Archive for May, 2013

Quote of the day: LIBERACE

May 30, 2013


There’s been a long, headache-inducing debate about the question of straight male actors “playing gay”—whether it’ll ruin careers, whether audiences will find the actor hot, and on and on. It’s a nonsense issue that social progress has begun to render irrelevant, and Michael Douglas’s spectacular performance as Liberace demonstrates a rarely discussed benefit. Freed from his trademark macho sulk, Douglas gains all sorts of unexpected charisma—he’s genuinely funny and surprisingly sexy, even with his toupee off, looking like an unshelled tortoise. His eyes lit with amused intelligence, Douglas’s Liberace is your classic “bossy bottom,” a gleeful narcissist who treats his hangers-on as a mirror (sometimes literally: he pressures Scott [Thorson, his boyfriend] to get plastic surgery to look like a younger version of him). And yet the man’s a charmer. He’s playful, even when he’s selling the world a line. In bed, the two have loving, affectionate exchanges, candid about their histories. Liberace jokes with Scott about the rumors—ones he encourages, of course—that he’s engaged to the Olympic champion Sonja Henie. “As if I would marry an ice skater,” he scoffs. “Please. I mean, those thighs!”


The movie is frank, and often very funny, about Liberace’s sexual appetites, which he pursued without seeing any contradiction between them and his devout Catholicism. He has a penis implant, likes porn, and late in their relationship he pressures Scott to take risks that seem crazy for a closeted star, like sneaking into a sex store in ankle-length matching furs. When the camera captures Liberace peeking over a booth with a grin, the movie doesn’t pathologize his good time—from one perspective, he’s a sex addict; from another, a madcap adventurer. During an argument about what Scott will and won’t do in bed, Liberace does a hilariously profane imitation of the couple as a gay Ricky and Lucy. “Why am I the Lucy?” Scott complains. “Because I’m the bandleader,” Liberace explains, with impeccable logic. “With the night-club act.

— Emily Nussbaum, reviewing Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra for The New Yorker

In this week’s New Yorker

May 30, 2013

Three very interesting complicated narratives dominate the issue:

* Nicholas Schmidle’s “In the Crosshairs” tells the compelling story of  Chris Kyle, the highly decorated military killing machine and co-author of the best-seller American Sniper, whose well-intentioned efforts to help Iraqi veterans suffering from PTSD brought him in contact with Eddie Ray Routh, with disastrous results.

* In “The Manic Mountain,” Nick Paumgarten writes about an intense fight on Mt. Everest between elite white European climbers and the local sherpas who make the slopes safe for commercial tourism.

* Jill Lepore’s sharply negative review of Neil Thompson’s new biography A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley manages to achieve a capsule portrait of not only Ripley but also Goeffrey T. Hellman, who wrote many in-depth New Yorker profiles, including one of Ripley that ran in two successive issues in 1940.

I enjoyed reading Alex Halberstadt’s profile of Kim Gordon, even though I have never managed to get anything out of listening to Sonic Youth’s music. And I have to admit that I loved Emily Nussbaum’s review of Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic, Behind the CandelabraI pretty much agree with everything she says about the movie.

Oh, and great timely cover by Marcellus Hall:

bicycle cover

Photo diary: Memorial Day weekend in NYC

May 30, 2013

5-25 fifth ave E stop5-25 kazino lobby5-26 andy terry macbeth5-26 macbeth quartet5-26 nyc phone rage5-26 bob andy allie 15-26 korean kids5-26 don tom melissa5-26 don blushing5-26 melissa maribel5-26 dirty sock sculpture

FOOD FOR THE JOYBODY: Cruising and choosing

May 28, 2013

Is it possible to choose what thoughts you think? I’m not sure you can choose what thoughts float through your mind any more than you can choose what you’re feeling at any given moment. If you could, we’d choose to be happy all the time, right? I do believe, though, that you can choose what thoughts you give weight to. That’s probably the biggest benefit of learning to meditate – getting quiet and still enough to notice the obsessive/brutal/anxious thoughts that occupy your monkey mind and to practice turning down the volume or replacing them with thoughts that create serenity rather than suffering.

Is it possible to choose what kind of people you find attractive? That’s the tougher question that came up today in my therapy session with Roger (not his real name). He’s a fit, perky, reasonably attractive middle-aged guy whose consulting job requires him to spend a lot of time on conference calls. The other day he met in person someone he’d only previously encountered as a disembodied voice. Matthew turns out to be an extraordinarily handsome young guy in his early thirties, and Roger’s crushing out on him already.

cruising choosing collage
We had an interesting conversation about the rules of attraction and what body types gay men are trained to idealize. Roger tends to prize men who are young and handsome, and when it comes to dating, he tends to rule out men who are older and heavier than he is. I know that many gay men of a certain age were socialized to have that specific taste in men, which I consider somewhat tragic – tragic because 1) most people aren’t young and handsome, 2) the ones who are don’t stay that way very long, and 3) if you’re only turned on by young, pretty guys, the pickings get slimmer as time goes by. Maybe I’m a bit of a pervert (“Maybe?” I can hear my friends saying) but I never bought into the classic gay stereotype of drooling over hairless skinny young twinks or muscle-bound guys with six-pack abs. A pot belly and a receding hairline have always been more likely to turn my head, and I think I’m far from alone in that predilection.

We talked about how gay culture has expanded over the years to acknowledge a wider spectrum of physical attractiveness and a richer diversity of erotic affinity groups – daddies and daddy-hunters (noting that “Daddy” no longer connotes “Sugar Daddy” who pays for everything), white guys and men of color who are drawn to each other, bears and their various sub-subcultures, the many flavors of kink. We talked about Bob Bergeron, the New York City-based psychotherapist who wrote a book about gay men aging gracefully — and then committed suicide on the eve of its publication, a victim of the toxic belief that you have to “stay young and beautiful if you want to be loved.” And by contrast we talked about the great gay poet James Broughton, the subject of the new documentary film Big Joy, who lived to be a juicy old man. We talked about how one of the roles for elders in any community is listening carefully to and bestowing blessings on younger people, and how challenging it is to give blessings when you don’t feel that you have received as many as you would have liked.

We cycled back to Roger and his thoughts about Matthew, which vacillated between “He’s so handsome – I wish I were that handsome – I’ll never be that handsome” and “He’s so handsome – I wish I had a partner that handsome – I’ll never have a partner that handsome.” Neither of these trains of thought left Roger feeling very happy. I proposed an alternative: “He’s so handsome.” Period. Bestow a silent blessing. What happens if you give weight to that thought?

Choosing what has meaning to you and choosing where you want to put your energy and awareness is also the subject of a famous commencement speech given by novelist David Foster Wallace (another suicide, for what that’s worth) to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College. Check it out and let me know what you think. What thoughts plague you, and what other choices are available to you?

Quote of the day: NATURE

May 28, 2013


I always think of nature as a great spectacle, somewhat resembling the opera.

— Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle

12-28 curtain negative saturate 4-22 vieques sunset hipstamatic 5-12 park bridge 5-30 cliffs best 6-gullfoss 10-20 olinda tree

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