Monday, 30 April 2012

392: Anita Bryant 8 - Mad Magazine 1

While from the hindsight of 35 years we can note approvingly all the stand-ups, columnists, talk-show hosts, comedians and sitcoms that criticise Anita Bryant, it can’t be overlooked that Bryant’s short-term goals were successful in overturning the ordinance and that many people supported her campaign and attitudes toward homosexuals. Where then are the humourists sympathetic to Bryant?

Where are they? They’re writing for “Mad Magazine”, that’s where they are. In 1971 “National Lampoon” had run an incisive parody of the older magazine criticising “Mad Magazine” as stale, clichéd and the prisoner of its own limited viewpoint. Seven years later and it had not got any better. Many of the writers and artists had been at the magazine since the mid-50s, and now they had become men in their mid-50s with the attitudes to prove it. Film, TV, and advertising spoofs and gags were still okay. Stuff about the petty banalities of daily life, and clichés about teenage life were still just about tolerable. But anything touching current youth culture or anything that was actually new and you could easily expect the same “Get off my lawn, kids” attitude from your aging uncle. The staff had set opinions on what constituted social hypocrisy and they were going to stick to it.

If “National Lampoon”’s pieces about homosexuality in the late 70s can be harsh at least they were informed about the issues of homosexuality and the lifestyles of modern homosexuals. “Mad” wanted to remain ignorant about homosexuals and didn’t wanted to be troubled by them either.

“National Lampoon”’s parody had included a brief piece about the social topics the magazine was largely ignoring back then. Ironically, this cartoon proves to be a fairly accurate prediction of “Mad”’s portrayal of homosexuals throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

“National Lampoon”, October 1971

“Mad” July 1978
Writer: Tom Koch
Artist: Jack Davis

It’s 1978, but Davis’s illustration of demonstrating homosexuals, their hats, their jerkins and jewelry would be more suitable to 1971 or 1972 – even by the mid-70s it’s rather dated.

“Mad” July 1978
“Mad’s College Concert Comic of the Year”
Writer: Lou Silverstone
Artist: George Woodbridge

This piece is far more telling. It’s a wholly clueless attack on George Carlin, trying to paint him as a hypocrite and also attacking his audiences as equally hypocritical. Carlin’s 1974 routine on homosexuality is quite positive and thoughtful. Here in this strip though the underlying attitude is that it’s impossible that anybody could be pro-homosexuality, everyone really agrees Bryant, and they’re all just a load of phonies.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

391: Anita Bryant 7: Maude

The Gay Bar” - 3 December 1977

Story by Michael Endler and Thad Mumford
Script by Michael Endler, Thad Mumford, Arthur Julian, and Bill Davenport

Maude Findlay - Bea Arthur
Walter Findlay - Bill Macy
Dr. Arthur Harmon - Conrad Bain
Vivian Harmon - Rue McClanahan
Mark Duncan - Macon McCalman
Hubie Binder - Larry Gelman
Phillip - Kraig Metzinger
Bartender - Frank Campanella
Man - Craig Richard Nelson

Part 1

Part 2

Maude is an outspoken, liberal feminist. Maude’s husband Walter invites their conservative Republican neighbour Arthur Harmon and his wife Vivian to stay a couple of days while their house is fumigated. Maude is upset because as far she is concerned Arthur is nothing but a “narrow-minded conservative” and his stay will mean nothing but arguments. Vivien tells Maude that she has instructed Arthur that he mustn’t raise any subjects that might start an argument with Maude. Immediately he bursts into the room shouting.

Arthur: “I hope you’re satisfied Maude Finley! A bunch of homosexual pansies has just opened a bar in Tuckahoe!”

A new bar has opened in the shopping centre. Arthur first thought it was a Mexican restaurant because it was called “The Gay Caballero”. Muade argues that gays are entitled to have bars and to exist. Arthur trots out the “If God wanted gay people he wouldn’t have created Adam and Eve, he’d have created Adam and Steve”.

Arthur refuse to leave as he has arranged for the new head administrator at the hospital, Mr Duncan to drop some papers off, and Arthur is angling for a new position. After Mr Duncan leaves, Arthur’s friend Hubie rushes in. Hubie wants to talk with Arthur about how they can using zoning laws to close down the bar. – “laws against immoral behaviour, laws against lewd conduct” while Maude protests these laws are outdated.

Hubie: “We have to think of the children….First it’s a gay bar, next it’s a gay geography teacher”

Arthur: “Teaching our children how to get from Tuckahoe to Greenwich village

Hubie and Arthur then start to plan a picket of the bar. When Maude says they’re harassing men sitting around innocently in a neighborhood bar, Arthur replies “Sitting around innocently? Are you kidding? Why, they’re in there dancing with each other, exchanging phone numbers, looking at pictures of Al Pacino!”

Maude says he’s ridiculous and asks if he’s ever been into a gay bar, since he’s ignorant of what’s going on. Maude challenges him to visit “The Gay Caballero” the next afternoon with her, and says this will prove that all his preconceptions are false.

Arthur “What does go on in there?”

Maude: “I don’t know but I’m dying to find out!”


Arthur enters Maude’s home asking Walter if his jacket is too butch for a gay bar. Walter tells him that Maude will be late and to go ahead and she will meet him at the bar. Arthur presses Walter to go with him. Maude’s grandson Philip overhears them mention “The Gay Caballero” and wants to know why they’re talking about a gay bar. Arthur is a little shocked Philip knows about it but says he’s going there because he’s part of a group that wants to close it. Philip wants to know why.

Arthur: “Alright, Philip, I guess you’re old enough to understand a few facts. Now. The first fact is gay people are….er, well, they’re Sick. They have a sort of a disease.”

Philip: “Is it a contagious disease? Is that why you want to close the bar?”

Arthur: (grasping for words a little)“No, it’s not contagious, really. But you see gay people shouldn’t be out at a bar having a good time. They should be at home. Alone. Being ashamed that they’re gay. Trying to get cured.”

Philip: “What’s the cure for being gay?”

Arthur: (pause) “Bowling!”

Philip: (perplexed) “Bowling?!”

Arthur: “Well it’s a start. These gay guys have to start doing something manly. That’s what brings them around.”

Philip: “I thought you didn’t want them around”

Arthur: “Philip, I seem to be having trouble getting you to understand the danger of this gay bar. What’s wrong? I’ve always been able to communicate with you”

Philip: “It’s not your fault Dr Harmon. It’s just that this year in school I’m taking a course in logic.

Philip leaves. Arthur drags the reluctant Walter with him, telling him, “You have to protect Philip against this pernicious, insidious sickness.”

Scene cuts to the Gay bar. There is a protracted camera pan of the bar to confirm just how normal the décor and patrons are.

Walter and Arthur enter the bar. Arthur immediately says, “Look at these people. It’s disgusting. I wish all their mothers would walk in here right now”. When Walter says they look alright to him, A replies “You don’t think look like us do you”. Walter points out a man wearing the same jacket as Arthur. Arthur says “He’s probably trying it on to not look like a sissy”

Arthur and Walter take seats at the bar and are greeted by a tall, gruff bartender.

When the bartender has his back turned Arthur says, “Do you see that bartender, he’s a flaming queen”.

When the two order Walter says he doesn’t drink so he’ll have an orange juice. The whole bar goes quiet and everyone turns to stare at him, and the bartender forcefully tells him they don’t serve orange juice anymore

When the bartender notes its their first time there, he says its full of nice guys, and they even have a bowling league (which makes Arthur choke). Maude enters, orders a drink, ands says it’s just a quiet, respectable bar, well-behaved customers. Arthur says he’s not fooled “It’s still early. After a few martinis, they’ll all start acting gay”

Maude: “After a few martinis, Anita Bryant would start acting gay”.

A male couple opposite Arthur are talking, and one takes the others hand and claps it to his cheek. Arthur is frantic, and in a panic grabs Walter’s hand to grab his attention, prompting Maude to dryly ask Arthur to take his hand off her husband.

Walter excuses himself to go to the lavatory: “I’m dying to find out what they write on their walls”

To prove gay men are like everybody else Maude grabs one of the couple and ask if she and Arthur can talk to him.

Arthur tells him: “I believe very strongly that people who indulge in strange sexual behaviour have no place in this community”

Man: “I see your point. But you straight people have to live someplace”.

Arthur: “My friend here has been trying to tell me that aside from sexual preferences there’s no differbnce between you and I. And I object to that, very strongly”.

Man: “So do I” (stands up. Excuse me I’d like to get back to my date.”

Arthur: “No matter what you say, Maude, these gay people shouldn’t be on display. They should be hidden away someplace, where decent human beings aren’t forced to look at them.”

Maude: “Like in a gay bar”

Arthur: “Yes (catches himself) No! The fact is there are laws that prohibit places like this. And this one should be closed down.

Bartender comes over, and A tells him they’re going to close the bar down because it is violating Tuckahoe ordinances. Bartender tells them he knows, which is why they’re not in Tuckahoe, whose borders end on the other side of the street. When he realises it’s legal, he backs down. Maude thinks he and his vigilantes are still going to harass the bar, but Arthur says he believes in the law and would never break it. Maude rediscovers he reasons for having him as a friend, since despite his bigotry and stupidity, he is a man of principles. When the two hug, the bartender admonishes them: “None of that stuff in here”

Just as the pair are about to leave Mr Duncan suddenly enters the bar. Arthur blusters, but Duncan tells him it’s alright “We’ll just make this our little secret” then turns around to tell the bartender he’ll have his “usual”. The episode finishes with Arthur looking dumbfounded.


This references Anita Bryant in a number of ways. There are a couple of jokes about Bryant. There’s the obvious joke by Maude naming Bryant. Then there’s the offended reaction by the bar to Walter’s drink order alluding to gay bars boycotting orange juice because Bryant was the spokesperson for Florida orange juice.

The whole episode though is inspired by Anita Bryant and her Save Our Children campaign. A story that was six months old, it would still be in the public’s memory but long enough to knock up this script. Arthur and Hubie’s homophobia is justified by protecting children hence the name of Bryant’s organisation. Like the Dade Country ordinance, Hubie and Arthur want to repeal the presence of the homosexuals by recourse to legal options.

What I have left out of my recap is most of Maude’s arguments in which she argues for gay equality, that gay people are just like everybody else and have their rights too. It’s good that such a strong argument is consistently put throughout the episode but there is very little that is actually humorous as it is all sincerely meant. If the viewer isn’t prepared to be convinced by Maude, there is the alternate avenue of being convinced of the irrelevancy of homophobia by Arthur who is the more interesting character here. It’s notable that he’s allowed to use most of the mildest gay slurs. However he’s also an arrogant, idiotic blowhard – a kind of upper middle class Archie Bunker (and this sitcom is produced by the same team as "All In The Family” ). In various ways all of Arthur’s points are refuted by the episode and it’s significant that he is defeated in argument by the small boy who he is claiming to protect. As Arthur is a recurring character, his bigoted lines are not delivered in a real tone of hate or ugliness which allows the audience to focus more on their stupidity and comic idiocy.

That the episode then actually visits the bar is fairly brave. Possibly one of the earliest example on US TV. The bar however, for ideological reasons, is the most normal seeming bar yet shown on TV or the cinema to date – hence most of my screenshots of the décor and patrons for reasons of comparison with other gay bars. No flamboyant sissies, no bitchy queens, no leathermen, no dancing couples, no drag queens, nor any shame. This repudiates all the curiosity that Arthur, Maude and Walter express.

Of course, anyone who has even the faintest awareness of formal structures in sitcoms, knows that once they’d introduced Mr Duncan, Arthur’s superior in the first half of the episode, once they all made the trip to the bar it was dead cert that he would make another appearance at the bar thereby turning out to be gay.

390: Anita Bryant 6 - Across the Dials

A few more spot gags from the time, with references to “Fruits”, “Fairies”, “Queens”, and an implied “Queer” (as a three dollar bill).


Johnny Carson:
(as Carnac the Magnificent giving predictions to questions)

Answer: 13 Queens Boulevard.
Question: Name an address Anita Bryant will never have.


Bette Davis on “Laugh-In” - September 5 1977:

“Anita Bryant has won her court suit to force Florida orange growers to cover their navels and quit pinching the fruit. The fruit was not available for comment.”


Frank Sinatra at Dean Martin Roast – 7 February 1978

“I love Dean Martin and if that upsets Anita Bryant then so be it.”


The Unknown Comic on “The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour” late 1977 /early 1978

“Anita Bryant drove her car across a river yesterday, yeah she didn't want to take a ferry (pronounced: fairy)."


Playboy - November 1977:

“The Treasury are considering introducing a three dollar bill bearing Anita Bryant’s face.”


Saturday Night Live Newsdesk Update:

1. Anita Bryant, former mediocre actress and orange juice promoter, performed coitus in public yesterday, and campaigned to promote heterosexuality. She and her husband assumed the missionary position for two minutes, then announced she is a citrusexual. (April 9th, 1977)

2. A report from Florida states that Anita Bryant plans to undergo a sex-change operation this Spring. The exact date will not be set until the popular TV personality decides which sex to change to. More on this story as it develops. (February 26th, 1977)

3. (after Bryant was hit in the face with a pie by a gay activist) Fortunately, Ms. Bryant, who was not injured, enjoyed a good laugh, and said it was okay if the assailant dated her husband.(October 15th, 1977)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

389: Anita Bryant 5 – Laugh-In

A September 5 1977 “Laugh-In” special mocked Anita Bryant. One of the sketches featured four Miami cops (one played by a young, then-unknown Robin Williams) changing into drag, singing "I Enjoy Being a Girl" and finishing by declaring, "We love you, Anita!”

Cops in drag may not be a terribly enlightened view of gay men. But the n the point of the sketch is to taunt Anita. Swishing it up to irritate the homophobes. Whatever you say gay men are, then that’s what we’ll pretend to be times two. As satire it’s in the in the category, of “You hate gays. Look, here’s some gays. Bet that sure winds you up! Ha ha – ha ha!”

Bryant seems to have been stung by this sketch as she revisits her resentment at Laugh-in’s treatment of her in her autobiography. Certainly the producers seemed to have viewed her as a gift for mockery:

‘Laugh-In producer George Schlatter, contemplating topics for the new version of the show to be seen on NBC, was quoted recently as noting, "You don't have the war anymore — but you do have Anita Bryant." (from the Tom Shales article on Johnny Carson)


"Anita Bryant is a walking punch line." says Laugh-In producer George Schlatter.

388: Anita Bryant 4 – Bob Hope

Johnny Carson’s equal as mainstream jester to the American people was Bob Hope. However Hope was even more of an Establishment comedian than Carson, conservative and patriotic. Because Hope was such a torrent of gags, most of his output in concerts and TV specials has dissipated, as ephemeral as smoke. In this instance he got dragged into the whole issue, and so his joke has become part of the record. Where Buchwald avoided any actual commentary, because Hope spoke out on the issue as a public figure, we can the consequences of his comments on his career.

Hope’s joke about the situation follows:

"There was an early chill in Florida and all of Anita's pansies froze"

It puts Anita and a less than flattering term for gay men in the same sentence, and that’s about all you can say for it. But then so do a lot of these Anita Bryant gags. Not exactly one for the ages.

Hope and Bryant had history, performing together in converts on various occasions in previous years. However, rather than keep quiet, Hope chose to criticise her in an interview in “The National Enquirer” in July 1977: “Bob Hope: Why I Don't Agree with the War on Homosexuals.” His first major statement on the issue was a conservative endorsement of gay right:, that sexuality (what goes on behind closed doors) should not be subject to prejudice a la Bryant’s Dade County motion.

Read the full article at:

In a later article syndicated in April 1978, it was obvious that Bryant’s supporters had taken offense at Hope, and led a successful campaign using boycott tactics. They cut up credit cards of Hope’s sponsor, Texaco. The company asked Hope to stop telling Bryant jokes and he agreed. Which again ties in cicely with Buchwald’s observations about the problems resulting from political opinions by commercial spokespeople.

On the other hand, gay men weren’t big fans of his “pansies” line either, as papers reported that one time at an appearance in Florida the gays protested so much he dropped the line

387: Anita Bryant 3 - Johnny Carson

This article by Tom Shales speaks for itself:


Tom Shales
Washington Post, 31 July 1977

Americans think the Alaskan pipeline is a klutzy farce, the neutron bomb a cruel joke and Anita Bryant a big pain in the neck.

These findings are the result of an analysis of the monologs of Johnny Carson, star of NBC's “The Tonight Show".

When you follow Carson's nightly topical musing religiously - or, let's say, loyally - you get a provocative picture of what a popular entertainer thinks it is safe to say about current events.

Carson is not on the cutting edge of social change or public attitudes, but what he says is barometric because he's so brilliantly expert at gauging and exploiting what the traffic will allow. In recent months his monologs have grown increasingly audacious and topical, and it's his handling of the Anita Bryant business that has proven most interesting to observe.

Gay rights activists said they feared a new era of McCarthyism when Bryant began her crusade against homosexual visibility. To the contrary, she may have unwittingly done them a favor. Carson and other comedians have turned her into a new symbolic stock comic figure: Anita Bryant has become the female Archie Bunker, a living caricature of abrasive bigotry.

The image of Bryant that emerges from the Carson monologs - repeatedly to the cheers and laughter of, one presumes, a largely heterosexual studio audience - is that of a prudish, self-righteous fanatic. Was the New York black-out an act of God? No, said Carson. because “Anita Bryant would never have given Him time off!”

In a routine about mock predictions for the future, Carson prophesized that this year, “at the insistence of Anita Bryant, the Muppets will undergo a sex test.”

He also promised his audience, “A little later on, Anita Bryant will be out here and try to knock off Truman Capote's hat with a Florida orange.”

The tone is not hostile, but clearly derisive. Other talk shows guests have spoken against her but not so effectively, because they all lack Carson's guileless credibility. Guest host Rob Reiner sounded nearly as self-righteous as Bryant when be implored into the camera. "Why doesn't that woman stop? Stop, Anita." This did get a big hand, however.

It’ s very likely that Bryant jokes will be particularly plentiful on the new Fall comedy shows coming up. They all did "Gong Show” jokes last year; they’ll all do Bryant jokes this year. "Laugh-In” producer George Schlatter, contemplating topics for the new version of the show to be seen on NBC, was quoted recently as noting, “You don't have the war anymore - but you do have Anita Bryant."

Pollsters could be more conclusive about this, but it does begin to look as though Bryant has solidified public opinion against what gay activists call "homophobia" more effectively and more quickly than any amount of homosexually generated propaganda could have done.


What Bryant and Carson may have done is help speed up the process that will allow television to treat homosexuals with the same disrespect it treats everyone else, which is in its way a kind of 20th century media realism, and perhaps even fair[…] and Anita Bryant, at least in the telltale monologs of Johnny Carson, has assumed the Earl Butz role of national village idiot.

Friday, 27 April 2012

386: Anita Bryant 2 - Oliphant

Syndicated cartoon, 5 July 1977

In contrast to Buchwald’s piece, this editorial cartoon by Oliphant is nothing but caricature.

A wild gaggle of effeminates, with curly hair (a very 60s carton cliché), earrings and swinging their handbags at a line of solid riot cops.

You’ll also note the subsidiary tagline from Oliphant’s little character at the bottom of the cartoon: “Whatever they are, here they come again”, which only confirms that gays are some alien other and the very idea of gays protesting is ridiculous.

385: Anita Bryant 1 - Art Buchwald

Anita Bryant was a singer who from the late 1960s onwards was then most famous as the spokeswoman in TV adverts for Florida Orange Juice. That was until 1977 when Dade County, Florida passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Bryant became the vocal leader of a conservative Christian family values campaign, Save Our Children (since homosexuals are sick sinful perverts who want to indoctrinate innocent children) to repeal the ordinance. Bryant became the nationally recognised face of anti-gay sentiments. This provoked an equally high profile gay rights campaign opposing Bryant and boycotting Florida orange juice.

Cover of "Newsweek" 6 June 1977

Bryant’s campaign to repeal the anti-discrimination ordinance was successful but in the process she made herself a national joke. As you can imagine many of these jokes are about homosexuality, and that’s where I come in, as an easy gag against Bryant is just as likely to employ an easy gay joke.

An early instance of this was “Anita Bryant’s Homo No-Mo” in National Lampoon, May 1977

Art Buchwald was a political newspaper humourist whose column was syndicated in American papers forever. Very lightly humorous to be honest most of the time, sometimes it was impossible to tell if he was treading water or if it was just a dead mans’ float. A humourist is a comedian who isn’t really funny may be an unkind but honest assessment, but most of the time he’s brief which is a small mercy.
Anita Bryant and the correlating suddenly vocal campaign for gay rights is the issue of the day. How to find a little non-controversial humour in it that won’t upset anybody’s breakfast reading?
So here Art is with his little thought piece attempting to essay a little humour from the precarious position of the Orange Juice industry in the whole Anita Bryant hoo ha. This column also make a nice introduction for all the jokes Bryant elicited, because Buchwald makes explicit that Bryant had become irrefutably associated with homosexuality in the public’s mind. Buchwald employs no gay slurs or stereotypes, and the whole column is an ingenious zig and zag away from the rights and the wrongs of the issue. Unless of course the mere idea of having a gay spokesman is supposed to be ridiculous in and of itself – a nicety that the passing of time has now erased.
Then there’s his final little fillip, suggesting on his exit line that he might even be gay. Oh you prankster.


“Orange Blues” by Art Buchwald
Syndicated late June 1977

Pity the poor Florida orange growers. They are caught in a quandary since Anita Bryant’s victory against homosexual rights in Dade County. The orange growers pay Miss Bryant $100,000 a year to push Florida orange juice, a job that she has done magnificently.

Anita Bryant meant orange juice and orange juice meant Anita 8ryant. it is this instant celebrity identification that sponsors dream of. When you speak of Bob Hope, you're supposed to think of Texaco; mention joe Namath and people are supposed to have a vision of pantyhose. Danny Thomas goes better with Maxwell House coffee; and. Recently, when you see a picture of former Senator Sam Ervin, it is hoped your first thought is of an American Express credit card.

The problem in Florida is that people now see Anita Bryant on television, the first thing that comes to mind is "gay," not as in breakfast but as in "homosexual”.

The Florida orange juice people are not interested in selling homosexuals. That's not their business. A majority, I would guess, are sympathetic with Miss Bryant's stand on the issue, but the trouble with fighting homosexuals is that it doesn't sell orange juice.

First of all, no one knows how many homosexuals there are in this country because, despite all the publicity, many of them have still not come out of the closet.

Secondly, there are no figures on how many of them drink orange juice. But there are presumably enough of them to hurt the sale of Florida oranges. A sudden switch to California orange juice by gay people in this country could cost the Florida orange grove owners millions of dollars.

At the same time, the Florida orange juice industry is aware that if Anita Bryant is fired there could be a backlash from the heterosexuals in this country who would boycott Florida oranges in protest.

There is a solution to the problem, which I hesitate to suggest, since I don't want to get involved in the controversy. But I will because I believe the Florida orange growers need all the help they can get.

What the Florida orange industry could do is break down its TV budget. Half of it would go to Miss Bryant to continue pushing Florida orange juice to the "straight" people, and half would go to a gay spokesperson who would appeal to the homosexual drinkers. It would mean cutting Miss Bryant's fee to $50,000 a years, so the gay person would get paid the same as she does. But at the same time, Miss Bryant would only be required to make half the number or TV commercials. It seems to me that this would satisfy everyone. The heterosexuals would be pleased to see that Miss Bryant was still selling orange juice, and the gays would be delighted to have finally broken through on big-time television. Florida orange juice consumption would have to go up because the TV commercials would appeal to everyone, regardless of race, religion or sexual preference.

Of course, the advertising agency for the Florida orange growers would have to find a gay spokesperson who could sing as well as Miss Bryant. But that shouldn't be a problem. Many of our finest performers come from the gay community and would be happy to supplement their income by doing orange juice commercials.

I would do it myself, but unfortunately I can't carry a tune.

384: Stars Wars 3

“Queer Wars”
Cheech and Chong

Gay Star Wars a la Cheech and Chong. There are at least three somewhat different versions of this sketch for your pleasure by Cheech and Chong: live performance, album, and film.

The version which most obviously starts as a Star Wars parody is the one on their 1980 album, “Let’s Make a New Dope Deal”. It opens with the following narration, which the other two versions seem to lack:

“A long, long time ago in a far-out Galaxy, somewhere around the year 2003 FM, there existed a pink planet which was inhabited by a most gay community and ruled by the popular actor-model-decorator-and-gossip-columnist Rex the Turd, otherwise known as Wex Da Toid. He was a bitchy Sagittarius and a drag out of drag, but a most kindly ruler, and life on this pink planet was fabulous: parties every night, steam baths, dancing at the discos, slave auctions, qualudes, grass, and cocaine was the order of the day. However, one day this idyllic paradise was threatened by the evil witch, Anita - ruler of the orange planet, Navel. Anita and her followers the dreaded Paranoids feared the pink planet and wanted to destroy it, wipe it from the galaxy, or at least move it out of the downtown area. But their efforts are being thwarted by our heroes, Lukie Streetwalker and his faithful companion, Dougie.

"Bum Productions along with the Kids Across the Hall Present:

"Queer Wars

"We find our Glad-e’ate-ums, Lukie and Dougie, at home in their apartment planning a surprise attack on the orange planet.”

So: topical references with the gay metropolitan clubbing lifestyle (heavy on the drug elements – this is Cheech and Chong, after all) and Anita Bryant, the orange juice spokeswoman’s family values campaign.

From there all three versions proceed into the whining, neurotic, over-emotional, petulant camp stereotype which is the late 70s /early 80s comedic formula for gay couples: are they lovers or just roommates going out to a disco – see also National Lampoon’s “Christopher Street” sketch and Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscapo in the Saturday Night Live “Dion and Blair” sketches . That the Tommy Chong character needs constant reassurance that he’s not too old, fat or wrinkled may be some sort of carry over from the characters in “la Cage Aux Folles” which was very successful as a film in 1978.

One line that’s only on the album version. Chong is complaining about his hair,
Cheech: Put some Crisco on it
Chong: (bitterly) That’s your answer to everything.

Live, 1978
I suspect they were proudest of the various gags built around the dildos as guns idea.

“Still Smokin” - 1983
In this film version, somehow the cliché that gay men dress flamboyantly has become gay men dress like circus clowns – more visual I suppose. A gays and Liza Minelli on drugs reference which may only be 6-8 years old at this point. And again, dildos appear, here used as depilators and deodorants.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

383: Star Wars 2

"Star Roars"

Mad Magazine, January 1978

Writers: Larry Siegel and Dick De Bartolo

So if C3PO is a camp seeming robot, how do we ramp that up for parody? Well, draw him with one hand resting on his hip and the other thrown out limp-wristed. Will that do? Let’s have him swish it up like an interior designer too. Although quoting lyrics from Kismet (“Take my hand / I’m a stranger in paradise”) , a musical that was then 25 years old, probably has more to do with the age of the staff at Mad, then anything you might expect even from the most musicals-obsessed gay cliché. And then just in case anyone, anyone at all, might be oblivious to the point this parody is making, they come out and say C3PO is a “fag robot”. That’s the punchline for this little bit.