Monday, July 31, 2017

Terrible Migraine



I didn't feel like writing much more than the title.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Rock of Ages



1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 

let me hide myself in thee; 

let the water and the blood, 

from thy wounded side which flowed, 

be of sin the double cure; 

save from wrath and make me pure. 


2 Not the labors of my hands 

can fulfill thy law's demands; 

could my zeal no respite know, 

could my tears forever flow, 

all for sin could not atone; 

thou must save, and thou alone. 


3 Nothing in my hand I bring, 

simply to the cross I cling; 

naked, come to thee for dress; 

helpless, look to thee for grace; 

foul, I to the fountain fly; 

wash me, Savior, or I die. 


4 While I draw this fleeting breath, 

when mine eyes shall close in death, 

when I soar to worlds unknown, 

see thee on thy judgment throne, 

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 

let me hide myself in thee. 


From Wikipedia:


Rock of Ages is a popular Christian hymn by the Reverend Augustus Toplady written in 1763 and first published in The Gospel Magazine in 1775.


Traditionally, it is held that Toplady drew his inspiration from an incident in the gorge of Burrington Combe in the Mendip Hills in England. Toplady, a preacher in the nearby village of Blagdon, was travelling along the gorge when he was caught in a storm. Finding shelter in a gap in the gorge, he was struck by the title and scribbled down the initial lyrics.


Friday, July 28, 2017

The History of Gay Porn, Part III

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, July 27, 2017

History of Gay Porn, Part II

This is a post originally published in 2011.

Sexual Revolution and Gay Pornography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another significant change during this decade was the explosion of the niche market.  Many videos began to be produced for viewers with specific tastes (i.e. for amateur pornography, Military (Men in Uniform) pornography, transsexual performers, bondage fetishes, performers belonging to specific ethnic groups, etc.), and this led to a diversification of the people involved in pornography production and consumption.
The gay pornography industry grew substantially in popularity during the 1990s, evolving into a complex and interactive subculture. Professional directors (such as Chi Chi LaRue and John Rutherford), technicians or deck operators during the U-matic phase of video technology, and performers started to engage in pornography as a career, their work sustained by emerging pornographic media and influential critics, such as Mikey Skee.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

History of Gay Porn, Part I

This is a post originally published in 2011.

Many gay men, and nearly all of the ones that I know personally, love gay porn.  Gay men and their attitudes toward pornography tend not to be as stigmatized as it is with heterosexual men and women, though there are plenty of them who enjoy pornography as well.  Pornography as a whole does not have the stigma that it once did, at least not with the majority of the population; in fact, in some ways, it is becoming somewhat more mainstream.  I've noticed even with my students, they are willing to admit that they like porn and are much more likely today to admit that they masturbate than my generation had been.  I think that my generation was the beginning of that change, but as a whole, the attitudes toward sex are becoming more liberal.  I think that part of that is the fact that many people dismiss the AIDS crisis as being something of the past, when it most certainly is not, no matter who well the drug cocktails are working.  All that being said, I thought that I would write a post about the history of gay pornography.

I haven't done a really salacious post in a while, and 2011 is the 40th anniversary of Falcon Studios. Founded in 1971 by Chuck Holmes, the company is one of the most recognizable brand names in gay pornography. The estate of Chuck Holmes, who died of AIDS complications in September 2000, gave $1 million for the completion of the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, the largest individual donation ever to any gay community group in San Francisco.

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

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

However, hardcore pornographic motion pictures ("stag films," as they were called prior to their legalization in 1970) were produced relatively early in the history of film. The first known pornographic film of any kind appears to have been made in Europe in 1908. The earliest known film to depict hardcore gay (and bisexual) sex was the French film Le Menage Moderne Du Madame Butterfly, produced and released in 1920. Most historians consider the first American stag film to be A Free Ride, produced and released in 1915. But in the United States, hardcore gay sexual intercourse did not make it onto film until 1929's The Surprise of a Knight.  The Surprise of a Knight's plot was relatively simple:
The film opens with an elegantly attired "woman" with short hair as she finishes dressing for a visitor. As the "lady" completes her boudoir, she lifts her skirts to reveal a thick patch of pubic hair. At this point, an intertitle reveals that the screenwriter is "Oscar Wild" (clearly a pseudonym).
The "lady" goes into the drawing room and offers her well-attired gentleman caller (her "knight") a drink. He refuses it, and she drinks the cocktail. They talk briefly, and then engage in passionate kissing. Whenever the gentleman caller puts his hands on the "lady's" breasts or genitals, "she" pushes his hand away. Finally, she slaps him coyly. The "lady" then apologizes for her aggressiveness by fellating her partner.
The "lady" then lies face-down on the sofa with her buttocks in the air. It is revealed that she has no underwear on. The gentleman caller then penetrates the "lady" anally (although no penetration is actually shown). After a minute or so, the gentleman withdraws and sits back on the sofa. The "lady" gyrates her buttocks in the air. This induces him to mount her anally again. Both individuals reach orgasm, and the gentleman caller walks off-camera.
The "lady" stands and raises her skirts to reveal that "she" is really a he. The film's second and final intertitle announces "Surprise." His penis is exposed. The man in drag then dances about briefly, making sure that his penis bobs up and down in the air. The gentleman caller re-enters the camera's view, and helps the other man remove his skirt and most of his other clothing. The gentleman caller (now completely clothed again) dances briefly with the nude young man. After a jump cut, the "lady"—now dressed completely in business attire—walks back on screen, winks at the audience, and walks off screen.
The Surprise of a Knight ushered in a brief period of homosexual hardcore pornography in the stag film era. About a year later, in A Stiff Game, an African American male would engage in fellatio on a Caucasian man without the need for drag. The appearance of gay sexual contact on film would soon end, however, and not reappear until the advent of legal gay hardcore pornography after 1970.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sonnet 55



Not marble, nor the gilded monuments

Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.


When wasteful war shall statues overturn,

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars his sword, nor war's quick fire shall burn:

The living record of your memory.


'Gainst death, and all-oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth, your praise shall still find room,

Even in the eyes of all posterity

That wear this world out to the ending doom.


So till the judgment that your self arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.


Talking directly to his beloved, the speaker begins with some confident words of assurance: no other memorials, however beautiful or permanent, can outdo this sonnet, which will live longer and shine brighter. Other human creations have to deal with time and violent war, but this poem escapes both of these downers.


And because this poem is a poem of praise, preserving the memory of the beloved's beauty and all-round awesomeness, there's good news: the beloved will also escape destruction. In fact, he will live comfortably inside the sonnet and the minds of readers until the end of the world itself. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Astronomy, Part II



Friday we went to Stellafane, one of the largest gathering of amateur telescope makers and amateur astronomers. We went first to Hartness House where they directed us up Breezy Hill to the Stellafane clubhouse. We talked to the president of Stellafane along with the curator of the museum at Hartness House. There were lots of amateur astronomers there with their hand built telescopes. I will admit that I did not understand any of the technical stuff they told us, but we were mainly there to find out more about Russell Porter, arctic explorer turned telescope maker. Porter was quite an interesting man. It wasn't the most exciting day, but we had a good time.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Love Lifted Me



  1. I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore,
    Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more,
    But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,
    From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.
    • Refrain:
      Love lifted me!
      Love lifted me!
      When nothing else could help,
      Love lifted me!
  2. All my heart to Him I give, ever to Him I’ll cling,
    In His blessed presence live, ever His praises sing,
    Love so mighty and so true, merits my soul’s best songs,
    Faithful, loving service, too, to Him belongs.
  3. Souls in danger, look above, Jesus completely saves,
    He will lift you by His love, out of the angry waves;
    He’s the Master of the sea, billows His will obey,
    He your Savior wants to be, be saved today.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Astronomy



Stellafane. Your first question is probably: what the hell is Stellafane? Stellafane (Latin for shrine to the stars) is the name of the clubhouse built by the Springfield Telescope Makers club of Springfield, Vermont in the early 1920s, and has since come to refer to the club's land and buildings on the summit of Breezy Hill. It also refers to the Stellafane Convention, a gathering of amateur telescope makers and amateur astronomers (star party) held every year at that location. The Springfield Telescope Makers grew out of a class on how to make telescopes that was started by Russell W. Porter in Springfield, Vermont in August 12, 1920. The members of this small group decided to form a club and held their first meeting on December 7, 1923.

The reason I mention Stellafane is because I am going to the convention today. Porter was an alumni of the university that I work for. They are the curators of some Porter material that my Museum would like to borrow. Porter built some great telescopes such as the Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California. Porter was a pretty fascinating guy as an artist, an Artic explorer, and a telescope builder. So I'm going to Stellafane to help borrow some of the artifacts they have about Porter. It should be an interesting day. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Morning Coffee



If only he'd bring me coffee in the morning...I might actually want to get up, then again I might want to stay in bed.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Will



Has anyone watched Will? Will is an American drama television series about the (fictional) life of William Shakespeare in his early 20s. The series was ordered for a first season containing 10 episodes, on May 18, 2016, and premiered on TNT on July 10, 2017.

While the show is fictional, there are certain things true about it. There is a real debate over whether Shakespeare was a closet Catholic or not. Also, it shows Christopher Marlowe as being gay, which history says he probably was. Marlowe is played marvelously by Jamie Campbell Bower.



I am also quite fond of Mattias Inwood's character, Richard Burbage. He has a magnificent butt that is shown off quite well in episode two. Also, Colm Meaney is in the show and as a Star Trek fan, I love him.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Better Life



A Better Life

 

Randall Mann


after Julio Cortázar

 

It’s silly to think

fourteen years ago

I turned thirty.

 

How I made it that far

I’ll never know.

In this city of hills,

 

if there was a hill

I was over it. Then.

(In queer years,

 

years

are more than.)

Soon it will be fifteen

 

since the day I turned thirty.

It’s so remote.

I didn’t think I’d make it

 

to fourteen years ago.

Fear lives in the chest

like results.

 

You say my gray, it makes

me look extinguished;

you make me cringe.

 

I haven’t cracked

the spines of certain paperbacks,

or learned a sense of direction,

 

even with a slick device.

But the spleen doesn’t ask twice,

and soon it will be fifteen years

 

since I turned thirty.

Which may not sound like a lot.

Which sounds like the hinge

 

of a better life:

It is, and it is not.