Thursday, June 28, 2012


A Review

The title of Angela Bowie’s vibrant new book is titillating enough, but what exactly does it mean? According to the author herself, “’Lipstick Legends’ are people who pushed the envelope, and helped redefine sexual mores in the 1970‘s. Their story is a little bit beautiful, a whole lot brassy!” In the book’s prologue, “Gender Trickery”, she summarizes about how music and fashion in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s changed the pathway of human sexuality… and when, for the first time ever, it was suddenly “chic” to be gay or bisexual or to explore androgyny in many circles. This was largely thanks to the renegade styles of male rock stars who started wearing makeup, colorful unisex clothes, and long hair… along with the parallel phenomena of the freer hippie lifestyle and the newly burgeoning gay and women’s lib. Ms. Bowie was watching all of this with her own absorbent eyes, and she now shares it all in “Lipstick Legends”.

Throughout her life, the 62-year old Ms. Bowie (born Mary Angela Barnett) has dabbled in singing, acting, modeling, and writing… yet most people will still identify her “the ex-wife of David Bowie“ or the rumored inspiration of the Rolling Stones‘ 1973 hit “Angie“. The fact that she’s still most widely known as David’s ex is a low down dirty shame. Indeed, Angela does dedicate a chapter of the book (“Rebel Rebel: The Marketing of David Bowie”) to her wild and crazy time with the pop music chameleon. She personally takes credit for David’s exploration of androgyny, which apparently was a ripening phenomenon in music in that particular era… and, subsequently, a catalyst for changing cultural and sexual mores in the UK and the States. And, before you ask, she does also re-tell the infamous, oft-repeated story about how she came home from a trip and found her hubby-to-be David in bed with Mick Jagger: “I ran upstairs and sure enough it was Mick. Oh well, ’boys will be boys.’ In my voix de Stentor tone of speaking I said, ’Anyone for coffee, breakfast, orange juice?’… ’Oh yes please,’ came the response, ’I’m a little hung over Ange.’ It was not a cause of drama, between David and I. It was just another day.” Soon afterward, they married and had a child, film director Duncan Jones. They divorced in 1980.

However, marriage to the man who’d be known as Thin White Duke and Ziggy Stardust aside, this is a woman who has indeed made a name for herself in her own right, perhaps most successfully as a writer. As a author/journalist, Angela Bowie has written articles for “Vogue” and “Harper’s Bazaar”, and also wrote three books, one of which was named “The Pocket Guide to Bisexuality“ (Ms. Bowie proudly identifies herself as bisexual.). With “Lipstick Legends”, the author indeed shares her story about her own unique life (including her own unapologetic sexuality, and her journey to find herself in the entertainment biz), peppered with her own liberated views on sex, drugs, fashion, politics, etc. But in writing about her own experiences, she also establishes herself as one of our experts on pop culture. I might add, this was pop culture at its most exciting and defiant. Loaded with priceless anecdotes, statistic, and facts, Bowie paints a portrait of another, just as turbulent and colorful marriage: The marriage between pop culture (fashion and music) and modern societal mores and attitudes. It is a long-term relationship that continues to this day, with the pendulum constantly swinging from left to right based on the political landscape. “Lipstick Legends” features Bowie’s often fascinating interviews/and or discussions with a wide range of movers and shakers, from shock rocker Alice Cooper and legendary actress/feminist icon Mae West (whom she interviewed in the ‘70’s) to such unsung heroes of the music and showbiz scene, such as Cherry Vanilla, Jayne (formerly Wayne) County, Chris Robison of The New York Dolls, Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Chick Cashman, Kim Fowley (Who she lovingly refers to as “the world’s oldest rent boy and its most prolific music producer!“), and MANY more. She also devotes a great deal of book space to conversations with celebrity biographer Mark Bego, himself a bona fide expert on pop culture. Writer interviewing writer? How about THAT?! Bowie also pays ample homage to other icons who “broke the roles“ in various ways, including Elton John, Cher, The Village People, Boy George, and many others.

At her book party, I told Angie Bowie that in some ways she has her work cut out for her: Any book with the word “lipstick” in the title is bound to be a hit with the gay guys. What’s her message to the gay boys? “It’s been so much fun having all of you here. You guys are the life of the party! I send you all lots of love… and I’ll see you on the dance floor!” FYI, the rumor that “Angie” was based on Ms. Bowie was debunked by Mr. Jagger himself, although Angela was indeed the subject of two of David’s songs. But after reading “Lipstick Legends“, I may just write my own love song to Angela Bowie!

“Lipstick Legends” is now available in hardcover.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


“I Hate Everyone… Starting With Me” by Joan Rivers:
A Review

I hate when they charge you two bucks plus tax for a large cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts in New York City, and the clerk still acts like he‘s doing you a favor for buying it. I hate when guys in the locker room at the gym shimmy into their underwear underneath a towel after a shower. I hate a certain “doctor” on TV who dispenses weight loss advice to desperate female audiences, but who’s fat himself. I hate string beans… I also hate celebrity autobiographies that feature a boring, perfunctory “childhood” (AKA, “before they were famous”) chapter in the beginning of the book. It’s BORING! Unless it was a celeb whose early years were all fucked up by drugs, sex, or white slavery, then I’m not interested.

But I LOVE Joan Rivers’ new book, “I Hate Everyone… Starting With Me”. Thankfully, Ms. Rivers’ new book is not a biography or a memoir… although it is definitely a book that only our Joan herself could write. It isn’t that I’m not totally fascinated by every little detail about the life of this pop culture icon… but at age 79, shouldn’t Joan Rivers… well, just be Joan Rivers? It’s much more fun than Being John Malkovich (Yawn!) or Being Bobby Brown (Yucch!). This is Joan unleashed, baby… and no one is safe! When I say “no one”, I mean NO ONE… and that includes old people, child stars, gypsies, reality stars who act like they have talent, people who are too polite, waiters who introduce themselves, “people persons”, Paris Hilton (remember her?), etc…

This is actually Ms. Rivers’ 11th book. Her other literary endeavors have included everything from self-
help, (“Bouncing Back: I've Survived Everything ... and I Mean Everything ... and You Can Too!” in 1997) to fiction (“Murder at the Academy Awards: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery” in 2009) to books about her jewelry. Given Joan’s work ethic and her seemingly endless vim and vigor (Make that vim, vigor and vinegar!), this likely won’t be her last book either. However, since everyone from the late Dinah Shore (who reportedly used to give cheap gifts) to Snooki get the Joan Rivers treatment, there may not be anyone left to offend unless “The Real Housewives of Akron, Ohio” comes to the screen fast. No one, living or dead, escapes Joan’s post-menopausal rants: In the chapter “Location, Location, Location”, she declares, “I hate Houston. It’s crawling with bugs. Oh wait, that’s Whitney Houston; I’m sorry, my bad. Can I just mention that Whitney looked fabulous at the Grammy’s? She was in mahogany from head to toe.”

She states that she loves gay and lesbian parents, but adds, “I think we need a law that says lesbians and gay men have to raise their children together. This way, the kids would not only know how to build bookshelves, but they’d also instinctively know how to decorate them.” She also hates forest rangers: “As an adult I know that bears really aren’t friendly, harmless creatures who talk to people about preventing forest fires. Bears are husky, hairy gay men who wear leather chaps with the asses cut out”. Snap! Surely America’s sweetheart, Betty White, is spared? No! “Everyone dies-- except maybe Betty White, and I think it’s high time someone pushed that bitch in front of a train because I’m tired of losing the ‘sassy grandma’ roles to her.“

Not even animals are out of the line of fire, as evidenced when Joan explains why she hates free range chickens: “Why should chickens walk free while thousands of political dissidents languish in prisons all over the world. If Nelson Mandela can handle twenty-seven years behind bars, Henny Penny can deal with being in a coop for a couple of months… I don’t care if the chickens of the world are happy. I care if they taste good with creamed spinach and potatoes”.

So, to summarize, I am gonna borrow a line from the book’s jacket: “This is absolute Joan Rivers. You gotta love her. Even if she hates you.” Here’s one author who is declaring his love for Ms. Rivers in a public forum. By the way, I normally HATE public displays of affection… but for Joan, I‘ll make an exception.

“I Hate Everyone… Starting With Me“ is now available in hardcover. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

DVD Review: “House of Boys”

House of Boys”… The title of this movie may lead us to believe that this is an exploitation flick, with bare skin being the main attraction. Indeed, the viewer is treated to cute, clever, and sexy boylesque numbers, as well as a good amount of man-to-man love scenes and even a rock concert thrown in. The boys in this house clearly live their lives with no limits, with all the freedom that youth and sexual liberation have to offer. But there’s much more than that in this brilliant film. Set in a very pivotal time in gay history (the 80’s), the movie truly reflects the roadmap of that roller-coaster era: when extreme freedom and changing sexual attitudes gave way to extreme tragedy and new priorities for the gay community. “House of Boys” is also, very clearly, an intensely personal work for director Jean-Claude Schlim. Every frame looks like it was individually thought out and hand-painted, with many scenes tinted in the bright colors that embodied so much 80’s fashion and music video.

It‘s Amsterdam, 1984. We are introduced to Frank (Layke Anderson), a flaxen-haired (Even his skin looks blond!) teenager with a lithe body of a fledgling ballet dancer and curious, yearning eyes. Boyish persona aside, Frank knows how to play hard. He spends his nights in Amsterdam’s famous nightlife scene of raves, drugs, and hot-to-trot young men. After a quibble with his fabulously butch gal pal over his extreme partying, Frank is left with nowhere to crash for the night. He ventures out in the darkness during a rainstorm, and that’s when he stumbles quite accidentally across “The House of Boys” of the title. It’s a twist of fate that will ultimately change his life. Like its name suggests, the House of Boys is home to a family of young male dancers who willingly exploit their unblemished charms on stage for money. Among the inhabitants of this frat house of sorts are the flamboyant and funny Angelo (excellently played by Steven Webb ), who’s saving his money for a sex change in Singapore; Dean (Oliver Hoare) who sports a lime-colored Mohawk and cocksure “What the fuck?“ sexiness; and Jake (Benn Northover), the club’s star dancer… who‘s straight. Jake’s purported heterosexuality gives him a cool detachment from his horny admirers, and the crowd eats it up. Completing the picture are a kind “den mother“ Emma (Eleanor David), and German character actor Udo Keir as Queen of this testosterone-soaked house of burlesque. As “Madam”, Keir gets to perform torch songs in “grande dame” drag as a cooldown period between the boys‘ strip numbers. Absolutely fascinated by his new surroundings, it’s not long before Frank becomes the club’s most popular boy. He also gets a heavy duty crush on Jake, who reminds us that he’s straight but who’s not above being “gay for pay”. In other words, he takes his act beyond the stage-- if you know what I mean. Frank and Jake soon embark upon a relationship which colors the entire rest of the movie. For our golden boy Frank especially, it’s just one big party. That party comes to an end with the speed of a guillotine dropping, however, with the advent of a new “gay cancer“. To the movie’s credit, “House of Boys” does not gloss over or shy away from the horrors of the disease (KS lesions and all…) , which makes the film heartbreakingly provocative but also very difficult to watch at times. For anyone who lived during that era in gay history, it’s likely to open a Pandora’s box of emotions. The audience should be happy to know, however, that hope springs eternal-- and “House of Boys” rewards the viewer with a good serving of it in the last scenes.

Destined to become a classic in the library of GLBT cinema, “House of Boys” is bolstered by many creative directorial touches, including an impressive soundtrack. Some of the songs are major hits (1981‘s “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell) and others are closet classics aching to be heard again. (In the very first scene, one of the characters sings a few lines of 1983‘s “Shoot Your Shot” from the late great Divine.) We are also treated to some superb performances by veteran actors. Underused Brit Stephen Fry (“Jeeves and Wooster”) plays a sympathetic doctor who is on the forefront of what was to become the epidemic of the century. As “Madam“, 68-year old Udo Kier (Cult movie lovers may remember him from “Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein” and “Andy Warhol’s Dracula”.) offers a complicated persona: He simultaneously nurtures and exploits his “boys”, and always maintains a dignified presence even as he recalls his own lost youth. However, it’s the young actors’ movie all the way. They convey just what it feels like to be young, when every emotion is so piercingly passionate: Intense joys live alongside intense lows. For some of the characters in the film, the joys are indeed all-consuming, but the lows run the extreme range from the first heartbreak to the fight for life itself.

Visit for more about “House of Boys”.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

PAPA KNOWS BEST! An Interview With Mark Anthony "Papa Bear" Caruso!

As a Contestant on “Survivor” during that wildly popular show’s 23rd season, Mark Anthony “Papa Bear” Caruso sent many a Bear lover’s carnal desires into high gear. With an audience averaging well over 10 million watching “Survivor: South Pacific” every week, Caruso was clearly one of the most visible out ’n’ proud Bears in the media at the time. Up close and personal, the 49-year old reality TV star, who describes himself as “very Italian”, has killer turquoise eyes and a smile that’s playful and inviting (…but with a little bit of mischief thrown in!). Before entering the pop culture radar screen in 2011, Caruso worked as an NYPD detective and later as an RN. He knew he was gay from the very beginning, and remembers how his first entry into the police department was a challenge. Mark recalls how back in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, it was a male-dominated field and a homophobic environment. Today, he adds, “It’s more accepted.” Caruso was always a huge “Survivor” fan. At one point in his career, he was living in barracks-type quarters with other cops, in front of a morgue (!) The Spartan surroundings made him ponder, “Hmmm… If I can do this, I can be in the jungle!” His co-workers knew that 8PM on Thursday was always Mark’s “Survivor” night. For a prank, his peers once locked him out of the barracks, frat boy-style, to keep him from seeing his favorite show. They didn’t stop him, though: Mark wound up sneaking in through a window. That was the true story that the silver-haired star-to-be used for his “Survivor” audition…
Our “Papa Bear” wants to continue life in showbiz, but for the moment he is more committed to working out, enjoying life, and having fun. He tells me, “I’m never serious! People THINK I’m serious… because I am older, and I‘m looked on as a father figure. I always take that role, and I’m fine with it. ‘Papa Bear’ was born on ‘Survivor‘, and that is awesome in how that developed.”

Happily partnered (Sorry, guys!), the Bear icon and I met at a diner in Forest Hills, Queens, to talk about “Survivor“, life as a new Bear role model, and what he personally finds sexy in a guy. At one point in our discussion, Caruso tells me that he stays youthful by clean living: no smoking, no drinking, no drugs. Notice that he left out the best vice of all… (Now I‘M smiling mischievously!)

Hi, Mark… or, shall I just call you “Papa Bear” right away?
(Laughs) What do you think?
Well then: Let’s start with “Survivor”. Some self-proclaimed TV critics have opined that Papa Bear was destined to be quickly voted off from the start. They say it was because you were more mature than most of the “kids” who you were on the show with, and you didn’t fit in right away. Is that true?
If you watch the show that I was on, versus the series that was before us: In the series before us, it was split into age groups. I was looked at to be in THAT episode, but I got beat by a few guys who they took instead… and then I got my thrown into MY show, where there were so many young people. I was like, “Oh God! Why couldn’t I be on the show BEFORE or AFTER the one I was on?!” I felt like I was on the Island of Misfit Toys and that Santa Claus was gonna go by.

Mmmm… Santa Claus! Another one of my favorite Bears!
(Laughs) I was like, “What the hell happened?” But you know, you gotta make the best of it. You can’t sit there and cry. You gotta move, and you gotta start manipulating people immediately. It didn’t go my way because they were so young and it was only me and one other older person (Dawn Meehan). She took on a mother role really fast, and I took on the father role really fast… and remember, you’re never gonna vote your mother out! You’ll vote out your dad, but not your mom! It’s wrong on so many levels. But you know what? I also learned a lot about life from being on that show. Obviously I wanted to win. But you learn that everything can be taken from you. “Survivor” is real. They don’t mess around. They want a true winner to be won. You ARE starving. You ARE hot in the daytime to the point that you’re sweating. In the nighttime, you’re freezing. Your clothes are filthy, YOU’RE filthy, and everyone starts to smell. You get to the point that you don’t smell each other because you stink so bad. But it’s so much fun, believe it or not. You’re taken to a point where you don’t have computers, or phones, or people to communicate with who aren’t trying to stab you in the back! At one point, if you’re with friends where you can bounce a question off, and you don’t really trust that person, who are you really telling this stuff to? And then you become something almost animalistic. I changed as a person there. My whole life changed on that island. It was awesome. Only like 400 of us were ever allowed to be on that show, out of the millions that tried. I am lucky enough to be the one out of 25,000 men-- to be one out of nine in the whole United States. Even that is amazing: to be chosen to be on that show, and to try to make it. And, I made good friends. People who I would never believe that I’d be friends with, I‘m close friends with. The fans look at these people as “stars”… and I’ve been with them! It’s fun, because I was bonded with these people.
Also, to vote people off, and to know that you’re taking their dreams away: It’s powerful. And then, they do it to ME. I told them, “Don’t vote me off. Vote the other guy off (John Cochran)! He’s gonna come back and haunt you; He‘s gonna destroy you guys”. I said it in Tribal Council, and sure enough, he turned on every single one of them and he destroyed that whole tribe. It was good for him, because he played the game. I told him when I saw him, “Good job!” because, he did what he was supposed to do. He didn’t win, because in turn they destroyed HIM. It’s a wicked game!
The moral is, You gotta listen to your Papa! So, what was it like being an “ordinary guy” and then going into the public eye for the first time?
It’s kind of weird, because I have done other things. I did extra work on TV and in movies, but with “Survivor”: to put yourself out there: on TV, just in your underwear…

We can all be thankful for that!
(Laughs) One or two guys wrote to me and used to get hard from watching me on TV in my underwear! I laugh because I’m like, “Me? I don’t consider myself a sex symbol!” But I always say “Thank you!” anyway. Hey, if that’s what they like…! I consider myself to just be a regular guy on the street. 
While we’re on the subject: Do you get recognized on the street? 

I used to. It was big when the show was on, and now it’s fading a little, which is good. I’m really a private person. When someone asks me, “Papa Bear, can I have a picture with you?”, I always do it. Even If I’m in a ticked-off mood because of something in my own personal life, I always stop and go back into character. Who am I to take that from them? Sometimes I’m really busy, and I hear “Papa Bear, I love you!”… and then they throw kids or their dog at you asking for a picture. I always step into character, because it’s something that I loved that I did. I want people to be happy with that character and happy with the show. So, I take the pictures with them. I laugh, I autograph their stuff…
Have you ever had any instances of, shall we say, stalkers… uh, I mean, “overzealous fans“?
Not males. Bears are pretty cool. They’re like, “How ya doin’?” Now, the WOMEN… A lot of women will be like, “I know where he lives!” That was kind of creepy. The guys will just be like, “Come on over!“
(Laughs) So, as a bona fide Bear Icon, what makes a Bear a Bear? Is it really about how big you are, or how much body hair you have?

You know what’s funny? I didn’t even consider myself a Bear all these years. Only recently, the last three or four years, did I consider myself a Bear. I was only in three relationships my whole adult life. I was always a Daddy figure. When I retired from the police department, I was able to let my facial hair grow. It was a new “coming out”. When you’re a policeman, everything has to be so stringent: You have to follow rules, you have to do what you have to do, you have to be a part of the group… I came out in the Police Department when it WASN’T cool! I was the first openly gay cop assigned to the Hate Crimes Unit. I got my detective shield there. From that point on, I said to myself that when I finally retired, I was gonna be who I wanted to be. The guys in the Bear community are open, loving, cool, fun… and I also learned not to be so uptight. My boyfriend is a Bear, and he taught me a lot about that. I like who I am now. I like being a Bear but I don’t consider myself “MR. BEAR”! There are thousands of good-looking, hunky guys out there. But I want to do something for the Bear community. I wanted to show on TV that we are just like everyone else: We’re loving and kind and everything. So, I shall become the “Ambassador for the Bears”! I’ll even get a hat… and a nice coat! (Laughs)
You got my vote!
I got great responses on the show, even with Jeff Probst himself, the Host of “Survivor”. He gave me a nice good-bye card, and he wrote that I was a “man of good heart” or something like that. That’s not easy coming from Jeff Probst. He’s an awesome guy. He’s REAL! I had a Bear come up to me in a store once and he told me about how he and his boyfriend used to watch the show, and they told me I was awesome. My partner was laughing his ass off. He was like, “If he knew how REGULAR you really are…!”

Well, you are now a sex symbol, like it or not! So, while we’re on that subject, What do YOU personally find sexy in a guy?
A guy who can really make me laugh: who I can be happy with, and who I can trust. You don’t have to be an Adonis, because none of us are in this world. I like a guy who is a good-hearted man. I’m not into anyone who wants to hurt people or wants to gossip about people, or who are pretentious. I’m not into that. I guess that’s where the police department training, my family background, my own training growing up, and being a nurse came in. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. We’re all human. I think that September 11th also was a part of that: seeing those horrific events, and all of us working together, and knowing that life is so precious… But anyway: I like big muscular guys. I find them attractive! I want to be like them, and I am working out like a monster to be like that. For those guys who have perfect faces, God bless them. But I like a guy with a good heart who can make me laugh and make feel secure. Because, that’s the way I make other people feel. How was that? That’s a freaking Hallmark Card, isn’t it? (Laughs)
Sounds Grrr-eat to me! Thanks, Papa Bear!

You can meet Papa Bear in person during Bear Week in Provincetown from July 7th-15th, and he’ll also be appearing in the much-anticipated fuzz flick “Bear City 2”. You can also connect with him on Facebook at Expect to see a lot more of Papa Bear in the future. He tells me, “I put my mind to something, and I do it!“ We’ll be waiting!


So, what’s new in the men’s underwear industry? Apparently, lots! Actor/TV host/author Mario Lopez has a new underwear line, named “Rated M”. (Somewhere between PG-13 and NC-17, no doubt, which just about covers Lopez‘ career evolution…) Hanes has decided to remove all tags from their underwear bottoms, and they even plan to announce that celebratory decision with a series of new TV commercials. I can see the catchphrase now: “Don’t tag my bottom!” Country singer Luke Bryan delighted some fans and repelled others when he threw his sweaty camouflage-colored skivvies into a crowd after winning "Male Video of the Year" for his song "I Don't Want This Night to End" this past week at The 2012 Country Music Awards. While the gesture no doubt made one lucky fan’s night, at least one anonymous blogger was not impressed. “That's nasty. No one wants his undies after his stinkin crack has been parked in them," someone named MLB posted on “People” Magazine’s comment site. Ouch! While the debate goes on about whether getting smacked in the face by Luke Bryan’s underwear was a good thing or a bad thing, the popular clothing company Duluth Trading had started a new debate: Buck Naked versus Free Range? We’re still talking about men’s underwear here.  The Wisconsin based company (FYI, the company also offers “Plumber T’s” : extra long T-shirts that prevent butt crack from showing. I ain’t kidding!) is even likening the competition to the Abraham Lincoln versus Stephen Douglas debate of 1858, when the two men were both vying for a seat in the Illinois Senate. And… the website even allows you to vote for your favorite.   How very American!

Buck Naked Underwear is described as: “light and cool”, “sweat wicking“ (?), “fights stink” (although they don‘t say just HOW they fight stink…), and “feels like you’re wearing nothing”. Ranging in price from $14.50 for briefs to $29.50 for long johns, you can even get your boxers or tightie whiteys in a collectible gift “man can”. And, by the way, the undies also feature a “no gap fly” to prevent against “guest appearances”. As if that was a bad thing… The Free Range Underwear is organic cotton and described as “ultra soft”, “naturally stretchy” , and “won’t make you feel cooped up”. The prices range from $12.50 for briefs to $16.50 for boxers.

It seems that Buck Naked has the advantage.   Although Abraham Lincoln may not be anyone’s idea of an underwear model, he does have the “name”. And a celebrity endorsement is always an advantage, even if the celebrity was from another century. Plus, the Buck Naked Underwear has the advantage of being on YouTube…

Now, have any of my readers out there actually TRIED either of these underwear brands? Inquiring minds want to know!


Actor/TV host/author Mario Lopez has a new underwear line out, named “Rated M“. It is designed, according to their official site, as “for manful men and their very special guests“. The description continues: “Three very different categories take you from the boardroom to the bedroom and everywhere in between. No matter how you man up, Rated M has got your back”. Now, that’s aiming to please! Rated M? The “M” presumably stands for “Mario”, although some visitors to the underwear’s ambitious website may opine it stands for “masturbation material”. Oh, did I just say that? On, browsers have the option of seeing the “Atelier” collection (“The very baddest of romances. Just enough flair to get you noticed”), the “Play” line (“The perfect mash-up of performance and style. Whether you’re working out or just working it.”) or the “Elementary” collection (“Nothing fancy here. Just a solid foundation, packed with as much potential as you can muster“), which features a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci (“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”). Now, that’s an endorsement from a fellow celebrity that you don’t get too often! Needless to say, all three lines feature pictures of Mr. Lopez showing his basket.

The 38-year old, honey skinned hotster really seems to be into his new role as underwear model. He single-handedly seems to be on a mission to say that’s it’s OK for mainstream male celebs to show some skin… and, more importantly, to enjoy doing so! Lopez, who is of Mexican descent, has been acting since 1984 but cemented his status in pop culture as A.C. Slater, the popular jock on “Saved By the Bell” and later “Saved By the Bell: The College Years”. Since then, it would be an undie-statement to say that his career has been eclectic. The buff star has appeared on TV as both an actor and as a host in shows like “Dancing With the Stars“, “Extra“, and “The Bold and the Beautiful“. He has also appeared on Broadway in the role of Zach in “A Chorus Line” in a 2008 revival. Lopez has written three books about nutrition and fitness, a subject he clearly knows well. The first one, “Mario Lopez Knockout Fitness“, was published in 2008. There were also two cookbooks-- “Extra Lean” in 2010 and “Extra Lean Family“ in 2011. Whereas his “Saved By the Bell” days made him a sex symbol among the training bra and braces crowd, Lopez is now a symbol for equal opportunity sexiness. Looking at his photos, there seems to be a look of “I’m loving this!”, not “This is a contractual obligation!”. Lopez has clearly never been shy about showing off his body. He has said, in several interviews, that he is always walking around in his underwear (We can all be grateful for that!). In fact, it is his seriously fit bod that made him a perfect actor to irk Julian McMahon’s character in a 2006 episode of “Nip and Tuck”. Lopez plays a fellow plastic surgeon who provokes McMahon’s jealousy when his peer sees his perfect nekked body in the shower. The scene was noted for its homoerotic undertones as much as for Lopez’ bare butt. In 2008, the star appeared in “People” Magazine’s Bachelor Issue, recreating shoots made famous by previous male sex symbols, such as Burt Reynolds’ naked “Cosmopolitan” spread in 1972 and Marky Mark’s Calvin Klein underwear ad in 1992.

Lopez has gone full force in promoting his new underwear line, including doing an interview with the popular gay mag “Advocate”, and stripping down to his undies on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show. The catalog “Undergear” (formerly “International Male“), which always manages to find its way into gay men’s mailboxes (Trust me, they WILL find you, no matter how straight-acting you try to be…) has also been instrumental in giving Lopez maximum exposure. In case you‘re interested in actually BUYING the underwear rather than just looking at the photos: The line includes briefs, boxers, singlets, boxer briefs, cycling shorts, trunks, long johns, and "knickers" (Ahem…). As for tops, you can get V-necks, muscle tees, crew necks, or standard T's. Not just basic black or white, the line also features the exclusive colors "cloudburst" (gray), "surf the web" (teal) and "gloxinia" (Your word for the day…You‘re welcome! It‘s a pure purple). All are a blend of 95% polyester, 5% spandex. Prices range from $16 for “Elementary” briefs up to $45 for “knickers” (Ahem again…) or long johns.

So far, the underwear has gotten positive reviews for comfort and style. But more importantly, in this writer’s opinion, it shows that pop culture views of male sexiness have really come a long way since that Burt Reynolds “Cosmopolitan” shoot I mentioned earlier. We may FINALLY be starting to allow male sex symbols to be sexy just for the sake of being sexy. In other words, it‘s OK to say, “I’m sexy and I know it. (I work out!)”. In addition, Mr. Lopez deserves kudos for serving as a role model for health and fitness. Male vanity is no longer saved for the gay boys. I always believed vanity was like hair gel. All you need is a little. Just don’t overdo it…


Out and proud writer/director/personality Del Shores is perhaps best known for his award-winning plays, which include “Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will?”, “Southern Baptist Sissies“ (the play, it seems, that‘s arguably the closest to his heart), and most recently “Yellow“ in 2010. In 1999, he directed the cult classic movie “Sordid Lives”, which was later made into the first original series for the fledgling gay network LOGO in 2008. “Sordid Lives: The Series”-- which starred Olivia Newton-John, Rue McClanahan, and Bonnie Bedelia-- became one of the highest rated shows in LOGO‘s history. The well-loved series was equally famous for having a controversial journey during its lively but short-lived run on TV. Shores has made his mark as a playwright and director, but with his filmed one-man stage show “Del Shores: My Sordid Life”, just released on DVD, the 54-year old Shores proves himself as a very successful raconteur and comedian as well. Even for established stand-up comics, a one-man or one-woman show can be a risky proposition when their act is translated for the movie or TV screen. This production works, largely because Shores knows how to keep the audience’s motor running. The minute he steps out and launches his verbal torpedoes, the highly animated artist becomes as large as the stage. Offended by an empty seat in the front row, he demands that an “really cute person” come and fill the space. (“We don’t want any ugly on the DVD! We‘re filming tonight!“). That’s just the beginning! His energy continues right on through to the near-final scene, where Shores treats us to a searing monologue from “Southern Baptist Sissies” which was omitted from the play for being too controversial. In “Del Shores: My Sordid Life”, the playwright/filmmaker has a LOT to tell, all of which draws from his own life and career. He has never made it a secret that many of the over-the-top characters in his plays were based on real life people, mostly relatives. Shores’ journey as storyteller apparently started with having a vivid imagination as a child. Fast forward, and he finds himself as a writer for a modestly successful TV show called “Ned and Stacy”. (Warning: Names will be dropped. Thomas Hayden Church, be afraid. Be very afraid!…) Shores also gets personal, and we learn that it was shortly after his work on “Ned and Stacy“ that he decided to come out in a big way.

In “My Sordid Life”, Shores offers some truly keen observations about coming out: never an easy thing for anyone, but especially challenging for gay man from a Southern Baptist family in Texas. His pathway to self-discovery is a mix of provocative drama and laugh-out-loud comedy. Who was the first one he decided to come out to? It was … flamboyant actor Leslie Jordan! Then, it was on to his family. The reactions by his mother and father were both dramatic but widely different. His father didn‘t want to talk about it. His mother, conversely, DID want to talk about it, perhaps a little too much. She wanted details! Listening to Shores’ awkward attempt to explain gay sex to his mother (“I skipped rimming. I didn’t think she could handle that. I barely could!“) is one of the film’s comedic highlights. In the vein of fellow comedian Margaret Cho‘s live shows, the act really comes alive when Shores starts channeling his well-meaning but doting and somewhat misguidedly supportive mom. And, like any talented comedian, he is able to take a worldly, even serious subject like religion and inject some humor into it. He recalls how his mother, in that idiosyncratic style of support I mentioned earlier, tried to understand her son’s sexual orientation by doing her own research. In retrospect, Shores holds up a Bible and opines, “Lately I’ve been thinking, especially with this rash of suicides from all these young people-- and how most of them are from the South and from fundamentalist Christian homes-- and I just wish that more people and more families would do research on their gay children’s behalf, rather than holding on to those five scriptures in this book while eating pork and shellfish, and wearing polyester… which, Biblical or not, it’s not right!” For pop culture aficionados like me, the show also features many priceless behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Shores‘ memoirs. One is them is an episode of “Queer as Folk” that Shores wrote which got rejected for being (Get this…) too offensive, and also Shores’ meeting at a restaurant with late great Rue McClanahan and uber-blogger Perez Hilton. Oh, to be a June bug on the wall for that scenario!

Since coming out , Shores-- in his own words-- has “made a living out of being gay”. Shores may be modestly selling himself short. Indeed, it takes more than just being out to be successful in showbiz. However, it would be a major understatement to say that Del Shores has made his mark on queer culture. We can thank him for sharing his colorful (and, apparently, a little bit “sordid“ as well!) life with the masses!

(Del Shores and some of the cast of "Sordid Lives: The Series" at the show's charity fundraising premiere in 2008.) 

“Del Shores: My Sordid Life” is now available on DVD. Visit for more info.