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Oprah Winfrey Gets the Low Down on the "Down Low" (April 16, 2004)

Down_low_oprah The phrase "on the down low", or the DL, refers to men of color who, while not identifying themselves as being gay, have furtive sex with other men.  This urban slang was picked up by the media at the turn of the 21st century and it picked up steam a few years later with articles in TIME, The Village Voice and the New York Times Magazine.  Then Oprah introduced it to her viewers during an episode of her show that aired on April 14, 2004.  



Downlow.hip-hopOf course, while the DL may be a black construct, men with wives and girlfriends who sneak off to have sex with other men is hardly limited to blacks.  It's been explained that the term was coined because of an aversion many black men have to being labeled as gay.  (Based on the black men I've known, it's quite a generalization.)  Apparently, in the minds of these men, having sex with a man isn't the same thing as being gay, which they equate with being effeminate.  (I wonder if a similar term has been coined in Arabic for Muslim men?)   



Grindr_logo Today, thanks to online chat rooms and the iPad app Grindr, sneaking off for a quickie has never been easier or more tempting.  (Fooling around in the steam room at the gym is so 20th century.)  Because of these new means of communication, wives and girlfriends would surely be freaked if they knew the extent to which husbands and boyfriends play around with other men before work, during lunch and after work.  



Gay_newyork_george_chauncey However, it's hardly a new phenomenon.  In the book Gay Manhattan, which talks of gay life in the first half of the 20th century, author George Chauncey revealed that it wasn't uncommon for a straight blue collar guy to have a gay acquaintance on the side to get him off (without reciprocation) whenever their wives weren't able to provide for all their sexual needs. 




The Lunacy of Abstinence Before Marriage

  Celibate_teensI'm no psychologist, but that hasn't kept me from having a strong opinion rooted in psychology when it comes to the subject of "saving oneself" for marriage, aka abstinence.  As I see it, the way someone expresses himself/herself sexually is a crucial part of one's personality, so waiting until the wedding night to reveal it seems ludicrous.  The time before marriage, at least in Western cultures, should be a period of discovery, a time to learn the "lay of the land", so to speak.  Wouldn't it behoove a couple to discover beforehand if they have sexual chemistry?  I'm sure many of us have experienced the frustration of dating someone who's wonderful to be with but just doesn't "push our buttons" in the bedroom.  For these reasons, this is why I don't find a vow of celibacy admirable but, rather, something to advise against. 


Tim_tebowSo what's really behind abstinence or virginity "pledges"?  I often wonder if someone's choice to wait until their wedding night masks an inability to come to grips with a lack of desire for the opposite-sex.  Yes, Tim Tebow, America's most famous virgin (pictured), I'm thinking of you.

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



Off-Broadway Play "Fortune and Men's Eyes" Opens (February 23, 1967)

FortuneAndMensEyesThe off-Broadway play Fortune and Men's Eyes opened at Actor's Playhouse in the West Village the evening of February 23, 1967.  (The play's name was taken from the first line of Shakespeare's 29th Sonnet).  It offered up a chilling portrayal of prison life, touching upon subjects such as male-on-male rape and sexual slavery and was very risque for its time.  It opened a year before Boys in the Band and more than two years before the Stonewall riots (and 30 years before HBO's Oz).  


Boys_in_the_band The play ran for nearly a year and then was released as a movie in 1971.  (Although Fortune's stage version opened a year before Boys in the Band, the movie version came out a year after Band's theatrical release - pictured, left).  As a teenager I remember seeing small ads for the movie in the Pittsburgh paper, and although I didn't quite know the movie's premise I was very intrigued by the title and the ad's suggestive photo. 




Salmineo_donjohnson When the play opened in Los Angeles a few years later it starred Sal Mineo (who was trying to change his image) and co-starred 23-year old Don "Miami Vice" Johnson (pictured).  

Sexy Men, Soaking Wet

Water is refreshing, exhilarating, rejuvenating, enticing ... and, as the following examples show, lends itself to some very alluring photo shoots: 


Matt Bomer stars in the show White Collar on USA Network and also appeared last summer in the male stripper movie Magic Mike.  This photo, from July 2010, was in Entertainment Weekly's "Summer Must List" issue.  The following year he got more attention when he came out.




I'm drawn to this photo of Hugh Dancy, from the pages of the 2007 issue of Out, because of his eyes and rosy red lips.  He was one of the persons featured in the issue's "Summer Hot List."  I first saw him in the 2007 movie, Evening, in which he played a tortured, closeted alcoholic.  During the filming of this movie he met his future wife, Claire Danes.




This playful, sexy spread shows designer and movie director, Tom Ford, engaged in some horseplay in the shower.  It ran in the November 2007 issue of Out, which featured Ford on the cover.




Then there's Mario Lopez and his exquisite shower scene from a 2006 episode of Nip/Tuck...




One more sexy shower scene, this one courtesy of Next Magazine.  This outdoor shower in the Pines is common to many beach homes and a selling point because it allows those on the deck to partake in casual ogling!




This cover from the Undergear catalog beautifully captures the feeling of exhilaration one gets plunging into a swimming pool on a sunny, hot day.  I remember numerous occasions where I, too, jumped for joy into the pool upon my arrival at my summer share in Fire Island.




This Nautica ad is composed of various beautiful hues of blue.  Kudos to the art director!




The contrasting splashes of black, red and blue make this photo from MetroSource's Table of Contents page nearly impossible to turn away from.  Or is it the gorgeous young man?




What's the back story behind this photo?  Was he caught in the rain?  Perhaps he looks a bit pissed because he got to wear a $500 Versace shirt and then was sprayed with water.  Or maybe his pout is just the natural aloofness of a model.




Finally, how could I not include this stunning photo of Daniel Craig from the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale?



Remembering Arpad Miklos (1967-2013)

Arpad_miklos Arpad.smilingLike so many of his fans, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Arpad Miklos on Feb. 3, 2013, apparently by his own hand.  Of all the persons I've had any personal interactions with in my lifetime, he is the first to commit suicide (that I'm aware of).  I had two face-to-face encounters with him.  The first was ten years ago, a $250 "investment".  A lasting memory of that evening encounter was that his body was beautifully muscled, but not excessively so, and his skin was smooth like the marble of Michelangelo's David



My second encounter with him came five years later.  I was returning from a vacation at Yosemite National Park and during my flight back to New York my iPod fell under my seat.  Not able to find it, I got up to ask if the two passengers seated behind me could look around to see if it was in there space, when none other than Arpad Miklos handed it to me.  I got a kick telling friends that Arpad found my iPod




The last time I saw him was three months ago (Dec. 2012) when he exited the E train at the West 4th Street subway station.  He was such a hot and masculine man with a cute, puppy dog look.  Because of the small connection I had with Arpad, I always got a frisson of excitement whenever I'd see a photo of him in the pages of Next Magazine, usually with a smile on his faceI hope he's now at peace.   



Illinois is First State to Repeal its Anti-Sodomy Law (January 1, 1962)

Greetings_from_illinois It was a wild time in Peoria on January 1, 1962 as Illinois became the first state to repeal its anti-sodomy law.  Ask most anyone on the street what sodomy is and it's likely they won't be able to give you specifics - but they know it has something to do with turning into a pillar of salt.  The fact that the definition refers to any sex act that isn't "natural" is of little help. (The song Sodomy from the Broadway show Hair offered some help.)  Also, many don't realize that such laws pertained to heterosexuals as well as homosexuals (but prosecution was usually reserved for gay men). 


40 years after Illinois' repeal 14 states still had anti-sodomy statutes on the books (mostly in the South).  But after upholding Georgia's anti-sodomy law in 1986 (in Bowers V. Hardwick) the Supreme Court in 2003 struck down Texas' law (Lawrence v Texas), thereby invalidating all remaining anti-sodomy laws nationwide.  (The book The Sodomy Cases discusses in detail these landmark cases.)


Magazine Ads with Animal Magnetism

Time again to pull out six more eye-widening/mouth-watering magazine ads from my archives: 



Discovered by photographer Bruce Weber, Jeff Aquilon was one of the most in demand male models in the late 1970s and '80s.  In 2007 an article in GQ commemorating the magazine's 50th anniversary discussed the close platonic friendship between its gay editor-in-chief, Jack Haber (1969-1983), and the straight Aquilon.





Although swimmer Michael Phelps is sexy in a willowy way, for my taste Olympic swimmer Matt Biondi was hunkier.  He won five golds for the U.S. at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.





A high-end manufacturer of furniture since 1989, this North Carolina-based company changed its name to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams a few years ago after the two were married.  Like Kenneth Cole, the company is known for its involvement in gay causes and making generous contributions to various gay charities.  And they get high praise as well for contributing this stunning ad.





This brand of scotch doesn't have the advertising presence it had in the 1970s and '80s when this ad ran (my first job out of college was with the ad agency that created this work, Scali McCabe Sloves).  Even without seeing his face (after all, the focus should be on the glass of scotch!) the rolled-up sleeves and pants and the model's hairy legs make for a sexy look.





Along with Absolut, the "Got Milk? ad campaign is one of the most ubiquitous of the past two decades.  Thousands of "Milk Moustache" executions have been created since the print campaign began in 1995. (The TV campaign proceeded it by a few years.)  This one features tennis superstar Pete Sampras.  Three cheers to the art director who thought it a good idea to show off Pete's hairy chest.  (The book The Milk Moustache Book provides a history of the campaign and is illustrated with hundreds of ads.)





I honestly don't know what product or service is being sold here - but no matter.  The military-style haircuts, white boxers, the lean builds and smooth chests, the shoes and socks - it all works.  Even the doctor is kinda hot.




"Marcus Welby MD" Airs Controversial Episode About Pedophilia (October 8, 1974)

Marcus-welby-md ABC's popular medical drama Marcus Welby, MD aired a controversial episode on October 8, 1974 about a boy who was raped by his male teacher.  Provocatively titled "The Outrage", the episode stirred up protests by gay rights groups (this was in the days before GLAAD) because it conflated homosexuality with child molestation.  (Unfortunately, it remains a popular misconception today.)



Abc_logo A number of ABC affiliates refused to air the episode (including those in Philadelphia and Boston).  Fortunately, it aired in my hometown of Pittsburgh and it was a learning experience for me.  I was a senior in high school at the time, unaware of my sexual orientation and quite naive as far as matters about sex was concerned, so the episode's subject was a real eye-opener.  It was the first time I had heard about male-on-male rape.  (And a number of years passed before I learned that gay men, even some heterosexual couples, willingly engaged in anal sex). 


It was also fortuitous that Marcus Welby aired on Tuesday, which was my mother's bowling night.  I doubt she would have let me watch this episode if she had been home.  (Although my father was home he was usually in the kitchen or in the basement paying bills or doing paper work from his job.)    


The actor who portrayed the teacher was Edward Winter (who I thought was hot; he reminded me of Bill Bixby).  He later joined the cast of M*A*S*H in the show's last few seasons. 





Thirtysomething Then 15 years later ABC found itself embroiled in another controversy, this time from conservative "family values" groups.  They were up in arms because the network's acclaimed drama thirtysomething aired an episode titled "Strangers"   that showed two gay men in bed together having a casual post-coital chat.  As with "The Outrage" this episode was met with advertiser defections and it never aired in repeats.    

"Modern Family's" Cameron & Mitchell - Neutered for Network TV?

ModernFamily_Cameron_MitchellCam and Mitchell, the gay dads from ABC's hit sitcom Modern Family, are a funny, bickering couple - with zero physical chemistry between them.  While I can easily picture the show's two other couples, Claire and Phil and Jay and Gloria, "getting busy" with each other, I can't say the same for the asexual gay duo.  (I can even picture Mr. French and Uncle Bill from Family Affair getting hot and sweaty with each other before these two.)  I don't know who'd be doing what to whom and I think it would end before it started because of fussing from both sides.



And truth be told I don't even think they're that happy a couple.  Their first child, Lily (as lively as a block of wood, since replaced by a more lifelike child), was probably adopted for a diversion and now even she's not enough because at the end of last season Mitchell mentioned to Cam of his desire to have another child - perhaps to assuage their gnawing dissatisfaction with each other? 




Nonetheless, it's gratifying to see a gay couple living openly as a family on TV.  I just wish they didn't come across as a couple of spinster sisters.  For the time being it appears "heat" between couples on network TV is reserved for heterosexuals.