Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Johnny Mathis

Openly gay singer Johnny Mathis was a star athlete at George Washington High School in San Francisco. He was a high jumper and hurdler, and played on the basketball team, earning four athletic letters. In 1954, he enrolled at San Francisco State University on a scholarship, intending to become an English and physical education teacher. That year he broke the college high jump record by successfully clearing 6-ft. 5-inches; at the time only four Olympic athletes had managed to jump that height. But Mathis had other talents, as well.

His father had worked in vaudeville, and when he recognized his son's dancing and singing abilities, he bought an old upright piano for $25 and encouraged his efforts. Mathis began learning songs and routines from his father, such as the popular song "My Blue Heaven." Mathis soon began singing and dancing for visitors at home, school and for church functions. When Mathis was thirteen, Connie Cox, a voice teacher, accepted him as her student in exchange for his work around her house. He studied with her for six years, learning vocal scales and exercises, voice production, classical and operatic skills. Mathis is one of the few popular singers who received years of professional voice training that included opera.

In 1955, Mathis landed a job singing weekends at Ann Dee's 440 Club. Jazz producer George Avakian came to hear him sing, and subsequently sent a telegram to Columbia Records noting: “Have found phenomenal 19-year old boy who could go all the way. Send blank contracts.”

At San Francisco State, Mathis had gained fame as a high jumper, and in early 1956 he had been asked to attend the trials for the 1956 Olympic teams that would travel to Melbourne, Australia that summer. Mathis had to decide whether to go to the Olympic tryouts or to keep an appointment in New York to make his first recordings, which were subsequently released in 1956. With his father's blessings, Mathis opted for a recording career. To date Johnny Mathis has sold 350 million records worldwide, most of them romantic ballads delivered with a somewhat breathy, tremulous tenor voice. His extraordinary singing career has spanned 55 years.

His career took off immediately, and by 1958 he had already released a “Greatest Hits” album, the first ever of that genre. He was one of the first African-American pop singers to gain wide acceptance with white audiences in America.

In the mid 1960s Mathis purchased a mansion in the Hollywood Hills that was originally built by billionaire Howard Hughes in 1946. Later owned by hotel owner Hyatt R. Von Dehn and oilman Robert Calhoun, that house is where Mathis still maintains his residence.

The 1981 release of his 25th Anniversary Album, a double LP, spent an unprecedented 491 consecutive weeks – nine and a half years – on the Billboard top 100 album charts, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records . He has had five of his albums on the Billboard charts simultaneously, an achievement equaled by only Frank Sinatra and Barry Manilow. Mathis is the 3rd most successful recording artist in the USA.

In a 1982 Us Magazine article, Mathis was quoted as saying, "Homosexuality is a way of life that I've grown accustomed to." Mathis later revealed in a 2006 interview that he received death threats as a result of that 1982 article. In the early 1990s, a group of gay rights activists were planning to “out” Johnny Mathis, when they discovered that he had already revealed his homosexuality in that 1982 Us Magazine article.

Mathis continues to record and performs live today, at the age of 76. His most recent album is Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville, released 14 months ago.


In this video, out gay saxophonist Dave Koz tells the story of the ballad, The Shadow of Your Smile, from the 1965 film The Sandpiper, starring Elizabeth Taylor. Then he and Mathis perform a duet version, which appeared on At the Movies, a huge hit album for Koz in 2007. The voice of Johnny Mathis is in amazingly good form, considering that he is nearly 30 years older than Koz, now 48. Listen for trumpeter Chris Botti, who performs in the background, without appearing in the video. Update: Dave Koz today earned his seventh Grammy nomination  in the category of Best Pop Instrumental Album for his album Hello Tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Josey Greenwell

Josey stands out among the clutch of up-and-coming country singers. He is, well, umm – attractive.

The blond-haired blue-eyed 23-year-old Kentucky bred hunkster won the Colgate Country Showdown in 2006 and was signed to a record deal in Nashville at age 19. When the label discovered that Greenwell was gay, he was promptly dropped.

Now the singer is finding his own way, writing his own songs and getting his music out there on his own. It also pays to have a talented photographer in your pocket and a smokin’ hot bod. Not a bad voice, either.

Have a listen. UPDATE: ALL OF JOSEY"S VIDEOS HAVE BEEN TAKEN DOWN BECAUSE HE HAS MADE AN ATTEMPT TO RELAUNCH HIS CAREER AS A STRAIGHT SINGER WITH THE NAME NATE GREEN. IT'S BEEN ALL OVER THE INTERNET. I'm laughing as I type this.




Sunday, November 27, 2011

Raymond Burr's Fabricated Hetero Life

Many gay actors invest enormous amounts of energy to remain closeted, but few deceptions were as convoluted as that of Canadian-born Raymond Burr (1917-1993), known for decades as TV’s Perry Mason. He believed he could conceal his homosexuality by creating an imaginary life to hide his thirty-five-year relationship with Robert Benevides. Burr told everyone he was married three times and had a son who died of leukemia at the age of ten. However, a few years after his death, Burr’s sister admitted that her brother was married only once (the marriage was annulled after a few months) and never had a son.

Burr was leading a secret gay life at a time in Hollywood when an acknowledged homosexuality was career suicide, so he fabricated a tragic biography for himself in which he was mythologized as a heartbroken husband and father. There was even an invented affair with a teenage Natalie Wood, 21 years his junior.

At the height of his popularity in television and film, he frequently gave speeches to the American Bar Association, by virtue of his famous portrayal of lawyer Perry Mason. Burr was driven to embellish this elaborate façade when he found out in 1961 that a member of the American Bar Association had given the FBI documents indicating that Burr was "a noted sex deviate." Burr’s response was a classic case of gay panic.

Burr’s television persona, Perry Mason, was a defense attorney who was the main character in works of detective fiction by celebrated author Erle Stanley Gardner. Burr played this role for an astonishing five decades. He won fame, fortune, and numerous awards for portraying Mason for nine years on TV, followed by 26 made-for-TV movies. When TV Guide asked Burr shortly before his 1993 death to name a single regret, he answered, “It was accepting the role that made me famous: Perry Mason. It dominated my life. Perry took over, and it became a burden.”

In 1993, Burr’s close friend, actor Charles Macaulay, told Mary Murphy of TV Guide, “Raymond Burr really was Perry Mason. The two were one and the same.” Maybe so, but Raymond Burr had other interests. He was an innovative breeder of orchids, an award-winning vintner, a respected Beverly Hills art dealer, and foster father to more than twenty children.


The 6'3" actor began work as a teenaged lounge singer, and soon thereafter Dragnet’s Jack Webb gave him work as a radio actor, which led to theater work. At age twenty, Burr became a member of a Toronto-based repertory theater. However, his real fame was achieved as a TV and movie actor.

In 1954 he played the menacing wife-killer Lars Thorwald in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, Rear Window. Two years later, the tall, rotund actor appeared in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, the first of the Godzilla movies. That same year Burr auditioned for the title role in CBS’s upcoming Perry Mason series. At the audition, Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner witnessed Burr’s reading and exclaimed “He’s Perry Mason.”

After the CBS drama premiered in 1957, Raymond Burr was suddenly a big star and one of television’s highest paid actors. He spent much of his income to support a philanthropic lifestyle. Burr famously opened his home and wallet to out of work actors. As well, he supported more than twenty foster children. Without publicity, and at his own expense, Burr made trips to Korea and Vietnam to support and speak with our soldiers serving on the front lines. He was awarded an honorary law doctorate from the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California, on the basis of his association with the role of TV lawyer Perry Mason.

Burr’s generosity took other forms, as well. When William Talman, who played the forever losing prosecutor Hamilton Burger on Perry Mason, was busted during a raid at a pot party (in the nude no less), he was fired by CBS. They used the morals clause in their contract to dump him. But Burr tirelessly worked on behalf of Talman to get his job back. Burr refused to remove Talman’s coffee mug from the rack on the set and forbade Talman’s dressing room to be cleaned out or his space on the studio parking lot to be reassigned. Eventually the executives at CBS relented and Talman was back on the show, but his career would have been finished if it had not been for Burr’s intervention.

Nine seasons, 271 episodes, and two Best Actor Emmy wins later, the Perry Mason series came to an end. This gig was followed by the highly successful Ironside NBC series (1967-1975), in which Burr played paralyzed police detective Robert Ironside.













It was on the set of Perry Mason that Burr first met Robert Benevides, the man who would become his companion and partner. Burr and Benevides discovered a mutual interest in the hybridization of orchids. Together they started a nursery with orchid ranges in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores and Southern California. Over a twenty-year period, their hybridization was responsible for more than fifteen hundred new orchids being added to the worldwide catalogue. Also with Benevides, Burr opened a successful Rodeo Drive art gallery.

By the mid 1980s, the portly actor and some of his series co-stars returned for the first of twenty-six, two-hour made-for-TV Perry Mason movies. It was about that same time that Burr and Benevides began growing grapes in Sonoma County, California. Their first releases came to market in 1990. To this day, Robert Benevides oversees the award-winning Chardonnay and Cabernets at Raymond Burr Vineyards. These wines have won a number of gold medals and even a Sweeps prize at the 2008 San Diego Wine Competition.

Diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 1992, Burr retreated with Benevides to their Sonoma Valley ranch, where the TV icon spent his final days dispersing his wealth through charities, gifts to friends, and the development of grant and trust programs. In the last two weeks of his life, Raymond Burr hosted farewell parties for his friends and foster children. He was buried in New Westminster, British Columbia, the town where he was born, now home to the Raymond Burr Performing Arts Center.

Fred Steiner, composer of the Perry Mason theme, died this past June at the age of 88. He wrote numerous TV themes, including music for the Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, Gunsmoke, The Danny Thomas Show, and “Park Avenue Beat,” the name of the Perry Mason theme music. Have a listen to this distinctive composition.




Saturday, November 26, 2011

Michael Brooks Raises Rainbow Flag Over Oxford

A seventeenth-century Oxford University college has flown the homosexual rainbow flag over one of its buildings, becoming the first Oxford college ever to do so. Of the 38 colleges that make up the prestigious university, Wadham College, housed in a 17th-century castle at the center of the university, is often considered the progressive college. Founded in 1610, the college made history by hoisting the flag as it marked “Queerweek” – a collection of talks, discussions and social events scheduled from November 14-20. The flag flew for the entire week, and the action was supported by the college Dean and the Governing Body.

Organizer and student Michael Brooks, 19, came up with the idea after consulting with other students. “We discussed it with the college dean, and then the idea went through to the Governing Body," he said in the report. "Everyone responded really positively to the idea, and we ended up flying the rainbow flag over Wadham for an entire week." Brooks, a Philosophy and German undergraduate, said flying the flag had a “huge effect on Oxford”.

Local author Ross Brooks (no relation), the creator of Oxford’s only gay guide – Queer Oxford – welcomed the college’s decision to hoist the flag. “This is the first time ever that the University of Oxford has flown the rainbow flag. It is certainly a bit different and something special, I think, ‘to write home about’. For centuries, LGBT culture has been integral to life here in Oxford although it has not always been acknowledged and appreciated. It was heartwarming to see Oxford University celebrating diversity in the community so publicly.” While the flag was first used by the LGBT community in the 1970s, it is believed this is the first official gay symbol to be displayed since teaching began on the university’s site in the 11th century, over 900 years ago.

He went on to explain why Wadham College was such a poignant place for the flag to fly. “The fact is that Wadham College was the scene of one of Oxford’s most notorious scandals. On February 3, 1739, Robert Thistlethwayte, Doctor of Divinity and Warden of Wadham, attempted to seduce William French, a commoner of the College. The ensuing scandal shook the University to its foundations. Thistlethwayte’s career at Oxford was ruined (he had to flee to France) but he was immortalized in several cheeky limericks which have been uttered here in Oxford ever since the 1730s! For example:

There once was a Warden of Wadham
Who approved of the folkways of Sodom,
For a man might, he said,
Have a very poor head
But be a fine Fellow at bottom
.”

So there you have it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alan Shayne & Norman Sunshine

Gay marriage is at the forefront of today's political battles, and a book was published Tuesday that puts a human face on this contentious debate:

Double Life: A Love Story
By Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine

It’s a dual memoir by a gay male couple who have been in a relationship for more than 50 years. With high profiles in the entertainment, advertising and art communities, the authors share inside stories from film, television and media, featuring Marlon Brando, Rock Hudson, Laurence Olivier, Truman Capote and Robert Redford. A standout is their neighbor Rock Hudson’s generosity in lending the couple his house after a fire had made their own home uninhabitable for many months. A nosy Katherine Hepburn invited herself over to see what changes Rock Hudson had made to the house, since she knew the previous owner. The book is brimming with tantalizing anecdotes such as this.

“We both grew up at a time when homosexuality was not even spoken about,” the couple writes. “There were certainly no books that could help a young person understand that two people of the same sex could build a happy, productive and loving life together. We wanted to show people who were not gay that our life was not unlike theirs. We are all pretty much the same, so we deserve equal protection under the Constitution.”

Alan Shayne retired as President of Warner Brothers Television in 1986, following a career that included Broadway, playing opposite Lena Horne in his early years. As a leading casting director, he worked on such films as Catch 22, All the President’s Men and many others. At Warner Brothers, he shepherded long-running television series such as as Alice, Night Court and The Dukes of Hazard.

Norman Sunshine was a successful magazine illustrator in New York who went on to be a painter and sculptor whose works are in museums as well as in important private collections. In the early years of his career, he was vice president, creative director of an advertising agency, and coined the phrase, “What Becomes a Legend Most?” (for Blackglama Mink) as well as “Danskins are not just for Dancing.”

Upon the two men meeting in New York in 1958, “We didn’t want to live together,” says Shayne. “We didn’t have any examples of what a good love relationship between two men could be. And there was always the problem of hiding so no one would know we were gay. There was no question that if I were known to be gay, living with another man, it would make it more difficult for me to get work as an actor.”

As an artist, Sunshine was able to maintain a moderately out lifestyle. But when the first exhibition of his paintings in New York brought on a profile in The New York Times in 1968, he was photographed in the apartment that he revealed sharing with Shayne. At both his advertising agency and Shayne’s television production company, the article was met with icy, absolute silence.

Shayne and Sunshine flank their good friend and neighbor, Joan Rivers, who hosted their book release party at New York’s 21 Club.


Even in the 1970s, when Sunshine won an Emmy for the graphics and title design he had created for one of Shayne’s television productions, “Alan and I agreed it was not a good idea for us to be seen together at an industry event,” he remembers. “Alan, after all, was one of the very few homosexuals who had such a powerful, high profile job, and who lived openly with a man. Homophobia had its adherents and some ruthless climber up the executive ladder would certainly love an opportunity to use it…‘Better to be seen with a woman,’ we were advised by a very trusted friend. ‘Makes everyone more comfortable.’”

In 2008 the State of Massachusetts allowed the opportunity for the couple to be married on a beach in Nantucket. “We were like a long, empty, closed-up house where the windows have just been opened,” writes Shayne. “The fresh air thrilled through us, and after years of only being who we were in the privacy of our homes or with a few friends, we were out in the world, under the sky, no longer pretending. We were at last free.”

The couple also collaborated on several literary projects, including the popular Christmas classic, The Minstrel Tree (published 10 years ago), an old-fashioned family Christmas story. Equally popular with children and adults, it appeared in condensed form in Good Housekeeping magazine in December, 2001. That book, along with this just-published memoir, would make a fine pair of holiday gifts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trajan & Hadrian: Successive Homosexual Emperors

Bearded Emperor Hadrian











Roman Emperor Hadrian, the subject of yesterday’s post, lost his father when he was just 10 years old, becoming the ward of a relative, Trajan, who eventually adopted him (Trajan was a cousin of Hadrian’s father). Trajan went on to become Emperor of Rome, beginning his reign in the year 98, when Hadrian was 22 years old. Both Trajan and Hadrian were included in the set known as the Five Good Emperors, numbers two and three respectively. Trajan’s campaigns expanded the Roman Empire to its greatest ever territorial extent, and Hadrian traveled from one end of his adoptive father’s empire to the other.

One of the most beloved of Roman emperors, Trajan (who was also adopted) was also well known for his homosexuality and fondness for young males. Both Trajan and Hadrian kept harems of boys who were in their early teens, and many of the troubles between the two were caused by the boys they kept. Both men were exclusively homosexual. They maintained marriages "blanc" (sexless, childless unions), but for formal purposes they each married.

Trajan's image on a Roman coin






Trajan’s love of young male flesh was once used to advantage by the king of Edessa, Abgar VII, who had angered Trajan for some misdeed; to obtain a pardon, Abgar sent his handsome young son to make his apologies to Trajan. Worked like a charm, if you get my drift. Nothing like pimping out your own son to set things right with the emperor.

While is was not the norm for men of that era to be exclusively homosexual, homosexual behavior was accepted and not questioned, particularly between older men and adolescent boys. From the time of Plato to the beginning of the Christian Era, some eight hundred years, wives were thought of only as a means for procreation. In 385 B.C. Plato’s Symposium was published. He argued that love between males was the highest form of love, and that sex with women was lustful and only for means of reproduction. Only with men, he argued, could the Greek male reach his full intellectual potential.

Fifty years later the sacred Band of Thebes, an army of male lovers (couples), represented the ideal of military strength and might. Twelve years later Alexander the Great converted millions of his conquered people to the gay-ideals of the Hellenistic Age.

The Roman Empire began with the reign of Augustus in 27 B.C. The first recorded same sex marriages occurred during this time, and art and literature depicted homosexual love in a positive light. Romans, like the Greeks, celebrated love and sex among men. Two Roman Emperors publicly married men, some had gay lovers themselves, and homosexual prostitution was so established that it was taxed. It was into this world view that homosexual rulers Trajan and Hadrian held sway over vast empires.

Some eighty years later, in 218 A.D., the Roman emperor Elagabalus began his reign. He married a man named Zoticus, an athlete from Smyrna, in a lavish public ceremony in Rome, amid public rejoicing. But details of that union will have to wait for a later post.

To my blog readers:
I just received a comment by Australian author George Gardiner. You may be interested in his book.

Readers of your Antinous/Hadrian materials may be also be interested in the recently-published novel about this historic relationship in "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". It is available in 500-page paperback and Kindle ebook formats at Amazon USA, UK, & Australia.

George Gardiner
Author
THE HADRIAN ENIGMA
http://mmromancenovels.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Roman Emperor Hadrian and Antinous

Roman Emperor Hadrian, who reigned in the early years of the second century, sought to promote his devotion to his Greek male lover, Antinous (statue at left), who drowned in Egypt in the year 130 during a state visit. After this tragic death, Hadrian went through a period of intense, obsessive mourning and "wept for him like a woman" when his lover's body was presented to him.

The emperor, who had spent seven years with his young lover, subsequently commissioned 2,000 naked or partially clothed statues of the beautiful teenager for display throughout the empire. Hadrian declared his beloved to be a god and founded a cult city in his honor, Antinoopolis, in Middle Egypt along the banks of the Nile. Temples were dedicated to the worship of the Roman Empire’s newest God. This was an astonishing act, because heretofore in the Roman Empire, deification was only conferred upon emperors.

The new city of Antinoopolis was a forest of white-marble temples, monuments and colonnades laid out on a grid pattern and adorned with hundreds of images of the New God Antinous. A great arch welcomed travelers arriving by boat at the marble docks. Broad streets lined with fine shops and luxurious homes led to a central intersection, where a colossal gilded bronze statue of Antinous Epiphanes “coming forth” towered over the square. A north-south colonnade was matched by an east-west colonnade which ran the length of the city, linking the Mausoleum of Antinous at one end with the Theater at the other. Beyond the city walls, on the dusty plain between the river and the eastern cliffs, an enormous Hippodrome dominated the elevated land east of the city gates.

Antinoopolis c. 1799


At the direction of Hadrian, cities throughout his empire organized festivals and games to commemorate Antinous. Between 133 and 137, thirty-one Greek cities issued coins bearing his image. In addition to the bronze and marble statues and busts of Antinous (more than 100 of which survive), countless reliefs, medals, cameos and gems were crafted to further honor the emperor’s young lover. Private shrines dedicated to Antinous sprang up everywhere, from Britania, to the Danube Frontier to North Africa. Priests of Antinous were appointed to perform the ceremonies that would perpetuate the memory of the new God for all eternity.
   
The competitors in the Antonous festival games were primarily young men called Ephebes. In Antinoopolis these included swimming and boat races in the Nile, but the Antinous games were unique in that they included competition in the arts and music, as well. The over-all winner was consecrated as the living embodiment of Antinous and given citizenship in Antinoopolis, with an all-expenses-paid life of luxury and adoration. The victor was worshiped in the temple as the representative of Antinous, the emblem of youth and masculinity. Thus the winner was the "Divine Ephebe." The image of Antinous established the last great ancient type of male adolescent perfection, and his cult endured for several hundred years, lasting well into the Christian era.

During the Byzantine Period, after the fall of the Western Empire, Antinoopolis was renamed Ansena, to distance itself from it Greco-Roman past. When the Byzantine Empire was ultimately overrun by Muslims, Antinoopolis/Ansena was abandoned and vanished from history. The village that today occupies the city’s site, Sheik Abadeh, suggests nothing of its former glories. It is known that the Egyptian Caliph plundered the heavy bronze doors of the Temple of Antinous and brought them to his new city of Cairo, but they have since vanished, unfortunately.

When the ruins of Antinoopolis were surveyed in 1798 by Napoleon’s representative Edme-Francois Jomard, 1,344 statues of Antinous were discovered. Archaeologists subsequently found over half a million jars containing offerings to the shrine at Antinoopolis. Unfortunately the ruins of Antinoopolis were lost in the early nineteenth century when an Egyptian construction company ground most of the city’s remaining pillars into cement. A few, however, survive to the present day (shown below).



However, the extraordinary story of Antinous was inadvertently preserved by the Catholic Church in documents denouncing paganism. Thus the beautiful sculptures and images of Antinous were often carefully buried underground by his worshipers to protect them from destruction. Hundreds of years later, the statues were unearthed and subsequently hailed as magnificent treasures from the ancient age.

Hadrian’s predominant sexual taste, like that of Trajan, his predecessor as emperor, was for teenage boys, and he fathered no children. The emperor wrote extravagant love poems idolizing young men, all of which have been lost, unfortunately. However, the surviving examples of the sculptures and busts of Antinous he commissioned rank among the greatest extant works of art of the Hellenistic period. Some of these are currently displayed in the Vatican, Louvre, Fitzwilliam and Altes Museum (Berlin). Hadrian flaunted same sex love by filling the gardens of his villa at Tivoli with suggestive statues of teenage boys.

Frederick the Great of Prussia, whose homosexuality failed to diminish even after harsh treatment by his father, imitated Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli when he built his own palace, called Sans Souci. Frederick incorporated busts of Antinous to function as a subtle code for his own homosexual desires.

In more modern times the love affair between Hadrian and Antinous is acutely and sympathetically analyzed in Marguerite Yourcenar's historical novel, Memoirs of Hadrian (1951), which led to her election to the French Academy as its first female member.





















I recall a 2008 visit to London’s British Museum, which featured an exhibit called Hadrian: Empire and Conflict. Among the images of Antinous was an enormous bust (shown above) depicting a male youth sporting elaborate cascades of hair. The notes explained that the holes drilled into his hair were for attaching  flowers and fruit, and the empty eye sockets would have been filled with precious stones to make the eyes look alive. As well, the voluptuous lips (a trademark of all images of Antinous) would have been painted red. I wish I had known all this when I lived as a student in Germany, where I often crossed the Limes, the ancient remains of Hadrian’s wall that ran through the Odenwald in southern Germany, not far from my university city of Würzburg.




To my blog readers:
I just received a comment by Australian author George Gardiner. You may be interested in his book.

Readers of your Antinous/Hadrian materials may be also be interested in the recently-published novel about this historic relationship in "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History". It is available in 500-page paperback and Kindle ebook formats at Amazon USA, UK, & Australia.

George Gardiner
Author
THE HADRIAN ENIGMA
http://mmromancenovels.blogspot.com

Friday, November 18, 2011

Justin Utley

Out country singer/songwriter Justin Utley occupies a spot more rarified than out professional athletes. Country music is about the last frontier waiting to be conquered by gay men. But wait! He’s also a Utah born-and-bred Mormon. Well, a former Mormon. He was able to escape the clutches of the church and take his act to New York.

That was quite a change for a kid who once was a best-selling Christian artist in Salt Lake City's Mormon community. Justin’s charismatic stage moves and commanding vocal presence have made an impact on the New York music scene. His debut album as a solo artist, "Runaway," blends singer/songwriter sensitivity with hard-rock attitude, all delivered with plenty of hungry big-city energy served up in a country/folk style.

"I was the prince of Mormon pop with a couple of Mormon albums that did pretty well when I was 15," Utley confesses with a laugh. "The Mormon Church also has its own movie industry, and I've written songs for some of those films. There's this strange alternate universe of Mormon film and music in Utah. You go to the multiplex and you have the major nationwide releases playing right next door to a missionary movie."

Utley grew up in a conservative house and was "forced into taking piano lessons" at a young age. He put music aside until high school, when he returned to the keyboard and started writing songs to release the emotions he couldn't get to any other way. He also found his way into musical theater.

"My mom got me into a play singing Disney songs, and that kinda spawned my career," he says. "As I got older, I was in everything from 'Bye Bye Birdie' to 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' When I told her I was gay, she said, 'I thought you just had commitment issues, but I should have known. You spent too much time alone with those He-Man action figures.' "

After high school, Utley started Found, a mainstream rock project that won a Slammy (awarded by Salt Lake's indie newspaper The City Weekly) for best new band. He also won Best Singer and Songwriter and was a featured performer at the 2002 Winter Olympics, but Salt Lake City was getting too small to contain his musical ambitions. "After the Olympics, I realized I had to get out of town to make the next step. There's a punk rock scene, but it's very localized. You rarely get noticed from outside. The gay scene is very underground in its own little sphere. Gay Pride draws about 30,000 people, but there's only one gay club in the entire city."

Before he left, Utley decided to come out, which was a generally positive experience. He also left the Mormon Church. "Brent, my first boyfriend, passed away suddenly during the process of coming out, and that was difficult. When I told my mom, she said she was sorry she didn't get to meet him, that he never came over for dinner. Everyone I told remained a part of my life and was supportive – except my Mormon bishop, who told me that Brent died because God did not approve of that kind of relationship.”

After coming out, Justin became a noted activist and advocate for civil rights and LGBT equality in the United States, and an outspoken personality against the Mormon church's use of conversion therapy, a method Utley endured for two years at Evergreen, after serving a two-year full-time mission for the church.

"I wrote a letter to the church excommunicating myself. They say they allow everyone to worship as they please; yet they create an environment that's closed and make plenty of pro-family anti-gay contributions. They don't really live by the live-and-let-live rule they profess to follow."

Utley worked on "Runaway" while he was in the process of moving to New York, bouncing between sessions in Salt Lake and the Big Apple. He played most of the instruments himself, but invited Lance Yergensen, his band-mate from Found, to lay down some shredding electric guitar parts. The music has a bright live feel, bursting with energy and confidence. "Goodbye, Goodbye" is a rocking kiss-off to a faithless lover with a big anthem-like chorus; "Little White Lies," based on Utley's disillusionment with the Mormon Church, has a '50s R&B feel and searing guitar work from Yergensen, while "Crash & Burn," one of Utley's most requested songs in his live set, is a bittersweet tune about overcoming life's difficulties, marked by Utley's pleading, emotional vocal.

Utley wrote and produced "Runaway" by himself. "My studio has digital and analog equipment because analog captures something digital can't. It opens up the soul of the music a bit more. "Runaway" has an introspective feel, with lyrics that I wrote before and after coming out, so the images are open enough that everyone can relate to them.

In June 2010, Utley released "Stand for Something." a single written to inspire and motivate to take action towards securing LGBT equality in America, ending youth homelessness, and increasing community awareness. The single was nominated by the LGBT Academy of Recording Arts for 4 OutMusic Awards, including Best Songwriter and Artist of the Year, winning Best Country/Folk Song of the Year.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mitchell Gold

President Obama's favorite chair: Michelle chair from Mitchell Gold.

Washington DC’s first Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture store opened on 14th Street NW in 2007, and now the Obamas have two pieces of Mitchell Gold’s upholstery in the White House, which lends a strong endorsement to the furniture brand. Married partners Mitchell and Tim Gold have been to the White House for a few receptions and have chatted up President Obama about the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture in the private spaces upstairs.

Mitchell says, “When I met the president there for the first time, I mentioned that our things were in the private quarters, and he asked which ones.” Mitchell told the president that the Dr. Pitt sectional sofa and an upholstered chair (now discontinued) called the Michelle were from his factory. “Obama told me that was one of the chairs he sits in the most.”

Last year, Mitchell Gold (60) married Tim Scofield (34), who now goes by Tim Gold, a graduate of the University of Maryland whose job often brings him to Washington. It all added up to enough reasons for Mitchell and Tim to buy a loft overlooking the terraces and fountains of Meridian Hill Park.

Mitchell already had three residences, so he had to be convinced he needed a fourth home. After they got married, he and Tim spent so much time staying in Washington hotels that they started looking at real estate and subsequently bought the loft in February.

Mitchell co-owns a $100 million furniture business, so he shops his own stores. In his D.C. home are his company’s dining banquette, winged platform bed and a brown-and-white cowhide ottoman. There are also one-of-a-kind furnishings, collections and mid-century modern pieces. Large framed photographs taken by friend and client Tipper Gore are hung throughout the loft. Mitchell interviewed a few interior designers, but decided that longtime business associate and former life partner Bob Williams was the right guy for the job.

“This chunk of teak wood here in the corner is our natural touch” (see photo), says Tim, pointing out a sculptural piece of Thai wood he and Mitchell picked out at the last furniture market. “Mitchell and I are known for killing plants, even cactus.”

The Golds are always on the move. In North Carolina, their primary residence is a lakeside retreat near the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams factory in Taylorsville; they also have a 1950s ranch house in High Point. Then there’s their trophy 58th-floor condo in Manhattan’s gay neighborhood of the moment, Hell’s Kitchen.

Tim and Mitchell were introduced through mutual friends in New York four years ago. The couple married at an arts center in Des Moines, because Iowa was one of five states at that time that permitted same-sex marriages. “We liked the fact that it was in the heartland,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell and his business partner Bob Williams, who was once his partner in life, have run the company for 22 years. They design and produce home furnishings sold at retailers across the country and at 16 Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams stores. They do private-label designs for Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma and Restoration Hardware, among others.

Mitchell also heads Faith in America, an advocacy organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Tim worked at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum for seven years as an exhibition specialist. Today, he is CEO of the Velvet Foundation, working to establish a national museum of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history and culture.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alex Morse, Young Mayor

UPDATE: In November, 2013, Morse was elected to a second term as mayor.

Out and gay Alex Morse (at left, photo by Rob Deza) is the newly-elected 22-year-old mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, but CBS did not mention his sexual orientation on their Sunday news segment on Morse. That issue simply wasn't an issue in this campaign, according to The New Civil Rights Movement, a website dedicated to gay rights topics, especially same-sex marriage.

"He is gay. He is out. He has worked for the cause. He just won a stunner of a political victory, and as hard as this is to conceptualize, being gay was not a complicating factor in his campaign," writes Jean Ann Esselink in an article titled "On Our Radar – Mayor-Elect Alex Morse" that was posted Sunday on the website.

The 2½-minute CBS news segment included some hardscrabble images of the heavily Hispanic city, where a third of residents live below the poverty line and unemployment hovers around 11 percent. Morse, who takes office in January, says he's looking forward to managing a city with a $120 million budget and nearly 40,000 residents.

"I think of my age as an incredible asset, in that I haven't been around for 20 (or) 30 years. I'm not beholden to special interests. I haven't been around long enough to owe anybody a political favor," the mayor-elect told CBS.

But the optimism of Morse – a recent Brown University graduate who launched a mayoral bid while still attending the Ivy League school – shines through. He played up the city's bright spots, including a high-tech office park expected to serve as a magnet for new jobs and plans to renovate the old Victory Theater.

"One of the most satisfying things to do in life is to do what others tell you you cannot do, and I think that's what we did throughout this campaign," Morse says in the CBS interview. "Never once did I listen to folks who said, 'You're too young, you haven't paid your dues.'"

Morse, a political neophyte who won 53 percent of the vote in last Tuesday's election, unseated incumbent mayor Elaine A. Pluta, a longtime public servant and Holyoke's first woman mayor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tracy Thorne-Begland

Former Navy pilot Tracy Thorne-Begland, age 44, is a living legend of American gay history. Never heard of him? Well, I’m happy to take care of that oversight by relating the story of a man who lives and works in my home state.

Officer Thorne-Begland decided to come out at the height of the Clinton-era gays in the military debate. He appeared on ABC’s Nightline on May 19, 1992, and revealed to anchor Ted Koppel that he was both a homosexual and a military officer. The following year, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell – rather than Clinton’s promised repeal of the ban on homosexuals in the military – became law, and Thorne-Begland was honorably discharged. He was reinstated in 1993 after filing suit in federal court, but was discharged again in 1995, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeal.

Twenty years ago, Thorne-Begland put a public face on the dilemma of gays serving in the military. He had graduated at the top of his class from Navy flight school in Pensacola, Fla. He was assigned to Oceana Naval Air Station near Virginia Beach as a bombardier navigator and flew A-6 intruder attack planes for three years. He wrestled with having to lie about his sexual orientation and eventually came out to his fellow fliers.

“It was a complete non-issue,” says Thorne-Begland. “Everyone was supportive of me.” Thorne-Begland continued flying with his squadron, and his fellow pilots flew with him without a second thought.

Both his mother and sister knew he was gay at the time, but his brother and father did not. He broke the news to the male members of his immediate family, and then told his entire family that “next week I’m going on TV to tell 13 million of my closest friends” that he was gay. “They thought I was flushing my life down the drain.”

When asked how it felt to come out to millions of people, Thorne-Begland reminisces that it “felt like I was having a personal conversation,” a conversation without any need to cloak his identity. “It was the first time I was who I was.”

When he returned to Virginia Beach, fellow soldiers shook his hand and patted his back. “There wasn’t a breakdown of morale,” says Thorne-Begland, criticizing the accusation by those who aimed to keep gays out of the military. However, his commanding officer, following official protocol, had to implement the strict policy that Thorne-Begland was attempting to challenge publicly.

Although his efforts at the time were ultimately unsuccessful, during his legal battles Thorne-Begland developed a fascination with the law. After spending some time working with the Human Rights Campaign in Washington DC as a spokesperson for their Coming Out Project in the early 90s, Tracy went back to school and received his law degree from the University of Richmond in 1997. Currently, he is a Deputy Commonwealth Attorney for the city of Richmond, dealing with Major Crimes. His life partner, Michael Thorne-Begland, also followed Tracy to Richmond and enrolled in law school.

The two were married in an Episcopal ceremony in 1999. They have twin children, daughter Logan and son Chance. The twins were carried to term by a surrogate in a pregnancy that was the product of sperm from one of the partners and eggs donated by the sister of the other. When Tracy and Michael sought work after obtaining their degrees from the University of Richmond, they both were up-front with potential employers about who they were. There would be no hiding. “I had already lost one career,” said Thorne-Begland. Until 1994, there were no openly gay lawyers in Richmond.

It is easy to contrast Tracy’s costly honesty with that of Florida politician Mark Foley. Tracy grew up in Palm Beach, Florida, and used to see Foley with his boyfriend vacationing at Little Palm Key. Foley became a family friend, and Foley was supportive of Tracy during his travails in the nearly 1990s. When Foley voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, Thorne-Begland had an angry conversation with him, raking him over the coals for such lack of integrity, for taking the road of political survival and hypocrisy.

When President Obama signed the repeal of DADT last December, sitting in the front row was Tracy Thorne-Begland. It was a historic moment, and Thorne-Begland was one of the principal players that made that turnabout possible. We all owe this man, big time.

Tracy with President Obama and life partner Michael.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alan Cumming

Actor Alan Cumming, who plays Eli Gold on CBS’ acclaimed series The Good Wife, recently signed a deal to continue as a regular cast member. The Good Wife, now in its third season, was partly inspired by the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal and other prominent American political sex scandals, particularly those of John Edwards and Bill Clinton.

Cumming joined The Good Wife as a recurring character in the first season and was upped to a regular for the second season. Cumming’s character of cutthroat political operative Eli Gold, based on former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, was an immediate standout when he was introduced in the first season. He earned a guest-starring Emmy nomination last year.

Cumming is a Scottish-born stage, television and film actor, singer, writer, director, producer and author. He attained dual U.S. citizenship in 2008 after marrying his partner Grant Shaffer, a graphic designer, in 2007. The couple resides in New York City. Prior to the civil union, Cumming dated both men and women, including a two-year relationship with actress Saffron Burrows, a six-year relationship with male theater director Nick Philippou, and a 1985 marriage to actress Hilary Lyon that lasted eight years.

Once he outed himself as bisexual in 1998, Cumming promoted LGBT rights, emceeing and attending fundraisers for organizations such as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), as well as several AIDS charities.

Cumming was appointed an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to film, theatre and the arts and activism for LGBT rights. In 2005 he received the Vito Russo Award at the 16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards for outstanding contributions toward eliminating homophobia. In July of the same year he was presented with the HRC's Humanitarian Award in San Francisco, also for his LGBT public stance. In 2006 Cumming received a Doctor of Arts honorary degree from the University of Abertay Dundee (Scotland). He also is a patron of the Scottish Youth Theatre, Scotland's National Theatre “for and by” young people.


Classically trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Cumming’s career bounces all over the place. Although he has received accolades for performing Shakespeare on stage, he has accepted roles in real cinematic clinkers (Garfield the Movie, Josie and the Pussycats, and Burlesque from among a long list).

He is a man of strong opinions. When talking about Richard Chamberlain's comment: "I wouldn't advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out", Cumming goes ballistic. “Rupert Everett made the same point in a radio interview, saying he never got a job in Hollywood, and never got a job in England, after coming out. Well, I think it's so mean-spirited," says Cumming. "If you're living a lie, that's not healthy, and I think it is really irresponsible of Chamberlain and Rupert to say these things. But it's not about your work," he says scornfully.

"It's about how you exist as a person in the world, and the idea that your work is more important than you as a person is a horrible message. I always think about a little gay boy in Wisconsin or a little lesbian in Arkansas seeing someone like me, and if I cannot be open in my life, how on earth can they? Anyway, it's an academic question: how can you know that coming out affects your career? Some people just get less work than others, and it has nothing to do with sexuality."

In this clip from a British television talk show, Alan discusses getting an OBE, his husband Grant, voting for Obama and singing for the National AIDS trust. He also sings “That’s Life” and tells about his becoming an American citizen. All in under nine minutes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

NBA's Rick Welts

Lots of high profile gay sports professionals fear being outed, but here’s what happens when you’re so good at your job that no one gives a flying leap about who you take to bed. Rick Welts, the openly gay former president of the Phoenix Suns, was hired by Oakland's Golden State Warriors as team president and COO. For decades Welts feared what coming out might do to his career. Like so many closeted gay people in sports, he kept his private and public lives separate for fear that he wouldn't be able to get another job in sports if people knew he was gay.

Welts' coming out last May while president of the Suns team was one thing. They couldn't fire, demote or shun him, because that would have been a public relations disaster.  Welts stepped down as Phoenix Suns CEO in September, stating that he wanted to spend more time with his male partner, who lives in Sacramento. But when he left, no team was obligated to hire him.

Now an NBA team has handed an openly gay man the reins to their franchise. While people focus on the travails of athletes, the real power brokers in sports are the guys Welts works with every day, and they've decided to welcome a gay man into their fold. This is huge. Gay players, coaches and executives now know that they can have a welcoming, accepting home in their field. No more pretend-dates with women, no more hiding a partner away from the spotlight. And now all those people who live in a fearful professional closet have a bright, shining example of what can happen when you're simply good at your job.

Now, if we can just have an NBA season.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Part 4: Paul Newman meets Steve McQueen

"I thought Newman was arrogant.
When I finally got him into bed, I taught him who the man was."
– Steve McQueen on Paul Newman

They first met on the set of Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956, rooftop photo below). McQueen approached Newman and propositioned him after engaging in crude, even insulting banter. Newman later told his friend Janice Rule that as they ended their conversation, McQueen planted a wet, sloppy kiss on him. With tongue.

Thus began a rivalrous relationship that was frequently acrimonious. McQueen turned down Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) because he wouldn’t accept second billing to Newman. The two fought like cats and dogs over the positioning of their names on the movie poster for Towering Inferno (1974). McQueen was a brash liar, but Newman found himself strangely attracted to him, and there was obvious sexual tension between the two. But Paul was also having a sexual relationship with Sal Mineo at the time, and Mineo had fallen madly in love with him and wanted to live together as a couple. When Paul rejected that offer, Mineo attempted suicide.

By this time Newman had moved his mistress, Joanne Woodward, into the Chateau Marmont. If those walls could talk. Christopher Isherwood called on Paul and Joanne. Gore Vidal was a resident on a different floor (as a cover, Woodward considered marrying Vidal to further the future of his race for the U.S. presidency). Marilyn Monroe once knocked on Newman’s door with a bottle of champagne and got lucky, since Paul was alone that afternoon. Grace Kelly hit on him at the Chateau Marmont – it was Newman who felt lucky that day.   

Photo: Rivals McQueen and Newman spar on the rooftop in Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)

When a friend took Newman to task for using a clean-cut image to hide a calculating, black heart, Paul had to listen to a life assessment as one of betrayal, deceit and lies. His friend suggested that Woodward had no inkling of the nefarious activity Paul was up to. Newman replied, “You’re right. Secretly I’m a devil. I can be a very, very bad boy.”

But I digress.

About this time Newman developed a serious man crush on Robert Wagner, but it did not turn sexual. Two later crushes (Robert Redford and Tom Cruise) also ended with similar results. Fortunately Newman was able to satisfy his need for man-on-man sex with McQueen, who was still hitting on him. Once Newman agreed to meet Steve in a cheap hotel in Long Beach, where McQueen said, “I’ve got every horny woman in Hollywood trying to get me to f*ck her. I need a break, a different kind of action now and then. You’re the kind of change I have in mind.” This sort of clandestine activity between the Hollywood rivals went on for years.

Just around the corner was one of Newman’s great cinematic triumphs, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), in which he plays a repressed homosexual by the name of Brick. James Dean was lined up for the role, but he died in a car crash before production began. In the film version, the direct homosexual references were removed from the Tennessee Williams script in order to satisfy then current production codes. The film script dances around the reasons Brick and Cat (Elizabeth Taylor) haven’t slept together in years, but mention of the suicide of Brick’s close football chum Skipper is retained.

Newman told Tennessee Williams, "The role of Brick is perfect for me. All my life I've been split into two different directions. One side of me wants to live life with my gay football buddy Skipper, the other side is tempted to fuck the living shit out of Maggie the Cat and be the heterosexual stud most of my fans want me to be."

Hollywood insiders divulge that Elvis Presley was considered for the part of Brick, and that Elvis and Paul got together to talk about it. Elvis asked about Newman’s friendship with James Dean. Newman swore that Elvis told him, “I’ll make a confession. I’m about the straightest dude that ever walked the planet. But if that f*cker ever called me, I’d come running. I guess you’d say I have an obsession with Dean.”

Faye Dunaway tries to keep the rivals apart in Towering Inferno (1974)


Well, honestly. The next time I go shopping for salad dressing, it won't be the image of starving children that comes to mind.

Source:
Darwin Porter’s biography, “Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues” (2009). 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Part 3: Paul Newman meets Anthony Perkins

29-year-old Paul Newman was working on his first Hollywood film, The Silver Chalice (1954), when he moved into an apartment at the Chateau Marmont, where James Dean was also a resident. On his first afternoon there, Paul was relaxing by the pool when he was approached by Anthony Perkins, who introduced himself as Tony. According to Maila Nurmi, a long-time friend and confidante of Tony’s, Perkins told her that the two found themselves in bed within minutes of meeting. For the next few weeks they were engaged in an intensely sexual relationship. Welcome to the neighborhood.

Perkins was a handsome, tortured homosexual who really wanted to be straight. Newman was bisexual, but was like a kid in a candy store, sampling whatever satisfied his sweet tooth, be it male or female. Perkins and Newman never intended to become a couple, but they were both sexually adventurous. Perkins was also involved at the time with Tab Hunter and Robert Francis. In fact, most of the twenty-something male Hollywood stars were all sleeping with each other, but Newman was the only one married with three kids at the time.

Newman began his relationship with Joanne Woodward as an affair during his marriage to first wife Jackie. Even after Newman married Joanne, he and Perkins kept up a decades-long on-again, off-again relationship. Thirteen years later Perkins would have his first sexual experience with a woman, Victoria Principal, oddly while co-starring in a film with Newman, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. It must have been quite a reunion for Perkins, working with former flame Newman as well as Tab Hunter. I forgot to mention Roddy McDowall was in the cast, as well; the actors' cafeteria must have been like a gay bar. Perkins was 39 years old. Although Perkins went on to marry and have children, he died tragically from AIDS in 1992 at age sixty.

There were awkward times when the two were up for the same parts. Perkins was suggested by Alfred Hitchcock himself for the male lead in Torn Curtain, but Universal Studios preferred box-office champ Paul Newman. Perkins was devastated.

One big happy family (photo below):
Anthony Perkins, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward star in WUSA (1970)

It is a tantalizing fact that Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins and Joanne Woodward all starred together in WUSA (A Hall of Mirrors) in 1970. Co-producer Paul Newman called it "the most significant film I've ever made and the best." Critics disagreed. The film is about a New Orleans radio station (WUSA) involved in a right-wing conspiracy. It culminates with a riot and stampede at a patriotic pep-rally when an assassin on a catwalk opens fire.


Source:
Darwin Porter’s biography, “Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues” (2009). 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Part 2: Paul Newman Meets James Dean

At the Actors Studio in NYC, James Dean introduced himself to Newman and came on to him in a direct way, suggesting that the two of them play a love scene in front of the students, saying that they’d “set the studio on fire.” Paul was taken aback. He told Dean, “Hey pal, let’s slow down. Where I come from, we like to work up to things.”

They didn't play a love scene, but Dean had his way with him, and it was 6:00 am when Paul boarded the Staten Island Ferry back to his apartment, where he was living with his wife and son. Because Dean bragged about his conquests to his lover/patron Rogers Brackett, we are handed down this story of their first tryst. It was not the last.

Dean told Brackett, “I fucked him, he fucked me, and I taught him to swallow my spit, just like you do. One night I got him to fuck me in the doorway of an abandoned building in the meat-packing district. Sex is all the more exciting when it’s done in a dangerous public space.”

Dean soon explained to Newman that he was a “kept boy” and took him to the posh apartment he shared with Brackett. During the next three weeks a volcano of lust erupted between the two. Paul Newman fell head over heels, and Dean was fully in charge of their relationship. Dean made Newman wear a red baseball cap to match his own, so that people would see them as a pair. Paul complied willingly. Paul was seen on the West Coast wearing that red cap even after Dean’s untimely death.

Echoing the experience with Shelley Winters and Brando, Eartha Kitt once bedded Dean and Newman after a dance lesson. “I had both of them that afternoon, and I came to the conclusion that white boys are so delicious. That time back in my dance studio ranks as one of the most celestial experiences of my life. Those two beauties transported me to heaven. I never knew that lovemaking could be so beautiful.”
       
It was awkward that often Dean and Newman were up for the same part. Kazan’s asked them to take a joint screen test (photo below) for East of Eden, and Paul was devastated when Dean got the part of Caleb. Newman begged to be given a lesser role in the film – any role – but no offer was forthcoming. But Newman’s greatest humiliation was losing the role of Danny in Battle Cry to Tab Hunter. “Losing out to James Dean was one thing, but how could I ever live down losing a role to Tab Hunter?”


Paul’s impossibly handsome face made life complicated for a family man. Rod Steiger said, “He was the Golden Boy of Broadway. Hell, he was so fucking beautiful. Everybody wanted him, and he was willing to share with both men and women. Paul was so pretty I would have fucked him if he asked me to, and I’m about the straightest actor in the business.”

Eventually Newman decided to abandon his wife and two children for Hollywood. He signed a Warner Brothers contract for $1000 a week, enough to buy a motorcycle to match the one James Dean rode up and down the coast in Santa Monica and Malibu. On weekends the two would get off their bikes, strip naked and frolic in the surf, followed by lovemaking by moonlight on the sand. Dean told all the lurid details to his sugar daddy, Rogers Brackett, to fuel his jealousy. Dean and Newman also spent many wild weekends in Tijuana.

Dean pushed Newman into moving into the Chateau Marmont, where Paul met Tony Perkins lounging by the pool the very first day of his residence. This was the start of a friendship and decades-long love affair, but that story will have to wait 'til next time.

Source:
Darwin Porter’s biography, “Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues” (2009). 

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Part 1: Paul Newman Meets Marlon Brando

Paul Newman (b. 1925) was a movie star so impossibly attractive that all the most famous faces of Hollywood, both male and female, wanted to bed him. He complied enthusiastically.

In spite of being a married man with three children, Newman had affairs with Marlon Brando, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Anthony Perkins, Sal Mineo, John Derek and Steve McQueen, among many others. Women were not neglected, and he managed to bed Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Kennedy. As well, he had affairs with most of his leading ladies, apparently giving Marlon Brando a run for his money. Brando was a little touchy on the subject. I forget which web site revealed this tantalizing tidbit:

In Porter’s 2009 biography Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues, Marlon Brando commented about Newman’s bisexuality. Porter interviewed Brando before his death in 2004, and relates this quote from Marlon: "He never fooled me. Paul Newman had just as many on-location affairs as the rest of us, and he was just as bisexual as I was. But, where I was always getting caught with my pants down, he managed to do it in the dark."

Hmmm. Most of us think of Paul Newman as the actor faithfully married to Joanne Woodward, a generous benefactor responsible for distributing millions of dollars in food for starving, homeless children. Thanks to the people at Kindle (can’t wait until they ship my Fire in a few days), sixty seconds later I found myself reading about those Baby Blues. It turns out he had three children by a previous wife, whom he ignored, leaving her home alone to raise the kids while he was out all night participating in a sexual olympics. There was more homosexual activity than hetero- in Newman’s early years, although at times he hated himself for his gay proclivities. The rest of his life was lived trying to suppress these homosexual urges, knowing what a detriment it could be to a high profile acting career. However, he continued to participate in homosexual activity well into the 1970s. Gay porn star Cal Culver claimed that he was the last man to have sex with Newman.

Newman idolized Marlon Brando and plotted to meet him. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, Newman enrolled in the all-male Kenyon College (Ohio) at age 21, with plenty of gay sexual experience under his belt (going back to his high school days). When one of his professors returned to the school after a field trip to Broadway, he was told that Brando’s performance in A Streetcar Named Desire was a not-to-be-missed sensation. Newman hopped a train to NYC and checked into the YMCA, planning to take in as many Broadway shows as he could before his cash ran out. The closest he could get to Brando was a standing room ticket.

Newman was floored, totally swept away by Brando’s performance. He went backstage, but was not successful in getting to meet his instant idol. Newman foreswore any other Broadway shows, returning every night (with better seats) to see Brando’s mesmerizing performance. He hatched a plot to meet him. Having read that Brando rode his motorcycle around the city every night after his performance, Newman searched the alleys behind the theater until he spotted a motorcycle. An hour after the curtain, Brando appeared, and Paul nervously confronted his prey with a well-rehearsed line: “Mr. Brando, you’re the greatest thing since God granted men the right to cum.”

Worked like a charm. Next thing you know, Brando was saying, “Now get your f*cking cute little ass over here and plop it down on my cycle. I’m going to take you on a tour of the midnight sights of Manhattan.”

According to Carlo Fiore, Brando’s longtime companion, Brando later boasted, “I f*cked the kid in all known positions. He even inspired me to some new ones. The kid even resembles me. It was as if I was f*cking my younger self, even though he’s just a few years younger than me. Of course, by the time he got on that train back to Ohio, he’d fallen madly in love with me.”


Back at school, Newman wrote Brando a fan letter every week. None was ever answered. Even so, once Newman returned to college, he changed his major to Drama, and the next big change in his life came when he won a spot at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio in NYC, where he became caught up in an affair with fellow student James Dean.

But Brando continued to haunt his life. They looked so much alike that throughout the 1950s people came up to Paul mistaking him for Marlon and asked for his autograph. Paul obliged. Even though he had a wife and two children, Paul started an affair with actress Kim Stanley, who herself had earlier had a sexual relationship with Brando. According to one of Kim’s many other lovers, the relationship between Paul and Kim ended like this. Once, when they were having sex, she called out “Marlon,” and Newman became furious. He leapt out of bed, put on his clothes and stormed out after they argued. Kim said. “Don’t judge me. I’m trying to get over Brando. You look like him – you can help me get over him. You don’t know what it’s like to get f*cked by Marlon Brando.”

Newman replied, “You’re wrong about that. I know exactly what it feels like to get f*cked by Marlon Brando.”

Ouch.

Paul had a few other brushes with famous people at the start of his career. When Newman encountered Monty Clift leaving his agent’s office, Clift brazenly came on to him, clasping his hands (and not letting go) and asking for his phone number. Monty gushed, “Where has God’s gift been hiding all my life? It’s not every day I meet a man who’s handsomer than I am.” Monty then kissed Paul on the lips and headed out. Monty’s brother Brooks said that Paul complained about how rough Monty was in bed. “When Monty kisses, he doesn’t do it with love, but to hurt you. You come away with a bloody mouth. When I wake up in bed with him, I find myself battered and bruised. He sure likes to be the dominant one. And just when you want to kick him out, he looks up at you with those soulful eyes, and you melt.”

Shelley Winters blabbed that she once had a three-way with Brando and Newman. She later told her lover John Ireland, “In the 40s I had a three-way with Gable and Flynn; in the 50s I sampled Newman and Brando together. I can’t wait to see what the 60s will bring.”

Frank Sinatra once invited Newman to join him and Marilyn Monroe in a three-way, but first Sinatra had to feel him out, wanting to be sure Paul “was into girls.” Sinatra said he had gotten mixed reports about Newman’s proclivities. He told Newman, “Marilyn and I agree you’re one cute guy. I told her I’d f*ck you myself if I were into boys.” Paul was incredulous. Sinatra continued. “Well, even the Caesars liked a little diversion. I slipped a peek and saw your naked ass bobbing up and down while you f*cked that two-bit whore last time; it looked mighty tempting.”

Source:
Darwin Porter’s biography, “Paul Newman: The Man Behind the Baby Blues” (2009). 

To be continued...