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Modern Bears just wanna have fun, and that includes spoofing famous moments from our pop culture. Movies, celebrities, records, and more offer inspiration for what we lovingly call our “Bearodies.”
The camp film classic, “Valley of the Dolls” from 1967 based on the best-selling book by Jacqueline Susann. Originally released as a serious drama, now known for its over-the-top acting performances by the lead actresses, and the kitschy script with such lines as “Sparkle, Neely, sparkle!”
“Valley of the Bears” (2012) is our homage to the aforementioned film, featuring Chris Bale as “Man Wells,” Brent Cage as “Brentifer North,” and Travis Smith as “Neely O’Beara.” Perfectly captured by photographer Rand Thomas in a suite at the swanky Chamberlain Hotel in West Hollywood.
A film classic, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” elegantly captured New York City in the early 60’s, and featured the quintessential Audrey Hepburn performance, fashions by Givenchy, and an iconic movie soundtrack by Henry Mancini.
“Bearfast at Tiffany’s” (2013) features Travis Smith as “Pawdrey Hepbear” and photographed by Chris Bale in the same spot in front of Tiffany’s. The Bear’s version of Hepburn’s classic Givenchy ensemble included a rhinestone tiara purchased from a dollar store nearby, black work gloves, and a black wife beater. What you don’t see in this photo are the dozen Japanese tourists standing behind Travis photographing the photo shoot as it took place. “Only in New York!” they were saying.
MODERN BEAR’S INTERVIEW WITH PAINTER AUSTIN CALLOWAY began at dawn and felt more like a night out on the town then a morning of Q & A’s.
It went like this..
7:00 AM we met at Koffi, on Palm Canyon Drive, the fashionable ‘to see and be seen” hot spot of the coffee crowd. Austin was standing at the counter when I arrived, wearing his cowboy hat, worn ranch boots, jeans and an Allman Brothers tee-shirt. He sipped a cup of coffee, (he likes his black with a blueberry scone on the side.) and he gave a broad smile when he saw me walking his way. We sat outside gazing at the mountain, we talked about hiking, classic cars and growing up outside of California.
Coffee cups empty, we climbed into Austin’s truck and drove around Palm Springs pointing out our favorite mid-century architecture and each of us telling of our time and excitement over having the chance to walk through the Frank Sinatra house, a highlight as a part of living in Palm Springs.
With the sun warming, Austin turned the truck towards Indio and twenty minutes later, we wound up at Duke’s Bar, a dank dive with pink Christmas lights on a black wall, faded blue velvet chairs and pinball machines with the likes of Charlie’s Angles and Captain Fantastic.
“I come here to disappear,” Austin said, moving forward in the darkness. “No one ever finds me here.”
With a stack of quarters, we attacked the jukebox lining up a string of songs to play while we sat at the bar and drank ice cold beer and talked about music, our childhoods, favorite breeds of dogs (he likes German Shepard’s, Border Collies and Australian cattle dogs) we talked about many things, even the weather and so far, not one mention of art or painting. Then, half way through our breakfast beer, Austin pulled a stack of color sample papers from his shirt pocket, the kind you get at Home Depot and take home to see what color you want to paint your wall. He placed the cards on the table like a carefree fortune teller and said, “Pick one.”
I looked at him as he watched me. I looked back at the cards, yellow, red and brown, three shades of blue, and four shades of green, purple and grey. I selected a forest green color and sliding the card from the table, held it up. “This one.” I said.
A smile crossed Austin’s face as his eyes narrowed under a heavy brow. “A good choice.” He said, “Solid.”
He looked at me as if he suddenly knew a deep, dark secret that even I was not aware of.
“Let’s finish these beers,” he then said, “And go somewhere and have a drink.” And after another beer, we did just that. We left his obscure hideaway and headed back to Palm Springs, and then to El Tropical, where we slid into a booth. With no one around us and with Tanqueray martini’s and a warm, calming buzz, Austin removed his cowboy hat, laid it beside him and leaned back and then he finally said, “Let’s talk about art.”
So far, this had been my favorite interview. I opened my note pad, removed the cap from my pen and pushed ‘record’ on my tiny machine and I began.
“When did you first realize that you had artistic talent?” Was my first question and Austin didn’t hesitate with his response.
“My mom was concerned for a bit, when I was a boy… That I insisted on coloring outside of the lines. That I would draw over everything. She later realized that it was just me ‘creating’.
You are just a boy and teachers, people making a fuss over something you do. You think everyone is doing it and when you realize they are not, you take notice and look inside.
We had large farms in Iowa and Missouri and we moved around on these farms, switching schools. An art teacher in Missouri placed me in an independent art class my freshman year that set me on a course that followed me through all four years of high school. I would work along with the teacher at my own pace, but I sat in a class room filled with seniors. They would look at me and try to figure me out. In time I made friends I would not have made otherwise and this setting me apart affected not only how others treated me, but it focused my attention to the possibilities that I had something I might possibly want to pay attention to, my art.
We sipped our martini’s and I wrote out my next question. “What is your favorite medium of artistic expression?”
“Lately, I have been getting into wood,” we both grinned and drank.
“When I sleep, my dreams are often filled with bold shapes of colors and so I have been experimenting with that in my wood work. But overall it is paint. I love to feel the paint move. My favorite paintings are when I am lost in the passion of the moment and that energy comes across on the canvas.”
PASSION is a word Austin uses a great deal and it does come across in his work.
“I don’t care about capturing a perfect image of something, photography does that. For me it is about emotion and expressing that emotion is the only reason I paint.”
“Do you find that you go through phases with your art?”
“My work constantly evolves. It should, you are living, and breathing and your art should do the same. When I began selling in galleries in 1993, my paintings were contemporary cowboys and horses in vivid colors. The galleries that sold my work locked me into that format because it sold and they did not want to even see my other work or styles. I finally stopped painting those images, insisting on the freedom that I needed to create. You have to do what your soul calls you to do. Some collectors are confused by this and you lose them, others are fascinated and wait and want to see what you will do next.”
At this point, Austin moves his cowboy hat from his left to right side in the booth. He orders two more martinis from a passing waiter and I make a joke, asking him if he has a drinking problem.
“I wish.” He says, “This is a special day, can’t you feel it?” and he looks down at my notepad and recorder and so I ask my next question.
“If you could have the work of any artist to hang in your home, which would that artist be?”
“Van Gogh’s ‘White Roses‘ is a favorite painting of mine. What a beautiful work of art! I was offered a job years ago to work for Walter Annenberg , who owned that painting. It hung in their home throughout the season in Rancho Mirage and would be flown off season, to MOMA in New York City. I turned that job down but to have been his personal assistant and to spent each day in the same house as ‘White roses’ would have been exciting.
I love the paintings of Milton Avery, the feelings I get from his work and the American gothic paintings of Grant Wood. Growing up in Iowa, I was exposed to his work and I developed an admiration. All three of these men, I would be thrilled to own a painting by.
Our fresh martinis are set down in front of us and neither of us misses a beat.
“You have a wide range of styles. You could hang a number of your paintings side by side and you would not know that they were painted by the same artist.”
“I received a scholarship with what was at the time, Otis/Parsons Art Institute, in Los Angeles. They were joined for a time and I studied costume design for film, stage and television. It wasn’t until my second trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 93 that I returned to Palm Springs, went out one day and spent hundreds of dollars on paint, brushes and canvas. It was fate calling and I knew it. New Mexico has that power to connect you to your deeper self. It is the reason I had to move there, it called to me. Being a self-taught painter, you try many approaches and in doing so you are able to develop a variety of styles. Most artist lock into one, I haven’t done so, not yet anyway.
He takes a deep breath and I can see the cowboy in him growing restless.
“Just one more question,” I say, “What are you up to now?”
“Working on my next show.” He says. “I have so many ideas spinning in my head. I leave tomorrow for a summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts and I plan to work on new pieces there and I may place in a gallery. I am learning and looking into corporate sponsorship so that I may produce better shows and I have a museum concept show for a traveling exhibition that I dream of doing once I can raise the money. If you know of a corporation looking to sponsor, please send them my way. That has all been dreams and plans I keep in my head and I am surprised that I told them to you. We had better stop now before you ask the questions that I regret answering later.
“Perhaps I will ask those questions in our next interview.” I said with a smile.
“Perhaps. He replied.
As I closed my notepad and turned off my recorder, we stood to leave. Austin placed his cowboy hat back on his head and looked about the room.
“Now let me ask you a question.” He said, dangling his truck keys in his hand. “Are you okay to drive …. Or am I?”
Austin Calloway currently shows his paintings at DESIGN 849 and with the Woodman/Shimko Gallery in Palm Springs, California. Please stop in to see his work in person and on Facebook at: The ART of Austin Calloway .
In our continuing series of pop culture “bearodies” we bring you our homage to Farrah’s best-selling 70’s pin-up poster of all time – “Bearrah Pawcett!” No photoshop here, the Farrah wig, serape, and red wrestling singlet were all purchased on ebay. Modern Bear Travis Smith posed for photographer Leland Gebhardt and did his best to recreate the iconic pose but as he put it, “my belly and other parts kept getting in the way.”
The “Bearrah” poster is available from the Modern Bear Store: http://modernbear.net/?page_id=184
One of our fave vintage collectibles is futuristic toys from the 1950′s and 60′s. These were mostly produced in tin and imported from Japan. This was during the “Atomic Age” when design and pop culture were obsessed with all things “Space” related and looking into the future. And while these toys may fall into the kitsch category, that is why we love them – their naivety combined with that super cool 50′s Atomic design is irresistible!
The Ford Gyron was a tin battery-operated car made in Japan in the early 60’s. It was based on the futuristic two-wheeled gyrocar first shown to the world in 1961 at the Detroit Motor Show as a concept car designed by futurist Syd Mead. The car could run forward and reverse while a red light in the rear blinked on and off. A switch underneath the car raised and lowered the roof.
The “XP-1960 Dream Car” was produced by Mattel in 1953. According to the Mattel catalog of 1953, the car was available in four futuristic colors of Red Blaze, Chartreuse Dreamliner, Black Diamond, and Blue Bullet. It was described as “The only car of its kind in the world of toys. Low slung, impact resistant plastic body. Permanent, high gloss chrome trim. BOMBER BUBBLE transparent convertible top. SPEED STREAK friction motor. 4 futuristic colors. Individually packed in eye catching 3 color box.”
You can see the beginnings of a 1961 Thunberbird underneath all the “futurism” going on! This 1959 Meiko “Future Car” certainly had the fins for space travel!
This rare tin friction car was based on the popular concept car designed by the Lincoln division of Ford Motor Company. It was originally designed by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt and John Najjar Ferzely and built by Ghia entirely by hand in Turin, Italy, at a cost of $250,000 (2014 equivalent: $2,200,000) and displayed on the auto show circuit in 1955. In 1966 the car was modified by George Barris into the Batmobile, for the 1966 TV series Batman.
Enjoy this recent video of a toy Futura offered at auction:
Look for a future article here on Modern Bear on vintage Robots and other Space Age toys…
Modern Bear catches up with the woofy producer/actor/model Walter Delmar and gets the low-down on dating, design, and his latest project producing a talk show…
What does the term “Bear” mean to you?
“I categorize bear as in au natural. With minimal hyper grooming.”
What’s your idea of a perfect date?
“I always like to meet guys in a public setting even if I met them off of online apps. I love to go to hike or coffee so we can establish a connection. I’m not big in dinner dates or formality with dating. I don’t drink or party (but I still like to get ratchet at the bars and clubs) so that’s what I’m looking for in men. Someone who is alive and not checked out of life. I’m a no pressure let’s just see if we can connect as humans kinda man.”
How would you describe your personal interior design style?
“If it has an animal or natural vibe then it’s in my home. I’m not into modern cold pretentious decor.”
What kind of music do you listen to?
“I love edm trap hip hop rap 90s house when I workout or am djing but at home when chillin I listen to Americana and classic rock.”
Fitness Routine: “I workout 2-3 hours every day in some capacity whether it be lifting, hiking, Yoga, jogging, sex, dancing, kayaking, dancing or bike riding. It’s my way to stave off unnecessary negative energy.”
Occupation: “Producer, Actor, writer, DJ, Go-go dancer, server, bartender, personal trainer, single mother.”
Hobbies: “Gym, hike, writing, musicals, love, sex, prayer, cooking, did I mention sex?”
Guilty Pleasure Snack: “Anything baked! Yum!”
TV Faves: “Game of Thrones!!!”
Last good movie you saw: “I really enjoyed the ‘Wolf of Wall Street.’ The pace was great and the acting was phenomenal.”
Currently Reading: “John Grisham and Miracle of Mindfulness.”
Turn Ons: “Honesty, Loyalty, Spiritual connection, healthy, natural, wit.”
Turn Offs: “Addiction, weakness, doubt, self-deprivation (except in bed).”
Personal Statement: “Currently I’m producing the new gay web chat show starring Jonny McGovern (funny daddy bear). Check my twitter for episodes with Calpernia Adams, Alec Mapa and Detox.
Personal quote- “It’s all a dream you just have to be awake to see it.”
One of our favorite designers of the 20th Century is Russel Wright. He designed his personal studio and retreat, (christened “Dragon Rock” by his daughter) in 1952. Nestled into a rocky hillside among 75 acres of trees and woodland gardens, the house and studio overlook a quarry pond.
We love how Wright designed the house with expansive walls of glass, offering dramatic views of the waterfall and surrounding landscape. Their design recalls Japanese temple architecture and an Asian sensibility in handcrafted details and in their deference to nature.
Inside Dragon Rock, Wright intertwined nature and design through elements that included a staircase crafted from boulders, tree limbs used as uprights, and natural elements incorporated into wall coverings and other surfaces.
The property, which is also called “Manitoga,” includes 4 miles of walking trails that Wright designed, with numerous plantings. The trails connect with the Appalachian Trail alongside the neighboring ridge of Canada Hill in Hudson Highlands State Park via the Osborne Loop. The outer trails are open to the public daily until sunset for a suggested donation. Guided tours of Dragon Rock – the house, studio and inner landscape – are offered Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11am and 1:30pm by advanced booking.
Hi Rob and Alan, how did you guys meet?
“We were both in long-term relationships, which were holding on by threads. He was in a 13 year relationship, which had a 3rd lover for the last 7 years. I was in an 8 1/2 year relationship, which really never should have been. One day, we discovered our ex’s were online flirting and attempting to meet, so we agreed to all 4 meet up and see where things went. To make a long story short and leave out the XXX-rated details, Alan and I knew at first sight we were meant for one another. As for the others, not so much!”
How long have you been together?
“August 10, 2014 will be out 13 year anniversary. We were married last September 14th atop the Space Needle in Seattle, WA as soon as the government announced recognition of all same sex married couples from states which allow it, regardless their home state’s stance. Our decision to wed was naturally because we are madly in love, but had a lot to do with my recent terminal diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy and Congestive Heart Failure. I now have an implanted cardiac device, earning myself the nickname of ‘The Bionic Bear.”
Was it love at first sight or did it take a few dates?
“Indeed, it was love at first sight for both of us. I am quite an aggressive man when I see something I want and Alan didn’t stand a chance against my charms.”
If you are cohabiting, how long did you date before you lived together?
“At first, we moved into delegate bedrooms within our perspective homes. That didn’t work out so well and caused a lot of heartache for all, so we decided to move in together within 3 months of falling in love.”
What is it about your mate that attracted you so much?
“I was most attracted to his intelligence, independence and overall beauty. He was a man of flaws, but every one seemed hypnotic to me.”
Do you have common interests?
“There are very few interests we don’t share, actually! We have similar taste in home renovations, style, decor, food, music, men, etc.!”
Do you each have an interest that the other has none in?
“I am a Dominant Sir, into a full gamut of kinks. While Alan enjoys this facet of me, he doesn’t get into it himself. I am covered in tattoos and he has none. He prefers to blend in, where I always stand out. They say opposites attract, and we are the true living example of this theory.”
What’s the secret to your successful relationship?
“Complete honest and open dialog, no matter the topic not the time of day. We discuss everything we do: before, during and afterwards to ensure we are both on the same page and have each other as our main focus.”
Any advice for a dating couple?
“Make memories outside of the circuit scene. Relationships are built and nurtured far away from the dance floor and laser lights. Always put your partners feelings above anyone else, yet never allow your partner to hold you back from being yourself.”
I met my (ex?)-boyfriend of 9 months in Australia shortly before his 1-year visa expired. That time was a highlight of my life so far (I’m 23 and this is my first big love; he’s 30, and has been married before for a long period). Soon after, we had the exclusivity talk, made plans to move to NZ (where we both happened to have working rights for a time period) and go from there to start something together. After six weeks apart with him returning to Europe temporarily, I met him there. Feeling suspicious, I snooped on his phone and found sex-date texts. He admitted to them, but in the same breath said he wants to have an open relationship with me. I was shattered, but he eventually compromised and we made up.
Some time afterwards though, the open monster loomed again and after regaining my trust, he told me a month later (after much fishing) that he hooked up with a guy he met at a club while I was there, in the room we were staying in. I was hurt, confused and anxious. After another heated argument about monogamy, I decided to do some field research and try out my feelings with a random hook-up: I didn’t much care for it.
Since then, mostly from my side, it’s been unpleasant and distrusting. He saw how much “that one night” bothered me but never reassured me. Cheating was a conscious decision for me; I took ownership of it, whilst he always blamed alcohol or our arguments. He even still has the other guy on Facebook, sometimes getting likes. I found him very deflective: we ended up having bigger fights about me telling my friends about the sexting or how negative I became about our relationship post-cheating than about the issues themselves.
My “negativity” about the cheating is now the reason for the end of our relationship. He’s an excellent manipulator, and I obsess. Our plans have since been cancelled, but we both agree that we have a special connection. Is this worth pursuing, or is it just too messed-up (from both sides)?
Dazed & Confused
Dazed & Confused
Walk away, you have the bench marks for a toxic relationship. You want a faithful relationship and he wants an open relationship, and will tell you he will be faithful to end an argument and still go off with other guys behind your back creating the anxiety.
There is nothing wrong with a faithful relationship, and there is nothing wrong with an open relationship, however there is something very wrong with lying.
Chalk this relationship up as an experience, move on with your life. At this moment in time neither of you are going to change, and you both should move on. Put it down as a holiday romance, savour the good parts and realise that it wasn’t to be.
Give yourself a couple of years before reconnecting as a friend with him, if that’s what you want, anything shorter will only cause the ill feeling to bubble up.
The key indicator that a relationship is over is when people lie and when you talk to friends about your partners inadequacies and bad traits rather than talking to the partner in question.
Email your relationship or dating question to The Gay Dating Expert