The Sun News Miami

Boystown takes its name from the gay area of Chicago, where I attended the Gay Pride parade in late June this year. This is a writing project by Jake Bondi, who has lived in Chicago most of his life except for four years of education at nearby University of Notre Dame. I also got to visit the university last month, and immediately recognised some of the sites and imagery that Bondi uses to such fine effect in his work.

Originally published online, Boystown has now developed into three books with more to follow. They trace the lives of an ensemble of characters, including three brothers. The books are not short on sex and violence, but they are crafted in such a way that these dramatic highs do not obscure the plot, which moves along briskly. Much like a soap opera, it looks at what 2 or 3 people are doing, then switches to what others are experiencing simultaneously. It sounds like a perfect idea for a TV show, a thought that Bondi in the process of making real.

“I am currently working with two great TV producers in Hollywood who are working to bring BOYSTOWN to TV,” he said in an interview for Sun News Miami.  “The series has broad audience appeal because everyone can relate to the characters and all they are going through.  Since the first book was published, readers have reached out to me to tell me how much they enjoy the characters and to ask what's going to happen next.  This connection with characters -- as well as the fast pace of the series -- makes BOYSTOWN perfect for television.  We are optimistic that BOYSTOWN will be on TV soon.”

 

I asked him how much of the material moving forward will be fan-driven.

 

“BOYSTOWN fans always have an influence on what is happening to the characters in the series, which is why I always encourage readers to reach out to me and let me know their thoughts and feedback.  While I do have the large story arcs in mind for each book ahead of time, fans can influence some of the twists and turns that occur along the way.”

 

Asked which of the characters he most identifies, with, Bondi replied “I think all authors put a bit of themselves into each of their characters -- and I am no different.  It's true that my dear friend Aaron Savvy inspired the character of Cole.  Like Aaron, Cole is a solid, outgoing, handsome, athletic, compassionate guy and I really enjoy writing him.  I think the character who is most like me is Emmett Mancini; we share many of the same attitudes and values.”

 

While the overtly sexual and violent scenes may grab the attention of the reader most, Bondi identified other aspects of the books as his personal favourites.

 

“I always enjoy writing the party scenes and the book-ending cliffhangers.  The parties are always special because they give me a chance to feature and celebrate some "real life" artists who have supported the series and are special to me.  Chicago trio Whiskey and Cherries is featured in books two and three -- they are talented performers that I met about two years ago and have enjoyed seeing perform in person over and over again.  Singer Amy Armstrong appears in book three -- and the sensational Steve Grand appears in the third book as well.  

 

“Steve has always been a role model and inspiration to me and I had the pleasure of meeting him in person this year on his birthday.  We chatted and had a great time together -- he's a wonderful guy and I am so honored that he gave me permission to include him in the book.  If the series comes to TV, I'd love to have Steve Grand write and perform the theme song.

 

The front cover of the Season 3 book“The book-ending cliffhangers are a pleasure to write because they are the finales of each book.  I try to leave the reader with a lot of questions -- and several characters' lives in peril -- to keep the readers coming back for more.”

I won’t give away any plot lines to spoil the story for those who have not read it, but I especially like the line “Black Friday is always full of surprises.” This ended a chapter where a guy named Ben had just seduced the mother of a guy who had just jilted him! That’s the gay version of revenge: sick and bizarre indeed! But so delicious you will want to read more to find out what diabolical plot Ben has in store next. I highly recommend this series of books.

Readers can contact Bondi and buy the book through his website www.JakeBiondi.com.  Autographed copies of the book are available at Unabridged Bookstore in Chicago (in person or through their website).  Books may also be ordered through amazon.com or bn.com.

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It’s been 44 years since the movie Love Story featured Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, and now we have those two iconic stars back again, right here in Ft. Lauderdale.

This time it is in the play Love Letters. The key word is love, and it was evident from the first moment they walked on stage together that this was a love fest. The large audience at the Broward Center did not merely admire these two veteran actors. It was love.

They did not disappoint with the sparkling script by playwright A. R. Gurney that premiered in 1988. It has seen performances by some of the greatest names on stage & screen, including Charlton Heston and Elizabeth Taylor, but with the backdrop of the movie Love Story on everyone’s mind, this performance was special.

The play does include some classic lines about the very act of letter writing. “I feel most alive when I’m in some corner writing things down. I love writing letters. I’m writing you - you most of all. It’s a present of myself to you. It’s not a phone call which is dead as soon as it’s over.”

This is the character Andrew writing to Melissa. She would never write that, because she hates writing letters. Why then, did she write letters to Andrew for half a century? Love, of course.

In the play, O’Neal and MacGraw never exchange more than a sidelong glance, except at the very end when she looks at him. With little movement and a bare set (just a table and two chairs), it can only be the power of acting that can keep an audience riveted for an hour 45 minutes. Even though O’Neal appeared to trip up on a couple of lines, MacGraw was fantastic and their verbal interplay was summed up by one audience member I talked to as “phenomenal.”

This is an intimate play, a very theatrical piece, and certainly would play best in a smaller theatre. A theatre manager told me after the play he would not have wanted to be in the upper balcony for this one.

This great arc of two lives, one destined for great things, and the other destined for misery, is a very special gift to anyone who sees it. Love Letters truly is a love story.

Love Letters is being performed at the Broward Centre through July 26, 2015

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John Sununu, a former governor of New Hampshire, was Chief of Staff for the first President Bush. On July 9 he gave a talk at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, and Sun News Miami was there to report on the event.

Sununu made the bold statement that the Bush presidency “was one of the most productive one-term presidencies we have ever had. I truly believe Bush’s four years was the finest single-term presidency.”

So why didn’t he win re-election? Sununu attributed it in part to the “Churchill effect”. He was referring to Winston Churchill’s defeat at the election of 1945, even before World War II ended. “Fast forward to Bush. We exhale and say it’s time for a president that will look forward. There was a wave of believing we no longer had to worry about international security. That was the psychology of the moment,” he said.

The security factor came into play because the Berlin Wall had fallen in 1989, and the Cold War had ended. Bush was identified with the past. Sununu also said “Bush would have won without Ross Perot” draining votes away from him.

Sununu said he took the title of his book from Bush’s 1988 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. In it, he described himself as “the quiet man.” The governor said Bush got that from his Mother, who told him not to brag. He just went out and did it.

She also told him “bend your knees when you volley.” Sununu explained that as meaning “there is a right way to do it. That defined the Bush I knew very well. He tried to get results and got them by doing it quietly. This book defines what I believe are his amazing accomplishments as president.”

Sununu said “Bush is remembered the most as being a foreign policy president. One of the reasons I wrote this book is to remember his domestic legislation. He did more in that area than any presidents except FDR and LBJ. Bush created budget surpluses in the 90s that Clinton loves to take credit for. Bush took the political penalty and gave the country what it needed.” Among other things in his talk at the Presidential library, Sununu discussed agricultural reform, a crime bill, immigration, the Nafta bill, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Brady plan.

On his biggest foreign policy gambit, the first Iraqi War, Sununu said that “when Bush drew a line in the sand he stuck with it.” This was a pointed jab at Pres. Obama, who backed away from an incursion in Syria.

He related an evening when Gen. Colin Powell visited the Oval Office. “He came in very serious, saying we need much more in terms of manpower. I watched Bush. When Powell finished, he said ‘If that’s what you need you have it.’ In my opinion it was one of the most important decisions a commander-in-chief has made since Vietnam. President Johnson stimulated an excuse for failure by giving the military less than what it asked for. Bush’s decision made all the difference in the world.”

On being chief of staff, he said it was not as onerous as many believed. “I had more fun at that than anything else I’ve ever done. Resources were virtually infinite, and I could go home at night with a cleaner desk than any other job I’ve done.”

On the 2016 Presidential election race, Sununu slammed Hillary Clinton. “She is not a good candidate or manager and certainly would not make a good president.”

His book, The Quiet Man: The Indispensable Presidency of George H. W. Bush (412 pages) is published by Broadside Books for $28.99.

An extensive TV interview with Gov. Sununu was done yesterday (July 19) in Boston. In it he talks about his book. See the interview at this link:

http://www.wcvb.com/politics/on-the-record-sununu-segment-1/34198390

 

Photo of Gov. Sununu copyright by C. Cunningham

For more about the Presidential Library, visit their website: www.reaganlibrary.com

 

Upcoming events include a talk and book signing by Vice Pres. Dick Cheney & his daughter Liz on Sept. 9, 2015

David Gegory on Sept. 21

Terry Bradshaw on Oct. 9

Craig Shirley on Oct. 14

Newt Gingerich and his wife Callista  on Oct. 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“There is no such thing as pornography in art, in my view,” writes Charles Leslie. “If something is brilliantly done, no matter what the subject, that equals art. And if there is a brilliant work of pornography, that’s art too!”

This large book is about the fascinating life of art collector Charles Leslie, whose Prince Street loft in NY City has been dubbed “Cock Central.” The author of the book, Dr. Kevin Clarke (director of the Operetta Research Center in Amsterdam), says “It certainly is art-in-your-face, and there certainly are as many contemporary penises on display as anyone could possibly wish for.”

There is a lot to take in here, in more ways than one.

First of all this is a picture book, showing not just the home of Mr. Leslie but many of the artworks he has collected over his lifetime (he was born in 1933). The Stonewall Museum in Wilton Manors recently showed some of this art, and that included a 1956 painting of Glenn Bishop by George Quaintance. I also mention this because there is currently an exhibit of Quaintance paintings at the Taschen Gallery in Las Angeles (it opened July 1, 2015).

Quaintance, in the 1940s and 50s, was an illustrator who set the parameters of gay art for nearly half a century. He explored the limits of the male physique before other artists dared to. Likewise, Leslie was one of the very few people who, in the 50s and 60s, collected art dedicated to the male form.

The second aspect of the book covers his entire life in a series of chronological chapters, showing what he did and who he had flings with. A sample of the chapter subtitles gives you an idea of what to expect: Boys in the Band, Phallic Fetishes, Fucking in Khartoum.

His relationship with his partner Fritz lasted nearly 50 years until he died in 2009. The museum they founded, the Leslie+Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, can now be visited in New York City.

Painting of G. Bishop by QuaintanceThe book opens with several chapters by authorities on art, and these are most illuminating. Elizabeth Raether, an author for Zeit-Magazine in Germany, says that “gay men have always had more nuanced views about penises than women. It was gay men who introduced the penis to the history of art, where it had long been missing.” She suggests that this is the “perfect moment in history for men to generally pull down their pants and expose themselves.” A view I entirely share.

James Saslow, an art history professor at Queens College and the University of New York, explains that “the prime mover behind Charles’ unabashed promotion of gay art is his equally unabashed pursuit of gay sex. Five minutes in the loft will expose you to more penises than five years in a nudist colony.” But most importantly he identifies Leslie as “a person without whom today’s queer art world, both local and global, might never have been born.”

An intelligently written account of the past 80 years of gay culture in general, and one life in particular, this book deserves a place in any collection of art history or gay studies.

There is one typo on pg. 113: “where” should be “were”

The Art of Looking: The Life and Treasures of Collector Charles Leslie (200 pages) is $59.99 by Bruno Gmuender press in Berlin. This is the world’s foremost publisher of gay-related books, and an excellent source for anyone who wants to add some beautifully produced volumes to their library. Visit their website: www.brunogmuender.com

Here is the link to my article about the exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale at the Stonewall museum earlier in 2015:

http://sunnewsmiami.com/lifestyle/gay-life/item/604-stonewall-and-art

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Most of the scholarly analysis of science and astronomy in Paradise Lost, for the past three centuries, has been written by literary scholars. In hindsight, this has been extremely unfortunate, as they have made a nearly total botched job of it.

The new (and correct) insights into Milton’s classic prose poem in this book by Dennis Danielson, a Professor of English at the University of British Columbia, must be seen first and foremost with this as a backdrop. Of modern Milton scholars who are not astronomers, only Danielson and John Leonard (a former president of the Milton Society) have achieved the expertise and wisdom to see previous scholarly books and papers for what they really are. Misguided is the kindest work I can think of. As an astronomer, my own work in Paradise Lost has not only solved the comet conundrum in Book 2, but has revealed several allusions to the aurora.

Like Danielson in this superb book, I had the sad task of highlighting the numerous errors made by eminent scholars in their reading of Paradise Lost. The author pulls no punches in this unpleasant but critically important effort. Here is one example from the book. “Typical of (to my mind) tendentious efforts to cast doubts upon the veracity of Milton’s claim that he met Galileo is George F. Butler” in a paper that got published in the Milton Quarterly in 2005.

Danielson devotes two chapters to Milton and Galileo. While Milton is the poet, Danielson offers us the insight that even scientists can wax poetical while conveying truths about the cosmos. “Earthshine is an interesting phenomenon on its own, but its cosmological implications are stunning. For it entails a Cosmos is which light travels a two-way street. Poetically, Galileo describes the phenomenon as constituting a kind of friendly commerce that also has immense consequences for humanity’s conception of Earth’s place and role in the Universe at large.”

Danielson highlights the confluence of thought in the 1600s when he quotes both Kepler and William Harvey, who discovered the circulation of blood.

In 1628 Harvey wrote that “The heart is the sun of the microcosm, even as the sun in his turn might well be designated the heart of the world.” Kepler said nearly the identical thing ten years earlier: “Most rightly is the sun held to be the heart of the world and the seat of reason and life.”

To put Milton’s cosmological beliefs in perspective, Danielson ranges widely over astronomical work done in the century before Paradise Lost was written in the 1660s. “One of the criticism of astronomers on into the seventeenth century is that they behaved like tinkers…Relative to the cosmological revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, I would suggest that bricolage may serve as a slightly more dignified term than tinkering or mere eclecticism.”

In this regard, Danielson calls out for special mention the work of Tycho, whose “proposed system was itself a piece of brilliant bricolage.” He refers here to the solar system envisioned by Tycho, a cross between that of Ptolemy and that of Copernicus. In this Tychonic system, both the Moon and the Sun revolved around Earth, while the other planets revolved around the Sun.

As Leonard showed in 2013, Milton espoused the Copernican, not the Ptolemaic system. Danielson uses that as the bedrock upon which to build the edifice of this book. Unlike most of the tripe that has been written for centuries about Milton’s astronomy and cosmology, this is one edifice that will weather the tests of time. Read this and, to quote Milton, “be henceforth among the gods.”

In an interview with Dr. Danielson at a conference a few weeks ago, I asked him what he wants readers to take away from reading this book. He replied that “an appreciation for how immersed and subtly immersed Milton was in ongoing cosmological debate in the seventeenth century” was foremost.

“I’m hoping first it really enhances peoples’ appreciation of the depth and richness of Milton. But secondly I hope that Miltonists and literature people reading the book will come away with a sense of the complexity and beauty and excitement of those cosmological debates in a way that they might not have before.”

Paradise Lost and the Cosmological Revolution (220 pages) is $95 from Cambridge University Press.

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The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida did its typically superb job in developing a theme that enveloped its audience in the ambiance of a different era. In this case they transported ones senses to the long gone (but not forgotten) romantic era of Broadway musicals.

In addition to the efforts of the chorus members, this evocation of the time when Broadway musicals really did create a “Street of Dreams” (the formal name of this concert) was brought to life by Ann Hampton Callaway. She brought her high-class lounge style of singing to such numbers as People (from Streisand’s Funny Girl) and Blues in the Night by the famed duo of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer.

She brought everything about the evening to a frothy lustre with her effervescent voice. Callaway told the audience Streisand is her idol, and she emulates certain styles of Streisand in her act. Callaway's songs are featured on seven of Streisand's recent CDs.

She also talked about how she writes her own lyrics, and this was highlighted in the second portion of the concert as she worked with the audience. Various people offered just a word. From this she created, live on stage, a song based on those words. It was a delight and very comical.

Callaway is best known for her Tony-nominated performance in the Broadway musical Swing!, and for the theme song of the TV series The Nanny.

Many were also looking forward to a solo by fan favourite Scott Hindley, but his solo portion of A House is Not a Home lasted barely 20 seconds. The second act opener Show People would have benefitted from a livelier performance. It just seemed a bit stiff.

The only significant problem with the concert was the sound at this new venue in Broward College, Davie. The sound was muffled. It was like the chorus was singing in a box. You could tell the sound was happening right there, but it did not project, and the various vocal elements of the chorus were merged instead of separated. One hopes the concert hall itself is not at fault; perhaps the mics were not set correctly, but Ann Callaway’s voice did project clearly. In any case the new venue offers a better and larger seating plan than Sunshine Cathedral.

For more about the chorus, visit their website: www.gaymenschorusofsouthflorida.org

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There was a double celebration at The Blue Gallery in Ft. Lauderdale this week. The Gallery itself was celebrating the move to a new location, at 807 E Las Olas. And to make it special, one of their featured artists, Davis Schluss was there. His art is all about celebration.

I asked him about the theme of his large canvases on display, including Glowing Ensemble, one of several works that includes a musical instrument.

"It is about togetherness, music, celebration, dancing and colour talking. The figures in the painting talk and are saying 'we enjoy every minute of it'. The instrument itself is celebrating with them."

Schluss works in a combination of acrylic and oil, but instead of using a paintbrush, he uses only his hands.

"With the palm of my hands I can get a play of light that I could never achieve with a brush. I start with the abstract, and figures emerge."

He earned his at the University of Sir George Williams in Montreal, and in 1983 opened a studio in Ft. Lauderdale, where some of his work appears in the Museum of Modern Art.

The Blue Gallery also has a showroom on Atlantic Ave in Delray Beach. For more information visit their website: www.bluefineart.com

or phone: 954-764-6044 in Ft. Lauderdale.

Glowing Ensemble measures 72 x 48 and is priced at $27,000.

 

 

 

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The Sun News Miami is proud to publish this major expose on gay porn, written by Ric Reily, with Jonathan Nicholes

 

Working On Call – Gay Pornography in Florida

Having a preconception can be a dangerous thing. What we know can serve to simply expose that which we don't know, and then often in ludicrous terms.

What I knew about the gay porn, modeling and escort business before researching and writing this article was very little. My preconception was that of a seedy business, one often maligned in the press and movies. Yet, for all its preconceived faults the industry has survived in its various forms throughout history and with the advent of technology and particularly the Internet, has flourished.

According to a 2008 study by the Rochester Institute of Technology internet pornography generated over $3,000, 28,000 viewers, and 400 searches, every second, every day. Every forty minutes a new porn video is created in the USA. The USA is only the fourth largest consumer of porn, out sexed by China, South Korea and Japan. In that same year Internet porn generated more revenue worldwide than the top eight technology companies including Google, Apple, Yahoo, AOL and others, combined. In the USA porn generated more revenue than the three largest TV broadcasters, combined. Approximately eighty percent of all porn web pages are hosted in the USA. A quarter of all Internet searches are for porn. Internet pornography is big business.

A breakdown of hosting of porn websites by state.Conservatives are the biggest consumers of pornography, eight of the ten states that consume the most porn voted for McCain. Utah consumes more pornography than any other state in the union. It is an open secret that many regular consumers of gay porn are women and straight men. Of gay men most porn is consumed by the 35-44 age group. Within that group there is a direct correlation between income and consumption with those who earn more watching more gay porn.

Gay porn actors, actors you will meet later in this piece, perform very much in a sexual manner, even achieving a certain level of intimacy with their partners off the set; they are all gay. Some gay porn actors are straight or bi and gay for pay. They easily perform the scenes as completely not sexual but as purely mechanical.

Many of the gay porn actors I spoke to enjoy their work. They feel much more an actor than a prop and their work has a positive impact on their lives. Acting in porn can be a big self confidence boost and when you come from low self esteem that's a real improvement. In addition, porn requires a certain physique and getting and keeping that physique can lead to a long term commitment to health and exercise they did not have coming into the job.

A real downside to the job is age. Porn acting is mostly for the young and though many are not afraid of aging they know there is an end and are happy to have had the experience while young. As one said offhandedly, “it's fun, we don't take things seriously at all”.

How does a kid from the Midwest, or anywhere of that matter, get into porn? It's easy if you happen to live in California where the preponderance of production companies are located. There are upwards of five hundred production companies in the San Francisco Bay Area alone.

Porn actors who come from obscure out of the way places all across the country find the road to porn, modeling and escorting is much different. These kids need a manager, a guy like Uncle Mike with Orlando Models.

Uncle Mike, The Porn King

 

For many years I have carried a clear and distinct impression of the gay porn business. I had the image of young, perhaps too young, emancipated to starving hairless pink boys lying about after dosing up until pressed in front of a camera for another shoot. The porn king was obese, grotesquely sweating and leering at the action as the boys preformed.

Uncle Mike with Orlando Models is the glue that keeps his whole enterprise working. On first blush he fits the preconceived porn king stereotype. Obese, in his own word, he has a baldish pate with unruly and untrimmed hair encircling his head above the ears. After fifteen years of providing magazines with photographs and more recently websites with video he looks his part. Starting with Polaroid instant photos the media has moved through various iterations, currently a HD digital file. Uncle Mike is a kind and gentle man who in all his disorganization truly seems to care for his flock and want the best for them. In a different lifetime Uncle Mike was in law enforcement.

Young men in bondage scenesAlong with Tanner, his director and producer, Uncle Mike manages a porn production company with a focus on young men in bondage scenes. A big management part of the business is acquiring the porn actors and Uncle Mike has tuned a system over the years. The real challenge with porn actors is getting them to FL and providing them a place to live. Most arrive with little or no money chasing a dream of throwing off their old lives in pursuit of a new one chosen though not yet experienced.

Facilitating the flow Uncle Mike maintains a model house, and it isn't the best house in a new development. At any given time there are two to three porn actors in residence though often the number can quickly grow to six. On average a porn actor will stay in the model house for about three months. After that time most have found a solid footing on which to move out or have decided the trade is not for them and returned to a more familiar place.

New porn actors are instilled with Uncle Mike’s code, certain rules that establish a workable civility. Bringing in a certain type person helps establish personal caring and support by each porn actor for others. They all share cooking and cleaning while Uncle Mike provides the food.

Acquiring new porn actors is an ongoing effort for the porn king. He actively pursues social media sites, such as Facebook, and escort sites for prospects. Beginning with an instant message or email conversation he might spend a year or more communicating with a prospective porn actor before both he and the prospect are ready to meet. Prospective porn actors are those with a settled demeanor, a high level of interest in setting a new life direction and a willingness to abide by Uncle Mike’s rules.

His offer of employment includes transportation from the prospects hometown to Orlando which depending on distance is typically via air. Approximately sixty percent of those who commit to the trip actually arrive. Uncle Mike has no interest in those who are saddled with drama and he has zero tolerance for drug use or alcohol in the house. If the wrong porn actor is chosen, Uncle Mike immediately returns him to the airport and sends him back from whence he came.

Ninety percent of the boy next door type porn actors come to the model house with no experience. They are required to use condoms in all their sexual activity both on camera and off. Each arrives in Florida for a different reason though earning money is always a common theme of their lifestyle transition. Shoots pay between one and three hundred dollars. Once settled in most porn actors get additional employment dancing in clubs, webcam modeling, escorting or a typical part time job.

As one might suspect a model house will come under the scrutiny of neighbors. Neighbors can be expected to become incensed about it, which in Uncle Mike’s case they did. In his case their anger resulted in police surveillance and ultimately a raid by several law enforcement agencies including code enforcement. They found nothing untoward though they charged Uncle Mike with running an unlicensed halfway house. The Sheriffs Department spent the next several months keeping an eye on the house from down the street. Attorneys finally got law enforcement to back off with a series of legal efforts. There have been no new problems in the past four years, apparently judges like their porn, too.

No filming is done in the model house. Filming is done at a local dungeon and at private campgrounds for outdoor shoots. Shooting is done in twelve minute episodes edited to ten minute pieces shot in one to five hour sessions. Updates are done weekly to the Orlando Models web pages badboybondage.com and badboysbootcamp.com.

The Model House

Animated conversation filled the car leaving the airport; new acquaintances have a great deal to say in a short time. The ride wore on along congested arteries that probably made sense to the locals but tore away any semblance of orientation to the newcomer. Mile after mile strip malls filled with subsistence businesses were broken only by traffic signals. Turning left into a side street brought a distinct comfort with its quiet. The quiet only served to set loose a queasy stomach in anticipation of what was today’s final destination.

Rounding the corner into the cul-de-sac his eye roamed first up one side of the street then back down the other. Finally the end of a long day of travel was coming to a close as he rode along to his new home. A new home sans everything and everyone he has ever known, exchanged for the hope and dream of a new life. Unable to choose which house on the street lined with attractive suburban homes was his new home, the car pulled into a driveway.

Inside the place appeared in complete disarray. Uncounted dogs barked incessantly. The living room contained two beds, a TV and the debris of two young men living out of suitcases. Food packages, soda containers, and dishes covered most surfaces of the kitchen.

A family room opening onto a pool area was the most welcoming of the rooms. Two couches filled a corner with a broad square table in front of them. A big old projection television stood near one wall visible from any seat on the couch. Uncle Mike rattled off the house rules.

“Pick a place to sleep, one that is not already claimed. There may be a bureau for your things, or just leave them in your suitcase. No alcohol is permitted, none, ever. You bring it here you are out. No drugs are permitted, none, ever. You bring any here you are out. We don't shoot in the house and you don't bring customers here.

“We grocery shop once in a while and share the cooking and cleaning. I buy the food, you can contribute. Laundry gets done when someone needs it, the load usually contains something of everyone’s; you’ll find it dumped on the couch to take what’s yours.

“We live quietly. The neighbors are aware of who we are and what we do and many are unhappy or overly sensitive to that. Most of the other boys don't have a car either so there is a good deal of walking. When you walk through the neighborhood be quiet, especially at night and especially if you have been drinking. Always be respectful to any neighbors you meet; we need all the good will we can get.”

Hanging out with the other boysDepending on the shooting schedule the first scene might be a week or ten days away. Time in between is hanging out with the other boys, getting oriented and setting up an escort profile.

Several years ago several law enforcement agencies raided the house after keeping it under surveillance for some time. They didn't know what they were looking for so they focused on child pornography and drugs. Finding none of either or anything else that interested them they have limited their harassment since. Sometimes they even give the porn actors a ride at night. Perhaps policemen like their porn too.

Uncle Mike led the way through the rest of the house showing off his bedroom and two others. His was off limits with a solid door and secure lock. The other two each contained one queen size bed along with miscellaneous furniture. Two boys shared each bed.

With his job done, Uncle Mike retired to his room leaving the new boy to the others. They proceeded to orient him to the real rhythms of living in a model house. The de facto leader of the band of young men living in a suburban Florida house acting in gay porn movies took the new arrival aside, led him to his room and performed the real orientation. Each new arrival finds a certain comforting commonality there.

Uncle Mike and the reigning senior porn actor who has held on for several years in an environment where most last a few months share commonalities. They are with the passing of years partners, non sexual partners even best friends no matter their differences. Information is held close, their location a difficult detail to be entrusted with; a certain suspicion holds their eyes askance, their trust in reserve, their reticence to openly communicate readily apparent. Like they have something to hide, though what they do is openly available to anyone with a computer and internet access.

The model house is a conundrum of noise and confusion delivering a certain sense of comfort to the new transplant as no matter the state of the place it serves as a refuge from a past life now left behind.

Justin Becomes a Porn Actor

Life grinds away slowly in religious Eastern Oregon homes; especially when a kid has the big secret. When Mom listens intently to Rush Limbaugh all the while silently nodding affirmatively, the kid knows this is not an announcement that will go over well. A sister outed Justin to his parents after her confessional priest demanded she do so. Dad kept it simple “get out, and stay out until you are no longer queer”.

Justin, 25, originally hails from Oregon and lived for a time in Eastern Washington mostly as a first trial run away from home and family and an anonymous place to explore his newly found sexual orientation. Portland lured him for college and he worked as a chef before moving to Boise in hopes of reconnecting with family. Thankfully gays are not limited to families of blood; we make new family always and wherever. Justin's family remained as bitter at his homosexuality as the day they slammed the door of the family home on him and the Catholic Church excommunicated him.

Justin first had sex, and that with a woman, while in college; he was a late bloomer. A pair of male twins provided the first gay sexual experience, severing his interest in women and propelling Justin faster along the road to understanding himself.

Like most gay men Justin is in search of his life partner. Though there is a certain disconnect between escorting and coming home to dinner.

Severance from family is often the most traumatic result of coming out. The first Christmas after his expulsion Justin returned to the family home gifts in hand only to be met at the door, relieved of his burden and directed to the back yard where he could see his father. An elder brother, married with kids allows visits as long as “you don't look gay”. In all his blood family only his grandparents have embraced him.

Being alone, broke on the street is by no means a uniquely gay condition though far too many gay youth do their penance there. In Boise he encountered an accepting community, found a cause in Add The Words Idaho and employment in his chosen profession. Life in Boise was comfortable in those three years though he did not find contentment or fulfillment.

Uncle Mike, owner and manager of Orlando Models, made contact with him. Over the course of a year they chatted periodically via social media sites. Uncle Mike was ready for Justin much faster than Justin was ready to upturn his life.

Most life changing decisions are helped along by external forces. Unemployment, lease renewal approaching and a little cash in hand helped Justin to commit to his decision to leave all he knew for a world he could only imagine. Committing and acting in the same week leaves little time for reconsideration so the decision to become a porn actor, model and escort brought only mild apprehension, a certain excitement and a terrible case of butterflies in the stomach. There was no question about the decision and he would do the same again.

Those butterflies took him all the way to the airport where he spent his last twenty five dollars checking one of his two bags that now contained his entire life. The flight took him from Boise to Phoenix and then a great leap across America to Orlando, where Uncle Mike met him at the curb and they drove to the model house. In that car trip those butterflies yielded to freeing excitement tinged only mildly by lingering apprehension.

That lingering apprehension was centered on the last stop, the house; fully committed now he could only wait for the last corner to be turned to get his first sight of his new home. Disappointment was the first impression. Though it looked ok from the street the house inside was a wreck and disorganized. That first night Justin slept in the living room, and then he moved into a room with another boy. Now they share a bed.

Life in the model house can be crowded, noisy, and disorganized. And, at the very same time provide an environment conducive to merging the mutual commonalities of disparate though similarly focused young gay men.

Lukas Joins in Also

Lukas is a beautiful young man, a mix of a Caucasian and Native American mother and African American father. His unblemished skin is the color of rich maple syrup darkened further on exposure to sun. His eyes are a stunning green against bronze skin providing a gateway to a charming, intelligently funny, quick witted mind ready to delve into any subject that arises. He stands tall, slender and straight casually attired. His is one of those presences that cause eyes to turn and follow.

One of those presences that cause eyes to turn.Lukas, 22, grew up one of four boys in London, OH. By eight years old he knew he was gay when he took a dare to kiss a boy at school. The kissed boy was startled, almost as much as Lukas was pleased and the instigator surprised his dare was taken and acted on. The kissed went home to alert Mom who alerted the school who alerted Lukas’ Mom who ignored the incident for what it appeared a childhood prank.

He became sexually active in his early teens after his parents divorced and a move from sleepy London to live with his father in the big city of Columbus.

A self kept journal served as Lukas’ outlet in the absence of a deep paternal or fraternal relationship and also served as his outing when at fourteen a big brother took and read the journal and proceeded to share it with the family.

Dad was accepting though Mom scolded him severely after reading his journal. In punishment she made Lukas read the bible. In addition she grounded him for the entire summer or until he was no longer gay. His grounding ended when she kicked him out of the house at age fifteen. Lukas lived in a group home for a year until extended family rescued him.

High school yielded good grades and found him living with an uncle and aunt. They cared enough to keep him focused and prepare him for his stint at the Ohio State University where he recently completed his third year studying architecture. Those three years have saddled him with fifty three thousand dollars of student debt.

While still in high school Lukas was contacted by Uncle Mike exploring his interest in doing risqué modeling. They spent three years periodically chatting about modeling prior to Lukas finally making his decision. Leaving OSU with a year to go, with plans to enroll in a Florida university to finish his architectural education, he accepted Uncle Mike's airline ticket and offer of housing and flew out of Ohio and the life he had always known to Florida and a life he could only imagine.

Leaving Ohio for Florida simply for a change, an opportunity to remove himself from a less than supportive family to give himself room to grow came easily to Lukas in the end. Without regret he would do the same thing again.

The commitment to his decision and his continuing comfort with it arises from the support he has received from Uncle Mike, the other porn actors in residence and the surprising speed with which he has achieved his goals. One customer has been particularly valuable in helping him get quickly on his feet in his newly chosen home.

Lukas believes his initial success, and his ongoing escort business focus is unique. His personalized approach minimizes physical sex to the benefit of personal services. His willingness to engage customers on an intellectual and emotional level often at the expense and certainly as a primary precursor to physical activities sets him apart. With a knowing grin he suggests his morality gets in the way but won't doom his business.

Focusing on escorting has worked well for him though he is ok with acting in porn shoots. Lukas prefers escorting to filming. Filming is chaotic, time consuming with a great deal of down time and waiting and doesn't pay particularly well. Film has the added liability of remaining forever, while escorting is generally with people on the download low who don't want to be known.

It is easy to see Lukas as a business man. He plans on escorting, filling in with acting in films, for four months before getting a mainstream job. The plan includes keeping his best one or two customers even with that job.

The football jockThough he lost his virginity on his sixteenth birthday to a football player on the high school football field after the homecoming game, Lukas wants a life partner. He also knows it will be difficult to impossible to achieve that goal while his primary occupation remains escorting. That mainstream job becomes a critical part of his life plan.

Several months have passed since my initial interview with Lukas and I recently had the pleasure of meeting him again. He was proud to announce his plans are on track, he no longer performs in gay porn shoots, has two regular escort customers and recently started a full time job in the tourism industry.

Shooting Gay Porn

Justin is restrained, naked, and flat on his back on the table. Each extremity points at a corner, wrapped in a wide black leather cuff connected to a turnbuckle linking a heavy chain that runs off the edge.

Lucas has done the deed, preparing Justin for a pornography shoot featuring erotic tickling. The stage is set, lit from all sides with set lighting, the table holding Justin backed into a white painted corner. Three cameras run marked only by a silently blinking red indicator light on each.

Tanner monitors the three cameras fixed on tripods at strategic points focusing on the scene. He has to be certain that each is recording and the video is of good quality. One needs an adjustment and he moves it a few inches to remove a shadow on the table.

Uncle Mike sits on a chair watching but detached from the activity. He has filmed so many of the scenes he seems barely interested and I wonder if he will even remember filming the scene two weeks from now. Tanner’s call to the porn actors to go ahead brings Uncle Mikes’ attention back to the set.

Brian steps out the shadows stopping aside Justin on the table as Lukas assumes his position on the other side. Together, slowly, both put both of their hands on Justin’s flat belly. Slowly, they begin caressing.

Justin’s breath comes faster. He holds his belly ridged refusing to allow the sensations to reach his brain. The other two lift their palms leaving only their finger tips in contact with Justin.

He begins to struggle as the fingertips probe his belly and around his waist. Wriggling against the restraints yields little relief and again he tries to detach the tickling from reaching his brain.

Lukas and Brian alternately lighten and deepen their touch, speed up and slow down their motions and move from belly to chest, legs and feet. Justin is in full flail being relentless tickled by four hands attached to two naked male hunks.

Not that Justin sees either of his tormentors as his eyes are crushed shut, his breath is roaring in and out and his body is spasmodically contorting bouncing from side to side head to toe straining his restraints. Chain rattling is drowned out by Justin’s cries, pleading for his tormentors to stop the torture. One does stop, only to begin stroking and massaging bringing Justin closer and closer, as Lukas continues to tickle.

The money shotAs Justin tires the scene slows, a full on sex scene ensues. The three porn actors stretch out the scene to its prescribed length of twelve minutes and end it in true porn fashion. The money shots are captured.

Lukas unbuckles the restraints freeing Justin. Brian offers him a hand and with cocked elbow leans back to pull Justin to sitting. He swings his legs to the floor and stands. The three remain a group quickly moving from the completed scene to chattering about an escort customer Lukas has later.

Tanner takes down the cameras packing them each carefully into their carry cases. He dismantles lighting and collects power cables. The restraints need to be collected.

Uncle Mike sits as before on his chair, happy the work is done. Getting three gay porn actors to the same place at the same time is a good start. Getting excellent quality, fully engaged acting on video is his business.

Online Webcam Modeling

Online webcam modeling is more socially acceptable than escorting by both customers and models. There is a real distance between the model and his audience, unlike an escort who is likely to be far more intimate with his customer. Both buyers and sellers consider escorting a seedier business. Online is obviously safer with no physical contact, models don’t meet their customer in person.

Zakk Matthews is a live online webcam model on flirt4free.com. Though he hails from a supportive family, one of the few porn actors I have met who does, Zakk takes advantage of limiting features of the cam site and blocks his state of origin as well as several other states where family friends live. He would rather Mom and Dad not take in a show.

Online webcam customers view a model doing everyday activities such as studying, sleeping, house cleaning and chatting. Or, even more intimate activities when the model is successful at getting his viewers to ante up the fees for a private show.

Website rules preclude nudity in public chats. A model must at minimum wear underwear. Only in private shows may a model show it all.

In public view everyone sees the same video and chat though a customer can Whisper the model by private chat for free. The model can respond privately to a viewer in a Whisper and generally a Whisper is used to set up a private show.

A private show can be purchased by an individual customer or by a group of customers who get together to cover the stated cost of the show. These rates are set by the model and a successful model rakes in tips in addition to the fee. In a private show the model doesn’t see the customer and each customer makes his requests for specific activity, special performance, or fetish behavior via text chat. Customers can hear the model’s voice though they can not speak to the model.

Public viewing, as the website name promises is free. Private shows and texting the model is charged by credits per minute and customers can send tips to see more. Credits are purchased from the website. Similar to any time based business the webcam model attempts to keep his customer interested as long as possible. The longer the private session, the more credits transfer from the customer to the model. The trade off is that the customer may give up and leave while the model drags out his performance. Keeping the customer interested while keeping tension to a happy ending is the objective.

The goal becomes keeping the customer engaged, energizing the performance by building anticipation and requesting tips for additional actions. Speaking the customers name, engaging them personally and knowing when their interest is waning are all tools models use to keep their best customers from leaving the show. In addition to the private show charges and tips a generous customer can visit the model’s wish list; the website hosts the store, makes the sale and delivers the item to the model.

Ejaculation is the premiere eventEach customer has his own expectations of what he would like to see. Zakk has been asked to play with his feet for a foot play fetish customer, pretend to bottom using positions and toys, cut his head hair (which thankfully he didn’t, its beautiful hair), shower, masturbate, and oddly enough often to simply smile and be there. Ejaculation is the premier event, and anticipation of that keeps private customers on longest. Multiple customers can be in the private chat and though they may have split the cost to be there, they serve as an additional source for tips. Within the private session a customer who has not paid the full price of entry may voyeur the show, seeing the private show but not interacting.

As in any successful production a stage is important. Professional webcam models set up a stage that is stylishly appointed, even elegant, well lighted, and uncluttered to stand out from ordinary profiles. Well staged sets draw customers in. Many models simply webcam from their bedroom or dorm room on a rumpled bed surrounded by personal items, even bicycles.

Online web cam modeling is about creating a relationship with the customer vs. getting off, the object of online porn. Creating an emotional connection with the customer helps the model keep his customer on longer and coming back more often. When a favorite model is not online a customer can call by phone to set up a later video chat, or just phone chat to hear the model’s voice, all the while paying for this time.

Many online web cam models are also gay porn actors. Choosing to model online has benefits over acting such as better pay, control of working hours, no boss, no physical risk, performing in the comfort of their own home, no travel, few work clothes, and no Brooks Brothers suits.

Escorting

Escorting is the business of providing personal services to a customer. Services might include companionship, massage, a boy friend experience, sexual fantasy or any number of other activities as defined by the customer. Sex with customers is detached and mechanical simply fulfilling the customer’s fantasy.

An escort customer takes care of all expenses, including an escort fee. The escort takes care of the emotional.

Online profiles provide the means of exchange. The escort sells his services with pictures and text, both of which set the tone and style of the escort allowing a customer to choose an escort most aligned with his requirements.

Most customers look for a normal, sophisticated, down to earth profile in hopes of connecting with the correct escort. Creating a working profile is important work and should a profile fail to deliver customers, or slow or stop doing so, a creative escort updates and changes until he again finds a workable model that draws in prospective customers. Regardless, there is a broad cross section of escorts for customers to choose from, and a broad cross section of customers for escorts to draw from. Multiple sites are difficult to manage and because of subscription costs most escorts opt for just one online presence.

Escorting doesn’t come with a performance manual leaving the entire effort open for learning and interpretation. Starting out, new escorts have to learn on their backs, so to speak. Each will likely get to a job, do the job and find out there is no pay. They learn to see the cash, even get half before beginning. Customers often give a wrong address, or simply don’t show up at the time and place.

Successful escorts learn to have the entire deal defined up front before meeting the customer in person. Since customers pay expenses those costs are paid at the time of service such as restaurants, shows, clubs or cabs. Fees, or larger costs such as airfare, are often split over the course of the visit. A multi day customer pays daily.

Arriving to meet a customer in most cases begins with the payment of cash. Escorts usually hold cash until the service is complete, though often a friend or fellow escort will drop by to whisk away the cash to a safe place; particularly when a large sum is involved. Safety is a big concern and fellow escorts watch their friends’ location via an iPhone app and keep in touch periodically.

A thousand a week.Gifts can make up a large part of an escorts pay and pushing a customer for cash vs. gifts is a consistent interplay. Average income is typically a few hundred dollars per week plus gifts and most want stability of at least a thousand dollars per week from one client. Ultimately an escort wants one or two long term customers though the norm is many small jobs. This business is more about luck than skills, at least in the beginning. Luck brings the one or two generous customers rather than having to exist on short term sex work.

Bringing a customer home is out of the question and a successful escort may spend two or three nights per week with a customer at their own place or in a hotel.

The gold standard is a boy friend experience that includes moving into the customers’ home and acting as a boy friend and performing such duties as a paid escort would. These relationships can work and do so most successfully when the escort has his own room, defined responsibilities and payment schedule.

Escorting can be challenging work often mixed with a tinge of regret at doing it, and most would give it all up for love. None admitted to escorting as a substitute for love and all would move from a professional to personal relationship in the event of finding love; albeit not a likely possibility by the very nature of the escort customer. Some become friends with customers and charge those friends less.

Of all the experiences, the oddest event was a customer who paid $400 to drive around for twenty minutes simply to get acquainted. He was never heard from again.

Quitting the Business

 

Sex working can be a nasty trap. The glow of its possibilities, the promise of a new life in a new place and the reality of that one generous escort customer can blind newcomers to the reality of a difficult life in a tough business. In the end guys get out because they never should have begun in the first place, they can’t make a go of it financially, or they do make a go of it financially and become able to move on to other things.

Everything comes to an end and always for different reasons for different people. Sometimes you just have to quit, and quit Brian did.

Brian is a lively fair haired young man in his early twenties, originally from central Iowa. Like others before him he met Uncle Mike online and messaged back and forth for over a year before making his decision to leave all he knew for the allure of Uncle Mike’s promises.

Using Uncle Mike as a landing place to begin a new life Brian quickly found he could not fit into the model house environment. Working with Uncle Mike for a few months made it readily apparent that he was going nowhere fast. In those few months he had earned about six hundred dollars shooting gay porn. Uncle Mike set schedules that slid around by hours and even days. There was no real way to plan escorting time within Uncle Mike’s time demands, though those demands often returned no income. There was no longer a need to do it.

Brian reached a point where gay porn acting and escorting simply became no longer appealing. He found himself bored while filming, frustrated with the wasted time, reshooting and other porn actors who could not get into the scene. After several months escorting he found mostly short term customers who wanted to pay little for usually seedy activity that took more from Brian than he received in pay. Webcam modeling was too tedious, bringing real world scheduling and working hours at a time when he didn’t want either.

Not deterred by where he found himself in his new life Brian was determined to make a go of it. Luck held and he met the one very generous escort customer. Though Uncle Mike portrays escorting as going to be a big disappointment, escorting gave Brian the resources to move on. The real money is in escorting, if he lucks into the right customer. His generous customer pays him well, allowing him to make the next step on his list of goals.

Coming to a life change with goals in mind certainly helps in achieving them. Even when things don’t work out as originally planned Brian found it easier to adjust his goals then if he had not had them at all.

Regret at his choices in life and occupation carry some weight for Brian; one being that he has become numb to sex as result of forcing attraction with customers. The act has become purely mechanical. Without a current boyfriend or significant other Brian doesn’t know if, though fears, he may find difficulty in getting close to another as a result of his escorting. His next partner will be more difficult than his previous because of his new numb emotionless response to another’s interest. Clearly it has created a distance between him and other people, a reserve in him that is quickly communicated. On meeting someone new a wall goes up to keep a focus on his goals at the expense of doing the work to create a new and growing relationship.

With a slow look away, Brian admitted that if that new person chased him he would look back, slow down and allow him to catch up. He wants to learn to loosen up and allow himself to be enjoyable while at the same time being productive.

Losing the ability to love is a heavy price to pay for earning a living.

In a Nut Shell

Gay porn acting, online webcam modeling and escorting is big business.

Big players in the gay porn business exist and on the Internet they control large websites that attract a majority of the click traffic. Content producers like Orlando Models and individuals produce and distribute much of the content for gay porn websites.

Gay porn acting serves as the catalyst for belief in the possibility of success in a new life. As a practical matter generally that acting simply serves to point out related opportunities that provide a more regular income.

Orlando Models provides a spring board for a regular flow of young gay men to move away from a life that isn’t working. Sometimes those problems follow them south prohibiting their success even as a gay porn actor. More often the determined young men make a go of their new life and attain a certain level of comfort if not outright success.

Online webcam modeling content, though hosted by website providers, is generated by individuals working for themselves. Their income is derived from a portion of income paid to the website by viewers. These websites are reliant on a broad array of models to entice customers to spend more money, of which the website retains a hefty portion.

Webcam modeling is the safest and perhaps most socially acceptable way to remain a sex worker and make a living. Creating a set, a persona and a willingness to set regular hours and stick with them mark the greatest challenges to success as a live online webcam model.

Escort websites provide profile hosting and are paid by the escorts themselves. Subscription fees, usually paid annually, range from one to several hundreds of dollars per year depending on the traffic associated with the hosting website.

Escorting is the business of providing personal services to another. Often the general conception is that those services are primarily sexual. The escorts interviewed for this article are unanimous in making certain sex is not a primary part of their services. Getting that one very generous customer is the gold standard for escorts. Having two very generous customers clearly sets an escort on a path away from anonymous, regular, sex work.

As a practical business matter escorts know that they are not the right person for every prospective customer. Often a customer will want a service one or another of the escorts is unwilling to perform or a customer will insist on a schedule that conflicts. Escorts in a local market take advantage of each escort opportunity and trade off customers within their group of coworkers to service each customer.

Like any successful business sex working is all about marketing. Exposure to the market place, presenting a high quality product or experience and following up on every opportunity within the chosen genre is the consistent theme attendant to successful porn actors, models and escorts. Throughout researching this article I found gay men who are struggling to get on their feet in the business, those who grind out a livable income and those who are doing well for themselves despite all odds being stacked against them.

Success while working on call boils down to individual effort, exactly as success in any field does.

The photos with this article except for the lead photo are not associated with Orlando Models or the websites mentioned in the article. They are placed here for illustrative purposes only.

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Generating interest in the medieval period is not easy. The Tudors get all the press attention. But that is changing as the recent TV show The Plantagenets demonstrates. Every bit as interesting and usually even more fantastically barbarous than the Tudors, it has passed into the mists of time for most people. Even Henry VIII was more than 500 years ago, so anything more remote is unknown to the vast majority of people except from what they learn in Shakespeare’s plays.

HM The Queen unveils Magna Carta plaque at RunnymedeDesmond Seward has spent many years trying to illuminate this period, and he has done so in a series of books. Two of them have just been re-issued with a new forward, while a new publication makes for a very nice trio of moderate-sized books all in the same format from Pegasus Books.

New on the list is an overall history entitled The Demon’s Brood, which pretty much tells what the Plantagenets were like. It joins Eleanor of Aquitaine, a 1978 title, and The Warrior King, a 1988 release.

Although admitting in his new forward that Eleanor was “a far stronger, more powerful personality, she was the Princess Diana of her day.” Eleanor (1122-1204) was the mother of two of England’s most famous kings, Richard the Lionheart, and the hapless King John who signed the Magna Carta. This is very much in the news now, as 2015 marks the 800th anniv of the Magna Carta.

The descendant of those unruly Plantagenets is now on the throne of Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth II is the patron of the Magna Carta Trust, and their website has lots of information about the events taking place this year to mark the event: www.magnacarta800th.com

On Monday June 14, The Queen attended an official ceremony at Runnymede to commemorate the anniversary. In attendance with her, in the photo, are the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Prime Minister, Prince Philip and Prince William.

 

In Demon’s Brood, Seward devotes 21 pages to King John, with nine more devoted to him alone in the Eleanor of Aquitaine book, although the Magna Carta does not feature there. In Demon’s Brood, Seward calls John a “madman” and “arguably the worst king in our entire history.” But he leavens this by writing that he is also one of the most important.

 

In 1215 many earls and barons of England were in open revolt. They even “renounced their feudal homage to the king- questioning his occupancy of the throne.” But John still had the backing of other powerful nobles and the Archbishop of Canterbury. On June 15, exactly 800 years ago today, King John met with the rebels at Runnymede near London. “What was agreed after nearly a week’s discussion,” writes Seward, “was a reaffirmation of ancient law and custom applying to every freeman in England.”

 

Seward quotes a famous jurist of the 20th century, Lord Denning: “it is the greatest constitutional document of all times- the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

 

Skipping ahead two centuries we come to Seward’s third book about another famous king. “The man was Henry V, who left an unhappy legacy when he died in 1422, a legacy that is still with us.”

 

In his new preface, Seward says the book “was noticeably less successful in Britain than in America, judging from reviews and sales” when it was released in 1988. Even though most English historians idolize Henry V, Seward says “no new evidence has been found to change my view of King Henry since the first edition of this book. The author remains convinced that Henry’s V’s ramshackle Anglo-French monarchy and the duchy of Normandy…were created by a megalomaniac, who like Napoleon and Hitler did not know where to stop.”

 

Fighting words for many, but perhaps appropriate in a book about a warrior king. Together these three books offer an insightful look into an England that was very different, but one that still resonates with our own times as we mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

The Warrior King (251 pages) is $27.95. The Demon's Brood (320 pages) is $28.95. Eleanor of Aquitaine (264 pages) is $27.95.

Visit the website for details: www.pegasusbooks.us

 

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One of the most exciting days in space exploration is upon us, as the Philae lander on a comet has woken up after an unexpected hibernation. Ground controllers were not sure the little lander could live after a sustained period of supercold temperatures in a shadowed area on the comet, but it sent a tweet to Earth this weekend!

The European Space Agency said Philae had contacted Earth for 85 seconds on Saturday June 13 in the first contact since going into hibernation in November.

 In an interview with the BBC, Esa's senior scientific advisor, Prof Mark McCaughrean said "It's been a long seven months, and to be quite honest we weren't sure it would happen - there are a lot of very happy people around Europe at the moment."

Philae was carrying large amounts of data that scientists hoped to download once it made contact again, he said.

"I think we're optimistic now that it's awake that we'll have several months of scientific data to pore over," he added.

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