Wednesday, 28 October 2009

308: Gay Frankenstein 1

Any homosexual subtexts in the Frankenstein story have been made quite explicit already in the “Rocky Horror Show” (stage show 1973, film in 1975).

I've been making a man
With blond hair and a tan
And he's good for relieving my tension
(Sweet Transvestite)

WILL: I'm intimidated, okay? It's like I've-- I've created a guy that's too hot for me to date. It's the same reason Dr. Frankenstein didn't date his monster.
GRACE: What? Dr. Frankenstein wasn't a homo.
WILL: Oh, really? He sewed together a bunch of guys to create the perfect man? Wrapped him in linen. Give him a flat head, so you can set a drink on it. Dr. Frank was a 'mo, my friend. [CHUCKLING] He was a 'mo.

- Will & Grace 20 February 2003 (an episode I only happened to watch because it featured Dan Futterman. Mmmm, Dan Futterman)

Of course we have to discount the two above, because they are jokes intended for a gay audience from gay writers, which isn’t what this never-ending farrago is all about. Incidentally, the idea that Dr Frankenstein might be the gay one in the story is the interpretation less usually employed by humorists, unless they’re gay. The more typical gay gag plays off the idea of the experiment going wrong. That rather than creating the perfect new human life, the good doctor accidentally creates a homosexual. And so it’s a revelation of what the cartoonist thinks constitutes a funny gay stereotype.

From “Help” July 1965
Not terribly enlightened this one. But they’ve certainly gone to town, trying to cram as much in as possible. Hand on his hip, kicked-up heel, a limp wrist holding a flower, a handkerchief draped in his pocket, hair done in a wave, and more than a hint of make-up on the eyelids and cheeks. Every sissy cliché known to man. Frankenstein’s monster overlaid by every remembered stereotype of the Widean aesthete.
No idea who Jim Jones is. This was from a section in “Help” giving new cartoonists a try-out. I suspect that this was probably passed because it met Terry Gilliam’s expectations. Harvey Kurtzman was the main editor of “Help” but gay stereotypes are absent from all the magazines he’d edited up to this date, he doesn’t seem tos how any interest in gay stereotypes in his own cartoons until a few years later.

by Edward McLachlan
in “Private Eye” 25 February 1972

I like McLachlan’s cartoons in general. Silly thingsa b out giant hedgehods, and a particularly suburban style of surrealism. Even if I hadn't got the original issue, "Hello Sweetie" would unmistakeably date this cartoon to some time in the earlier '70s. When McLachlan draws a homosexual, there’s usually a hint of lipstick/pursed lip and slightly effeminate eyes. (Examples 1 and 2)

A few humorists play off the idea, that in creating the perfect man, the doctor takes every aspect of the human form into account, and so we have a few cartoons obsessed by a particular aspect of the monster’s anatomy.
Looks size-queeny to you, looks gay to me. Of course, that both these specimens originate in the pages of “Playboy” may have other implications.

by Howard Shoemaker
in “Playboy” May 1977

by Sam Harris
in “Playboy” October 1980

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