie didn't want anything to do with that.  He never had any girlfriends."

My gaydar went off.

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

See also: A Sausage Sighting of the Mysterious Boy at the Old House.

Mar 26, 2017

The Good Samaritan: Two Nude Men Embrace

Everybody gets the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 wrong.

Remember, a traveler was accosted by thieves, who robbed him, stripped him naked, and left him by the side of the road.  A Pharisee and a Priest passed by without helping, but a Samaritan took him home and cared for his wounds.

The poit is not that we should help people in distress.  Samaritans were looked down on as heretics, evil, unclean, degenerate. not really human at all.  Jesus was telling us that we shouldn't pre-judged people.  Some of the seemingly righteous Pharisees and Priests are actually morally bankrupt, and there are some good Samaritans.

Regardless of the point Jesus was trying to make, artists have embraced the story as a way show a naked man and still be seen as devout.

Like William Etty (top picture), the first significant painter of male nudes in modern Britain, whose 1838 version takes a dig at Islamophobia, making the Samaritan a modern Turk.

Nicola Grassi (1682-1750) gave the victim thick, glowing muscles, and took a dig at anti-Semitism, making the Samaritan Jewish (which they were, of course).

Cornelius Van Haarlem (1627) makes the victim completely nude (but censors the penis), and the Samaritan a contemporary Dutch burger.

You can also use the Samaritan story as an excuse to show homoerotic potential, a man cradling another man in his arms. This version is by Leon Bonnat (1833-1922).

And George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), with an older but still muscular victim and a black Samaritan.

More after the break.

My Textbook Rep is a Gay Porn Star

Philadelphia, March 2013

Every academic is pestered by textbook company representatives pushing for you to assign your students their latest frightfully over-priced, generally gay-free textbook instead of some of the thousands of articles and e-books available for free at the campus library.

I'm usually immune to their pleas, but the rep that knocked on my office door last month, Mark from ___ Company, was jaw-droppingly handsome, and knew it: wavy brown hair, square jaw, piercing green eyes, huge hands, and a bodybuilder's physque crammed into his too-tight white shirt and grey slacks.

He flashed the smile that had been getting him special privileges his whole life and began pushing the new textbook with interactive e-book that meshed directly onto our online learning management system and...

"Um...sure, sure," I said, grinning like an idiot.  "But how is it with gay content?  I never order a textbook unless it covers the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that started the Gay Rights Movement."

He didn't flinch at the "controversial" topic.  "Well, let's take a look."  He came over to my side of the desk so I could see his laptop and leaned over me, so close that I could feel his body heat and, if I looked down, check for a basket.

There were several references to gay people: Stonewall, Anita Bryant, Matthew Shepard, the AIDS Quilt, gay marriage -- a lot more than the none in most intro texts.

"Ok, let me send you a link to the supplemental materials, and give you my card."  His huge bear-paw hand enveloped mine.  He flashed that smile again.

The moment Mark left, I dropped everything to look him up on the internet: Linkedin, twitter, instagram, and Facebook.

Mark was 26 years old, grew up in Pittsburgh, spent his junior year in high school in Japan, graduated from Duquesne University, had been to Europe and Canada, had a DUI arrest, had a brother named Clay.

He wrote a google review of a restaurant in Philadelphia.

He wrote an Amazon review of the tv series Sherlock.

There were a lot of newspaper articles about tennis -- his various matches and awards in high school and college.  He was signed on to a professional tennis recruitment website.

Facebook and Instagram had some pics of Mark with his arm around an older man and a guy he tagged as Mohammed, wearing a graduation gown, holding a fish [the illustrations are not really him]


I saved the shirtless pic to look at his thick, smooth chest, his shoulders and biceps, and his sixpack abs later.

He had a profile on a professional modeling site: interested in print and tv assignments, photos in a suit, in a sweater, in a swimsuit.  His resume listed some catalog work and local commercials.

How did this guy have time to work as a textbook rep?

Mark was back in my office the next week to see if I had gone over the supplementary material.

I was a little embarrassed that I had done so much internet stalking, so I decided to come clean.

"I looked you up online.  Quite an impressive list of accomplishments: decathlons, tennis, modeling."

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

10 Gay Movies I Hated

I haven't seen a lot of gay-themed movies since 2005, when I moved to small-town American: they rarely make it out to the multiplex next to the Wal-Mart.  But before that, living in West Hollywood, New York, and Fort Lauderdale, I saw practically everything.  Some were good, but a surprising number were awful: angst-loaded melodramas set in worlds where there is no gay community, every heterosexual is homophobic, lesbians turn straight, and gay men keep falling in love with women.

Here is the list of the biggest offenders, excluding historical artifacts like Cruising and The Boys in the Band, and movies where the gay guy dies (which I never see in the first place).

It's Still the 1950s
1. Get Real (1998). The only gay guy in the world (Ben Silverstone), who plasters his room with pictures of hunky footballers but still worries that his parents will "find out,"  falls for a local jock, who won't acknowledge his presence in public, continues to date girls, and beats him up to prove he is heterosexual.  But there are no other options.

2. Sordid Lives (1999).  In "modern" Texas, a drag queen named Brother Boy (Leslie Jordan) is in a mental hospital, undergoing de-homosexual therapy.  Meanwhile, a gay man (Kirk Geiger) moves from Texas to Los Angeles, where he undergoes 300 years of therapy to accept "who he is," but is still terrified that his theater-crowd friends will "find out."  Are you kidding me?  (Southern Baptist Sissies is in the same vein).

3. Cruel Intentions (1999).  Teenage brother and sister have fun destroying people's lives.  Fruity queen (Joshua Jackson, not even the most homophobic of the Jacksons) helps them blackmail his sex partner, a closeted footballer, who tries to turn hetero by throwing out his Judy Garland cds.  Excuse me?  Who researched this movie?

Gay Men Really Want Women
4. The Object of My Affection (1998).  Straight woman (Jennifer Anniston) and gay man (Paul Rudd) fall in love and begin a relationship.  Um. . .what exactly did they think the word "gay" meant?

5. The Opposite of Sex (1998). Teenage girl (Christina Ricci) shows up at her gay brother's house and seduces his lover (Ivan Sergei), who never once states that he's bisexual.  He just likes women, like all gay men.

6. Party Monster (2003).  Party boy (Macaulay Culkin) says he's gay, but he falls in love with a girl, who almost convinces him to abandon his "destructive lifestyle."  But it doesn't work, and he becomes a murderer.

Gay Men are Really Women

7. The Birdcage (1996).  It may have been ok with La Cage aux Folles in 1978, but in 1996, the sight of one effeminate stereotype (Robin Williams) teaching another (Nathan Lane) how to butter his toast "like  a man" was infuriating.

8. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001). East German boy (John Cameron Mitchell) falls in love with an American GI, and decides to become a woman for him.  Operation is botched, creating a transwoman with an "angry inch," who becomes a punk rocker and falls in love with a homophobic Bible-belt boy.  Same-sex desire doesn't exist; it's all male-female, regardless of the body you inhabit.

Lesbians Switch Teams a Lot
9. Chasing Amy (1997). Hetero man (Ben Affleck) falls in love with a lesbian and begins the task of converting her to heterosexuality.  Isn't that a debunked myth -- lesbians will "turn back" if they meet the right man?  It works, albeit temporarily.

10. Kissing Jessica Stein (2001).  Jessica meets a lesbian. She's astounded, utterly unaware that such things exist.  In Manhattan.  In 2001.  To be fair, she lives in a gay-free Manhattan, where people constantly make heterosexist statements ("Oh, you got flowers!  Who's the guy?").  They begin a relationship, but then Jessica switches back to heterosexual again.

Gay as Arrested Development

11. Chuck and Buck (2000).  The worst gay-themed movie since Cruising.  I'll save it for another post.

See also: 10 Gay Movies I Loved; 12 Songs I Hate; and The 39 Dumbest Things on TV