Category Archives: Humour

Gay History: Nancy Kulp: Life In The Celluloid Closet (Miss Jane Hathaway In “The Beverly Hillbillies)

In the 1960s, it was almost unheard-of to find an out Queer person on television. Those that held a Queer identity were often forced into a ‘celluloid closet’ and made to keep their identities silent and hidden from public consumption. This was the case of Nancy Kulp, a closeted lesbian who is most remembered for her appearance as Miss Jane Hathaway in almost all of the 274 episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, a television series airing on CBS from 1962 to 1971. Kulp would eventually come out, using her own terms, in a 1989 interview.

Nancy Jane Kulp was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 28th, 1921 to Marjorie and Robert Kulp; the family would later move to Dade County, Florida. The only daughter of a lawyer and schoolteacher, Nancy was a bookish child from an early age and dreamed of becoming a journalist. Nancy would take the first step toward her goal when she graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1943. During her years at FSU, Kulp worked as a feature writer for the Miami Beach Tropics, working on celebrity profiles.

Though she planned on continuing her education and obtaining her master’s degree, Nancy joined WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) in 1943 to aid the US Navy during World War Two. While it was her patriotism and desire to work in an “all-female” atmosphere that led to her enlistment, Nancy determined that it was not her destiny to hold a career in the armed forces and left in 1945 after reaching the rank of junior-grade lieutenant. After leaving WAVES, Kulp took a position in Miami as a publicity director for a local radio station in 1946.

At the age of thirty, Nancy Kulp exchanged vows in an April Fool’s Day wedding celebration to Charles Dacus on April 1, 1951. While the marriage was short-lived, both parties parted on good terms and the relationship had a long-lasting impact on Nancy Kulp’s life. Nancy said that it was Charles Dacus who encouraged Kulp to leave her career as a publicist to achieve a career in acting (though she also later said that this inspiration came from director George Cukor). Following this encouragement, Nancy made her way to Hollywood where she took a position as a film publicist while she waited for her big break.

This break would come only three weeks later when she was discovered by A-list, gay, director George Cukor. Later that year, Nancy Kulp would make her big screen debut in Cukor’s 1951 film, The Model and the Marriage Broker. This role was larger than most others she would hold in movies though it was mostly silent and demeaning as she took on the role of a young woman desperately seeking matrimony from a marriage broker. This role was Kulp’s first foray into the sort of character she would often be type-cast to play- the spinster.

In 1954, Nancy would be cast in another Cukor film, the Judy Garland- led A Star is Born, though the scene in which she appeared would later be cut without the director’s knowledge or consent. Kulp would make several smaller appearances in many successful films such as Sabrina (the 1954 film starring Audrey Hepburn), The Three Faces of Eve (1957), Strange Bedfellows (1965), and The Parent Trap (1961), where Kulp played the butch troop leader.

While Nancy appeared in movies, most of her acting work was done for the small screen. She made several appearances, largely comedic, on various television shows. Her first recurring television role was as a bird-watcher named Pamela Livingstone on The Bob Cummings Show (1955-1959). The writer for The Bob Cummings Show, Paul Henning, would go on to write for The Beverly Hillbillies, and created a role specifically for Kulp. Nancy would become known across the country as Miss Jane Hathaway, a smart and confident secretary that worked for a bank. Miss Jane, as most of the characters called her, was also a character that played into Kulp’s type-casted role as a spinster. Kulp received an Emmy Award nomination in 1967 for her performance on the show.

After the final episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, Kulp was given a regular role on the Brian Keith Show (1973-1974) and made appearances on Sanford and Son (1972-1977), The Love Boat (1977-1987), and Fantasy Island (1978-1984). Kulp also appeared on stage at summer stock and dinner theaters before eventually landing a role in Paul Osborn’s 1982 production of Mornings at Seven.

In 1984, the patriotic Nancy Kulp, who had long been interested in politics, decided to run for Congress in her district in central Pennsylvania, having settled in Port Royal. She ran as a Democrat against the Ninth District’s incumbent Republican representative, Bud Shuster. While she received an endorsement from friend and fellow showbiz personality Ed Asner, her Hillbillies costar Buddy Ebsen recorded a radio advertisement claiming that Kulp was “too liberal for Pennsylvania.” Kulp was enraged by Ebsen, a California resident, getting involved in her campaign, stating that she “was speechless at such a betrayal, and something so needless and cruel.”

Nancy Kulp would go on to be defeated by Shuster and would spend the next year at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, teaching film and drama. She would later return to California to serve on the board of the Screen Actors Guild and take an active role in non-profits including the Humane Society of the Desert, United Cerebral Palsy, and the Desert Theater League.

In a 1989 interview with author Boze Hadleigh for the book Hollywood Lesbians: From Garbo to Foster, Kulp responded to Hadleigh’s “Big Question” (the question of her sexuality which she renamed the “Fatal Question”) Nancy remarked in her own words:

“As long as you reproduce my reply word for word, and the question, you may use it,” she told Hadleigh. “I’d appreciate it if you’d let me phrase the question. There is more than one way. Here’s how I would ask it: ‘Do you think that opposites attract?’ My own reply would be that I’m the other sort–I find that birds of a feather flock together. That answers your question.”

Never in the course of the interview did she refer to herself as a lesbian.

Nancy Kulp would die of cancer only two years later, on February 3, 1991, at her home in Palm desert, California. While she never actively owned a lesbian label, Nancy Kulp was hailed as being a lesbian ground-breaker in the field of acting for having portrayed her identity (though a secret) in her work.

Former “Beverly Hillbilly” Says She Didn’t Play The Political “Game″

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nancy Kulp of ″The Beverly Hillbillies″ fame doesn’t blame fellow Hillbilly Buddy Ebsen for her election defeat last fall – but says he should have stayed out of the congressional race.

Ebsen, who starred with Ms. Kulp on the long-running television program in the 1960s and early 1970s, recorded a radio commercial for her opponent, Republican Rep. Bud Shuster. In the spot, aired several weeks before the election, Ebsen said, ″Nancy, I love you dearly but you’re too liberal for me.″

Ms. Kulp still bristles when she thinks about the ad. ″How dare he 3/8 It wasn’t his business,″ she said.

But she said there were other reasons for her defeat, notably her lack of political savvy, a shortage of campaign dollars and the popularity of President Reagan in Shuster’s sprawling rural Pennsylvania district.

“I didn’t play the game, I guess,″ Ms. Kulp, 63, said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. She left her restored, three-story farmhouse in Port Royal, Pa., after the election and drove to California to visit friends.

While she raised $73,143 during 1984, Shuster, who was seeking his seventh House term, reported contributions of $269,597, according to campaign finance reports. Ms. Kulp reported gifts of $29,471 from political action committees, Shuster $138,817.

After years of involvement in local party politics and with the Screen Actors Guild, Ms. Kulp said seeking office was satisfying because ″you finally get to put your convictions on the line. It was one of the highlights of my life.″

But the experience left her with a helpless feeling that there was an image barrier between her and the voters that she could not surmount.

“You’re turned off by the distortions,″ she said. ″My feeling is a candidate is elected because they are perceived to be something. Ronald Reagan never talked issues; he waved the flag and the people loved it.

“I was perceived to be an ultra-liberal. If that is their perception – even if they like me – then I can’t win.″

The experience, she said, has left her ″ambivalent″ about the elective process and doubtful that she will seek public office again.

A central Pennsylvania native born in Harrisburg, Ms. Kulp began her acting career in 1952. She appeared in such films as ″Three Faces of Eve″ and ″The Parent Trap,″ and was featured on ″The Bob Cummings Show″ on television before the ″Beverly Hillbillies″ premiered in 1961.

On the ″Beverly Hillbillies,″ she played the secretary of a banker managing the account of a millionaire hillbilly, played by Ebsen. She and Ebsen used to talk politics on the set; they rarely agreed about issues, she said.

Ms. Kulp said she now is thinking about returning to the East Coast, possibly to teach. Juniata, a small liberal arts college 120 miles east of Pittsburgh, has expressed interest in her, perhaps for an ″artist-in-re sidence″ program, said college spokesman Robert Howden.

Who the F Is … Actress and Politician Nancy Kulp?

Who she was: A well-regarded character actress who eventually ran for public office and came out — rather obliquely.

What she accomplished: Nancy Kulp (1921-1991) endeared herself to baby boomers with her role on a silly but successful TV sitcom, The Beverly Hillbillies. From 1962 to 1971, she played the prim, efficient Miss Jane Hathaway, secretary to banker Milburn Drysdale. She and Drysdale were managing the millions of the Clampett family, a backwoods clan who had relocated from Tennessee to Beverly Hills after striking oil. The comedy arose from the contrast between the beyond-unsophisticated Clampetts — who made moonshine, kept “critters,” and called their swimming pool “the cement pond” — and the upscale Southern Californians who surrounded them. Hathaway, always called “Miss Jane” by the Clampetts and their kin, was unaccountably attracted to the dim-witted Jethro Bodine, nephew of patriarch Jed Clampett. Critics had no love for the show, but viewers found it hilarious, and it had an extended life in syndication.

Born in Harrisburg, Pa., Kulp studied journalism in college, then served in the WAVES during World War II. After the war she worked as a publicist for radio and TV stations in Florida, then came to Hollywood in the 1950s with an eye to continuing in publicity. Someone encouraged her to try acting — some accounts say it was her then-husband, Charles Dacus, whom she refused to discuss in later years; others say it was esteemed director George Cukor. At any rate, she quickly won a small role in a Cukor film, The Model and the Marriage Broker, starring Jeanne Crain, Scott Brady, and Thelma Ritter. It was one of the great filmmaker’s lesser efforts, but it launched her career. She played supporting parts, often uncredited, in some noteworthy movies — Shane, Sabrina, the Judy Garland version of A Star Is Born, also directed by Cukor — and some now-forgotten ones. She also worked in TV anthology series and in guest-starring roles. Before Hillbillies, she was a regular on The Bob Cummings Show, playing a spinsterly bird-watcher named Pamela Livingstone. (Bird-watching was also one of Miss Jane’s hobbies.)

After The Beverly Hillbillies ended, she continued to guest-star on various TV series; she had a recurring role on Sanford and Son for a time, and like many aging actors she appeared on The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. She also performed on Broadway in Morning’s at Seven in the early 1980s. But she had a passion for politics, dating back to Adlai Stevenson’s presidential campaign in 1952, and in 1984 she returned to central Pennsylvania to run for Congress. She was an underdog as a Democrat in a heavily Republican district represented by a popular incumbent. She got support from showbiz friend Ed Asner, but her Hillbillies costar Buddy Ebsen, who had played Jed, did a commercial in which he called her “too liberal” and endorsed her opponent. It caused a rift between them that lasted for years, although they reportedly eventually made up. She lost the election to the incumbent, Bud Shuster. Later, she taught acting at a Pennsylvania college and made some stage appearances, including one as the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet at the 1987 Georgia Shakespeare Festival in Atlanta, then retired to the California desert, where she kept busy with volunteer work. Among other things, she served on the board of the Screen Actors Guild.

In 1989 she addressed her sexual orientation — to a degree — in an interview with Boze Hadleigh, published in his book Hollywood Lesbians. “As long as you reproduce my reply word for word, and the question, you may use it,” she said. “I’d appreciate it if you’d let me phrase the question. There is more than one way. Here’s how I would ask it: ‘Do you think that opposites attract?’ My own reply would be that I’m the other sort — I find that birds of a feather flock together. That answers your question.” Miss Jane would have appreciated the imagery. She also expressed admiration for gay congressman Barney Frank, and when Hadleigh asked if she would have come out in Congress, she said, “Not voluntarily. If I were outed, then I would not deny it.” Hadleigh waited to publish the book until 1994, when all his subjects were dead. Kulp died of cancer in 1991 at her home in Palm Desert, Calif.

Choice quotes: “If one is past 50 or 60, it’s almost like saying that most of your life you’ve been too embarrassed to admit it or to speak up.” — to Boze Hadleigh, on the possibility of coming out

“I think I’ve been successful in making the distinction between actress and politician. But there’s always someone who screams, ‘Where’s Jethro?’” — to People magazine, during her congressional campaign

10 times Miss Jane Hathaway let loose and ditched her pressed suit on The Beverly Hillbillies

Take a tour of Nancy Kulp’s silliest costumes.

At its heart, The Beverly Hillbillies was about breaking out of your comfort zone, and it wasn’t just the Clampetts experiencing the growing pains. Fans know that Miss Jane Hathaway, the snooty bank secretary who keeps an eye on the Clampetts, had as much to learn from the hillbillies about having fun as they did from her about fitting in with fine society.

We first meet Jane Hathaway in the bank, dilligently taking notes for Mr. Drysdale, her boss, the insanely wealthy bank manager. She’s wearing her signature pressed suit, a drab number we’d see her sport throughout most of the initial seasons. But it wouldn’t take the writers, costumers and hillbillies long to wrestle Miss Jane out of those stuffy suits and neckerchiefs just to stuff her into funnier outfits that drew extra laughs precisely because she’d been set up as such a straight character. It was one of many ways the show had fun with its audience.

Below, we’ve gone back through our favorite episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies to offer up this tour of Miss Jane Hathaway’s most dazzling and outrageous outfits over nine seasons. Played brilliantly by Nancy Kulp, Miss Jane remains one of the show’s most memorable characters, and here’s a parade of standout moments that show us how her wardrobe helped cement her legacy.

1. Miss Jane Hathaway the Artist

It only took seven episodes before we saw Nancy Kulp slip into something sillier, this artist look that we consider her character’s first masterpiece in transformation.

2. Is that Nancy Kulp or Groucho Marx?

In the later seasons, the volume got turned up on Nancy Kulp’s costumes, and this was perhaps the height of that hilarity.

3. A hillbilly before the first season ends.

By the end of the first season, we got our first look at Nancy Kulp in hillbilly garb, and even doing a dance with the whole Clampett family! Talk about letting loose! This primed us to expect the unexpected from the typically kempt Miss Jane.

4. Remember when Miss Jane posed as Uncle Sam?

The color episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies do not disappoint when it comes to costumes, especially this red-white-and-blue suit arguably louder than any other suit she donned the whole series.

5. Miss Jane, the pageant queen.

There were many plots that involved Elly and Jane in competition for a suitor’s attention, but this beauty contest in the third season was the first time they turned that trope into a swimsuit competition!

6. Don’t think Miss Jane’s beneath a denim suit!

Need proof that Miss Jane Hathaway is a trendsetter? Check out this denim suit she donned at the very start of the ’70s. It was her idea of beach attire, and the bucket hat just perfects the look, don’t you think?

7. Fancy Nancy!

There were plenty of times, as we’ll get into soon, when Nancy Kulp showed up looking stunning on The Beverly Hillbillies, but we get flashes of Carol Burnett and Friends when we saw this particular evening attire and wacky updo!

8. Miss Jane’s very first evening look.

Let’s take a moment to just genuinely appreciate how Nancy Kulp completely owned silk, pearls and simplistic elegance. Bask in the very first time we saw her in a seriously stunning evening look from the first season.

9. That’s not to say she didn’t also know how to overdo it…

Between the wig, costume jewelry and dangly everything, Miss Jane almost looks as out of sorts in this outfit as Elly May did in an evening gown!

10. Proper, even in pajamas.

Last look is all the proof you need that Miss Jane even prefers to sleep in a suit, donning these neat blue pajamas in contrast to Granny’s gowns, but that changes soon when the writers get her character stuck in a sleeping bag that Granny’s trying to free her from here. It’s just one more example of all the physical humor that came just from shaking up Jane Hathaway’s wardrobe!

References

Jethrine Bodine; The Beverly Hillbillies

The television world of Paul Henning stretched from the Appalachian Mountains to the Hollywood Hills. The sitcom creator struck gold (well, oil) three times with his beloved hits The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. That trio of smash shows delivered dozens of memorable characters, many of which crossed over from series to series. 

Henning’s anything-goes brand of homespun comedy included a menagerie of clever animals, like Dog and Arnold, not to mention actors switching roles. Bea Benaderet played both Cousin Pearl Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies and Kate Bradley on Petticoat Junction. But no role-hopping was quite so silly as Max Baer Jr. portraying both Jethro Bodine and his twin sister, Jethrine Bodine. 

Jethrine, as you will recall, was simply Max Baer Jr. dressed up to look somewhat like Little Bo Peep. He slipped into a curly blonde wig and floral dress and hammed it up. The joke was made complete with Jethrine’s feminine voice, which was clearly not dubbed by Baer.

Henning hired his daughter, Linda Kaye Henning, to give Jethrine her voice. At the time, in 1962, Linda Kaye had just one credit to her name, a bit role in a single episode of Mister Ed which aired earlier that year. She would voice Jethrine in 11 episodes throughout the first season of The Beverly Hillbillies.

In 1963, Linda Kaye’s collaboration with her dad leaped to a new level when she joined the cast of Petticoat Junction as Betty Jo, the redhead in the trio of Bradley daughters. Betty Jo played a significant role in the series. She was the one who discovered Dog at the start of season two. Later, after a major ongoing romance, she would marry cropduster Steve Elliott, played by Mike Minor. Henning would go on to appear in more episodes of the series than any other actress, appearing in all but three. (Not to mention, she would marry Minor in real life.) 

Alas, despite all the crossovers, Betty Jo and Jethrine never shared screentime. Jethrine disappeared in ’63, just as Betty Jo first popped her head out of the water tower.

What Would Happen If We Made Our Gay Movie About The Bible?

From dusty-sandal epic to zany comedy, these LGBTI characters from the Bible deserve some movie magic.

Lupita Nyong’o and Oprah Winfrey.

Ruth and Naomi

Category: Drama

Starring: Lupita Nyong’o (Ruth) and Oprah Winfrey (Naomi)

Premise: At a time of famine, a mother who has lost her sons finds love, strength and hope in the unlikeliest place.

Plot: Naomi and her family flee to Moab to find food. Her husband and then her sons die. One of her daughters-in-law leaves, but the other, Ruth, refuses to go.

‘Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.’ (Ruth 1:16)

Together they travel to Bethlehem and build a new life.

Channing Tatum and Zac Efron.

David and Jonathan

Category: Action

Starring: Channing Tatum (David) and Zac Efron (Jonathan)

Premise: One was the lowly shepherd who slew the giant Goliath. The other was the Prince of the Israelites. Their love would rock a nation.

Plot: David kills Goliath and becomes a great warrior. Prince Jonathan, heir to King Saul, falls in love with him.

They make a ‘covenant’, a sworn, lifelong friendship agreement – more marriage than bromance.

‘Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.’ (1 Samuel 18:4)

They make out: ‘They kissed each other and wept together’.

Saul tries to kill David, fearing he would take the crown. Jonathan repeatedly warns his lover, saving his life.

Saul and Jonathan die in battle. David becomes king and writes the ancient world’s gayest song of mourning:

‘I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.’ (2 Samuel 1:17)

Jamie Bell and Dev Patel.

Daniel and Ashpanez

Category: Action

Starring: Jamie Bell (Daniel) and Dev Patel (Ashpanez)

Premise: Babylon. The greatest city on Earth. A slave finds love with his eunuch overlord. Together they will defy the king and win eternal glory.

Plot: King Nebuchanezzer overruns Jerusalem and brings Daniel to Babylon to be his slave.

‘Now God brought Daniel into favor and tender [physical] love with the prince of the eunuchs’, Ashpanez, the man whose job it was to train the slaves to serve the king. (Daniel 1:9)

When Daniel refuses to eat the food the king commands, Ashpanez helps him. Daniel becomes the most ribbed and powerful of the king’s servants and goes on to survive action sequences in a fiery furnace and den of lions.

Darren Criss and Jared Leto.

Jesus and the Beloved Disciple

Category: Epic

Starring: Jared Leto (Jesus) and Darren Criss (John)

Premise: The Greatest Love Story Never Told.

Plot: John is one of Jesus’ first disciples and is repeatedly called ‘The Beloved Disciple’. He is next to him at The Last Supper.

‘Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.’ (John 13:23)

At the crucifixion, Jesus tells his mother Mary that this ‘beloved disciple’ is ‘your son’ and tells him that she is ‘your mother’.

Later, he is one of the first to find Jesus’ tomb empty and is visited by Jesus after his death.

Morgan Freeman in the film Red.

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Category: Comedy

Starring: Morgan Freeman

Premise: Judea. 31 AD. Around about teatime. And it doesn’t take much to save a eunuch.

Plot: An angel sends Philip to a desert road between Jerusalem and Gaza. He comes across a ‘born’ eunuch (gay man or possibly intersex person) who is the treasurer of the queen of the Ethiopians. (Acts 8:27)

When the Ethiopian Eunuch sees some water, he asks Philip to baptize him. But after they emerge from the water, Philip has simply disappeared…

Hugh Jackman and Russell Tovey.

The Centurion and his Lover

Category: Romantic comedy

Starring: Hugh Jackman (the centurion) and Russell Tovey (his lover)

Premise: Boy meets centurion. Centurion falls in love with boy. Boy falls sick. Centurion visits Jesus and asks for miracle.

Plot: Hugh Jackman stars as the beefy Roman Centurion who falls in love with his slave. But when the young man falls sick, nothing will stop him from finding a cure, even if it means humbling himself in front of a conquered Jew, Jesus.

‘Lord, my “pais” [servant or same-gender lover] lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly… I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.’ (Matthew 8:6)

Spoiler: They all live happily ever after.

Reference

‘Dream Daddy’ Is A Surprisingly Earnest Dating Simulator Where You Can Date Gay Dads

Steam

“Dream Daddy” is a brand-new dating simulator in which you play a dad trying to romance other hot dads, and I’m pleased to report it’s much more charming, earnest and goofy than I expected it to be.

My main source of apprehension stemmed from the fact that “Dream Daddy” was produced by Game Grumps, a “Let’s Play”-style YouTube channel with 3.9 million subscribers. It’s run by Arin Hanson and Dan Avidan, both of whom are known for their over-the-top, juvenile, shock-based senses of humor. For example, their most recent “best of” video features a clip where one of the two asks the other if he thought he could “stuff tits into [his] asshole.”

So, to say that I was fearful about whether this game would treat its same-sex romances with respect is an understatement. However, I’m happy to report that after playing “Dream Daddy” for a couple of hours, my fears were (mostly) unfounded.

Wait, back up. What’s a dating simulator? How do you play “Dream Daddy”?

If the dating simulator genre is a totally foreign concept, here’s how it works: They’re essentially video game versions of those choose-your-own-adventure books.

In “Dream Daddy,” you design your own character — which, notably, include “binder” body options for trans characters — and help shape their story with the decisions you make.

If you’re having a conversation with another character, you’ll sometimes have to choose between one of several responses. Sometimes, these responses will affect another character’s perception of you, which is indicated by an explosion of hearts (good) or a murky, black ink cloud (bad). Other times, these options simply alter the way a conversation unfolds, but there isn’t a tangible, numbers-based outcome.

Ultimately, your goal is to pursue one — or several, if you’re feeling frisky — romances with another character. But if you choose the wrong responses in conversation, they might not return your affection. Kinda like real life, really.

The sweetest relationship in “Dream Daddy” isn’t with another dad

“Dream Daddy” is, of course, about romancing hunky men, but there’s actually a different relationship at the heart of the story: The one between your character and his daughter, Amanda.

The whole conceit of the story is that you’re a single dad who’s moving to a new neighborhood with Amanda — and, in the process of getting to know the new digs, meet a bunch of hot dads. It’s implied that you’re downsizing because your character’s spouse died in the somewhat recent past. Also, Amanda is in her senior year of high school and will be going off to college soon.

Amanda is the main vector by which the story moves forward, and it works surprisingly well. She’s the one pushing you to get to know the people in your new neighborhood — spoiler alert: They’re all dads — and she’s a nice, familiar face that helps ground everything in between all the flirtation.

In the opening minutes of the game, I was already getting choked up over the pair’s conversation about my character’s late husband, which is not what I was expecting out of a game called “Dream Daddy.” You can choose whether your spouse was a man or a woman, but this game is about romancing dudes, so, the choice was pretty clear.

I’ve also been surprised at how invested I am in her own narrative about troubles in school. I haven’t delved too deeply into her story yet, but I’m intrigued to see where it goes.

So, who can you date in “Dream Daddy”?

All right, enough about Amanda. What you’re really here for is hot dads. I get it.

I’ve met all the dads so far, and my current favorite is Craig, a sporty, reformed frat bro who’s settling into his new role as a divorced, mature(ish) dad. He regularly pantomimes a voice for River, the wide-eyed tot strapped to his chest. He also works out a lot. I’m not down with his fratty masculinity — he’s bound to have “masc4masc” in his Grindr profile, right? — but for now, he seems like a good option.

At first, I was partial to Hugo, a charming English teacher at Amanda’s school, but then I found out he had a son named Ernest Hemingway Vega. That’s simply too much.

I’m only a couple of hours into my first playthrough, so we’ll see how things go. Overall, I’m genuinely surprised at how much I’m enjoying it, but I do have some qualms with the way the writing fails to engage with gay culture in a meaningful way, despite relying entirely on the idea of gayness for its success.

But that’s a topic for another day. I’ll have more thoughts on “Dream Daddy” soon.

Reference

Weird Tales from My Year on Gay Dating Apps

I learned what “racial play” is and had a rather shitty experience with a “straight” guy who was into having sex with men.

ILLUSTRATIONS BY CLAIRE MILBRATH

After breaking up with a boyfriend in 2011, I wanted to explore online dating and give being single in Toronto a shot before jumping into anything serious. Unfortunately for me, I soon realized that the gay dating world came with its own set of rules, most of which are pretty weird and somewhat racist. Race, body shaming, identity politics, and masculinity seemed to come up a lot and eventually I just said “fuck it” and deleted every dating site I was on. I needed a break. I needed to hear something other than “looking for whites only” or “straight-acting only.” It got to a point where I felt shitty about wanting to get laid and needed give the online thing a rest.

In 2013, I came out of “online dating retirement” and decided to explore it again. Every so often I’d hear my friends gush about all the great dates and hot sex they were having on Grindr and Scruff. It took a lot of convincing, but I gave a few of these apps a shot. I downloaded both Grindr and Scruff and immediately starting messaging people. 

Throughout that year, there were a few really nice conversations that didn’t really go anywhere, the occasional good ass and/or dick pics, and an older couple in their 80s that always messaged me in Spanish. But aside from that, the string of weird encounters just got worse every time. In January, I finally deleted all the apps and have sworn off online dating and hookups for good. But it wasn’t all for nothing. Below, you’ll find three stories that I’ll probably never forget.

Picture Tag Gone Wrong

Around Thanksgiving last year, I got a message from an Irish guy visiting the city for a few weeks. I chatted him up about all things Ireland and told him about a trip I was planning for spring 2016. The vibe was friendly for the first few days, and then he wanted to see some pics, which I was more than willing to share. I sent a face pic to start and he sent one back. He was a bald, rugged, bearded man with green eyes. Suffice to say the dude was really hot and definitely checked off a few boxes in the “my type” department.

We talked for a week and he eventually asked me if I had a dick pic. I sent the most recent one and waited for him to send something back. Two hours later he sends a pic, but it’s not of a body part or another sexy face pic, it’s a picture of him and his sister with the caption “hot pic.” I wasn’t sure if this was a mistake or a joke, but I decided to just brush it off and send another dick pic. He then responded with a picture of him smiling with his grandmother, saying nothing else. 

Two days later he messaged me to ask what I was doing. I told him I was just enjoying my day off and asked him what he had planned for the day. He then sent a picture of his spread asshole dripping with cum, a picture of him and his dog, and then a picture of him having family dinner, again saying nothing else. At this point, I wasn’t even mad or upset. The dude clearly wasn’t serious. That or he had a fucked-up sense of humor. 

As funny as the whole thing was, I decided to stop communicating with him entirely. I often wonder what a dripping asshole, playing with your dog, and eating dinner with your family could be code for, but I guess I’ll ever know.

“Racial Play”
I messaged a guy after work one day just to see if he’d reply. He messaged me back and said he comes to Toronto for work every day and wondered if we could hook up later that evening. I told him we should drink a few beers at my place and see where it goes. He came over around 10:30 PM, and made a few weird comments about the beer we were drinking, calling it “hipster beer.” That sort of turned me off, but I decided not to read too much into it. 

I wasn’t expecting things to heat up after the weird beer comment, but after six beers we just went for it and started making out. Before things escalated, he stopped me and said he needed to tell me something. I remember being puzzled and asking what was wrong. He told me he was into a few kinks, but didn’t know how to talk about them. Fetish is always an awkward subject for people, but I assured him I wasn’t easily weirded out. He looked extremely flustered and scared to say it, but after about five minutes of circling around the big confession, he sheepishly blurted out that he was into “racial play.”

I kind of giggled and then looked at him again. At that moment I realized he was being serious and took a deep breath because, as a black man and a human being, the whole thing had just thrown me off. Solely based on curiosity, I asked him exactly what this type of roleplay scene would entail. It scared me to imagine where this conversation was going to go, but I still couldn’t quite process what I just heard. I’ve done some weird shit, but this whole thing was fucked up and I didn’t understand what turned him on about it exactly. He asked me if I was mad that he was into that. I told him no because I actually wasn’t pissed at all. After having another beer he got into the finer details of how a “racial play” scene would go down.

According to him, a play scene would involve me in a cage, getting choked with his dick, while he spits on me and calls me nigger a few times. He assured me that while it was a lot to handle, it was actually a pretty popular fetish. It’s just something that nobody talks about. I looked at him, extremely puzzled after that statement. He stood, confident in his belief that was an acceptable thing to get off to, and it took a minute for me to figure out the best way to respond. Wanting to end this interaction on a peaceful note, I told him that while I respect his honesty, the thought of a man getting off to calling me racial slurs and performing violent sex acts on me was enough to make me want to commit murder.

When I said that he laughed it off, but once he saw the expression on my face, I could tell he knew it was probably in his best interest to call it a night. After he left I Googled “racial play” and found a lot of crazy shit, most of which I wish I could unsee. There are certain thoughts and images that linger in the subconscious and lead us to the fetishes we have. I think most things are fair game, but if me picking cotton gets you horny, there probably won’t be a second date.

Runaway Cucumber
One of the first guys I met on Grindr was a university student who had just moved to Toronto for school. During our first hangout we drank a few beers and talked about Toronto, which was a nice change from the usual in-and-out hook up. We immediately hit it off and it turned into an ongoing thing. We met up for sex about twice a month for a couple of months. It was really low-key, which has awesome because I wasn’t after anything serious at the time.

One night he came over and dropped a bomb on me. Apparently he had a girlfriend, which was news to me. He said he wasn’t gay—he just met up with guys because his girlfriend wasn’t into anal play. This all seemed messy and complicated, so I told him we should cool it on the sex until he and his girlfriend had a serious conversation. It would be one thing if they were in an open relationship, but it seemed more like their lack of communication had led to him sneaking out to get fucked by guys behind her back. It just didn’t seem healthy for me to continue sleeping with him if that was the case.

He texted me out of the blue three months later, asking if we could meet. I had my reservations about it, but I decided to let him stop by and get an update on what was going on with him and his situation. He came over and immediately went for my crotch, but before I could let it go any further, I needed to ask what the status of his relationship was. Apparently he had broken up with his girlfriend and was exclusively fucking guys. The way he talked about these new relationships was very strange. He maintained that he was still straight, but just really loved bottoming and couldn’t get enough.

We proceeded to play around a bit and eventually I was fucking him. I don’t know if fate was punishing me for allowing my thirst to blind me from the obvious mess of a situation this was, but ten minutes into it I’d felt something wet go down my leg. Let’s just say that he wasn’t ready to bottom and by the time I stopped the evidence of that was all over my bed.

When you’re having butt sex, there’s always the slight possibility of a little shit, but this was literally a shit storm. He felt really bad and I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, so I said we should just shower and call it a night. I let him go first so I could throw away the sheets and after he got out I went in to get myself cleaned up. When I walked out of the shower, what I saw him doing brought new meaning to the phrase “by any means necessary.” I stood quietly by the door and watched as he began squatting down on a cucumber from my fridge, trying to fuck himself with it. He was jerking off and heavily breathing as he attempted to fit the entire cucumber up his ass.

After a minute or so, I purposely slammed the bathroom door and he freaked out when he saw me standing there. He could tell I was pissed and he kept trying to avoid eye contact. I asked him what he was doing still naked, which left him stuttering as he tried to make up a good excuse. I snatched the cucumber out of his hand and asked him to put on his clothes while I finished getting dressed in the bathroom. 

After we were both dressed I walked him out of my apartment and told him he shouldn’t contact me again. I didn’t want to be an asshole, but between his first lie about the girlfriend and the shit-stained bed I had to throw out, I felt like the universe was trying to tell me this needed to end.

To make matters worse, when I went back into the house, I checked the fridge and the fucking cucumber was gone. I was short an ingredient for my next lunch. I ordered a new bed and went to buy groceries the next day. Thank you universe! I definitely got the message.

Reference

Gay History: The Hidden Queer History of Paper Dolls

Infinitely adaptable and easy to conceal, these toys were surprisingly appealing to gay men in the 1950s.

Benjamin Frisch

Paper dolls, a vital part of children’s lives and fashion culture for generations, have always been meant to be instructive: to teach young women and girls how to look and behave. But, from the start, they have been used in unexpected ways, by people they weren’t necessarily intended for.

The first mass-produced paper doll was published in London in 1810 and called The History of Little Fanny. It was a morality play told in verse, about Fanny, a vain, well-to-do girl who has a tantrum when she isn’t allowed to wear her favorite dress and then sneaks away from home. She’s robbed of her clothes, and thus of her status, and becomes a beggar—the set came with a beggar outfit. She makes her way back up the social ladder, one paper costume at a time, until she is reunited with her family. The lesson of the book was supposed to be about the dangers of caring too much about clothes, about how obedience is the only thing standing between a woman and total ruin. But playing with Fanny must have demonstrated the exact opposite of that. It showed the fun of fashion and storytelling, the fun of paper dolls. This tension—between what paper dolls are meant to teach and the creative, playful, norm-breaking lessons they can teach instead—followed paper dolls into the 20th century.

By the early 1900s, millions of sets of paper dolls were being sold each year by dozens of different publishers. You could buy them for a few cents at the five and dime, or cut them out of newspapers, comic books, magazines, and advertisements. There were paper dolls of—among other things—little girls, like the incredibly popular Betsy McCall, a perfect avatar of middle-class Eisenhower-era values; brand mascots like Minnie Mouse; and classic film stars like Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, and Carmen Miranda.

Because paper dolls were flat and printable, they were incredibly adaptable to all sorts of formats. There was even a vinyl record made for kids, where the sleeve featured paper dolls you could cut out and dress. One of the songs on the record, “The Paper Family,” by Anne Lloyd and Michael Stewart, has lyrics that describe how an American family ought to behave—as innocently and obediently as paper dolls.

The conformity represented by paper dolls was easy to subvert, because it was so easy to ignore. The virtue of simple toys is that it’s simple to use them any way you please. Paper dolls came with a lot of outfits—often eight to 10 per figure—and if you wanted more, you could just draw one yourself or cut them out of an old catalog. With all these choices, you could mix everything up, you could pair a gown with a bandana, you could pair a nursing outfit with dungarees. In this way, paper dolls were kind of like a Lego kit, a modular toy that was infinitely adaptable. You could even experiment with cross-dressing your doll. Anything you wanted to do, you could do. And this playfulness, this freedom, this is what many queer people loved about paper dolls.

In the world of paper doll publishing, the most famous gay player was Tom Tierney, who almost single-handedly kept paper dolls alive in the 1970s and ’80s—a low point for the popularity of the form. He created more than 400 paper doll books, including one of Pope John Paul II, and even some adult offerings, featuring drag queens, leather-clad bikers, and other atypical paper doll fare. But references to paper dolls show up all over gay culture.

The most fascinating connection we came across while researching this episode of Decoder Ring is also the most mysterious. San Francisco had a gay bar—or, at least, a proto-gay bar—called the Paper Doll, sometimes known as the Paper Doll Club, which was in operation by 1945, perhaps even earlier than that, which was incredibly early for an openly gay space. We don’t know for sure where the name came from, but we have a theory, and it has to do with another paper doll with a queer connection: In the early 1940s, there was a hugely popular song called “Paper Doll,” written by Johnny S. Black and performed by the Mills Brothers. It’s almost totally forgotten now, but it sold more than 11 million copies in its day. (That’s about as many copies as the “Macarena,” the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.,” or Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time.”)

The song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart in 1943 into 1944, so it would have been everywhere around the time the Paper Doll was opening. It seems likely that the song, at least in part, inspired the name of the club—because it has some pretty obvious queer subtext. Besides the oddness of a group of men singing about wanting a paper doll, one line refers to “flirty, flirty guys, with their flirty eyes.”

More generally, the fragility of the paper doll makes them a ready metaphor for gay people in the 1950s and ’60s—and still for some people even today—whose existence was precarious, who were constantly in danger of being found out, losing their jobs and families, and having everything ripped away from them. But paper dolls also suggest something more hopeful—the possibility of transformation.

And that transformation means that they are also a potent symbol for code-switching, of how changing outfits can change how you are perceived and act in different groups and situations. Out in the real world, you might wear the clothes of a lawyer or a sailor, but then when you’re around other gay people, say at the Paper Doll in San Francisco, you can shed that outfit and don something more authentically yourself.

Reference

No Speedo? Then Don’t Try To Go Swimming In France – Seriously!

A boy — wearing an approved swimsuit — jumps into the public swimming pool in Auxerre, France. Credit: Adeline Sire

If you’ve traveled outside of the US this summer, a foreign language may not have necessarily been the biggest stress factor of the trip. Local customs are often what get us stumped.

Take a trip to the local pool, for example. Seems like an easy and universal-enough activity to not have to jump through the daunting hoops of cultural differences, right? Wrong. It can be an uncomfortable experience.

I am a native of the city of Auxerre, Burgundy, in France. It’s a lovely place of about 35,000 people, rich with medieval history.

It’s small, but it boasts many remarkable historical monuments, including a cathedral and an abbey from the Middle Ages and some ancient churches and chapels. It sits in the middle of the Burgundian hills, known for their excellent wines.

The city has another, more modern attraction that locals are proud of: its phenomenal public pool — or as it’s called there, the Nautical Stadium. It has four indoor heated pools with a jacuzzi, and three outside pools including an Olympic-sized one with a long, swirly slide. It is an extravagantly large — for its town — aquatic facility, built on the green banks of the river Yonne.

People travel from surrounding towns and villages to spend the day there, sunbathe on its beautiful lawns and snack at its eatery, when they are not swimming. You pay a small fee to get a bracelet which gives you access to the facilities. There’s nothing tricky, except for the bathing suit rules.

You see, in most French public pools, there are strict regulations about the kind of bathing suit you can wear, and therefore share with others, in the water.

For illustration: (L) Not approved swimwear. (R) Approved swimwear. Credit: Adeline Sire

Simply put, where hygiene is concerned, your swimsuit cannot be something you could be found wearing outside the pool. That means no trunks, Bermuda shorts, T-shirts or anything that is not strictly meant for swimming.

Auxerre’s pool administrators say they do not want people to drag any dirt on, or under, their summer attire into the pool. So if you are going to join the masses of swimmers — all 2,000 of them on a busy summer day — you’ll have very little cloth covering your own birthday suit.

Where else would you be told to wear something shorter and tighter, no matter your shape? Man, woman or child, you’ll have to wear some form of spandex, something tight, the kind Speedo makes. Something that often leaves nothing to the imagination — and it’s not to everyone’s liking.

If you are caught entering the pool with biking shorts, running shorts or trunks, lifeguards — turned fashion police — will blow the whistle and send you back to the lobby where you will be asked to purchase proper attire. This is where convenient vending machines come in.

In the Auxerre pool lobby, there are machines that vend soft drinks, sandwiches and espressos, and others that dispense anything needed for the pool, from ear plugs, soap, shampoo and goggles, to swimwear.

A vending machine at the public pool in Auxerre, France, dispenses swimsuits. Credit: Adeline Sire

A mannequin in swimming trunks with a big “forbidden” sign around its neck in the pool’s lobby is supposed to illustrate, for unsuspecting tourists, the kind of bathing suit that is acceptable. As a result, looking around, there is a certain repetitiveness to the swimsuit designs worn by men and boys.

There are four different designs in all, perhaps because that is all that is available at the vending machine or at the inexpensive sports store in town.

In the years since those regulations went into effect, I cannot remember hordes of disgruntled tourists getting outraged about this. But occasionally, one gets caught with his pants long (men more than women for obvious reasons) and is not happy about it.

The French have just gotten used to this, but for some visitors, the fact that municipal administrators have the authority to get you dressed to their liking — or un-dressed as the case may be — is completely infuriating. That is one of those unavoidable cultural quirks travelers must contend with in France.

As a resident of the United States, used to the uncompromising French swimsuit rules, it’s always disconcerting to me that anyone would be allowed to walk straight into an American public pool, from the street to the water, fully dressed, trunks over underwear, T-shirt over chest and sometimes with water shoes on.

That could make me love the French “no clothes — just Speedos” rules even more.

But perhaps there are no people on Earth prouder of their public pools than Icelanders. Iceland, where I just spent a few days, is rich with geothermal springs and big cities enjoy naturally heated outdoor pools. Because there are no chemicals in those pools, swimmers are expected to take a meticulous soap-and-scrub shower before entering the pool.

We were told that the rules are strictly enforced everywhere, and so visitors oblige.

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa in Iceland. Credit: Adeline Sire

This was my experience recently at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa near Reykjavik, where a very polite young staff lady looked on and directed all female visitors to shower in the nude before letting them into the hot spring. No one seemed to object. But then again, people were not told what to wear.

Reference

The 17 Most Interesting Micronations

The concept of a Micronation is a crazy one. Tiny nations, rarely recognized by anyone, they claim territorial independence but are mostly ignored by the rest of the world. Some are pretty legit, some are jokes, and some are scams, but they’re all interesting. These 17 Micronations all have individual claims to fame that make them intensely cool, in one way or another.

17. Republic of Molossia

Molossia is probably one of the most well known Micronations, with just the right blend of tongue-in-cheek humor and seriousness be wonderful and awesome. Molossia is based on two properties in Nevada and Pennsylvania, stretching over 58,000 acres owned by President Kevin Baugh (dictatorial). He issues their own money, they recognise other micronations, and if you give him enough warning, he’ll even give you a tour in full uniform. Molossia has its own alphabet, flag, and has been at war with East Germany since 1983, despite only being founded in 1999. Plus, they just added their own words to the Albanian national anthem. A little bonkers, and a lot of fun, how could you dislike the Republic of Molossia?

16. The Kingdom of Lovely

In 2005, the BBC ran a six-part documentary titled How to Start Your Own Country in which comedian Danny Wallace attempted to do exactly that — the Kingdom of Lovely is what resulted. He decided his flat would be appropriate, and gave Tony Blair a declaration of Independence, claiming it as a micronation. Partly internet based, Lovely now has more than 55,000 citizens scattered around the world, but Wallace’s attempt to gain recognition from the United Nations was harmed by him lacking any territories.

15. The Duchy of Bohemia

Whether the Duchy of Bohemia is actually a micronation or not is up for debate. Amongst the serious Micronationers, it’s generally frowned upon as they haven’t been doing anything really political, instead just selling off titles as a way to make a quick buck — rather than attempting to set themselves up as a legitimate mini-country. The reason I’ve included them is because their backstory is wonderful — they believe themselves to be the government in exile of Bohemia, which was absorbed into other Eastern European countries decades ago. They believe themselves to be descended of the Bohemian royal line, which is kinda badass.

14. Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands

In 2004, the Australian govenrment refused to acknowledge gay marriages, so as a move of symbolic protest a huge cluster of islands of the Northeast Coast of Queensland were declared the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, a Euro spending constitutional monarchy under the rule of King Gautier I. With a national anthem by Gloria Gaynor, anyone who was gay or lesbian was immediately granted citizenship — though the only economic activity on the islands was tourism, fishing, and selling stamps. Yes, it’s silly, and no it’s not meant to be taken seriously, but it was an interesting protest, and all done in fun.

13. The Dominion of Melchizedek

The so-called Dominion of Melchizedek presents the seedier side of micronations, a group of people involved in an immense swathe of financial fraud that brought the world powers down against them. Not internationally recognised, it was founded by a father and son con-artist team, who sold fake banking licenses. They facilitated global banking fraud, and were once called “one of the most diabolical international scams ever devised in recent years.” The leaders claim it’s an “ecclesiastical sovereignty,” like the Vatican City, but that’s more or less BS. They give banking licenses to illegitimate entities, who then rip off everyone else. Poor immigrants were also duped into buying citizenship papers they couldn’t afford, only to find they were useless. Nice people, all around.

12. The Aerican Empire

Their flag has a happy face on it. Do you really need any more indication that these people are amazing? They also take the micronation concept to absurdest ends, claiming diverse areas of land like a square kilometer of Australia, a house-sized area in Montreal, Canada, a colony on Mars, the northern hemisphere of Pluto, and an imaginary planet. For the first 10 years of existence, it didn’t even claim any land, but still managed to declare war on other micronations. They also have one of the most wonderful mottos around “The Empire exists to facilitate the evolution of a society wherein the Empire itself is no longer necessary.” It’s pretty much a state set up by a bunch of HGTTG nerds, which is amazing in and of itself.

11. Nova Roma

Take you standard SCA style reenactment geeks, have the obsess about Rome instead of the Middle Ages, and turn the wackiness up to 11, and you have the basics of Nova Roma. Founded in 1989 in order to “the restoration of classical Roman religion, culture, and virtues,” they’re a fully recognized non-profit with an educational and religious mission. They practice the Roman religion, do the festivities, wear the clothes, reenact battles — but I’m assuming skip the horrible torture, ethnic cleansing, and pedophilia. Well, I hope. The New Romans don’t really consider themselves a Micronation, but the rest of the Micronation community does, and they have made utterings about attempting to become a sovereign nation following in Roman traditions.

10. Conch Republic

The Conch Republic deserves to be on this list if only for having the funniest motto I’ve ever seen on a Micronation: “We Seceded Where Others Failed.” Well played, Conchers, well played. The Republic is completely tongue-and-cheek, and exists only to help drive tourism to the Florida Keys, but its founding was caused by real frustrations. When the US Border Patrol set up a checkpoint between Key West and the mainland, it frustrated a number of residents. Why were they being treated like foreign nationals entering the USA when they were citizens? So they decided they should make their own country. Yeah, they were removing the Michael, but were doing so with a point.

9. The Other World Kingdom

Finding pictures of the OWK that I could put on a marginally SFW website was tricky, because OWK exists only for kink. It’s a Femdom Micronation, one where men and women who like it when women have complete sexual and physical power over men get together. Fiercely matriarchal, male visitors are used as furniture, beaten, and generally tortured in a manner that some BDSM lovers are intimately familiar with. While apparently no actual sex occurs in this Czech manor (yeah, right), their claims as a Micronation allow them to get away with things that otherwise might be illegal — like detaining people against their will (kinda?) and physical abuse. Hey, whatever rubs your Buddha.

8. The failed Libertarian states

This entry isn’t just one nation, but instead is devoted to the number of attempted Libertarian micronations that have fallen apart for one reason or another. Hey, whenever your entire population thinks they’re John Galt, it’s hard to find someone to fix the sewage pump. There was Minerva on a small reef island near Fiji, which fell when Tonga invaded and took it over. There was New Utopia, founded by Howard Turney, which may or may not be an immense scam, depending on who you talk to. Then the Principality of Freedonia attempted to lease land in Somaliland, but public dissatisfaction led to rioting and the death of a Somali national, so the American students who founded it scarpered. There’s the more recent Seasteading Institute, which is attempting to build an ocean based new nation. I’m sure one day, one of them will succeed.

7. The Empire of Atlantium

Unlike many of the tongue in cheek attempts at micronationhood, the Empire of Atlantium went at it with a fierce devotion to the nation-state experiment, and wanted to found an extremely liberal, secular humanist utopia. Formed in Sydney in 1981, the nation has only 0.29 square miles to its name, but as primarily non-territorial state, they’re cool with that. I guess you could say it’s more a state of mind (oh god, why did I make that pun?) The man behind Atlantium is fiercely disliked by other Micronations, essentially for being an enormous flaming douchenozzle, but at least he’s trying.

6. Grand Duchy of Westarctica

For some reason, up until 2001 there was a huge wedge of Antarctica not claimed by any existing nation. All of the land south of 60° S and between 90° W and 150° W. was between the claims of Chile and New Zealand, and no one wanted it. So Travis McHenry claimed the so called Marie Byrd Land, and christened it the Grand Duchy of Westarctica. Of all the entries on this list, Westartica actually makes more sense than most. There was a huge swathe of land that nobody wanted, so why couldn’t they just claim it? It was completely unclaimed, so they grabbed it. I kinda hope they actually get some recognition, at least one of these guys deserves a win.

5. The Kingdom of EnenKio

Possibly the most widely known and condemned of the scummy, scamming micronations, the Kingdom of EnenKio claimed Wake Atoll of the Marshall Islands as their home base. These three little islands make up around 6.5 square kilometers of land, and after setting up this micronation in 1994, the founders immediately started setting up scam passports and diplomatic papers, which they sold to various unsavory types, despite them not actually having any weight in any nation on the planet. Both the United States and the Marshall Islands have released official communications condemning the actions of the EnenKions.

4. The Hutt River Province Principality

One of the longer running micronations, the Hutt River Province was founded in Australia in 1970. Based in the middle of fucking nowhere, around 500km north of Perth, this 18,000 hectare of farmland declared their secession after what they deemed to be overly draconian wheat production quotas. Unlike most other attempts on this list, the Hutt River Provinces almost succeeded. There’s an old Commonwealth law allowing for succession, and the Queen’s representative in Australia couldn’t be bothered fighting the five families who started the new country, so they just let them be. They don’t pay taxes, and mostly just keep to themselves, selling stamps and coins to make some extra cash on the side.

3. The Independent Long Island

Wait a second, someone actually wants Long Island? Huh, who would have thought? The ILI is an interesting case, because while they started by claiming the entire island as their own in 2007, on the grounds that it never changed hands to the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Or something like that. They could just be ornery, I’m not really sure. But in the scant handful of years that followed, it was entertaining as all hell to watch their dreams crumble into dust. Unlike some of the leaders on this list who kept their delusions going for years, the ILI first wanted their own country, then were happy being a separate state, and now have completely abandoned political aspirations and is now a “cultural project.”

2. Freetown Christiania

Within the Danish capital of Copenhagen sits a small, self-declared autonomous region known as Freetown Christiania. Founded in 1971 by, well, hippies, it’s run by, well, hippies. A bunch of squatters took over a former military barracks, and set up the mother of all communes. Think street music, lots of pot, vegetarian food, no violence, and no hard drugs. Christiana was most well known up until 2004 for its completely open marijuana sales. Anybody (including tourists) could just rock up to a stall and buy some hash. Unfortunately, 2004 saw the Danish government crack down on this, and the freeholding has been in a legal wreck ever since, with their very existence in question. Luckily, 2011 saw them open their doors to the public again after shutting last year.

1. Sealand

Far and away the most widely known and popular of the micronations, Sealand is based on a WWII sea fort in international waters off the coast of the UK. Occuppied by the Sealandian royal family since 1967, they have a strong internet presence, and appear to make much of their money by hosting internet gambling sites on their servers, as it’s perfectly legal in Sealand. They’ve also made quite a spin on tourism and selling of minor titles. While not technically recognised by any other nation, they’re on an island no one has jurisdiction of, so they generally just get left well enough alone. Strangely, Sealand received a major popularity boost thanks to the anime and manga series Hetalia: Axis Powers, which was about the personified embodiments of nations (don’t even ask) including the tiny Sealand.

Reference

Tradies Prefer Their Shorts ‘as short as possible’, Survey Reveals

Three Melbourne Builder & Co tradies on a worksite in Prahran sport different length shorts: Dale Cheesman, Dylan Milligan and Shaun Caton from L to R. Picture: Tim Carrafa

TRADIES are pulling up short this summer.

According to a new survey by RSEA Safety, which asked tradesmen how short they like to wear their shorts, a staggering 60 per cent of blue-collar workers quizzed have revealed they prefer their shorts “as short as possible”.

While some of those who voted in the social media campaign preferred the modesty of a longer hemline of nine or ten inches, the much more revealing four inch short-length proved the most popular.

The shorter the better — they’re easier to work in and the legs are getting a good tan,” says Dylan Milligan (middle). Picture: Tim Carrafa
Brands are competing to offer tradies the “shortest short”. Picture: Tim Carrafa

Lilly Lee, general manager of marketing at RSEA Safety, said many new season shorts combine functionality with style, and the trend was definitely thigh-high.

“We are expecting at least a 30 per cent increase in short sales in the coming months, and this season we are noticing an increase in shorter styles, with brands almost in competition with each other over who can offer the shortest short,” Ms Lee said.

“ELEVEN have launched a 4-inch ‘Chizeled’ short and FXD WS-2 have designed a ‘short short’ while Corc’s have introduced a ‘shorty short’ style. We thought it would be fun to ask tradies in our #shortorshorter campaign how they wear theirs and we’ve had some hilarious responses with an overwhelming number of tradies voting for “as short as possible’”

Melbourne tradies Dale Cheesman, Shaun Caton-Robertson and Dyllan Milligan, from The Melbourne Builder & Co, showcased an array of summer shorts at a Prahran building site this week.

Mr Milligan is among those advocating for shorter shorts this summer.

“The shorter the better — they’re easier to work in and the legs are getting a good tan.”

Reference

36 Fetishes Every Gay Man Should Know (NSFW)

Two years ago this month, I was sitting on the sofa in my Sir’s living room. It was my birthday. We were getting ready to go to the gym. But first, he said, I should open my presents. Two packages were in front of me on the coffee table.

Our relationship had started more than a year earlier with intense monthly BDSM play sessions. After we stopped playing sexually, we continued to go to the gym together and push each other to live healthier. We still go to the gym together, and today I consider him one of my closest friends. He knows what I like — sexually and otherwise — more than most people in my life, so his presents are always top-notch.

Inside the first package was a bottle of twelve-year Glenlivet, one of my favorite single malt whiskies. The second: a Nasty Pig jockstrap. But it was not just any Nasty Pig jock. I sniffed. That distinctly musky, delicious aroma, which can only be found in the playrooms of gay circuit parties and in gyms across the country, lingered in the stitching.  “I wore it for a few days,” he said. “You’re welcome.”

Used underwear is one of my fetishes.

You may be asking: What is a fetish, and how is it different from a kink? I clarified these two terms in my list of 30 kinky terms every gay man should know. But I’ll reiterate their distinction here. Kinks are “unconventional” sexual interests, like bondage or paddling. That’s it. Fetishes — also called paraphilias —  are objects, materials, features, or articles of clothing, like used jockstraps, that people respond to sexually, and that enhance or facilitate sexual arousal. To clarify: fetish objects are not sexual on their own, like whips or dildos. Fetish objects become sexualized when someone responds to them sexually.

You’ve probably heard of a few obscure fetishes, like high-heeled shoes and rubber duckies. Fetishes are rapidly moving out of their kinky niche and into pop culture. Stay on top of (or under) the trend with this list of 36 fetishes — some well known, others less so — that you need to know about. 

1. Leather

Photo source:The Tom of Finland Foundation

Leather is one of the most commonly fetishized materials, and certainly one of the oldest. Tom of Finland’s 1970s drawings of biker boys, clad in impossibly form-fitting leather, solidified leather as a staple of gay culture. Today, the leather community is global, united by national and international leather competitions that celebrate this fetish at gatherings like the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco, International Mr. Leather in Chicago, and Folsom Berlin.

What does a leather event look like? It looks like throngs of men in leather harnesses, jock straps, jackets, boots, gloves, aprons, fully-body uniforms, and other garb. Since many leather fetishists are into many other fetishes and kinks, the leather community is generally considered synonymous with the kink community as a whole. 

2. Rubber

The second most commonly fetishized material is rubber. Rubber guys are usually into the same fetishes and enjoy the same kinks as leather guys, but prefer a different material. They have their own large-scale gatherings like Mister International Rubber, also in Chicago.

It is common for rubber guys to wear full-body suits that cover greater amounts of skin. Rubber is not used for harnesses to the same degree that leather is, although a good leather store and kink supplier like Mr. S Leather in San Francisco will have plentiful options of gear in both materials. 

3. Rope

Here’s a great opportunity to make the distinction between “kink” and “fetish” — a difference which, colloquially, is somewhat arbitrary since many people use the terms interchangeably.

Rope is a common material used in bondage, which is a kink, but rope is not used exclusively. People into bondage may also use duct tape, leather cuffs, chord, zip ties, neckties, and other tools of restraint. But since many kinksters (kinky people) into bondage fetishize rope specifically, rope becomes a fetishized material.

Rope is more rustic and romantic than duct tape. Duct tape is reminiscent of police sirens and robberies — the restraint material you’d use if you want to be tied, gagged, and left in a closet for a few hours. Rope, in contrast, calls to mind your youthful fantasies of getting captured by horny pirates and tied to the mast — and all the wonderful scenarios that follow. 

4. Used Underwear

Used underwear is such common fetish item that big-name escorts, porn stars, and prominent sex figures can usually make a good buck selling their unwashed undies. (Adam Killian, if you’re reading this, I would like to speak with you about a possible business venture.) 

5. Armpits

Also called maschalagnia, armpit fetishes are difficult to explain to those who don’t share them. Our culture views armpits as nasty places on the body. While everyone should probably use antiperspirant before a job interview or family gathering, some of us really enjoy the smell (and taste) of pits, sans deodorant, and get turned on by it. 

6. Skateboarders

This fetish probably falls under the umbrella of “uniform” fetishes, but I separated it since there is not a standard uniform for skateboarders, punks, and alternative guys. Some people, including my former Sir, fetishize the stereotypical look of skateboarders, from their neck tattoos to their lip rings, from their Diamond Supply Co. t-shirts to their Vans shoes. 

7. Uniforms

People who live in the United States are taught from a young age that uniforms should be viewed with respect, especially police uniforms, military uniforms, and firefighter uniforms. These socio-politics of respect naturally morphed into male strippers dressed as firefighters and cops — evidence that uniforms are heavily fetishized by straight and LGBT people alike. 

8. Skinheads

There is a massive (albeit more underground) fetish surrounding guys with buzz cuts, or “skinheads.” This fetish typically overlaps with rubber and skateboarder/punk wear. By extension, buzzing someone’s hair is a common kink practice that is generally seen as a form of humiliation and “ownership.”

Skinheads and the guys who fetishize them tend to also fetishize urine and enjoy fisting. 

9. Razors

Shaving the body is typically seen as a nonsexual activity and part of a mundane, un-erotic self-maintenance regimen. But for some, shaving (themselves and others) is extremely arousing. As a sexual activity, shaving would probably be considered a kink rather than a fetish. But trimmers, razors, and other modes of shaving and cutting body hair are fetishized objects, so they deserve a mention. Guys I’ve met that are into this fetish get aroused from the sensation of electric buzzers running against their skin — and have had more than a few uncomfortable erections in barber chairs. 

10. Urine

Also called urolagnia, this is the fetish around urine itself, which for obvious reasons overlaps with the kink of watersports — a sexual activity in which people enjoy getting peed on, peeing on others, and/or drinking urine. 

11. Duct Tape

Remember how rope is a commonly fetishized bondage material? Duct tape is a close second.

For guys who enjoy getting gagged, duct tape is a staple. Duct tape calls to mind kidnap fantasies and dark hallways, and nothing beats that hot, muffled gagging sound. Note: as sexy as duct tape is, at some point you will have to pull it off, which will hurt. This writer suggests using vet wrap as a nice alternative. 

12. Spit

Like urine, spit is a nonsexual bodily fluid that gets fiercely fetishized. Piggy guys into spit enjoy getting spit on, spitting on others, using spit religiously in place of lube, and even drinking saliva. 

13. Gas Masks

An old-school fetish object, gas masks are rarely found in popular culture anymore. Originally used in the WWI trenches, they were an integral part of the social landscape during the Cold War and in the early days of gas and chemical warfare. Today, gas masks are really only seen at riots where tear gas is used. As such, they have that innately revolutionary quality, and are often used by graffiti artists}\\ for protection against harmful fumes from spray paint. All this lovely protest imagery and violent Americana lends itself beautifully to fetishization. Gas masks are common erotic objects for kinksters into breath play and are popular among rubber fetishists.

14. Food

Don’t confuse this fetish with the consumption of aphrodisiacs like oysters and chocolate. Food fetishes can exist for any food, from cheesecake to steak tartare. Satisfying food fetishes does not always mean eating it. If you don’t think food can be sexualized, try adding chocolate sauce, honey, whipped cream, and M&Ms to your next wild sex session. 

15. Feet

Some people love seeing, touching, licking, massaging, tickling, and getting penetrated (anally or vaginally) by feet. Foot fetishes naturally lead people to think of shoe fetishes, although these are not the same. Like feet, some guys love sniffing, licking, and touching women’s shoes. (I personally love licking a dominant leather man’s boots, but this is more a sign of submission than a legitimate boot fetish.) 

16. Hands

I was cuddling with a guy recently when I made a comment that he thought was very strange. I said, “Your hands are really sexy.”

He had firm, small, smooth, meaty hands — in other words, great hands for fisting. But hand fetishes don’t have to be linked to fisting, which is the kink practice of slowly inserting the whole hand (and more) into the anus or vagina, with the assistance of buckets of lube. Many people get aroused from hands: the way they look, the way they feel, their shape, their texture, and the sensation of touching them. 

17. Amputees

Photo Source: Broadway Bares, photo by Kevin Thomas Garcia

No list of fetishes would be complete without amputees. My ex-boyfriend, in fact, thought guys with amputations, prosthetic legs, and other missing limbs were extremely sexy, and every morning I made sure all my limbs were still intact.

Alex Minksy has more or less made a career from this fetish. The ex-military amputee is a common muse for L.A. photographer Michael Stokes. For the sake of clarity, I should stress that the fetishization of amputees is not the same thing as the kink practice of actually removing limbs for the sake of sexual gratification, which is considered an extreme body-modification kink that is by and large not endorsed by the international kink community. Simply put: you can think amputees are sexy, but don’t go cutting off someone’s leg, or your own. That’s not OK. 

18. Medical

Doctor’s offices — along with a wide range of medical tools like speculums and catheters — have become so commonly fetishized that, like locker rooms and sports gear, they have long become a popular porn genre altogether. You’ve seen it: the porn scenario where the delicate patient gets “probed” by the gloved doctor, who is conspicuously naked beneath his lab coat. 

19. Guns

As phallic-shaped instruments of power, it is no surprise that guns are heavily fetishized, although, for obvious reasons, exploring this fetish has an accompanying degree of risk attached. There is endless kidnapping and rape-fantasy porn on the Internet that features guys and girls being “forced” into sex at gunpoint (as an aside to their directors, these scenarios teeter into the absurd when they start orally servicing the barrel).  

20. Enemas

Also called klismaphilia, enema fetishes are commonly explored in amateur gay and straight porn. As useful tools for cleaning out the anal cavity, enemas and douches are used by bottom guys and anyone looking to enjoy mess-free anal sex, so naturally they have become part of sex itself. Aside from their usefulness, enemas are generally considered a healthy occasional practice, and have become a sexualized object all on their own. 

22. Diapers

The fetishization of “adult babies” is hard to separate from the kink practice of acting like a baby or infant, which many adults are into, and which typically involves them wearing diapers. The terms get tricky here. Wearing diapers would be considered a kink, but erotic stimulation from diapers in general, regardless if you wear them, makes them fetish objects. This fetish may or may not be related to feces (see #33). 

23. Piercings

Many guys have fetishes for piercings — also called piquerism — and as a result may also enjoy the body-mod kink of piercing the skin, which some take to extremes. I have a fetish for Prince Alberts — circular piercings that go through the head of the penis — but I do not personally have one, which means I enjoy this fetish but do not practice the kink of piercing myself or someone else for pleasure. (This will change the minute I get my long-awaited PA.) 

24. Scars

Scars are very sexy. They tie in to our culture’s icon of the rugged warrior, the roughed-up cowboy, the soldier wounded from battle. For some people, they are an extremely strong turn-ons. These people have scar fetishes, and may sometimes choose to intentionally scar themselves in order to give themselves a feature they consider attractive. Not to belabor a distinction, but doing so would probably be considered a body-mod kink. Scars as erotic stimuli are fetishes. 

25. Plushy Toys/Stuffed Animals

You’ll never look at your niece’s collection of plushy animals the same way again. Some people get sexually aroused from plushy toys — this fetish is actually more common than you might think. 

26. Balloons

I didn’t believe this was a real fetish until I looked it up. Balloon fetishes, which are very real, seem to be related to the tension of them popping, a tension that some consider very erotic. 

27. Socks

There are fetishes for virtually every kind of clothing, but socks and stockings are certainly a close second behind underwear as the most commonly fetishized clothing articles. In the same way that I love sniffing a hot guy’s used boxers, some guys love sniffing a pair of used socks. 

28. Beard/Facial Hair Fetish

You know by now that shaving tools and buzzed haircuts have fetishes attached to them. Beards and body hair should be less surprising, especially these days. Beards are so sexually charged and erotically idealized among today’s scruffier populations of gay men that one might forget the fact that beards are still, technically, fetish objects. 

29. Classrooms

“You’ve been a very naughty boy. You need to stay after class for a hard lesson.”

Most of us should be familiar now with the fetishes surrounding teachers, desks, rulers, chalkboards, and other classroom fare. Some kinksters may explore these fetishes by replicating a classroom setting for their own form of interrogation torture and role play. 

30. Blood

With all the vampire romance and gore porn that composes today’s literary and cinematic milieu, it is no surprise that blood is an increasingly popular fetish. A small number of kinky sex practices allow you to explore this fetish with little risk of long-term injury — piercing, whipping, etc. — but they are not without risk of transmitting HIV, Hep C and other STIs. As a rule of sex and of life, if you see blood, it usually means something is wrong. Therefore blood play is a difficult fetish to explore safely. The kink community does not endorse injurious and unsafe sex practices. 

31. Knives

Like guns, knives can (and should) cause a certain degree of discomfort, which for some people creates strong sexual arousal. Like guns, knife fetishes automatically require a hefty amount of caution.

32. Clowns

photo of Ouchy the Clown by Scott Beale/Laughing Squid

Yes, it’s true. I watched clown porn the other night just to see if this is a real fetish. It is.

I have heard it proposed more than once that fetishes are psychological conditions that manifest themselves as the only responses certain people can have to stimuli that they would otherwise consider repulsive. I personally have never fully bought this claim. However, it is no secret that clowns — which will likely be remembered in a thousand years as one of the worst creations of modern man — are commonly fetishized figures, and I cannot help but wonder if fetishizing clowns is the only way some people can respond to their horror. The mind is capable of doing many incredible things, like transferring pain into pleasure, stress into desire, and fear into eroticism, so while I cannot justifiably make the claim that all fetishes are the mind’s roundabout method of dealing with revulsion, I do wonder why clowns have emerged as such a surprisingly common fetish. 

33. Feces

I promised my scat fetishist friend in Dallas that he would be represented on this list. Coprophilia is sexual stimulation from feces, and while the general population’s response to it is bound to be pretty strong, this fetish is more common than you might suspect, particularly among gay pig players, fisting enthusiasts, and kinky leather men. Despite its popularity within a more niche section of the gay male population, it is generally considered an unhygienic fetish to explore, since handling and consuming human fecal matter carries with it certain health risks. In my limited experience, it is also one of the more heavily stigmatized fetishes, even within the kink community. 

34. Sports Gear

Remember those adolescent longings for the high school quarterback? Perhaps you enjoyed varsity baseball for more reasons than you let on. The fetishes surrounding sports gear and sport environments are so common that locker room porn has become its own popular genre. Prominent gay clothing brands like Nasty Pig and Cellblock 13 draw their design inspiration from tried-and-true sports wear, and standard gay circuit attire will always feature a pair of football pants with the front lacing beckoningly open. 

35. Mannequins

Also called agalmatophilia, this fetish applies to dolls, mannequins, statues, and anything that resembles a human without actually being one. Note: while sex dolls and inflatables with porn star faces may appeal to people who enjoy this fetish, I would not immediately consider these objects fetish objects, since they are specifically designed for sexual arousal. 

36. Age

Photo by Charles Thomas Rogers from the portfolio, Men Over 50

Also called chronophilia (and sometimes ageism), the fetishization of age is a hotly debated topic in gay culture. The term swings both ways: this fetish applies when someone older fetishizes the specific age of someone younger, and when someone younger fetishizes the specific age of someone older. The fetish doesn’t require a significant age difference — just the fact that someone’s age itself is a turn-on.

Conceptually, this fetish opens up debate surrounding the fetishization of other characteristics like skin color and body type. Some argue that fetishizing certain physical characteristics like age and weight is no different than feet and hand fetishes, which we generally do not frown upon. Others say that age fetishes, like skin color and body type fetishes, are not fetishes at all, and that the reduction of a person’s features into points of desire (and, by extension, rejection) is dehumanizing and smacks of racism and body-shaming.

Debate rages. Age fetish deserves inclusion on this list for the sheer purpose that it shows how fetishes can cross from the playfully erotic into more culturally profound and impactful subjects. The whole concept of fetish reveals that anything in the world, from pool floats to ice cream, can become sexual objects if someone responds to them that way, and as such they unleash our sexual desires from the narrow confines that our culture tends to place them in.

This being said, fetish exploration is not a free-for-all. There is a trepidatious line between fetishizing balloons and fetishizing blood. That vague line exists throughout the world of kink, which is why the motto “safe, sane, and consensual” should be strictly adhered to as you explore the things that turn you on — which, I must stress, are worth exploring. Your birthdays just got a lot more interesting. 

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