Valentine's Day Homosocial Sweethearts

posted by Madame Bubby


While doing some usual “retroing” (a verb I coined a couple weeks ago), I realized that the company, Necco, that used to make those tiny candy hearts, is no longer making them. Yes, the iconic Sweethearts will not be around this year, but next year. Apparently, Necco went bankrupt, and the company that bought them out is planning to continue the line, but not this year. Apparently, there wasn’t enough time to gear up to make the usual volume, according to one media source, The Miami Herald, 100,000 pounds of Sweethearts each day for 11 months.
 

Necco hearts

Now that’s an immense quality of tiny candy hearts with messages like “Be Mine” or “Crazy for You.” And what’s also immense, I think, is the dynamic of Valentine’s Day distribution that used to occur in classrooms when I was in elementary school in the 1960s.

Every year up until I think fourth grade (I am wondering if the cultural authorities of that age, still influenced by Freud, corresponded with the first rustlings of puberty), everyone would go the drug or department store and buy a big bag of small paper valentines. You would give one to everyone in your class, and I don’t remember, at least in my case, only giving them to girls. You gave one to every person in the class, regardless of gender, and in many cases, everyone got a bunch of those little hearts. Some of the more creative students, usually the girls, would even insert one of those hearts into the envelope with the card, that is, those who put their cards in envelopes.
 

1960s classroom valentines

Maybe the teachers and parents during that time were operating under the assumption that the children weren’t really thinking about gender relationships as being romantic, even though the wider culture was assuming Johnny and Sally were heterosexual and would in a few years establishing that orientation. Yet, in the prepubescent ages, everyone in the class was potentially the child’s platonic friend, and that’s what it was at that age. Ideally.

And, I could be wrong, but I think around ages 7-8, I remember the boys pretty much played with boys, the girls with the girls. Thus, the relationships on the playground were fairly homosocial, and the adults looks askance at boys who played with the girls and their gender-specific playthings and games and vice versa. Thus, perhaps, the genderless Valentine’s Day distribution kind of makes sense, even if at that age the “other” gender was often “yucky” or “icky.”

Yet, the children were running around at that time chanting, “John and Jane, sitting in a tree, ‘k i s s i n g.’ First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes John with the baby carriage. The man was pushing the baby carriage. Very interesting image in a time when everyone was assumed to be heterosexual, and the Father Knows Best world was the ideal: the man worked, and the woman stayed home and left it only to give birth and bring home another child. Well, at least love came before marriage, but not sex, in this ideal world.
 

195s man in suit pushing baby carriage

Ideal. Yet how many of those children knew they would not ever live up to this ideal, and thus they were “sick” and “wrong” The innocence of those paper valentines and candy sweethearts was ultimately illusory. Even the conventionally heterosexual youth weren’t just smoking or peeking at “wank mags” in the bathrooms and the woods and in their own bedrooms. And, looking back in with an admittedly jaded, cynical hindsight, remember those were the times when sexual transgressions against that ideal were often so secret and so heinous that one could not even name them, and when one thinks how many transgressions at that time were acts of nonconsensual abuse by family members.

When those small candy sweethearts appear again next year, maybe one could imagine them being exchanged in an honest, inclusive world where, even after the fourth grade, a boy can joyfully give another boy a valentine. And that world will not end. The world is more than we know.
 

Gay valentine
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Steam

Steam test

I did the steam test this week in Chicago, which has been colder than Siberia, Antarctica, and Mars. I filled up a measuring cup with hot water and tossed it out of the window of my storage room. I was temporarily blinded by that amazing, but sadly fleeting, release of energy I had created.

And all that steam, an explosive combination of extreme heat and extreme cold in this case, got me thinking of not just what steam is, but how authors and artists and filmmakers use steam to convey multiple ambiguities in their works of art.

But steam is not the fog that hides haunted houses, though it resembles it superficially. Steam is released physically under conditions of great thermodynamic pressure. Once released into the air, it dissipates, but it can also be harnessed to provide more power. (No steam engine, no Industrial Revolution!)
 

Early steam engine

For example, the song “Steam Heat” compares the steam heat of a radiator to what will become the heat of passion, however unfavorably. Kissing is what gets that energy, sexual energy released:
 

Steam Heat sheet music

I got (clang) (clang) s-s-s-steam heat, 
I got (clang) (clang) s-s-s-steam heat, 
I got (clang) (clang) s-s-s-steam heat, 
But I need your love to keep away the cold,

I got (clang) (clang) s-s-s-steam heat, 
I got (clang) (clang) s-s-s-steam heat, 
I got (clang) (clang) s-s-s-steam heat, 
But I can't get warm without your hand to hold,

The radiator's hissin', still I need your kissin'... 
To keep me from freezin' each night, 
I got a hot water bottle, but nothin' I got'll... 
Take the place of you holding me tight

The sound of the hissing and the clanging is dissonant and mechanical, the heat; the thermodynamics reveal great struggle to be harnessed, to work, to produce, in contrast to the organic steam produced by the physical and emotional interaction between the lovers.

Steam heat radiator

And in the vintage gay porn movie Turned On!, Al Parker wanders in a fantasy sexual world that resembles a literally steamy gay bathhouse. The steam blurs conventional physical and emotional boundaries. It dissipates, but in its dissipation somehow creates more energy rather than declining into entropy or freezing into rigid crystals. Thus the men multiply, the cocks multiply. Energy is eternal delight, according to William Blake, and in this film it transcends thermodynamic laws.
 

Turned On poster

 

For almost fifty years, Bijou Video has been committed to helping you create your own sexual steam. Check out some of our particularly steamy titles and use the following coupon code for 30% off all vintage gay porn DVDs now through February 28: dvds30

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Pot Luck or Unluck?

Dumpy office potluck

In 1592 Scotland, not exactly the jolly tearoom in a time of turmoil, someone used that word potluck to refer to a meal served to a guest the host did not specifically prepare for. In other words, I didn't expect you, so it's luck of the draw what I've got in the pot. And given economic conditions in Scotland at that time, you would be lucky if you got a bit of boiled oatmeal.

Fast forward centuries later, and the word now refers to an event where everyone brings a different (one hopes!) dish. Thus, supposedly, one can enjoy a choice, but at the same time, unless the host or hostess decides to notify in advance who is bringing what (often the etiquette these days), it's the luck of the draw what is in all those pots (really, tupperware, chafing dishes, foil trays et al). Or, in the case of some office potlucks, what's in the 2-liter bottle of soda and bag of chips someone (usually a male) picked up at the downstairs convenience store at the last minute.

I was reading on an admittedly snarky LGBTQ board about an event called the lesbian potluck, and apparently such an event was and is so popular it has become a stereotype. Apparently gay men, in contrast to lesbians, tend to eat out or cook at home specific menus, or if their culinary skills are less than stellar, hire a caterer. Perhaps this set up allows more time for extra-food events such as sex upstairs (or in the slings in the basement) between most of the guests. Or more time to finesse with the crudites and the specific décor.
 

Fancy crudites

Lesbians, however, for a variety of social and cultural reasons, prefer to view these meals as community bonding rituals (I've heard winter or summer solstice ones are popular). They will eat in, but the food comes from other lesbians, lovers, and sometimes, to add drama to those events, an ex-lover or two. I must admit I've never been to one, but I've heard stories, alas. Let's just say perhaps reverting to Prohibition might be a good idea at some of these events.

Yet potlucks were often, in the days of the closet, a way for both gay men and lesbians to meet each other in a private setting free from the threat of the police. I remember visiting Kentucky as late as the early nineties, and the main events for LGBTQ persons were potlucks. They took those Southern Bible Belt church potlucks, it seems, and made them their own way of forming community. (I do hope perhaps that they offered more than baked beans and casseroles with a cream of mushroom base!)

And in the case of lesbians, the potluck often became a way for lesbians and/or early feminists to say, we are cooking for each other, not for men aka husbands and children, and not just in a kitchen in a house owned or supported by a man. And at the same time, these early lesbian potlucks were able to embrace environmentally friendly and nutritious diets, especially, macrobiotic, vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options. Oy veh. Lentil salad, anyone? More lentil salad, anyone?
 

Lesbian potluck

To be honest, my potluck experiences have been less enjoyable than most. I remember the dictatorial hostess of one I attended criticizing my pumpkin tart (she claimed it was undercooked). Another friend went to the same event and brought a plain lettuce and cherry tomato salad, which the hostess insulted as well (that friend admitted she did not have time to do much and frankly did not want to). Still, the hostess committed a major etiquette faux-pas. (She, a straight woman, much later married a gay man. No comment.)

And then, at the Bijou office a few holiday seasons ago, there was the year of the cookie exchange that accompanied a potluck. I made a vegetable lasagna that year as well that but I should have used regular cheese (the fat free cheese does not melt), and I cut down on the spices. It was bland, but one person just sprinkled a bunch of oregano and garlic powder on it. (At least he did not insult it!)

But I digress. That infernal cookie exchange. So many rules. Let's just say participants had to bake not just say, one batch of cookies as for a potluck, but several batches because one would ultimately exchange your batch with the respective batches of the others. Thus, you would come home with several different types of cookies. But only after you baked Lord knows how many batches of your cookie. In a panic, I called my mother and a friend. They said do drop cookies. I tried a drop cookie cake mix recipe. I burnt two batches. Never again.
 

Burnt cookies

Maybe pot lucks are like life in general. Maybe one should be lucky one can fill a pot, or even own a set of pots, and not just one to piss in (and no, the watersports party is not an event with food).

So, here's to a holiday season and a coming year full of pots, luck, food, sex, and love. Not necessarily in that order.

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Of Trees and Bushes and Fun Beneath Them

The Christmas tree, O Christmas tree is a relatively recent addition to the Christmas aka Holiday aka Saturnalia festivities in America. Prince Albert the Good brought it over from Germany during his time as the husband of the great Victoria, and pretty soon the tree decorated with candles and then electric lights has become a staple of what has now become America’s end-of-the-year orgy of consumption.

Such trees, real or artificial, have become status symbols, and they even reflect changing tastes. I head somewhere that the retro Atomic Age white and pink trees (to us in our pseudo-organic age, so unnatural) are returning to popularity. In fact, smaller ceramic Christmas trees with bulbous light and garish ornaments painted on from this period are suddenly the rage on Ebay. Camp and retro and kitsch reign, and o so gay!
 

Ceramic Christmas tree

The proximity of the minor Jewish festival of Hanukkah to the season has created a cousin of the Christmas tree, the Hanukkah bush. Yes, bush. And not the burning one which was not consumed, which would be more appropriate to Passover. It seems that some more secular Jews tried some cross-holiday pollination here, even celebrating Chrismukkah (gifts and trees and menorahs, let’s do it all), much to the consternation of many more orthodox rabbis.

Now the more sensible Reform and Conservative rabbis have claimed that the holiday is mostly secular, so why not put up a tree or a bush if doing so is void of religious significance (its heathen roots in the worship of Odin in the primeval German forests notwithstanding). One woman recently tied in her bush specifically to Hanukkah, decorating with menorahs and little figures of the Maccabees, an interesting solution, but perhaps not one that will gain a foothold in popular culture.
 

Hanukkah bush

Now what’s really fascinating about all this tree and bush worship is the obvious sexual connotations. A tree is phallic, obviously (though as Freud says, a cigar can just be a cigar, and likewise the same could apply to a tree), and in Norse mythology, the great tree Yggdrasil held up the physical world. Its destruction meant its end.

J.R.R. Tolkien transformed this mythology into his own in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. The survival of the world and the fertility of a line of tall kings are dependent on first two trees, one silver and one gold, and after their destruction, then a white tree descended from their seed.
 

Tolkien's gold and silver trees

And the rabbis and the priests and the ministers of course have interpreted and reinterpreted those mysterious trees in the Garden of Eden, in many cases connecting them with sexual awakening and a fall from innocence into experience.

Thus, rockin’ around that Christmas tree could really in many cases mean sex, and not just the sex that makes babies. The prolific gay porn director, Robert Prion, seems to enjoy setting sexual escapades around and under Christmas trees. Of course these trees aren’t even really growing, because they are either artificial or real ones cut down, so one wonders if somehow the whole life/fertility mythological connection gets lost here. Whatever the case, it certainly adds a somewhat campy/kitschy o so gay aura to the scenes that feature them in our recent release Teasin' 'n' Pleasin' and our upcoming release Access All Areas.
 

Sebastian Jaymz abd Jay Richards in Teasin' 'n Pleasin'
Sebastian Jaymz & Jay Richards in Teasin' 'n' Pleasin'

Scott Spears in Access All Areas
Scott Spears in Access All Areas

A week ago I bought an used tabletop artificial blue tree with a stand covered in glitter that I was told, by the place that sold it to me, once served as a Hanukkah bush. I put some white lights on it, and It really glitters and sparkles. I just might keep it up through February or even March, despite that being a social faux-pas. I mean, who says that lights and sparkles and sex are only a holiday affair?

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Thanksgiving Porn?

We at Bijou Video carry some of the best Halloween porn, and we are in the process of coming out with some interesting “Christmas tree” porn, but Thanksgiving porn?

Seems perhaps an oxymoron, as turkeys and green bean casseroles and Norman Rockwell grandmas in aprons (and family feuds too), don't seem to lend themselves particularly well to erotic expression.
 

Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving

I did a search on google, and Thanksgiving porn does show up; on pornhub, I found an image of a cute young guy in bondage trussed up like turkey on a table, but not much else that really ties into the holiday.
 

CTA train, Chicago

I did find a link to a Thankgiving parody vintage gay porn video from 1983 called Spanksgiving, complete with wavy lines that indicate a well-played Beta videotape and the ubiquitous pornstache. It's pretty hilarious, if you now what is being satirized. I particularly enjoyed the placement of the pumpkins around “Rock Hansen's” crotch.

Perhaps the easiest erotic connection one could make with a day that focuses on food is food porn, which comes in all shapes and sizes. I don't think some of the usual Thanksgiving food items would work with assplay (a firm zucchini, for example), as they are usually too glutinous and goopy. But if you get into messes, I guess one could certainly rub some cooled down gravy on a willing victim and lick it off. Ew …
 

Traditional Thanksgiving food

I am forcing the issue here, I am afraid.

I am wondering perhaps it Thanksgiving could be a day to rest form the libido; instead of feeding it with a healthy diet of erotic play, one just feeds. Literally.

Perhaps the inevitable nap could stimulate some cuddling, which could always be start rof some hanky panky rather than the end of it.
 

Cute guys cuddling

But most significantly, remember that many LGBTQ persons will not be able to spend time with blood family. I hope that many will thankfully enjoy Friendsgiving, a newly coined word that emphasizes inclusivity and the real situations of many who courageously created their own bonds of love and sharing.
 

Friends toasting over Thanksgiving meal
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