The Last VCR

Posted by Madam Bubby

 

Vinyl is still around and actually thriving, especially in indie music and hipster circles, but I the same revival hasn't quite happened for the VHS, which means those old video tapes one sees in thrift stores may end up in landfills or supporting window air conditioners.

According to this source, Japan's Funai Electric, who claimed to be the last VCR manufacturer, stopped producing the machines several years ago, in July of 2016. This source also gives a brief history of the medium, which for readers of a certain age, will certainly bring back memories.

Beta tapes? Wow. I remember my Dad got every James Bond movie he could find on Beta. Yes, Beta, which did not last. What happened to all those Beta tapes?

 

VHS and Beta gay porn tapes

VHS and Beta gay porn tapes in the Bijou office

 

And those bulky cameras. People started to get really obsessed with them, I remember, at least initially, and this before the days of easy selfies and youtube videos. Want a movie of someone eating mashed potatoes at a 1980s christening celebration? It's on a VHS tape, and probably now remastered digitally and streaming somewhere on youtube.

 

Old video camera

 

Some even attributed the supposed narcissism of Generation X and millenials to this phenomenon. Hey, can I see the tape of me when I was four throwing water balloons at the next door neighbor? Or how about when I got ten Atari video games for Christmas when I was ten and threw a tantrum (captured for time immemorial) because my brother got a more expensive one?

Digital hoarding perhaps started with the VCR. There was the woman on the show Hoarders taping constantly on a multitude of TVs. Think walls of tapes. Her son said, well, I guess if you want a Phil Donahue show from the 1980s, this is the place to go.

 

Huge stash of VHS tapes

 

Of course, the advent of this medium totally revolutionized the porn industry. Instead of having to go to a porn theater like Chicago's late, great Bijou Theater, one could rent and even buy tapes and watch porn at home. Or even tape amateur porn. Porn creators made a killing for a while on these often very expensive tapes, but now with streaming and youtube, the sex exists in cyberspace rather than captured on a concrete medium like a VHS tape.

 

'80s ads for VHS/Beta sales at the Bijou Theater & Surge Studio's Century Mining on VHS/Beta for $79

'80s ads for VHS/Beta sales (including Pieces of EightMichael, Angelo & David) at the Bijou Theater & Surge Studio's Century Mining on VHS/Beta for $79

 

Will VHS make a comeback? Some grassroots indie artists and retro collectors may be rediscovering the medium (and also the major consumer movie format before video, Super 8 film). Is it the appeal of retro, or some other specific component of the medium? Time may tell.

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trident1000
"Return of the Jedi" VHS tape was not Return of the Jedi.
Wednesday, 12 January 2022 21:06
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Posing

Posted by Madam Bubby

 

The word posing can evoke images of runway models and persons on instagram (including celebrities famous for simply being famous).

But there's more to posing than duck lips and giving the finger.

Posing has been an integral part of the bodybuilding world, a specific part of contests, and I might add, one can view many of these contests on youtube.

According to one source, these are the mandatory poses in bodybuilding:

1. Quarter Turns
2. Front Double Biceps
3. Rear Double Biceps
4. Front Lat Spread
5. Rear Lat Spread
6. Side Triceps
7. Side Chest
8. Front Abdominal & Thigh

 

Men's Classic Bodybuilding Poses
Men's Classic Bodybuilding Poses, source: https://www.ifbbsa.co.za/images/Criteria/men/men-s-classic-bodybuilding-2019.pdf

 

A quarter turn shows off the symmetry of the muscles as a whole. The lat is a large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides.

Specifically in relation to their function in a contest, the source clarifies that “a pose which is either optional or mandatory depending or the federation one belongs to is the most muscular. During any bodybuilding show, in the pre-judging portion, the bodybuilder will be called upon to complete the mandatory poses, often several times he or she is called back out and compared with their fellow competitors.”

 

Schwarzenegger and son posing
Schwarzenegger and son, source: https://theblast.com/c/arnold- schwarzenegger-joseph-baena-famous-pose

 

Yes, they are showing off too, but it's something they worked hard to develop, whatever their intentions. It reflects discipline. It's earned body show-off time.

Now, personally, I'm not into super, super bulked up guys; I am attracted more the attitude conveyed by these poses that combines both discipline but also dominance, even arrogance. It's like that male hands on hips pose on steroids. Or rather, the body and the attitude become one powerful image.

Overall, by watching some of these contests online, I discovered a perfect way to while away time in quarantine. It's ultimately voyeurism, and guess what, it's something one can do alone. Build muscles and pose alone, and then show off the glory to others who are alone digitally. Their invisible audience can participate in the glory, which in many cases, including mine, involves a glorious orgasm.

And tying into Bijouworld's mission of disseminating and analyzing the rich LGBTQ historical materials it carries, check out our extensive selection of vintage/retro/physique beefcake magazines from the 1900 through the 1970s, including the famous Physique Pictorial founded by Bob Mizer. Some are traditional bodybuilding magazines, but some, even though they do contain information about contests and bodybuilding tips and exercises, are really vehicles for coded homoerotic imagery that became more and more prominent toward the latter part of the last century.

 

Cover of Summer 1955 Physique Pictorial
Physique Pictorial, Summer 1955

 

You can also check out a 1987 San Francisco gay bodybuilders' competition presented by the Male Entertainment Network, available from Bijou Video both streaming and on DVD.

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The Men of Playgirl

posted by Madame Bubby

Playgirl magazine, often billed unofficially as the “magazine for women and gay men,” has undergone some changes in its presentation through the years (one can no longer obtain the traditional hard copies that were usually hidden under some gayling’s bed at some point).

Even the naked guys in the magazine have changed, and that change reflects some social trends. What is interesting is that as recently as last week, on a gay chat board, Datalounge, the subject came up, and it wasn’t just a retro/nostalgia discussion from the eldergays.

The original poster made a point that the models in the 1970s and 1980s generally revealed huge bushes, and that they were trim and muscular overall, not what one might term “gym-pumped” or, to be biased, “steroid” bodies.

Now, the first Playgirl centerfold was Lyle Waggoner, who gained fame by appearing as a regular on the iconic Carol Burnett Show. For her sketches, Carol needed a straight guy, and I bet she also knew she would attract a certain audience (the Playgirl audience) by showing off his easy, unaffected, yet indisputably, studly presence. The first issues of Playgirl did not show cock, though. That came later, when the previous censorship of such materials was finally letting up in the early 1970s.
 

Lyle Waggoner in the first issue of Playgirl
Lyle Waggoner in the first issue of Playgirl

Lyle Waggoner in a later issue of Playgirl
Waggoner in a later issue

When Burt Reynolds died recently, many remembered his moment in Playgirl. Of course the photographers hid his member, but there was plenty to fantasize about even if was not visible. And hair, so much hair. The poster I referred to on Datalounge mentioned hairy bushes as if that was a style of the past, and that observation brings up the issue of shaving. How much hair is attractive? Or the lack thereof?
 

Burt Reynolds on the cover of Playgirl in December, 1974
Burt Reynolds on the cover of Playgirl in December, 1974

And note that many of the models, especially in the eighties, loved showing off their luxuriant locks. This hair was not hippie long hair that evoked Woodstock dancing and shabby communes in the woods; it was more like the idealized long hair of medieval knights and cavaliers and the like, heroes and antiheroes of romance novels.

But the long hair encouraged even more muscles, perhaps a reaction to possible associations with effeminacy in the more conservative eighties. Thus, tight pants, pastel colors, and long hair were acceptable if your body wasn’t just buff, but pumped up.

And in 1992, a pumped up, hard-bodied stud with a tattoo (harbinging what is now a rather generic look among millennials) named Dirk Shafer appeared as Playgirl’s Man of the Year. And he was gay. He didn’t come out as gay until much later, and he died in 2015.
 

Dirk Shafer as the Playgirl 1992 Man of the Year
Dirk Shafer as the 1992 Man of the Year

Another Playgirl model, Bill Cable aka Stoner, apparently appeared with Christina Crawford (!) in a mysterious video which has disappeared from youtube, alas. He also died young, kiiled in a motorbike accident in 1992.
 

Bill Cable aka Stoner
Bill Cable aka Stoner

Now that gay for pay is prominent in the adult erotic world, one might assume that some of the current models in Playgirl’s online edition are gay. And perhaps, depending on their situation, they aren’t concerned about concealing their orientation. Still, this open fluidity seems to produce rather generic results.

The secret thrill of an actual print magazine that enticed because of its very danger, dangerous imagery, a dangerous situation for the reader, is missing.

I am not advocating for the closet, but one wonders if it’s time for Playgirl to reexamine its purpose and not just serve an Instagram page in a larger format accompanied by tips on fitness. Remember, this magazine actually dared to in its earlier years explore female orgasms and polyamory and reveal men as sex subjects and objects for women and gay men.

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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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Coffee?

Cup of coffee

Coffee is omnipresent. At least as far back as I can remember. I grew up in a world where stewardesses and waitresses always offered coffee and groups of adults drank cups of coffee (even at night). It usually came out of big metal cans, already ground. People made it at home in tall shiny percolators. Mrs. Olson spent her life in other people's homes encouraging coffee drinking. Badly made coffee meant social disgrace.
 

Mrs. Olson commercial

The beverage was the medium of socialization, its most minimal level. I don't know you that well, neighbor, but here's a cup of coffee. And you could always get coffee at places where life-changing boundary events occurred: hospitals and funeral homes. And you drank it from white styrofoam cups.

The coffee phenomenon in the West started out as an expensive treat for well-heeled gentry in late seventeenth century England, becoming the preferred drink of literary intelligentsia in what were called coffee houses. The less expensive it became (tea followed a parallel journey), the more widespread.
 

Sears department store exterior

Unfortunately, the coffee buzz was built on the sounds of whips cracking on plantations populated by African slaves. The same dynamic applies to sugar, which Americans used to add to their coffee in cute little packets (I remember ones that showed pictures of birds) or cubes before Starbucks entered the market with its elaborate lattes and coffee lingo of Tall and Grande. No more just black or sugar or cream choices.
 

Slaves in a coffee farm in Brazil

Yes, the coffee shop is back and has reached heights of gourmet splendor (and I might add still based on oppressive labor in areas where the beans are harvested), but its denizens are usually working on laptops, perhaps a place to at least get out of the house in an online world. No coffee shop has a right to exists without Wifi.
 

Person at Starbucks on a laptop

Person to person connections do occur in these settings, but often they seem to be first-time encounters. I spoke with you online. Let's meet for coffee.

I've never got meeting for coffee, unless it's an early morning meeting. At my house. In my bed. I've noticed many of the traditional brands like Folger's used to show commercials with couples in intimate settings drinking coffee. White couples in fluffy bathrobes lounging around on Pottery Barn-inspired home settings. It's the wholesome after-sex drink, like the once omnipresent after-sex cigarette.
 

Straight couple in white bathrobes drinking coffee in bed

This image is retro in some way, maybe, but also, especially when paired with the cigarette, there are some associations with loneliness. Picture the elderly woman in McDonald's drinking coffee, and then going outside to smoke. And going home to repeat that action.

What's scary is one could substitute elderly single gay man in the picture above.
 

Older man sitting alone at McDonald's drinking coffee

After all, the trendy young gays go out for coffee, and either drink it at the local Starbucks or, if they are really status conscious, at some hipster place that sells environmentally friendly beans in recyclable cups. The shop also doubles as a cat petting parlor and sells locally made tie-dye scarves. The gaylings also take their coffee home sometimes, because just being seen with the cup on the street gives them social status.

The only place you will see me with a cup of coffee is early in the morning, my best time for sex, which means you will have to spend the night at my house. And trust me, if I get really turned on, you'll need that cup of joe. Woof!

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