My song today is “You’re Easy on the Eyes”. This song was co-written and recorded by Canadian country music artist Terri Clark. It was released in August 1998 as the second single from her CD, ’How I Feel’ and it spent three weeks at the top of the ‘Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks’ (now ‘Hot Country Songs’) chart, giving Clark her first Number 1 single in the United States. It was written by Terri Clark, Tom Shapiro, and Chris Waters.
This song is about what might be called ‘female eye candy’, a good-looking man all round. They are usually found in the six-footer category and need not necessarily be of the six-pack muscular type. The best illustrative male who all the magazines would select as modern-day eye candy would be perhaps someone in the David Beckham mould. For my part, I think he is extremely Adonis looking with his clothes on, but once I see his tattoo-covered body, I would most certainly place him in the ‘fudge category’.
As a person well acquainted with human psychology, were I a woman, there is simply no way that I would marry a man so dam good-looking that he attracts the eye of strange women wherever he goes. In my experience, working with the parties of many marriages that have broken down, when either the husband or the wife is the stunner in the looks department, their ‘easy-on-the-eye’ attraction proves to be the greatest problem within their marriage. Just as the message in one of my favourite songs says, ‘When you’re in love with a beautiful woman, you watch your friends’, then the same applies in the man department also. I see this song as having a similar message.
I have never had a homosexual thought in my head, but I have had several good friends over the years who were gay. I have often heard women ask, “Why is it that all the best men are married? I could as easily ask, “Why are all the most handsome men in the world and some of the best-looking women, gay?”
I was born in 1942 and grew up with women of my day swooning over a number of famous film stars who made them uneasy in their cinema seats as the main lady in the film was being swept off her feet by his irresistible charm. Many of these irresistible hunks to the heterosexual female eye, in later years, turned out to bat for the opposite team. For decades, the film industry insisted on their gay film stars ‘staying in the closet’.
During the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1920s, actors and actresses shot to fame, but only if they tailored their images to the demands of the big studios. For LGBT actors, that often meant disguising their sexual status from the public eye by marrying a person of the opposite sex.
The early 20th century represented a unique time for LGBT people in the country. Throughout the ‘Roaring Twenties’ men dressed as women, and gender non-conformity was not as taboo in big cities as it would be years later. Queerness could be appreciated on stage, but in the everyday lives of major stars it was often hidden in sham unions known as ‘lavender marriages’. These marriages were arranged by Hollywood studios between one or more gay, lesbian or bisexual people in order to hide their sexual orientation from the public. They date back to the early 20th century and carried on past the gay liberation movement of the 1960s.
‘Lavender marriages’ often became a contractual condition known as ‘moral clauses’ issued by big studios at the time. The clauses, first introduced by Universal Film Company, permitted the company to discontinue actors' salaries ‘if they forfeited the respect of the public.’ The kind of behaviour deemed ‘unacceptable’ ranged widely from criminal activity to association with any conduct that was considered indecent or startling to the community. These clauses still exist to this day.
One of the earliest speculated lavender marriages was the 1919 union of silent film actor and early sex symbol Rudolph Valentino and actress Jean Acker, who was rumoured to have been lesbian. Soon after they got divorced.
In the memoir of Scotty Bowers, he wrote that he had been sexually involved with leading actor Cary Grant and his roommate, Randolph Scott, for more than a decade. At the time, Grant was cycling through five marriages with women. Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant disputed the allegations.
Among the most speculated ‘lavender marriages’ was the one between the famed actor Rock Hudson and his secretary Phyllis Gates. They married in 1955 and separated two years later after rumours of his homosexuality and infidelity began to pile up. Despite the coverage and constant rumours, Rock Hudson never addressed his sexual orientation publicly before he died of AIDS in 1985.
‘Lavender marriages’ became less prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s as the gay rights movement gained momentum following the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Male and female film stars who traded and thrived on their screen and stage looks and who made ladies and men swoon both before they ‘came out’ or were ‘outed’ included heart-throbs like Marlene Dietrich who could make men go weak at the knees at the sight of a woman in a suit. We have Marlene Dietrich to thank for the promotion of living freely and fearlessly. She regularly donned pants and tuxes on the silver screen at a time when it was unfashionable to do so. She changed the way women thought about pants forever. She was also unapologetic about her love for both men and women.
Once considered the most beautiful woman in the world, Greta Garbo was legendary for her expressive face, her need for privacy, and her sexuality. During her lifetime, it was never quite clear just where she landed on the LGBT spectrum, but history remembers her as being distinctly queer. She reportedly played a bit of lover’s ping-pong with Mercedes de Acosta who would flee into Marlene Dietrich’s arms whenever Garbo discarded her. It has also been speculated that she had tender feelings for her childhood friend Mimi Pollack.
While film star Joan Crawford is most remembered for ankle-strap shoes, enlarged shoulder pads, and drinking 100-proof vodka, few of today’s modern movie buffs are familiar with the rumours surrounding her sexuality. It had been long been said that Crawford, who had a reputation for being something of a maneater, was bisexual. The jury’s still out on Crawford’s sexuality, but in the years since her death, it has been reported that she had affairs with Barbara Stanwick, Marilyn Monroe, Martha Raye, and an unknown actress by the name of Marion Morgan.
In later years we were to learn that the late John Lennon Beatles’ fame had an affair with his manager Brian Epstein, and for many years, the late George Michael hid his homosexuality until some investigative reporter caught up with him.
There have been numerous men and women of extremely handsome looks who have either hid or displayed their sexuality, which in my childhood days would have been considered deviant, even imprisonable, but which today’s more enlightened and more accepting society would classify within the LGBT spectrum.
The man who could be said to have had the last wicked laugh on his cinema fans is Cesar Romero. With a devilishly handsome smile and a towering height of 6'3", Cesar Romero was always poised for leading man status. The Cuban-American actor appeared on the silver screen alongside Marlene Dietrich and Carole Lombard and was a lifelong best friend to actress Joan Crawford. He became a living legend after playing ‘The Joker’ in the original film version of Batman (1966). What is not so well-known known about Romero is that he was gay. He remained in the closet to the public for the entirety of his career but was ‘out’ to friends and colleagues in the industry.
And of course, there are many heterosexual men who also fall into the woman’s eye-candy box, but the most handsome man is only too aware of this ‘pulling’ asset with the ladies and usually take full advantage of their attractive features. Today’s song tells us ‘Easy on the eye. Hard on the heart’.
Love and peace Bill xxx