Special Feature by Dale Who (A rather animated fellow himself)
One of the good things about growing up as a gay geek has always been the amount of eye candy available in my favorite genres. Long before I knew what being gay was, or that it would transpire that I would fancy blokes, I was…drawn, shall we say, to certain men—none of them available in real life. (And it continues to this day.) Although my field of vision has grown to include real men, having crushes on hot men on TV (both flesh and blood and animated varieties) was a safe practice run for falling in love, in lust and preparing me for what would follow later in life.
So I decided I’d write about those crushes; gifted with perfect hindsight and a lot more sense now that I’m older and decidedly more worldly wise. Which is a roundabout way of saying I have had sex in between then and now. More than once. And with someone else. So here’s Part One of my salutation to my fictional crushes and loves; and I thought we’d start with the ones from my formative years. So jump into your time and space machine of choice and come with me back to the 1970s…the tamer years before I discovered what this gay thing was all about…
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (Filmation)
Probably my first attraction to a man, animated or otherwise, was Filmation’s Tarzan. Bits of the cartoon are burned into my memory, some for being cool, some for being memorable, but one for being my first appreciation for a decent pair of pecs.
This Tarzan was an eloquent hero, with a very good command of the English language to bolster his jungle language—which to me at the time was mostly “Tantor! Unk!” He did battle with everything from poachers to robot spiders, and blew up alien pyramids enslaving the local population, and of course in doing so caught the attention of my little sci-fi obsessed mind.
The title sequences (both start and end) still play in my head clearly; the music was great and the voice-over work was brilliant. The bit that really got me was the very last shot of the closing credits; Tarzan swinging into the camera…focusing in closer and closer on those pecs. Oh, how I loved Tarzan’s pecs. And his arms. At the time, I certainly wasn’t aroused by them, but I do remember thinking Tarzan was safe, and someone you could cuddle up with. Ladies and gentlemen, a homosexual had been born. In later years, I’d find Gordon Scott ridiculously hunky as the Ape Man and fall in lust with the character all over again. And don’t even start me on what happened when I saw Miles O’Keeffe in just a loincloth in an otherwise appalling remake. I nearly got repetitive strain injury that weekend…
Hercules, The Space Sentinels
Ah, another bare chested muscle dude. Easy to see what’s going to be the driving force here, isn’t it? Decent pair of pecs and I’m sold. Truth be told, I don’t remember much about The Space Sentinels, but I remember fancying Hercules, and I remember being terribly worried about the big glowing severed head that calmly spoke to them whilst twnkling a bit. A re-watch many, many years later revealed this to be Sentinel One, a supercomputer that brought our heroes together. There was Hercules, who had long blond hair, a really rubbish cape and not a single shirt in his wardrobe. Herc was very strong indeed and could fly. His compatriots were…well, when I was little, I didn’t care who they were. There was some bloke and a girl. Again, later on I learned they were Mercury and Astrea. Astrea, it turns out, was cool. She could morph herself into almost any animal. Like Manimal. But better.
Both Tarzan and The Space Sentinels were produced by the Lou Scheimer stable, and had the wonderful, iconic revolving logo over the credits. It’s another of those tiny little details, burned into my head from early on, that the cartoons I liked as a kid were all “a Lou Scheimer production.” I still think Tarzan is hotter than Hercules, although Herc’s blond-haired, blue-eyed surfer dude charms are somethng I still go with…(see also Hunter and Atlas from the UK version of Gladiators).
Mark, Battle of the Planets
Technically, of course, I should now be quoting the manga series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman that was the original material, but I was young and unaware of these things. Instead, I had a world of hot young things in spandex…well, Mark and Jason anyway. Princess barely registered as existing; Key-Op used to irritate the hell out of me, even as a kid, and Tiny…he was their designated driver for when the fit ones went and saved the day, wasn’t he?
Major crush was Mark, their leader. Gloriously voiced by Casey Kasem, Mark was witty, clever, and strong. I adored him from the first time I saw the show; and of course with a beautiful craft like The Phoenix at their disposal, and a robot watching over them from another planet (7-Zark-7 on Centre Neptune, if you need reminding), all worked together and secured my attention. Later on they brought in a robot dog as well (1-Rover-1) who, of course, equated with Doctor Who‘s own K-9 in my head. G-Force also had really cool “Transmute!” watches that turned them from flames to muscle-showing spandex in a sequence vaguely reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s transformation explosion effect, but with rainbows.
Second in command, Jason only registered on my radar many years later on a re-viewing, but he was quite hot as well. But Mark was the hot fit muscled man I wanted in my life. Later on the crush would diminish slightly when I found out Mark shared a voice with Shaggy from Scooby Doo. No one wanted Shaggy. Fred, on the other hand….
By now we’re into the 1980s, when the list starts to grow a lot, and I discover why hot lycra-clad muscles seem to feature so regularly in my viewing habits (and my dreams). Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Part Two of Dale’s Real Crushes on Fictional Men coming soon…