I couldn't even narrow my personal list down to the 120 hottest Hollywood hunks of all time, I'm that enamored of so many people's, you know, work. So I turned to Robert Hofler, who has written thoroughly researched books about Hollywood and sexuality, most recently Sexplosion (which focuses on the crucial period in the culture from the late 1960s through the early '70s). Hofler was quick to name 12 delectable pieces of cinematic cornea candy, and he was kind enough to throw in a few extra ones too, way in advance of Halloween. Here are his all-time faves:
Chris Hemsworth (Australian-born 'throb. 1983-)
"Whoever directedThor has to be straight," says Hofler. "In one scene, you see him just with a towel around him and it lasts about 30 seconds. There's no way a gay director would let that body go by so quickly." Not to mention even having the dumb towel there in the first place.
Gary Cooper (two-time Oscar winning leading man. 1901-1961)
Says Hofler, "If you go back to those early '30s movies, Gary Cooper has it all over Cary Grant. There's something feminine about him, particularly in Morocco. He has a flower behind his ear and he's very sly and hot. Cary Grant always had tragically narrow shoulders. He had a strange body. He had a sunken chest, and he was sloped. They used to put him in all these great suits, so you generally didn't notice. Cooper became stolid and dull--even John Wayne did--but right then, he had an incredible grace; and Elizabeth Taylor eyelashes." To summon some of Coop's film titles: I bet he was blessed with a "Hanging Tree"--you know, a "Springfield Rifle"--that gave him a certain "Naked Edge." Talk about a "Bengal Lancer"--and that "Ball of Fire!" OK, I'll shut up now.
Guy Madison (An accidental movie star and an undeniable visual feast. 1922-1996)
"Guy Madison represented beauty undiluted with talent," says Hofler. "That body, it was perfect. In 1944, when he did Since You Went Away, it was amazing. When I went through all those photographs [while researching a book on gay talent agent Henry Willson], there was not a bad photograph of Guy. He was the consummate model." And who cared if he couldn't act to save his life?
Robert Mitchum (Bedroom-eyed leading man adept at playing antiheroes and weirdies. 1917-1997)
"Robert Mitchum was the bad boy," says Hofler. "He got arrested. If you go back to those early movies, there's a man who's comfortable with himself in a way a lot of those male actors weren't. A lot of them seem ashamed of being actors." Not Mitchum. He made you ashamed to like him so much.
Montgomery Clift (Troubled gay heartthrob. 1920-1966)
Admits Hofler: "He was the only movie star I ever had a crush on. I heard he liked to sleep in the nude, and he was always drugged out of his mind. He reminded his bedmates of a large spider. He's the male Marilyn Monroe. You feel like, 'If I could have been there, I could saved him,' and that's very attractive." So was Monty and his tripod!
Joe Dallesandro (Warhol film star of cult classics like Flesh andHeat. 1948-)
"Looking back at Joe, he really did have something. He was completely comfortable in his nudity. There was something about Joe in those early movies. It was an incredible body. He had a real V-shape going on. He credited that to [director] Paul Morrissey--'That's the way Paul photographs me.' Paul said Joe was the eye at the center of the storm, and he was surrounded by all these crazy Warhol factory people. Joe wanted nothing to do with it, so there was a kind of sullenness about him and he made you want to come to him. There was a real passivity about his beauty. And he's got those great shoulders." He also happens to be my Facebook friend and a really great human.
Clint Walker (Tall, macho star of westerns and such. 1927-)
Reports Hofler, "Clint is the one for, 'Hold onto the shoulders and hope you don't fall off the edge of the world.' In Send Me No Flowers (1964), Clint was an inch or two taller than Rock Hudson. He was hotter than Rock in that film. When he did the western movie Cheyenne, Clint had it in his contract that he spend two hours at the gym early in morning!" And he wasn't even gay.
Alain Delon (French star of Purple Noon andThe Leopard. 1935-)
"He's kind of Monty Clift without the good soul. He's a very old soul and has been around, but perhaps even more beautiful than Monty or Tyrone Power or Robert Taylor or any of the Hollywood pretty boys. I love the story that Henry Willson 'discovered' him at the Cannes Film Festival and immediately flew him down to Rome to meet David O. Selznick, who was filming A Farewell to Arms there with Rock Hudson. And, of course, who met Delon on the tarmac but Willson and Hudson! I never found out if Hudson and Delon connected. I do know that Selznick signed him, but since he was bankrupt, he let Delon out of the contract; the actor didn't want to come to Hollywood. He was already busy making movies with Luchino Visconti. I interviewed everyone I could from the Farewell set to find out about Rock and Alain and if anything happened. Elaine Stritch was an interesting interview. I asked if she remembered seeing Alain Delon, and Stritch exclaimed, 'Alain Delon? Is that another one of those made-up Henry Willson names?!' Stritch had no idea who Alain Delon was." [Neither do I after learning that, last year, Delon made comments about how gay couples shouldn't be allowed to raise children because "It's against nature." So much for his dazzling beauty.]
Maxwell Caulfield (British-born hunk. 1959-)
Relates Hofler: "About 10 years after Joe Dallesandro turned into this gay icon in the Warhol/Morrissey movies, Maxwell Caulfield appeared Off-Broadway in Entertaining Mr. Sloane, playing the hustler, and then in Salonika, where he was nude for most of the play. Caulfield replaced Dallesandro in the gay firmament. Out on Fire Island, there were many discussions about the size of Caulfield's nipples. Everyone buzzed that they appeared to be slightly swollen and that women weren't into sucking on male nipples, so maybe Maxwell's nipples were rather well-developed because of some male attention. Of course, that was all nonsense; he was happily married to [actress] Juliet Mills. [Producer] Allan Carr and Valerie Perrine went to see him in Mr. Sloane when Carr was casting Grease 2. On the way to Caulfield's dressing room, Carr was heard to say to Perrine, 'Which of us is going to get lucky tonight?' Patricia Birch, who directed Grease 2, said that Carr saw Caulfield naked on stage and that probably had much to do with his being cast in the film. Carr loved the rushes of Caulfield in Grease 2 and thought he had a new big star in Caulfield right up to the movie's premiere. He soon turned on Caulfield." And when that caftan turned, it really made a mighty wind.
Tyson Beckford (Model/actor/personality. 1970-)
"Of all the Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein models, he's the most perfect. I'd lost track of him, then saw him this winter on TV doing red carpet duty at the Oscars. Surprisingly, Beckford didn't attack the question 'Who are you wearing?' with quite the sycophantic insouciance that Jess Cagle brings to the job. But that's OK. Beckford asked terribly pertinent questions; he'd done his homework and studied up on all the stars' most recent press junkets. And I realized then that my attraction wasn't just superficial, that there was an intellectual connection above those Hercules shoulders."
Steve McQueen (Hollywood legend. 1930-80)
Says Hofler: "I always thought Steve McQueen was much hotter than Paul Newman, even though Paul was the one who I swear had it written in his contract that he had his shirt off in every movie. He always took his shirt off and showed his navel. But it was Steve McQueen who was more relaxed in his masculinity, although he was a major homophobe." Eek. I'll stick with Paul's salad dressing--and his undressing, too.
For the 12th slot, I suggested Stephen Boyd of Ben-Hur fame. "No," shot back Hofler. "He's very scrawny. We're getting very superficial here, I'm sorry. And I'm a great aficionado of those sword and sandal movies." OK, how about Ben-Hur's top-billed star, Charlton Heston? "He's not Yul Brynner," replied Hofler. "Even Charlton said Yul blew everyone off the screen. Yul's was quite a body and better proportioned than what Charlton had to work with."
So number 12 goes to...
Brad Pitt (Enduring movie star with great looks and spirit. 1963-)
"Those Herb Ritts photographs of Brad in W in the late '90s! There are photographs where his jeans are halfway down, so his butt is giving you cleavage. God only knows what was going on in that photo session. His body doesn't stop. Johnny Depp supposedly once said Brad was the Charlton Heston of his time. It's amazing how Brad's career has remained edgy and Johnny Depp seems to have sold out and done junk."
But hold onto your jeans. Hofler generously provided an extra choice! Happy Pride month. Here's lucky 13:
Burt Lancaster (The Grin. 1913-94)
"He's very aware, and there's a certain kind of narcissism that works for him that doesn't work for Paul Newman, and he also can't wait to show off his body." And we could never wait either--for him to show off his body, that is.
>>>Off-Broadway with Drag Queens & Ayn Rand
MELBOURNE THIS WAY
A hunk in a vinyl minidress, Courtney Actis the Drag Race finalist who admits to being "36-26-36-8 1/2." ("That's my shoe size," clarifies the Aussie showgal. "8 1/2--extra wide.") Sporting shiny pumps at NYC's Laurie Beechman Theatre last week, Courtney did her one-person show, Boys Like Me, a funny and ultimately touching romp about her exploits on both sides of the gender divide. Comparing her act to the Aussie-set drag show Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, she added, "But I intended to be a limited run." She also talked about her Drag Race experience, specifically how "The comedy challenge was when things started going south for me. I went from slightly boring but nice Courtney to Cunty Act."
Fortunately, that wryly witchy attitude can still be accessed on command. Calling attention to Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio in the audience, Courtney deadpanned, "Bianca said it's OK to announce that she's living full-time as a clown now." Shot back Bianca without missing a beat, "You can't say 'clown' anymore!" I guess it's a whole other bad c-word.
I caught up with Bozo--I mean Bianca--that night, glowing over her mention of me in a James St. James "Transformations" video that's been making the rounds. (When James notes that Bianca and I specialize in the same thing, she replies, "Hate!") I asked the drag star if she's gotten a raise for her role in the weekly Hot Mess revue at NYC's BPM club since winning on the TV show. "No," Bianca responded. "I don't even know who's in charge there, the personnel changes so quickly." And then she was off to a gig at Industry Bar, which is why she was all done up and eyelashed--not to steal thunder from her dear friend Courtney, of course!
Randy Jones & Remy Zaken in 'The Anthem' | Photo by Michael Blase
It's OK to say "cowboy," which is good because I just caught up with "Macho Man" RandyJones--from the 1970s disco group the Village People--when I went to see the new Off-Broadway musical version of Ayn Rand's futuristic novella The Anthem. (Don't even try to process that last sentence. Just trust me--it really happened.) The show has a hot bodied cast dancing around in silver costumes in an ode to capitalism that boasts great direction/choreography/design by Rachel Klein, a rising theater star who deserves to be the next Diane Paulus. Randy is imposing as the nasty Tiberius, though in real life, he's a pussycat in cowboy garb. Randy told me he took this part in order to leave parties behind, focus, and show what he can do. As the only other survivor of the disco era, I'm suitably impressed. See? I DON'T always specialize in hate!
Capitalism works at 54 Below, the cabaret room where two-time Tony winner Katie Finneran did an engaging act last week, remembering her early days of misguided romance on the road to actually finding a straight man in the theater (her husband, Darren Goldstein.) They've had two kids, the first one right before Katie bagged a sitcom and five concerts of Sondheim's Company with the New York Philharmonic. Katie hilariously described simultaneously nursing her kid, shooting the TV show, and learning her Company role off a video. When she finally got to a group rehearsal of the cast, she realized she'd learned everything backwards! And her big song was "Getting Married Today," which is breathlessly filled with words and dissonances. No wonder costar Martha Plimpton offered her a Beta Blocker. Then, when the second baby came around, things weren't any easier. Katie landed the part of Miss Hannigan in Annie and says it was weird to go from nursing a boy to pretending to hate girls. "When I'd hear the young actresses talking and laughing," she remembered, "I'd start lactating!" Yes, straight people are funny too.
And now, on to my next mission: Getting Chris Hemsworth to work with a gay director.