Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sex Puppies

If sexy young women are "sex kittens," then what should we call sexy young men? – How about "Sex Puppies?"

Sex Puppies are sexy young men (of legal age, of course!) who are physically mature but retain all their sweet boyish innocence. It's as if their manhood is so recent that we are aware of it before they are.

My vote for classic Sex Puppy-extraordinaire is Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen in the 1950's Adventures of Superman TV series. He was the cute, curly-haired, innocent office boy/cub reporter who constantly needed to be rescued by Superman.

What makes him a Sex Puppy? Well, in addition to the cutely boyish face, thick curly hair, soft timid voice, diminutive size, and extra-polite manners, Jack Larson/Jimmy Olson possessed a hot grown-up man's body.

In this episode in Season 1, as Jimmy prowls around a spooky hotel in the middle of the night, his jacket falls opens to reveal a broad, hard chest, some chest hair, and a pair of taut nipples. Turning around and leaning over the bannister, he shows off the contours of his nice bubble butt.

Out of his Jimmy Olsen clothes, Jack Larson was man enough to be Montgomery Clift's boyfriend in the 1950s. Later, he became the life partner of director James Bridges. An erudite, accomplished man of the arts, Jack went on to become a playwright, opera librettist, and producer, after his run as Jimmy Olsen.

Today's sexiest Sex Puppy has got to be Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

DeForest Kelley: About last night...

In "Fear in the Night" (1947), a sexy young actor named DeForest Kelley plays a timid bank teller who dreams that he kills a man, then wakes up to find evidence that he actually committed the murder. It's a wonderfully directed little noir mystery, made all the more fascinating because, as I viewed the film, it seemed to me that it would be possible to substitute "had sex with a man in a blackout," for "murdered a man in a blackout," and still have much of the dialogue and storyline work! (Watch it for yourselves and see if I'm not onto something...)

Sexy and distraut: DeForest Kelley in "Fear in the Night" (1947)

First off, the fact that the film starts with a dream sequence really begs a Freudian interpretation. In the dream, DeForest finds himself in a mirrored room where, although he wants to run away, he feels he "had to do what I'd come to do" (although he's not sure what that is). He is compelled by drives beyond rational thinking - as sexual drives invariably are. And in the mirrors of the room, DeForest sees his own image repeated over and over, as if he is confronting repressed selves who have come alive.

In the room he finds an attractive man and woman. Suddenly, the men are tangling with each other. We see closeups of male fingers tightening on male necks as the struggle ensues (strangulation being a particularly sexual crime), until the fight climaxes with DeForest shoving a "steel bore" into the man (easily imaginable as a phallic dream symbol). The man collapses, and DeForest hides his body in a closet before fleeing.

What did I do last night?? DeForest Kelley in "Fear in the Night"

When DeForest wakes up in bed, his pajama top is almost torn off, exposing his hairy chest, and he looks just as much post-sexual as post-murderous. Bewildered, he examines himself in his bathroom mirror, once again bringing forward the idea of DeForest confronting anonther self he has kept repressed. Examining himself, he discovers thumb prints on his neck, evidence of the other man's hands on him, and later finds he is in possession of an unidentified button and a strange key. He keeps repeating that he didn't have any of these things "when he undressed;" in other words, whatever happened to him happened after he undressed.

Muscles x 2: One of the many mirror shots in "Fear in the Night"

Feeling tormented, as evidence mounts that he is not the man he thought he was, he breaks up with his sometime girlfriend, but the speech he uses would be equally appropriate if he were breaking off the relationship because of being gay. Without explaining any specific reasons for the break-up, he simply tells her: "It's not your fault. It just -- Look, we're through. There's nothing we can do about it. Don't call me up, don't pay any attention to me. Get somebody else, get anybody. It'd better for you."

Although it's typical for film heroes in trouble to rely on stalwart girlfriends, in "Fear in the Night" DeForest turns instead to his tough, rugged brother-in-law (Paul Kelly), a cop, to help him sort out the pieces of himself and that fateful night. The brother-in-law's language continues to support a double reading of the dream, as when he says that if DeForest really had been sleep walking when he attacked a man and "shoved something into him," he would have woken up.

Pajama conference: DeForest Kelley and Paul Kelly share a nighttime heart-to-heart in "Fear in the Night"

The relationship between these to men is central to the progression of the story, as DeForest tries desperately to understand the truth about himself. When DeForest reveals to his brother-in-law that he thinks he might be a murderer, his brother-in-law's response is reminiscent of the reaction one might have to a family member unexpectedly coming out: initial disbelief, then anger and revulsion, even slapping DeForest around, then finally concern, tenderness and support. There are even subtle details lending a sense of these two making a kind of "masculine"/"feminine" pair. For example, in closeup shots of their wrists, we see that the rugged brother-in-law wears a bulky watch, while on DeForest's wrist is a lose gold bracelet.

Sleeping beauty: Note the gold bracelet DeForest Kelley wears in "Fear in the Night"

The fact that DeForest and his brother-in-law have many of their scenes in bedroooms, sometimes in their night clothes, adds additional intensity to their male-male intimacy. For DeForest's part, he is not a "macho" man at all; instead he is frightened by what he suspects is the truth about himself, breaking down, crying, fainting, and at one point, at wit's end, attempting suicide, from which he is rescued by the strong arms of his ever vigilant brother-in-law.

A fascinating film that can be viewed on multiple levels, "Fear in the Night" offers a rare chance to see DeForest Kelley in his first leading role, well before he would become indelible as Dr. McCoy (aka "Bones") on the original Star Trek. Although William Shatner was always played up as the Enterprise's official pretty boy, discerning viewers will not have missed the intellectual virility of DeForest Kelley.

Two decades later: DeForest Kelley in "Star Trek"

Beach babe: A young DeForest Kelley shows his stuff

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kerwin Mathews: thoughtful and virile

My latest film-idol discovery is Kerwin Mathews (1926 - 2007). Best remembered for his fairy-tale adventure films such as "7th Voyage of Sinbad," "Jack the Giant Killer," and "3 Worlds of Gulliver," he was also compelling in dramatic roles - for example, in a pair of noirs early in his career, "5 Against the House" and "Garment Jungle," and a British-made thriller later in his career, "Maniac."

Once described by Variety as being "both thoughtful and virile," his boyishly handsome and intellectual countenance perfectly complemented an athletic, hairy-chested physique - which, luckily, was frequently on display in his films.

Kerwin, left, and his roommate, both in boxers, with the cute freshman they are hazing, in "5 Against the House" (1955)
Kerwin shows his chest hair while his roomate chews out the freshman they're hazing in "5 Against the House" (1955)

Kerwin strikes a seductive pose in "Maniac" (1962)

Kerwin in skimpy skivvies, "Maniac" (1962)

I'm happy to report that, along with beautiful contemporaries like Sal Mineo, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Farley Granger, and George Nader (to name a few) our Kerwin was a man who loved men: he and his partner were together for 46 years until Kerwin's death in 2007. I'm also pleased to discover that Kerwin and I were neighbors of sorts, as he resided in San Francisco from 1978 on. I like to imagine that we were at some local event or performance together, or perhaps passed on the street...

Kerwin's obit in the San Francisco paper paints the portrait of a lovely, humble man.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Great Dane

This weekend, David and I watched Whiplash (1948) which came out on DVD recently from the Warner Archive. While it's not a great film, it's a very enjoyable little noir that stars some of my favorite people - Dane Clark, Zachary Scott, and Eve Arden - as well as someone I'm growing to like, Alexis Smith.

As usual, it's not the overt boy-girl love story that caught my attention, but the subtler male-male relationship - in this case, between Zachary Scott and Dane Clark.

Zachary plays a paralyzed boxing promoter - a former champion - who seeks to groom another man to take his place in the ring. The homoerotic overtones are strong, as Zachary studies Dane's body obsessively, especially his legs, to see what he is made of.

Zachary smolders with jealousy not only at Dane's powerful physique and its ability to win in the ring, but also because Dane is in love with Zachary's wife. We cannot help but assume that Dane is capable of performing powerfully in that arena as well, where Zachary cannot.

Masculinity by proxy is a fascinating dynamic - Zachary needs Dane to be the man that he himself cannot be. Coveting another's body and all it can do - is just one step away from desiring it sexually...

Dane Clark, star of Whiplash

Zachary Scott (left) needs Dane Clark to be the man that he himself cannot be.

Dane Clark in the ring: man enough for two.

Closeup on Dane
Born Bernard Zanville in 1912, Dane Clark graduated from Cornell University and earned a law degree from St. John's University School of Law. During the Depression, he worked as a boxer, baseball player, construction worker, and model. From modeling he moved on to Broadway and film. His big break in the movies came in 1943, in the Bogart film Action in the North Atlantic.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Steve Cochran: Fully Carpeted

I grew up in a house with a shag rug that was not as dense as the fur on Steve Cochran's chest. Even if he wasn't a compelling actor — which he was — all he would have to do was go shirtless in a film — which he often did — and his audience would be fully satisfied.

Steve's speciality was bad boy roles, playing dangerously sexy gangsters, con men, wife stealers, and the like. There was always plenty of his furry flesh on display. After all, you can't have too much of a good thing. Below, "Tomorrow is Another Day" (1951).

Steve's one directorial effort, the 1965 film "Tell Me in the Sunlight," was a noirish melodrama filmed on location in the Caribbean. Steve was also the writer, producer, and star of the film, and clearly was well aware of his own sex appeal, directing himself into various hairy and sensual positions, as shown below:

Steve definitely smokes in bed. The son of a lumberman, and himself a one-time Wyoming cow-puncher, he had a tumultuous private life in which he offered his carpet to a variety of lovers including Mae West, Jayne Mansfield, Ida Lupino, and Mamie Van Doren.

Before "Tell Me in the Sunlight" was released to theaters, Steve died under mysterous circumstances at the age of 48, aboard a yacht off the coast of Guatemala. The three women on board with him did not know how to pilot the boat, and languished, distraut, for 10 days at sea until the craft eventually drifted to shore. "Tell Me in the Sunlight" was released posthumously.

Below, Steve is the badboy of our dreams.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

George Nader, Renaissance Man

When he was beginning film his career, George Nader was three things that don't go together much better now than they did in the 1950s: a gay, Arab-American, movie idol.

Appearing shirtless throughout much of his first starring vehicle, the ultra low budget sci-fi flick "Robot Monster" (1953), George got the rapt attention of audiences, stirring their "imaginations" (also known as sexual fantasies). As shown below, the post-apocalyptic world was tough on George's clothes: before long, his T-shirt is in shreds, until he suddenly strips it off completely. (It is hot out there.)

Below, George Nader shows his stuff in publicity photos.

Below, George Nader with Rock Hudson.

Being an out-of-the-closet gay man negatively impacted George's Hollywood career, and in the early 1960s he relocated to Europe with his longtime partner. There, he made occasional films through the decade until an eye injury left him sensitive to bright lights.

Quite the renaissance man, he then embarked on a new career as an author. His 1978 novel "Chrome" is regarded as the first science fiction novel centered on a gay love story.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Stripping Tony Curtis

In 1951, when Tony Curtis was sent on a nation-wide publicity tour to promote his first starring vehicle, he was all but totally disrobed by screaming fans in each city he visited (Parish & Stanke, "The Swashbucklers," Arlington House Publishers, 1976). His studio's response: to dress him in break-away suits so that his fans could tear his clothes off more easily.

Somehow this anecdote sums up Tony Curtis's screen persona: the sexy opportunist. Unlike the standard male movie idol who is oblivious to his own attractivenss, Tony Curtis's characters know they are irresistable, and trade on that fact, pulling out all the stops to manipulate and seduce (figuratively, if not literally) both sexes.

There is often plenty of homoerotic subtext in his films, between him and such male costars as Burt Lancaster (for example, in "Sweet Smell of Success" and "Trapeze"), Laurence Olivier (in "Spartacus"), and Gilbert Roland (in "Midnight Story"). Above, slave Tony gives Laurence a bath in "Spartacus" (1960). Below, Tony and Burt in "Trapeze."

In the book "The Swashbucklers" (1976), biographers Parish and Stanke describe Tony Curtis's gowing up in poverty on the streets of New York, getting his spending money "by working for his father, by shining shoes, by selling newspapers, and by stealing" (p. 573). They go on to note that because of his exceptionally good looks, he was also subject to sexual propositions from older males. I can't help but wonder whether the scurrilous youth ever capitalized on those advances as well....