About the Blog..

My blog title, Ossessione, American Style, is taken from a movie by Count Luchino Visconti, who borrowed the plot of his astonishing debut film, Ossessione, from James M. Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice. Unfortunately, Visconti never paid for the rights and his film was not shown in the U.S. until many years after its release. The star of the movie, Massimo Girotti, would be People's "Sexiest Man Alive" many years running had the zine been around at the time. We first see him as a truck driver in a filthy sleeveless athletic undershirt, another of my obsessions: remember Paul Newman in an a-shirt (e.g. Hud or Cool Hand Luke)? Nowadays, they cheapen this garment who confuse it with something tank troops wore in World War I. The a-shirt is an undershirt, usually with thin bands over the shoulders; a tank top is a shirt without sleeves, akin to a "muscle shirt," only with wider bands over the shoulders. But, I digress....)

The purpose of this photo/comment column is to present a record of my obsessions. These are wide-ranging and diverse. This blog is not intended to be pornographic. The only pornography today is in politics.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

"It's the Pits"


I'm a lifelong fan of college basketball. I've had to own up to the fact that much of the fascination has less to do with the sport than with the uniforms. Unfortunately, these have changed in style over the years. Gone are the the short shorts worn by classic stars of the 50s and 60s -- folks like "Pistol Pete" Maravich and, earlier, Jerry West; later, Steve Alford, Adam Morrison, and Christian Laettner. The uniforms "evolved," and today players no longer wear the sleeveless athletic shirts ("tank tops," some call them, incorrectly). Together with tops that look more like T-shirts, too many of today's college teams wear shorts that are as long as those worn by cholos and other gang bangers.

One of the reasons the sleeveless athletic undershirt is a personal fetish is that it frames what for me has always been the sexiest part of a male body: the armpit. I always felt a little odd for finding male armpits exciting. For one thing, the media used to go to great lengths to avoid showing them. Sports TV cameramen would cut away from the free-throw shooter just as he lifted the basketball to shoulder-level, supposedly the better to show the ball flying through the air to make or miss the extra points. Lately, some cameramen are relaxing the ban (if in fact that is what it was), just as we are now seeing on TV something Europeans have glimpsed for years: bra commercials.

Simultaneously, the male armpit has become a fashionable element not only of porno but mainstream advertising. It amazed me that people who claim that "the body is the temple of God" took umbrage to photographing any part of the house of worship. Tantrics in India taught (and still do) that there is no part of the human body that is not sacred, and their position makes more sense. So I welcome the changes in awareness and allowance. It makes me a feel a whole lot less "weird."



















Monday, December 2, 2013

The Troubled Career of Nick Stahl

The first time I saw Nick Stahl was in the Mel Gibson movie, The Man Without a Face. I had read the novel and wondered if a film could be made of it because it skirts the issue of pedophilia by keeping the reader wondering if the protagonist is or isn't a boy lover. I thought it odd that Gibson wanted to do it; after all, the actor is member of a radical Catholic sect and a homophobe, and might not be capable of doing the work justice. But he did. The film is fine, and Stahl's debut promised a career marked by solid, sensitive performances...if only young Nick could escape the child star curse that felled many, not the least River Phoenix, the finest film actor of his generation.

At first, I wondered if Stahl might have gotten a head start in the business by virtue of being related to the auteur director, John M. Stahl, who died in 1950. That Stahl made The Keys to the Kingdom and Leave Her to Heaven. Auteur theory expert Andrew Sarris noted that John M. Stahl made Douglas Sirk movies before Sirk practically invented the genre of intelligent, cinematically remarkable soaps, including at least one Rock Hudson vehicle (Magnificent Obsession) and the classic weeper, Imitation of Life, with Lana Turner, both of them remakes of even more sentimental Stahl films. However, nothing in Nick's bio indicated any relation to John M. Stahl.

Nick has had some serendipitous career breaks. For example, he did one of the Terminators with Arnold Schwartzenegger. He also had a short-lived cable series about the strange world of carnies, Carnevale. He had a role in The Thin Red Line and worked with Larry Clark in Bully. Unfortunately, he's lately been more discussed more often because of his strange disappearances, reputed use of drugs, and post-marital problems. This is unfortunate and sad. His fans hope it's a passing phase and that he will make many more movies. I know I do.
         





                                                         

Friday, November 29, 2013

Models Are The Most Beautiful Men, Part I: Ben Allen, My #1

I once had a boyfriend whose androgynous beauty prompted from many the pickup line, "Are you a model?" to which he would answer, cavalierly, "No, I'm full sized." I should think it a compliment to be asked if I were a model, for models are by definition beautiful, and I doff my hat at all models and to Tumblr for bringing me photos of so many incredibly good looking ones. My current favorite is Ben Allen, rated #8 in someone's list of "Top 50 Male Models." I cannot understand why Ben is not #1 (and I don't even get along well with Scorpios). To me, Allen simply exudes mysterious sexuality. He's modeled for Dior, Burberry, many others. He's been written up in the New York Times and many other publications. If he has no acting talent, I'd recommend he get some. I could sit through a three-hour adaptation of the telephone director just to look at him for what is, for some of us, a daydream.










Friday, March 8, 2013

Justin Bartha

Reading Justin Bartha's bio at wiki and thinking it right on -- e.g. his break-through performance in a Nicholas Cage thriller, National Treasure, I began to wonder, how does he photograph in stills, so I borrowed a few online.  Bartha is the essence of "cute."  When the critics use a four-star rating system for performances, I always add a star for a player whose movies I intend to see even if they are, well, Nicholas Cage vehicles.  Frankly, the eyes have Bartha stealing the occult conspiracy movie right out from under Mr. Cage, who has to be one of the most overrated actors working, but who turns in occasionally brilliant performances, as in The Weatherman.

But back to Bartha.  He is a jack of all trades when it comes to film and, in fact, got his start on the other side of the camera.  I shouldn't think it too long before he directs a feature: if Ben Affleck can do it, why not Justin?  Meanwhile, I will keep an eye out for him.  If you know what I mean.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tab and "The Longest Schlong in Showbusiness"

I wish I had seen this photo forty years ago.  To think that there were photos thunking around showing a semi-nude duo I'd admired, fan-like, since college years.  Gay boys should be trim but not beefy.  These two are perfect.  The present trend toward buff bodies in WeHo gym definition is quite excessive, though I am sure I feel that way because of envy.  Which one is having the birthday?  Roddy broke my heart in How Green Was My Valley, and I had no way of knowing that the charming little coal-miner's son would grow up to have what rumor had it was "the longest schlong is show biz."  Friend to the late Liz and astonishingly compelling -- make that brilliant -- in The Haunting of Hell House, McDowell was as well a fine still photographer.  He was a card carrying member of the British enclave in Hollywood, and everyone knew he was gay.  Tab went to greater lengths to hide his inclinations, so one wonders, what was the idea behind the photo shoot?  What were they thinking?!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Actor, Not the PAC Man


I now realize that I had my fixation on Tony Perkins about the same time that I fell in love with my friend Luke.  They had roughly the same body mass, boney chests, and widespread shoulders, in Tony's case probably the tipping point by casting when he starred opposite Jane Fonda in a routine comedy called Tall Story.  It was a college basketball romance in which the fetishistic filmmaker, Joshua Logan, indulged his image of Perkins lean and lanky in sleeveless jerseys, the silk borders luring into tops of pectoral muscles and underarm bush.  If one had, as did I, a hankering for Hank Fonda's daughter as well, their (clothed) shower scene in a cramped trailer was a 100% turn on.

Perkins came from an acting family and could do quirky geeky weirdos better than anyone alive.  I think my favorite of his many movies is Orson Welles's The Trial, which shows Tony, as Kafka's Joseph K., being given the third degree by the totalitarian government's KGB-like cops.  He stutters through the apartment until one discovers that a throw carpet hides a suspicious oval shape on the floor.  Perkins' voice almost breaks when he blurts: "Oh...THAT...that was where I kept my pornograph."  The reaction on Perkins's face when the KGB guys stare at him is priceless.  I recall at the time of international release, Welles was chided by French film writers. (Cahiers du Cinema? I read so many movie magazines in the past I cannot now recall, but it was a socialist rag.)  It seems he committed the unpardonable sin of going commercial and casting "that faggot Tony Perkins" in the leading role.



It is common to read online that Perkins was "gay" or that he was only into guys.  Some of the crabs had to have ignored the fact that Tony did not marry Berry for a cover.  These were not the Tab Hunter days.  Perkins had gone through considerable psychoanalysis, hopefully with someone who told him it was OK to be bisexual.  Some folks are made that way.  With Ms. Berenson, he had children.  He may have had acute homosexual tendencies (he died of HIV-AIDS if that is any indication), but he was married with children.  Only exclusively homosexual persons never have sex with the opposite sex.

My Next Beautiful Blond Obsession: Hint: He Inspired the First Diet Cola Drink

The next beautiful blond man that caught my eye after Carlton Carpenter was Arthur Andrew Kelm.  Little did I know that the rumors about him were true and that photos of Tab with the late Tony Perkins. (I say "late" lest you think that the theofascistic current Tony Perkins, head honcho at an organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has put on its "Hate Groups" list.  They spend small fortunes on efforts to stop same sex marriage, but they lost the battle before they started it.)  I have to think I first saw Tab in the war movie, Battle Cry, which outdid The Passion of Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ in pre-release publicity.  The scenario went kind of like this:

Fellow Student: Hey, man, have you seen that new movie, Battleground?
Student: No, why, is it good?
Fellow Student: It's really cool.  It's this war movie and there's a scene in there where one platoon is saluting the other platoon.  Giving them the finger, man.  No movie's ever shown that.






And I do not think any other movie had shown that.  Indeed, it comes well into the film, when some exhausted new recruits stop to rest only to see another, rival platoon march by, and if you know ahead of time to watch for it, one of the resting troops gives the Holy Trinity to the passers-by.  But to me, the irony is in Tab Hunter working with the All Man macho moviemaker, Raoul Walsh, and the irony of my not knowing until reading a biography of Tony Perkins (the guy who acted in Psycho, not the psycho dissing same sex marriage for the obscenely named Family Research Council) that the two men would go on studio-arranged double dates.  Just in case the tabloids, always lurking the wings, shot photos that night.