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Gentlemen Prefer Rocky

By Andreas

Probably the most homoerotic sequence in any Hawks film is the musical number “Is There Anyone Here for Love?” [sic] that Jane Russell performs in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). Russell is surrounded by muscular men in briefs who seem to be oblivious to her charms (“Doesn’t anyone here want to play?”) but are very interested in showing off their bodies to the choreography of Jack Cole. —Vito Russo in The Celluloid Closet

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) is a cultural magpie, incorporating everything from sci-fi B-movies to Renaissance art into its DNA. It should be no surprise, then, that it steals liberally from the seminal ’50s musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Through some campy alchemy, Rocky Horror transmutes Jane Russell’s showgirl Dorothy Shaw into its sweet transvestite and mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter, as played by the inimitable Tim Curry.

The most obvious resemblance between Russell’s “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?” and Curry’s “I Can Make You a Man” is their shared obsession with muscular, scantily clad men. Both numbers casually objectify these men with their giddily horny lyrics, and Dorothy and Frank-N-Furter both have near-identical cocksure, lusty attitudes. You could easily see her line “I like a beautiful hunk o’ man!” coming out of his mouth with the exact same enunciation.

Granted, the numbers diverge aesthetically: “Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?” has a rigid pink/black color scheme and is mostly in medium shot to show off Jane Russell’s dancing, while “I Can Make You a Man” is much more stylistically haphazard, freely mixing colors and angles. But there’s one utterly damning similarity that sealed the connection for me, and that’s the strut. Both Russell and Curry strut and swagger in exactly the same manic, show-offy, ultra-confident way. They invite the viewer and other characters straight to their genitalia.

So all in all, it’s not surprising that “the most homoerotic sequence in any Hawks film” would influence one of the most homoerotic horror films of all time. (Give or take Bruce LaBruce or Clive Barker.) Tim Curry appropriated Russell’s musical/sexual aggression, then exaggerated it with his own tics and lascivious gestures, like those fuck-me eyebrows. Whether we’re talking about Russell’s slinky outfit or Curry’s glittery lingerie, though, there’s no question: they’re both seriously hot.

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Filed under Cinema, Sexuality