Semiotics basically means a study of communication and behavior through elements that might include symbolic references...like the symbolic handkerchief deal in gay culture. I took a grad course once about communication and literature that was so complicated the professor admittedly didn't even get all the time. In this case, however, they're talking about gay subculture in the 1970's, and the distinct ways gay people defined themselves in what really was the first time in gay culture people were actually open about it.
Photographer Hal Fisher was especially interested in these newfound gay signifiers, and as part of his 1977 publication Gay Semiotics, he provided detailed itemized descriptions of the gay experience in San Francisco at the time. Note the very early use of the term “basic gay,” though we’re guessing he didn’t mean it quite the same way.
Of course this was before my time and what's been dubbed as the pre-aids era in gay culture. I have older friends who still talk about it all the time and I always feel as if I've missed a huge event.
An earring in the right lobe may suggest that the wearer prefers to play the passive role during sexual activity. Conversely, an earring in the left lobe may signify active behavior on the part of the wearer. Unlike the other signifiers, however, Right/Left placement of the earring is not always indicative of Passive/Active tendencies on the part of the wearer. Furthermore, the earring or stud is often adopted by non-homosexual men, thus making the earring the most subtle of homosexual signifiers.
I honestly don't know about any of these signs and symbols. They died out in the 90's in most parts of gay culture.
You can read the rest of them here. There's a link to the book with a price tag of $500, which I don't get completely. I've posted about used books of mine selling on Amazon for $50 and upward, money I obviously never get because the books are used. I've also seen my books on E-bay for these ridiculous prices, too. Maybe there's something with used books about gay culture. I'm not sure about that. But you can check that out with the link, too.
Male Full Frontal Nudity on TV
I've posted many times about the double standards on TV and in films with full frontal nudity in general. I've posted each time I noticed a glimpse of male full frontal nudity on TV. It's all in the archives with a simple search. And evidently I'm not the only one who wants to see more male full frontal nudity on TV. The creator of Queer as Folk recently said this:
There is not enough male frontal nudity on TV. You’re far more likely to see a naked woman than a naked man. It’s only [seen as] rude because the rest of television is rather tame — it doesn’t actually talk about sex and our bodies and how we feel about them. I’m not out to shock.”
Here's the link, with a photo of Charlie Hunnam. Last night while Tony and I were watching the season finale of American Horror: Freak Show, we were waiting to see if Dandy would be killed off with full frontal nudity. He was in his underpants.
Rapper Big Dipper
There's a web series called Big Dipper's World where big guys are celebrated, often in what sounds like interesting ways. I've never seen it and can't comment. But it looks like fun and the comments all sound encouraging.
Or as the bubbly queer rapper succinctly puts it in episode one:
“Feel your oats. Feel your body. Feel your friends. Just walk around and let everybody have it.”
I'm all for anything that can help remove body stereotypes and improve the quality of life for gay men with respect to body image. I've been starving since high school and it becomes a mind set you simply can't get rid of no matter how hard you try. You're gay; you're expected to be thin. If you're not, God help you.
You can check out a sample video here.
Chase of a Lifetime
Here's an excerpt from an upcoming book I'm re-releasing with a new title, Meadows Are Not Forever.
"If you'd like, I'll show you a few tricks from my act," Harold said.
Cade shrugged. He didn't even know the guy. But he didn't have anything better to do. And there was something about Harold's sinewy good looks that made his heart beat a little faster than normal. "Sure, I'd like that. I'll bet you're very good."
Harold dropped the sheers in the grass and said, "I'll be right back. I have a few things in the truck. Don't move."
When he was gone, Cade looked down for his swim trunks so he could get dressed before Harold returned. But they weren't on the grass next to his lounge chair. They weren't behind the chair and they weren't under the chair. Cade was certain he'd set them down nearby when he'd removed them; just in case he had to put them on again fast. But by the time he turned to see if he'd left them on the table near the pool, he saw big strong Harold loping down the back lawn carrying a small leather travel bag.
Cade smoothed out the towel and made sure his private parts were well covered. He didn't want Harold to get the wrong impression. Even though he'd suspected that Harold might have been flirting with him, he couldn't always trust his own instincts when it came to these things. Meadow said Cade was like all the gay men she knew: he tended to think all good looking young guys were gay, or had the potential to be gay. And it was getting harder to tell these days. Cade had been wrong more than once and he didn't want Harold Smith to think he was trying to seduce him. Something like that in Salem County, New Jersey could cause a scandal that would linger for years to come. The Catholic boy with red hair and freckles who was always running after the priests and used to bake cakes for the summer carnival at the Catholic Church once made a pass at a straight guy. The rumors began and his family wound up moving to Delaware in the middle of the school year, never to be heard from again.
Harold sat down at the bottom of Cade's lounge chair and set the black leather case on the grass. He unzipped it and pulled out a deck of cards. "I'll just do a few really simple tricks right now. I don't want to bore you to death." Then he moved his thigh toward Cade and shuffled the cards right on his leg.
When his knee brushed against Cade's naked calf, Cade felt something stir between his legs. Thankfully by then Cade was old enough to know how to control his feelings. So he gazed down and watched how Harold handled the deck of cards, with the skill and grace of a true card shark. The cards fluttered; his large nimble fingers did a dance.
Harold spread the cards out in a fan on the chair and told Cade to choose one. Cade picked one from the center and Harold told him to memorize it, concentrate on it, and then put it back into the deck face down so he couldn't see it. Harold shuffled the deck again and cut it three ways. He spread the cards into a fan again and concentrated on them for a second. And when he pulled a card from the center and turned it over, it was the exact same card Cade had chosen.
"How did you do that?" Cade asked. He couldn't stop staring at the card. He even forgot he was naked. The towel slid down his leg and exposed his naked hip.
"Practice," Harold said. "Magic is a skill you learn and practice over and over until you get it right. It's all illusion." His voice sounded even smoother now, as if he were about to do the six o'clock news.
"Do it again." Cade rubbed his palms together. He'd always been attracted to these things. Show him a circus tent with a side show and his heart started beating faster. If there was a monkey and a bearded lady, he'd pay anything to see them.
Harold repeated the same trick six times, and each time he found the exact card Cade had picked from the deck. Then he showed Cade a few more card tricks that left Cade's mouth half open and his palm against his chest. And while Harold worked his magic, he often spoke as if he were on stage speaking to an audience, with a deep, smooth announcer's voice. Harold had one of those well-trained, silky voices, with a deep natural resonance that made Cade's eyelids grow heavy. If he hadn't been a magician, he could have been a host on one of those soft late night radio shows Meadow always liked to listen to when she couldn't get to sleep. He'd have made a fortune selling used cars to gay men and straight women.
"Show me how to do a trick," Cade said. He spoke too fast and had to catch his breath.
Harold smiled; he waved the fan of cards. "Oh, I don't know," he said. "This is an old art and you can't just learn it in a few minutes. You have to study and practice for years."
Cade knew Meadow would love this card trick. And it would torture her not to know how to do it. And the guys at the condo would love it even more. "Oh, please," he said. He moved forward and didn't notice the towel slide down another inch, exposing his entire naked right side. "Just show me the most basic card trick you know. I'm good with cards. I play poker all the time with my best friend, Meadow." He usually lost. But he didn't mention this…or that they played poker with Oreo cookies instead of chips.
Harold sent him a long, slow glance. He lowered his voice to a stage whisper and said, "I'll show you a trick that's very easy. But you have to promise you'll never tell anyone where you learned it. It's one of the oldest card tricks there is. And it's considered very sacred with all magicians. If anyone knew I was even thinking about telling you how to do this, they'd banish me from the profession."
Cade's eyes opened wider; his lips parted. He thought it was so special the way Harold was so willing to take him into his confidence. Cade felt so honored and so thankful he leaned forward and pressed his palm to his heart. "I promise. I'll never tell anyone. You can trust me, Harold. I’ll take this to my grave."
Harold nodded. Then he shuffled the cards and said, "I'll do the trick once, and then I'll show you something you'll never forget."
"Oh, thank you," Cade said. He'd never been so flattered in his life. "You have no idea how much this means to me. You're a great guy." And here he thought he wouldn't have anyone to talk to in Salem County. He couldn't wait to tell Meadow about Harold, his new friend, only he'd leave out the part about being caught naked. She could turn something perfectly innocent into something naughty.
Harold shuffled the cards again, and then he spread them out into a fan. "Now you pick just one card. Look at it, and then put it right back into the deck face down. And remember the card you chose."
Cade smiled. He picked a card toward on right side of the fan this time, thinking he'd mix things up a little and make it more difficult for Harold. He pulled the card out, hid it in his curved palm, and gazed down at the queen of hearts. Then he turned the card over very slowly so Harold couldn't see what it was and slid it back into the left side of the fan.
"Okay," Harold said. "I want you to look into my eyes and repeat these words with me: out of the darkness comes light and beauty; out of the garden comes sweetness and wonder. And you have to concentrate on the card you chose. This trick is about as magical as it gets. I think you'll love it. I can’t wait to see what you think."
Cade blinked. "Magic words?"
Harold set his jaw. "I'm serious," he said. "If you're not interested in saying the magic words, we don't have to do this."
Cade felt a thump I his stomach. He hadn't meant to sound skeptical. "I didn't mean anything. I'll say the magic words. Don't worry. I was just a little surprised, is all. I’m not familiar with magic."
"And you have to look deep into my eyes while you say the words," Harold said.
Cade nodded; his eyes widened. "I will. I promise." This was getting really exciting now. He couldn't wait to see what would happen next.
"Do you remember the card you picked?" Harold asked.
"Yes. I remember it."
"Okay," Harold said. "Now look into my eyes and repeat the magic words with me. And concentrate hard on the card you picked. You'll be rewarded very well for this."
Cade looked into his eyes; his chest caved in and he felt every muscle in his body relax. This was one of the most exciting things he'd done in a long time. When Harold nodded, they both said, "Out of the darkness comes light and beauty; out of the garden comes sweetness and wonder."
Harold said, "Repeat it with me one more time."
So they did it again.
When they were finished, Harold shuffled the cards one more time and spread them out in a fan. He held up the jack of diamonds and asked, "Is this the card you picked?"
Cade felt a pull in his stomach. It was the first time Harold had been wrong. He smiled and tilted his head. "I'm sorry, no it's not."
Harold made a face; his eyebrows furrowed. He chose another. "Is this the card?"
Cade glanced at the three of clubs and said, "Nope. Sorry." This wasn't going well at all. Poor Harold Smith.
On his third try, Harold chose the ace of spades.
Cade shrugged. "I'm sorry, that's not the right card either. Maybe I did something wrong this time. Maybe we should do it again. It's probably my fault. I tend to mix things up sometimes." The expression on Harold's handsome face had fallen by then. Cade hated to see anyone in distress that way, especially someone so adorable. "Maybe I didn't concentrate hard enough on the card."
Harold closed his eyes and squinted. "No, that's not it. I've had this happen before. I'll figure it out." He rubbed his jaw and concentrated for a moment. He repeated, "Out of the garden comes sweetness and wonder, out of the garden comes sweetness and wonder, out of the garden comes sweetness and wonder."
Cade gaped at him. He'd never seen anyone concentrate so hard on anything. From the way he was squinting, it looked downright painful.
Then Harold opened his eyes slowly. He lifted his right hand and snapped his fingers. "I think I know what happened. Sometimes the energy gets mixed up with different frequencies on hot days like this. Sometimes the card winds up somewhere else other than inside the deck."
It sure was hot that day. Cade leaned forward. "Where do you think the card went?"
Harold smiled. He pointed to the towel over Cade's private parts and said, "Spread your legs a little for me."
Cade blinked again. "Spread my legs?"
Harold nodded. "Just spread them a little. It's okay. Sometimes these things happen and there’s no need to get nervous."
Cade spread his legs and looked down at his lap. Harold's large hand slid up beneath the white towel and stopped between Cade's legs. Cade felt Harold's knuckles brush the inside of his right thigh.
Harold remained still for a moment. He lingered, with his knuckles against Cade's bare skin. He closed his eyes and said, "Out of the garden comes sweetness and wonder."
Cade's eyes bugged as Harold's hand slide out from beneath the towel. He almost fell sideways when Harold pulled a single playing card out from between his legs and smiled.