According to wordpress.com, two people found their way to this blog by googling ‘jean claude van damme gay’.
I was morbidly curious how far down the rung this blog was with that search criteria, and ended up plugging ‘jean claude van damme gay’* into a search engine.
Immediately, I was sidetracked by Google’s ‘searches related’ feature, which included suggestions of looking up the sexuality of several other actions stars (Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Bruce Lee were all in the mix).
On one hand, I understand the curiosity. Looking back on 1980’s action films, there is a lot of hilarious, almost innocent homoerotic imagery. I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s entire career is built on the idea that he was an impossibly muscular human specimen; any movie of his from the 80’s inevitably showcases his body.
Schwarzenegger’s intro scene is 1985’s Commando is nearly a parody of what straight men believe gay men fantasize about.
Here’s this brawny, sweaty man, carrying a large chainsaw in one hand while a huge log is slung over his shoulder. I like stating the obvious: The chainsaw and log are both phallic.
Arnold’s not included with the popular search results, but I think he set a precedent that action stars of that era felt the need to emulate. Take a guy like Stallone. During the 1970’s, he looked like a somewhat athletic, even chubby guy in the first two Rocky films.
But after Arnold blew up in the 80’s, so did Sly.
Not only did Stallone’s physique improve, but so did the homoerotic undertones. No longer is it enough for chubby Rocky to be egged on by an elderly Burgess Meredith; now Rocky is on the beach, wearing short-shorts and sprinting against Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), another impressive human specimen. In the old days after a good work out, Rocky would give a thumbs up. In Rocky III, a good workout calls for a celebration; two men, leaping for joy and embracing, the waves crashing against their heaving bodies. Typing it out, it sounds like Apollo Creed/Rocky Balboa erotic fan-fiction, but it literally happened in the movie proper.
I can think of three films in which Arnold is shown nearly in the nude (the first three Terminator films). In the Conan films he wears a loin cloth. In Commando** he inexplicably strips down to speedos. Predator has perhaps the most homoerotic sequence of all time; a group of muscled hunks take off their shirts and grease up in order set up traps for the titular hunter alien. Suspiciously, Carl Weathers is involved again.
Not to be outdone, Stallone starting appearing near-nude in his films. Demolition Man and The Specialist (featuring a decidedly straight sex scene with Stallone and Sharon Stone that feels like watching your middle school PE coach plowing your mother***) offer up all but full frontal. A billboard advertising Rambo III infamously depicted Stallone’s chiseled shoulders and slim waist, with the caption ‘Rambo’s Back’.
And as a friend of mine pointed out, the opening moments to this trailer for Rambo: First Blood Part II is essentially, flat out gay porn.
Keep in mind that all of this is curious because it was largely done to attract the 18-34 male demographic. I don’t believe for a second that these action stars were being sexualized in order to rope in new female fans.****
So is it that straight men were sold homoerotic imagery of men before they themselves were sexually aware causing them to be curious about the sexuality of their action heroes of the past?
I suppose that’s reaching. I loved these films growing up, and never once worried about action stars and who they like to sleep with*****, and only started thinking about the concept when I saw how a couple of stray visitors got to this blog.
*I suppose by using the term ‘jean claude van damme gay’ frequently, I’m upping the chances of people stumbling onto this page while attempting to get to the bottom of Van Damme’s sexual preferences. Nice.
** Commando’s main villain is a guy that was apparently directed to act like Freddy Mercury.
*** Okay, maybe that’s just me.
**** All though it seems men are finally being sexualized in mainstream films in order to attract female audiences. RE: Magic Mike
***** I always thought action star sex scenes (or even scenes where these guys showed affection to women) were strange and awkward, though. Hmm.