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Paris Elects a Gay Mayor (March 18, 2001)

Klaus_wowereit_gay_berlin_mayor Bertrand_delanoe_gay_mayor_parisBack in 2001, in the space of just three months, two openly gay candidates were elected mayors of "world class" European cities.  First, 50-year-old Bertrand Delanoe (pictured, near right) was elected mayor of Paris on March 18.  This made Paris (with a population of 2.1 million) the largest city in the world with a gay mayor.  Then in June voters in Berlin (population 3.4 million) took that distinction away from Paris when it also elected a gay mayor, 47-year-old Klaus Wowereit .  (Coincidentally, the German city of Hamburg also elected a gay mayor that very same year.)  Delanoe remained mayor through the spring of 2014 when he was replaced by his deputy mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who became the first woman to hold the office in Paris.  


18 months after his election Delanoe was stabbed in the stomach as he walked through a street festival by a Muslim immigrant with homophobic views.  After surgery he remained in the hospital nearly two weeks.  (This happened a week before I arrived in Paris for my first visit.)


1213-annise-parker-houston-mayor_full_600 And then in 2009 Houston became the first U.S. city with 1 million+ residents to elect a gay mayor, lesbian Anisse Parker.  Before that, the largest U.S. cities with gay mayors had been Portland, Oregon and Providence, Rhode Island.




Paying Lustful Homage to Hairy Armpits

Nothing gets some guys going like the sight and scent of a man's armpits, something of a secret delight for many a gay man.  Although this post can't offer the scent or tactile sensation, the photos chosen should be more than enough to rev one's engines ... 


This photo is from the 2003 movie Testosterone, starring former Calvin Klein underwear model Antonio Sabato, Jr., who played a gay Argentinian with a mysterious past.  The scene pictured here shows his lover, Dean (played by Daniel Sutcliffe), waking up in their LA home.




This photo of quarterback Matt Leinart comes from a People Magazine cover story about sexy athletes (Summer of 2006).  He's best known for winning the 2004 Heisman Trophy and leading the Trojans of USC to the BCS Championship.  His NFL career never quite took off, but he's still on the roster of the Raiders.




This beautiful cover is from a very early issue (circa 1993) of the defunct HX Magazine, before color was introduced.




I've always found actor Eric Balfour very sexy.  He first came to my attention as the boyfriend of Lauren Ambrose's character in the first few seasons of Six Feet Under.  He's done a lot of TV, and some movies, but has never broken out in a big way.




This stunning photo of actor Mark Ruffalo, in a pose suggesting post-coital bliss, is from an issue of the Advocate.  In the accompanying interview, Ruffalo was asked about the appeal of his furry chest to gay men but, as so often is the case, no mention was made of his hairy pits.  No matter, we got this hot shot (perhaps the photographer was a connoisseur).




Every now and then Sports Illustrated throws a bone to its gay readership.




Another in a long line of Abercrombie & Fitch cock teases ...




With Rafael Nadal getting all of the attention, I was unaware of another Spanish tennis star, Fernando Verdasco.  But leave it to Calvin Klein to discover, and undress, him.  As the title of the Robert Palmer song says, "I didn't mean to turn you on" ...




This photo is from Matthew Bourne's all-male version of Swan Lake that made it to Broadway in the autumn of 1998 during its international tour.




If, for some reason, you find yourself watching a basketball game on TV, there's always the hope of ogling an armpit during a foul shot.  However, all too often, the camera pulls away to follow the arc of the ball as it goes towards the hoop.  For all of those dashed hopes, GQ offered this shot of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant's multi-million dollar pit hair.




This pair of lust-inspiring pits are courtesy of the Undergear catalog.




What adds to the appeal of this cover shot from 4 years ago is the hint of pit hair peaking out from Taylor Lautner's soaked t-shirt ...





Finally, when this angel fell from heaven, he landed in a bathtub (the photo appeared in a 2006 issue of MetroSource Magazine).





You may also find the following posts of interest:

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

Sexy Men, Soaking Wet

Sexy Magazine Ads Dripping With Testosterone



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.) 



A Gay Laff Riot - Funny, Campy Postcards

If you're undecided about whether someone is gay, show them the following cards and if they don't crack a smile, you have your answer.


When I moved to New York in 1979 there was a card store on Christopher St. called Greetings and it was chockablock with campy, irreverent cards.  This one here was one of the best.  34 years later it still makes me chortle with delight.




40 years after the publication of Erica Jong's Fear of Flying ...




This scene from a classic episode of I Love Lucy is from a book of pre-paid postcards issued by the US Postal Service a few years ago that honored personalities of classic TV.




How true ...




It seemed somehow fitting that I found this postcard discarded on a sidewalk.




Leave it to drag performer Mimi Imfurst to tackle such a controversial role ...




Any postcard with Joan Crawford on it (or Faye Dunaway as Joan) is guaranteed to elicit a smile from any card-carrying homosexual.




This card came out shortly after the word "metrosexual" entered the lexicon at the the turn of the 21st century.




His donning of gay apparel should have been her tip off (this was a Christmas card) ...




From The New Yorker, for the benefit of its BDSM readership.




Ads from the 1930s and 1940s are a goldmine for campy re-interpretation ...




As Peggy Lee might ask, "Is that all there is to a muscle hunk?"  And I'm sure we all have our own stories of disappointment ...




After taking her first draw from one of those "funny" cigarettes, her Midwestern virtue went out the window.  Thus began the Bohemian adventures of a ...




 No doubt fueled by a vodka stinger ...




Another classic from my favorite card store (RIP).  The flip side of this card identifies the dog walker as "Miss Dish".




If you liked this, you may also enjoy a post in a similar vein:  What Tickles a Gay Man's Funny Bone.

New York Gay Life as Depicted in Postcards


I've previously published posts that were based on my collection of magazine covers and print ads (e.g., "Print Ads w/Gay Vibe").  I also have an extensive collection of postcards.  Some of the best are freebies found in postcard racks at restaurants and bars that describe the zeitgeist of the time.  This post looks at some of my favorites gathered between 1995-2001.  So, let's begin our trip in my time capsule ...


In the 1980s Uncle Charlie's was undoubtedly the most popular gay bar in New York City, but its popularity waned after Splash opened in the early '90s.  The bar had locations on 3rd Avenue in Murray Hill as well as on Greenwich Ave.  Between 1990-1992 I lived in an apartment that was across the street from the Greenwich Ave. location.  From my kitchen window I could watch who went in and out as well as observe an occasional cat fight.




This off-Broadway play 2 Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter's Night was the first production of Rattlestick Theater, located on Waverly Place.  It opened in the spring of 1995.





This is one of the most beautiful postcards in my collection.  It was for a benefit for Bailey House, which provides housing for homeless individuals with AIDS.  It's located at the west end of Christopher St. near the West Side Highway.




Raymond Dragon (pictured below), a porn actor and director, had a stint as a designer of swimsuits and workout gear in the second half of the 1990s.  He owned a popular clothing store on 7th Avenue in Chelsea.  I bought one of my favorite swimsuits of all time there in the summer of 1997 -  a vivid blue square cut with a vertical strip of metallic silver on one side.  Dragon turned 52 this summer (2013).






The very popular Food Bar opened in the early 1990s just as gay life in NYC was moving northward into Chelsea (Splash opened at about the same time).  Located on 8th Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets, it closed in 2009.  (A Chipotle is now there.)  Candy Bar was another nearby restaurant, but it didn't meet with the same wild success as Food Bar.





Antonio Sabato, Jr. was ubiquitous in the first half of the 1990s as a Calvin Klein underwear model (along with Marky Mark).  You could find him in magazine and TV ads, on one of Times Square's giant billboards and on free postcards like this one.  Sabato turned 42 at the end of February 2014.




This was a great series of ads for Chanel for Men.  Each had a scent packet on the back of the postcard.  The only line of copy was in small type on the bottom of the card and said either, "If he wears nothing else", or "What should he wear?"




Ah, our Patti!  At the time of this 1995 ad campaign LuPone was in her mid-40s.  Career wise, her stint on the ABC drama Life Goes On had ended a few years earlier, and in 1994 she was unceremoniously fired by Andrew Lloyd Weber from the London production of Sunset Boulevard (before it came to Broadway).




Varla Jean Merman was a popular drag performer, who claimed to be the daughter of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine.  Besides having a great singing voice, Varla Jean was also known for being able to sing while spraying an entire can of string cheese into her mouth.  She had a daytime job (as Jeffrey Roberson) in the creative department of ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding, where I also worked (between 1995-2001).  I remember seeing her perform at a number of company holiday parties.  This postcard is promoting her 2001 Christmas concert at Town Hall, a benefit for God's Love We Deliver.




This sexy postcard was an ad for a hair salon on West 16th St.




Body Positive promoted its 1998 Academy Awards benefit/party with this postcard.  It was held at the club Twirl, located on West 23rd St.  Back then, the Oscar telecast aired on Monday night in late March.




In the late '90s the sports bar Champs opened a few blocks north of Splash but it couldn't compete, and closed after a few years.  This postcard was for one of its theme nights.  10 years later, a more successful sports bar, Gym Sports Bar, opened on 8th Ave near 19th Street. (Its website incorrectly touts itself as being NYC's Original Gay Sports Bar.)




This postcard was for the first Tulips & Pansies AIDS benefit, held in 2001.  It was like the Tournament of Roses Parade, but with the floral arrangements worn as headdresses.




This next postcard promoted a CD in which songs composed with men and women singing to the opposite sex were performed in same-sex fashion.  There was a separate CD for men singing to men, and women singing to women (and another postcard in which two women are in the foreground).




The "Trocs" are a troupe of accomplished male dancers dressed as ballerinas.  Each dancer has a wonderfully daffy Russian name.  I saw them perform a number of times at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea (two doors up from Gym Bar).




Here's something for the ladies, a lesbian dance party.  It was held at the club Industria on Washington St. in the West Village, and was a benefit for a show titled Vegas Girl.  The party promoter also organized a regular women's event called Planetgirl.




The Gay & Lesbian Community Center opened on West 13th St. in the mid-80s.  The building, a former high school, was in disrepair, so in the late '90s a renovation began.  During that time the Center temporarily relocated to the Meat Packing District (before it became a yuppie/Gen X magnet).  This postcard announced the Center's re-opening in the spring of 2001.







Homosexuality Declassified As Mental Illness (December 15, 1973)

Dsm_volumes A landmark event in gay history occurred on December 15, 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in its Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, aka DSM.  I was 16 at the time and not yet aware of my sexual orientation so I didn't know what it was like to live with this stigma, but it could hardly have been good for self esteem - and probably contributed to mental health problems.  However, despite this step forward society would still find plenty of ways to continue the stigmatization of gay men and lesbians.  But wave upon wave of activism by homosexuals on multiple fronts (assisted by straight supporters) has eroded and broken down a multitude of barriers.


American_psychological_association To appease those in the mental health profession who disagreed with this declassification, a new disorder was classified in 1980 - Ego Dystonic Homosexuality.  Individuals suffering from this disorder were homosexuals who wished their sexual orientation was different (the way some in society still would like us to feel).  It would be de-listed in 1986.


Finally, in 2006 the Pentagon announced that it no longer deemed homosexuality a mental disorder - but it would still be another five years before the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was ended.


A more comprehensive discussion of this topic can be found at: http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_mental_health.html  




The Vatican Bans Gay Seminarians (November 29, 2005)

SeminariansTo quell outrage over the cover-up of child abuse in the US by Roman Catholic priests, the Vatican scapegoated gay men by banning their admission to seminaries.  However, the ban that was announced on Nov. 29, 2005 was akin to rescinding an invitation to a club that lost its popularity long ago.  Even before this edict was issued only half as many men were entering seminaries as they were in 1965 (while the number of Roman Catholics increased by 41%.)  After peaking in 1975 the number of ordained priests had fallen by more than 30%.  Today the typical priest is older than 60, with those over the age of 90 outnumbering clergy younger than 30.  


To address this decline the Vatican thought it wise to bar a contingent of young men who historically comprised a significant portion of priests - while continuing to refuse ordination of women or married men.  And despite findings to the contrary, the Church has knowingly deceived its faithful by conflating homosexuality with pedophilia.


Decline_in_seminaries The Roman Catholic Church has been greatly impacted by gay liberation.  Previously, as long as homosexuals were pariahs they provided a steady supply of seminarians as they looked to the priesthood as a refuge.  (Shortly after I came out to my dad he told me I would have made a great priest.  That's when I realized that for those of his generation gay men were viewed as being useful if they became priests.)  But as gay men began to live more openly the priesthood was no longer the only viable career option to consider.  To help fill this void more and more priests are being brought from Africa, home to virulently homophobic forms of Christianity.





Movie_priest The 1995 movie Priest looked at the various conflicts encountered by a young, questioning priest (with a penchant for sneaking out to a nearby leather bar).  Although set in Ireland the issues are similar to those encountered in the US.  

West Hollywood Incorporated As Gay-Friendly City (November 29, 1984)

Westhollywood_logoOn November 29, 1984 the gay enclave of West Hollywood joined neighboring Beverly Hills as an independent city.  Like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood is completely surrounded by the city of Los Angeles.  Its population of 35,000 is down slightly from its peak in the 1990s.  This is comparable to the population of Beverly Hills as well as New York City's West Village zip code of 10014 (the three zip codes of Greenwich Village/SoHo have a population of approximately 82,000 residents.)


Chateau_marmontRagebar_westhollywoodThis gay-flavored city also has the distinction of having a majority gay city council.  Besides being a gay mecca West Hollywood is also famous for having within its borders the Sunset Strip, the Pacific Design Center, the Chateau Marmont Hotel (far left), Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard (home to more than ten bars and clubs).  And although the Beverly Center mall is just south of the city it merits honorary mention.  Finally, WeHo is the place Angelenos gather to celebrate Gay Pride Day and Halloween.   


SilverlakeAlthough they may not have as high a concentration of gays as West Hollywood, quite a few LA neighborhoods have a healthy representation of gay men and lesbians.  The first that comes to mind is Silver Lake, situated about six miles east of WeHo.  It has a few thousand fewer residents than West Hollywood.     


A more comprehensive history of West Hollywood can be found here.




Ron Reagan Jr. Gets Married, Eyebrows Are Raised (November 24, 1980)




Speculation was rife that Ron Reagan Jr. just had to be gay.  After all, he was a willowy dancer with the Joffrey Ballet who grew up among his parents' Hollywood friends, many who were gay.  So, eyebrows were raised among the chattering classes when the 22-year-old son of the newly elected president was married in New York City on Nov. 24, 1980.  He wed Doria Palmieri, whom he had met at a dance studio she managed in Los Angeles.  She was six years older than Ron.




After his father left office Ron's liberal political leanings became known and he even addressed the 2004 Democratic Convention.  (He also makes occasional appearances on MSNBC.)  In that same year he was interviewed by the Advocate and addressed the gay rumors head on.  Unlike some other figures in the public eye I've never heard reports of any sightings of him in clubs or walking hand-in-hand with another man at a gay resort.  The rumors and hubbub have long since dried up.  Meanwhile Reagan and wife Doria are still married, they have a daughter and live in Seattle.  




Similar speculation surrounded New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza who felt compelled to call a news conference in the spring of 2002 to deny he was gay.  And in 2014 Green Bay Packers quarterback also called a press conference to squelch rumors that he and his male personal assistant, who lived with Rodgers, were a couple. 


Then there was the case of married couple Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, who took out a full page ad in the Times of London in 1994 to deny rumors that they were splitting up (which they did six months later) and that both were gay.  Curiously, the fact that President Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, studied ballet and attended Sarah Lawrence College (after turning down a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet - the same dance company Reagan performed with) didn't cause speculation about his sexuality.  A sign perhaps that metrosexuals had become fully integrated into society - and that Reagan was ahead of his time.