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Interesting and provocative thoughts on gay history, gay sexual history, gay porn, and gay popular culture.
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1986, Rick "Humongous" Dunovan, and Emotional Relationships in Gay Porn

1986 was a scary time. The AIDS crisis was at its height, and according to one gay rag from the period, called Bohemian Bugle (for the Las Vegas/Reno crowd), the Lyndon LaRouche anti-gay initiative as on the ballots. This initiative, had it passed, would have allowed persons with AIDS, and even persons suspected of AIDS, to be fired from jobs, expelled as students or teachers, and even subject to involuntary quarantine and medical observation. Yes, frightening, and it showed at that time the baleful influence of Anita Bryant was still present, and the fear and ignorance about AIDS heightened Bryant supporter's homophobia to the point of hysteria. 

And yet, in 1986, even though AIDS had begun to decimate the population of gay porn stars, many stars were still active and expanding their repertoire. For example, Rick “Humongous” Donovan, in an interview with Bill Brody of the Bohemian Bugle, proclaims that in his new movie Dynastud will focus on showing “more affection” between the players. In fact, more kissing will occur. He claims that much of this shift from just showing varying types of sexual positions comes from his “being more comfortable with strangers.” (Some might call this statement an attempt to grope with the artistic license that comes from suspension of belief in the film genre!) 
 

Rick Donovan interview in the Bohemian Bugle

Dynastud VHS cover


Anonymous, impersonal sex (in real life and in porn) can of course be a turn on, and the focus on the sex act itself is obviously aimed at the viewer's dick rather than his heart is a key element in pornography, but one wonders if there is something in this statement that reflects a shift in emphasis. AIDS was directly caused by sex, and much of the sex was anonymous, occurring in places like bathhouses. Why not then try and show show that sex and affection, even love, don't need to bifurcate in the experience of gay men? 

Now, what's really interesting about Donovan's statement is that many of the earlier gay porn, pre-AIDS, pre-condom filmmakers were concerned as well with affection, and romance, essentially, relationships as well. Directors such as Jack Deveau, Tom DeSimone, and Steve Scott all made movies with stories that focused on diverse, complex relationships between gay men, as they now had an audience that was able to wrestle with these issues as well as express long-repressed fantasies in the wake of Stonewall and the sexual liberation tangent of the 1970s. 

So many of the Bijou Classics we carry show this development, trying to make the sex an organic part of the plot and character development in gay porn films.

For example, there is Peter de Rome's Adam and Yves, set in Paris, and the city itself is something of a character in the film as it probes the mysterious relationship between Michael Hardwick and Marcus Giovanni. 
 

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Summer Olympics 2016 and Gay Games 2016

This year's Summer Olympics is perhaps the most openly LGBTQ, despite an undercurrent of homophobia. For example, a marriage proposal between two women occurred, Tom Daley brought his fiance Dustin Lance Black, and Chris Mosier (pictured below) became the first out transgender athlete on the U.S. men’s national team when he qualified in the sprint duathlon earlier this year.  
 

Chris Mosier

Yet a women's soccer team was victimized by homophobic insults from the audience, and once again NBC Sports, according to a piece in the Huffington Post, failed to identify Black as Daley's fiance. (Eight years ago the network also failed to identify Australian diver Matthew Mitchum's partner in the stands.) 

 

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Ah, Enjoying a Summer of Grande Dame Guignol: Die, Die My Darling

 

Die, Die My Darling aka Fanatic, 1965, directed by Silvio Narrizano,Hammer Films. (Hammer produced a plethora of famous horror movies; check out the link.) 
 

Die, Die My Darling DVD

Patricia Carroll (Stefanie Powers) is an American woman who travels to London to marry her boyfriend, Alan Glentower (Maurice Kaufmann). While there, Patricia stops by to visit Mrs. Trefoile (Tallulah Bankhead), the mother of her deceased ex-fiancé, who had been killed in a car accident, intending to pay her respects. Upon arriving, however, Patricia discovers that Mrs. Trefoile's grief for her son has transformed her already fanatical religious zealotry into sociopathic violence. When Mrs. Trefoile begins holding Patricia prisoner, starving and abusing her in order to convert her into “pure virgin” for her son in the afterlife, she must find a way to escape. Her attempts to break free prove futile until a surprise intervention at the end. 

Oh, Tallulah! You turned down the Joan Crawford role in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, and now in your dotage you wanted to take advantage of the 1960s “psychobiddy” or “grande dame guignol” trend that the Crawford/Davis vehicle started. It was actually kind of odd, as she was actually more of a stage actress (Die, Die My Darling actually makes reference to this fact when Patricia asks Mrs. Trefoile is she was an actress after seeing a scrapbook of actually Tallulah stage photos) than a movie star. In fact, her last big movie role was in Hitchock's Lifeboat in 1944. 

She needed the money at that point in her life, and it was interesting that her flamboyant personality in real life actually worked well in this role about a woman who actually gives up flamboyance to become a dour religious fanatic who subjects her household staff to lengthy (think, let's read an entire book of the Bible before we eat) Bible readings and a vegetarian diet of “God's plain food.” No condiments of any kind! And how dare Stefanie Powers wear lipstick or a red blouse, the “devil's color.” Well, Tallulah herself in her indomitable way said that she looked in this movie like she was old enough to be “God's wet nurse.” 

Now, what I found interesting about this movie was not just the fabulously demented performance by Miss Bankhead, who actually seems to be channeling Bette Davis (whom she always accused of imitating her in All About Eve, because everything in the universe somehow converged on Tallulah), especially in scenes where she speaks in a creepy infantilized voice to a teddy bear that belonged to her dead son. She even whines, like Jane Hudson, who also commits a murder, “What am I going to do?” after she kills the husband of her housekeeper Anna. 
 

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Forty Years Ago Today in LGBTQ History: 1976

 

“The first 200 years, have seen us grow, and we're still growing … “ 

1976 was the bicentennial year. If you are “older” like me, you might remember The Bicentennial Minute, red, white and blue kitchens, and massively frightening fireworks displays. 
 

Bicentennial coloring book

I also remember Sister Judy, forcing, as was her wont, the upper grades to teach the younger grades about events in American history. We were put in teams with people from other classes we did not know and expected to “put on a show in a barn;” less than stellar results usually occurred. She also forced, as was her wont, the eighth grade class to participate in various bicentennial-related projects. I chose the mural project. I could not paint or draw. Well, at least it wasn't sports. 

While I was growing up in the white suburban Catholic ghetto, groundbreaking events in the advancement of LGBTQ rights were occurring in cities (downtown Chicago was very far away from me socially and psychologically) and states that might as well have been foreign countries or even alien planets to me: 

January, 1976: Iowa repeals its "sexual psychopath" law. Passed in the wake of a moral panic following the 1954 rape and murder of a young boy, the law had been used to detain dozens of gay men in mental institutions in the 1950s. 

May, 1976: City council of Los Angeles prohibits employment discrimination by the city based on sexual orientation. 

July, 1976: U.S. state of Indiana decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts. 

September, 1976: Start of the three-day "Fourth Annual Gay Conference for Canada and Quebec," held in Toronto, including a rally and march. 
 

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Confession: Eating Outside Is Overrated

 

“Let's eat outside. It's such a nice day.”
“Wanna go to a cookout? I am putting meat on the grill.”
“This place has a great rooftop garden.” 

Al fresco for me is literally for the birds. (In fact, I often imagine swarms of birds “doing their business” over unaware outside diners who suddenly realize a topping from the sky has been added to their burgers. Ick.) 

Eating outside is overrated. I just don't get the appeal. 
 

Disasterous Picnic

The reasons? Perhaps more personal than objective, but in this case, it's a matter of taste (and ambience) or maybe even some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Insect invasion: My brother was stung by a bee twice, yes twice, when we were eating outside in the backyard. In one case, he sat on the bee. Yes, who wants to eat out and suffer from bees circling around, attracted by whatever you are eating? And not just bees, but other insects, flies, of course. A fly on a paper plate sums up for me the joy of eating outside. And note that these were the days before many homeowners built elaborate decks (all this trouble to build something to eat outside on; seems odd to me). We ate outside on decaying wooden picnic tables placed directly on grass, grass which harbored ants, grasshoppers, and other swarming, creeping things. 
 

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