No More Porn on Tumblr! Why?

I wonder if the announcement that Tumblr was banning pornographic content was perhaps inevitable, but not for the official and unofficial reasons currently being disseminated by the media.

The surface reasons seems to be tied into the confluence between technology and profits. The IOS App Store would no longer allow the Tumblr App because of an isolated child pornography incident. Since most Smartphone users rely on Apps, not allowing it would seriously lessen Tumblr’s overall use and scope. But why target Tumblr? Was it simply the, according to some sources, the 20 percent porn content?

It may seem that Tumblr was directly put between the proverbial rock and hard place, even though the microblog is a free service. An article in The Verge succinctly paraphrases the new policy:

“Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.” The wording of Tumblr’s announcement seems to both evoke and invoke arguments about obscenity that occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.

LGBTQ sexual pioneer Chuck Renslow started out as a physique photographer, and he definitely was pushing social boundaries during the 1950s with his homoerotic (as close to nude was possible, and one could often see that the posing straps were painted on) photos. He, like many other in this line of work, were “coding” their visuals, because it was one of the few ways gay men could experience their erotic desires and fantasies safely and privately. Many outfits mailed nude photos and films in plain envelopes, but these were often confiscated by the Post Office and the perpetrators, both the senders and receivers, punished.

Some of these incidents ended up in the court system. Renslow’s case ended in victory, as the judge made the ruling that if one deemed these photos obscene, so would certain masterpieces of art, especially from the Graeco-Roman period.

The Manual vs. Day case, which went to the United States Supreme Court, held that magazines consisting of semi-nude or nude males are not obscene and the Post Office cannot interfere with their dissemination through the mail. The case is notable for its ruling that photographs of nude men are not obscene, an implication which opened the U.S. mail to nude male pornography, especially those whose audience was gay men.

Tumblr of course is certainly not contained physically in brown, unmarked envelopes, but what is interesting is that Tumblr seems to be agreeing with that 1950s judge. Agreeing to some extent, yes, but also opening up once more some of the time-worn arguments about the complex relationship between sexuality, artistic expression, violence, and how this relationship builds and shapes an audience.

Going back to my initial statement, it seems inevitable that something of this nature would happen, because it’s obvious our means of communication have changed drastically since the days of postage stamps and nudie photographs and envelopes, and later, moving images of sexual acts in theaters that charged admission only to adults: physical mediums that exist in a controlled spatial situation.

What Tumblr and those who support restricting what they deem porn (for them, porn equals genitals which equals sexual acts) fail to recognize is not of course the nanosecond dissemination of mostly amateur depictions of sex which could result in more potentially dangerous situations: no, they fail to recognize the aesthetics (which tie into social contexts, of course) of a wide variety of LGBTQ pornography from the 1970s and 1980s, especially.

For example, Al Parker responded to the AIDS crisis by combining sexual acts and documentary in his film High Tech. Jack Deveau offers what one could claim is a documentary of gay life during the "hippie" era in Left-Handed. So many others of that period usually offer narrative structures: the sex acts aren’t just sex acts per se, but components in forms that explore the larger social issues of the time. And even some of the J. Brian films, which were not made to specifically address any social or moral issues, could be seen as living documents of gay sexual history.
 

Three cast members in High Tech
Three men using vacuum pumps in High Tech

Stars of Left-Handed
Stars Ray Frank & Robert Rikas in Left-Handed

The question remains as to how one could apply any standard of evaluation to any medium which communicates the erotic universally, but it seems a rather generalized case could be made that the older the porn, the more chances it could be determined to be aesthetically or historically significant. But the burden of proof would fall on the user, and in today’s lightning-paced communication environment, time is an enemy, rather than, as before, space.

Yet at this juncture, it seems like the only possible solution here is diversification. Perhaps Tumblr’s free-for-all ethos caused this implosion. Given the fluid nature of social media, those who used Tumblr, especially LGBTQ persons who still exist in various states of marginalization, will have to regroup, and unfortunately, some might claim, not return to closets or ghettos, but establish in their own tech-savvy ways other spaces for erotic expression.

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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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The Death of Jack Chapman aka "Tank": A Warning and a Challenge

Last week I tweeted a developing a story about a member of the gay bear BDSM community, Jack Chapman (who took on the name of Tank Haferpeten), who died at the age of 28 from complications that ensued after a silicone injection into this balls. Tank was a “pup” in a polyamorous community under the mastership of one Dylan Haferpeten, commonly known on a various social media sites as “noodlesandbeef.”
 

Dylan with his pups
Dylan with his pups

Dylan and Jack aka Tank
Dylan and Jack aka Tank

This group of guys fetishized muscle growth, changing their body from conventional bear builds to bodies that resembled certain types of superhero cartoon or anime figures: abnormally large muscles and other body parts, attained not just by working out in the gym, but by artificial means such as steroids and silicone.

Some have claimed that Dylan himself suffered from some form of body dysmorphia, a pathology called “bigorexia:” his body could never be big or massive or muscular enough, and he was willing to do whatever he felt he needed to do to make his fantasy a reality. Yet when this dysmorphia doesn't just affect the individual, but others, the fantasy becomes a literally monstrous reality.
 

Illustration of bigorexia: a muscular man looking in the mirror and seeing a skinny man

Note I used the word pathology. Safe, sane, consensual BDSM relationships manifest themselves in different forms depending on the specific desires and needs of the participants, but the sources I have explored claim that Dylan's control of his pups took on abusive forms, including mandatory severing of family and friend relationships outside his polyamorous group (the pups had were only allowed to contact Dylan, and Dylan only, on their cellphones) and financial control (for example, signing over salaries to Dylan).

More tellingly, When Jack temporarily severed the relationship, Dylan sued him in small claims court for money supposedly owed, and he even refused to physically sever the collar Jack was wearing. When Jack returned to Dylan, he signed over an inheritance to him. (Three weeks later, Jack was dead.)

And in Tank's case, the most obvious abuse was the insistence on silicone injections, an unsafe, life-threatening procedure. (Some sources even claim that Dylan is connected to two more deaths related to silicone injections.)

What is even more disturbing is Dylan's attempts to cover up what actually happened, claiming Jack died from a lung problem caused by wildfires in the area (not going on at the time of his death a week ago). Dylan even concocted pictures of Jack in breathing gear. He also claimed Jack was alive when he wasn't. The death certificate, which has since been changed to reflect the true cause of death, silicone poisoning, first claimed Jack died from pneumonitis.

I'm not going to draw hasty, sensationalistic conclusions about some of the evidence I present above, but the story, even in sensationalistic forms that use terms like “sex cult” and “harem” which decry physically, socially, and psychologically healthy BDSM relationships, is profoundly disturbing on many levels.

There's a danger inherent in breaking taboos and living in insular communities that develop around breaking said taboos. Gay, bear, BDSM, leather, fetish, whatever: we are drawn to who we identify with and what we like, but a breaking of boundaries can result in a dangerous blurring of the boundaries that help define the dignity and self-worth of individual persons. In Dylan's case, his narcissistic pathology destroyed not just a person's body, but his soul and spirit.

On the other side of the globe, in Jack's native Australia, a mother, brother, and grandmother are grieving for their son. They don't regret that he was gay, or a bear, or into BDSM: they regret that a disturbed, dangerous individual who lacks a soul destroyed a whole, loving person.

Abuse is never OK. Never. It's up to all to us, starting at the local level, to watch out for each other. And social media gives us the power to do so on a global level.

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Dirk Bogarde: Endlessly Fascinating

Young Dirk Bogarde

I've always been fascinated by Old Hollywood, but lately I've rediscovered a maverick actor who failed to thrive in Hollywood. In fact, he pretty much bucked conventions for most of his professional and personal life.

His name was Dirk. Dirk Bogarde, born Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde to a Flemish father and a British mother in 1921, in London.

After horrifying period of service in World War II, where he was one of the first soldiers to liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp from the Nazis (an experience that profoundly affected him), he became a matinee idol type in England, working for an outfit called Rank Productions.

Dirk grew weary of being a conventional heartthrob leading man, and in the 1960s he began to explore more complex parts.
 

Young Dirk Bogarde

His most groundbreaking role was the London barrister in the film Victim, who fights the blackmailers of a homosexual young man with whom he has shared a deeply emotional relationship. Bogarde risks his career and marriage to seek justice for the man, who committed suicide. The film exposes the constant threat of ruin so many LGBTQ persons suffered when homosexual activity was illegal in Britain. It's the type of role Dirk thrived in: cutting edge, subtly powerful.
 

Dirk Bogarde in Victim
Dirk Bogarde in Victim

I've only seen Dirk in two movies, Song Without End, a biopic of the composer Franz Liszt. I watched it mostly because I enjoyed the soundtrack, and my father owned the album. He made the film in Hollywood under George Vidor, who died, and the film had to be completed by the famous and George Cukor. Frankly, it's boring, and it resembles so many of those MGM costume dramas where the actors become the costumes rather than the characters. But Dirk is sexy in his period outfits. He certainly fills out tight pants well.
 

Bogarde as Franz Liszt

Song Without End soundtrack

(And his pants and probably what was beneath them more than his eyes got him those matinee idol parts in Britain during the 1950s.)
 

Dirk Bogarde in tight pants from A Tale of Two Cities

I also saw him the Judy Garland movie I Could Go on Singing (what is going on with all these song, singing titles?). He plays a prominent doctor, David, with whom the Judy Garland character, Jenny, a famous singer, had an affair with 15-20 years before the time of the movie. The affair produced a daughter whom David raised, and Judy now wants to see when she tours in England. To be frank, this movie is a vehicle for Judy, and I don't really remember Dirk making much of an effect physically or emotionally.

Anyway, the failure of Song Without End ended Dirk's Hollywood career.

But some sources claim that the Song Without End debacle was not the end of Dirk's matinee idol career. It was another movie, a piece of camp called Singer Without Song. Dirk plays a Mexican bandit erotically obsessed with an Irish priest, played by John Mills.

Dirk wore leather pants throughout the movie. Tight leather pants. Tight. Very risque for the period.
 

Dirk Bogarde in leather

And I might argue, perhaps a way of saying I am gay, as is my character in the movie. But I am not going to tell you I am gay, and maybe even I think telling you is not important to me psychologically. Thus I don't need or want to, but I can't be open about it because of social pressures.

In other words, in those gorgeous pants he oozes sexuality, but at the same time, covers it.

Dirk was gay, but he was forced to conceal his sexuality. He shared a home with Anthony Forwood, the ex-husband of the actress Glynis Johns, for many years. He claimed the relationship was platonic, because of the morality clauses in film contracts during that time, and like the character he played in Victim, the possibility of blackmail loomed.
 

Cup of coffee
Dirk Bogarde and Anthony Forwood

Dirk died in 1999 after a period of ill health following two strokes, and later in life he was an advocate for voluntary euthanasia of the terminally ill. He had seen so many horrible deaths in World War II, and as well he had suffered through Forwood's painful death from cancer and Parkinson's disease in 1988.

Overall, I think he was stunningly sexy, but not in the All-American handsome way. He was not a jock or a smooth operator or a cute young thing. I think his sex appeal has something to do with profoundly deep gaze. He emits an paradoxical energy: come to me, but keep your distance. I am intense. And if I decide to come to you, watch out. Endlessly fascinating.
 

Dirk Bogarde
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Coming Out to Boots, Cummin' into Boots


Happy National Coming Out Day

Thursday, October 11 was National Coming Out Day. For most LGBTQ persons, coming out on a most literal level means embracing one’s sexual orientation, but the sex is still sex, that is, genital contact with a person. Fucking. Well, not always, but that’s the usual direction. Some members of the community call that “vanilla,” which implies sweet, even bland. I think that’s a rather faulty assumption, but the term is used in juxtaposition with another variant, and some might say, deviant, form of sexuality. Leather. Fetish. BDSM. Think: Dark vs. light. Day vs. night. Mild vs. wild.

Yet that binary doesn’t really fit uniformly. I was going to say bare foot versus boot, as that binary particularly applies in my case, but foot fetishes are quite populary in “non-vanilla” circles, along the entire sexual spectrum. Still, most sex involved getting naked, and the footwear goes off. Not with me. When I came out, I was already cummin’ into boots.

This fetish seized me before puberty, but I didn’t really seize it openly until I came out when I was a young adult. I was lucky, or perhaps even unlucky, because obsessions can distract, that when I was younger, guys were wearing boots. One of the most popular boots when I was in high school was the Frye campus boot, and pretty soon afterwards the “urban cowboy” craze erupted. Cowboy boots ruled the halls when I was in college and my first graduate school.
 

Frye boots ad

A book that first articulated for me this dynamic was The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe, (long out of print and now going for outrageous prices on Amazon). I found it in the local public library, and I was drawn to the discussion of the effect of the black male motorcycle/harness boot on the fetishist, and that such effects based on the overall nature of the boot itself even non-fetishists are aware of. The author emphasizes its blackness, the heavy heels, the loud clicking sound. Through this imagery and the pictures he choose, the author associates this boot with the taboo-breaking motorcycle gangs of the 1950s; sex and power coalesce.
 

The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe cover

But not the effect is not just power and authority, which need not be necessarily of a sexual nature, and the cowboy boots was designed for a horse-riding person.

The boots themselves embody, invite their wearer to break boundaries. A person submissive in daily life may wear boots sexually, and vice versa. Of course.

And the foot itself is a boundary, and it is the only part of the body that touches the ground. The boot protects the foot from touching the ground, but in doing so, makes the wearer more aware of that boundary.

And, the boundary reversal here is stunning. The bottom of the body becomes more powerful than the top, the head. The ground becomes the sky. And even if the head is the source of that sexual power, it physically climaxes not once in the genitalia, but with each stomp far below.
 

Buy on ground licking boots

I’ve noticed lately the stomping originates from women more than men. I rarely see younger guys, or guys for that matter, at least in my geographical area, wearing the type of more overtly fetishistic boots like harness, engineer, or cowboy boots. If they do wear boots, they wear rather quiet lace-ups, fashionable variants of work boots or brogue dress shoes. And one almost never sees a guy with pants tucked into boots; this look is generally viewed as eccentric, even effeminate in circles outside the fetish community.
 

Vintage ad for 1950s black engineer boots

I wonder why. Something more is going on than the vicissitudes of fashion. I could explore that trend in another blog, but in the meantime, I’ll be the guy who wears cowboy boots with dress pants, drowns out the high heels of the ladies in the subway tunnels, and, unfortunately, only at leather events or in my private sex life, tuck my leather pants into my thigh-high Champion Attitude boots.
 

Thigh high Champion Attitude boots
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