Eye Candy

posted by Madame Bubby

I went to the movies a couple of days ago with a lady friend; we went to see a rather tepid movie called The Aftermath. I was in the mood for a historical drama (what we got was mostly history, not drama, but that’s another blog).

When we went to show our purchased tickets to the “ticket taker,” my friend asked him about the quality of the movie. The gentleman was equivocal; he said other it wasn’t as good as Apollo 11 in general, but there would be eye candy in The Aftermath for both of us. That is, the male lead for her, the female lead for me. (Yes, you assumed right, he assumed wrong. Oh, well.)
 

Skarsgård and Knightley in The Aftermath
The Aftermath

And I must admit, the ass and hands (which chopped a lot of wood in the movie, he knows how to wield that axe) of tall and handsome Alexander Skarsgård were eye candy to both of us. (There is a scene where you can see that ass, and it is high and tight.) Eye candy.

I’ve heard that idiom for a long time now, most of my adult life. For example, at all the International Mr. Leather conventions I’ve attended, many guys, even if they aren’t into the leather/BDSM scene, attend the leather market for the eye candy.
 

Hot guys at IML

So, what does the term literally mean? Candy for the eyes. One could say it is synesthesia. One is looking, but at the same time tasting, or at least wanting to taste. Perhaps it is a way to encapsulate in an easily understandable idiom the “male gaze” that mixes together longing, lust, and could be a springboard to fantasy. The words themselves rarely seem to verge into the dangerous domains of sexual harassment and beyond.

But, to be frank, I have never really heard a straight guy refer to a woman as eye candy. It seems to be mostly a female-male or male-male term. Eye candy ranges from the more wholesome Chippendales calendars and covers of romance novels, to the really risque Instagrams (celebrities themselves, or those who have become celebrities solely because of their Instagram pictures).

One definition itself of eye candy itself is quite telling. Despite its what could be a complex synesthesia of sight and taste, some claim it means visual images that “are superficially attractive but intellectually undemanding.” Ah, it’s that old emotion vs. reason binary going on here.

And the word candy can connote childhood or immaturity. Eye cake would perhaps connote a different set of images of assumptions!

I would think perhaps looking at eye candy could possibly move beyond the superficial. Unfortunately, perhaps, one could overanalyze why one is attracted to certain images and the intent of certain advertisers in producing such images. But then the whole point of that slightly primal twinge one experiences in the “eye candy” gaze would be lost.

And let’s not forget, for many LGBTQ persons who were and still are unable to make the journey from eye candy to intimacy, the “eye candy” gaze, however solitary, can even be salvific. In my case, before I came out, magazines like Honcho and some of those sword and sandal movies were my eye candy.
 

Three Honcho magazine covers

Yes, no one wants to be so lonely, like the closeted lesbian character Judi Dench plays in the movie Notes on a Scandal, that the “accidental” touch of a bus conductor’s hand bring a fleeting moment of life and joy.

Yet perhaps the challenge is being able to know and love the object of your affections as a subject. One can’t do that with an image. But the image can be a spark that lights a flame.

One may not find someone as physically beauteous as Alexander Skarsgård, but one’s initial gaze can develop into one’s personal ideal of beauty and intimacy that isn’t necessarily superficial. Ultimately, we are body, mind, and soul. Didn’t someone once say the eyes are the windows of the soul?

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A Gay Bar Is Not "Just" a Bar

posted by Madame Bubby


Lately there's been much talk about safe spaces (mostly for psychosocial reasons) on college campuses, but the gay bar, as far as I am concerned, was always a “identity” safe space for LGBTQ persons long before the days of mainstream acceptance of a diverse sexual identity spectrum. And for many years, a precarious safe space, always at risk for being raided, and often depending for suvival on some rather “unsafe” connections (the Mob).

As a young gayling (in and then out of the closet) in the 1980s, I knew about the existence of gay bars, but not much else. Right after graduate school, living sparsely in a studio apartment in a liberal suburb, I knew about the existence of a gay bar in the adjacent suburb (the suburb I lived in was surprisingly dry given its overall liberal college-town focus, no bars or liquor stores, but one could obtain booze in a restaurant).

I was not out, but I wanted to go somewhere where I could totally be myself. I hung out with some friends from college, including one who lived down the street, and I was chummy with the neighbors, but I was never totally myself. I am sure the more sophisticated friends had figured it out (I fit the stereotypes at that time, especially cowboy boots and opera), but my gay “life” was jacking off to John Rechy's The Sexual Outlaw (my first gay book; bought it at Barbara's Bookstore close to my place) and assorted jack off books. Even in a place where being gay did not necessarily mean persecution, I was afraid.
 

The Sexual Outlaw book cover

Barbara's Bookstore logo

On several Saturday nights, usually alone, I would say to myself, I'll just walk down the street to the adjacent suburb and go to that bar. The name of the bar was Nutbush. The innuendo escaped me at that time. I never went. My motivation for not going: how would I get home, what would happen to me sexually if I went, and what if someone saw me there. But the pull was there, because I both knew and felt that I could go there and let all inhibitions down. I had danced at straight discos, I had smoked pot at mixed parties, but I couldn't interact with a guy the way I wanted and needed to.
 

Vintage Nutbus bar ad

By the way, many years later I went to that Nutbush place with a couple of friends who lived in the liberal suburb, now an LGBTQ mecca. One of them said, “This place has always been a toilet.” Yes, it was one of those gay dive bars, a stale, nondescript place smelling of cheap beer and cigarette smoke. A safe space in some ways, perhaps, but not a social space where I could embrace the identity I was looking for.

Fast forward about four years, and I was sitting in one of the oldest gay bars in Chicago, many miles north in Rogers Park. It was called Charmers (it has since closed). This place was off the beaten gay neighborhood track at that time (most of the bars were further south in Lakeview). I made out with a guy, I sang opera in falsetto, and I got drunk. Note the getting drunk is last on the list. But I had arrived. And I knew by that time there was no going back.
 

Decor in Charmers' interior
Charmers interior

Now one doesn't have to go a bar to embrace one's identity. In fact, one doesn't have to necessarily go outside. That's a paradox. But why explore and embrace one's sexual identity primarily on a phone screen? We fought to be able to go outside. Without those bars, we wouldn't be holding hands on the street. Without the social structures those bars created, we wouldn't have survived AIDS. A gay bar is not “just” a bar.

Check out this moving documentary on the history of gay bars in San Diego.

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Coming Out in 1977: Viewing the Family Series Episode "Rites of Friendship"

posted by Madame Bubby

Family cast

I am surprised I did not remember this episode, as this series was approved viewing in our family (but then, maybe this particular episode was censored by the parents, as was the now legendary Maude obtains an abortion episode).

Family began as a six-part miniseries, and then it expanded to several full seasons, running from 1976-1980, corresponding perfectly timewise to my puberty. The Lawrences, an upper-middle class family in Pasadena, California, endures many joys and sorrows.

The central focus of the show is the inimitable Sada Thompson, who captures the unique combination of reserve and empathy of the family’s matriarch, Kate Lawrence (and she is always impeccably coiffed, definitely a throwback to June Cleaver). James Broderick, the father of Matthew Broderick, plays Kate’s husband, Doug. Meredith Baxter Birney plays their “troubled divorcee single mother” daughter Nancy; the hot Gary Frank (an early crush of mine) plays their nonconforming (mostly, you will see) son Willie; and Kristy McNichol plays their energetic tomboyish younger daughter, Letitia (aka Buddy).
 

Sada Thompson
Sada Thompson

Though one might claim the overall WASP social class of this family limits the show really serving as an accurate lens for many of the more troubling social issues of the time, the show dared to address in a realistic, often unflinching manner alcoholism, adopted children looking for birth parents, extramarital affairs, and in this groundbreaking episode, homosexuality.

The main plot of this episode is actually quite straightforward: Willie’s best friend from elementary and high school, Zeke Remsen (played by the hunky Brian Byers), returns home from college. He gets arrested in a gay bar for fighting with a cop (genteel shades of Stonewall, perhaps). Doug, a lawyer, manages to bail him out, and eventually get the sentence waived. Of course the incident forces a coming out for Zeke, an extremely attractive “straight-acting” basketball jock. (Note that the character doesn’t fit the gay stereotype of the period, and that fact shows overall genteel social milieu of the show.) Doug and Kate are sympathetic in perhaps a rather noblesse oblige way, but, most significantly, Willie starts to shun, at first coldly and then angrily, his childhood best friend.
 

Brian Byers

However, Zeke’s father coldly, even casually, disowns him after Doug shows up with Zeke to obtain some needed information for the court case. Doug and Kate, I think, would make excellent candidates for PFLAG. Kate reveals, in a particularly touching scene, that Zeke is a person who needs love, a mother’s love, and not in a sentimental way. Her moral imperative here is striking, even more so after her rather sardonic comment to Nancy, “at this point I can’t think of worse things.” She is a product of her generation, but the concern is genuine, even though she feels powerless and disoriented.

But rather than rejecting or concealing, she opens up in the only way she can do, she must do: love. And food and shelter, too. For her, one can’t separate these basic human needs. And she’s not afraid, because of this imperative, to call out Willie on his behavior toward Zeke. She really cuts to the heart of the matter in her indomitably classy way when she claims Willy will suffer a “meagre existence” because of his refusal to just accept Zeke as a person.

Yet the main relationship here is that between the renegade Willie and Zeke. Willie resents that Zeke had not told him, but now he knows, Zeke rightly accuses him of treating him like he suffers from a “social disease.” During that period, in the throes of all types of sexual liberation, the Eisenhower era social norms were really starting to crumble, and with crisis more overt scapegoating tends to occur.

Now, one could easily argue that Willie’s reaction is his discomfort with his own orientation, and in one of the episode’s final scenes, Doug picks up on this, claiming, and unfortunately this idea represents one of the common psychological views of the time, that all boys experience these “feelings,” but grow out of them, that is, normal boys, a “rite of passage.” A rather cringeworthy statement in hindsight, but Doug admitting to his son that he crushed on one of his classmates one could claim is rather groundbreaking.

But the ultimate lesson here is that heterosexual boys grow up to get married to girls. Gay males don’t and thus they tend to get into all sorts of personal and social troubles. (And the token confirmed bachelor the family knows, Emory Pope, we find at the end gets married. To a woman. Oh well. It’s 1977.)

But ironically, Zeke ends up being the mature one (and Buddy too, in a tear-jerking moment which I think shows one needs to be carefully taught bigotry, it is not innate), rather than Willie, trying to reach out to him, but failing miserably. Only after the conversation with Doug does Willie realize not just how selfish and immature his behavior has been, but that the real issue here is friendship.
 

Willie and Zeke
Willie and Zeke

And friendship here is not a double entendre for anything else. It’s a series of passages that acknowledge the past, embrace the present, and hope for the future. Willie knows he will not be able to get back the friendship of his childhood, but the show ends with a hope that his childhood friendship can grow into the friendship of his adulthood.

And an ironic P.S.: Both Meredith (now just Baxter) and Kristy McNichol are lesbians. Baxter came out late in life, while McNichol has been open for some time.

The entire episode is currently here on YouTube.

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RetroStuds of the Past: Focus on Dave Connors

Dave Connors

Connoisseurs of retro gay porn are perhaps familiar with Dave Connors because of his starring role in One in a Billion, enjoying his big balls and big dick. (In fact, I can't think of another stud's privates who one could so aptly call “meat.”) In the movie, big businessman Dave can magically hear what others are thinking, which add some flavor to a day of kinky adventures. All seem to want to taste what is really magic, his meat.
 

Dave Connors in a buisiness suit

Dave Connors' huge cock

Art can reflect reality, and in an interview for Stallion magazine, Dave jokingly admits there are disadvantages to being “super hung:”

Connors: People have used any ploy and every ploy to get me into bed.
Stallion: How did they find out about what you were packing?
Connors (laughing): People talk! It's not something I can keep secret.
 

Dave Connors interview in Stallion magazine

According to the interview, Dave was born in Florida, and he was inhibited as a child. He came out at the ripe old age of twenty-one:

“I finally came out at twenty-one in the Marine Corps. I had a lot of friends – and I could never understand why now, I know, at least I know what I missed – although I did have some very nice encounters in the service.”

But the path to pornhood was not smooth for Dave, as he claims he lost that Marine-induced “self-discipline” to drugs, and then gained it back in prison. Yes, prison.

By the age of 39, Dave had already made several porn movies, but he claims his experience in One in a Billion was enlightening, as it was his first experience with sync sound. And Dave did not have to lie on the casting couch to obtain his meaty part in that movie; he asked Al Parker, Parker had an idea, and voila!

Now, for a country boy from the sticks of Florida who looks like naturally strong, like he could wrestle a couple of alligators, he certainly fills out a business suit well. His career climaxed in the yuppie eighties, and in some ways he embodies that look: clean-cut, chiseled jaw, a “dirty blond” with just a hint of bad frat boy now grown up to dominate board rooms.
 

Dave Connors at 35

Some of the more famous films he made include The Biggest One I Ever Saw by Giant Films and Dirt Bikes for Falcon.

Tragically, at the time he was shooting what was to be his last film, Wakefield Poole's One, Two, Three, Dave succumbed to AIDS.

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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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