Apr 22, 2017

Seeing a Father, Son, and Grandson Naked

Plains, April 2017

I see the Geezer in the gym a couple of times a week: in his 70s, tall, ugly, and out of shape, with thin arms, no chest, and a sagging belly.   He never lifts weights or does cardio; he hangs around the pool and sauna, reads newspapers in the lounge, and talks to his buddies about the deadly dull things heterosexuals talk about, the game last night and the bathroom remodeling and the new job of the grandson.

I could not be less interested.

But one day we were stripping down at the same time, and I got a nice view of his penis.


The best sausage sighting ever!

And, I thought, the Geezer must have had a lifetime of admirers, men and women who wanted his penis, and more, who wanted the person he was before bitterness, disappointment, poor health, and the awareness of his mortality dimmed his days and nights.

So I struck up a conversation, said I was doing research on the older guys who went to the gym (which was true), and looked for a gay connection in the Geezer's biography.   Later I did some online research.

The Geezer

In 1964, the Geezer was a University of Nebraska jock named Dave, a farmboy from a small town near Lincoln.

He was on the swim team, and won some awards.  Swimming was a lifelong passion.

There must have been homoerotic hijinks in college.  Frat parties, late night bull sessions, romantic friendships.  

He graduated in 1964, but was never part of the youth counterculture.  Quiet, driven, conservative, he went to work for Mutual of Omaha, the insurance company. He married his college sweetheart, and had two sons and a daughter.

Was he sneaking into the gay bars, or going to the tea rooms? 

We were neighbors!  Dave was living in Omaha in 1980, when I moved there with my first boyfriend Fred.  A 38-year old householder with a wife and three children.

But our paths never crossed. 

Apparently nothing else happened.  A life of heterosexual monotony.  House, job, vacations, holidays, kids' piano recitals, watching them, one at a time, marry and leave the house.

He retired in 2007, and moved to the Plains to be close to his grown daughter.

"What about your sons?" I asked.

"The oldest got a job in marketing.  He lives in Des Moines.  The other wanted to be an actor or a model or some such nonsense, so he moved to California.  We see him maybe once a year."

My gaydar perked up.  That was my story, too, fleeing from the cage of heteronormative expectations -- wife, job, house, kids -- for the freedom of West Hollywood. Maybe this was the Geezer's gay connection!

The stories of the Geezer's son and grandson are on Tales of West Hollywood.

Apr 21, 2017

Fighting the Nazis, One Bicep at a Time

Superman, the first costumed superhero in comic book history, premiered in Action Comics 1 in the spring of 1938, just in time for World War II.  By the time the U.S. entered the war in 1941, the skies were dark with superheroes and their teen sidekicks.  Some are still flying, albeit revamped, retrofitted, and re-invented into a form that their 1940s counterparts would hardly recognize:  Batman, the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, Flash, Hawkman, the Atom, Plastic Man, Green Arrow.

But many others have fallen into obscurity: Dollman, Blue Beetle, Amazing Man, Electro, Black Marvel, Hourman, Bulletman, Uncle Sam, the Red Tornado, the Black Terror, Professor Supermind, Wildcat, Mr. Terrific.

They acquired their superpowers in various ways, through super-secret experiments, weird meteors, radioactive spiders, and mystics from the Himalayas, but they all were dedicated to fighting Nazis, and they all had spectacular physiques, which they usually displayed in skin-tight spandex.

Here are some superheroes who appeared without a costume, revealing their massive pecs and washboard abs to brighten spirits during the dark days of the War:

Samson, the descendant of the Biblical hero, has super-strength, as long as no one cuts his long hair.  He first appeared in Fantastic Comics #1 (1939), and got his own short-lived title in 1940.  The kid, by the way, is his teen sidekick David (no relation to the Biblical hero).

The Ultra-Man, aka Gary Concord, premiered in All-American Comics #8 (November 1939).  He's a 20th century scientist who goes to the future, aka Buck Rogers, and fights the tyrant Reborrizon.  Later he's killed himself, but his son takes over as the new shirtless Ultra-Man.

Scrounging around for ancient, Biblical, and mythical superheroes, Dan Zolnerowich stumbled upon Hercules.  Joe Hercules, however, is not descended from anybody.  He's a "real American youth" who just happens to have super-strength.  He starred in 21 issues of Hit Comics, from July 1940 to April 1942.

Magic Morro's story begins in Super Comics #27 (August 1940).  Originally Jack Morrow, he gained his superpowers on an island in the Pacific, where of course one must go shirtless.

I don't know who this is -- an ordinary soldier, not a superhero.  But a spectacular physique is a spectacular physique, even if you can't move mountains.  From Wings Comics #29 (January 1943).

Red Rube, who appeared in nine issues of Zip Comics in 1943 and 1944, is a twelve-year old orphan boy who turns into an adult superhero whenever anyone yells "Hey, Rube!" (which apparently happens quite often).

Apr 20, 2017

Scott Baio's Hookup with His Cousin and the "Fantasy Island" Guy

Of all the gay rumors I heard about Scott Baio, the most outrageous was the alleged three-way he had with his cousin Jimmy Baio and older actor Ricardo Montalban.

I heard several different versions from several guys, but it all boils down to three basic plots:

Story 1:

It was 1977, and 17 year old Scott has just finished Blansky's Beauties, while 15 year old Jimmy had just finished with The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training.

Scott's father, a canny stage dad who knew his way around strategic casting couches, arranged an introduction to the dapper Mexican-born Ricardo Montalban, age 56, then filming the first episodes of the Saturday-night old-person's favorite Fantasy Island (1977-84).

[Details too explicit for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding]

Story #2

It was 1980, and Scott, age 20, was playing Fonzie's cousin Chachi on Happy Days, while Jimmy, age 18, was a bigger star, playing Billy Tate on Soap.  

59-year old Montalban, who was filming Fantasy Island at ABC's Burbank studio, was a fan of Soap, and sometimes came to watch rehearsals.  He and Jimmy, who was gay but closeted, soon began a romantic relationship.

When Scott heard about Montalban's proficiency in bed and enormous penis, he begged Jimmy to let him watch.  Montalban agreed.

[Details too explicit for Boomer Beefcake and Bonding]

Story #3:

It was 1984, and Scott, age 24, was starring in Charles in Charge, while Jimmy, age 22, was scrounging around for tv guest spots after the cancellation of Soap.

Jimmy often went to the cruising area in Griffith Park, and one day he saw the 63-year old Montalban there.  They had met several times, but neither knew the other was gay.

They went back to Montalban's house on Oriole Street in the Hollywood Hills.

[Details...well, you get the idea.  The full stories, with nude photos and explicit sexual situations, are on Tales of West Hollywood.]

The Boyfriend of William the Conqueror

My ancestor was the boyfriend of William the Conqueror

Every schoolkid learns about the Battle of Hastings in 1066, when William, Duke of Normandy, defeated the English and became William I (Guillaume le Conquérant).  It was a pivotal moment in world history.

That's why over 30% of the words in the English language derive from French, often more elegant equivalents to Anglo-Saxon terms:


William was born in 1028, the bastard son of Robert I, Duke of Normandy.  When he ascended to the throne in 1035, his youth and illegitimacy caused a great deal of dissent.  Various nobles sought to control the boy by becoming his guardian.  The first three were all murdered, one while in William's bedroom.

Other nobles tried to kill the young William and take over the throne.  On more than one occasion he had to flee the castle at Falaise and hide in the homes of his supporters.

In 1046, an army led by Guy of Burgundy stormed Falaise, and 18-year old William had to flee to England, where he stayed with Henry I.

He tried to return secretly in 1047, but shortly after he came ashore at Caen, he was accosted by an armed band, and almost killed.

He was rescued by Ralph (Ranulphus de Praers), the 18-year old son of Baron Hubert de Rie (1005-1086), who took him to his father's castle in Rie (or Rye).  Ralph and his two brothers, Hubert and Adam, then escorted William to Falaise, about 45 miles away.

Ralph remained William's constant companion for the next twenty years, as he consolidated his power and forced the dissenting dukes into exile.

In 1066, King Edward the Confessor of England died without an heir, leading to a power struggle between English, French, and Norwegian claimants.  King Harold defeated his brother Tostig Godwinson and the Norwegian King Harald Hadrada, but was weakened sufficiently to allow William and his allies to storm into England and take over.

Yeah, it wasn't really the "freedom from tyranny!" thing that we prefer in our heroes.

After the Battle of Hastings, Ralph and his brothers received lands in Nottingham, Derby, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Kent constituting about 5% of all Anglo-Saxon England.

Ralph was so loyal to William that he didn't marry until about 1080, when he was 58 years old, quite elderly for the Middle Ages.

His descendants were the De Praers.  About 1450, they started calling themselves Praters.  Thomas Prater moved to Virginia in 1622.  His descendants moved to Maryland, then Kentucky, then Indiana, where I was born in 1960.

My Grandpa Prater was descended from the boyfriend of William the Conqueror.

So, were they actually lovers?

It's impossible to say.  They were lifelong friends.  Harold gave him a ridiculously large share of the conquest.  He didn't marry until he was an old man.  But any more intimate relationship is lost to history.

The Castle Rie or Rye is lost, too, although the town of Ryes, population 500, is still there.  It's only a 15 minute drive from the Musée de la Tapisserie in Bayeux.

And a 30 minute drive from the Sauna Arc en Ciel in Caen.

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

Apr 19, 2017

Stevan Dovanos: The Artist Behind the Homoerotic Towel Ads of World War II

You've seen copies of these magazine ads everywhere on the internet: naked World War II-era soldiers frolicking with towels, their butts and bulges in full view.

They didn't all show a lot of butt, but there were plenty of hard bodies and homoerotic hijinks.

They were called "True Towel Tales," illustrated one-page stories published magazines in 1943 and 1944. designed to sell Cannon towels.

Notice that towels play a prominent role in the illustrations.

The artist was Stevan Dovanos, born to Hungarian immigrant parents in Cleveland in 1907.  He attended the Cleveland Art Institute, and later moved to Westport, Connecticut.

Dubbed a "new Grant Wood," Dohanos specialized in "slices-of-life" small town Americana.  He illustrated the covers of 125 issues of the Saturday Evening Post with pictures of what he called  "Anytown U.S.A."

They remind me of Norman Rockwell's work, but with more humor and realism.

This is a rare historical painting of Roman gladiators.

Dpvanos was also interested in postage stamps.  As a member of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee, he oversaw the design of over 300 commemorative stamps during the 1960s and 1970s.

He died on July 4th, 1994, at the age of 87, leaving his second wife and son, apparently never aware that he was producing homoerotic art.

Beefcake Alert: Shirts vs. Skins Basketball in the Campus Gym

Since time immemorial, I've run at 2:00 pm Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Three or four miles outside in the summer, sometimes five, and in the winter, a quick three miles plus warmup on a treadmill in the campus gym, plugged into Bob's Burgers or Judge Judy

But lately I've been going at 4:00 or later, and skipping the treadmill to run around the indoor track, so I can look down and see the show. 

Basketball, either intramural or recreational, down on the gym floor.  

I'm not at all interested in basketball, but I'm very interested in ten guys running around on the floor, five of them shirtless, their chests, shoulders, abs, and arms available for anyone to gawk at.

Sometimes there are two games going on down there.

That's twenty guys, ten of them shirtless.

Occasionally even three games.

Thirty guys, fifteen shirtless, the sound of thunder, the smell of testosterone and sweat. 

They're much closer than these pictures would suggest -- I'm only a few feet above the players.

I try to gauge my pace so I run past the basket where they're trying to block and throw the projectile.

Each game involves two baskets on opposite sides of the gym.  Sometimes they're running in the opposite direction.  

But I have lots of chances.  The indoor track is only 1/10th of a mile around.

Three miles, thirty laps. 

Plus I need to walk a few laps before and after my run, right? 

The players keep changing.  There's always someone new to look at.

The ginger boy with a dusting of chest hair and a glory trail.

The swarthy Middle Easterner with thick hair and dark eyes and smooth, marble-hard abs.

The baby-faced freshman who reddens easily.

The skinny guy with thin arms, a narrow chest, and an innie belly button.

The short black guy with massive shoulders and pecs.

The long-haired, bearded Jesus Christ, with a hairy chest and a cross necklace.

The blond boy with a beautiful physique who yells "Aright!" when he makes a basket.

The chunky geek with a huge basket that keeps shifting around in his sweat pants.

The later I arrive, the better the show gets.

I've been coming in on my weight-training days, too.  I have to do a few laps to warm up, right?  And after my workout?

None of the other runners has yet noticed me slowing down when I'm near the players, and then zipping around the deserted regions of the gym.

None of the players has yet looked up and noticed me looking, or if they do, they just think I'm into basketball.

It's late March, warm enough to run outside, but I think I'll give the campus gym a few more weeks. 

How can I miss the show?

Apr 18, 2017

Spring 1981: Kissing a Boy at the Bell Tower

When I was in college, Bruce and I and some other English-philosophy-modern language majors hung out at a little bookstore off the student union. The manager, Adam Horowitz (picture is not him), was older, perhaps twenty-five, taut and muscular, surprisingly tanned, with an open, expressive movie-star face.  Not at all the sort of person you'd expect to spend his life selling science fiction novels.

Once an English major, he was expelled halfway through his junior year after a scandal that no one would talk about.  With no degree, no job, and nowhere to go, he got some faculty allies to help him open his little bookstore.

What scandal?  A same-sex affair, perhaps?  I asked Dr. Burton, the gay professor who held the infamous Handcuff Parties, but he didn't know

It made sense: Adam never dated girls, or talked about girls.  Actually, he never said much about his personal life at all.  It sounded like the hesitations, dissimulations, and omissions that gay people made in the Midwest in the 1980s to avoid revealing their "secret."  

But there was only one way to find out for sure: get him alone, and then zoom in for a kiss!  It worked with Fred, my boyfriend last year.

On a cold, drizzling Friday afternoon in March 1981, the campus was nearly deserted.  I had been alone in the bookstore for nearly an hour, studying Paleontology on the green couch by the western window, while Adam sat on his stool reading the underground Zap Comix.  This was a perfect opportunity!

“I'm heading over to the Comics Cave," I said in a tentative voice.  "Why don't you come along?  I don't think you're going to get any more customers today."

Adam stared at me in shock, as if I had suggested skinny-dipping in the pond behind Old Main.  "Um...sure, why not?" he said finally.  He wrapped on his coat and locked up the store, and we walked out into the blustery gray afternoon.  He talked nonstop about R. Crumb and Steve Ditko, and then of Little Nemo who explored Dreamland in the newspaper comics of a century ago, as if he couldn’t bear a moment of silence.

He was really nervous!  That must mean he was gay!

In back of East Hall, the path forked, left toward the Bell Tower and right up the heavily wooded ridge to 38th Street. Adam paused.

“Have you heard the secret of Bell Tower?” he asked.
“I don't know.  I’ve heard a lot of secrets since I came to Augie.”

“The Fratboys bring their dates there, because if you kiss a virgin under the bell, it rings. Thus notifying everybody up in Andreasson Hall that she is 99.99% pure.” He gestured toward the freshman girls’ dorm on the ridge.

"Cool!  Let's check it out -- I've never seen it up close before."

"Um..ok, I guess."  We turned away from the path, crossed the wet grass, and stood under the Bell Tower with its graffiti-blackened benches where Fratboys and their girlfriends kissed. It was very damp, and smelled of sawdust and brine.

“Did the bell ring for any of your....dates...when you were a student?”  I asked, deliberately avoiding the word "girl."

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

Apr 17, 2017

The Bulging Android of MST3K

This weekend I've been binge-watching the new reboot of Mystery Science Theater 3000: 20 years after the original MST3K, Jonah (Jonah Ray) and his robot chums are being forced to watch "cheesy movies" by the children of the original mad scientists (Felicia Day, Patton Oswalt).

The second episode that Jonah and the bots riff on, The Time Travelers (1964), sends the hapless scientists Dr. Von Steiner (Preston Foster) and Steve (Philip Carey) into the future, along with dumb blond "What's a proton?" Carol (Merry Anders) and comic relief "What does this button do?" Danny (Steve Franken).

They find a wilderness occupied by barbaric mutants.  The last survivors of humanity live in caves, where they are assisted by androids with weird faces.

The surviving humans are trying to build a spaceship to go to Alpha Centauri before they're killed by "the creeping death" or the marching mutants.  Meanwhile the scientists try to find a way home.

The plot is topheavy, cliched, and horrible -- which is why MST3K chose it, after all -- but take a look at the androids as they march in to confront the startled time-travelers.  Apparently it's important to for the surviving humans to gawk at android pecs.

And #32, on the left: that's quite a package for loose-fitting green dungarees.

The only male android listed in the credits is "Wayne Anderson," who was primarily known as a special effects artist.

And, apparently, for his Kovbasa+++.

Here he is again, after being wounded in battle, getting a new head.  I could swear I saw it getting bigger, as if someone was fluffing him on that operating table.

But it's not just Android #32.  Here's Danny on another operating table.  I don't know what's happening -- it doesn't really make much sense.  But apparently he was getting fluffed as well.

Steve Franken was a comedic fixture of the 1960s.  Here he is starring in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  But I never heard anything about a big basket.

I wouldn't recommend the movie without Jonah and the bots making wise-cracks.  But I'd definitely like to know who was doing all the fluffing.

Hookup from Hell on the Plains

Plains, April 2017

I thought all the crazies were back in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas in 1984.

It was my fault: the guy had no profile picture on Grindr, the photo he sent me was waist-down only, and his profile said "I'm Up for Anything," definite warning signs.

Then our interview was too short: named Brett, age  23,  "you going to invite me over or what?"

But I was mad because a hookup failed to show up earlier after endless emails going back and forth, so I thought "Why not?"

The Hookup from Hell

First Brett goes to the wrong building. Then when I direct him to the right building, he can't find the front entrance, and I have to go downstairs and fetch him.

He's slimmer, paler, and younger than the buffed guy in the photo, AND he won't shake hands.

He stares at the building.  "This place is pretty big.  Does anybody know you're...?"

"Some of them.  Why?"

"Don't talk to me or look at me.  Just walk to your apartment, and I'll follow."

A 23 year old in 2017, as skittish as a pre-Stonewall closet queen?  Weird!  But I'm in it this far....

Brett comes into my apartment and looks around.  "Are we alone?  Is anybody else here?"

"Um...no.  Why?"

Great, he's going to rob me!  But I'm three times his size!  

"Just making sure.  Got any wine?"

"No, I have Diet Coke, orange juice, and cranberry juice."

"No, thanks.  Let's just go in the bedroom."

I lead him into the bedroom and start kissing and fondling him.  He says "I'm really nervous" and breaks away.

Mr. "Up for Anything" is nervous?

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

Apr 16, 2017

Men with Tree Trunks

I know it's just a trick of perspective, but I love the photos where it looks like a tree trunk, taking up half the frame.

Not too many older guys post them.  Maybe only twinks have the technical expertise.  Or the proper equipment.

This one looks like it's standing next to him.  I expect him to put his arm around it and ask "Have you met my little buddy?"

Maybe it wasn't the best idea to post this on Boomer Beefcake and Bonding -- too much has to be censored.

For the uncensored tree trunks, check out Tales of West Hollywood.