September 01, 2006

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Homos Helping Puppets Help Kids This week, New York Magazine published an article by Sean Kennedy about Tim Young, a professional puppeteer in Park Slope, Brooklyn (incidentally, the home of lesbians, babies, baby lesbians, and me!). Young, down on his luck and near broke, needed to figure out a quick way to make some money in order to keep himself afloat. After attending a "gay underwear party," Young decided he could hold that exact event himself and, with a simple entry fee, he'd see enough profit to return to financial comfort. And that he did! Between fees, sponsorships and donations, Young has raised at least $15,000 for Brooklyn's Puppetry Arts Theater (which he funded and directs). What can you say about such an idea, one which benefits both horny, talkative gays and kids who like [and the man who lives for] eyebrows made from pipe cleaners? Tim Young can sum it up quite nicely, as a matter of fact: “You can be yourself,” he says. “There’s no attitude, there’s no darkness, there’s no smoking. It’s social.” And herein lies why I can't won't get laid anytime soon. At 5'9", I stand at a stature one might call "average," whereas I, myself, knowingly refer to my body type [albeit in a self-loathing manner] as "stocky." I can complain or keep quiet as much as I please, but without being overly muscular ("Chelsea boy"), chubby and hairy ("cub"), old, chubby, and hairy ("bear"), lithe and hairless ("twink"), or heavily overweight ("fat"), I fall into a neutral territory among the Gays' stubborn and reprehensible Word Bank of body categories. Unfortunately, having read a book about coming out as it was happening, I was made aware early on of these abhorrent and absurd categories that seamlessly fall into place within a culture already so inclusive that it can't afford to bend the rules. Gay marriage? Of course it should be legal, if not a necessity. But dancing around in rainbow print bikini underwear for local news cameras alongside eight foot tall trannies and leather daddies who all kind of look like penguins? Is that going to earn you the respect, or, more over, the winning argument that you're "just like us?" Is all that imagery - buffoonish, intimidating parades of pornographic shrieks and screams - going to pull the weight toward a Common Man balance? Tim Young's parties, advertised on Craigslist and Manhunt (eHarmony for anonymous cocks and assholes), is listed as being restricted only to “lean, in-shape guys! No fats, chubs, dads, or bears! Thirty-looking and under.” Now, if I were, indeed, delusional (unattractive and naive) or jealous (knowingly obese) of my inability to be pigeonholed within the scene, then all my frustration would make sense. However, I'm not. I'm insulted. Just because homosexuality is a part of sexuality doesn't mean it has to equate directly to body type. It's both rare and terribly sad to vouch for the fact that gay men (much more so than women, it would seem) prioritize an ideal mate's personality with Waist Size at the top of the list, quickly followed by Inches Packed and Average Price Paid For Haircut. More over, the focus on body image, and the narrow walls within which acceptance is granted by gay men should be considered widely hypocritical among a minority so desperate for acceptance and a place in the mainstream other than in supporting rules on tired sitcoms. If there is, in fact, karmic retribution, then perhaps we should just wait for the day when a member of Tim Young's audience questions aloud the unidentified white crust located right above Captain Giggletooth's bright red felt nose. (And that shit ain't glue.) Taking It Off For The Kids [New York Magazine]
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Thank You For Being A ...Fitness Instructor? Maybe I'm too young to remember, but I might have cognizantly bypassed a period of time in pop culture when everyone had a workout video. Cher, Mary Tyler Moore, Regis Philbin - they've all had their own, so why shouldn't even less qualified be entitled, as well? Five words: Estelle Getty's "Young At Heart." In a royal blue oversized sweatshirt and heather gray leggings, Estelle Getty (known best as Sophia Petrillo) musters up all the energy she can (at 70, when the tape was produced) to provide a reasonable fitness workout catered to seniors. Getty, herself, didn't devise the regimen, but does introduce who did. His name is Raphael Picaud, and he's both a fitness instructor and a "full time French hunk." (Excuse the poor quality ...ahem, the black spots... in the following videos. I can't figure out the Internets.) When and why does irony become lost on the elderly? I mean, honestly, look at the guy's teeth. The pony tail. The walk. Listen to him pronounce "tiger." Is he Pepe Le Pew? The only people who speak like that are American tourists while in France. Furthermore, hearing Estelle throw out the line, "Oh, please, I could live in one of your thighs" is a mere sign of what's to come. Even at seventy, which I consider a respectively young age, Estelle seems half-awake throughout the entire video. There are plenty of obvious flubs in the voice-overs, as well, but no one could catch Estelle's lack of emphasis in the whole line? "Oh please" takes bounce upward, before Estelle drives it into the ground with "I could liveinoneofyourthighs." Huh? Where'd she go? Estelle's workout buddies, Jack, John, Mimi, and Adrianne, all exercise at different levels according to their age and body type. In other words, Mimi is compulsive, Jack is lazy, John is gay, and Adrian is fat. And Black. (Double whammy!) With a retched instrumentals and poor editing, it's immediately a dead giveaway that Young At Heart is going to be an adventure in low budget, dead air-filled, discount bin filmmaking. Note the following: Jack's face is melting. Working out in a chair might not be the best idea, buddy. Whyyyy is Adrianne dancing? There's no music playing. Although, judging from the wardrobe choice (fashion tip: if you're a fat old lady, dressing up like Toucan Sam may not flatter), she might just be crazy enough to be have "Proud Mary" blaring inside her head. Arthritic John calls Adrianne "heavy." I know this isn't a criticism of John (I'll get to that soon enough), but why is Adrianne's natural response to silently continue to dance before ...jabbing her elbow at his? Mimi is on top of this shit. And when Estelle refers to her "well-stacked cans," she's actually denoting Mimi's perky bosom. Get it? While working the upper body, Estelle's workout buddies begin the sob stories. Mimi's got bad posture, Adrianne's arm is fucked up, and John is a widower (*cough*homo*cough*) who has to "be careful of both [his] shoulders." One of several awesome moments from the whole video appears above, when Adrianne literally walks offscreen to work out against a wall. Here begins her arbitrary commentary, responded to by no one ("I need to support myself against the wall for these"). Notice the apparent snarl of her lips. Sista ain't happy. She makes up for the lack of screen time, though, with an offscreen quip regarding Estelle's weakness for nacho chips. (When's the last time you heard anyone not on television call them "nacho chips"? I love the fourth wall.) Don't feel bad for Aid. She may not have been "born Tina Turner," but she is really good at neck stretches: I've got to stop talking about Adrienne. But if you, like me, find her ambitious-meets-constipated facial expression reach its peak, check this out. Estelle takes a moment to explain what motivated her to begin exercising. At just five feet tall, Estelle is, indeed, short. But the other word with which she uses to describe herself is mildly absurd. "Dumpy?" Come no now, Estelle. You're a tiny, if not frail, adorable old lady. "Dumpy" is the least appropriate adjective to use, unless you looked like this: Now if that doesn't say "fatass," I don't know what else comes close. Before working out on the floor, the gang does so with weights (or, like Mimi, canned food). This clip is a prime example of how Estelle's pale gaze keeps her from leading the group aloud during the exercises, although she does, incidentally, burst out with "I'm proud of you!" (whoa, Estelle, take a step back). Do note how the creepy camera angle captures Mimi's silent counting, one second behind Estelle's voice over. Brilliant. Are you ready to get down? Well, so are these folks. Down on the floor, that is. No, literally, they're ready to get down on their backs. On the floor. Back exercises. Once again, Adrienne tries to steal the show. Listen to her here, grasping onto her last breath, yell out, "It relaxes my back!" Were the editors on horse tranquilizers during post production? Apparently not, as immediately following Adrienne's attempt at taking center stage, you can see that Estelle's counting out loud is dubbed over, not matching her moving lips (although it may be hard to spot on YouTube, but trust me here - pixels don't do it justice): Sometimes, when you do crunches, you can feel your rib cage expanding. Again, Adrienne just wants you to know. In what becomes the most entertaining two minutes and thirty sex seconds of the entire video (and, thusly, my life), the gang engages in some senior citizen banter, including sex talk. What they say is almost as absurd the cold, dead stare painted on Estelle's face as she lifts her weight up and down with two hands. You heard it here first, folks: Estelle Getty is a fan of the "slower" sex had by senior citizens. I guess that means that Estelle Getty...*gulp*...enjoys...slow, gentle vaginal penetration. Cool. Or, as she puts it, "pretty good." In less nauseating territory, the statement "You know, these exercises look pretty simple..." would usually end with a "but" followed by a positively-spun statement. No need here, though. The audience has heard it all. These exercises do, indeed, look simple, says Estelle, "and they are!" ...Got it. This clip includes any item you could ever dream of with a group like this: Jack bans Estelle from his house, John mishears "hunch" for "crunch" (which, ironically, still applies), Adrienne cries out for an "easy" exercise, and Estelle calls John "Mr. Prissy" before shouting, "It means muscle tone!" What...means muscle tone? And why are you staring at me like that? Did she have a stroke?? DID ESTELLE GETTY HAVE A STROKE? Also, "Arnold Schwartz-er-stiller." I get the first part, but...where were we going with this one, 'Stelle? After Estelle instructs everyone to keep their right leg straight with shoulders on the floor, Adrienne makes sure to ask if the right leg is kept straight. John, at his gayest, asks where his shoulders go. Watch Estelle bark! Is it me, or are things getting tense in this suburban living room? Now, I could easily end this post with a depressing look into our respective futures: But I won't. Because you need to see Adrienne dance like a retard. Again. Want to review with a professional? Want him to impersonate Ben Stein? Done. If not, another option is to hear our ensemble use metaphors! If it were a contest, Adrienne would win (although only because she dips into the Race pool):

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