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....