P(r)ick of the Week - 5/20/20

David's Chicago Sexual Underground header

 

Greetings P(r)icksters!

Really in a weird space this week. We should be gearing up for 6 big crazy nights for the coming Memorial Day weekend. But we are still shuttered here in Chicago.

For the past 40 years, the International Mr Leather Contest took over our Memorial Day weekend bringing 1,000s of visitors to town. Which made us very busy at Touché with parties night after night and several afternoon functions, too.

We would begin with a welcome party on the Wednesday before the weekend as all the IML contestants, most vendors and others arrived early to prepare for the weekend. Then it was Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights going strong. By Memorial Day many would be departing Chicago, but we still had great crowds that afternoon for our big cookout and even into the night on Memorial Day.

I will miss many friends this year, the guys from Off Ramp Leathers, friends from other bars that have contestants at IML and many others won’t be visiting Chicago this week. For the first time in years, I’ll have Memorial Day off.

In the beginning IML was not this weekend. The first couple of years it was held over Mother's Day Weekend. IML began as a bar event. Chuck Renslow, owner of the Gold Coast, came up with the idea of a Mister contest for Leathermen.

Back in the mid 1970s before IML started, Chicago bars hosted Mister contests as a way to attract a crowd. The old Gay Chicago Magazine helped develop this promotion of Mister contests by hosting the Mr Windy City Contest each spring. During the winter months, various bars would host a contest to select their Mr, who would then go on to compete for the title of Mr Windy City. During my tenure as manager of the old Carol’s Speakeasy in the 80’s (that was next door to the Bijou Theater), I had 2 Mr Carol’s that won the Mr Windy City title.

Seeing the success of this program, Renslow took that idea and morphed it into a leather titleholder contest. Since you only had 3 or 4 leather bars in Chicago, he made it an international competition to allow for more contestants.

In 1979, Touché was also part of Chicago’s leather bar scene, so Chuck Renslow approached Chuck Rodocker, owner of Touché, to team up and sponsor the contest. Basically the contest was held on one night with bar parties at both places Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Back then, Touché only had a 2 am license while the Gold Coast had a 4 am license. Things started at one bar and then continued at the other.

Being 1979, gay events out in public were still rare; not many places were comfortable having a bunch of queers in their place of business, it would scare off the straights. So there was no host hotel, no big dances in ballrooms, no big display of leather gear and sex toys in convention halls. The early weekend was basically cocktail parties at the bars and fuck parties at the baths (Chuck Renslow also owned Man’s Country).

But as a big advocate of his hometown, my boss Chuck Rodocker (no opportunity to shorten reference to either man, they were both Chuck R, both owners of a leather bar, people still get confused between the two of them) had the staff of Touché host some daytime excursions to add to the weekend activities. We did bus tours around town (have you ever tried to mix drinks on a moving vehicle?).

The logic back then was that Touché closed at 2 am (3 am on Saturday) while the Gold Coast was open till 4 or 5 am. The Touché staff had time for more rest to get back out and going early the next day. The problem with this was that while we may have closed earlier, that didn’t mean we would not wind up at the Gold Coast to enjoy the party there and end up closing that bar, too.

So hungover or still up after fucking some of the visiting leathermen, we would be out there herding folks onto a bus or serving up bloody marys while a local leather club or group of clubs prepared a breakfast buffet of some kind. It was a more intimate weekend than it has become.

As I stated, IML was first held on Mother's Day weekend. Again, you have to visualize Chicago in 1979. White flight had left the city pretty vacant around what we call River North today. The Gold Coast and many other gay bars were in the area, the rest old warehouses, business places that were deserted nights and weekends.

Except...... across the street from the Gold Coast was a renowned restaurant, Gordan’s, that hosted a big Mother's Day brunch every year. Folks would line up outside for the opportunity to treat dear old Mom to a nice brunch. And there we’d be in full leather gear piling guys onto buses, drinks in hand. It was quite a show and I loved being part of it.

And once the IML weekend was over, we still had Memorial Day weekend to kick off summer, just not as crazy as it has been these past few years. I’m going to have to figure out what to do with a long weekend of nothing. Kind of hard, as we have already gone over two months without something, anything. Just hoping I don’t get too comfortable with this, hope to be “back in the saddle” again next May.

So while I ponder my Memorial Day weekend plans, grab my P(r)ick this week with a nod to the men in uniforms - soldiers, sailors and marines - and wave your flags.

My first P(r)ick is A Few Good Men directed by Steve Scott. Released in 1983, this is definitely one of the best grunts fuck films of all time. The Philadelphia Gay News raved about the film on its release, "this gay sex film wins the prize for best treatment of two common gay porn themes: the repressed sexuality of an all-male military setting [including authentic costumes and underwear] and the thin line between fantasy and reality. Scott's style is at its most poetic, in both image and sound."

For a second helping check out Seamen directed by Matt Sterling for Brentwood Studios. Its four pre-condom episodes play with the theme of sailors on leave. There's a good deal of spanking, armpit and foot licking and hearty oral and anal sex. The actors' eager performances ought to get you drop-dead horny.

Before I go this week, I do want to assure you that I do get your comments about my writings for Bijou Video, even if it makes you feel some guy from a porn site is smarter than you. I’m not that smart, just curious to learn more. Thanks for the many compliments, responses to my thoughts and letting me know that you enjoy reading these blogs. I get a kick out of writing them and hearing what you have to say..

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and stay safe, my friends.


David

To order from Bijou, visit bijouworld.com, call 800-932-7111, or email bijou.orders@gmail.com

 

A Few Good Men images
A Few Good Men (D00316) - On DVD and Streaming

Seamen images
Seamen (D00228) - On DVD and Streaming
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Condoms Before the Days They Were Rubbers!

posted by Madame Bubby

When I was in sixth grade (I didn’t go to a middle school or a junior high), the tougher boys were joking about rubbers. I did not make the connection to condoms until high school, climaxing in the time when, believe it or not, my dad gave me one to put in my wallet. He thought I needed one because I was hanging out with some girls (little did he or, most significantly, I know I was their gay friend, and one of the girls, nicknamed “Inch," was a lesbian).

I digress. Condoms weren’t always rubber. Before the invention of vulcanized rubber in the 19th century, condoms were made usually of some kind of linen smeared with chemicals or, ew, animal tissue or bladder. What’s interesting is that since ancient times they were used as both a means of birth control and a protection against STDs. (Ironically, usually birth control and/or abortion was the province of the woman, who was blamed for issues is in this area, even though, by the Middle Ages, the established view was that the woman was merely the physical receptacle of the life-giving, soul-containing male sperm.)

Some interesting facts about pre and early modern condoms and condom usage:

There’s a legend that the King Minos of Crete, subject to so many curses, used a goat’s bladder as a female condom to protect his partners because he suffered from a strange affliction; his semen was filled with snakes and scorpions.

Those short loincloths Greek and Roman guys wore (mostly those of the slave and laborer class), that in the sword and sandal movies showed off hot, muscular legs, often consisted of little more than a covering for the penis. If someone in a higher class wore one of these “lower class” outfits, some have speculated they may have served as form of condom.
 

Ancient Greek man in short loincloth
Ancient Greek man in short loincloth, Source: Pinterest

Sexual norms changed during the Middle Ages with the rise of Christian theocracies, and the emphasis on sex and procreation tended to put condoms under the radar, so to speak, and we also lost some knowledge of their substance and use during the ancient world. Some writings by Muslims and Jews, who during this period in some areas comprised the majority of physicians, mentioned soaking a cloth in onion juice or other perceived spermicides.

The syphilis outbreak that began among French troops in 1494 prompted an Italian guy named Gabriele Falloppio (from whence we get the name fallopian tube) to pretty much invent the first item we now can define as a condom. He invented a linen sheath sized to cover the glans of the penis, tied to it with a little ribbon, smeared with spermicide. He claimed to have saved the lives of 1100 sailors with the device. Sailors. And with that word, one I think can pretty much imply that these guys weren’t always going after the clichéd wenches.
 

Gabriele Falloppio
Gabriele Falloppio, Source: Sciencemuseum.org

During the Renaissance, condoms were also made of animal intestines or bladders. By the 18th century, they were available in all shapes and sizes; one could buy them especially at the ubiquitous barbershops, which weren’t just places for haircuts. The barbers performed various surgeries, dental work, and especially bloodletting.
 

Retro Durex condom
Condom made of animal intestine, Source: mirror.uk

During the above periods, the upper, and later the burgeoning middle classes, were the ones who used condoms. The lower classes couldn’t afford them, and they also lacked education on STDs.

Now the omnipresent and mostly all-powerful Catholic Church during this time wasn’t exactly keen on the use of condoms as birth control, of course, but it was yet to make its views on the subject official in the Pope’s encyclical Humanae Vitae with the advent of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

And in the early 19th century, after the invention of the rubber condom which increased usage and convenience considerably, the notorious Comstock Act pretty much made life miserable for anyone who wanted to use any form of contraceptive, much less educate oneself on the issue.
 

Retro Durex condom
Retro Durex condom, Source: sexinfo.soc.ucsb.edu/article/history-condom

The deadly AIDS epidemic of course made the condom a matter of life and death, with the holy haters decrying what condoms had always been used for, saving lives, in favor of reviving the scapegoating of anyone with STDs.

By the way: there was no “Earl of Condom.” The etymology of the word is indeed unknown!

Source: mostly Wikipedia’s article on the History of Condoms, combined with some of my own knowledge of gender/sexuality history

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A Secret Sex Life a Couple of Blocks Away

Samuel Steward aka Phil Andros

When I was younger and discovering gay sexuality through paperback books, I came up the work of Phil Andros. In the early 1990s, soon after I came out, I acquired (used) some of his leather/fetish-oriented fiction, which was published by an outfit called Perineum Press (what a name!). The book was called Different Strokes. It's been a while since I've read it (in fact, I just found it on my LGBTQ bookcase at home), but it contains descriptions of rough sex, verbal abuse, boots, leather … a world that, as I just found out, was occurring in real life very, very close to where I currently live in the Uptown area. A long time ago. Before Stonewall, gay liberation, rainbow flags, and prosperous/hipsterish couples pushing strollers.
 

Cover of Different Strokes by Phil Andros

Phil Andros, as I recently found out, was a pen name (and also the name of the prodigiously sexual hustler character in his books) for Samuel Steward. Born in the early part of the last century, he lived a double life as Dr. Steward, an English professor at two Catholic universities in Chicago, erotic artist/author, tattoo artist Phil Sparrow (including, at one point, for the Hell's Angels!), and, ultimately and consistently, sexual rebel. He was as openly gay as one could be in the days before Stonewall; he even decorated his first apartment in homoerotic murals that showed dick.
 

 

Samuel Steward tattooing as Phil Sparrow

 

Yet he expressed his sexuality not in trying to find a lover and live quietly and monogamously in the closet; no, his sexual world consisted of sailors on leave; married guys who, because they were on the receiving end of Sammy's amazing blowjobs, did not consider themselves gay; rough trade, especially with African-American guys from the South Side; and eventually, participation in the early days of openly gay leather BDSM begun by the equally maverick Chuck Renslow.
 

Sailors at 1940s great lakes naval base

Overall, he gloried in mansex, but given his background in literature and art, found ways to distill its essence in poems, fiction, and visual art. And his legacy was kept hidden until his elder years, post-Stonewall, when gay sexuality literally exploded.

There's so much more (and I will share more tidbits in future blogs, including his connection to 1970s gay porn), but what really floored me is where his sex life, which for many seems like a masturbatory fantasy or porn movie, occurred. A couple blocks from where I dwell. In a nondescript courtyard apartment building (I haven't found out the exact apartment number). I did check out the building on Zillow, and the apartments don't look that rehabbed. Maybe there's the original floor where Sam knelt before the boots of some greaser type in the 1950s.
 

Phil Andros' apartment building

As I said above, I will share some more tidbits, but in the meantime, you can check out a book on him, and you can also check out our early 1970s porn (including this J. Brian film based on one of his novels) to savor visually some of the amazing sexual energy that happened in that humble apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago.

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What Exactly is Rough Trade? Inquiring "Sissies" Want to Know

 

Hairy Old Reliable model flexing


In the recent funny and campy and touching movie Florence Foster Jenkins, Cosme McMoon, her naive waif-life closeted gay accompanist (played by the absolutely adorable Simon Helberg), is late to Madame Florence's infamous 1944 Carnegie Hall recital. Why? He claims breathlessly, implying perhaps post-coital euphoric exhaustion, he was “jumped” by a bunch of sailors, and that they were “most disrespectful.” (Interestingly enough, the real McMoon later in his life was a judge at ostensibly straight bodybuilding contests; some even claim he also ran a gay escort service or even brothel, but the latter is probably more faux news.) 
 

Scene from Florence Foster Jenkins

Madame Florence of course has her mind on other matters, and Cosme's chum, Florence's common-law husband St. Clair Bayfield played by a suave Hugh Grant, also ignores the remark. But one gets the sense he knows what really happened. 


So, apparently, that “little McMoon” was into rough trade. I've thrown the term around a bit in blogs and tweets and other communiques, but I've always wondered what it actually meant, and, as it turns out, it isn't just the cliched doin' it with sex-starved sailors on the wharf (apparently, by the time McMoon experienced the joy of rough trade brothels for women weren't located seaside, another cliché, or were they?) 
 

Sailor with knife in Querelle

Trade (also known as Chow) is a gay slang term originating from Polari (a gay slang encoded language) and refers to the (usually) casual partner of a gay man or to the genre of such partners. Often, the terms trade and rough trade are treated as synonymous. Often the attraction for the gay male partner is finding a dangerous, even thuggish, straight, or bisexual partner who may turn violent. That is not to say that people necessarily desire to be physically hurt, but the danger of seeking a partner in a public park, restroom, or alleyway may be exciting. For example, in the Chicagoland area, the suburban forest preserves (especially on Sundays) supply a convenient local for such trade. How do I know this? I've seen it (that's all I am going to say). 


Another variation is in comparison to regular trade, rough trade is more likely to be working-class laborers with less education and more physical demands of their work, therefore with a body developed naturally rather than in a gym. They may also exhibit a less polished or clean-cut style than an office worker or professional businessman. 

For example, remember that book Maurice by E.M. Forster and the movie made of it starring Hugh Grant as well? Aristocratic Maurice Hall, after being rejected by the bisexual Clive Durham (Grant's role) falls in love with Alec Scudder, the lower-class gamekeeper, played by Rupert Graves. Maurice and Alec's future as a couple is thus doubly doomed, not just because of their gayness, but because of the social division. It would be more acceptable if Alec was just a rough trade fling rather than a partner in a loving relationship. 
 

Maurice and Alec in Maurice

In the world of Bijou gay porn, the Old Reliable series (available on DVD,streaming instantly, and on audio CD) made by David Hurles reveals one of the more authentic “rough trade” or “trade” scenarios captured for posterity before the days of down-low and overt (and thus lacking the real danger of actual trade) Sean Cody gay-for-pay DVDs. Hurles hired admittedly rough-looking, blue-collar, conventionally “thuggish” guys to talk dirty for the camera and also beat their usually awe-inspiring meat for the audience. 

 

Director David Hurles

According to a couple of sources, "David likes psychos. Nude ones. Money-hungry drug addicts with big dicks. Rage-filled robbers without rubbers. And of course, convicts." Apparently these guys were really dangerous, like they could kill him. Yet somehow David could manage them and get them to perform. Wow! However, Hurles also said: "There have been several thousand models. When they are not in prison, or very married, it has been my practice to stay in touch with many of them, often over decades. They are my friends." On another occasion he said that one of the hardest parts of his job was not getting caught up "in the miserable lives of my models." The gay viewer could vicariously experience rough trade without subjecting himself to the very real, terrifying dangers. 

 

Two muscular Old Reliable models
Three Old Reliable models, two smoking cigars and one flipping off the camera
Three Old Reliable models, one tattooed, one with boxing gloves, one smoking a cigar
Hairy Old Reliable model flipping off the camera

 

In fact, rough trade sexual encounters resulted in the deaths the gay silent film icon Ramon Navarro and the famous Italian cinematographer Pier Paolo Pasolini. 


Now, based on the above tragedies, I might think twice about the phrase “dick of death,” but I also remember how sex and violence and even death can erupt as one terrifying conflagration. Orgasm is after all le petit mort, both beautiful and terrible. 

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