Category Archives: History

Friend of Dorothy

Many believe that “Dorothy” refers to Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz“. However, more likely, this Dorothy was really Dorothy Parker.

The story begins at West Hollywood adjacent Garden of Allah, built at 8150 Sunset Blvd. by obnoxious lesbian actress Alla Nazimova. In the 1930’s, Dorothy Parker, a writer, satirist, and wisecracking partier had a large following of gay men in her famous social circle. It became common for gay men to use the code phrase, “I’m a friend of Dorothy” to indicate they were invited to Dorothy’s wild parties held in Garden of Allah’s exclusive celebrity villas. The phrase morphed into a secret code all across the country to indicate one was gay. That’s right, the phrase was invented in Gay West Hollywood!

The Garden of Allah was shut down in 1959 to make way for what is now McDonalds & El Pollo Loco. Some say Joni Mitchell was referring to The Garden of Allah in her hit song “Big Yellow Taxi”, when she sings “They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot”, but it is likely a rumor.


Happy Fourth!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

The Declaration of Independence is arguably one of the most influential documents in American History. Other countries and organizations have adopted its tone and manner in their own documents and declarations. For example, France wrote its ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man’ and the Women’s Rights movement wrote its ‘Declaration of Sentiments’. However, the Declaration of Independence was actually not technically necessary in proclaiming independence from Great Britain.

A resolution of independence passed the Philadelphia Convention on July 2. This was all that was needed to break away from Britain. The colonists had been fighting Great Britain for 14 months while proclaiming their allegiance to the crown. Now they were breaking away. Obviously, they wanted to make clear exactly why they decided to take this action. Hence, they presented the world with the ‘Declaration of Independence’ drafted by thirty-three year old Thomas Jefferson.

The text of the Declaration has been compared to a ‘Lawyer’s Brief’. It presents a long list of grievances against King George III including such items as taxation without representation, maintaining a standing army in peacetime, dissolving houses of representatives, and hiring “large armies of foreign mercenaries.” The analogy is that Jefferson is an attorney presenting his case before the world court. Not everything that Jefferson wrote was exactly correct. However, it is important to remember that he was writing a persuasive essay, not a historical text. The formal break from Great Britain was complete with the adoption of this document on July 4, 1776.

Jefferson wrote the Declaration in a way that was meant to be read aloud. The first two paragraphs are some of the most powerful words ever written.


The Passion of the Cut Sleeve

Chinese emperor Ai of Han, fell in love with a minor official, a man named Dong Xian, and bestowed upon him great political power and a magnificent palace. Legend has it that one day while the two men were sleeping in the same bed, the emperor was roused from his sleep by pressing business. Dong Xian had fallen asleep across the emperor’s robe, but rather than awaken his peaceful lover, the Emperor cut his robe free at the sleeve. Thus “the passion of the cut sleeve” became a euphemism for same-sex love in China.


Drummond and Paget

Have any of you been watching Victoria on PBS’s Masterpiece? If you’ve seen the whole season, please don’t give away any spoilers for those who are in the USA and haven’t seen it. In Season 2 of Victoria, Prime Minister Robert Peel’s Private Secretary Edward Drummond, played by Leo Suter and Chief Equerry to Queen Victoria, Alfred Paget, played by Jordan Waller are having flirtations. It’s been quite adorable, the looks they give each other and the playful skinny dipping they did in Sunday night’s episode. Of course homosexuality was a crime in Victorian Britain, and the 1840s is long before homosexuality was even a word or understood as it is today. It’s been fun to watch Drummond and Paget though, especially Suter/Drummond who is absolutely gorgeous.

The problem is that the match-up is quite improbable. In real life the two would have never known each other and Drummond was at least 30 years Paget’s senior. There is absolutely no evidence that either of the two were homosexual. If they were, we would never know because of the secretiveness of such relationships. However the improbability, it makes for good fantasy and lovely television. I can’t wait to see how the drama unfolds for the rest of the season.

By the way, I did not watch the State of the Union Address last night. I can’t stand to hear that asshole speak. Furthermore, I hate SOTU speeches. They are always written for pauses in the speech so that the president’s party can go apeshit clapping. It’s always ridiculous no matter which party is giving the speech, and given that this asshole can only lie, show his incompetence, and be misogynistic, it’s just not worth my time.


Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Day marks the anniversary of the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor in 1941, bringing the United States into World War II and widening the European war to the Pacific.

The bombing, which began at 7:55 a.m. Hawaiian time on a Sunday morning, lasted little more than an hour but devastated the American military base on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Nearly all the ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were anchored there side by side, and most were damaged or destroyed; half the bombers at the army’s Hickam Field were destroyed. The battleship USS Arizona sank, and 1,177 sailors and Marines went down with the ship, which became their tomb. In all, the attack claimed more than 3,000 casualties—2,403 killed and 1,178 wounded.

On the following day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a solemn Congress to ask for a declaration of war. His opening unforgettable words: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” War was declared immediately with only one opposing vote, that by Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana.

In the months that followed, the slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor” swept America, and radio stations repeatedly played the song of the same name with these lyrics:

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we go to meet the foe,

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, as we did the Alamo.

We will always remember, how they died for liberty,

Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, and go on to victory.

Originally published as part of a post from December 7, 2010.


Forbidden Love in a Time of War

While on military training during World War Two, Gilbert Bradley was in love. He exchanged hundreds of letters with his sweetheart – who merely signed with the initial “G”. But more than 70 years later, it was discovered that G stood for Gordon, and Gilbert had been in love with a man.

At the time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but those in the armed forces could be shot for having gay sex.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley’s death in 2008, are therefore unusual and shed an important light on homosexual relationships during the war.

What do we know about this forbidden love affair?

Wednesday January 24th 1939

My darling,

… I lie awake all night waiting for the postman in the early morning, and then when he does not bring anything from you I just exist, a mass of nerves…

All my love forever,

G.

Information gleaned from the letters indicate Mr Bradley was a reluctant soldier. He did not want to be in the Army, and even pretended to have epilepsy to avoid it.

His ruse did not work, though, and in 1939 he was stationed at Park Hall Camp in Oswestry, Shropshire, to train as an anti-aircraft gunner.

He was already in love with Gordon Bowsher. The pair had met on a houseboat holiday in Devon in 1938 when Mr Bowsher was in a relationship with Mr Bradley’s nephew.

Mr Bowsher was from a well-to-do family. His father ran a shipping company, and the Bowshers also owned tea plantations.

When war broke out a year later he trained as an infantryman and was stationed at locations across the country.

February 12 1940, Park Grange

My own darling boy,

There is nothing more than I desire in life but to have you with me constantly…

…I can see or I imagine I can see, what your mother and father’s reaction would be… the rest of the world have no conception of what our love is – they do not know that it is love…

But life as a homosexual in the 1940s was incredibly difficult. Gay activity was a court-martial offence, jail sentences for so-called “gross indecency” were common, and much of society strongly disapproved of same-sex relationships.

It was not until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that consenting men aged 21 and over were legally allowed to have gay relationships – and being openly gay in the armed services was not allowed until 2000.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley’s death in 2008, are rare because most homosexual couples would get rid of anything so incriminating, says gay rights activist Peter Roscoe.

In one letter Mr Bowsher urges his lover to “do one thing for me in deadly seriousness. I want all my letters destroyed. Please darling do this for me. Til then and forever I worship you.”

Mr Roscoe says the letters are inspiring in their positivity.

“There is a gay history and it isn’t always negative and tearful,” he says. “So many stories are about arrests – Oscar Wilde, Reading Gaol and all those awful, awful stories.

“But despite all the awful circumstances, gay men and lesbians managed to rise above it all and have fascinating and good lives despite everything.”

February 1st, 1941 K . C. Gloucester Regiment, Priors Road, Cheltenham

My darling boy,

For years I had it drummed into me that no love could last for life…

I want you darling seriously to delve into your own mind, and to look for once in to the future.

Imagine the time when the war is over and we are living together… would it not be better to live on from now on the memory of our life together when it was at its most golden pitch.

Your own G.

But was this a love story with a happy ending?

Probably not. At one point, Mr Bradley was sent to Scotland on a mission to defend the Forth Bridge. He met and fell in love with two other men. Rather surprisingly, he wrote and told Mr Bowsher all about his romances north of the border. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Mr Bowsher took it all in his stride, writing that he “understood why they fell in love with you. After all, so did I”.

Although the couple wrote throughout the war, the letters stopped in 1945.

However, both went on to enjoy interesting lives.

Mr Bowsher moved to California and became a well-known horse trainer. In a strange twist, he employed Sirhan Sirhan, who would go on to be convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy.

Mr Bradley was briefly entangled with the MP Sir Paul Latham, who was imprisoned in 1941 following a court martial for “improper conduct” with three gunners and a civilian. Sir Paul was exposed after some “indiscreet letters” were discovered.

Mr Bradley moved to Brighton and died in 2008. A house clearance company found the letters and sold them to a dealer specialising in military mail.

The letters were finally bought by Oswestry Town Museum, when curator Mark Hignett was searching on eBay for items connected with the town.

He bought just three at first, and says the content led him to believe a fond girlfriend or fiancé was the sender. There were queries about bed sheets, living conditions – and their dreams for their future life together.

When he spotted there were more for sale, he snapped them up too – and on transcribing the letters for a display in the museum, Mr Hignett and his colleagues discovered the truth. The “girlfriend” was a boyfriend.

The revelation piqued Mr Hignett’s interest – he describes his experience as being similar to reading a book and finding the last page ripped out: “I just had to keep buying the letters to find out what happened next.”

Although he’s spent “thousands of pounds” on the collection of more than 600 letters, he believes in terms of historical worth the correspondence is “invaluable”.

“Such letters are extremely rare because they were incriminating – gay men faced years in prison with or without hard labour,” he says. “There was even the possibility that gay soldiers could have been shot.”

Work on a book is already under way at the museum, where the letters will also go on display.

Perhaps most poignantly, one of the letters contains the lines:

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.”


The History of Gay Porn, Part III

The previous two days' posts were written in 2011. The gay porn industry has changed quite dramatically since then. In 2011, Falcon Studios was mainly selling DVDs; now, Falcon is streaming most of their content. Yes, you can still buy DVDs of gay porn, but how many people actually do anymore? The internet has taken over the porn industry. Sites like Helix Studios, Sean Cody, Corbin Fisher, or Bel Ami are nearly all online now. Sean Cody has been bought by MindGeek, who owns Men.com and is arguably the largest of the studios at this point. Of the studios mentioned, Sean Cody is the only one who does not produce DVDs. Yet, the vast majority of their use is online.

Online companies also have to compete against free sites, such as Pornhub, XVideo or XTube. You also have gay porn blogs. While Blogger has largely done away with gay porn blogs, Tumblr is still alive and well. Tumblr only allows for a maximum of four minutes for a video, but considering that Tumblr is a short-form blog, it is made for quickly getting off. In the four minutes it allows, Tumblr gives you the best parts of a clip. Most of the websites for gay porn have 20-25 minute scenes.

The main thing is that gay porn in the last six years has become virtual. While this trend was begun in the early 2000s, since 2011, it has become more and more web-based. Whether you are into twinks (Helix), military men (Active Duty), college frat boys (Corbin Fisher or Sean Cody), Europeans (Bel Ami), or more masculine men (Men.com), there is something for you. There are even more specialized/fetish sites like Bound Gods, SpankingCentral, and others that are able to produce web-based content to a specialized audience that DVDs just didn’t really allow.

I think the days of big studios producing DVDs is a thing of the past. Falcon, Titan, Rascal, etc., are all producing mostly web-based content. Gay porn is also evolving in other way. You can get Helix and Corbin Fisher on Roku, bringing porn back to your big screen TV. How many other studios will follow and make themselves available on streaming TV, but it is definitely an alternative for those who don’t want a collection of DVDs. Porn has become more portable than ever, and this is a trend that I don't see going away.

Gay porn has also changed in one other major way. It is nearly all condomless these day. PrEP has allowed barebacking to become legitimate in porn again. In 2011, gay porn studios were still using condoms. Only studios on the edge such as Treasure Island Media allowed for condomless porn, but with frequent STD testing and PrEP barebacking is all the rage in gay porn again. Falcon was one of the last studios to start using condoms and it was one of the last to end the use of condoms.


History of Gay Porn, Part II

This is a post originally published in 2011.
 
Sexual Revolution and Gay Pornography
MANual Enterprises Publication

During the 1960s, a series of United States Supreme Court rulings created a more liberalized legal environment that allowed the commercialization of pornography. MANual Enterprises v. Day, 370 U.S. 478 (1962) was the first decision by the United States Supreme Court which held that magazines consisting largely of photographs of nude or near-nude male models are not obscene within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1461. It was the first case in which the Court engaged in plenary review of a Post Office Department order holding obscene matter “nonmailable.” The case is notable for its ruling that photographs of nude men are not obscene, an implication which opened up the U.S. Postal Service to nude male pornographic magazines, especially those catering to gay men.

Wakefield Poole’s Boys in the Sand, starring Casey Donovan, can be considered one of the first gay pornography feature films, along with the works of filmmakers such as Pat Rocco and the Park Theatre, Los Angeles, California, circa 1970. Boys in the Sand opened in a theater in New York City in December 1971 and played to a packed house with record breaking box office receipts, preceding Deep Throat, the first commercial straight pornography film in America, which opened in June 1972. This success launched gay pornographic film as a popular phenomenon.

The production of gay pornography films expanded during the 1970s. A few studios released films for the growing number of gay adult movie theatres, where men could also have sexual encounters. Often, the films reflected the sexual liberation that gay men were experiencing at the time, depicting the numerous public spaces where men engaged in sex: bathhouses, sex clubs, beaches, etc.

Peter Berlin’s 1973 film Nights in Black Leather was the first major pornographic film designed to appeal to the gay leather subculture and drew some mainstream gays into this culture.

The 1960s and 1970s also saw the rise of gay publishing with After Dark and Michael’s Thing. During this time many more magazines were founded, including In Touch and Blueboy. Playgirl, ostensibly produced for women, was purchased and enjoyed by gay men and feature full frontal nudity (the posing straps and fig leaves were removed).

The 1980s were a period of transition for gay pornography film. The proliferation of VCRs made pornography videos easily accessible, and, as their prices fell, the market for home videos aimed at adult viewers became more and more lucrative. By the mid-1980s, the standard was to release pornography movies directly on video, which meant the wide disappearance of pornography theaters. Furthermore, video recording being more affordable, a multitude of producers entered the market, making low-budget pornography videos.

This shift from watching pornography as a public activity to doing so in private was also influenced by the discovery of HIV and the subsequent AIDS crisis. Public spaces for sex, such as theatres, became less attended when in the early 1980s it became a much riskier behavior. Masturbatory activities in the privacy of the home became a safe sex practice in the midst of this health crisis.

Gay movies of the 1970s had contained some exploration of novel ways to represent the sexual act. In the 1980s, by contrast, all movies seemed to be made under an unwritten set of rules and conventions. Most scenes would start with a few lines of dialogue, have performers engage in foreplay (fellatio), followed by anal penetration, and ending with a visual climax close-up of ejaculating penises, called a “money shot” or cum shot. Video technology allowed the recording of longer scenes than did the costly film stock. Scenes were often composed of extended footage of the same act filmed from different shots using multiple cameras. The quality of the picture and sound were often very poor.

Major directors such as Matt Sterling, Eric Peterson, John Travis, and William Higgins set the standard for the models of the decade. The performers they cast were especially young, usually appearing to be around the ages of 22 or 23. Their bodies were slender and hairless, of the “swimmer’s build” type, which contrasted with the older, bigger, and hairier man of the 1970s’ gay pornography. Performer roles also evolved into the tight divisions of “tops” and “bottoms”. The “top” in anal sex is the penetrating partner, who would typically have a more muscular body and the larger penis. The “bottom”, or receiver of anal sex, would often be smaller and sometimes more effeminate. The stars of the decade were almost always tops, while the bottoms were interchangeable (with the exception of Joey Stefano, a popular star, who was more of a “bottom”.)

Joey Stefano (bottom left)

This strict division between “tops” and “bottoms” may have reflected a preference by some of the popular directors of the decade to hire heterosexual men for their movies. Heterosexual men who perform gay sex for monetary reasons (commonly labeled “gay-for-pay”) are considered a rare commodity in the gay sex trade, but the biggest producers of the decade could afford them. Many critics attributed the conventionalization of gay pornography of the 80s to this trend.

The gay pornography industry diversified steadily during the 1990s.  In 1989, director Kristen Bjorn started a pornographic business which was considered as setting a standard for gay pornography producers. He was a professional photographer, and the images in his videos were considered to be of high-quality. As a former porn star himself, he directed his models with care, which helped improved the actors’ believability. Other directors had to improve their technical quality to keep up with demands from their audiences.

Another significant change during this decade was the explosion of the niche market.  Many videos began to be produced for viewers with specific tastes (i.e. for amateur pornography, Military (Men in Uniform) pornography, transsexual performers, bondage fetishes, performers belonging to specific ethnic groups, etc.), and this led to a diversification of the people involved in pornography production and consumption.

The gay pornography industry grew substantially in popularity during the 1990s, evolving into a complex and interactive subculture. Professional directors (such as Chi Chi LaRue and John Rutherford), technicians or deck operators during the U-matic phase of video technology, and performers started to engage in pornography as a career, their work sustained by emerging pornographic media and influential critics, such as Mikey Skee.

In the 21st century, gay pornography has become a highly profitable enterprise, ranging from the “straight-guy” pornography of Active Duty and Sean Cody, to the ‘twinks’ of Bel Ami. Many niche genres and online delivery sites cater to various and changing interests. For instance much of Van Darkholme’s work contains bondage and particularly shibari, the Japanese art of bondage and knot-tying, a specialty within BDSM cultures.

On the other hand, Lucas Kazan Productions successfully adapted literary classics: Decameron: Two Naughty Tales is based on two novels by Boccaccio, The Innkeeper on Goldoni’s La Locandiera. Lucas Kazan also found inspiration in 19th and 20th century operas, combining gay porn and melodrama: The School for Lovers, 2007 GayVN Award Winner for Best Foreign Picture, is in fact inspired by Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

Some controversy currently exists regarding studios that produce bareback (sex without condoms) videos. Mainstream companies, such as Falcon Entertainment, Hot House Entertainment, Channel 1 Releasing, Lucas Entertainment, Raging Stallion, Lucas Kazan Productions and Titan Media and LGBT health advocates assert that condomless videos promote unsafe sex and contribute to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, both in the pornography industry and in the gay community as a whole. The controversy dates back to the first few years of the HIV crisis, when nearly all gay pornography production companies voluntarily required their models to wear condoms for anal sex.

Chi Chi LaRue

The premise of industry figures, notably Chi Chi LaRue, is that gay pornography serves as a leading forum for teaching safer sex skills and modeling healthy sexual behaviors. At least one bareback studio agrees that porn should promote healthy sexual behaviors, but disagrees on the definition of “healthy” in this context: speaking about the AIDS crisis, Treasure Island Media owner and founder Paul Morris has expressed his belief that, “To a great extent, the current gay mindset surrounding HIV is a result of a generation of men living with PTSD and not getting the support and help they need now that the war is over.  As a pornographer, all I can do in response is to produce work that features men who are openly positive (or negative) and happily living their lives honestly and fully.”


History of Gay Porn, Part I

This is a post originally published in 2011.

Many gay men, and nearly all of the ones that I know personally, love gay porn.  Gay men and their attitudes toward pornography tend not to be as stigmatized as it is with heterosexual men and women, though there are plenty of them who enjoy pornography as well.  Pornography as a whole does not have the stigma that it once did, at least not with the majority of the population; in fact, in some ways, it is becoming somewhat more mainstream.  I’ve noticed even with my students, they are willing to admit that they like porn and are much more likely today to admit that they masturbate than my generation had been.  I think that my generation was the beginning of that change, but as a whole, the attitudes toward sex are becoming more liberal.  I think that part of that is the fact that many people dismiss the AIDS crisis as being something of the past, when it most certainly is not, no matter who well the drug cocktails are working.  All that being said, I thought that I would write a post about the history of gay pornography.
I haven’t done a really salacious post in a while, and 2011 is the 40th anniversary of Falcon Studios. Founded in 1971 by Chuck Holmes, the company is one of the most recognizable brand names in gay pornography. The estate of Chuck Holmes, who died of AIDS complications in September 2000, gave $1 million for the completion of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, the largest individual donation ever to any gay community group in San Francisco.

The Swimming Hole (1884–85) by the American artist Thomas Eakins (1844–1916) is regarded as a masterpiece of American painting, and has been called “the most finely designed of all his outdoor pictures”. The painting has been “widely cited as a prime example of homoeroticism in American art”. Eakins himself appears in the water at bottom right – “in signature position, so to speak.” According to Jonathan Weinberg, The Swimming Hole marked the beginning of homoerotic imagery in American art.

Homoeroticism has been present in photography and film since their invention. During much of that time, any kind of sexual depiction had to remain underground because of obscenity laws. In particular, gay material might constitute evidence of an illegal act under sodomy laws in many jurisdictions. This is no longer the case in the United States since such laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas.

However, hardcore pornographic motion pictures (“stag films,” as they were called prior to their legalization in 1970) were produced relatively early in the history of film. The first known pornographic film of any kind appears to have been made in Europe in 1908. The earliest known film to depict hardcore gay (and bisexual) sex was the French film Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly, produced and released in 1920. Most historians consider the first American stag film to be A Free Ride, produced and released in 1915. But in the United States, hardcore gay sexual intercourse did not make it onto film until 1929’s The Surprise of a Knight.  The Surprise of a Knight‘s plot was relatively simple:

The film opens with an elegantly attired “woman” with short hair as she finishes dressing for a visitor. As the “lady” completes her boudoir, she lifts her skirts to reveal a thick patch of pubic hair. At this point, an intertitle reveals that the screenwriter is “Oscar Wild” (clearly a pseudonym).

The “lady” goes into the drawing room and offers her well-attired gentleman caller (her “knight”) a drink. He refuses it, and she drinks the cocktail. They talk briefly, and then engage in passionate kissing. Whenever the gentleman caller puts his hands on the “lady’s” breasts or genitals, “she” pushes his hand away. Finally, she slaps him coyly. The “lady” then apologizes for her aggressiveness by fellating her partner.

The “lady” then lies face-down on the sofa with her buttocks in the air. It is revealed that she has no underwear on. The gentleman caller then penetrates the “lady” anally (although no penetration is actually shown). After a minute or so, the gentleman withdraws and sits back on the sofa. The “lady” gyrates her buttocks in the air. This induces him to mount her anally again. Both individuals reach orgasm, and the gentleman caller walks off-camera.

The “lady” stands and raises her skirts to reveal that “she” is really a he. The film’s second and final intertitle announces “Surprise.” His penis is exposed. The man in drag then dances about briefly, making sure that his penis bobs up and down in the air. The gentleman caller re-enters the camera’s view, and helps the other man remove his skirt and most of his other clothing. The gentleman caller (now completely clothed again) dances briefly with the nude young man. After a jump cut, the “lady”—now dressed completely in business attire—walks back on screen, winks at the audience, and walks off screen.

The Surprise of a Knight ushered in a brief period of homosexual hardcore pornography in the stag film era. About a year later, in A Stiff Game, an African American male would engage in fellatio on a Caucasian man without the need for drag. The appearance of gay sexual contact on film would soon end, however, and not reappear until the advent of legal gay hardcore pornography after 1970.

It has been noted that the lead character (the “lady”) is in costume, yet costumes are the antithesis of the hardcore pornographic film (in which nudity and the display of genitalia and penetration during intercourse are key). “The costume spectacle either steals the show…” as film historian Thomas Waugh put it, “…or becomes a grotesque distraction…” The revelation of the “lady’s” penis is not real surprise, Waugh concludes, as audiences knew what sort of film they were getting (e.g., homosexual porn).

The use of drag in The Surprise of a Knight also distances the audience from the performers on screen, Waugh argues. The main character of the film is a drag queen, and yet nearly all the audience members could say that they were not drag queens. Waugh see the film not depicting gay men on screen, but reaffirming heteronormativity and negative stereotypes of gay men and gay sex. John Robert Burger writes that it is unclear from the film whether the visitor knows of the drag queen’s gender before the encounter, and that hiding the gender of the drag queen makes it “faux homosexuality”. Burger also writes that The Surprise of a Knight is an exception to the norm of stag films, in which the receptive parter in same-sex anal sex is typically perceived to be victimised or punished.

Legal restrictions meant that early hardcore gay pornography was underground and that commercially available gay pornography primarily consisted of pictures of individual men either fully naked or wearing a g-string. Pornography in the 1940s and 1950s focused on athletic men or bodybuilders in statuesque poses. They were generally young, muscular, and with little or no visible body hair. Those pictures were sold in physique magazines, also known as beefcake magazines, allowing the reader to pass as a fitness enthusiast.

The Athletic Model Guild (AMG) founded by photographer Bob Mizer in 1945 in Los Angeles, California, was arguably the first studio to commercially produce material specifically for gay men and published the first magazine known as Physique Pictorial in 1951. Tom of Finland drawings are featured in many issues. Mizer produced about a million images, and thousands of films and videos before he died on May 12, 1992. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the advent of 16mm film cameras enabled these photographers to produce underground movies of gay sex and/or male masturbation. Sales of these products were either by mail-order or through more discreet channels. Some of the early gay pornographers would travel around the country selling their photographs and films out of their hotel rooms, with advertising only through word of mouth and magazine ads.

The 1960s were also a period where many underground art film makers integrated suggestive or overtly gay content in their work. Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1963), Andy Warhol’s Blow Job (1964) and My Hustler (1965), or Paul Morrissey’s Flesh (1968) are examples of experimental films that are known to have influenced further gay pornographic films with their formal qualities and narratives. Tyler Gajewski is a noted actor and model of the period who appeared in Warhol’s and Morrissey’s films, as well as in Mizer’s work at the AMG. Also of note is Joe Dallesandro, who acted in hardcore gay pornographic films in his early 20s, posed nude for Francesco Scavullo, Bruce of L.A. and Bob Mizer, and later acted for Warhol in films such as Flesh. Dallesandro was well-known to the public. In 1969 Time magazine called him one of the most beautiful people of the 1960s, and he graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in April 1971. Dallesandro even appeared on the cover of The Smiths’ eponymous debut album, The Smiths.


The Invention of “Heterosexuality”

The 1901 Dorland’s Medical Dictionary defined heterosexuality as an “abnormal or perverted appetite toward the opposite sex.” More than two decades later, in 1923, Merriam Webster’s dictionary similarly defined it as “morbid sexual passion for one of the opposite sex.” It wasn’t until 1934 that heterosexuality was graced with the meaning we’re familiar with today: “manifestation of sexual passion for one of the opposite sex; normal sexuality.”

If the above paragraph interests you, which it did me (thanks Susan for sending me this), then it’s well worth your while to read the whole article by Brandon Ambrosino. 

You can find the article here: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170315-the-invention-of-heterosexuality.


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Jamie Fessenden's Blog

The musings of a gay fiction author

Stumbling Through Life

the struggles of a Pansexual Christian

jackiperrette

exploring life, writing & alternative romance

gaygeeks.wordpress.com/

Authors, Artists, Geeks, Husbands

A Queens' Queen in Exile

Memoirs on the death of camp

Kade Boehme

Southern boy...hold the charm...extra sass.

The Amazon Iowan

Blog of Author Heidi Cullinan • full website at heidicullinan.com

Mia Kerick

Love is What I See

The Novel Approach Reviews

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

badass theology

very reformed. very christian. very gay.

Get It Write

Perseverance Press authors' blog

Bro Bonding

Making the best of Bro time

Lane Hayes

Out in the Deep