Saturday, March 30, 2013

MY INEXPLICABLE CELEBRITY CRUSH

Over the past month, I’ve revealed many celebrity crushes of yesteryear, men like Andy Gibb, Tim Daly and Tony Goldwyn, all of whom I feel exuded undeniable hotness. There was nothing too confessional in these posts as it was perfectly reasonable to crush on any of them. But if we are honest with ourselves, we don‘t have to dig too deep to bring up a guy that became our Inexplicable Crush. I’ve had several in real life, but I don’t have the pictures to share. (Back in my high school days, I couldn’t yank our phone out of the wall, haul it to school and command it to take kamikaze snapshots of an unknowing Alexander Epstein.)

It’s full disclosure time. I’ve been keeping a certain someone from you, an iconic stud of the ‘70s:  Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.  That’s right, my darling Deutschendorf. He was everywhere: on the radio, on television, in the movies, even sometimes in the news for political activism. Perplexed by the famed Deutshendorf? Clearly, you weren’t a groupie. To advance his career, he went by the name John Denver. (Oh, my cheeks burn with embarrassment. Perhaps I shouldn’t have done the full reveal. How many of you would have actually Googled “Deutschendorf”?)

Okay, it’s out. I had a crush on John Denver. I was only seven when he was at his peak, his “Rocky Mountain High”. I hate that I offer  my youth as part of my defense. Looking back on his photos, I don’t know what I saw in him. That mop top of blond hair was the right color, but the wrong style. The folksy, Western shirts never did it for me either. And then there were the spectacles. My most vivid memory of Denver places him with The Muppets and the roundness of his glasses made him blend in with googly-eyed Kermit, Gonzo, Miss Piggy et al. In fact, I’m getting a little confused—did the green frog sing “Rainbow Connection” while strumming a banjo or was it my Denver? Maybe John really was a Muppet.

Yeah, not the stuff from which crushes arise.

But see, that is why I cherish this particular infatuation. It came before my gay indoctrination when I first showed up at a club in West Hollywood, wearing dress pants and a conservative button down designer shirt in a peachy tone that I felt blended nicely with my complexion. (Yep, I naively thought guys would be cruising the club, checking out my complexion.)

Before I had any understanding of what was physically hot, my tastes were hit and miss. Andy Gibb? Bull’s-eye. John Denver? Completely missed the dartboard. Still, I wasn’t completely clueless. I chose Denver over that other bespectacled blond musician of the ‘70s, Paul Williams. The Denver crush came when my assessment of a man was probably more balanced. Looks counted for something, but musical talent, a passion for the environment and a willingness to share an emotionally vulnerability mattered more.

Even at the time, I knew that many people dismissed Denver as a hokey, schmaltzy promoter of bland music. There is some evidence of that, particularly in his later work, but I’d say many talented musicians become watered down versions of themselves as they age—Rod Stewart and Elton John immediately come to mind.

The attraction to John Denver came from his beliefs, as conveyed in lyrics and music. He sang of sunshine, sky, mountains and water and how the sights of nature could make him cry. He paid tribute to Calypso and Jacques Cousteau’s oceanic exploration and environmentalism. His “Annie’s Song” is an ode to true (if un-lasting) love, simple, emotionally raw and linking his love for a woman with his love for nature.  He oozed earnestness.

I listen to John Denver’s music sparingly now, not because it doesn’t hold up, but because I wish to preserve the enchantment. About once a year, I’ll pull out a CD, pop it in the car and go for a scenic drive. My eyes get watery as I listen to him gush in “Sunshine on My Shoulders”, “I’mSorry” and “Fly Away”. I don’t ever want to lose my connection to his songs.

So you see, I can explain my attraction to John Denver. His public persona included so much of what I admire and what I seek in a man. And yet there is a sadness as I think about this. I am not certain that I’d give a real life gay version of John Denver a second glance today. And that’s where the live by the sword, die by the sword expression impales me. I too have been and will continue to be overlooked due to a bland exterior. Being gay can be a punishing existence and often it’s not the outside haters who cause the deepest wounds.

John Denver harkens back to a simpler, purer era, a time of my own innocence. Sometimes remembering a past crush creates an ache arising not from what he was but what I held to be most important. How did my strong seven-year-old self go so far astray?

Friday, March 29, 2013

DISHING IT UP--Part 2

As I got ready for the party, I opened a bottle of wine. That’s what they do in movies. The host gets a little sauced up to relax before the guests arrive. And just like in the movies, I may have taken that a little too far. Everything would have been fine if Vancouverites had the courtesy to arrive on time. Fashionably late is just rude. My pacing was all off.

My goal was to be the gracious host, the guy who oozed charisma. The delay of guests shook my confidence. What if no one comes? What if Dave doesn’t come? I’d relied heavily on my credit cards to stock up on food, drink and that party essential—new plates!—to ensure I’d have the perfect party, one that everyone would be talking about for the rest of the summer. This would be the party to put me on the Vancouver map and to put me smack in the center of Dave’s mind. Mutual obsession is so much more satisfying than a one-way crush. 

The problem with two or three or four glasses of pre-party wine relaxant is that you don’t really know how affected you are until you hear that distinct slur in your words. Being as I am not one to talk aloud to myself, I did not detect that slur until the first guests finally arrived. Ashiro hugged me and found my compromised state to be amusing. He poured a “Cougar Town”-sized glass of wine for himself and, being as his waifish frame could not have weighed more than a hundred pounds, I knew we’d be on equal terms in a mere five minutes.

I showed off my plates and Ashiro dutifully oohed and aahed. How could Dave be anything but impressed? If he liked my chinaware, he’d have no choice but to like me. I put a plate in the cupboard—saved for my special guest. 

Each time there was a knock at the door, my heart jumped. Dave?!

Not Dave.

Still, with guests arriving, I had much more to do than swigging my wine. And the International Food Court was finally open for business. I served up drinks, offered appies and munched along with my guests. The good thing about my wine intake is that it made me chattier and I wasn’t the hopelessly shy cold fish I usually am. I touched guests on the shoulder or on the forearm, gestures of warmth. Goodbye shell! I was on a roll.

Graham arrived with his friend Roland who brought along his new boy toy, Niles, who was still enrolled in some sort of community college program. Beer for Graham, rum and Coke for Roland. And for Niles?

“I’ll have milk.”

All my planning, all my purchasing and I’d never contemplated that someone would request a glass of milk at the party. Despite my overcompensating, I’d come up short.

I’ll blame the frontloading of wine for my hostile host response. “Milk?! Who the hell asks for milk? How old are you—eight?” He mumbled something, but I wasn’t listening. He was interrupting my diatribe.

“Get out! I mean it.” And my newly found physically demonstrative nature took a darker turn as I ushered poor Niles out the door with Roland following along.

As I turned around to face my open-mouthed guests, I saw Dave staring at me—no trace of that sexy smile. Yes, I’d finally caught his attention. Sadly, it had nothing to do with my plates or any of my fall-back enticements: charm, good looks, moisturized elbows.

Ashiro said something amusing to take the focus off me and people went on mingling. Mass exodus averted. But I retreated to the bedroom, completely shaken by my social flub and by the look of disgust from the man who would never feel an inkling of longing for me.

Pre-party, I’d still believed I had a chance. After months of built-up hope, the crush crashed and burned on impact, the result of a wholesome request from a complete stranger.

I stayed clear of booze the rest of the night and my friends helped me recover and even find humor in the latest example of my social ineptitude. Dave managed to steer clear of me before politely making an early exit with a very cute guy I didn’t know. Guys like Dave didn’t need to give second glances at guys like me.


I continued to see Dave and his beautiful smile at Saturday morning step classes, at Delany’s and occasionally in passing on the street. Sometimes the feeling nervous giddiness returned, a damning reminder of misplaced infatuation and a time when I foolishly thought I could make an impact with the right set of plates. It was never about dishes or even a glass of milk. Duckie didn’t get Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink”. People cover girl Julia Roberts didn’t even get the guy in “My Best Friend’s Wedding”. That fluttery feeling can be flawed from the outset. It was never going to end well. I merely fast-tracked that feeling of despair.

As an aside, Roland and his boy toy, Niles, are still together eighteen years later. For some, milk really does a body good. Not surprisingly, we’ve lost touch.

I haven’t seen Dave in at least a dozen years. I don’t think he’d remember The Curious Incident of the Guest Who Wanted Milk. Heck, I don’t even think he’d remember my name. I still have a few chipped plates on the top shelf of my cupboard. On occasion, they still stir up memories, not so much of the horrors of hosting, but of the feelings that preceded that night—the sense of hope, the belief that a kind, handsome man may notice me in a more flattering moment, the notion that I might eventually get it right. Sometimes you never fully shake a crush. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

DISHING IT UP--Part 1


Admittedly, it’s been quite awhile since my last crush with a real person. Sure, excepting Speed Racer, they’re all real people, but I’m talking about someone I’d actually met and not merely Googled or ogled on a certain nightly news program with a nice round number in its title.

There have been a few while I’ve lived in British Columbia although The Crush Era happened back when I was in my thirties. Dave was the one whom I crushed on the longest.

When I moved to Vancouver, I had one friend and he belonged to a favorite gay-friendly independent gym in the West End. Naturally, I joined. John introduced me to all his friends and, in his fatherly way, told me which steroid-taking, excessive partying guys to steer clear of—not that I was a magnet for wild ’roidsters.

Being as I didn’t mingle with the partiers, I managed to regularly make a 9 a.m. Super Step class every Saturday morning. It was “Super” because it lasted ninety minutes instead of the standard hour. The instructor was Kat, a bubbly girl who became part of my inner circle of besties, along with step cohorts John and Ashiro. Sure, it was great to see them bright and early to kick off the weekend, but my greater motivation was Dave’s presence.

Tall and lanky, Dave had killer calves—was he doing Super Steps every day in locations throughout the city? How come my calves remained chicken legs? Even greater than his calves was his broad smile. He had me before hello.

The great thing about a step class is that there are mirrors all over the room. I didn’t have a need to check myself out, but I could sneak peeks at Dave—nothing too stalkerish. While I mastered the intricate steps, I could never go into autopilot mode. Each class was punctuated by one or two (okay, more) awkward stumbles. How I didn’t break my foot way back then is beyond me.

After class, we’d all head down to Delany’s for coffee, but I’d first rush home for a quick shower so I could look my best for Dave.

Not that he ever noticed. He talked with ease to everyone, but on the few occasions when we had one-on-one time (okay, that sounded like a bachelorette on “The Bachelor”), the conversation sputtered to a stop. Yes, we both grew up in Ontario. Fancy that. Big province, considerable mileage between London and Hamilton. Yes, great step class. Uh-huh, you bet. Yeah. And...hmmm. Going next week? Uh-huh. Yeah,...me too. And stare at cuticles...

Painfully awkward. Now don’t get the impression the stilted exchange arose from mutual attraction. I’m certain it was one-sided. His failing communication skills came from utter disinterest. It was unmistakeable. That’s the problem with crushes...they defy logic. They set you up to be, well, crushed.

I hoped it would be different each week. I’d see that smile at the outset of Super Step and I’d fool myself into believing there was something new in that glimmer. Coffee would be different.

Crushed again.

Finally, I decided to host a big party, my first since moving to Vancouver. My apartment had a large balcony and my roommate worked hours each week to create a colorful floral wall along the entire deck rail. Perfect for summer entertaining. In my home environment, I’d be relaxed, I’d be funny, I’d be charming. Dave would see another side of me.

I still wasn’t fully employed. In fact, I was without a job for the summer months so I needed to be frugal with the supplies. Unfortunately, I have never been thrifty and, with a particular guest to impress, I erred on the side of extravagance. I expected credit card companies to send me belated Valentine’s cards:  Be mine. (And, oh, I was.)

I cooked up a huge pot of vegetarian chili but, insecure in my hosting skills, I went on a spending spree to stock up for every possible palate. I bought Greek, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and enough bagels, chips and dips to feed busloads of unexpected ’roidsters. (Surely word would get out.) I went to the liquor store three times, in part because I couldn’t carry everything in one trip and also because I kept thinking of other kinds of booze people might want. (Is Old Portrero a liquor or a horse biding time?)

All the booze and burritos weren’t enough. I needed something more to impress Dave. I needed new dishes. Because that’s what every gay man looks for: a great body, a good sense of humor, and a nice set of plates. I needed something masculine, yet eye popping, something to make up for my own deficiencies. With the right plate, I’d be a complete package. I splurged on a complete set of dinner plates, side plates and coffee mugs, all gleaming with a outer ring of royal blue and a central splash of what looked like an assaulted egg yolk.

I think what we can all take away from this is not a sense of bewilderment that I have been single for the past eight years but pure astonishment that I was EVER attached.

One might think I have grown since then, that I have gone beyond the Dating with Plates mindset, but when I first moved to Nowhereland after my last breakup, one of the first things I did was make an appointment with a local potter. I wanted new plates, made to order per my specifications. That’s right, single guys. I’m back on the market and I’ve got the plates to prove it!

But I digress. The party did go on. I’ll get to that in my next post.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

THE SOLID GOLD CRUSH CONNECTION


I have always been a big fan of pop music and I recall watching shows like “American Bandstand” and “The Midnight Special” in the ‘70s. In 1980, “Solid Gold” premiered in syndication and I often watched Dionne Warwick host the show on Saturday nights, a testament to my wild high school days.

Thankfully, I had more of a life when I headed off to university, but I did stumble upon the show a time or two and I sometimes stuck with it until a commercial break. What made me linger?

It wasn’t so much the videos, the occasional “live” lip-synched performance or new host Marilyn McCoo. It wasn’t even the show’s featured distinction, the Solid Gold Dancers, which Wikipedia describes as wearing “revealing costumes” and performing “sometimes borderline risqué dances.” No, I completely missed any purported titillation. Instead, I found myself rekindling my crush with co-host Andy Gibb. By 1981, Gibb had strayed from being a radio and teen magazine darling. We didn’t know of his downward spiral at the time. On the television screen, he still looked fine and I would have pulled out clumps of Victoria Principal’s Jhirmack’d hair in order to be his everything. I’d been smitten since his first hit and those photos of his frosted blond locks.

Sadly, Gibb only lasted for one season with the show. Just when I was ready to shake the show, along came another pop pinup as co-host: Rex Smith. Who were the “Solid Gold” producers and how did they unlock my grade school Crush Chest?

Smith was even hotter than Gibb. How did he NOT become a superstar?! I loved his first single, “You Take My Breath Away” and the photo jacket for the 45 proved to be a purchase bonus. That hair! Those chiseled cheekbones!  I don’t think I ever got so pathetic as to watch the TV movie from which the song came, but that may have been solely due to the times.  You had to either watch something when it aired or you missed it.  No VCR, no TV movie section at a video store.  (A check online shows that the movie never went to video or DVD.  Shocking.  Where is the uproar, America?)

 My Rex crush lasted for most of his fifteen minutes of fame.  Yes, I even bought his only other charting single, his remake of “Everlasting Love”, a duet with Rachel Sweet.  (I shouldn’t admit it, but I would sing her part, after imagining booting her out of the recording studio.  Nothing personal, Sweetie. All I can say in my defense is, when you’re a closeted queer, your sexual maturity is stunted at, oh, let’s say the sixth grade level.)  Despite the Rex appeal, my “Solid Gold” drop-bys no longer made it past Phil Collins doing his best Diana Ross impression. I’d gaze at Rex’s hair and his clothes (his body, that is),then turn off the TV to get ready for some crazy college shenanigans, beginning with a pitcher of strawberry daiquiris and a basket of fried zucchini and followed by a 2 a.m. sugar rush at a pancake house packed with octogenarian Shriners. Oh, you think I’m exaggerating, but my college years were more risqué than anything those Solid Gold Dancers could shimmy up. Yep, the Rex fix had waned.  You can only have your breath taken away for so long. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

MY FIRST CRUSH SONG


Most of the first pop songs I recall had a novelty to them (“Puff the Magic Dragon”; “My Ding-A-Ling”) or were favorites for primary teacher productions (“If I Had a Hammer”; “Scarborough Fair”; “He Ain’t Heavy...He’s My Brother”).

But there was one album mixed in with my dad’s massive classical collection that I begged my parents to play over and over. (They didn’t trust that I’d place the record needle carefully on the vinyl. Seems I’d already built a reputation for being a klutz.) I longed to hear The Carpenters’ “Close to You”. I found the entire album enchanting and, to this day, no other voice touches my heart as profoundly as Karen Carpenter’s.

Songs like “Maybe It’s You” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” introduced me to how adults perceive love. I’d stare at the album and imagine marrying Karen. But even then I felt confused, especially when listening to “(They Long to Be) Close to You”. It was my first awareness of gender in a song.  As I belted out the lyrics over and over again at home, I tried to envision this gorgeous, magnetic man, the one who attracted girls and birds, the one who made stars fall from the sky, the one with “moon dust in your hair of gold and starlight in your eyes of blue.” I knew that this was the ideal man.

While singing, I blissfully kept the male focus, likely causing my parents to have hushed talks in the bedroom.  “Maybe we should buy him a Jimi Hendrix album.” Actually, they were never that hip. “Perhaps something by Perry Como.” It wouldn’t have mattered. For the next two decades, I took extra glimpses at blond-haired, blue-eyed men, sent by angels. Hal David and Burt Bacharach said so and the lovely Karen sang it. I crushed on an image that I occasionally saw on the screen, but that never came to fruition in life. Indeed, there was nothing angelic or golden about the blond blues in my life—certainly not in booger-eating Sean Millar or chewing tobacco-spitting Kelvin Bates.

No regrets though. It was a lovely fantasy. While girls dreamed of princes and living in castles, I fancied the quintessential Golden Boy, the male version of Snow White with birds aflutter around him in a forest. Maybe that explains my early affinity for hiking, too. Karen had that kind of influence on me.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

HEY, RICKY!


Does your boyfriend’s celebrity crush matter?

To this day, I am not a Ricky Martin fan. (Okay, yeah. Who is?) But there was a time when he was big. He was everywhere. And I wanted nothing more than for him to go away.

If you recall, our little Ricky exploded to international fame—aka American awareness—when he performed at the 1999 Grammys. Sure, he’d been a member of Menudo. Sure, he’d had success in umpteen countries with Spanish-language hits. But he was a total unknown when given a prime performance slot on that awards night.

Someone must have known something. I never experienced the hoopla over the Elvis Pelvis, but Ricky Martin shook it better than Shakira. Or Charo. His perfect hair, his sexy smile, his form fitting, ribbed Lycra top and his bell-bottomed leather pants invited the world to drool. This guy was the total package, an instant It-man.

I took my eyes off the television long enough to see that my Spanish-speaking boyfriend was taken. I put a hand on his knee to remind him he was indeed taken. To his credit, he didn’t bat it away. Still, I lost a part of him that night. In the months to come, I can’t tell you how many times I walked in our condo to hear “Livin’ la Vida Loca” or, worse, to see yet another recorded performance of that song on our VCR.

Dammit, he was no one-hit American wonder. More hits, more media coverage, including seemingly daily reports of Ricky sightings on “Entertainment Tonight”, a show my boyfriend never watched prior to the arrival of Mr. Shake Your Bon-Bon.

Suddenly, my boyfriend had purchased all of Martin’s Spanish CDs. (I couldn’t prove it, but I suspected there was a Menudo memento stashed somewhere in the closet.)

A celebrity crush, a fixation on someone completely unattainable: Does it really matter? Uh, yeah. I liken it to a straight guy lusting over Pamela Anderson when his girlfriend shops in the training bra section.

There’s an insensitivity. Admittedly, I was jealous. My boyfriend made no effort to suppress his crush. I became critical of Mr. Martin, even disliking “She Bangs” before William Hung butchered it. Rationally, I knew that Ricky would not spot my boyfriend on the streets of Vancouver and take him back to L.A. or Puerto Rico. But still, it bothered me. What should have been an innocent infatuation only made me question what in the world my exotically handsome partner saw in a muscle-free, ghostly white guy like me who had all the dance moves of Rick Astley, not Rick(y) Martin.

Had I been single at the time of Ricky’s glorious debut, I might have developed my own crush. I could have ogled alongside my boyfriend, just as we did during increasingly rare TV appearance of Antonio Sabàto, Jr.  I suppose it was just bad timing. We witnessed the Big Moment together, sitting on the same sofa and yet my boyfriend had never felt so far away. A number of years later, I would know that feeling many times, not due to some stud du jour but because things had run their course. But our love was still so new on that Grammy night and I wasn’t ready to share my guy with anyone, not in person and not in my boyfriend’s wandering mind.

The hoopla over Ricky Martin was so huge, there was no way it could last. On a smaller scale, the same could be said for my relationship.

So what about you, dear reader? Has there ever been friction between you and a boyfriend on account of a famous stud? Whose crush was it and how did you work through it?

Monday, March 18, 2013

MR. CLEAN

I’ve known people who drooled over the guy on the Mr. Clean bottle. That bald head, the earring, the tight white tee, the muscles,...yeah, I can see the appeal. As far as household product spokesmen, Mr. Clean easily trumps Mr. Whipple and the Maytag repair guy. Still, I have no interest in a man whose cologne emits a fresh pine scent. (And, just to nitpick, the thick white eyebrows look like a mutation from nuclear accident. Do they glow?)

My “Mr. Clean” is a television actor who enticed me to watch “Wings” despite the regularity of writing mediocrity. I was a Tim Daly fan. Hard to believe this slim, pretty man was the brother of Cagney. Or Lacey. On "Wings", Daly played the perennial good guy, the flip side of TV brother Steven Weber's slightly dirty, creepy persona. Daly is the pilot I picture when I hear someone croon "Come Fly with Me." If only he asked!
I was truly taken with Tim. "Wings" was a fluff show sandwiched between two genuinely funny sitcoms and, sometimes on Thursday nights, I'd mute the volume, go about doing other things and feel an "Aah" moment every time I glimpsed the dashing Joe Hackett on screen. He was always worth watching.

Thomas Gibson of “Dharma and Greg” would have been Daly’s kissing cousin—also pretty with the high cheekbones, wavy, parted hair and air of wholesomeness, but somehow less sexy. (Maybe it was just too much screen time with Jenna Elfman.) Interestingly, both Daly and Gibson have starred in a major sitcom and in medical dramas (“Private Practice” and “Chicago Hope”, respectively). I think that speaks to both men carrying a hot, intellectual vibe.

Since departing “Private Practice”, my Mr. Clean has been largely unseen. I’m ready once more for my Daly dose.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

WANTED: THE BAD GUY

The second guy I fell in love with was deeply flawed. (Oh, and I was so perfect.) He’d managed to kick a severe cocaine addiction and had reconstructive surgery on his damaged nose—a standard procedure in L.A. Call it a spa day. Cigarettes and booze replaced coke and he engaged in a number of risky behaviors. He said I liked his wild side, an exacerbating contention that allowed him to be complacent about change and continued to mask the layers of awesomeness I knew existed within.

It is out there though. How often do you hear about people falling for the bad guy? There is some truth to all that talk about the guy next door, that nice guy, finishing last. I swear though, I have never wanted someone with a wild side.  Teensy ankle tattoos of ladybugs used to scare me. Eating uncooked cookie dough is about as risky as it needs to get, thank you very much.

I will admit, however, to crushing on a bad guy once. There was no need for an intervention though because he appeared on the big screen. I have never seen him in person, never purchased a Star Map and staked out his house. Heck, I am rather certain he’s never been a marquee name on celebrity tours.

But he caught my eye in one little movie, an Oscar-nominated flick from 1990.  “Ghost”. I know I am not the only one taken by an actor in the movie. “Entertainment Tonight” put Patrick Swayze in heavy rotation and “People” upped newsstand sales with the star gracing covers. Women enrolled in pottery classes, hoping a himbo would guide them hand-over-hand, body against body in making a lovely ashtry or pinch pot.

I recall being shocked that “People” dubbed Patrick Swayze “Sexiest Man Alive” the following year. He wasn’t even the sexiest man in “Ghost”. While American swooned over Swayze, I was gaga for Goldwyn. That’s right, the guy who played Carl Bruner, the supposed best friend, the scheming criminal, the guy who tries to kill Sam’s beloved Molly and everyone’s favorite fortune teller, Oda Mae Brown. Bad, Carl. Bad!

And, oh, I was in lust.

Despite the bad boy role, Tony Goldwyn projected a hunky sex appeal—soft spoken, sensitive and possessing my standard physical lures: great hair and pronounced pecs. Having more than a year of West Hollywood clubbing under my belt, I was certain my gaydar was properly tuned. Tony Goldwyn had to be gay. (Alas, these were pre-Wikipedia days. A quick search today reveals Tony has been married to the same woman since 1989. Even while in the Gay Immersion Program, I couldn’t get things right!)

I was certain Tony Goldwyn would be the next A-list actor to compete with Tom Cruise (never saw the appeal) for starring roles in blockbusters or, better yet, to scoop up the Tom Hanks cast-offs in romantic comedies. Sadly, Tony never completely broke through. He continued to land supporting roles in a few big movies like “The Pelican Brief” and “Nixon” and he has worked steadily in the business. He’s now the President of the United States, at least on TV’s “Scandal”, but I have lost interest. It just goes to show that people needn’t overreact when their friends fancy the bad guy. Eventually, things sort themselves out.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DADDY COMPLEX?


During the month of March, my posts focus on crushes. A few I should never admit, but one must be daring as a writer—even while being frivolous!

By all accounts, I came out too late. I blame Texas but, really, I am an incredibly shy and self-conscious being. Things might have gone more smoothly had I been precociously gay. Things might have made more sense as I navigated the gay social order in my early years. I am told that there was a time (late ‘70s?) when gay men walked around with different –colored handkerchiefs in their jean pockets. I imagine that every color of the rainbow flag was represented, each hue defining a different gay identity.

Sigh. Diversity. I thought it was enough to realize I was gay. But there were niches. Leather. Drag. Guys that never wanted to disco with Vinnie Barbarino.

Of all the categories, the one that has always made me the most uncomfortable was The Daddies. To each his own, but referring to oneself as a daddy or a daddy chaser brings incest to mind. While I know any Maury Show paternity test would come up negative, I cannot understand why guys would want to assume the role with their partner. Full confession: I don’t know what daddies and their seekers do. Show up on the soccer field and berate a missed goal? Block off the world with a newspaper and smoke a pipe? Repeatedly take apart the lawn mower in the garage? Oops, it seems I may have my own daddy issues.

There wasn’t much in my childhood to make me pine for another father figure. Fortunately, most TV dads on television oozed zero sex appeal. Dick Van Patten on “Eight Is Enough”. Mr. C. on “Happy Days”. Curmudgeonly at best. But there have been a couple who crossed the line.

The first to truly catch my eye was Charles Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie”: Michael Landon. That hair! That solid body! That face! He made rugged look pretty. Just once, I wanted to trip up teary eyed Laura Ingalls Wilder as she ran down the grassy hill so that I could be the one caught up in Michael’s arms. Hold me tight, daddy!

Mean and creepy, but a little bit exciting.

Later, I tuned in to a show whose star had a nails-on-chalkboard voice. No, I was never a fan of Fran Drescher or the writing of “The Nanny” but I would have gladly offered my services to Papa (Maxwell) Sheffield.  As a child minder, of course. And maybe something extra. I always felt he deserved someone warmer and (slightly) more masculine than either Fran Fine or self-centered C.C. Babcock.  As grating as Drescher’s voice was, I kept the volume up just to hear Charles Shaughnessy’s soft English accent. Talk to me, daddy!  

Before I view myself with too much disgust, I don’t think the father role accounted for any of the appeal. Both men may have portrayed dads, but the attraction was really about the hair. As far as I can tell, in gay terms, I am neither a daddy nor a daddy chaser.

 I wonder what the hankie color was for hair fetishists.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

CRUSHED BY THE COLA WARS

During the month of March, my posts focus on crushes. A few I should never admit, but one must be daring as a writer—even while being frivolous!

 

Sorry, Pepsi. I betrayed you. Twice.

The first time happened so long ago, you probably don’t remember. I mean, who can be held accountable for what they did in the ‘70s? Not quite the ‘60s, but still...

This moment of cleansing feels good. It needed to happen. You see, I have always had a clear preference for Pepsi. Not sure why, but the beverage always satisfied me. That was even confirmed by a couple of official Coke vs. Pepsi taste tests and multiple replications at parties. (Okay, full disclosure: my ‘70s weren’t so wild.)

It was Pepsi every time.

And yet I strayed. For a couple of years (yes, the affair dragged on), I was drawn to something purportedly peppier. At some point, we all dream of being with a doctor. I fell for Dr. Pepper.

I should have known better. In truth, the cola always tasted like they’d accidentally poured in a resistant child’s cherry-flavored cough syrup. Perhaps Dr. Pepper was that devious. But really, my soda tryst had nothing to do with the can’s contents. I was taken by the pitch person: David Naughton. Sigh. Such an adorable singer/dancer! Take a look at this commercial: dear Davy doesn’t appear until twenty-two seconds in (such a waste!), but it’s got Jimmie “ J.J.” Walker and roller skates thrown in to encapsulate a perfect ‘70s moment.

Not gay enough you say? Well, I had no gaydar back then. I’d like to think a struggling Hugh Jackman might have been the Dr. Pepper guy had he been born a generation earlier. And David Naughton did have a catchy disco credit as well. (If you've still got that Pepper jingle jangling in your head, watch this ad which includes a toast to San Fran.)

I totally ended my relationship with Dr. Pepper right about the time the spokesperson became a werewolf.  Luckily, Pepsi took me back. (Corporate entities have a different morality, you know.) I remained loyal until 1994 when I suffered another period of indiscretion.


I wanted to get Lucky. Didn’t we all? Like everyone else, I adored the iconic commercial spokesperson of the ‘80s, but I didn’t feel any bubbly excitement. (Thank goodness.) At long last, Lucky Vanous came along. Suddenly, 11:30 became my favorite time of day. I remember well this pre-Internet time. I lived with two gay roommates in L.A., although the duplex unit often housed boyfriends and between-apartment gay friends. The television always seemed to be on. Whenever someone yelled, “Diet Coke”, we’d scramble down the stairs, all of us soda-sanctioned Peeping Toms. No need to venture to West Hollywood to ogle a coke-fueled go-go boy. The Diet Coke Guy did it.

Sadly, even the best campaigns must end.

I did return once again to Pepsi, but things were never the same between us. My allegiance has waned, but not on account of a hunky pitch person. Polar bears are cute but I don’t need to dash to the TV or play YouTube clips on repeat to remember a manipulated “Ahh” moment. Instead, I have been sucked in by the Starbucks routine.

Message to coffee competitors: hire this guy or that guy if you want a spike in sales. I may still have wandering taste buds.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

THE PERFECT GAY CRUSH SONG


I mentioned that a Barbra Streisand concert helped me come up with the idea for Crush Month. When she sang “The Way He Makes Me Feel” from YENTL, it triggered vivid memories of how that song brought on butterflies every time I heard it. Thankfully, it still does. Nervous little schoolgirls don’t have a monopoly on fluttery feelings that come with a crush and, if we’re lucky, love.

Released in 1983 when I’d just turned nineteen and was still obediently holed up in The Closet, the movie YENTL allowed me to sit in a crowded movie theater in Fort Worth, Texas and gleefully imagine a longing being realized. Barbra’s Yentl Mendel disguised herself as a young man for the purpose of getting an education. An unexpected consequence was that Yentl developed growing feelings for Mandy Pantinkin’s Avigdor but she could not express them, in part, because she was portraying a he.

The movie is further strengthened by a collection of songs featuring the brilliantly penned lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. “The Way He Makes Me Feel” proved to be the standout among standouts.

There’s no chill and yet I shiver
There’s no flame and yet I burn.
I’m not sure what I’m afraid of
And yet I’m trembling.
There's no storm, yet I hear thunder.
And I'm breathless, why, I wonder.
Weak one moment,
Then the next I'm fine.
I feel as if I'm falling every time
I close my eyes
And flowing through my body
Is a river of surprise.
Feelings are awakening
I hardly recognize as mine.
What are all these new sensations?
What's the secret they reveal?
I'm not sure I understand,
But I like the way I feel.
Oh, why is it that every time
I close my eyes he's there?
The water shining on his skin,
The sunlight in his hair?
And all the while I'm thinking things
That I can never share with him.
I'm a bundle of confusion,
Yet it has a strange appeal.
Did it all begin with him,
And the way he makes me feel?
I like the way he makes me feel...

I have never linked the song with a particular man. It was enough that YENTL provided a frame of reference and genuine inspiration regarding same-sex love.

As I watched the movie, I saw the objective beauty in Amy Irving. She was as beautiful as any woman could be. In spite of that, I recognized that I would never feel a longing for a woman the way I would for a man.

I simultaneously watched two versions of the movie. In the first, I viewed the director’s cut and enjoyed the humor that came in all the misunderstandings resulting from Yentl being a woman disguised as a man. The alternate version was my own cut, in which the title character was never female, but simply a man, processing feelings for a man. It worked perfectly. Streisand in male drag became more iconic than ever. She/He gave me hope that one day I would find my own Mandy Pantinkin (though hopefully softer and kinder than the actor’s real life personality).

I am still hoping and I remain mesmerized by this song.

Friday, March 1, 2013

WELCOME TO CRUSH MONTH

I’ve written about crushes before, some very personal, hitting me every time I stopped in at the local coffeehouse or at the gym, others invading my living room courtesy of live telecasts from Atlanta.  (And on that note, sadly, I’m still waiting.)

A song at a Barbra Streisand concert and a random reference to Laverne & Shirley’s Carmine got me thinking about crushes again.  In the moment, they can feel thrilling (the ones in daily life) or titillating (those of the celebrity kind).  Of course, they are simultaneously tortuous.  Why doesn’t he notice me?  Why can’t I find a guy like that?

 I can’t think of a single crush that ever amounted to anything.  Maybe I have some sort of internal Crush Protector that keeps these hotties at bay.  Still, I find great amusement in looking back.  With enough time and space between then and now, my recollection typically comes down to a chuckle and a common thought:  What was I thinking? 

With all possibilities of inching toward my next broken heart on hold due to a broken foot, I need a focus...or a distraction, at least, from my dependency on crutches.  Bring on the memories of unrequited love (and lust).  Crank up that old tune by The Jets. For the month of March, the blog posts will be about crushes. 

Frivolous?  Sure.  Hopefully, however, the reads will be fun and will help you remember your own exciting, agonizing and silly crush moments.  I’ll reveal why I temporarily switched diet sodas, highlight overwrought songs that I linked to my garçon du jour and finally bid adieu to some questionable celebrity crushes with the help of current Google Images.  For starters, bye bye to Be Mine, Carmine.  

Oy! Indeed, what was I thinking?!