Thursday, September 28, 2023

Cousin George: Only Fools Wear Pajamas

Walterboro, South Carolina

My Cousin George, son of my father's older brother, was just my age, tall and blond, with a hard chest, a thin belly, and a Southern drawl.  He lived in Walterboro, South Carolina, a thousand miles from Rock Island, so I only saw him a few times during my childhood.  We drove down to visit once, but usually my Grandma Davis took me down on the train.

What I remember most about my visits was the sizzling heat, the humidity,
and the beefcake.  No one in South Carolina owned a shirt. I had never seen so many sleek muscular bodies.

And the racial diversity: Cousin George had friends who were Native American and Chinese, and even black (I never saw anyone black outside of the Little Brown Koko books).

We went fishing (I used the fish to as bait to meet a cute boy), and crabbing, and  Cousin George warned me to avoid the "dead man's fingers" inside the crab shells that would turn you into "a goon."

We went swimming in the warm salty Atlantic Ocean.

At night Cousin George and I took our baths together together in scalding-hot water, and then slept naked together under thin sheets -- "only fools wear pajamas," he insisted.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Nude Photos of Martin and Lewis: A Gay Tease or a Gay Getaway in 1952


Nude photos of 1950s-60s comedy duo Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis have recently appeared on ebay, "from the Frank Branda collection."  This one sold for $4,494.99"  Wow, why spend that much when you can see it online for free?

Frank Branda was Jerry Lewis's personal assistant, driver, and close friend; he also appeared in three of Jerry's movies..  The photos were originally sold at Sotheby's shortly after Lewis's death in 2017.

Here Dean seems to be cold or pretending to be embarrassed, while Jerry is pretending to masturbate.

Same shower, but Jerry's hair is dry, so taken earlier?  Obviously staged. Dean and Jerry face each other.  Dean grabs Jerry's wrist to move him, and pretends to be soaping his back.  I can't read their expressions.

The candids seem to depict ordinary bathhouse activities: sauna, gym, flirting.  The captions say that they were taken in 1952, about five years into their comedy partnership, at the El Mirador Hotel in Palm Springs.

The Spanish Colonial style El Mirador, which opened in 1927,  was converted to an army hospital during World War II, and re-opened in  November 1952.  During the next 20 years, it was a "must see" landmark for tourists and a resort for the rich and famous, including U.S. Presidents.  

Are Dean and Jerry romantic partners, or are they fooling around, playing with the perception that they were gay?  At this time you could "hide in plain sight," as long as you were seen on the arms of women on occasion.  In November 1952, the 35-year old Dean was married to his second wife, Jeanne Biegger, and had five children (he would later have two more, and marry a third time).  The 24-year old Jerry was married to Patti Palmer, and had a son (he would marry a second time, and have a total of six children).  Both had numerous extramarital affairs.

Playing with the perception that they are a romantic couple, or actually a couple, having a gay weekend while their wives and kids wait at home?   Here they hang out in the sauna with  his driver/"close friend" Frank Branda and  Dean's assistant Mack Gray.  Notice that Jerry is keeping a chaste distance from Dean and crossing his legs in "don't touch me!" body language, while the other two guys are pressing their thighs together and letting their dongs hang out.

They were aware that Mack Gray was in a relationship with George Raft (1895-1980), who often played gangsters and heavies in movies.  They even attended parties at Raft's house as a couple, leaving the wives at home.

Here Jerry kisses Mack while Dean and an unidentified boyfriend wait.  One gets the impression that Jerry is comfortable in the gay world, while Dean is a bit standoffish.

Romantic partners, or gay teases?  Nearly 70 years later, there's no way to know for sure, but either challenges our perception of the 1950s as a dark era when gay people were closeted and lived in constant fear.

How to Host a Real West Hollywood Party

In West Hollywood our main form of entertainment was the Dinner Party. We hosted them, or were invited to them, at least once a week. They were a good way to catch up in those days before text messaging, meet your friends' new boyfriends, and of course, do a little sharing.

But you don't need to live in West Hollywood to host a real West Hollywood Party.  You can do it anywhere, even in small towns on the Plains.

The Date and Time:

Saturday night is best.  Ask everyone to arrive by 6:00, so they'll be there by 6:30.  You sit down to eat at 7:00, have the entertainment at 8:00, and the bedroom or bars by 10:00.

The Guest List:

The most that can sit comfortably in your living room, at least four, as many as eight plus you, your partner, and your housemates.

Only gay men, of course, and always an even number.

About half single and half partnered (romantic couples or best-friend pairs).  Try for a mix of races and ages, and be sure to include:

1, A celebrity.  Someone who is famous, at least locally. Actors are best, but musicians, politicians, and porn stars will work, too.

2. A newcomer, someone who has just come out.  A Cute Young Thing preferred, but not required.

The Pre-Dinner Refreshments:

Most of my friends didn't drink, so there was just an assortment of soft drinks, juices, and coffee and tea.  I suppose you could have alcohol, but not a lot.  Some of the guys will be heading to the bars later.

For appetizers, something simple, cheese and crackers, a veggie platter, or hummus with pita pieces.

The Background Music:

Either classical or a selection of gay-positive pop songs.  If you want to do the 1980s, I suggest:
1. "I'm Coming Out"
2. "It's Raining Men"
3. "Time Warp"
4. "Like a Virgin"

Never jazz, country-western, or show tunes!

The Conversation:

Before dinner, about half the conversation should involve gym routines, and the other half the latest movies and tv programs with gay subtexts or hunky stars.

Afterwards, it will be about sex, coming out, or homophobia.

If there's a lull in the conversation, ask guys to share one of the following:
1. Your coming out story.
2. The biggest penis you ever had.
3. A date from hell.
4. A celebrity date or hookup.

The Dinner:

We eat healthy all week, so the Dinner Party is a time to show your skill.  Fatty meats, cheeses, cream sauce, rich desserts, bring them all out. Make sure it's colorful and festive-looking.

 But don't prepare too much: half of your guests will just have a salad.

The Entertainment:

Usually a movie: fast, easy, and visual. But nothing serious or hard to follow: you will be chatting constantly throughout.  A gay classic, or an action/adventure movie with a lot of beefcake.

You can substitute a gay-themed version of Trivial Pursuit or another party game, or, if you have some willing volunteers and the group is cool with it, an erotic dance or a sex show.

The Bedroom:

After the entertainment, your guests have the choice of going out to the bars together, or "sharing."

If they opt for sharing, they get to mingle and decide who will be going with who.

A committed couple or pair of friends can go with any single guy, but single guys can't hook up with each other.  No more than three per room. .  And the activity must occur in private.

You should have at least two rooms prepared for sharing.  If more than six guys are interested, they will have to wait their turn.

Spending the night is optional.

Don't be surprised if you're invited to three or four West Hollywood Parties thrown by your friends next weekend.

See also: Jimmy the Boy Toy's West Hollywood Party


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