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Bear subculture in popular culture

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Though not generally widely known outside of the gay community, the "Bear" concept has surfaced in pop culture.

Live EventsEdit

  • On September 1, 2007, in a live interview called "The TrekTrak Show" with Star Trek: The Next Generation actors Jonathan Frakes (Riker), Brent Spiner (Data) and Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher) at Dragon*Con, host Eric L. Watts (who self-identifies as a Bear) asked Frakes if he was aware that he was "something of an icon in the Bear community."[1]

TelevisionEdit

  • On the Sept 25, 2007 episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, director Kevin Smith revealed that he will be on the cover of the next issue of A Bear's Life magazine, and gives the audience a quick introduction to Bears in general.
  • On the July 25, 2007 episode of Top Chef, the host reads a question from a viewer directed towards Tom Colicchio asking, "Do you realize that you are an icon of the Bear community?"
  • On the American cartoon "Family Guy," a television show that Peter is watching called "The life and times of Grizzly Adams" portrays Grizzly Adams and his bear pal "Ben" as a feuding gay couple. Ben has a high voice and is washing dishes, a clear allusion to gay bears, as Ben is a very large grizzly bear in the real series and the cartoon.
  • On the American television show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a stocky and hairy man receiving a makeover was informed by one of the hosts that, "In our community, you would be called a Cub!"
  • The Kids in the Hall Season 5 episode 2 1994, a skit called Grizzly showed Kevin McDonald being "attacked by a bear" in a gay bar and surviving by flashing back to his Boy Scout training, eventually "playing dead."[2]
  • In The L Word, season three's episode 2 (Lost Weekend), characters Jenny and Moira enter a club's "Bear Night" and dance among large, bearded men.
  • On the reality show Can't Get a Date, singer/actor James Bradford identifies as a Bear (but is shown actively trying to lose weight)
  • On the June 19 2006 episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert listed Bears as the top threat to his continued heterosexuality, a play on his previously stated fear of the animal of the same name.
  • On the 11 August 2006 episode of Big Brother's Big Mouth, Russell Brand spoke to a member of the studio audience and asked them "You're what is known in the gay community as a Bear, aren't you?"
  • On an episode of The Simpsons, Homer Simpson leaves his wife and while looking for a place to live, ends up apartment searching in Springfield's gay village. While standing with the closeted Waylon Smithers, a group of Smithers' friends drive by with one of them yelling "Hey Waylon! Who's the Bear? Woof!" (referring to Simpson.)
  • In another episode of The Simpsons in which a Brown Bear wanders into Springfield, Homer stirs up the government to provide a "bear patrol" to rid the town of bears. On their protest march to the town hall Homer chants "We're here, we're queer, we don't want anymore bears" when Lenny asks if Homer came up with it Homer claims "Oh, I heard it at the mustache parade they have every year."
  • In the animated TV series Freak Show, one of Freak Squad's members is Log Cabin Republican, a thin, effeminate homosexual whose superhuman ability is to turn into the "Burly Bear," a taller, more muscular man dressed in biker gear.
  • On an episode of Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the actor David Duchovny claimed that his daughter nearly stumbled upon a web site dedicated to gay Bears, while researching a project on the animals. He then went on to awkwardly describe the Bear community, as well as claiming that O'Brien's former sidekick Andy Richter was considered a "cub" by members of the community.
  • In an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia entitled "The Gang Sells Out," the gang, in trying to sell their bar to a representative of a national chain, discusses at length the differences between bears and twinks, when the representative informs the gang that he is gay.

Bear music Edit

  • BEARAPALOOZA - The Original Bear music festival Bearapalooza is touring group of musicians identified as Bears, that was founded by musician Freddy Freemanin New York City in 2002. The event is co-produced by Nashville singer/songwriter Michael West.

Over the last 6 years Bearapalooza has traveled across the country to cities including Seattle, Washington, Dade City, Florida, New York City, Rye NY, Baltimore, Nashville, Washington D.C., Raleigh NC, Boston, Philadelphia and many others. Next on the schedule for 2008 is Milwaukee, LA, Seattle, Texas and possibly the UK. Its current homebase is Nashville, Tennessee. Beginning May 2008 they will be touring the nation, visiting over 15 major cities and showcasing the talent of over 27 Bear Identified acts. CHECK OUT Bearapalooza for tour dates, artist info, music, media and so much more.

  • Bears On The Run is a tour of four solo Bear musician artists featuring Elijah Black, Matthew Temple, Shannon Grady, Kendall, and hosted by comedian Bobaloo. The tour has travelled to twenty major US cities including Dallas, Austin, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, Tulsa, Wichita, Buffalo, Albany, Provincetown, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Asbury Park, and New York City.
  • Bear Radio Network is a 24/7 radio webcast based in Rochester, New York for the Bear Community. The program features a mix of bear-identified indie artists.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag.
  • The song "Oh Word?" by The Beastie Boys contain the lyrics "I swear it wasn't me in Bear magazine / Because I'm not that hairy oh contrary".[citation needed]

Books Edit

  • Chris Nelson's original San Francisco Bear Magazine photograph collection, which first depicted bearish men from Bear Magazine are collected in The Bear Cult: Photographs by Chris Nelson (1992, ISBN 0-85449-161-9) from Gay Men's Press, London.
  • Les K. Wright edited two nonfiction anthologies, The Bear Book: Readings in the History and Evolution of a Gay Male Subculture (1997, ISBN 1-56023-890-9), and The Bear Book 2 (2001, ISBN 1-56023-165-3), both from Haworth Press.
  • Ray Kampf authored The Bear Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Those Who Are Husky, Hairy and Homosexual, and Those Who Love 'Em (2000, ISBN 1-56023-997-2). The Bear Handbook website
  • Ron Suresha authored a 2002 nonfiction anthology, Bears on Bears: Interviews & Discussions (ISBN 1-55583-578-3), 25 dialogues with 57 bear-identified men and bear-lovers from around the world, including interviews with comedian Bruce Vilanch, porn model Jack Radcliffe, and Survivor star Richard Hatch. Suresha edited two fiction anthologies, Bearotica: Hot, Hairy, Heavy Fiction (2002, ISBN 1-55583-577-5), and Bear Lust: Hot, Hairy, Heavy Fiction (2004, ISBN 1-55583-818-9), also published by Alyson Publications
  • Jonathan Cohen authored a 2003 novel Bear Like Me (ISBN 1-56023-418-0), Southern Tier Editions
  • In the book I'm a Believer by Jessica Adams (ISBN 0-312-32107-4), one of the central characters is a bear.
  • PJ Gray authored a 2005 cookbook, More Bear Cookin': Bigger and Better (ISBN 1-56023-326-5), illustrated by Terry J; a revision of the 2003 book, Bear Cookin': The Original Guide to Bear Comfort Foods by PJ Gray and Stanley Hunter: both published by Harrington Park Press
  • In Wayne Hoffman's 2006 novel, Hard, the central character is a Bear.

Periodicals Edit

  • In her April 2002 Village Voice column, sexuality advocate and author Tristan Taormino unpacked some aspects of the subculture.
  • In August 2003, weblogger Andrew Sullivan acknowledged himself a Bear in an article on the bear community for Salon.com.
  • In the December 2007 issue of Instinct magazine, film actor, writer and producer Kevin Smith wrote "The Last Word" page, the last page of the magazine each month that is written by a celebrity. Smith writes about his gay brother Don, him being on the cover of A Bear's Life magazine and the related cover story, and his feelings about being a "Bear icon" in the gay community.[3]

Films Edit

  • American Pie 3, When Stifler goes into the gay bar he meets a girl who introduces him to her friend a big, hairy gay man who's called bear.
  • Cachorro (Bear Cub), dir. Miguel Albaladejo, Spain, 2004 - IMDb page--a drama about an urban Bear who parents his nephew when the boy's mother goes to jail.
  • A Dirty Shame, dir. John Waters, U.S., 2004--a satirical film that includes a bear family: "Papa Bear," "Mama Bear," and "Baby Bear."
  • In the film Another Gay Movie, reality show star Richard Hatch was referred to as a Million-Dollar Bear.
  • In the 1996 film The Associate the character Laurel Ayres (Whoopi Goldberg) creates a male alter-ego and ultimately poses as him in extensive make-up. When a male competitor co-opts said alter-ego she appears in male drag to discredit him, and in so doing passionately kisses him in front of hundreds of business associates. She then turns to them and proclaims "Woof!".

Many short films about Bears can be seen in film festivals (gay/queer film festivals as well as local/international film festivals), including:

  • Men on Fur on Men, dirs. Martin Borden and Clark Niklolai, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 8 mins.
  • A Bear’s Story, dir. Vincent Mtzlpick, US, 2003, video, 21 mins.
  • Porn Proof, dir. Chris Street, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 3 mins.
  • More Than Hair Care Products, dir. Pendra Wilson, Canada, 2003, miniDV, 5 mins.
  • Hard Fat, dir. Frederic Moffet, Canada, 2001, video, 23 mins.
  • Lazy Bear 2002, dir. Greg Garcia, US, 2002, DVD, 18 mins.
  • Making of “A Bear’s Story”, dir. Village TV, US, 2003, video, 7 mins.
  • My Heart the Cook, dirs. Jerry McCadden and Clark Nikolai, Canada, 2001, miniDV, 2 mins.
  • 30 Bears in a Bathtub, filmed by Jonathan Robinson, and features the Manbears group in Manchester. 12 minutes.

Bear adult movie actors of note include Hank Hightower, Buster, Mickey Squires, Jack Radcliffe, Dean Peters, and Steve Hurley. Musclebear actors appear in films issued by COLT Studio Group and Raging Stallion. Catalina Video has issued films in its "Furry Features Series" such as "Bear Country" (with Steve Hurley), "Bear Chested" (with Barry Barrett), and "Bear Bust" (with Paul Gator); a tie-in with its "Generation Gap Series" includes "Junior Meets the Bear Patrol" (with Damien).

Other media Edit

  • Steve C from the Opie & Anthony show is said to look like a Bear that 'enjoys a deep man kiss' from time to time. A popular sound clip on the show is Steve saying "grrr." Jim Norton (comedian) is credited with originating this persona.
  • Perhaps the earliest reference to Beardom in pop culture may be in a fake commercial on The Firesign Theatre's Everything You Know Is Wrong album: "See that bear, lapping up that good ol' country water? Kinda makes a big, hairy guy like me thirsty. That's why I like to wrap my lips around the tall, sweaty, head of a bottle of good ol' country Bear Whiz Beer! Like my daddy said, 'Son, it's in the water! That's why it's yellow!' "
  • On An Evening With Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, Kevin Smith asked a fan who resembled a bear if he was gay. The fan said that he was not, and Kevin replied, "You would have more opportunities if you were gay," then gave a brief overview of the Bear community, and said that his close friend Malcolm Ingram was a bear himself. Malcolm told Smith he would be the Marilyn Monroe of the Bear community if he was gay.

ReferencesEdit

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