David's Chicago Sexual Underground - 4/15/20

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Greetings P(r)icksters!

Still not much happening here with the shutdown in Illinois extend to April 30th. Looking like it might be late May before we may be allowed to reopen Touché. I’m okay with that, as the best pace to spread something like Covid-19 is a bar full of people. Not sure how they will determine what would be “safe” for us to reopen but am expecting bars to be down the list as businesses are allowed to get back to work.

Other than being a real penny pincher, I’m doing okay. Managing to pay my bills since I can’t go out for meals or drinks. Staying at home makes it easy to get by financially. Of course I’m horny as hell since my partner is stuck in his home 40 miles away. Not like either of us can go out and hook up anywhere. Porn has never been more “necessary” till now.

I am planning for things to get back come June and looking forward to a busy summer. The nagging question will be how we will operate in this age of the coronavirus. They may get infection rates down but if it continues to circulate we’ll have to figure out how to party while keeping an acceptable social distance. (Really huge dicks would help keep some distance, maybe.)

But in the meantime, I have been reading a lot. As a lover of history, I did watch the History Channel’s day long run of their The Bible shows on Sunday. I pulled out some of my history books and read along portions as the show unfolded. Got to put some dates along with the events depicted and got a better understanding of some Jewish history.

I have always been curious about what was happening in different places around the world at the same time. Looking at what happened in Egypt and Israel and then at what was happening in Asia and then in Europe and the new world at the same period. Always love how folks of western culture thinks of themselves as the pinnacle of man’s greatness, when these other cultures like China and India flourished while Europe was barely civilized.

Of course, religion was the main focus of this series, first the Jewish and then early Christianity. Many of these stories I had learned growing up. But in college, I began to learn more about other religions and after viewing this series, would like to know more about the history of other religions, too.

So what does religion have to do with porn? Well, as it happens, some of our early producers of gay films delved into this thorny subject. Many of our Bijou Classics came out of Hand In Hand Films. Director Jack Deveau established Hand In Hand Films in 1972 and allowed other directors to create some of the most imaginative gay films ever made. Big themed, big budget classics like The Idol, A Night at The Adonis and Adam and Yves, to name a few. Some of these classic titles from Hand In Hand Films dealt with religious themes, exploring gay men’s conflict with their religious upbringing and their sexual desires.

Which brings me to my P(r)ick of the Week, The Destroying Angel. Director Peter de Rome brings a balanced measure of storyline, emotion and steamy sex to this Bijou Video re-release of a truly unique classic gay porn film completed in 1976. Caswell Campbell (Tim Kent), a haunted young priest torn between the call of the cloth and his own pent-up feelings, takes a three month sabbatical and plunges himself into the world of man-sex and drugs.

Fans of the sword & sandal biblical epics should check out Hand In Hand’s Centurians of Rome. This ambitious classic gay porn film - a blockbuster epic production - stars George Payne (Demetrius) and Scorpio (Octavius) as Roman countrymen sold into slavery for not paying their taxes during Caligula's reign as Emperor. Immense scripting, acting, set design, direction and superior efforts were all combined to make this one of the most sought-after gay films of all time! 31 luscious men sprawl across the screen with realistic uniforms and costumes, dungeon equipment and steamy (and often rough) sexual encounters adding to their passionate fight for freedom and man-love.

Who says history and religion can’t be fun? No wonder I like doing “research” - want to study with me?

David

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



The Destroying Angel images
The Destroying Angel (D00132) - On DVD and Streaming

Centurians of Rome images
Centurians of Rome (D00224) - On DVD and Streaming
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Who Could Be the Emperor in Centurians of Rome: His Name Is Elagabalus

Michael Flent as the Emperor in Centurians
Michael Flent as the Emperor in Centurians of Rome

When the gay porn epic Centurians of Rome came out in 1981, the publicity proclaimed that the kinky, fisting-loving emperor played to the hilt by Michael Flent was Caligula. At one level, it makes sense, given the overall reputation of Caligula as the ultimate monstre sacree, but after a close viewing, I came up with another theory. Admittedly, the work is fiction, and I highly doubt the creators were specifically trying to place the action and characters in specific historical circumstances, but there are third century A.C.E. parallels.
 

Original poster for Centurians of Rome
Original Original Centurians poster

The emperor Elagabulus, born in 203 A.C.E, was the scion of a dynasty dominated by Syrian women. It's a bit complicated, but let's just say by that time diverse persons in the Empire were able to rise, primarily through the army, to powerful political positions. His father was Sextus Varius Marcellus and his mother was Julia Soemias. His grandmother, the formidable Julia Maesa, was the sister of Julia Domna, and thus the sister-in-law of Septimius Severus, the Roman founder of the dynasty.
 

Bust of Julia Maesa
Julia Maesa

I mention all these women specifically, because, at one point in Centurians of Rome, the Emperor mentions his mother sends him women he is not interested in. This dynasty was run by powerful women on so many levels, and I find this detail telling, and there's more in what we know about Elagabalus that makes this detail, and many others in the movie, even more telling.

Now, Julia Soemias was a cousin of the emperor Caracalla. When Caracalla was assassinated in 217 A.C.E, Macrinus ascended the throne, and he exiled the whole Syrian tribe. But Maesa plotted to regain power, and Soemias made a claim that Elagabalus was the son of Caracalla. After some battles and further plotting, he was proclaimed emperor, as the Senate accepted the claim of parentage.
 

Alma, Tadema, and Heliogabalus

Elagabalus' religious beliefs presented a problem, as he was the hereditary priest (through his mother) of the ancient Syrian mountain god Ilāh hag-Gaba, who was later assimilated into the worship of the sun God Helios and Sol Invictus (the victorious Sun; thus Elagabalus is sometimes referred to as Heliogabalus). The worship of this god apparently required him to circumcise himself (not a Roman custom), but even more significantly, he installed Elagabal as the chief deity.

But, more relevant to this discussion of Centurians of Rome, and I must admit that some of the ancient sources are not exactly reliable (Augustan History contains some Hollywood Babylon-like elements!), Elagabalus' sexual orientation was confusing. He married five women (and divorced them all), including a Vestal Virgin (a huge taboo). But marriage was more of a fluid financial transaction at that time in Rome, and of course one could assume Grandma and Mama were hoping he could produce an heir. He didn't.
 

Elagabalus' entry into Rome

But he supposedly married an athlete called Zoticus (though his prime male companion was a blond chariot driver and bond slave named Hierocles) in a public ceremony in Syria. The historian Cassius Dio claimed he made himself up and whored around in public and in the imperial palace. Some historians have claimed that Elagabalus may have been transgender, as, according to one source, he wanted to somehow equip himself female genitalia and called himself the queen or wife of his main male lover, Hierocles. Note that at the end of Centurians, guess who the Emperor ends up with sexually as he makes him his slave: the blond stud Eric Ryan.
 

Eric Ryan and Michael Flent
Eric Ryan and Michael Flent in Centurians

I see much more parallels, or really resemblances, with the character played by Michael Flent, whose sexual kinks were certainly not “vanilla,” and his almost feminine submission to the hot top George Payne in the fisting scene evokes some of the details mentioned in this admittedly biased account of life in the palace by Cassius Dio:

“Finally, he set aside a room in the palace and there committed his indecencies, always standing nude at the door of the room, as the harlots do, and shaking the curtain which hung from gold rings, while in a soft and melting voice he solicited the passers-by. There were, of course, men who had been specially instructed to play their part. For, as in other matters, so in this business, too, he had numerous agents who sought out those who could best please him by their foulness. He would collect money from his patrons and give himself airs over his gains; he would also dispute with his associates in this shameful occupation, claiming that he had more lovers than they and took in more money.”
 

Michael Flent and George Payne
Michael Flent and George Payne in Centurians

Yes, life in the palace became one decadent orgy which turned a profit. Maybe that's why the government needed that tax money from Octavius and Demetrius (Scorpio and George Payne), and the character of Argus (Eric Ryan) certainly fits in with being one of those agents looking for sex slaves.
 

George Payne and Scorpo
George Payne and Scorpio in Centurians of Rome

Grandma Maesa finally had enough, and she, after some machinations, managed to get Elagabalus and his mother replaced, and the two were eventually assassinated in 222 A.C.E.. His replacement: the indisputably heterosexual Alexander Severus, Elagabalus' cousin, the son of her other daughter, Maemea. Think: backlash, but in this case, the women were still in charge, and Alexander, though he got rid of the Elagabal cult, was religiously tolerant.

I must admit I am an ancient history geek (in the department I teach at, I hold that unofficial title), and hence my attraction to this movie, and I also admit when I was watching it, I thought of the unfortunate and much-maligned Elagabalus. Overall, Elagablaus resembles the Emperor in Centurians more than the wildly cruel and bizarre but ultimately heterosexual Caligula.

Sources: some Wikipedia, and also Will Durant's series The Story of Civilization (Durant was a homophobe, but the series contains everything you need to know about everything, as far as I am concerned, and that's how I first found out about Elagabalus).

We just remastered Centurians of Rome, and the newly restored version is available on DVD and streaming on our Video on Demand site. For more information on the strange backstory of this classic gay porn blockbuster (it was funded by a bank robbery!), read this fascinating blog at The Rialto Report.
 

Centurians cover image
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Luck be a "Lad" Tonight

 

Mega Millions lottery ticket

It seems like every month there's a megamillions or powerball lottery ticket craze, and even though the chances of winning are apocalyptic odds (I think it was one in three million), people buy tickets. I bought one, which was miniscule compared to the many who play every day and calculate odds and pick numbers using esoteric formulas. 

Ultimately, it's a matter of luck, who archetypally has been characterized as a woman, the Roman Goddess Fortuna. She is related in function to the Greek Three Fates, who determine the course of events by the slightest thread, literally, as they are depicted as spinners. Clotho spun the “thread” of human fate, Lachesis dispensed it, and Atropos cut the thread (thus determining the individual's moment of death). These figures eventually became the Lady Luck many invoke as they gamble at casinos! 
 

Statue of Fortuna

These goddesses were so powerful that even Zeus, king of the gods who became the source of law and order and justice, submitted to Fortune and the Fates. 
 

The three fates

The Hebrew YHWH, like Zeus, supposedly the source of justice, tells Job, who thinks he is the victim of a horrible fate he does not deserve, that basically the way the universe works is a mostly violent mystery, and gives images of a nature “red in tooth and claw” such as sea monsters and lions. 

Maybe those who think they can somehow beat the odds are influenced by science and mathematics rather than superstition, because I've heard that the “numbers don't lie.” Well, maybe in a math problem in itself, but even though scientists have discovered certain inexorable natural processes, like gravity (thank you, Isaac Newton), someone like Einstein came along to blow the “God is in his heaven, all's right with the world” Deism apart with this theory of relativity. 

On the social level, our obsession with celebrity feeds into our desire to beat those supposedly insurmountable odds. So many think they are talented and want to be discovered, and shows like American Idol with its elaborate (and public) audition process are part of that explosion of “everyone can be famous,” and everyone can be famous if his or her youtube video goes viral. These seekers of fame and fortune may think they are beating the odds, but I think it just emphasizes that a person is one in a multitude in the cyberuniverse, which changes by nanosecond. 
 

Lana Turner at a soda fountain

Gone are the days when someone like Lana Turner (a Hollywood sex goddess of the 1940s and 1950s) was discovered at a soda fountain, when a discovery was really a one-of-a-kind event, which I think made the Susan Boyle phenomenon, who blasted into fame on Britain's Got Talent, so different and thus more exciting in our age of one-second, often meritless fame. 
 

 

Susan Boyle singing on Britain's Got Talent

And speaking of breaks, just think about how some of the most famous gay porn stars of the past made their way in a genre that didn't enjoy during that time a wide public audience. The pioneering directors and producers like Arch BrownSteve Scott, and Toby Ross were discoverers themselves, not just of talent, but of expressing a sexuality that has been so long hidden. 
 

 

 

 

But the gay porn stars of the past, like many of the Hollywood legends, often came from humble, obscure origins but got that break (of course, they were, and again, a matter of luck, a generous endowment granted by the Fates). Al Parker worked as a butler and an aide to Hugh Hefner before making his debut in Brentwood's Challenger and going on to become a porn superstar and, later, director and producer. 
 

Images from One in a Billion

 

The Al Parker-directed film One in a Billion, in which Dave Connors gets a lucky day of sexcapades after he flips a coin that lands on its side in a billion-to-one chance!

In many cases, the desire may not have been, hey, I want to be a porn star, but if one has a great body and a certain size dick, and is stripping in a club (likeJamie Wingo and Scorpio), maybe that venue would be the “big break.” In fact, Scorpio tried to get into modeling, but his stripping gig, according to him, killed his chances. 
 

Scorpio in bathtub

Yet Fortune, capricious, is still inexorable, and AIDS decimated so many of these men. Science and medicine discovered the cause, while a culture of homophobia claimed the virus was God's justice and blamed the victims. Both interventions were too late for so many. Since then, as in so many other crises, we've changed the future (we are so close to a cure), but at the tragic cost of the past. 

Never again, we say, about so many natural and human evils, but ultimately, but even what turns out to be good is often a chance discovery. 

All I can say, is, may luck be a “lad” for you, as was the case with me, when I met my late partner totally by chance in a bar, and that night I wasn't even there to meet anyone. He actually went home with someone else, but the next day he called me, and the rest for both of us became our history.

 

 

 

 

 

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