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Recapping 2020's Oscar Telecast: Not So Gay

Stage at 2020 oscars


According to Nielsen 62% of the viewers to 2020's Academy Awards telecast were women, so since the Oscars are considered the gay Super Bowl should I infer that the remaining 38% were gay men?  The rating for the telecast dropped 20% from last year (6 million fewer viewers).  Perhaps it was due to the alienation of two viewing groups - those who were upset over the under representation of women and blacks in key awards categories, and those who become tired of the constant harping about this under-representation. 


Besides a dearth of women and blacks in the major awards categories, the same absence seem to apply to those of the LGBTQ persuasion. Unlike the previous three years (when we had Green Mile; Bohemian Rhapsody; The Favourite; Call Me By Your Name; and Moonlight), there were no Best Picture nominations with gay themes.  Furthermore, there weren't a lot of gay "moments" in general during the telecast.  So what gay moments were there?  

  • Janelle Monae shouting out that she's queer
  • Elton John performing and winning Best Original Song
  • A Verizon Wireless commercial with a coming out theme
  • Billy Porter in all his fabulosity  
  • Judy, the movie about Judy Garland, won the Oscar for Best Actress


And now for some highlights/observations:


  • As Janelle Monae made her on-stage entrance at the start of the show, she noticed that the middle button on her blouse had come undone and buttoned it as she sang without giving it a second thought.


Janelle monae's popped button

Janelle monae


  • Mindy Kaling and Kristen Anderson-Lopez stood out in their vibrantly colored gowns in yellow and green.


2020 oscars mindy kaling

 Kristen anderson-lopez at 2020 oscars


  • Bradley Cooper usually attends the event with his mother so I was curious about the fellow sitting next to him, but was unable to find any mention of him in news reports the next day.  It seems the only Bradley Cooper chatter was about him being in the presence of his ex, Renee Zellweger.


Bradley cooper and mystery man at 2020 oscars


  • I chuckled when I saw Diane Keaton's coat because it was similar to a lost glove I spotted on a fence in my neighborhood a few weeks ago.


2020 oscars_diane keaton and keanu reaves

 Lost glove

  • Timothee Chalamet "owned" his offbeat formal wear.


 2020 oscars timothee chalmet


  • Taika Waititi, winner of Best Adapted Screenplay for Jo Jo Rabbit got my Oscar for Sexiest Man On Stage, with Oscar Isaac a close second, and Mahershala Ali third.


2020 oscars taika waititi


  • Disney chairman Bob Iger was in the audience, but may have been upstaged by another attendee, Amazon's Jeff Bezos.  (However, Iger's seat was much farther forward.)


Jeff bezos at 2020 oscars

  Bob iger at 2020 oscars


  • Did anyone else think that female conductor, Eimear Noone, bore a striking resemblance to actress Leslie Mann?


2020 oscars eimar noone conductor

 Leslie mann


  • A touching commercial from Verizon Wireless aired in the middle of the telecast.  It featured a young guy who said that he couldn't talk about his homosexuality face to face with his family, but after moving to New York his mother signed the family up for Group Chat, and now the things they couldn't say to each other in person were a lot easier to say when sent in a text.  He closed his story with, "I've never lived further away from my family, but I've never felt more connected to them."


Verizon wireless gay son


  • It was ironic that the best thing about the movie Rocketman, the performance of the actor who portrayed Elton John (Taron Egerton), was overlooked for an Oscar nomination, yet its bland song won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Elton John and Bernie Taupin.


Elton john and bernie taupin at 2020 oscars


  • Last week I was enthralled by the stunning 50-year-old J-Lo as she performed her physically demanding halftime routine at the Super Bowl, and a week later 82-year old Jane Fonda looked equally stunning as she closed out the ceremonies.  But why did she bring her coat with her - was coat check full?


2020 oscars jane fonda


Now, some final comments ...


  • King & Queen of the prom.


Scarlett johanssen and colin jost


  • Regal ...

Cynthia erivo  2020 oscars


  • Elton must have had a spare pair of eyeglasses.

  Billy porter at 2020 oscars


  • Where have you gone, Dolores Claiborne?


Kathy bates at 2020 oscars


  • The most touching moment of the night was actress Diane Ladd's reaction upon hearing the name of her daughter, Laura Dern, as winner of Best Supporting Actress.


Diane ladd and laura dern



  • Greta Gerwig vied with Mindy Kaling for most exquisite necklace.

  Greta gerwig at 2020 oscars


  • And lastly, as Salma Hayek so amusingly put it, she finally got to hold an Oscar on onstage.

 Selma and oscar 2020 oscars




When Grindr Came Calling - At the Office!



This week began in an interesting fashion.  As I was shifting into work mode on Monday morning, a meeting reminder popped up on my laptop, and I did a double take when I read that Grindr was giving a presentation at my office (it would have been a spit-take if I hadn't already finished my coffee).  Yes, Grindr!  Of course, I was very curious to hear how Grindr would position itself (no pun intended).  Amusingly, its director of ad sales used the term "experiences" rather than "hook ups" to describe the app's primary purpose.  But he added that the service, especially in the nation's hinterlands, was also a vehicle for making friends and building social communities; I raised a skeptical eyebrow - was "social communities" code for "orgies"?


Sitting there I thought back to presentations I attended in the 1980s in which the ad sales director of GQ tried his best to downplay the magazine's substantial gay readership because, in those days, non-fashion advertisers weren't keen to be found in a publication with those type of readers (especially automakers).  And a magazine like The Advocate couldn't even get its foot in the door of an ad agency.  So that's why today's presentation was so refreshing, because here was Grindr, embracing its gay subscribers.  However, even in these more enlightened times, I wondered if any mainstream advertisers would be eager to be associated with an app that has a rather salacious reputation (to put it mildly) - as suggested by this snarky meme:


Grindr humor


Some interesting stats were shared with us: On average, a Grindr subscriber is on the app 56 minutes each day (compared to 8 minutes/day for the typical Tinder user) and checks it 35 times.  However, the best statistic was that, based on Grindr's location-based stats, the gayest spot in the world is the Starbucks at the corner of 52nd St. and 8th Ave. in Manhattan (and all these years I assumed the gayest spot was the Vatican)!


Starbucks 8th ave and 52nd st
This Starbucks ... Gayest Spot on Earth?


As I continued listening to the sales pitch my mind drifted off as I mused that Grindr seeking advertising partnerships would have been comparable to the Saint Mark's Baths doing the same in the 1970s.  Yes, we've certainly come far from the time when The Advocate felt compelled to remove its 'Personals' section in order to attract advertisers.  But have we lost something by having the tawdry side of our lives (although presented in an amusingly sanitized way by Grindr) appropriated by social media ?


In the 1970s and '80s GQ had a difficult time attracting national advertisers because of its gay vibe.



Remembering 'Two Guys' And Its Unintentional Gay-Affirming Ad Slogan

Two guys store


Gay men have regularly been the target of fire-and-brimstone types who admonish that, according to the Bible, two men who "lay" with each other is an abomination.  Happily, this never caused me any sleepless nights.  However, their admonition about forbidden love came to mind when I moved to New Jersey in 1979 to begin my first job across the Hudson in New York.  During my initial weeks I became aware of a chain of discount stores called 'Two Guys'.  What got my attention was the store's tag line, "Two Guys ... "Naturally".  I was taken aback, what was up with that?  This vexed and amused me all at the same time because it was diametrically opposed to what society was constantly telling homosexuals. 




I found it curious that no one else seemed to give it a second thought.  I suppose it was because 1) they grew up with the store and 2) if they were heterosexual they never had the "laying with another man" line thrown at them.  (This was different from the Ben Gay brand,  which everyone snickered at.)  And it wasn't as if the store was founded from a wellspring of enlightenment and tolerance since the first store opened in the gay Dark Ages of the 1940s.  Then I read about the store's history and I discovered that the word "naturally" was part of a longer tag line that was shortened from, "We save money for you at Two Guys ... naturally."  So this was just a matter of my gay wiring putting a comical, ironic spin to it (as we homosexuals are wont to do).  Alas, the chain went out of business in the early 1990s.  It was ironic that as gay men rose in acceptance the store with the peculiar, suggestive name foundered.


Two guys naturally tote     


























Manhattan Mini-Storage Ad Features Creepy Gay Couple





Ads for Manhattan Mini-Storage (found mostly on the sides of buildings and in subway cars) are known for being topical as well as possessing a New York City "edge" to them (bringing to mind ads for Kenneth Cole).  And quite a few have an amusing gay sensibility to them.  However, one of the company's new ads that I've been seeing in subway cars creeps me out.  It features a smiling gay couple who have a peculiar look to them, half Stepford Wives, half Madam Tussaud's Wax Museum.  (I believe the model in the red sweater is one of the company's customer service agents.)  Another aspect of the ad that drew my attention is the headline that reads "We Like Musicals".  They just "like" musicals?  That makes them even more peculiar. However, despite their off-putting look, this wax-like duo still exudes more sexual chemistry than Modern Family's Mitchell and Cameron.




One last attention grabber is found on the square ad format displayed in subway cars.  Unlike the ad above, this format (which I've zoomed in on below) shows their crotches, revealing quite a "package" on the Black partner.  (And as those who ride the subway know, you can be standing for a while, so you find yourself staring at what's in front of you and end up studying it closely.)



The Scent of a Man ... in Advertising

Doritos.maninbedThe funny thing about advertising is how much of it gets my attention despite the fact that I'm rarely in the market for the products being advertised.  But, like a dog who stops everything whenever a squirrel is around, I do the same whenever a bare-chested man comes into my field of vision on the screen or printed page.  Like the ads that follow ...




This hunk's stunned expression in this TV ad comes after his wife tells him that he's using Summer's Eve Body Wash.


Manhunt billboard
This traffic-stopping billboard in Greenwich Village's Sheridan Square back in 2009 is for Manhunt's mobile app.


Breath Savers
It looks like blondie is ready to make the best of an awkward situation, thanks to Breath Savers


This is recruitment ad for the US Army is from a telephone kiosk in Greenwich Village.


This ad for Garnier conditioner from the early 2000s has a European feel to it. (As for me, whenever I pull a guy's hair I tend to tug on the hair at the nape of his neck.)


Leftovers poster with Justin Theroux
Tune-in ad in a subway station for the HBO drama "The Leftovers", starring sexy Justin Theroux (pictured).


Trainer Stefano Pinto served as spokesman in this 2012 ad for Voskos yogurt.


I'm guessing that his front is as  impressive as his back ...


New York-New York Hotel
Magazine ad for the NewYork-NewYork Hotel in Las Vegas.


1988 ad for Interface skin care's line of products for men.


Poster for the 1992 revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire" starring hirsute Alec Baldwin as Stanley Kowalski.


This is an ad for a construction company in northern India, Gaursons India Limited.  I came across it in a magazine in my hotel during a business trip to London about ten years ago.


From a 2015 TV commercial for Degree Dryspray for Men.



This ad for Liquid Plumr serves as an oasis for housewives bombarded by ads during Daytime TV for pharmaceuticals, burial insurance and lawyers.



Now for some reader participation, write your own scenario ...



Zippity do dah!

Celebrating The Sexiest Part of A Man's Body

Armpit.farmboyIn an episode during the first season of HBO's gay drama Looking, Patrick (played by Jonathan Groff) confides to a friend that he could lick his Hispanic boyfriend's hairy armpits for days.  Friends of mine and I agreed that this was a comment only a gay man could appreciate.  What makes the armpit such a turn-on?  Perhaps it's the animal attraction  created by the pheromones found there.  Or, unlike the pubic hair around a guys cock and balls, we can catch glimpses of armpit hair in public.  Last year I published "Paying Lustful Homage to Hairy Armpits" which was very popular.  Movie sequels are dicey because they often aren't as good as the original, but I'm hoping that's not the case with this post.



Even though it keeps getting thinner and the page size smaller, you can count on Next Magazine to have good armpit shots, sometimes on the cover or table of contents page.








We're bombarded with ads for feminine hygiene products and all sorts of medical conditions, yet deodorant/anti-perspirant advertisers are loathe to show a hairy armpit.  That's what makes a current campaign for Kraft Zesty Italian salad dressing so interesting.  Similar to Old Spice, the campaign features a sexy bare chested guy in a towel or swim trunks.  And although he has a smooth chest he prominently displays his hairy armpits. That's fine with me but even I find it a curious juxtaposition.







Speaking of advertising for deodorants, hairy armpits are rarely shown (at least in the US), so this TV ad for Degree Dry Spray for Men is notable - and welcome.





During the 2012 Summer Olympics I wrote about divers being sexier than swimmers because they don't shave as much of their body hair.  Two years later I think gymnasts trump divers because of how their muscled biceps enhance their armpits.


Kohei Uchimura (Japan)


Li Xiaopeng (China)


Max Whitlock (UK)


Louis Smith (UK)


Football, basketball and tennis players also have armpits to show off, courtesy of Michael Sam, Brandon Roy and Rafael Nadal.








The ads for gay.com always feature hairy armpits, even if the hair is often clipped.






Here's a nice shot from the 2007 gay-themed movie Shelter.




This photo of Indian actor Ranveer Singh caused some controversy in India, where it's frowned upon for someone of social prominence to expose a hairy armpit.




A typical sexy fashion spread from a 2013 issue of Out Magazine.  And his treasure trail is an added bonus.




Kittens romping all Max Greenfield in a scene from the Fox sitcom The New Girl.




While it's easy to see pit hair at the beach or gym, some of the best sightings are when you catch a glimpse somewhere else.  For example, what I like about this photo is that the armpit is somewhat hidden, showing just a hint of pit hair sticking out.




From the pages of Playgirl back in the late 1980s.  This centerfold was a  fireman from Southern California.




Finally, this sexy shot is of the virginal (and adorable) lead character from the silly 2006 movie simply titled Another Gay Movie.




"Jingle Bells" or "Jingle Balls"? Kmart Decks the Halls with Charmingly Risque TV Ad

Kmart_jingle_bellsNow this is some "ballsy" advertising!  Kmart recently unveiled a holiday ad for the 2013 season for its Joe Boxer line of men's boxer shorts (titled "Show Your Joe").  In it six studly bell-ringers go from ringing traditional bells to shaking their balls while showing off their boxers in a quasi Chippendale's production.  Although risque, it's also charming, and Kmart maintained some dignity as the bell ringers kept their tuxedo jackets on throughout.  Gay apparel indeed - and a delightful ad you don't want to fast-forward through!  Double cllick here to view it.


Here are a few other holiday-themed posts you may enjoy:

A Salute to Ads that Spread Holiday Cheer 

Bette Midler Spreads Holiday Cheer in Honda Ad

Martha Stewart's First Christmas Special Airs 



A Salute to Rainbow Twizzlers - The Gayest Candy of Them All?

Gay_twizzlersAlthough I've had them on a number of occasions, it wasn't until recently that it dawned on me that multi-hued Twizzlers corresponded closely to the colors of the Gay Pride rainbow flag.  And after doing research on the topic of candy, I came to the conclusion that this line extension of Twizzlers licorice makes it the most gay-friendly candy on the market.  (I also learned that a "twizzler" is an urban term for a homosexual.)  Although they've been sold for a number of years, rainbow Twizzlers have somehow managed to escape the wrath of anti-gay groups.

And here are the other contenders for the "Gay-Friendly" title:


  • Good & Fruity - Like rainbow colored Twizzlers, another line extension, this one of Good'n Plenty.  Its name and hot pink-colored box make it a no-brainer.




  • Pixie Sticks - It goes without saying, doesn't it?  Lik-A-Maid falls into the same category, i.e. "tongue candies".  Perhaps in an attempt to de-sexualize it, the candy has been renamed Lik-M-Maid.




  • Long Boys - Need I explain?




  • Whoppers - What else could it be referring to?  "Low Hangers" was another possible brand name, but it didn't test as well with consumers.




  • Ike & Mike - There's no truth to the rumor that the candy was originally called Bruce & Jason.





  • Candy Necklaces/Buttons - With our innate sense of fashion, many of us were no doubt drawn to this confection as children.




  • Big Hunk - Despite its name it isn't a steroid-infused chocolate bar.  Rather, it's roasted peanuts covered in honey-sweetened nougat.


  • And we finish with Nips. I think the following product description from the brand's website perfectly captures how enticing nips can be:  

For people who need a break from life's little irritations, NIPS® is the rich and creamy hard candy that provides a soothing diversion. Each NIPS candy has its own distinct and truly satisfying flavor. This hard candy is known for its smooth, creamy texture and bite-size eat with an unmistakable hint or "nip" of flavor – hence the name "NIPS".




There it is, an ode to the nipple.  A soothing "diversion" indeed.


Carlos Santos - The Year's Sexiest TV Pitchman?

Carlos_santos Carlos_santos_metropcsA few years ago metroPCS had, in my estimation, some of the worst advertising on TV, with ads that dealt in dreadful Pakistani stereotypes.  This year, the company's ads caught my attention again, but this time in a very positive way because of their sexy, new spokesperson, actor/comedian Carlos Santos.  His jaunty swagger combined with a cute wink and broad smile at the end of his sales pitch are pretty irresistible.  Double click to see it here.


Santos joins a long line of appealing pitchmen from previous years:

  • Actor Matt Walton for Optimum Voice:


  • The duo from Liquid Plummer Double Impact:


  • The Right Guard guy from a few years ago ("The Man Your Man Should Smell Like"):


  • Finally, Lucky Vanous, who in 1994 was ogled by appreciative female office workers as he drank a can of diet Coke at a construction site.


With TV ads like these, why would anyone want to fast-forward through the commercials?







TV Commercial for Amazon's Kindle Delights With Surprise Gay Twist

Occasionally, while watching a show I recorded on my DVR, I forget it's been recorded and I sit through the commercials.  This happened to me last week while I was watching Modern Family.  Happily, because of my obliviousness, I saw a great ad (in 2013). 





The commercial opens with a man and woman sitting at a beach resort, both reading their e-books.  The man engages her after noticing that she is having a much easier time reading her device in the bright sunshine than he is.  It turns out she has the new Kindle Paperwhite.  When he makes a somewhat flirtatious comment, the woman nicely informs him that her husband is at the bar getting her a drink.  The fellow then replies that his husband, too, is at the bar.  Cut to a shot of the two husbands standing side-by-side at the bar, looking back and waving at their respective spouses (I'm not certain, but I think the gay hubby is on the left).  

What made seeing this even better was the fact that I watched it without having heard or read about it, so it was truly a delightful surprise.  And it was appropriate that it aired during Modern Family.

This ad aired nearly 20 years after Ikea caused a stir with perhaps the first ad with a gay angle, depicting a male couple shopping for furniture.  Since then, there have also been notable ads from Toyota, Levis and Orbitz; however, the majority of gay ads have been produced for European television.  (Click here to view AdWeek's 50 Gayest Ads Ever.)