Sunday, January 31, 2010

Media & Violence Against Gays...CBS and the Grammy Awards

GLAAD called on community members and allies to contact the Recording Academy (Grammy Awards) and sign an online petition protesting the Grammy nomination of reggae singer Buju Banton’s ninth album “Rasta Got Soul,” and urging Recording Academy members to not support his nomination. The petition can be viewed here:

According to reports, the Jamaican has a long-standing reputation for inciting anti-gay sentiment (his 1992 single “Boom Bye Bye” proposes pouring acid on gays and shooting them in the head with an Uzi.

Meanwhile, internet reports buzzed when a rep for Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards, said on Dec. 7  “The Recording Academy and the Grammy Awards have a long history of supporting freedom of speech and creative expression, and of supporting artists and the music they create. Artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast, despite protests and backlash. The Academy acknowledges that there are very strong and diverse opinions on many issues and in many instances, we have helped initiate dialogue on matters that require education and further discussion. It takes tolerance to teach tolerance, and it is through dialogue and debate that social discovery may occur. The Grammy Awards is a celebration and recognition of outstanding musical achievement by music makers, regardless of politics, and that will continue to be our mission.”
“Reggae singer Buju Banton’s anti-gay lyrics and the climate of hatred they create are a threat to the safety of gay and transgender people everywhere,” said Jarrett Barrios, President of GLAAD. “In a climate of increased anti-gay violence in this country and Banton’s home country of Jamaica, it is deeply disappointing that the Recording Academy would choose to laud the work of a singer who has advocated violence against the gay community.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gay Mr. America: Chris Dickerson

Born 1939 in Montgomery, Alabama, Chris Dickerson was the first African American bodybuilder to win the Mr. America contest (1970).  His career spanned 30 years and he also remains one of the truly classic beef cake stars of the "golden" era, which wasn't especially easy for a black man in many parts of the world back then. Chris credits Reg Park (please see his story posted January 28, 2010) for being a supportive host and friend when he toured South Africa before racial integration in that country. 

Chris became Mr. Olympia in 1982, at the age of 43 (the oldest winner of one of the sport’s most prestigious titles).  He would also break ground in another way... when Chris came out (after his career had ended many years before) as a gay man.  More than brawn, he studied music and became an accomplished opera singer. In what many consider his finest moment, Chris acted as Master of Ceremonies for the physique competition at the Gay Games III in Vancouver in 1990.

1967: Mr. California
1968: Mr. USA
1970: Mr. America
1973: Amateur Mr. Universe
1974: Professional Mr. America
1974: Professional Mr. Universe
1982: Mr. Olympia

Saturday Fitness Special: Muscles and Mouths

Sure, they've got rock-hard bodies, but there's one special muscle that these guys have that we like the best of all...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bill Melby

Bill started out as a weight lifter to keep in shape and got hooked, eventually becoming a professional body builder. In 1946 he came in 4th for the Mr. California AAU contest, then in 1947 he came in 3rd place for the Junior Mr America AAU competition, and hitting the really big time in 1948 he landed 4th place in the Mr America AAU contest. 1948 was also the year he took home a 1st place prize...Mr Pacific Coast AAU, Most Muscular. He continued to compete, but drifted over to professional wrestling as a career during the 1950's and 1960's. 

While professional wrestling was entertainment, it still required athletic skills.  Between 1953 and 1957 Bill was especially successful in "tag team" matches.

Bill was also a very photogenic model (there are literally hundreds of photos of him) and posed for physique sessions, including the likes of Bruce of LA and Western Photography Guild. Unllike many strongmen who thought that body hair distracted from their muscles...What's refreshing for that era is that Melby wasn't uncomfortable about having a hairy chest, hairy legs, and obviously a thick rug of short curlies, that usually found their way to sneak into his photos (lucky us).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Reg Park: Beef Cake Model, Mr. Universe, Hercules, and Vintage Male Sex Symbol

Without a doubt, Reg Park was a driven athlete who took his sport seriously and who developed a physique (without the crutches of steroids and artificial influences) that made him a bodybuilding title winner, a cult-status movie star, and for countless gay men of the era, a beefcake pinup model. But beyond all of that, what keeps the heterosexual Mr. Park in the limelight for thousands of gay fans (most of whom were not even born when he was famous) is that Reg was (and remains today) incredibly naturally sexy to enjoy looking at...for a superhuman body, nothing about Reg seems forced or artificial...something few (if any) of today's muscular sex symbols can claim.

Reg was born on June 7, 1928, in Yorkshire, England. He played team football before turning to body-building in 1946. His father owned a gymnasium and a barbell company, and Reg would eventually become the winner of the 1951 Mr. Universe competition, and again in 1958 and 1965.  His good looks combined with his amazingly large muscles to make him a favorite for magazines. 
In the 1950's, he married a ballerina from South Africa and moved there to live and start their family. Among Reg Park's business interests was a popular bodybuilding magazine titled The Reg Park Journal (it stopped publication in 1959).

In December 1960 Reg was invited to Rome to star in a movie, and he eventually made a series of "muscle man" films between 1961 and 1964. The movies took advantage of his physique and the Hercules craze (along with Steve Reeves).  In total, Park portrayed Hercules in three films in the early 1960's: Hercules and the Captive Women (1961); Hercules in the Haunted World (1961), and Hercules, Prisoner of Evil (1964). A close personal friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's been reported that Mr. Park convinced Schwarzenegger to accept the title role in the 1970 film Hercules in New York. The story goes that, upon seeing Park on a magazine cover for the first time,
Arnold Schwarzenegger said:
"He was so powerful and rugged-looking that I decided right then and there I wanted to be a bodybuilder, another Reg Park."

Reg remained active in bodybuilding competitions through the early 1970's. With his wife of 55 years and their family by his side, Mr. Park passed away in 2007 at his home in South Africa at the age of 79. Park's son, Jon Jon, is a personal fitness trainer in California (who has already been tributed earlier this month here at VGMH). His daughter Jeunesse runs the Reg Park Legacy Foundation which helps disadvantaged people access sport and fitness. He was inducted into the International Federation of Bodybuilders Hall of Fame's in 1999.

There will be more about Reg and his film career in the future.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HONCHO April 1978: Bill Nuckells and Mr. California's Past

Back in 1978, the Bee Gees were all over the radio with hits like Night Fever and Stayin Alive . At the same time, strong man Bill Nuckells (Mr. California) graced the first issue of Honcho magazine (April of 1978).  I'm looking at his muscular frame but can't help but notice that even his penis and balls are tanned!:

Mr. California competition winners have been sharing their bodies for both admiration and appreciation for a long time...For example, Gene Jantzen (below) was a bodybuilder who came in 2nd at Mr. California AUU in 1941:

And Cliff Byers may have also came in 2nd place (in the 1947 Mr. California AAU contest) but he will always be #1 with me! Not only didn't hairy Cliff shave his treasure trail or chest, but there always seemed to be a second "competition" happening in his tight posing trunks, as the boys wrestled the hose for available space. It's reported that Mr. Byers was also a fitness writer for many magazines for the era.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dennis White, Body Beautiful Magazine

Publisher: Body Beautiful Publications
Place Published: Jersey City

This mid-1950's "studies in masculine art" magazine was probably designed to tuck away nicely inside a newwspaper or on a garage shelf.  The average issue was about 68 pages in length.  It was illustrated throughout with black and white photos of semi-naked men. Photographers who had their manly works of art displayed in the magazine include Spartan, Lon, Bob Delmonteque, Vulcan Studios, and the Athletic Model Guild.  Models included Jack Weisberg, Leo Robert, Hugh Pendelton, Sandy Alcorn, Ray Jiminez, Peter Gordon, Jerry Riskin, and of course Dennis White. Also, they had some nifty ads for buying photograph sets of the models, body building products, and even posing straps for sale (new ones, of course!). 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Uganda's Anti-Gay Bill: Inspired by U.S. Anti-Gay Forces

An "anti-homosexuality" bill, now before Uganda's Parliament, would include some of the harshest anti-gay regulations in the world, including murder in some cases...It proposes the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" (when one of the men is a minor, is HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender"). If the bill becomes law (and most news organizations think it will), anybody could also be prosecuted for "aiding and abetting homosexuality."  Gays are already punishable in this country (that gets millions of US tax dollars every year in various support) by up to 14 years in jail in Uganda.

According to a report in TIME Magazine, the bill seems to have deep American roots; "...inspired to a large extent by the visits of U.S. evangelicals who are involved with a movement that promotes Christianity's role in getting homosexuals to become "ex-gays" through prayer and faith. Ugandan supporters of the bill appear to be particularly impressed by the ideas of Scott Lively, a California conservative preacher who has written a book, The Pink Swastika, about what he calls the links between Nazism and a gay agenda for world domination, which, by itself, would have raised the anti-colonial sensitivities of Ugandan society.  Says the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, an Episcopalian priest from Zambia who authored a recent report on anti-gay politics in Uganda, Nigeria and Kenya: 'The U.S. culture wars have been exported to Africa.'"

CNBC's Rachel Maddow has done some excellent reporting on this issue and has kept it in the media spotlight...The U.S. embassy in Kampala has said it opposes the bill, as have other American officials. Even Scott Lively recently declared that the bill goes too far. And then there's Rick Warren...who's religious involvement in Uganda has been well documented.  His association with Ssempa, a leading proponent of Uganda's proposed "Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009", led many U.S. critics to suggest that Warren supports the law.  This is the same Rick Warren who was Barack Obama's minister to deliver the invocation at his Inauguration last January.  When confronted about the Uganda bill, Rick seemed to be avoiding tackling the subject directly.  The preacher released a statement to Newsweek saying, "It is not my personal calling as a pastor in America to comment or interfere in the political process of other nations."  Yet numerous news sources report that Warren has immense influence among Uganda's political √©lite, counting many parliamentarians,and even the country's First Lady Janet Museveni (who is reportedly close to Ssempa), among his friends.  Faced with intense backlash, Warren has finally condemned the bill.

David Bahati, a first-term lawmaker, wrote the bill. "This is a defining bill for our country, for our generation. You are either anti-homosexual or you're for homosexuals, because there's no middle point. Anybody who does not believe that homosexuality is a crime is a sympathizer," Bahati says.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill a "very serious potential violation of human rights."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

State-Sponsored Gay Murders, circa 2005-present

July 19, 2005: On this date, the Iranian government murdered teenagers Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in Iran (aged 15 and 16-years-old, respectively, at the time of their arrests), for the “crime” of loving one another and having sex together.

Shortly after their executions, these pictures of their hangings drew selective protests from around the world.   If you don't remember seeing these images on your local TV news program or reading about it in the newspaper, it's probably because there was relatively minor media coverage.  As The Washington Post reported, "Perhaps the saddest thing about these pictures is that no major news organization outside Iran has tracked down what really happened. The final indignity of these boys' short lives was that they didn't matter enough to spark a serious investigation." Seriously. As disturbing as these images are, hopefully they will remind gay people of what is ultimately at stake.

July 19, 2006: Two dozen cities around the world joined together on this day in protesting against the executions of gays in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Protests also took place in Amsterdam, Berlin, Bogota, Brussels, Dublin, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Glouster, The Hague, London, Marseille, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow , New York, Provincetown, Sacramento, San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Sioux City, Stockholm, Toronto, Vienna, Warsaw, and Washington, DC.   In an attempt to change their story, the Iranian leaders said the two who were killed were convicted not for "homosexual conduct" but for raping a 13-year-old boy. Few believe this story.

September 25, 2007:
The Iranian leader, during an appearance at Columbia University in New York,
responded to a question from an audience member about the execution of two gay men in Iran: “In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon,” he said referring to homosexuality. “I do not know who has told you we have it.”

HAPPENING RIGHT NOW: DECEMBER 2009 -JANUAY 2010:  Another country is adopting laws to kill gays. In part two, VGMH will take a look at Uganda and the disturbing connections to American political and religious leaders.

Saturday Hunks

Friday, January 22, 2010

Like Father, Like Son:

Muscle Man Jon Jon Park
Our retro-muscle sports hunk today is Jon Jon Park, a celebrity in sports in his own right, but also he's the son of famed vinatge natural body builder and Mr. Universe/movie star Reg Park (who notably played Hercules in several Italian epics shot in the 1960's, and who will be honored here later this month as well.  Reg was was both a sports icon, and through his media, also a beef cake celebrity).  Reportedly an Olympic competitive swimmer and coach (going back a few decades), Jon Jon also posed for these fitness photos that highlighted a variety of ways to exercise while traveling. Yes, those are white shoes beside the bed.  Anyone care to guess what era they were popular in?  VGMH is sure that straight businessmen found these instructional photos valuable for working out while away in hotel rooms, and gay businessmen enjoyed the added advantage of looking at Jon Jon.

What a good looking guy! It's reported that today Mr. Park is the owner of a gymnasium in West Los Angeles. The last image is reported to be of Jon Jon Park in 2008. I'm sorry, but VGMH has no other information about Jon Jon,. He's still a handsome man and obviously still in amazing shape.