LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

LATE NIGHT LAVENDER

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THE SHORT SHORTS CHRONICLES, Part 2:“They Tried to Make Me Wear a Speedo. I Say ‘No, No, No!…'“

THE SHORT SHORTS CHRONICLES, Part 2
“They Tried to Make Me Wear a Speedo. I Say ‘No, No, No!…'“

     WWMSD? (What would Mark Spitz do?) According to the headlines, a 61-year old Long Island lifeguard named Roy Lester claimed that he was fired from his job because he “refused to wear a Speedo”. He is quoted as saying, "I wore a Speedo when I was in my 20’s. But come on. There should be a law prohibiting anyone over the age of 50 from wearing a Speedo." Hey, wait a minute… I have issues with that! In fact, I am publicly declaring that for my big “Five Oh!”, I want everyone to give me a Speedo as a gift. But anyway, here’s the story: Lester is claiming age discrimination, believing that the “Speedos rule” is a mechanism used to filter out the older lifeguards. Does he have a case, or is this GILF all wet?

     No man, regardless of age or body type, should be forced to squeeze his family jewels into a scrote tote… uh, I mean “Speedo”, against his will. A square cut Greek-style bathing suit or snug pair of mid-thigh trunks would do the job of lifesaving just as well. At first, Lester’s gripe seems legit… but calling it “age discrimination“ just seems a bit too out there as a defense. And, this case of man versus marble bag… uh, I mean “Speedo“, is more complicated than it seems. Lester actually filed this suit in 2007. He states that back then, he was forced out of the Jones Beach lifeguard job he had held for 40 years when he refused to wear a ding-a-ling sling for the annual swim test. Lester sued, claiming age discrimination. The suit was dismissed on technical grounds in 2008, as was yet another suit Lester filed in 2009. Last week, an appeals court reinstated his claim. Lester's case could go to trial this year in his native Long Island. (I can’t wait to watch that case on TV. Lawyers, submit your briefs!) Currently, the established protocols of the lifeguard tests state that male candidates must wear "boxer, briefs or board shorts" during a 100-yard swim-- which they must finish in 75 seconds. Apparently, Lester prefers to wear biker shorts, which are not allowed. There is currently no policy specifically requiring lifeguards to wear banana hammocks… uh, I mean “Speedos”, during their annual tests. Whether or not there USED to be such a requirement in 2007 or 2008 may determine which way the verdict will, ahem… hang.
 
     And then there’s whether or not it’s “age discrimination”. Judging by pictures of the very fit Roy Lester, you’d think that this sexagenarian would WANT to wear a ding-a-ling sling… uh, I mean “Speedo“-- not for vanity reasons, but as a statement about the importance of health and fitness at any age… and to be an inspiration for other Viagra-aged men. (Personally, I wish I COULD wear a Speedo at work…!) Interestingly, in a 2006 union newsletter posting, Lester accused officials at his workplace of disciplining Jewish lifeguards more often than Genital… uh, I mean Gentile, lifeguards. So, maybe the has a point. He probably got tired of hearing, “That Speedo is so tight, I can tell your religion!”

THE SHORT SHORTS CHRONICLES, Part 1: MMA Fighter Dennis Hallman’s Wardrobe Malfunction


THE SHORT SHORTS CHRONICLES, Part 1
MMA Fighter Dennis Hallman’s Wardrobe Malfunction

“Hallman really showed some BALLS that night!”
“ He went NUTS!”
“Yes, he really is a BALLS-OUT fighter!”

Along with cowboys, rugby players, and leathermen, the men of mixed martial arts (MMA) are considered to be among the last bastions of masculinity in this day and age. To state the obvious, the boys who compete in these full contact combat sports are required to be in top physical shape. Apparently, MMA fighter Dennis Hallman (His nickname is “Superman”. Check out his choice of undies for the UFC 123 weigh-in down below…) isn’t shy about showing off his assets, including the family jewels. In a story that’s gonna “stick out” in MMA history for a while, the 35-year old former state champion wrestler wore a skimpy, violet-colored pair of briefs which left little to the imagination when facing Brian Ebersole on August 6, 2011 at UFC 133. Hallman's left testicle was briefly (ahem…) exposed, reportedly eliciting chants of "Put some clothes on!" from the crowd and irking the UFC President Dana White. White was reportedly so incensed at the short shorts ("I've never been so embarrassed being in the UFC.") that he supposedly awarded Ebersole a whopping $70,000 for getting Hallman-- and those short shorts-- away from the sight of the TV audience as soon as possible. He even hinted about firing the welterweight Hallman. After all, this is MMA… not pro wrestling, where the more outrageous costumes and antics are looked upon more positively. Hallman’s banana hammock caused a field day in the world of sports journalism, and led one writer to entitle an article, “Dennis Hallman's Short Shorts Inducted into ESPN's Pantheon of ‘Worst Looks in Sports History‘”. Hallman later stated that his choice of brief briefs was for losing some kind of bet. Looks like his loss was a gain for lovers of the male physique…

     As, ahem “fallout” from the incident, UFC Prez Dana White may even impose new restrictions on how “skimpy” the MMA bottomwear can be. I say, “Hell no!” As a bona fide American, I believe in the right to bare arms… or any other body part you wish. In that infamous match, Hallman lost the fight via TKO in the first round. But look at all the new fans he gained!

Monday, August 22, 2011

MAKE “MAE DAY” A NATIONAL HOLIDAY!!!

MAKE “MAE DAY” A NATIONAL HOLIDAY!!!

     Reportedly, August is the only month in which there are no major American holidays. I am therefore proposing that we make August 17th “Mae Day”, in honor of the birthday of late star Mae West-- not to be confused with “May Day” (AKA Beltane), the Wiccan/pagan fertility holiday celebrated on May 1st. Actress/writer Mae West only made 12 movies, yet she is considered to be one of America‘s most iconic sex symbols in the history of cinema. To this day, her emblematic quotes are still engrained in pop culture: “When I’m good, I’m really good. But when I’m bad, I’m better!” Or how about, “It’s not the men in my life; it’s the life in my men!” (I‘ll drink to that!) The actress was entirely her own creation. Mae wasn’t the first woman to be sexy on the big screen… but her in-your-face sexual persona was completely unique at the time. Unlike other female sex symbols of vintage Hollywood, her image wasn’t based on using sexuality for manipulation, or about being sexy by the terms of the men in her life. She was bold about S-E-X because, well… she wanted it-- but on her own terms. Her hidden intentions and double entendres were not lost on more sophisticated audiences… nor, sadly, were they lost on the virulently repressive movie censors. The fascist censorship policies of Hollywood at the time was, in fact, largely credited with the decline of Mae’s film career.

     Although her significance may have been lost somewhat on the younger generations of gays, Mae was a bona fide gay icon and remains one of the women most imitated by drag queens to this day, whether or not the queens themselves even realize it. Her gay appeal was not lost on Mae herself. Just as she knew what straight men wanted, she seemed to know what gay men wanted too. West was definitely a friend of the homos, although many sociologists would argue that her opinions on gays, well-intentioned as they may have been, would seem dates and even derogatory today: She reportedly referred to gay men as “The Third Sex” and also supposedly claimed that homosexual sex was “a form of masturbation, bringing temporary relief but no real satisfaction.” Reportedly, Mae also stated that “A bitchy itchy homosexual can be worse than a bitchy woman.” (How can you argue with that?!) Before she became a movie star, she presented a play in 1927 called “The Drag” (“A Homosexual Comedy in Three Acts“), which dealt “confidentially and frankly with the subject of male homosexuality“. The play opened in Bridgeport, Connecticut (!) where it was a sell-out on opening night and had many hopeful attendees turned away… but the play never made it to Broadway because of the fear of riots. There was even an urban legend that West herself was actually a man in drag or a hermaphrodite… a piece of gossip that sporadically is applied to other predominant female celebrities (Donna Summer, Jaime Lee Curtis, Lady Gaga, Ciara, and Megan Fox among them… ).

     She died at age 87 in 1980, just as a gay male sex revolution was exploding in New York City, San Francisco, and other urban areas… and just before the advent of the AIDS epidemic partly turned the pendulum in the other direction. Her last two movies, the X-rated “Myra Breckinridge” in 1970 and “Sextette” in 1978 (made when Mae was 86 years old!), are both misguided messes… and both are among my favorite movies of all time. Anyone seriously interested in the depiction of America’s sexual mores on the big screen in vintage Hollywood, however, is advised to check out Mae West’s collection of films from her glory days-- almost all of which are available on DVD. (E-mail me if you have trouble finding any of them.). Another of Mae’s quotes was, “Marriage is a fine institution, but I'm not ready for an institution.” Now, there’s a woman after my own heart!!!

     Get ready for Mae Day 2012!
 

ONLY HER HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE? A New Insight Into Marilyn Monroe's Last Days

ONLY HER HAIRDRESSER KNOWS FOR SURE?
A New Insight Into Marilyn Monroe’s Last Days
 
     It’s a distinctly American pop culture phenomenon that we are unyieldingly loyal to our Hollywood icons… even when it’s been almost 50 years since their death. It also seems to be a distinctly American pop culture phenomenon that at least once a year, a new piece of “news” emerges about the late sex symbol Marilyn Monroe: some of it fact, some of it gossip. Did you hear? There’s a video of Marilyn smoking pot! Did you hear? An X-ray of Marilyn’s famous chest and pelvis is estimated to go for $1,200 at Julien‘s Auctions in Beverly Hills! Did you hear? There’s a porn movie starring Marilyn Monroe floating around! That’s actually a commonly recurring one. As recently as June 2011, a Spanish collector planned to auction what he claimed was a newly discovered 8-mm version of a film showing Monroe having sex when she was still an underage actress known as Norma Jean Baker. For the record, at least one Marilyn Monroe expert said that the actress in that film was NOT our Marilyn.

     And then, there are the sporadically recurring conspiracy theories about how Marilyn died. We know that she died at age 36 on August, 5th, 1962. Her death was well established, through toxicology reports, to have been barbiturate poisoning. But if it was an overdose, was it accidental or intentional? Her death was officially documented as “probable suicide“. However, many people believe that Monroe was murdered. No murder charges were ever filed, yet Marilyn’s death has since become one of the most debated conspiracy theories of all time. Was the sex goddess murdered to keep her from speaking about a possible affair with Robert or John F. Kennedy? Was Marilyn somehow involved with the mob? Was her body moved after she died, or even right before she died? If so, why? A recent article by Chris Epting, author of “Marilyn Monroe Dyed Here: America’s Pop Culture Landmarks”, adds a new view into Monroe‘s last days. Epting listened to taped conversations between late celebrity hairdresser George Masters and Masters‘ nephew, Jeff Platts. Masters was Monroe’s personal stylist and frequent traveling companion. He was a star in his own right: a beauty expert to such celebs as Doris Day, Elizabeth Taylor, Ann-Margret, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, and others. Perhaps most interestingly, Masters created Dustin Hoffman’s look for the movie “Tootsie”. He also authored the popular 1977 book “The Masters Way to Beauty”. The stylist apparently had a close relationship with Monroe, his most well-known and lucrative client. Masters died in 1998, but left several tapes to his nephew, in which he spilled some deets about Marilyn’s life. Most historically significant was this: The evening before the day Marilyn died, Masters stated he picked up the actress and the two flew together on Frank Sinatra’s private plane to the Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe. Marilyn spent the evening in the casino with gangster Sam Giancana. The next morning, she returned home by about 9AM. In other words, she had visited the infamous Cal-Neva Lodge on August 4th, the day before she died: a fact which was not known previously. Other deets are mentioned, such as Masters’ opinion that Marilyn may have been in love with Sam Giancana. While the article does indeed raise some new questions, it seems to add more mystery to the Marilyn saga rather than offer any answers. Indeed, Masters’ recollections, which include some insight into Marilyn’s personality, does offer some juicy tidbits about the star’s life and persona which many will no doubt appreciate… but no bona fide facts about how she died.

     As a writer with interests in the GLBT world, people often ask me my opinion if a certain celeb, from A-list to D-list, is gay (or bi, or hermaphrodite, or whatever…) I have said over and over again, “You’ll have to ask them yourselves”. Without a statement from the person themselves or from a reliable direct source, you cannot prove facts about a person’s sexual orientation or behavior. So, how can we “prove“ something as serious as a murder conspiracy, especially when Monroe and almost all of the other supporting characters (The Kennedys, Masters, Giancana, Sinatra, Peter Lawford, etc…) are no longer alive, and even more especially considering that the facts are buried under almost 50 years of debris? The only two things that survive are (1) speculation, and (2) Monroe’s publicist Pat Newcomb, who is now in her 80’s and reportedly not talkin’. In 2008, a notorious book called "Hollywood Babylon: It's Back!" by Danforth Prince and Darwin Porter claimed as fact, among other things, that Monroe (1) worked as a prostitute early in her career, (2) made a porn movie with actor Guy Madison, and (3) had sexual dalliances with Ronald Reagan, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Rory Calhoun, Orson Welles, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, and many other famous men and women. In the follow-up, “Hollywood Babylon Strikes Again!”, the authors reiterate that Monroe indeed had affairs with both men and women, and was not above turning a trick or two when money was tight. The two books also make dozens of claims about stars’ personal lives, from the mildly amusing (Jayne Mansfield called her vagina “Suzi”.) to the lurid (Clark Gable had a “smegma problem”.), to claims about some celebs’ sexual practices that couldn’t be proven unless someone was hiding under the bed taking notes. Again, after someone is dead, it’s pretty easy to say anything about them. They can‘t fight back! But there’s a bigger question: Why is it so important to find out such specific detail how Marilyn died, especially 50 years later? Is it for the sake of historical accuracy alone? Some sociologists believe that if we can prove that high-profile stars who committed suicide (Kurt Cobain comes to mind…) actually did NOT commit suicide, it would be beneficial to those who see killing themselves as a “way out” (or even as “glamorous“), especially if that celebrity was a role model for young people. But this would probably not be the case with Monroe at this point in history.

     One of the beauty tips that George Masters offers in his beauty book was a secret he reportedly learned from Mae West: a daily enema. Ironically, in one of the aforementioned taped conversations, he also states that it was a Nembutal enema that killed Marilyn, and it may have been possibly murder. Yes, it may be 2012... But that’s still too much TMI for this culture vulture. I like to remember my vintage Hollywood icons in a glamorous light. And, in my opinion, it’s Marilyn Monroe’s life we should be preoccupied with… not her death.
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CHAZ BONO: Losing His Past, Finding Himself in "Transition"...


CHAZ BONO:
Losing His Past, Finding Himself in “Transition”...

     It‘s a true story that’s more intriguing than most fiction… and a story where the predominant themes are identity, acceptance, and ultimately, survival: A little girl grows up feeling “different“. She feels sexually attracted to other girls. She comes out as a lesbian to herself as well as to her family and friends, and ultimately finds acceptance. She also eventually finds true love. Later on, however, a restlessness motivated in part by the death of her soulmate causes her to believe that she may NOT be a lesbian, but rather may be a man trapped in a woman’s body. That is the stripped-down version of 41-year old Chaz Bono‘s “Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man“-- without giving Bono the credit as an accomplished musician, writer, and activist which he earned through the years as Chastity and then later as a man reborn as Chaz.

     Bono‘s third book is written in a very basic, almost laid-back style. It‘s without melodrama or overly indulgent language, even as he is describing some VERY personal details about his life, body and soul-- as well as the merciless schism that often arose between the two. With what Bono has to tell us (including issues of childhood abuse, addiction, cancer, the cruelty of the media, and depression alongside the predominant theme of gender identity disorder ), elaborations are not really needed. His childhood was imprinted with a feeling of being “different” as early as he can remember, with a marked difference between how his father Sonny and his mother Cher reacted to young Chastity‘s tomboy tendencies. While his father accepted his desire to dress and act like a boy, his glamorous mom did not. In an early anecdote in the book, Chaz recalls, “At the beginning of the second grade, my mother bought me a jean skirt with Wonder Woman patches on it. She demanded that I wear it to school. Now, I love superheroes-- but my favorite was the Hulk, certainly not Wonder Woman. I think she actually was trying to institute a wear-a-dress-or-skirt-once-a-week to-school rule at the time, so she made me wear the skirt… As I walked down the hall of my elementary school, my friend Jake saw me and quickly came up to me. ’What are you wearing?’ he asked. He was looking at me like I had two heads. ’Why are you dressed as a girl today?’… I was beyond mortified.” Chaz notes that after that emblematic incident, he never wore a skirt or dress again, and his mother never insisted he do so. Victory!

     In “Transition”, we learn about Chaz’ Bono’s life as Chastity in between his “two puberties“: a life that included coming out as a lesbian in a big way, and taking a stab at being a rock star in her own right. While Chastity was less than satisfied with her experience in the music industry (Hit single in Flint, Michigan notwithstanding, only the most ardent analysts of pop culture will remember her band Ceremony.), she found more success and satisfaction with writing and GLBT activism… which continues to this day now that Chastity is Chaz. There’s quite a difference between Bono’s “first puberty” at age 11 (a rather traumatic, unwelcome experience) and his “second puberty“, which was spearheaded by male hormone therapy 29 years later and was more joyous. Bono describes it as “an odd, but exhilarating, time. Through his own story, the reader learns a great deal about the experiences of FTM’s (female to male transsexuals). Chaz’ observations echo what many of his predecessors have stated: that they first identified as lesbians before realizing that they were really men born in women‘s bodies; that the “top surgery“ to remove the breasts was a major step in their happiness and identity, and-- perhaps most worthy of exploration-- how they receive more respect in our society as males than they do as females. That‘s a phenomenon which speaks volumes about the treatment of women in our society, even after years of so-called “enlightenment”. The education in sexual politics is not without its lighthearted moments: Some readers might find it amusing when Chaz learns that (1) straight guys generally don’t hug each other “hello“, and (2) unlike in the ladies’ room, men don’t socialize with each other in public restrooms.

     Chaz’ story may be familiar at least in part to many of his fellow FTM’s… but what is exceedingly uncommon about Bono‘s story, of course, is that Chaz was born in the glaring eye of celebrity, courtesy of some very famous parents. “For better or for worse, my parents’ decision to put me on their television show has shaped the course of my entire life. But even I can’t believe that the cherubic little girl from the television screen would grow up to be a middle-aged man.” Chaz writes. Clearly, he did not have the luxury of disappearing into a nice quiet life that the “transman next door” may have had. This is why I go nuts when some pinheads claim that Chaz Bono is only looking for publicity with his decision to tell the world about his transition. When someone is seen by millions of people on TV beginning with childhood, does that person really even have a choice but to be out in the public eye anyway? Why not own your own story? As Mr. Bono learned, it can be very empowering.

Monday, August 15, 2011

BULK The Series: This September, Love Is Rough!


BULK The Series:
This September, Love Is Rough!

     Let’s face it: Life in the big city can be tough, and it’s even harder when you‘re a sensitive, single guy on the search for a hairy, beary guy to call your own. “BULK” is a new web series set in the Bear community of New York City. The much-anticipated Internet saga follows one character as he looks for love-- sometimes, as the song goes, “in all the wrong places“. Along the way, there’s drama, comedy, a cast of colorful characters, and some unapologetically hot sex. “BULK” will be available to viewers worldwide on the Internet… one of the benefits, you might have deduced, of being a web series. The man behind the groundbreaking new series is Award-winning writer/performer J. Julian Christopher. Raised on Long Island and now living in New York City, Christopher has written and produced the new series and will be playing the main character, Leo Duran. Christopher’s high school friend D.R. Knott has directed about half of the 10 episodes, and is also a Writer and Executive Producer of the series as well. Other episodes were directed by Michael O’Gorman and Merle Augustin.
J. Julian Christopher tells me about his long involvement with the Bear world: “I definitely have been a part of it since I came to New York. Ty‘s, The Dugout (now Rockbar), and The Eagle are the places I was going. I love the Bear community for so many reasons. It’s just like with any family: everyone has their own relationship with it. Sometimes you’re mad at them, but you still love them! This series to be is not necessarily a celebration of the Bear community, but a celebration of people’s lives, and people who I have known who have influenced some of these characters. And it’s nice to give representation to a community that has gotten very little representation. That’s why I am very thankful for ‘Bear City‘, and I am looking forward to ‘Bear City 2‘. It’s great to have all these different images of the Bear community. Many people see gay people as a certain type of person, and they don’t realize that there’s a whole different array. So, I think that representing the Bear community in the media is a great thing to do. Many times I’ve seen queer cinema and theater, and it’s just about ‘being gay‘. We are not really looking to cater to straight audiences. We love straight audiences, of course! (Laughs) But we are not looking to necessarily cater to them, or to introduce our audience members to what the Bear community is. This is FOR the gay and Bear communities, and if other people really get attached to these stories, then that’s great too… but we are not necessarily going to define what anything is for them. These characters are living in their world, and there’s no ‘explanation‘ needed for them.” Fans of will get a chance to get inside the world of J. Julian Christopher’s characters next month. The artist sat with Jed Ryan to talk about “BULK“: 

JR: Congratulations about “BULK”!
JJC: Yes. We’re excited about it.

JR: Where did the idea for the series come from?
JJC: It came about a while ago. It’s been almost a three year process. It was early 2008. A friend of mine, (D.R. Knott) and I went to high school together. She went to Columbia for film, and I had been playwriting. We wanted to collaborate. She was asking me what story I wanted to tell. I was trying to think about under-represented stories. I mentioned the possibility of examining the bear community, and she automatically said, “Why don’t we do something in regards to the Bear community?” It’s not going to represent the entire Bear community, but rather it’s a story that takes place in that environment. Because, it’s imagery that you don’t usually see. The usual “gay stories” are of people of a certain stereotype, so we wanted to do something that was a little different. So, we thought that putting the story in the backdrop of the bear community would be an interesting way to do it. We got together, wrote the characters, and created a series from it.
JR: So, it’s been about a three year journey then?
JJC: Absolutely. We had it written for a long time, but we had to make sure we funded it correctly so that we could do it the right way… and then get the right actors. We had a bunch of readings before we went into production. We built up a crew… and we started filming in February.

JR: D R Knott, your friend and Director, is a woman… so where does her affinity for the Bear community come from?
JJC: She’s a really good storyteller, and she wanted to tell a really great story. We’ve been friends forever, and she’s been fantastic as far as supporting me and the community. She said, “We don’t really see a lot of this: men who are bigger, and gay, and have real lives with real stories." We are both dramatic writers, so we wanted it more in the vein of drama rather than comedy. There IS humor in it, but it’s definitely more dramatic. Interestingly enough, she was a big proponent of creating the sexual tension in the series. She’s been great, authentic… and just fantastic!

JR: Nice! Now, let‘s talk about the characters…
JJC: Leo Duran (played by myself) is the lead character. This is basically Leo’s story. He is getting over a breakup-- a bad breakup that ended about a year ago. His ex is named Guy. (played by Jim Noonan). He is trying to get over that relationship and trying to get back into the community. He has been kind of a hermit, and hasn‘t really gone out. He goes back to the bar scene, to Ty’s. Ty’s is where we filmed the bar scenes, by the way. They were great to work with. He gets back into the community and meets a guy, and then it’s his journey of getting into a new relationship-- running into his ex and all of that juicy drama that goes along with that.

JR: Now, it’s tempting to say that you might have based Leo a little on yourself. Is Leo based a little bit on yourself, or are any of these characters based upon real-life people you know in general?
JJC: I guess you can say that anything I write is somewhat based upon personal experience, but nothing is straight out of my life. It’s very different from the play I wrote and produced, “Man Boobs” (with Robert Valin, also in the series; and Jeffrey Marx). That was really semi-autobiographical, but this is fiction. But yeah, personal experiences with love and with break-ups and all that stuff: that definitely plays a part.

JR: I wanted to ask how the Bear community has reacted so far… but you wouldn’t know because the series is not out yet!
JJC: (Laughs) No one has seen anything except the trailer. To be quite honest, the series is not specifically “Bear” per se. There are Bear characters, and it does take place in the Bear community… but it’s pretty much just about relationships. It’s just real people, set in the backdrop of the Bear community. The characters in “BULK” are really comfortable with their bodies, some more than others-- like everyone else. They are really comfortable with who they are. They are just living their lives and then the drama unfolds… without revealing too much!

JR: Speaking about “revealing”… is “BULK” going to be, shall we say, “for adults only” in terms of language, sex, nudity, and all that?
JJC: Yes! There’s definitely R-rated language, and there may be some brief nudity here and there, but only tasteful of course (laughs). We wanted to make it a really raw exploration of theses people’s lives: their relationships and sexual prowess.

JR: Cool! The reason I ask is because I know that many artists have to “tone down“ the more risqué aspects of their work, either to secure funding or for other reasons…
JJC: That’s what‘s wonderful about the web. There are not many restrictions based on that… yet! So, we are able to do a little bit more rather than if we were under some blanket of censorship, from a network or something like that. We wanted each episode to be in the vicinity of four to six minutes or something like that, for the short attention spans of internet users! We wanted to keep it really simple. There will be ten episodes. So, yes, it is rather explicit, because we wanted to make it raw and make it as real as possible. The character’s truths are not to be censored. That’s the world that they live in… which is another reason why we picked that avenue of the web.

JR: The idea of watching a series on the web is becoming more and more popular, but for guys like us that grew up “watching TV” only on a TV-- not on a computer-- it’s still something of a revolutionary idea… kind of like the equivalent of getting your news on the web instead of from a newspaper, or reading a book on a Kindle instead of an actual book.
JJC: True! We wanted to use new technology and try to come out at the forefront of all that’s new, and go with it and see what happens. This is where entertainment is going right now, and so we really wanted to do that. It’s easier, with censorship and all that, to go in that vein. It’s still a new avenue to explore.

JR: As a Writer and Producer, who is one of your influences?
JJC: The theater is mostly my background-- so as a Writer, definitely Paddy Chayefsky. He wrote the screenplays for “Marty“ with Ernest Borgnine and “Network” with Faye Dunaway. He also wrote a brilliant play called “The Latent Heterosexual“. Someone like him tells these very interesting, intricate, and personal stories. His writing is very dialogue-based, and he plays with language. He’s definitely one of my all-time biggest influences, for the screen and for the theater. Definitely Paddy Chayefsky. He’d be the one!

JR: As Writer and Producer, as it difficult to be “just“ an Actor in the series without getting tempted to be “behind the camera” as well as in front of it?
JJC: D.R. and I handpicked the directors. I’ve worked with Mike (O’Gorman) many times, and D.R. worked with Merle (Augustin) over and over again, so we knew that we had a similar vision and aesthetic. We talked with them about the aesthetic that we were looking for. We trusted them implicitly. None of the episodes seem like they are done by different directors. They are all very linked; a shared vision, if you will. And, D.R. was always there on the days she wasn‘t directing, to also give input if she felt it was going in a different direction-- so that we could all “keep it together and make it as cohesive as possible.” In the series, I was just able to put on my “Actor Hat” when in front of the camera, rather than my “Producer Hat”. That way I could really do the best acting job as possible .



JR: If you could pick one dream actor to appear on an episode of “BULK”, regardless of whether it was practical or regardless of cost, who would it be?
JJC: Ooh… I don’t know! Maybe John Goodman?!
JR: (Laughs) Well, maybe he’s available! It’s worth asking! How about Kevin Smith?
JJC: Yeah! Or Zach Galifianakis? That‘s like the “dream cast“!

JR: Sounds great! Now, a hard thing for a lot of artists is to balance your creative side with living day to day and having to make money. Do you think that managing that balance is the hardest part of being an independent artist?
JJC: It’s extremely hard. We filmed the series over 13 days, and only on weekends… because we knew that everyone had other jobs that they needed to do. So, with 10 episodes, it was a long shoot. They are short episodes, but since we since we were only doing it on weekends, we went over a few months shooting it. It was very hard to go back and forth between weekends after a long break and say, “OK. Where were we?” It’s always hard to juggle what you want to do with what you can get paid for-- actually, getting paid for what you don’t necessarily want to do! I’m fortunate enough that I teach at a college, and I love teaching. It’s one of my passions. So, I am fortunate enough t o be making money doing something that I love to do, as well as having this independent project that I also love. So, I am fortunate in that regard. But it‘s always a struggle. It‘s always hard working on a budget. A lot of stuff that we wanted to do in our dreams, we have had to scale back on. The best thing about working independently and working on a low budget is that it almost forces you to be more creative. If you have the money to do everything you want to do, it’s already there. With a budget, you have to think, “How can we make this just as good without having to blow our budget on a specific location?” We sometimes had to rewrite the script to make it work and to make it fit into our budget, and then it ended up being great. The Bear community was just so wonderful as far as helping us. Ty‘s was so great for letting us have their space for an entire weekend, from early in the until when they opened in the afternoon. They were so generous in lending us their space! Rockbar let us do a fundraiser there. The Boys of BEAR-lesque performed to raise money too. A lot of people from the community believed in the project and donated to it, and it was really nice to feel accepted and have everyone saying, “Great job!”

 
JR: Now, one last question: What makes “BULK: The Series” unique?
JJC: Aside from it being on the Web? (Laughs) What I would love people to walk away with is: (1) seeing representations of themselves physically, and (2) identifying with these characters. The show is about the search for love, which we can all identify with. Leo, the main character, is searching for love, and he sometimes makes a few wrong turns. How is he gonna handle that, and then correct that without making the same mistakes?

JR: Well, I for one look forward to finding out too! Thanks, Jules! 

     J. Julian Christopher concludes with, “We had a lot of fun writing it, and a lot of fun filming it. We hope people have as much of fun watching it. That’s really the ‘BULK’ of it!” Visit www.BulktheSeries.com for more, and follow “BULK” on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/BULK-The-Series/116965615020078

“ALL BEAR”: Not Your Father’s Wank Mag! (But It Might Be Your Daddy's!...)



 “ALL BEAR”: Not Your Father’s Wank Mag!
(But It Might Be Your Daddy’s!…)
     In the world of “bear-otica”, the online magazine “ALL BEAR” has become a very popular new kid on the block. And that‘s a block with some very woofy neighbors! It makes you realize how much times have changed since a lot us were horny but closeted teens trying to maintain our dignity while buying a copy of “Playgirl” at the local 7-11 (or risk getting caught shoplifting…). As erotica moves away from paper to webzine format, “ALL BEAR” jumped right in. The PDF mag is available worldwide at the click of a mouse… and at $2.40 an issue, that’s a lot of “Grrr!“ for your money! “ALL BEAR” features photo spreads of a wide range of hot and hairy models-- all of them, if you’ll forgive a too-obvious pun, showing off their “bear assets“. You‘ll see everything from amateur Grade A beef to the men of “Bear Films”, one of the most popular Bear porn studios. What you WON’T find is a single twink in any of the 10 issues of “ALL BEAR”. With all the hirsute heat, you may have a hard (ahem…) time scrolling through each issue before your computer screen goes into hibearnation… plus, chances are you‘ll run out of paper towels along the way. The newest issue, Issue 10, features an extended pictorial of Bear couples. Issue 11, featuring an interview with and photo spread of “ginger bear” porn model Buck Ramsey, is due to be out on September 12th.  True, the average issue of “All-Bear” is jam packed with more testosterone than a rugby team drink-up at the local pub. There‘s also erotic fiction, adults-only artwork, and porn DVD reviews. But what makes “All Bear” more than just… shall we say, “masturbation material” is that the magazine has its paw firmly on the pulse of Bear culture. In addition to features and stories, “ALL BEAR” has interviews with and profiles of some of the most dynamic Bears and Bear-supporters on both sides of the Atlantic. Each ish features some nice eye candy with photos of woofy celebs (gay and straight) from the worlds of music, athletics, film/TV, and more. There are also some intimate interviews with the likes of DJ Tim McLoone, writers Paul Chandler and Tony Morgan; “Bear City” director Doug Langway and “Bear City” star/musician Blake Evan Sherman; adult film stars Boyd Summers, Joe X and Jim Grrowl; and Bear Title Holders JD Leggett (Mr. International Bear 2010) and Joe Mannetti (His Titles include Mr. International Daddy Bear 2009). Actor/model Mannetti, in fact, is also a columnist for the magazine. And, not to forget our Goldilockses, one Issue features an interview with singer/songwriter Jill Sobule (the voice behind 1995‘s “I Kissed a Girl” and 2010‘s “The Bear Song”).

The man behind “ALL BEAR” is 51-year old Brit Colin Gunn, who is Creator and Editor of the magazine. Colin, who lives in the town of Stroke-on-Tent… uh, I mean, Stoke-on-Tent (a city which Colin says is “full of Bears”), is happily partnered to Matt for four years. Colin and I spoke about his renegade magazine:
JR: Hello, Colin! Greetings from New York City! So, to start off, when did you first realize that you were, for lack of a more original name, a “Bear lover“? (Hmmm… actually, we should invent a new, exciting term for us guys who love our big and hairy brothers! Contest, anyone?)
CG: Well if I am to be honest, it was at an early age: around 13 or 14. It was at a seaside resort in the UK during one summer and I saw a big, built guy in his late 40’s-- very hairy, and wearing nothing but these light blue, towel-like material shorts. I could not take my eyes off him. And, the fact he was flying very loosely under those shorts helped! (Laughs) From then on I have always been attracted to big hairy guys.
JR: I know the feeling! So, how was the idea of “ALL BEAR” Magazine conceived?
CG: Believe it or not it, it was whilst reading a PDF “Doctor Who” fanzine. I thought to myself that I could do something like this and share a passion. That passion being, of course, BEARS!!!!!! In June 2009, I did a mock up for fun cover of an imaginary Bear magazine showing my partner Matt off in all his glory (that infamous cover appears in “The Best of ‘ALL BEAR‘ 2010“). From that cover, the idea for “ALL BEAR” was born. What followed then was months of research. Yep, research! (Laughs). I wanted “ALL BEAR” to be different from what had come before. I wanted it to appeal to everyone, and highlight that you don’t have to have a 6-pack to be in it. I wanted the everyday man to have his moment in the magazine through the “Featured Guy” pages. Their was only one stipulation and that was, and still is: if you are hairy and stocky/big build you are in. I also wanted to show off the talents of writers and Bear artists, and to freely promote them along with promoting Bear organizations, events, and websites as well. I was also aware of how difficult it is for our Middle Eastern Bear followers to be able to get a publication of this nature, so I wanted to be able to bring a mag that would be ‘safe’ (for want of a better term) for them to enjoy as well as everyone else. I then contacted a lot of my “pals” on various personal sites that I was a member of, asking what type of mag would best suit everyone, i.e. hard copy paper one, or digital one. Out of around 300 plus people I asked, 98% said digital. A vast proportion of them were Middle Eastern or “STR8” guys, many saying it is safer for them to have a PDF version as it was easier to hide away or destroy-- rather than a paper-based one. (Having such material in the Middle East is a criminal offence). Then came the idea of making it a not-for-profit venture. I wanted to share my passion for our Bear brethren, but also wanted the magazine to be easily accessible to everyone-- so I decided, like in the good old days of the fanzine, “ALL BEAR” would be non-profit making. I worked out the monthly hosting fee for the site, the cost of all the software and updates used for it, and came up with the very low price for it…a price that will never ever rise. A promise I intend to keep! One of my biggest bug bears is that people think I make money from this. We live in a far too-commercial world these days, and not many remember the good old days where people did something because they enjoyed doing it and wanted to share with others! In fact, I am very much out-of- pocket with “ALL BEAR“, but I carry on with it because I enjoy it. And if “ALL BEAR” ever starts turning a profit, then anything made after the cost of the magazine’s outlay would be donated to a charity. So a few months later, after being fairly happy with what I had found out, Issue One was released in February 2010. It was very trial and error, and to some extent a bit rushed, and bears very little resemblance to what “ALL BEAR” is today. You can see a clear evolution through the issues to what it is now!
JR: A while back, “ALL BEAR” was boasting a “new look”. How has the reaction been so far?
CG: I cannot believe the response I get from the new look. It has been very positive, and many people think the magazine looks like it’s a professional-looking magazine that you could buy in a store, put together by a team of like-minded individuals. When people find out that in fact it’s 99 percent “me” that puts it all together-- layout and design, editing, getting all the guys’ photos and articles, website design, upkeep of the website and the blog, Facebook, publicity… to name just a fraction of what I do, et cetera-- they don’t believe it! (Laughs) I spend around 40 to 60 hours a week on it at times.
I do sometimes miss the “old” look, but I do think that this new look has a more polished feel to it.
JR: I’ll make a safe bet that most of the guys who read “ALL BEAR” do so for the hot and hairy photos! I myself have a hard (ahem…) time getting past those layouts. Woof! But “ALL BEAR” also has an incredible variety of other great and intelligent stuff: interviews, fiction, artwork, news, and lots more. Do you ever want to just throw your hands in the air and scream, “Hey guys… there’s more to ‘ALL BEAR’ than just naked bears!“?
CG: My aim with “ALL BEAR” was always to make it more than just a “wank mag“. I wanted to strike a reasonable balance of eye candy and articles/stories/interviews, et cetera. I think now I have. Many comments I get are along the lines of “Great mag, about time we had something to read as well as being able to pull one off over – a true full package” (Laughs) My job is done! (Laughs) Predominantly “ALL BEAR” will always be about the pictures; after all, we ALL like to look at pics of hot looking guys… but that does not mean that we cannot have text-based items in as well. Their are some incredibly talented writers out there who I have had the good fortune to feature, like Sean Cockwell and BearquestMN to name just two. And I hope more come on board as well.
JR: While on the subject of “cumming” (ahem), where do you get the models who are in the exclusive “ALL BEAR” photo shoots? Do a lot of guys send in their pictures? That must be hot!
CG: Well as I have said before, I wanted the everyday man to have his spot in the limelight, so to speak. So ALL the guys that have been featured are all from personal sites, like Bearwww.com, Facebook etc. They cannot believe it when I ask them. They think its a wind up (Laughs), and many doubt that they should even be considered to take part in a magazine because they don’t have a six pack or muscled arms!!! One guy I featured actually cried as he could not believe I thought him worthy enough (his words) to even be considered. It helped his confidence no end being featured, and he gets quite a few e-mails from guys after being seen in the magazine.  I do think that some of the other magazines out there have forgotten what a Bear is, and its this stigma that makes people think they have no chance of being in a magazine. I wanted to break that mould. It’s all in the title, really: “ALL BEAR“-- chubby, young, old, middle aged, muscled, et cetera… it’s “ALL BEAR”! Another thing I thought of would be get the Featured Guys to send their own pics in. This in itself opens up “ALL BEAR” to be a true international affair, as it meant no matter what country you live in, you can be in the magazine. But something I felt was important was: if people sent their pics in, as opposed to us doing photo shoots, that meant that the individual to be featured would have TOTAL control over what was going to be shown in the magazine. For instance, I ask for around 10 to 14 pictures to be sent in to work from. If I use only 8 of the pics, then the person who sent the set in is OK with what I show, as they sent them in. However, if we went out and took a load of pictures and I choose one that I think may be good, but after it has been in the magazine the individual turns around and says “I wished you had not used that one of me.”, then I felt things could get messy. By sending them in, the individual has said “I don’t mind what you use of these, as I have OK’d them.” It saves a lot of time and hassle and also gives some control of the magazine content over to the individuals that appear.
JR: Gotcha! Now, “ALL BEAR” sometimes uses pictures of hot guys from the so-called “public domain”. Has anyone ever objected to their picture unwillingly showing up in the magazine?
CG: I spend a lot of time considering what goes in the “Internet Zone“. It is one of the most popular sections of the magazine. Again it’s our Middle Eastern friends who appreciate this section more then anything, as it collects together some of the better pics on the net so they don’t have to spend the time looking through the internet. In fact, I also get lots of emails from ‘STR8’ guys saying thank you for this section. The aim of that section, for me, is: If a picture appears in that section then it means, “Hello, what a hot looking guy!” And it is meant to solely honour the individual. I did get an e-mail once that had the subject heading “I wished you had said you were going to use a picture of me!!!” Before I read the actual message itself, i thought, “Oh shit!” But the message then went on to say if I had told him, he would have sent loads more pictures in. In fact, he did and has been a Featured Guy since. Another thing I do with every picture is try to find out if any copyright goes with the picture. If their is a copyright notice on the picture, I stay well clear from it. Anyone wishing to protect their work must ALWAYS put a copyright notice on there image. If no notice is on it, I then run every picture through Photoshop which tells you if any copyright has been tagged within the picture itself but cannot be seen. I have to confess, I do not like this form of stealth copyrighting. It stinks of trying to entrap someone. If you took the image and you think its good enough to show on the internet-- after all, it got out there some way-- then put a clear copyright notice on it. If a picture is of a fairly well-known guy on the internet, then I contact them to ask if its OK to put that particular picture of them in the section. If anyone does ever object, all I can do is assure them that it is there because of how hot as a picture and a guy I thought he was… and I only wanted to honour the individual. And then, of course, to try and get him to be a Featured Guy (Laughs). But I always stress to these guys we are NON-PROFIT making.






JR: “ALL BEAR” is different from a lot of erotic magazines of the past because it’s only available in on-line or PDF form. Do you think people miss the “old school” feeling of actually holding a printed magazine in their hands?
CG: I would love “ALL BEAR” to have a paper incarnation. But it’s down to finances. Plus, I think it would lose what was the original intent of the project in making it accessible to everyone, worldwide.  I did start on doing an A5 36-page version on paper called “ALL BEAR Digest“, which would have been a collection of some of the best of the main magazine with one or two exclusives for the digest version. Because of content, it would have to be made and produced in-house; so again, it was finances that held it back. Plus, it would have had to cost a lot more for this than the main PDF version. So, I took that into consideration as well, and felt that it would make it too commercial and would not go with the message of what “ALL BEAR” was all about. That is not to say in the future, I would not reconsider it. But everyone seems to like the digital version more, because of its look and accessibility.
JR: Well, I for one am enjoying it… and I don’t have to worry about getting the pages sticking together (Laughs)! Now, do you have a model who was particularly popular with the readers?
CG: Oh God, their have been plenty. But one in particular did seem to wake everyone up (Laughs). As soon as I released the cover to issue 9, featuring JJ Begley on Facebook, and on the “ALL BEAR” website and blog, I was plagued with emails requesting that I release the issue early. And that is no exaggeration. That cover is rather good, after all. And of course there is Buck Ramsey (Issue 11) as well who has indeed been getting the same response… and we have a returning Feature Guy coming up in Issue 12 that really got everyone’s pulse racing… and that was Brutus, who shares more hot pics with us and is also featured on that issue’s cover. I like to tempt the readers in with those covers! (Laughs)
JR: It works! As Editor, you have the job of looking at dozens of photos of hot, hairy men. It’s a hard job (ahem…), but somebody’s gotta do it! But what do YOU personally find most sexy in a guy?
CG: Yes, it can get to be a bit of a chore at times. NOT! (Laughs) But that question is an easy one to answer: killer smile, fun personality, shaved/short head hair, hairy and stocky to big build. Gets me every time. Think Bob Hoskins in the “Long Good Friday“ or “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and you won’t go far wrong!
JR: Who would be your ideal celebrity or well-known personality to appear “au naturel” in “ALL BEAR”?
CG: Oh my God, what a tough question. Where to start? Bob Hoskins, James Gandolfini, Steven Spiers, Patrick Cox, Michael Chiklis, Kevin James, Nick Frost, Mark Addy… and that is just off the top of my head!
JR: (Laughs) Imagine having them all at the same photoshoot! You better have a really great caterer! (Laughs) Now, what exciting things do you have in store for us for the next few issues of “ALL BEAR”?
CG: Well as I type this I am thinking and planning out the next eight issues of “ALL BEAR“. I do not want to give to much away but their are some really hot guys coming up in the Featured Guys section. Subscribers will be getting a little “Thank you!“ in December in the form of a free 36-page (minimum) special Christmas Edition of “ALL BEAR“… and the cover for this is another fantastic picture of Jesse. This will ONLY be available to subscribers of the current run of issues (10-12). I am toying with the idea of dong a special Collected Edition of all the fiction that has appeared in the magazine… but not sure about it yet. But it is something I would love to do. So, I will be approaching all the writers soon with that idea. There are some great interviews lined up with Bear celebrities, and I am hoping to be doing something special for the guys over on “Bear City 2“. I am also thinking of Collecting “ALL BEAR”’s back catalogue to date on a CD-ROM, which will be in a jewel case with front and back cover, along with disc label. This will then mean something physical for our readers to have. If this idea took off, then I would think doing that for each issue. And of course, I am always on the look out for more guys to feature; and for anyone who wants to contribute a story or article, they are always welcome. Contributions secures “ALL BEAR”’s future. As a final word, I would just like to thank everyone who supports “ALL BEAR“, either through buying it or through contributing to it. “ALL BEAR” is done for all you guys out there, and I hope you will enjoy it for a long time to come!
JR: Well, I’m enjoying it, that’s for sure! Thanks for speaking with me, Colin!
     Pictures, stories, features, erotica, dirty cartoons, interviews… The only thing missing is a “scratch and sniff” feature! Colin, are you listening? Visit http://www.all-bear.co.uk/ for more!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

JUDY GOLD’S RETRO REMOTE CONTROL. "The Judy Show" Is A Real Turn-On!



     “The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom” is the name of statuesque comedian/actor Judy Gold’s new one-woman theater piece. It would also be the name of her TV show… if she had one, that is. And Judy wants her own sitcom badly-- because, as she points out, “sitcom= second bathroom“! Throughout the show, Our Ms. Gold bemoans the fact that despite her out-of-the-ordinary life (She’s an out and proud lesbian mother of two, making a living as a comic and actress in New York City…), her attempts to get a show of her own have been as futile as Natalie on “The Facts of Life” trying to get laid. The intimate space of New York City’s DR2 Theater works well for “The Judy Show”. The audience is warmed up with those oh-so-familiar sitcom themes, as well as the stage décor: glossy promo photos from all the TV shows we knew and loved. Those shows include “The Brady Bunch” (Judy‘s favorite, we learn later…), “The Golden Girls“, “Bewitched”, “Who’s the Boss?”, “Growing Pains”, “Good Times”, and more. Throughout “The Judy Show”, Gold parallels the perfect life we all saw on that TV screen in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s with her own tumultuous life and career path. As it turns out, Judy emerged triumphant as a comic largely because she found the humor throughout the journey of her life, even when that journey included such preteen horrors as… sleepaway camp!

     To state the obvious, “The Judy Show” is VERY autobiographical. Like her fellow funny peer and “All American Girl” co-star Margaret Cho, Ms. Gold brings her mother into the show quite often. She also tells us about her hometown (“Even the ghetto in ‘Good Times‘ was better than Clark, New Jersey!”), her neurotic Jewish family dynamics, high school (“…like ’The Diary of Anne Frank‘, but no place to hide!”), and more. The humorous anecdotes continued even as Ms. Gold started to become a familiar face on TV: when filming a cameo as a Barnes and Nobles bookstore worker on an episode of “Sex and the City”, Sarah Jessica Parker actually asked Judy, “So, how long have you been working at Barnes and Noble?” Arrggh! Audiences of “The Judy Show” are destined to learn a few new things too. Anyone who’s seen Judy live or on TV knows that she’s funny, but did you know that she can play the piano… and that she can sing?! And did you know that “ Room 222” (1969-1972), one of Judy’s favorite TV shows growing up, was one of the first TV dramas that featured an African-American teacher and white students? Neither did I.

     “The Judy Show” is hilarious, loud, bold, outrageous, and occasionally bordering on over-the-top (I for one love hearing Judy scream!)… with some truly-- dare I say?-- heartfelt moments. One of them is when she reveals her “Eureka!” moment: After a performance for her fellow college students, she realized that her life‘s ambition was to be a performer. She never changed her pathway. Judy may be the coolest single mom in showbiz today, but this multi-tasking matriarch isn’t above telling an R-rated joke at the expense of Chaz Bono or her, shall we say, “va jay jay”! Incidentally, Natalie did eventually DID get a man to have sex with her (The episode “My First Time”, in February 1988), so I’m still holding out hope for a Judy Gold sitcom. In the meantime, don’t miss “The Judy Show: My Life as a Sitcom”. As the news tells us: Even in this crappy economy, Gold is always a great investment.

     “The Judy Show” is playing at The DR2 Theater. The show has been extended until October 22nd due to popular demand. Visit www.JudyGold.com for more info or for tickets