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The Baffling Murder of Gianni Versace (July 15, 1997)

Gianni_versace

 

Gay serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy claimed many more victims than Andrew Cunanan.  However, Cunanan may be more famous because the last of his five victims was world famous fashion designer Gianni Versace, who was gunned down in broad daylight the morning of July 15, 1997 in front of his mansion in Miami's swanky South Beach neighborhood.  He was 50.  Seventeen years later the motive behind this sensational crime continues to be a mystery.  Did the openly gay Versace even know Cunanan and if he did, under what circumstances?  How was it that Cunanan happened to be in front of the mansion when Versace went out to pick up coffee and magazines, something he did infrequently?  And why did Versace have $1,200 in cash in his pocket?

 

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The 27-year-old Cunanan walked away after the shooting and became a fugitive.  Eight days later he committed suicide on a houseboat not far from the murder scene.  He took his life the day after the grand memorial service for Versace was held in Milan.  Among the countless A-list friends/clients who attended were Princess Diana and Elton John.  Sadly, many of the same people would be in attendance at Diana's funeral less than two months later.    

 

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Twenty-one years later, in the winter of 2018, a nine-part mini-series that attempts to unravel the mystery about the murder, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, aired on the FX cable network.  It starred Edgar Ramirez as Versace, Darren Criss as Cunanan, Ricky Martin as Versace's boyfriend, Antonio, and Penelope Cruz as Donatella Versace.  Ryan Murphy was executive producer and directed the first episode.

 

 Versace in swimming pool

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Versace mini-series

 

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The Aphrodisiac of Power: The Sexiest World Leaders

They say power is the greatest aphrodisiac - and all the better if that power is wielded by a handsome face.  Inspired by Mexico's dashing new president, this post salutes fashionable and sexy heads of state.  Not surprisingly, few of the world's presidents, prime ministers, sultans and dictators are heartthrobs.  However, I managed to find nine heads of state who are worthy of some adolescent ogling - and two honorable mentions.  (Ages are as of July 2014).

 

ENRIQUE PENA NIETO

President of Mexico

Age: 47

The youngest of my choices, he was elected president on July 1, 2013 (with less than 40% of the vote).  Appearance-wise he reminds me of a Latin Jon Huntsman but having sired two illegitimate children his personal life is more like that of John Edwards.

 

Enrique_pena_nieto_mexico

 

Enrique_pena_nieto

 

BARACK OBAMA

President of the United States

Age: 52

He may wear "mom" jeans when he's relaxing, but Obama wears a suit very well (European fit, no doubt).  Furthermore, he has a great gait, a wonderful smile and a soothing, intelligent speaking voice.  Even his graying hair hasn't detracted from his sex appeal.

 

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BENJAMIN NETANYAHU

Prime Minister of Israel

Age: 64

Exuding classic Israeli arrogance and swagger, he infuriates the Arab world because he can be as stubborn and vengeful as they are.  A very hot soldier as a young man, Netanyahu is now an honorary "Silver Daddy".

 

Netanyahu

 Netanyah_young_man

 

RAFAEL CORREA

President of Ecuador

Age: 51

This charismatic and very popular president was pals with the late Venezuelan strongman, Hugo Chavez.  His style somewhat resembles that of New Jersey's blowhard governor Chris Christie (minus a few hundred pounds).  As president he once confronted police during a strike and dared them to shoot him.  Instead, they took him hostage and he was rescued by the army.

 

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SEBASTIAN PINERA

Former president of Chile

Age: 64

Very suave and handsome in a John Forsythe kind of way, he looks like a head of state from central casting.  He came to the world's attention a few years ago during the miraculous rescue of the Chilean miners.  His term ended at the beginning of the 2014.

 

Sebastian_pinera_chile4

 

Sebastian_pinera_chile

 

HAMID KARZAI

President of Afghanistan

Age: 56

He may be a double-dealing prick of an  "ally" (who will be out of office soon), but he gets style points for his tribal hat.  And he looks good without it as well.  Reminds me of Ben Kingsley.

 

Karzai_without_hat

 

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QABOOS BIN SAID AL SAID

Sultan of Oman

Age: 72

He of the beautiful, flowing robes.  The oldest of my choices, he's said to be gay.

 

Sultan_of_oman3

 

Sultan_of_oman

 

JOSE MARIA NVES

Prime Minister of Cape Verde Islands

Age: 54

Jose Maria Neves (Prime Minister of the Cape Verde Islands, age 54) - A tip of the hat to this tiny nation of 500,000.  Neves has the same professorial look that makes President Obama sexy.

 

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Cape_verde_islands3 

 

DMITRY MEDVEDEV

Prime Minister of Russia

Age: 48

Dmitry Medvedev (Prime Minister of Russia, age 48) - And finally, representing the northern latitudes, the pasty Dmitry Medvedev.  Last year he recently handed over power to his diabolical mentor, Vladimir Putin, but is still prime minister.  He has a boyish appeal (somewhat reminds me of Simon Cowell).  Unlike Putin, there haven't been any photos circulated of a barechested Medvedev out in the wilderness.

 

Dmitry_medvedev2

 

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HONORABLE MENTION

Both resigned in 2012, Serbia's president Boris Tadic and Portugal's prime minister Jose Socrates.  And both are 56  and look somewhat alike - separated at birth?  Under Socrates' leadership same-sex marriage was legalized in Portugal in 2011.

 

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Boris Tadic

 

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Jose Socrates

   


RuPaul Releases 1st CD, "Supermodel of the World" (June 8, 1993)

SupermodelFour months after RuPaul's fabulously catchy and campy single Super Model (You Better Work) hit clubs, radio airwaves and MTV the 6'4" (without heels) drag performer's debut CD Supermodel of the World was released the week of June 8, 1993.  And in gay circles the phrase "Shante, shante, shante!" was the "it" phrase of the year.  For the rest of the 1990's he seemed to be everywhere flashing his megawatt smile.  (I was especially enamored by his cameos in the two Brady Brunch movies as guidance counselor Mrs. Cummings!) 

 

Rupaul_as_manTwenty years later the 51-year old RuPaul Andre Charles (pictured, left) still has an active career and is presently hosting RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo TV.  Only Madonna, the Pet Shop Boys and Liza have been going at it longer.  He certainly has taken the edict "You better work" to heart.

 

 

 

 


Disco Diva Grace Jones Born (May 19, 1948)

Gracejones_warhol 30 years before Lady Gaga, Grace Jones was making herself known with her striking presence, outrageous fashion sense, distinct singing voice and inventive performance videos.   Born and raised in Jamaica (birth name: Grace Mendoza), she moved with her family to the snow belt city of Syracuse, New York state when she was in her teens.  Before becoming a singer she was a model who became part of Andy Warhol's glam circle.  To me, she resembles an Amazonian version of Eartha Kitt.  At the height of her fame, Grace gave birth to a son, Paulo, who is now 38 (as of April 2018). 

 

 

 

Gracejones_sunglasses 

 

Every year between 1977 and 1982 Grace released an album (and ten overall), but none became big commercial hits.  Her highest charting LP, 1981's Nightclubbing, made it only to #32 on Billboard's album chart.  However, songs such as I Need a Man (her first); Do or Die; and Pull up to the Bumper were big club hits.  Besides those, other favorites of mine include La Vie en Rose; Nipple to the Bottle; Unlimited Capacity for Love; and Slave to the Rhythm.  Her music style was hard to categorize - a bit disco, a bit new wave, a bit R&B.

 

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In the 1980s, her Warhol years behind her, she tested her mainstream appeal by appearing in action movies such as Conan the Destroyer and was cast as the villain in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill.  She also appeared in TV and print ads for Honda scooters. 

 

Gracejones_honda 

 

 

 

 

Update: In time for her 70th birthday, a well-received documentary about Grace was released in April 2018 titled Bloodlight and Bami. And although it had very limited distribution it did well in the few markets where it screened.

 

Grace jones - bloodlight and bami


An Appreciation of Kenneth Cole (March 23, 1954)

 

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March 24 is fashion designer Kenneth Cole's birthday; he was born in Brooklyn in 1954.  Although he's not gay (he's married to one of Mario Cuomo's daughters) he's been a true friend of the gay community.  Since shortly after starting his company in 1982, Cole has supported gay causes, especially those dealing with AIDS research and prevention.  He's done this through fund raising as well as advertising messaging.  He's presently chairman of amfAR, which is dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education and the advocacy of AIDS-related public policy.

 

Amfar

 

I was very familiar with Cole's store at Grand Central Station/42nd St. (pictured, below) because it was in my work neighborhood.  Over the years I had bought shoes, ties, a couple of suits and a briefcase there.  (His product line reminds me of Banana Republic's.)  Earlier in 2011 the company closed two of its Manhattan stores in prime locations, at Rockefeller Center and on Columbus Ave.  And then in the spring of 2016 the Grand Central location also closed its doors.  It presently has locations in SoHo and on 5th Ave. and 57th St. 

 

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Rather than dripping with sex, or using high profile celebrities, Cole's ads are better known for their clever wordplay and commentary about world events.  And, unlike Calvin Klein, the ads aren't homoerotic in the least (but the pro-same-sex marriage ad, below, is very touching - and powerful).

 

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Aaah ... Underwear Ads!

MensunderwearWhat gay man doesn't love looking at underwear ads?  And it's not just ads for Calvin Klein that can take your breath away (although CK's portfolio has some of the most alluring in the men's fashion industry).  I've chosen some favorites from my archives to share.  Believe me, it was a challenge limiting my choices to just five.  But since I have so many ads in my collection I'm making this a regular feature.

 

  • Calvin Klein.  For all that he's contributed to the men's fashion underwear market it seems fitting to begin with a Calvin Klein ad.  It's from this year and features Spanish tennis star Fernando Verdasco (who knew there was another Spanish tennis player other than Rafael Nadal?).  It differs from other years for its dash of color and Verdasco's tossled, just-out-of-bed hair.

 

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  • Abercrombie & Fitch.  Although much of this brand's eye candy was on display in its in-house magazine, this is a magazine ad from the late 1990s.  Of course, a gaggle of young women surround this young buck, a common Abercrombie device.

 

Abercrombie   

 

  • Fruit of the Loom.  What makes this ad from 1980 of particular interest is that it features a hairy chested model.  Nowadays nary a chest hair is seen, the legacy of photographers Bruce Weber and Herb Ritts who depicted their models as Greek and Aryan gods.  Also of note are the model's striking, "drag queen" eyes.

 

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  • Calvin Klein.  Antonio Sabato Jr. modeled for Klein in the early to mid-1990s, overlapping with Marky Mark (remember their va-va-voom giant billboards in Times Square?).  What's interesting about this ad is that I found it on the back cover of the political commentary magazine The New Republic.  Perhaps it was due to the presence at the time of its openly gay editor, Andrew Sullivan.  An interesting use of plastic water cooler bottles as props.  And Sabato's boyish look is sexy as hell.

 

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  • Jockey.  Like the ad above, this is another that proves that bare chests aren't always necessary for conveying sex appeal.  Jockey featured physicians in one execution and firemen in a second.

 

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Jockey_firemen_spread 

 

For underwear aficionados here are three blogs devoted to the subject (and I'm sure there are plenty more): Men's Underwear Blog, Underwear Newsbriefs and Jockboy Locker.  Also, Universal Gear in Chelsea (140 8th Avenue) has a good selection and Macy's and Bloomingdale's also have extensive inventories.  Sadly, a store devoted entirely to men's briefs, Wonderwear on Greenwich Avenue, closed after less than two years.  Apparently, a retail establishment can't survive on underwear alone.


A Glance Back at 2011 - From a Gay Perspective

Cuomo_at_gaypride_paradePolitics - The two biggest stories of 2011 were New York state's legalization of same-sex marriage(coinciding with Gay Pride weekend) and the ending of the U.S. military's shameful "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.  But we could still count on continued intolerance by Republicans as they booed a gay soldier during one of the Republican debates.

 

 

Bill_cunningham_nytimesFashion - Critically acclaimed documentaires were released about New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham (left) and designer Yves St. Laurent; an exhibit of late fashion designer Alexander McQueen's work was a huge draw at the Met; John Galliano, head designer at Christian Dior was fired after making drunken anti-Semitic remarks to patrons at a restaurant in Paris.

 

Gay-themed Movies of Note - Weekend; Heartbeats; Beginners; and the documetary Making the Boys.

 

Aaron_schock_menshealthThorBodies Beautiful - Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love; Chris Hemsworth in Thor (near right); Taylor Lautner in the latest Twilight sequel; and supposedly straight, rightwing Illinois congressman Aaron Schock on the cover of Men's Health.  Finally, after performances of his acclaimed one-man show Hugh Jackman occasionally auctioned off his sweat soaked t-shirt.

 

NYC Nightlife - The cowboy bar Flaming Saddles opened in Hell's Kitchen; Boxers joined Gym Bar as Chelsea's second sports bar; Splash celebrated its 20th anniversary; Viceroy and Vinyl restaurants in Chelsea closed.  Meanwhile, Next Magazine's page size continued to shrink.  

 

Ladygaga_billboardmagazine_bornthiswayMusic - Erasure's Then I Go Twisting and Kelly Rowland's What a Feeling; in February Lady Gaga's single Born This Way became the 1,000th song to hit #1 in the history of Billboard's Hot 100 chart.   

 

 

RIP - Pioneering gay civil rights activist Frank Kameny; AIDS angel Elizabeth Taylor; John Geddes Lawrence, plaintiff in landmark Lawrence v Texas anti-sodomy Supreme Court case; disco diva Loleatta Hollaway.

 

Chazbono_dancingwiththestarsChaz Bono - A documentary and book about Chaz's female-to-male transition received considerable attention as did his appearance as a male contestant on Dancing with the Stars.  (Carson Kressley also competed).

 

 

 

Milestones - Crisco turned 100 and Ricky Martin hit the big 4-0.

 

Fire_island_pines_fire_advocateA fire in November in the harbor of Fire Island Pines destroyed the Pavilion dance club and Sip-n Twirl bar (and a number of other businesses).

 

 

Actor Zachary Quinto came out (not to be confused with actor Jeremy Sisto).  Still not out: Olympic gold medal figure skaters Evan Lysacek and Brian Boitano; singer/actress/Cover Girl spokesperson Queen Latifah; Emmy Award winning actor Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory).

 

Nate_berkusTalk Show Roulet - Without Oprah's presence housewives apparently weren't interested in an entire hour of Nate Berkus (left) as his home design show was cancelled after just one season.  The same fate may await Anderson Cooper's snoozer of an afternoon talk show which debuted in the fall (housewives may not be as enamored with him as gay men at the David Barton Gym are).  And Rosie O'Donnell tried for a comeback with a talk show on Oprah's OWN cable network.  

 

NeilPatrickHarrisTonyAwardsShow2011_article_story_mainNeil Patrick Harris continued to dazzle as host of the Tony Awards.  The theme for this year's teleast was: "It's not for gays anymore!"  Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart won the Tony for Best Revival of a Play, out actor John Benjamin Hickey won for Best Featured Actor and Ellen Barkin for Best Featured Actress.

 

SubwaycrushA fun new website was launched in June named "Subway Crush"which gives riders an opportunity to share pics of cute guys they've admired riding the subway.

 

Gay_guy_happyendingsSofia_vergaraThe new ABC sitcom, Happy Endings, (following Modern Family) features a slovenly gay character, Max, who has few stereotypical gay traits.  And speaking of Modern Family, who do you love more, Sofia Vergara or gay daddies Cam and Mitchell?

 

On Curb Your Enthusiasm Larry David coined the term "pre-gay" to describe his girlfriend's delightfully precocious young son who showed all the obvious traits of being gay (he was a big fan of Project Runway).  The little boy is the spitting image of Kurt from Glee

 

 

 

Threeway_snlSaturday Night Live aired a music video titled "It's OK If It's In a Threeway", featuring Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Adam Samberg.  The show also had a hysterical skit about a game show called "Who's on Top?" in which non-gay male celebrities were paired up and constestants had to choose which one would be the "top" if the celebs were engaged in gay sex. 

 

Still MIA: Rupert Everett

 

SheridansquareFinally, as the year came to a close a sexy billboard for Manhunt Mobile went up, overlooking Sheridan Square, bringing back fond memories of the gay West Village of the '70s and '80s.

      

   


Katharine Hepburn Stars in the Broadway Musical "Coco" (December 18, 1969)

 

Hepburn_as_coco_chanel

 

The thought of Katharine Hepburn singing seemed as preposterous as Liberace playing the banjo - and yet somehow it came to pass.  She starred in the Broadway show Coco, a musical about the life of famed fashion designer Coco Chanel.  It opened on December 18, 1969 and ran for nine-and-a-half months.  Nominated for six Tony Awards, including Hepburn for Best Actress, the show won in two categories (Rene Auberjonois for Best Featured Actor and Cecil Beaton for Costume Design).  No doubt tickets for this show were in the Christmas stockings of many gay men that holiday season.  

 

 

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Hepburn was 62 at the time and this was the only musical production of her career.  Legend has it that Chanel was miffed when she realized it was Katharine and not Audrey Hepburn, twenty-one years younger than Kate, who would be portraying her.  Chanel died a few months after the show closed (at the age of 87.)  

 

Nearly forty years later, in September 2008, Shirley MacLaine portrayed Chanel in a made-for-cable movie on Lifetime (a non-musical version).  She played the older Chanel while another actress played the younger Coco.  (It was jarring that while the younger actress affected a French accent MacLaine didn't bother with one.)

 

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The number from Coco that was performed at the 1970 Tony Awards was the lengthiest in Tony history - 16 minutes!  Here is a portion of it:

 

 

 

Finally, Coco is also noteworthy because Michael Bennett, just 26 years old at the time, was its choreographer.  He received a Tony nomination for his efforts, as he did for Promises, Promises the year before.  Then almost thirteen years to the date of Coco, he directed and choreographed  Dreamgirls, which opened on December 20, 1981.  This time he won the Tony for choreography.  (And in between those two shows he directed and choreographed A Chorus Line.) 

 

 

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Eye Candy Are the Stars of Sexy Men's Underwear Ads

Here's the fifth installment of enthralling men's underwear ads from my personal collection.  Let the drooling begin ...

 

  • Nautica - Exactly what purpose does the woman in the background of this ad serve?  To draw in straight men, giving them permission to furtively glance at the hot man in the foreground?  Whatever the reason, her inclusion is puzzling, even comical.  Reminds me how every International Male catalog has a token woman on at least one of its pages.

 

Nautica_undrwer 

 

  • Nautica - Another beautiful Nautica ad, but in this execution the model's lady friend is out of the picture.  The ad evokes a feeling of being away at some balmy beach paradise.

 

Nautica_underrwear 

 

  • Perry Ellis - A number of things in this ad draw in the reader.  First, it's kinda sexy how his slightly damp briefs slightly cling to his butt.  Second, the glimpse of his face and pecs in the mirror indicate he's a sexy fellow.  And what's on his mind?  Work issues?  Relationship troubles?  Contact lens just fell down the drain?  

 

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  • Emporio Armani - No need for his name to appear on the ad because he's the world's most recognizable metrosexual (i.e., David Beckham).

 

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  • Calvin Klein - This ad for the X-line of briefs features Japanese soccer superstar Hidetoshi Nakata (now retired at the age of 36).  Everything about this ad is pleasing - Nakata's sweat glistening body, the splash of color, the brief's pouch, even the giant 'X' splayed across his torso.

 

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  • Fruit of the Loom - This ad is from the late 1970s.  The white towel and aqua briefs contrast nicely with the model's skin color. 

 

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If you missed any of the other four installments on underwear ads, here are their links:

Men's Underwear Ads - No Ands, Ifs ... Just Sexy Butts

More Ogle-Worthy Men's Underwear Ads

Joy to the World - More Alluring Men's Underwear Ads

Aaah ... Underwear Ads!

 

 

 


Matthew McConaughey for Dolce & Gabbana: The Least Sexy Ad of the Year?

 

In addition to the Oscars, Hollywood also has the Razzies, which honor the worst movies and performances of the year.  Perhaps a similar award can be handed out to ad agencies that create magazine ads that try to exude sex ap. peal but don't pull it off. 

 

What brought this to mind is and ad I had seen a number of times (in 2011) in the New Yorker for Dolce & Gabbana's men's fragrance, "The One Gentleman".  Featuring actor Matthew McConaughey, it drew my attention, but for all the wrong reasons.  He's shown reclining with his shirt wide open, exposing an oddly smooth, airbrushed chest that has little definition.  It appears more like the flat chest of a young girl than that of a Lothario.  

 

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This execution is particularly surprising coming from D&G, which has a reputation for some of the hottest campaigns around, particularly those using Italian soccer and rugby players.  (To be fair, the other ads in the McConaughey campaign aren't quite as cringe-worthy.)

 

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When I see the McConaughey ad, I think of guys who pour on their cologne so thickly you can smell them many feet away.  They're probably the same guys who are in the market for a Donald Trump suit.  Who knows, perhaps this is who D&G is trying to attract.  If it is, they're not going to reach them by advertising in the New Yorker.

 

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