Saturday, June 10, 2017
Thursday, June 8, 2017
One day in the summer of 1971, when I was ten years old, my boyfriend Bill and I were out riding bikes near Longview Park, when we came to a big house "on the register of historic places." There was an old guy in the back yard, sitting in a lawn chair reading a newspaper.
He had his shirt off!
He was very muscular, with a thick hairy chest, big shoulders, hairy flat abs, and square hands. Balding on top. A round open face.
"Hey, I know that guy from church!" Bill exclaimed. [He was a heathen Presbyterian] "Hi, Mr. Franck!"
Frank -- like my Dad?
He looked up. "Hi, Bill. Who's your buddy?"
We went into the back yard through a little gate, and Mr. Franck stood up and shook both our hands -- not many adults did that! He told us to call him Sonny -- everybody did, even kids. He was a teacher at Rocky High, so he would see us both in his biology class in a few years.
After that, the promise of beefcake brought us past Sonny's house quite often. He was often in his back yard in mid-afternoon, giving us just enough time to gawk at his muscles and get home in time to watch Captain Ernie's Cartoon Showboat.
During the school year, we went on Saturday afternoons. Sometimes he wasn't there, of course, but often he was, sometimes in back yard, sometimes on the front porch, often with his shirt off, even in October. He always waved, and talked to us when we stopped.
Once he invited us in for lemonade. There were pictures of cute, muscular guys all over his parlor. Sonny must like men with muscles, too!
"Is this your friend?" I asked, pointing to a teenage bodybuilder lifting an enormous barbell.
"It's me, when I was about your age. Sports were sort of my bag, back then. You boys like football?"
"Sure!" We actually hated football, but it seemed polite to say we liked it.
Sonny told us that he was an All-American wingback at the University of Minnesota, and then he was a halfback for the New York Giants.
"They're good," Bill offered. "I like...um...."
Having to hear about football was almost a deal-breaker, but beefcake was hard to find in Rock Island, so we continued to visit Sonny. We could see his hairy chest, and maybe someday we would even get a glimpse of his shame (his beneath the belt gifts).
No sausage sighting, but the next summer, when I was 11 years old, we biked past Sonny's house, and he was sitting in the back yard, drinking lemonade with Tarzan!
Not my favorite Tarzan: too scrawny, with stupid slicked-back hair. But he had a kid sidekick, a Indian boy named Jai, which allowed for all sorts of role-playing fantasies: "Let's pretend that you're Jai, and the cannibals have tied you up, and Tarzan has to rescue you."
We biked up. 'Wow, Sonny, I didn't know you knew Tarzan!" I exclaimed.
"Come in and sit down, boys," Sonny said. "I'd like to introduce you to my old friend, Jock Mahoney."
We shook hands. Tarzan had a strong, pleasant grip.
"How do you know each other?" I asked. "Did you live in Hollywood?"
"We go way back, long before Hollywood," Sonny said. "Jocko and I went to Davenport High School together."
A famous actor grew up in Davenport, right across the Mississippi!
"Sonny was two years older than me," Jocko said. "And a Golden Boy, a track star, a football star. Way out of my league, But I eventually won him over." He leaned in close. "Always remember this, Boomer: the key is, be persistent. Show up where he is. Pretend to be interested in the things he's interested in. Eventually he'll see the light."
Wait -- this wasn't how friends talked. Were Jocko and Mr. Franck boyfriends?
They looked at each other, paused for a moment, and laughed.
At the time I didn't know what he meant. Now I do.
"Remember the night of the Harvest Dance?" Jock asked. "We both had dates, but we dropped them off early so we could go down to the Mississippi and..."
"That's a lie!" Sonny exclaimed, but he was smiling. "Sheer rumor-mongering! Nobody can prove it happened."
At the time I didn't know what he meant. Now I do.
"What about after high school, when you grew up?" Bill asked. "Did you live together? Boomer and I want to live together in a house."
"Sonny was recruited to play football for the Golden Gophers, in Minnesota" Jock said. "I went to the University of Iowa, Then during the War we both joined the Marines, but we weren't in the same unit. Then I moved to Los Angeles to become a stuntman and actor, and Sonny played for the Giants and later became a teacher."
"Like that night when your folks were out of town..." Jock began, "And I brought over a bottle of tequila..."
"Lies! All lies!" Sonny exclaimed. "Defamation of character, that's what it is!" And they both laughed.
Were Mr. Franck and Jock Mahoney Boyfriends?
George "Sonny" Franck (1918-2011) was married for 57 years, although I don't remember a wife being present when we visited. He had four daughters.
Jock Mahoney (1919-1989) was married three times, and had three children and four stepchildren. One of his stepdaughters is actress Sally Field, whose son Sam is gay.
See also: Zack Hooks Up with the Prince of Sweden; My Third Grade Boyfriend
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Indianapolis, June 1996
Every summer my parents celebrate Dad's birthday with a barbecue for their family and friends, held the Saturday afternoon closest to June 6th. My sister and I always try to plan our summer visits to coincide with them. This year it should be easy for her, since Mom and Dad have moved to a small town south of Indianapolis, less than 10 miles from Tammy's house.
But she doesn't come to the birthday barbecue.
"Oh, they're busy," Mom says. "[Her husband] Terry is working a lot of hours at the car dealership."
I call to suggest that we get together for lunch during my visit. I get the answering machine.
I try again. She doesn't return my call. After I fly back to San Francisco, I try a third time. No answer.
I ask Mom what the problem is.
"You'll have to work it out between you," she says. "Don't drag me into it."
No birthday card in November.
I stay in San Francisco for Christmas. I send Tammy a present, but she doesn't send me one. I call on Christmas Day, but after a "Hi! How are you?", she makes an excuse and hangs up.
No more contact. Tammy and Terry and their son cease to exist.
As far as I can tell, they figured "it" out, and they recoiled in homophobic horror.
My family practices a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. They never actually use the "g" word, or refer to my boyfriends as boyfriends ("This is Lane, Boomer's...um...friend"). Still, after meeting Viju, Fred, and Lane, and hearing about Alan, Raul, Peter, David, Corbin the Gym Rat, Kevin the Vampire, and Michael J. Fox, you'd think Tammy would get a clue.
Oddly, my brother, the fundamentalist Nazarene, always invites me to stay at his house, and has no qualms about putting me in the bedroom next to his teenage nephews. Not a problem. It's Tammy, the liberal Methodist, who freaked out, who didn't want me around her kid.
Silence. I hear about Tammy and her family from my mother's weekly telephone calls, but I have no contact.
Then, after six years of ostracism, Tammy shows up at the 2002 Birthday Barbecue, bearing gifts, asking if I have met "a special guy," chatting and joking as if nothing has happened.
Approaching 40, she has become plump, almost zaftig.
Her husband Terry is bald and buffed, almost ready to become a leather daddy.
And Joseph, age 12, is slim, fey, and theatrical. He has done some modeling for magazines, starred in a local tv commercial, and now he is starring in a community theater production of The Little Prince.
"Oh, you have to come!" Tammy exclaims. "It would mean so much to him!"
I hate The Little Prince, and I doubt that the fey, theatrical blond cares very much about a guy he hasn't seen since he was five years old, but I go.
The next day, Tammy invites me out for pizza. "You have to tell Joseph all about your life in New York! Didn't you meet a lot of Broadway stars? And Andrew Lloyd Weber?"
I'm living in Dayton, which is only two hours from Indianapolis, so I can visit whenever I want. Like when my nephew Joseph is singing at a regional glee club competition in Edinburgh, Indiana.
Joseph (never Joe) is fifteen years old, a kinky-haired blond, very fey, swishy and limp-wristed, with that nasal "gay accent" voice. He wears bright pastel shirts and tight bulging jeans and plastic bracelets.
In spite of his parents' assurance that he is "girl-crazy," he never mentions a girl, but he has a series of male pals.
And his parents are always pushing us together, sending us out for pizzas, asking me to pick him up from school, inviting me to all of his recitals, plays, and concerts.
I suspect that they're looking for me to be a role model, showing him that it's ok to be gay.
Without anyone ever saying the "g" word.
Indianapolis, December 2008
Joseph is eighteen years old, still a fey, swishy blonde. He's a freshman at Indiana University, planning to major in East Asian Languages and theater.
A few days before Christmas, he calls. "Can you come up to the house this afternoon? I want to ask you something."
While your Mom and Dad are at work? What for?
"Well, why can't you ask over the phone?"
"No, it has to be in person. It's private -- I'm a little nervous about it."
I'm nervous, too. I don't understand what Joseph is planning. Is he just going to come out? Or does he expect an uncle-nephew sexual escapade?
When I arrive at Tammy's house, Joseph offers me a handshake -- his hand is damp! -- then sits me down on the couch. next to the Christmas tree. We're sitting very close together. I put the cat on my lap and start petting her to get my mind off my crotch.
"I'm kind of nervous," he says. "It's...well, you know, I've never done it...you know, sex...before."
Uh-oh. He is planning on sex!
"You're an expert on this sort of thing, so...um...I need your honest opinion."
Before I can respond, he drops his pants, displaying an average sized cut penis and rather small balls.
I stare, very uncomfortable. I certainly don't intend to go down on Joseph. His parents trust me around him! But...are they pushing us together? Do they expect something to happen?
"What...um...are you showing me your cock for?"
"I might have a chance to have sex next week, on New Year's Eve, and I was wondering, am I big enough?" Joseph says. "I mean, you've seen a lot of cocks. Do I measure up?"
Um...I could judge better if I could see it aroused.
No, I don't say that!
"Don't worry, dude, you're totally hot. Any guy would be glad to go out with you."
"Or any girl?"
"My date's with a girl. We've been going out for a couple of months now, and she said on New Year's Eve she wants to go all the way."
Oh well, at least, I got a sausage sighting.
See also: Is My Nephew Gay?; and The Best Friend of Terry the Homophobe
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Upstate New York, August 2010
Troy, my boyfriend for the last year, has finally agreed to move in, and we're having a "housewarming" party to celebrate. We invite his college friends Micah and Jordan; the Rich Kid and the Rapper from the Gang of 12, and their dates; and my ex-boyfriend Chad, who of course has to bring his housemate/Daddy, the Satyr.
The Satyr is a tall, husky, bearded bear, 62 years old, with an enormous Kovbasa++++ beneath the belt. But I don't like him -- he's imperious, theatrical, sneaky: he has a manipulative relationship with Chad, and he tried to keep me and Troy from dating. For what reason, I don't know.
Enormous penises...he has the biggest I've ever seen.
Dates from hell -- there aren't any worse dates than our weird night in October 2008.
Celebrity hookups -- he claims to have been with everybody.
When he was a teenager, hustling in Times Square, his clients included Robert Redford, Peter Fonda, and...Christopher Isherwood. When he was a camera man in Hollywood, he dated Tom Selleck, Rob Lowe, and John Travolta, who flew him down to Cabo for a wild weekend with Tom Cruise.
I'm sure the Satyr is making all of this up. I lived in West Hollywood for 10 years at about the same time, and met a lot of celebrities: Michael J. Fox, Richard Dreyfuss, Robin Williams, Christopher Atkins -- but I never dated any superstars.
Time to call his bluff. "Details! You have to tell us the whole story. Date, location, who you were with, what he was wearing, how hung he was..."
The Satyr glares at me, but says "Sure. I'll tell you about my first gay sexual experience, with Sylvester Stallone."
"Great!" I've heard a lot of celebrity dating stories about Stallone, the Italian Stallion, the star of the Rocky and Rambo series, so I'll be able to spot a fib a mile away.
The Satyr (then named Sparky) was 22 years old, living in Spanish Harlem, taking acting classes at CUNY and trying to make ends meet anyway he could.
Through hustling, of course -- his extra-large equipment made him very popular among a certain type of closeted queen (shown is porn star Rick Donovan).
He hadn't "come out" -- acknowledged that he was gay. He was always "the trade" -- the one who gets the blow job. In those days, the trade thought of himself as straight.
He also waited tables at a strip club, swept floors at an illegal gambling den, read Tarot cards, did astrology, and translated Japanese for the Consulate General of New York ("I was born in Japan, before my mother -- well, that's another story").
Through the New York occult community, Sparky met Morton Lewis, who had directed a few films on astrology and the paranormal. He needed a camera man for a new hippie love fest film that his brother was bankrolling. It wouldn't take much work -- just three sets, a bedroom, a living room, and an exterior to be shot in Central Park. Two days max.
He neglected to mention that it was going to be a softcore porn, but Sparky wouldn't have minded anyway. It was a job in the industry! Anyway, he could easily ignore the women's naked bodies and concentrate on the men.
"Wait -- you said you didn't identify as gay," Troy protests, "But you liked looking at men."
The Satyr shrugs. "It was 1970. Gay people were criminals in the State of New York, and psychopaths, according to the American Psychiatric Association. It took a lot to admit it to yourself."
The movie, Party at Kitty and Stud's, would star newcomer Mike Stallone, a very massive bodybuilder type with thick black hair, dark droopy eyes, a sensual smile, and a strange, slurry way of speaking. He was beautiful! Sparky was instantly hooked.
He struck up a conversation with Mike at lunchtime. They had a lot in common. Similar childhoods: Mike's mother was a professional astrologer, and his father was a hair stylist. An interest in the occult. Determined to make it in the business, scrounging around for any job they could find. Mike's latest was cleaning out the lions' cages at the zoo.
"I was completely broke, man, sleeping in the bus station. It was either take this job or rob somebody."
"You should try hustling," Sparky said. "With your physique and dick, you could earn some primo bread."
"I'm not queer, though," Mike said with a smile.
"That's ok, you don't have to be. A mouth is a mouth, right? It's the guy going down on you that has to be queer."
Mike didn't actually have sex with anyone on camera, but he had to be aroused a lot, on both days, through multiple takes. By the second day, he was having trouble keeping it up.
In one scene, he had to be a gigantic shaft ready to plow into one of the actresses. Morty wanted Sparky to film him approaching slowly, and stopping just before he touched her vagina. But Mike couldn't stay hard long enough.
"We're going to have to shorten the scene," Morty said. "Unless somebody wants to be a fluffer -- go down on Mike until he gets hard. Ladies, I know it's not in your contract, but..."
Before any of the actresses could respond, Sparky said "I'll do it!"
Everyone stared. No one admitted to being gay in 1970, at least not in public.
"Hah, hah, big joke!" one of the actors said. "Like you'd really go down on a dude!"
Sparky's face was burning with embarrassment and fear -- would Morty fire him? Would Mike beat him up? He tried to concentrate on that beautiful body, and more -- Mike's painful childhood, his determination, his passion, his pride.
"His penis..." Micah adds.
"Of course. The penis is the doorway to the guy's soul. A blow job is very spiritual."
"I'm serious," Sparky said, his voice trembling a bit. "I'd love to help out."
"No, let him do it," Mike said. "It takes a lot of guts to admit you're queer, especially among you Neanderthals. I'm game."
Morton shrugged. "Just get with it already. I've got a movie to make."
"Come on, buddy," Mike said softly. "Let's see what you got."
So Sparky knelt in front of the nude Stallone. He had never gone down on a guy before, but he had received many blow jobs, so he knew what to do. Soon Mike was an iron rod.
"That's enough!" Morton exclaimed. "You want to get him hard, not have his baby."
Flushed with erotic excitement, Sparky returned to his camera, and they filmed the scene.
He "fluffed" Mike twice more before the day ended.
A few months later, Mike -- now named Sly -- got his big break, a starring role in Rebel (1970). And Sparky moved to California, where he got a job as a camera man. They never had sex again, they didn't even stay friends, but still, it was the defining moment of Sparky's life.
"Reading between the lines, it's kind of a sad story," Troy says. "The guy you came out for wanted nothing more to do with you."
"But it was never about Stallone," the Satyr says. "I liked him, sure, and he had a great physique, but it was about being true to myself. It was the moment when I could finally stop lying to myself and say 'I am gay.'"
"My defining moment came with John Travolta," I tell them. "Picture it: the summer of 1978. A sallow 17 year old..."
See also: Lane's Hookup with Batman, Robin, and the Joker; the Sylvester Stallone post on Boomer Beefcake and Bonding.