Oct 21, 2017

I Date the Incredible Hulk's Arch-Enemy

West Hollywood, October 1985

The guy at Mugi, the gay Asian bar, was not doing well.  He kept getting Attitude.

Maybe because of his cruising technique.  At Mugi you never approached guys, you had a friend do it for you.

Maybe because he was not very attractive.  In his fifties, with a slim nondescript physique, a sharp weasley face, and no basket,  Ok, he could't help his face, but he could join a gym or shove a balled-up sock into his pants.  How could you compete otherwise?

He was obviously there to pick up Asian men, but eventually he got around to me, sending a rum-and-coke over (which I didn't touch) and then ambling over himself.  Then I recognized him:

In college (1978-1982), when I happened to be home on a Friday night, I watched The Incredible Hulk, the tv adaption of the Marvel comic book series about mild-mannered Bruce Banner (Bill Bixby) who, when angered, turns into a muscular green-skinned troglodyte (Lou Ferrigno).  He was dogged by Jack McGee (Jack Colvin), a newspaper reporter obsessed with figuring out his secret.

I was home on Friday night only when I was sick or lonely, so I associated Hulk with sickness, loneliness, general malaise.  Maybe not Lou Ferrigno, who was a very muscular bodybuilder, or Bill Bixby, who I knew from my childhood favorites, My Favorite Martian and The Courtship of Eddie's Father.  But definitely Jack Colvin, driven, desperate, isolated.  And here he was!

"Yeah, you got me.  The cat's out of the bag.  Jack Colvin."  He offered his hand to be shaken.

Newly out!  I thought.  Or he would know that you don't shake hands in a gay bar. You touch the guy's chest or shoulder.  I grabbed his hand and pressed it against my chest.

"Nice muscles," he said.  "You must work out."

"I work at Muscle and Fitness," I told him.  "Weird coincidence -- Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby were in the office just a couple of days ago.  I thought they looked like a couple.  Was everybody on The Incredible Hulk gay?"

"Lou is straight," Colvin said.  "But he won't say no to a late-night hookup." He sipped his rum-and-coke.  "Bill has boyfriends and girlfriends -- we tricked quite often.  We would have dated, but it was impossible -- we were enemies on the show, so we couldn't be seen in public together.  Then Christopher got sick, and he and Brenda were having problems, and...."

I didn't know who those people were, so I cut him off with a kiss.  He kissed like a straight guy, prodding his tongue into my throat as if it was a phallus, but not groping me or pushing our crotches together.

When I pulled back, Colvin said "Whew!  Well, I guess we're going home together."

Newbie!  You never went home with a guy you just met!  "Not tonight, but let's have dinner...say Tuesday night?"

He looked disappointed, but said "Sure.  If you think you can hold out that long," and gave me his number, already written down on what we used to call a "trick card."

Colvin wasn't at all my type, but actors have lots of connections, and at the very least we would be "sharing" bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno and my childhood hero Bill Bixby.

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

The Unexpected Beefcake of Steve Guttenberg

I've never met Steve Guttenberg, but after seeing him in so many movies, tv series, and off-Broadway plays,  he seems more familiar than some of the celebrities that I've actually met.

His physique is especially familiar, since he displays his muscular chest, shoulders, and biceps in nearly every movie, often to indicate confusion or embarrassment.

He's got nothing to be embarrassed about.

At last count, I've seen twenty of his movies, beginning with The Chicken Chronicles (1977), when the 19-year old transformed the teen sex comedy into something more, and The Boys from Brazil (1977), where his character is killed in the first scene.

Comedies like Police Academy (1984), where his Carey Mahoney gleefully pretends that he had sex with the uptight police captain.(For more homoerotic subtexts combined with homophobia, see Bachelor Party, by the same director).

Science fiction like Cocoon (1985), about a group of senior citizens who use alien technology to rejuvenate themselves.

Dramas like The Bedroom Window (1987), where his Terry Lambert has an affair with the boss's wife and becomes the main suspect in a murder.

Not a lot of buddy-bonding roles, but lots of gender transgressions that give his characters a gay-vague subtext even as they pursue women.  And he forms a lot of alternate families, as Short Circuit (1986), 3 Men and a Baby (1987), and Home Team (2000).

And lots of gay-positive roles, like Can't Stop the Music (1980), where he plays the gay-vague manager of the gay-vague Village People (and incidentally wears the tightest shorts known to Disco).

To Home for the Holidays (1995), where a gay couple is invited to the festivities.

To P.S. Your Cat is Dead (2002), where he plays a homeowner who captures -- and kisses -- a gay burglar..

To Mojave Phone Booth (2006), about various people affected by a phone booth in the desert, including a lesbian couple.

In his memoirs, The Guttenberg Bible, Steve talks about his early naivete (he didn't realize that the Village People were supposed to be gay) and about the shock of realizing that some men found him attractive.

He's gotten over it since.

Oct 20, 2017

Brandon Cruz and his Best Friend

Former child stars are subjected to all sorts of weird rumors.  Jerry Mathers of Leave It to Beaver died in Vietnam.  Josh Saviano of The Wonder Years donned deaths-head makeup to become Marilyn Manson.  Brandon Cruz of The Courtship of Eddie's Father became a punk rocker.

Wait -- that last one is true.

Kids on 1950s and 1960s tv were required to be emblematic of the establishment. No rebellion, no discussion of the social problems of the era, not even a Beatles moptop.  Some, like Billy Gray, grew up to savagely critique the racism, sexism, heterosexism, and materialism of their star vehicles. Others, like Tony Dow, leaped head-first into the counterculture.

Brandon Cruz, who was only ten years old when Courtship ended, has nothing but nice things to say about his co-star Bill Bixby, "a second father,"  and shrugs off criticisms of the show's conformist content: "I was a kid. I said what they wanted me to say."

Brandon continued to act through the 1970s, with guest shots on Kung Fu, Medical Center, and Police Story, an Afterschool Special ("Mighty Moose and the Quarterback Kid"), and several well-received movies, including The Bad News Bears (1976) and The One and Only (1978).

But his main interest was music.  He became involved in the punk scene of the 1970s and 1980s, performing with the bands Dr. Know (1981-2010) and The Dead Kennedys (2001-2003).

Punk resonated with many gay teens due to its anger, its refusal to conform to the conventions of mainstream rock, and its politics -- a welcome change from the "isn't heterosexual sex great?" lyrics of mainstream rock. In "Moral Majority" (1981), for instance, the Dead Kennedys savagely criticize the homophobic Religious Right:

You call yourselves the Moral Majority
We call ourselves people in the real world
Trying to rub us out, but we're still alive
God must be dead if you're still alive

And that's just the clean part of the song.

But Brandon is not all about rage against the machine.  He often performs "Best Friend," the theme song from Courtship, which sounds extremely homoromantic when it's not about a kid:

People let me tell you 'bout my best friend,
He's a warm hearted person who'll love me till the end.
People let me tell you bout my best friend,
He's a one boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.

Today, in addition to his music, Brandon is active in Paul Petersen's A Minor Consideration, dedicated to improving working conditions for child actors, and he works as a drug/alcohol rehabilitation counselor.  He is a strong gay ally, and happily acknowledges his gay fans.