What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

Marc Singer turned me gay. First of all, anyone who can pull off the title “the Beastmaster” must be an object of lust. It’s a truism. Pair that with an emotionally sensitive character who can talk to animals and is named “Dar,” and this thing has gay written all over it. Long before Daniel Goddard donned his loincloth, Marc Singer was sweat-soaked in a leather brief and wielding his massive (really, massive!) sword.

Beastmaster is a retelling of the classic tale that revolves around the thin line between man and beast. Particularly the Goddard-version of Dar was a PETA-champion, eco-terrorist, Greenpeace warrior speaking on behalf of the misunderstood animals and natural world threatened by human greed. Of course, beastmasters are all sex-on-a-stick because whatever the green-political trappings, just like Tarzan, the Beastmaster is all about what we’re left with when we strip away all our repressions and the social constraints of human civilization: essentially naked, raw, brutal, fierce sex (again, let’s take note of the HUGE sword).
As an impressionable young kid, I saw Marc Singer’s hard, sweaty embodiment of the untamed libido, and a wave washed over me… leaving me gay and seriously aroused. When Singer moved on to star in V, I was glued to the tube. He never gave us as much skin as he did as Dar, but even fully clothed, it was impossible to miss his gorgeous body. The sincerest form of flattery, both Beastmaster and (very recently) V were remade with even more beautiful people and snazzier special effects. But I cherish that pre-adolescent memory of Marc Singer flexing, fighting, and thrusting (the sword), and getting me in touch with my own untamed, pre-cognitive, raw, naked sexuality.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

CHiPS turned me gay. Of course, I’m not referring to the actual men of the California Highway Patrol, but rather their late 70’s/early 80’s fictionalized portrayals on television.

Erik Estrada was the designated sexy, Latino heart throb of the show. A recurring storyline involved women throwing themselves at him. I remember being dutifully in lust for the headliner hunk, and particularly thrilled to see some shirtless pinups from when he was riding high on the publicity train. Still, he wasn’t my favorite man with countless horsepower between his legs.
Larry Wilcox actually floated my boat much more. Looking back, I’m a little astonished by that fact. Not that Larry wasn’t a hot side of beef, but his character was an aww-shucks farmboy type to Erik’s sizzling sex object. Today, I’d still pick Larry over Erik, but I’m sort of shocked to remember that was also my preference as an impressionable pre-teen.
Some of the background boys actually revved my engine even more than the co-stars. Tall drink of water Brodie Greer always made my heart skip a beat. Before I knew what I was even lusting over, I had picked him out as a quality meat.
When Bruce Penhall joined the cast late in the series, though, I was over the moon. With the prototypical bleach blond surferboy look, Bruce was hard and hot just as Ponch and Jon were looking a little bloated and soft. Trying to cash in on the typical “next generation” storyline, Bruce was a patrol trainee, and I wanted nothing more than to be in charge of his education. His tight, short, studly bod was my infatuation until the show was cancelled.

The gay lessons of CHIPS were many and wondered. I was taught the joys of lusting after a man in uniform (okay, there were other teachers, but none that wore leather riding gloves!). CHIPS taught me the eroticism of male bonding and boys with bikes. If perhaps it didn’t technically turn me gay, without a doubt it offered me multiple objects of lust to teach me more about what turned me on.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

Lyle Waggoner turned me gay. At 6’4″ tall, he was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome when I was growing up. When I first saw him on the Carol Burnett Show (I caught them in re-runs), I was introduced to the notion of eye candy. He wasn’t as funny as the rest of the cast, and he couldn’t (really) sing or dance like the rest of the cast, but he was stunningly handsome and had a deep, sexy voice. I think Lyle’s frequent appearances in a tuxedo get some of the credit for making tuxes such a turn on for me. Whenever Carol would do her pre-show chat with the audience, invariably some girl would ask to give Lyle a kiss. And predicatably, Carol would call him out from back stage, and he’d lean over for the suddenly shy, star-struck yokel to plant her hungry lips on him. And just in that moment, inexplicably, in a flash… I was gay.
When Lyle showed up in the series Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, he introduced me to another fetish: the hot man in uniform. The sexual tension between Major Steve Trevor and his assistant, Diana Prince (aka, Wonder Woman) was obvious enough for even me as a young child to observe. That show plunged me through a brief, confusing period when I wanted to be Wonder Woman. Looking back, it wasn’t that I wanted to be “a woman,” but I wanted the ability to deflect bullets with my fabulous Amazonium bracelets, and I wanted to constantly be flirting with Lyle Waggoner.
I was way, way too young to have known it when Lyle posed for the first issue of Playgirl. What an excellent choice to be “the first Playgirl centerfold!” I’ve since looked up and appreciated his Playgirl spread. The nudity was quite modest, by today’s standards. I’m sure Levi Johnston’s photo shoot will reveal much more than Lyle’s did 36 years ago. Still, I’d take Lyle over Levi any day (or decade).

In summary, Lyle Wagonner turned me gay. He eroticized the tuxedo for me. He made me hot for a hunk in a uniform. And he blazed the trail in softcore porn that has enriched my life immeasurably and mainstreamed the celebration and commodification of male nudity that today makes the world go round (or at least it makes the internet profitable).

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

Greg Louganis turned me gay, God bless him. I don’t think I’d even heard of “competitive diving” before I caught a glimpse of Greg on television, diving in the 1984 Olympics. In a sport full of tight, hot bodies barely squeezed into speedos 2 sizes too small, Greg was a stunning standout even before he left the diving board. Those thick, gorgeously muscled thighs… the stunningly defined torso… that shy, handsome face… I was captured the moment I saw him. Then I saw him divethe amazing grace… the astonishing control of every thrilling muscle… that toe point!… and the moment he hit the water, I was gay.

I lapped up all the coverage of Olympic diving I could to adore Greg. He was not only the object of my teenage lust, he also kicked ass! The juxtaposition of his shy smile and his totally dominating performance, blowing his competition out of the water made me not only lust for him, I was in love. And then he went and posed for Playgirl. Oh… my… God…
I don’t think it ever occurred to me when I was young that the guys I so lustfully worshipped could actually be gay. When Greg came out in 1994, it honestly opened my eyes to the adage, “We’re everywhere.” Discovering that my teenage crush also played for my team was one of the most liberating moments of my coming out.
Greg’s continued grace and class only reinforces his iconic status in my life. The promo pics of Greg coaching hardbody Mario Lopez in preparation for his portrayal of the Olympian in the movie Breaking the Surface, propels both of them still higher up my lust index.
Greg Louganis didn’t inspire me to become a diver, but without a doubt, he turned me gay…. Well, if he didn’t actually “turn me gay,” he certainly opened my eyes to the world full of beautiful, graceful, hot and hardbodied gay boys all around me. So let the games begin!

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

He-Man (and the Masters of the Universe) turned me gay. Yes, a cartoon is to blame. How better to indoctrinate young boys into the joys of musclebound, scantily clad, sword-thrusting-obsessed gym bunnies? I was a tad older than the target audience for the animated television show, but I avidly snuck in some guilty after-school viewing because it was totally titillating. I was a little confused about the whole idea of an animated character turning me on, but I didn’t allow that confusion to kill my buzz. He-Man and his massive, nippleless chest enthralled me. His six pack abs disappearing down into his furry briefs and those lovingly drawn legs with quads as big as his waist (and calves not far behind)… I’m not sure if I wanted to be He-Man’s boytoy in Eternia or have He-Man materialize in the eye-popping flesh in my world. Either would have been fine with me.
He-Man was actually a royal prince who was a total wuss. He was a bodybeautiful musclegod behind the thin disguise of a sissy boy. Ummmm… seriously? Is anyone shocked that a whole crop of gay boys sprang from that seed!? The closet case who thrusts his sword erect to claim the liberating power of a leather harness and bikini briefs? He-Man should be the mascot for EVERY gay pride parade.
I was way too old to have any excuse to have seen the Dolph Lundgren live-action movie Master’s of the Universe in the late 1980’s… and yet I saw it. Did I mention Dolph Lundgren was in it? Perhaps my first in a long line of giant, blond, Swedish stunners for me to obsess about.
Dress Dolph in nothing but a harness and a leather bikini bottom (or less!), and I’m defenseless. Get him sweaty, chained, and whipped, and my teenage self was ready to cum hands-free, right there in the theater. Dolph, Dolph, Dolph… so many fantasies
Apparently there’s been on again/off again rumors that a new He-Man project could be in the works (most recently: off again). It seems that there’s debate about how “cheesy” to make it, or whether to play it as some sort of Conan the Barbarian melodrama. David Madison at Unreality Mag spent some time fantasy-casting the new movie according to his tastes, with a very respectable choice of True Blood Aussie bodybeautiful, Ryan Kwanten. I like that thinking, though Ryan would need to add at least 35 pounds of muscle mass to have any resemblance to the demi-god of Eternia. The rest of Madison’s choices leave me flaccid, and that is distinctly not in keeping with my childhood memories of He-Man. Perhaps we’ve missed the basic premise that EVERYONE in Eternia is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Gary Oldman as an evil villain with 20-inch biceps and obliques that can cut crystal? I’m smelling bad special effects or very disappointing eye candy (and box office suicide).
I’m all for a remake of Masters of the Universe. It must have some of the key elements that made it iconic in the first place, though. It must have an entire cast of muscle bound demi-gods, featuring the cock-tease king himself, He-Man, in a leather harness with a HUGE sword (a-hem…). It must include some bondage, preferably with our naive blond muscle hero humiliated in chains. It must have sweaty, muscle on muscle grappling. If this classic formula is adhered to, I guarantee box office success… and another generation of boys turning gay.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

Buck Rogers turned me gay. The television show was only on for a couple of years when I was a pre-pre-teen, and I somehow remember every episode. Gil Gerard was always sucking in his gut, squeezed into skin tight spandex, with lots of visible chest hair. He was the modern-day man transported into the 25th century, forced to find his place out of his time. He was more direct, more brutish, more aggressive and masculine than his 25th century counterparts (can we say “anti-feminist backlash?”).

Looking back, it was total camp aimed at pre-teen boys. Pre-teen boys… camp… hunky dude squeezed into skin tight spandex…. I can do the math. Yes, indeed, Buck Rogers turned me gay.

One episode jumps out at me as highly erotic. Re-watching it today, I have to smile as I think back at my younger self getting so hot and bothered. The episode Olympiad featured futuristic athletes. In a classic cold war plot twist, one of the (read:Soviet) athletes was trying to defect. Buck Rogers had to come to the rescue to get the high jumper and his girlfriend out safely.
I remember thinking the high jumper was a hottie. As I re-examine the evidence, Barney McFadden, who played the character, was a pretty typical, late-70’s version of a stud. He was quite skinny, handsome, long hair, cleft chin. But squeezed into his extremely tight wonder-bra/muscle-shirt, along with the very high-cut shorts, he was instantly an object of lust for my pre-pre-teen heart. These days, the opening credits seem the hotter than McFadden. Check out the beautiful athlete at 02:40 totally making a cocky pass at the handsome reporter. Look at that eye contact! I’m guessing there’s going to be a hot time back at the Olympic village later.
Once the character Hawk came into the picture, I had a new object of lust. Tall, dark and handsome with an outfit making him appear to have a thick chest and crystal-cut abs trailing down an inhumanly long and slender torso… mmmmmm, Hawk. Thom Christopher certainly upped the sexiness.

Once again, I marvel at how much my tastes have changed over time. But as a young gay boy, just discovering the marvels of beautiful men, only inferring the wonders that those fascinating, hot bodies would one day offer, Buck Rogers and his boys absolutely steered me in the right direction.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

Adrian Zmed turned me gay. He’s so “I Love the 80’s” I have to restrain myself from feeling the need to make excuses for calling him out. I was, afterall, only 11 when T.J. Hooker premiered on television, at which point I instantly became obsessed with Officer Vince Romano. But enough excuses. I’m owning it. My desperate hope to see Adrian Zmed in a shirtless scene (there were several in T.J. Hooker) made it impossible to deny: I was gay.
The Eastern European look (interpreted as “Italian” for his character on T.J. Hooker) was hot. The thick dark hair and olive skin was sex on a stick in my mind. It’s not like he was bodybuilder, but he was meaty enough (seriously, 03:06 in this clip totally transports me back to my adolescent giddiness for Adrian). Officer Vince Romano was a green cop, fiery and hot-headed (hot, hot, hot), who had to learn self-restraint and smarts from his much older partner played by William Shatner (not, not, not).
The occasional glimpses of Adrian shirtless in T.J. Hooker would likely have been enough to cement him in my gay biography, but further shirtlessness in the movie Bachelor Party sealed the deal. Even playing an über-hetero horndog, I had eyes for no one else for a slice in time. Adrian (who can actually sing) ripping off his shirt as he sings is a fantastic intersection of teen idol meets movie star meets rock star.
I don’t actually remember Adrian’s appearance alongside Scott Baio on Battle of the Network Stars (which will probably require its own installment in “What Turned Me Gay…” loved, loved, loved seeing my favorite stars trying to be jocks on BNS). But this shot of Adrian in a speedo and Scott in a towel captures such an authentic moment in my emergence as a gay boy. Skinny-but-fit white boys with broad chests, skinny waists, and the hint of gym-bunny abs were both who I wanted to be and who I wanted to be with. Before I ever conceived of the notion of fucking, sucking, mutual masturbation, or even kissing another man, really, the idea of speedo-clad Adrian with his arm wrapped around my neck, leaning against me bare chest to bare chest was my first, sort of pathetic in hindsight, fantasy of male-male affection.

So judge me all you like (you catty bitches). Roll your eyes and smirk. I refuse to be embarrassed by my adolescent crush on Adrian Zmed, who without a doubt, turned me gay.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who would later become Governor of California, turned me gay. I discovered the wonder of Arnold when I was a kid and got the Guinness Book of World Records, paperback edition, in the late 70’s. There was a black and white photo of a young Arnold, which Guinness designated as having “what many believed to be” the most perfectly developed body. The mixture of stunning muscleboy, the body worship aspect of being designated as the most perfectly developed body, and the cocky narcissism of Arnold smiling back at us as we worshipped his body – all of it was like a spell woven over my head, and *poof* … I was gay.

When Conan the Barbarian came along, I was just entering adolescence and totally ready to lap up some of Arnold’s big screen loveliness. I was not disappointed. Plenty of shiny, massively muscled skin shots everywhere. Lot’s of muscle-on-muscle fight scenes thrilled my budding wrestling-fetishist heart. One scene of Arnold bound to a tree in the middle of the desert (was that Barbarian or Destroyer?) gave me a booster shot of bondage kink to add to my gayness.
Terminator, on the other hand, was disappointing. Not nearly enough skin. As a gay kid paying the price of admission primarily to adore Arnold, Terminator did not deliver.
It was around that time that I tracked down a copy of Pumping Iron. Holy hell, I was into bodybuilders. The “behind-the-scenes” aspect of Pumping Iron was highly erotic for me. But despite getting some nice, intimate shots of Arnold and other stunning bodybeautifuls, Arnold came across as such an ass in Pumping Iron, I found him distinctly less attractive.

When Terminator 2 hit the screens, my infatuation had waned considerably. Even with more skin, T2 didn’t reignite that initial awe I once had for Arnold. Then a young Robert Patrick appeared on screen in a flash… slender, fit, graceful, and literally butt-naked. And my gay universe expanded by leaps and bounds. No longer was I limited to muscleheads to turn my crank. The wonders of other body types began opening up for me (figuratively).
So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Republican Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger turned me gay. He bears considerable blame for my infatuation with mucleboys and body worship. And even though I outgrew Arnold, he opened up a wonderful world of lustful admiration of all sorts of men’s bodies. Thanks, Arnold.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

The 1984 Olympic U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team turned me gay.
It was the first summer Olympics to happen after I hit adolescence. I don’t remember having seen men’s gymnastics on television before. But when I caught sight of the short, powerhouse, muscle-bound tumblers in Los Angeles, there could be no doubt: I was gay, and this was hot!

The drama of the Olympics was part and parcel of the whole eroticism for me. These guys weren’t expected to win the team competition. It was down to the wire, every landing crucial, every hop critical, and the Chinese and Japanese tumblers were scooping up every medal in sight. And then the underdog-dreamboats from the U.S. win, and all of these gorgeous studs with massive biceps and thick chests and tiny little waists were hugging and jumping all over each other in ecstasy… ecstasy, I tell you!

At the time, I was smitten with Peter Vidmar. These days, I wouldn’t peg him for the stud puppy in the bunch, but you can’t argue with the raging hormones of an adolescent gay boy. Peter was dreamy, and I was in love.
Mitch Gaylord was clearly the one pegged by everyone else as the looker in the group. He had those big shoulders and that (relatively) long, sexy body. He took a stab at a movie, which as I remember was unmemorable.
In hindsight, Bart Conner should’ve been my gay crush. Even then, I remember being awed by thickness of his biceps. There was something totally hot about hearing the story of his completely torn bicep from training. The scars across his massive arms and shoulders were just fascinating (in a why-are-my-pants-suddenly-tight way). The California surferboy blond hair and and the little boy grin on that brickhouse bod was completely worshipful. I should so much have been into him more than Vidmar.
Frankly, I think Tim Daggett may have had the best bod in the bunch, but I didn’t think he was so handsome. I still see him commenting on men’s gymnastics competitions when I tune in for my short-muscle-stud fix, particularly around the summer Olympics.
And then, there were “the rest,” in the words of the theme song to Gilligan’s Island. Jim Hartung and Scott Johnson are totally the Professor and Mary Ann. I remember them both by sight, and I remember thinking, “Hey, those guys are hot, too!” But they weren’t the superstars, and they didn’t get as much exposure.

I fell in love all over again when (Sexy) Alexei Nemov was such a media darling in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics (and the way he always kissed his teammates after each routine). Still today, I pause and drink in the gorgeousness whenever men’s gymnastics pops up on television. But it’s the 1984 Olympic U.S. Men’s Gymnastic team that first made me fall in love and lust with the sport that proves short is sexy.

What Turned Me Gay (again, not really)

James West made me gay. Well, I suppose it was Robert Conrad playing James West in “Wild, Wild West” that made me gay. Well, it was probably the frequent appearances of Robert Conrad shirtless, often tied up and tortured, that made me gay (and into domination!).

Just to be clear, I wasn’t old enough to see the original run of Wild, Wild West. I caught it in one of its endless rerun cycles. Even as a young kid, I remember being in complete awe of Conrad. Every episode was guaranteed to feature him with his tight pants showing off that fantastic ass. And every so often, not infrequently, he’d be captured by some evil genius, forced out of his shirt, and tied up to endure threats of destruction.
Conrad had a chiseled jaw, hot-n-hairy pecs, and a tight six pack plunging down the high-rise pants he always wore. He was a tight little package with a drop-dead gorgeous face. Just to look at him in stills would have been subject for a wet dream, but to see him struggle against his bonds, to squirm and flinch in pain, to be captured and (at least temporarily) under the dominating control of an evil nemesis… yep, I owe a lot of what I am today to James West, via the beautiful suffering-stylings of Robert Conrad.
The producers clearly understood what we tuned in to see, putting him back on the small screen for a couple of perpetually shirtless seasons of Baa Baa Black Sheep. Another decade later, I had such high hopes when I saw him again in the pilot for High Mountain Rangers, costarring his hottie sons, Shane and Christian.
Sadly, High Mountain Rangers had no traction, and Robert did little else on screen after that. Happily, the image of James West, his wrists tied behind his back, his shirtless, hairy chest flexing and struggling, those tight pants hugging every curve of that rocking butt… very happily, that image remains seared in my memory as the thrilling inspiration to a young gay boy’s imagination.