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.

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.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Two or Three Things I Know About Devon Sawa

Having once been a celebrity biographer doing hack work without a hatchet, I think I can cut through a lot of nonsense with my built in bullshit meter.  I've read a bit of the press about Devon Sawa and come to the conclusion he is an elusive star who got his acting chops on material designed to show him off to the tween heartthrob fan magazine audiences and a few older males.  I saw him first in 1996, with Night of the Twisters, as a resourceful boy in aid of his family, albeit recklessly; or was it Wild America in '97, about the time one of his co-stars was having difficulty with his sexuality, making the movie as interesting now as it was then.

I went on to see everything he had done in the years prior; unfortunately, two are TV episode appearances and one TV movie that I missed.  And I have not yet known the curious experience of seeing him as "Casper on Screen" in the eponymous film about the friendly ghost.  Just too cloying for me.  (Which doesn't mean I won't look for it in the bargain bin.)  What consistently struck me about the films is that although Mr. Sawa was a British Columbian (Vancouver, once dubbed "the most satanic city in North America") who made good on American TV, he developed his craft even as he gravitated into film.  In that medium he gave some memorable performances culminating in Final Destination, a kind of watermark in a career in that he was on cusp of juvenile-adult roles. He apparently celebrated with some tattoos, a rite of passage for every rebellious boy in my time, and de rigueur for rock stars in these times. Hey, I even loved Idle Hands, which I whimsically renamed Idol Hands.

Wilde said that the worst calamity than can befall one is to be ignored.  Now that Perez Hilton is dissing Devon for drugs and weird sex (you'd think he secretly worshiped Aleister Crowley!) we know he is part of the Celebrity Grist Mill: that self-engorging monster we, the Gods, created, fashioning it of base metal, thereby allowing us to feel good about being ordinary. But this I know: If a hundredth of one percent of what tabloid twits like Miss Hilton say is true, I'd Pac Man my blog.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Carleton Captured Boy Dreamers

TV used to be all UHF and you mostly got snow, but from time to time shows, and that meant, eventually, old MGM musicals, which I hated (and still mostly do), even the ones with that 1950s gay icon of icons, Judy Garland, so I had to have known I would be a failed homo, and then I saw Carleton Carpenter and I thought, men can be beautiful like women.  And it wasn't even a Judy Garland musical but one with Debbie Reynolds, and I was more interested in him than her: Kenneth Anger has said that Satan won the war with Christian morality when he invented Hollywood and the movies.  I paraphrase, but you get the point.  It is an amoral world out west: when "Aba Daba Honeymoon" was written in 1914, could Arthur Fields and Walter Donovan have had any idea how positively Darwinian it sounded in a song that is essentially a duet between a monkey and a chimpanzee?  For their 1950 movie, Two Weeks With Love, director Ray Rowland used the stars to the max.

My dislike of musicals does not extent to the duet. Carleton and Debbie went into a studio and made a record of the song.  It sold over one million copies.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gael Garcia Bernal

The first time I saw Gael Garcia was when I rented a DVD of the movie, Amores Peros, whose title was ineptly translated into English as "Love's a Bitch." In the manner of Pulp Fiction, Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu interweaves three stories dealing with canines into a film that took international cinema by storm.  With fellow filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron, they pioneered a New Mexican Cinema with roots in Eisenstein, Bunuel, and Fernandez, among others, but with a fresh candid, stylish quality that announced to the world that Mexico was not about to be forgotten in foreign cinema. Octavio's seduction of his sister-in-law would lead directly to the wayward priest in Padre Amaro and the callow amoralist in Y Tu Mama Tambien, which ironically broke the bisexual taboo in Mexico but would be available on DVD in a bowdlerized rated edition, as well as the "Unrated."  The difference is important: the point of the movie hinges on our understanding of an epilogue in which Julio and Tenoch meet again in a VIP'S in Mexico City, and they cannot allow their eyes to meet. Once, drunk on tequila, and both trying to kiss the lovely Ana neath the fronds of a palapa on Bahia Cacaluca near Huatulco, these two macho males fumblingly kissed each other.  In Mexican cinema?!  Astonishly daring even for 2003.  And about time.  The rated version has no kiss, so the edginess of the old childhood friends in the American-style coffee shop has a dimension that cannot be understood without having seen the beso de putos.

Garcia started out in daytime TV, doing telenovelas, those curious all-Mexican (entirely foreign to foreigners) melodramas that really don't mimic the American version because almost all soap opera depend on family interactions, and if you marry into a Mexican family you find you have a slew of new brothers, sisters, &c., and then the stock characters are much, much different, usually including a shrewd criada buen criada who has more practical sense than the patron but shares it selectively to protect her place in the house, as well as that of her family, who are family now too.  This is definitely foreign to people in the States, who only think they are hiring a Guatemalan illegal to save money.  The photos of young Mr. Garcia are jewels, he was such a beautiful boy.  The older he gets, the less cute if you know what I mean.  But his stature as an actor is as good as Delon's if not better.  He has an expressive face that makes him equally at home in comedy (the bizarre, overly arty Science of Sleep) as with drama (the genuinely humanist Motorcycle Diaries, as with surreal psychodramas (the brilliant, tour de force Almodovar take on Catholic child molestation, Bad Education).  I think Garcia Bernal is a sturdy, dependable actor of considerable talent.  And part of it is his charm.

Missused & Abused Trent Ford

How sad that Hollywood saw talent in former model Trent Ford when he was cast in the unexpectedly entertaining Deeply, as sirenic island beauty Kirsten Dunst's visiting boyfriend, then put him in such duds as the Mandy Moore vehicle, How to Deal.  He's had plenty of opportunities since, however, and he's sure to break out soon. Meanwhile, I'll always have the photos. Some actors, out of work, say they can "always model," but the model-actor seesaw doesn't always work out. I'd like the fashionistos to rediscovery Trent Ford. Meanwhile, there is that odd little western he did costarring Jon Voight, September Dawn. Update: He's been busy in TV, making movies and doing series, the latest being The Mentalist.

Ben Whishaw

I don't think I paid much attention to Ben Whishaw when he appeared in Layer Cake or Stoned, the latter a failed attempt to portray the early Rolling Stones at the time of Brian Jones's demise.  (I interviewed Mick and Keith in the early 70s and the latter explained that Jones was so drug-addled by the time he died he was of no use to anyone, much less a band.)  But Wishaw was put into parts where his quiet, almost sullen demeanor seemed wasted, and it was not until he played Jean-Paptiste Grenouille in Poison: The Story of a Murderer, that I realized what a fine actor he is, and it was not until I read his remark that he is clueless as to why actors are made celebrities that I realized how nice a person he has to be.  Finally, he broke out as Sebatian Flyte in the remake of Brideshead Revisited.  The twin butt shot of Whishaw and Matthew Goode is worth the price of admission, but to see the scenes of Emma Thompson whipping Whishaw with Catholic dogma is -- you should pardon the expression -- divine.

Only A Few Athetes and Premier Danseurs Have Perfect Bodies

Perhaps the average premier danseur could not beat a gold medalist in swimming, but his body is just as perfect.  It is training for specific tasks demanded by a particular sport that shapes the body of the athlete.  A dancer must only dance, but it's ridiculous to maintain they are, somehow, less "athletic."  Dancers are called upon to things a sportsman -- let's say basketball player, although Cocteau used them as models for his angels in paintings -- would not, and certainly could not, do.  Now that the dansuer-as-homosexual argument has been demolished as a stereotype, we know that some dancers are straighter than Mitt Romney (though, arguably, Romney is still a sissy).  Movies like Billy Elliot helped end the bullying, perhaps, but its denouement is nevertheless an affirmation of gay orientation.

I once interviewed Nureyev and both he and I knew that he was a sleeparound slut.  Because his gaydar picked up on my recognition (I'd seen him with neophyte John Lennon in a stand up and fuck bar on Santa Monica or Melrose, I forget which) and the conversation went south very quickly.  He'd come to dance...for one of the last times, as it developed.

Above, Chase Finlay shown dancing the New York City Ballet's revival of "Apollo" by Stravinsky in a post-Petipa choreography by the great Balanchine.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Thomas McDonell

Now this is my idea of eye candy!  This is my PC wallpaper for the time being.  He comes from a very artistic family, Manhattanites.  His dad worked for Sports Illustrated and his brother is a novelist.  Thomas's break out performance is in Prom, a surprisingly uncloying Disney fantasy on that urban legendary rite of passage, and how different couples manage to get together for the Big Night.  The plot mechanics are poorly contrived and we've seen it all before in a different context (Carrie even did it as horror), but the cast is cute and there's a quasi-bisexual subplot of a nerdy boy not wanting his good-looking best pal to get a date with a girl, but every scene McDonell is in he steals even without a lot of lines.  There is a seething sullenness about him that is just beneath the surface. In the above photo the seeming resemblance to Ralph Macchio is coincidental, a play of light and makeup. It is interesting that McDonell will star with Johnny Depp in an upcoming flick.  If I were Johnny Depp, I wouldn't want to parade my old ass around a movie set with a hot young stud like McDonell standing in the wings, rather in the manner of Anne Baxter (only, in this case, it is STEVE Harrington).  The director of Depp's Don Juan DiMarco, surely one of the worst bores ever released, said Depp had taken "the mantle" from Brando. Maybe so, but McDonell may take it from Depp.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back to "Blue Lagoon": Christopher Atkins's Killer Smile

An autographed photo of Christopher Atkins nude to his treasure trail (OK, campy gay word, but I like it) shows a defiant, self-assured young man who might have modeled for those Roman coins at the time of Hadrian's beatification and euhemerization of his dead beloved, Antinous.  Atkins was fresh and wholesome in his early breakout film, The Blue Lagoon, and every gay and bisexual male in America was eager to see what kind of actor would be introduced to the world by an out gay director.  When Atkins transformed the young and hung partner of Brooke Shields into an adult sexy Ladies Only dancer in his next film, A Night in Heaven, his body had matured and was in league with that of any of today's superheroes.  And he still had that killer smile.  A night in heaven, indeed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

James Dean, "Gadge," and Mr. Ray

James Dean with Dick Davalos in East of Eden
James Dean, as much an American icon as Presley or Brando, worked with three American film directors whose personalities could not have been more contradictory.  As far as I know, only Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause) had a seemingly bisexual instinct, but the director who, knowingly or not, got closest to that element in Dean's makeup was Elia Kazan.  (George Stevens had to work with a miscasting, as it is easier to cast an older man to play a younger one than vice-versa, but in the early scenes, Jett Rink is an earthy, seethingly sexual beast.)  East of Eden by Steinbeck was made for Dean, whose most played type was the misunderstood youth.  This made him accessible and appealing to youth in general, just as it played to the fantasies of gay and bisexual youth in particular.

I talked my mom into buying me a red nylon windbreaker because every male at school seemed to be getting one.  Dean wore one in Rebel.  "Chicken race" became the hottest topic of conversation in high school hallways.  (Few if any kids actually tried it, one suspects.)  And although the relationship of Dean and Sal Mineo in that film only hints at the latter's same sex orientation, there is nothing blatant about their scenes; the audience is focused on Dean, as Mineo is, merely as a matter of hero worship.  This is an innate tendency of us all.  But the photo above could have come out of a 21st century movie it is so suggestive: two young, good-looking men, perhaps after having sex, relax in their room.  A young person unfamiliar with Dean -- or with this particular film -- might immediately leap to that conclusion.  The recorder is so obviously phallic and it is in close vicinity to the crotch.  Davalos looked well-fucked or merely exhausted from the fucking.  I'd like to have the studio still.

Mineo met a tragic end when he got into S&M and was murdered by rough trade (or rough something).  He did some remarkable work in theatre, e.g. mounting the Miguel Pinero play, Short Eyes, a harrowing tale of a child molester in general population of a prison.  Mineo was an out gay male.  That could easily explain his absence from the screen in later years.  Perhaps, now that Obama has OK'd same sex marriages, Hollywood will drop its pretense to being a "family" industry and allow more LGBT actors better participation, even roles written with "normal"  LGBT characters.  No, "normal" doesn't mean "good."  I'd love to see some really brilliant gay or lesbian antagonists.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Half Century of Infatuation with Alain Delon

My earliest obsessions were males.  The Boy Scout Manual had plenty of boys my age, and there were musclemen magazines I would hide on shelves of my bedroom until my mom discovered them and pretended her son was not queer.  The movies yielded idols aplenty, from Jody McCrae to Tab Hunter, but always I adored the pretty boys; not Presley, who for some reason did not appeal to me, but men like Alain Delon and Tony Perkins, both rumored to be bisexual (Perkins died of AIDS and was linked to Mr. Hunter, who "double-dated" with Tony so that Confidential magazine would be thrown off the scent of scandal).  I cannot recall the first time I saw Delon, but I was instantly infatuated: a fan.  I still think of him as the prettiest man ever born, and when I say "pretty" I mean handsome. (The very fact that I must use words to say anything admits of their uselessness.)  It's tomato/toma'to, this pretty vs. handsome, for too many people a Harrison Ford is handsome, and he left me cold even in his youthful roles, a kind of "Establishment" type.  I will post photos of pretty men and comment on them from time to time.

Although I would not see it until many years after its release, Count Luchino Visconti's Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960) showed a youthful Delon at his most beautiful.  There was a frank homosexual subplot in the film: one of Rocco's fratelli is a skilled but amateur boxer whose career is guided by a wealthy promoter who attempts to seduce him.  Cinematographer Giuseppi Rotunno captures Delon's physical attractiveness better than any lighting cameraman since.  Delon was only 25 when he made the film and a relative newcomer, his most important screen role previously being Tom Ripley in Rene Clement's Purple Noon (remade as The Talented Mr. Ripley, from the novel by lesbian author Patricia Highsmith).