Ask the Flying Monkey! (November 23, 2009)

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to aftereltonflyingmonkey@yahoo.com! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)

Q: On last week’s episode of The Amazing
Race
, both Sam and Dan’s groin areas were pixelated during their mudflats
volleyball game in Tallinn, Estonia
– but no one else was. Upon arrival at the mudflats volleyball court, Sam,
after a thorough survey of their male competitors, remarked how gorgeous and
good-looking they all were in their black trunks. Could it be a case of
uncontrolled standing ovation or just attire malfunction? – Anonymous

Sam (left) and Dan McMillen

A: What are you suggesting – that they both
had uncontrolled standing ovations? That makes me wonder what’s in the water
back in Liberty, Missouri.

But it’s true: plenty of viewers were perplexed by the curious case of the pixilation
of the underwear of Amazing Race’s hot
gay brothers. For the record, we did ask the network for an explanation (as
embarrassing as that was!).

They never got back to us.

But an, um, uncontrolled standing ovation? That seems unlikely. For one
thing, wouldn’t Sam and/or Dan have been aware of that? It’s only the creepy
men in the showers at the YMCA who don’t at least try to hide themselves in a situation such as that. For another
thing, the pixilation went on for the whole game, during which Sam and Dan were
strenuously exerting themselves. That would be some seriously hard, um, applause,
wouldn’t it?

Keep in mind this is a reality
show. Sam and Dan are real people, not actors playing a part in a scripted
story that is done in many takes. Here on AfterElton.com, some people
speculated that American audiences can’t handle a little male jiggle. I think
the reality is that the network erred on the side of caution to preserve Sam
and Dan’s modesty – pervy AfterElton.com viewers such as the Flying Monkey be
damned.

Q: Dear
Sagacious, Super-Hung Simian: While channel surfing tonight, I came across the
RFD-TV Network, which apparently stands for “Real F***ing Dreamboats.” They
have a show called R5Sons Alaska,
which is a reality series about 5 brothers aged 19 to 27 who live together and
run a lodge in Alaska but are so poor that they can’t afford shirts in the
summer time or jeans that aren’t 3 sizes too small. When I checked
the RFD-TV program schedule, I came across shows with such titles as Cowboy Flavor, In The Bunkhouse, Hidden
Heritage, The Roping Show, Animal Makeover TV,
and Ms. Lucy’s Cajun Cooking. Oh Mighty Monkey, could this indeed
be a new gay network, or is this merely a rural cable channel whose
staff is clueless about the homoerotic nature of the content and titles of
most of their shows? — Baffled Bear
in Bama

The brothers of R5Sons Alaska

A: So, if I’m reading you correctly, Baffled, it
sounds like you’re giving this TV network a standing ovation? Applaud on!

Let’s remember: gay fetish and gay camp are both
the exaggeration of something real. It seems to me that you’ve stumbled upon
some of that source material.

Next page! R5Sons show off their (totem) pole, and Sarah Palin becomes her own parody.

Still, it must be said that sometimes source
material such as this becomes so extreme that it becomes almost impossible to
exaggerate or parody it.

Take Sarah Palin. I suspect Tina Fey’s imitation
of Sarah Palin wouldn’t be nearly as funny now as it was last year because
Palin herself has lately become such a ridiculous parody of herself. Death
panels? Saying she’s “not a quitter” after quitting her job as governor? Criticizing
Hilary Clinton for complaining about sexist media coverage – and then openly
whining for weeks about her own sexist media coverage (and everything else
under the sun)?

Palin isn’t the first politician to jump the
shark, but she’s clearly the latest.

Sarah Palin starts her book tour

Still, when it comes to unconsciously homoerotic networks
like RFD-TV, something has changed from 20 or 30 years ago. Gay camp and gay
fetish used to be entirely a “gay” thing. One of the ways we LGBT folks
responded to centuries of oppression and abuse from straight people was by
making fun of them. Straight people weren’t in on the joke. At all. Except for
a few of our like-minded allies, they weren’t even aware the joke.

Today’s media environment makes that impossible.
Levi Johnston, Sarah Palin’s ex-future-son-in-law, is fully aware of his gay
fetish appeal – and is cashing in accordingly. I suspect it’s only a matter of
time before the folks on RFD-TV do too – to varying degrees of good humor,
depending on their own comfort with gay people.

Next page! Seminal gay books and mining the Muse for any gay scoop.

Q: I just
saw the
video for Muse’s "Time Is Running Out"
for the first time and I
thought it was interesting how both female and male dancers are included in the
sexier portions of the video. Is this just a nicely inclusive video or is there
a gay scoop on Muse? – Greg, Connecticut

A: Not that I’m aware of. Muse band-members
Matthew Bellamy has a girlfriend, Christopher Wolstenholme is married to a woman,
and Dominic Howard identifies as straight.

(L to r) Muse band members Matthew Bellamy,
Dominic Howard, and Christopher Wolstenhome

Yes, certain songs certainly “read” kinda queer – songs like “Undisclosed
Desires” and “Resistance,” which has these lyrics:

Is our secret safe tonight and
are we out of sight or will our world come tumbling down? Will they find our
hiding place is this our last embrace or will the walls start caving in?

But “Desires” is written about Bellamy’s girlfriend, and “Resistance” is
about the novel 1984.

I think the video just speaks to the current music
scene – at least among progressive alt rock bands. Men can be objects of desire
now too – and that certainly deserves a standing ovation, don’t you think?

Q: What do
you think are the best and/or most significant queer books through history. I
get that you might be a bit biased on this, but I’m still curious about your opinion
(which is infallible). — Stephen from PA

A: Stephen, I appreciate
the vote of confidence.

Still, keep in mind that, as
with my list of the most important gay movies,
“best” and “most significant” are two entirely different things. Oftentimes the
most influential gay books were often simply the first to find widespread
success. (Being truly “first” is near impossible since there is nothing new
under the sun.)

That said, it’s not necessarily
a bad or unfair thing for the author, like the explorer, who arrives somewhere “first”
to get all or most of the credit. It takes a certain kind of genius to think far
enough outside the box enough to write something that is “new” – but also to
write or package it in such a way that it finds true success.

What gay novels are the
“most significant”? The earlier they were published, the more significant
they’re likely to be, but here’s a partial list:

Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice (1912, among the first successful
openly homoerotic novels); Gore Vidal’s The
City and the Pillar
(1948, an openly “gay” novel); Mary Renault’s The Charioteer (1952, gay historical
fiction); James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room
(1956, gay African American author); William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch (1959, gay surrealism); Christopher Isherwood’s A Single Man (1964, a well-adjusted gay
character); John Rechy’s City of Night
(1964, openly sexual gay fiction); John Reid/Andrew Tobias’ The Best Little Boy in the World (1972, widely
popular gay memoir); Patrician Nell Warren’s The Front Runner (1976, widely popular gay fiction); and Armistead
Maupin’s Tales of the City (1978-2007,
serialized crossover gay fiction).

Other more recent gay
writers – Larry Kramer, David Leavitt, Felice Picano, Andrew Holleran, Michael
Cunningham, Edmund White, and Paul Monette – have been influential, but probably
not as influential.

For the record, Herman
Melville’s Billy Budd and E. M.
Forster’s Maurice, both published
posthumously, might have had more of an impact had they been published earlier
– but then again, maybe that was impossible.

BTW, if you haven’t already read it, here are the 50 Best Gay Books as chosen by the readers of, you guessed, it AfterElton.com

Next page! A Dante’s Cove update and casting about for a gay power ranger.

Q: Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Power Rangers. Now that I am older, I often wonder
if any one of the 77+ actors who have played a Ranger over the years
have ever come out as gay or lesbian.
Intrigued, New
Hampshire

A: Seventy-seven, huh? Wow.

Well, you’ve probably heard
the rumor that Austin St. John who played the red Power Ranger on the early
1990s TV show went onto to do gay porn. It’s not true.

As for the others, I
researched a number of them, and yes, it appears that several might be gay. But
I couldn’t confirm that directly with any of them (they’re exactly the kind of
actors that are impossible to contact directly – famous enough to have a media
record, but not famous enough to have personal websites or current representation).

How about this? You pick the Power Ranger you had the most intense crush on when you
were a kid (the one that to which you, um, gave a standing ovation). Let’s say that’s the gay one.

Here’s another option. They
currently make Power Ranger costumes for adults. Seems to me that you could
pick one up in your favorite male Power Ranger color – red, green or blue – and
you and your current boyfriend could have a lot of fun.

Q: Do you
have any information about whether or not Season 4 of Dante’s Cove has been shot and
which cast members are returning? I’ve seen
rumors about different cast member flying to Hawaii
to begin shooting this past July. — Persa,
Of the Shire

A: I heard that too, but it’s not true. Despite previous assurances by the
network, the season still hasn’t started shooting, nor is the cast finalized.

It’s still a bitterly cold economy out there, even for the producers of
cheesy soft-core gay porn.

Next page! Gay vampires and gayish butlers.

Q: I’ve
recently been watching a lot of The Nanny and I love the character Niles. It seems that they sometimes allude to
the character being homosexual – which is why I was so shocked to find out that
Niles marries
C.C. in the series finale! Do you know anything
about the sexuality of the actor Daniel Davis who
plays Niles on the show?– Steven, Washington, DC

Fran Drescher and Daniel Davis in The Nanny

A: Niles was
always straight in the series, but keep in mind that the world of television is
a strange and fabulous wonderland where, in the 1970s, actors like Paul Lynde
could star in TV series in which his characters were married to women – and most
people never thought twice about it. (People who say “everyone knew” Paul Lynde
and actors like him were gay are projecting; everyone didn’t know.)

As is typical with television, The
Nanny
tried to have it both ways: ridiculing the character of Niles with anti-gay jokes
when need be, but also keeping his heterosexuality more or less intact.
Needless to say, there’s a long tradition of fictional butlers, and English
characters in general, being acerbic and gay-ish, but still being mostly
closeted (see Geoffrey on The Fresh
Prince of Bel-Air
, Hobson in Arthur,
Mr. Belvedere, Mr. Smithers on The Simpsons, and Mr. Humphries on Are You Being Served).

Davis was
not out during the run of the show, but there was some talk of him coming out
in connection with his Broadway turn in a revival of La Cage Aux Folles. I wasn’t able to confirm that one way or the
other, so I’m afraid I just don’t know.

Q: Are there any movies or TV series about gay vampires
(other than The Lair and True Blood)? – Sara, Perak, Malaysia

A: These days, there’s actually a surprising
amount of gay vampire porn. Who knew?

A recent adult gay vampire title

But actual mainstream media gay vampires? Other than the
two projects you mention (and the “homoeroticism” in movies like Interview with Vampire), the only other
gay vampire project I could find was an indie film, Scab, that isn’t available on DVD.

But I predict that will change in the years to
come. From what I read, there are approximately 500,000 vampire-themed projects
in the works right now. I’m sure at least several of those are indie gay films.

That’s enough to make anyone lose their standing
ovation, including me.

Have a question about gay male entertainment? Send it to aftereltonflyingmonkey@yahoo.com! (Please include your city and state and/or country.)