BijouBlog

Interesting and provocative thoughts on gay history, gay sexual history, gay porn, and gay popular culture.
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Whatever Happened on Feud?

 

Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in Feud

The long-awaited FX series, Feud, on the making of the camp classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Began Sunday March 5. 

 

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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. 

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Long Hair on Men: Dangerous and Powerful

Long hair … when I was growing up in a white Catholic suburb where moms stayed home, produced multitudes of children, and hung up sheets outside on clotheslines, in the late sixties and early seventies, long hair on men was considered almost evil, a symbol of danger and rebellion. You know, those dangerous hippies downtown with their sex and drugs and rock 'n roll. 

Now, according to one book written long ago in the nineteenth century, now incredibly relevant given the state of our nation, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, devotes a whole chapter to the influence of politics and religion on the hair and the beard. 
 

Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds book cover

St. Paul's dictum, meant to be only for local consumption and not a universal maxim, “that long hair was a shame unto a man,” was interpreted literally, especially in the days when church and state were not separate. 

Even before the theocratic ideal of the Christendom, the powerful often dictated men's hair length. For example, Alexander the Great though that beards of his soldiers “afforded convenient handles” for an enemy to grab, as preparation for decapitation. Thus, he ordered everyone in his army to shave. 

Yet, especially in the early Middle Ages (or Dark Ages), long hair was symbolic of royalty or sovereignty in Europe. In France, only the royal family could enjoy long, curled hair. Yet the nobles did not want to be viewed as inferior, imitated this style, and also added long beards. The great Charlemagne sported long hair and a beard, but after the ravages of the Vikings and the political and social chaos that ensured after Charlemagne's death, the nobles then kept their hair short. In contrast, the serfs kept their locks and beards long as perhaps a way of less than subtle defiance. 
Charlemagne


This flip-flop continued for centuries. Of course many famous churchmen, such as the famed St. Anselm of Canterbury, were virulently against long hair on men. King Henry I of England defied him by wearing ringlets. Much later in England, during the Civil War between the Roundheads (Puritans and Independents) and Cavaliers (Monarchists), hair became a dividing factor, and not just physically. 
 

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