Boyd McDonald’s Eye for Innuendo

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IN CRUISING THE MOVIES: A Sexual Guide to “Oldies” on TV (1985), Boyd McDonald scrutinizes the anatomy of Ronald and Nancy Reagan with maniacal glee. The President is not only flabby and “sloppy assed,” but also has tits and wears more makeup than Lucille Ball. In an essay on John Loves Mary (1949), Boyd writes mainly about Reagan’s curiously feminine legs, and speculates that this display of flesh—he appears in the movie without pants not once but twice—is proof of the existence of heterosexuality in Hollywood. A homosexual would not have allowed such a casting error to occur. Reagan’s lack of masculine attributes caused him to lash out at men whom he (or his speechwriters) perceived to be less than full men, the homosexuals. The First Lady, a hard and remorseless political creature, exuded a skeletal and artificial femininity; she stayed thin by living on grapes and regularly flew a manicurist in from California to apply five coats of polish to her fingernails. In response to Kenneth Anger’s claim that he had obtained a photograph of Mrs. Reagan’s “twat” (taken back when she was Nancy Davis), Boyd asks to hear from any reader who has a picture of her “butt-hole.”

Boyd McDonald. Photo by Joseph Modica.
Boyd McDonald. Photo by Joseph Modica.

These sorts of barbs, once common, are no longer much heard among cinema spectators, now that “oldies,” which had formerly served as cheap programming for revival houses and independent television stations, have been elevated to serious archive screenings and expensive cable channels, where the odor of sanctity clings to them. Going to the movies is not the collective ritual it once was, and Internet blogs, written by lone spectators, are hardly an adequate replacement for spontaneous audience participation. Recent attempts to rehabilitate Reagan’s image—“he wasn’t as bad as the Bushes,” et cetera—cry out for renewed expressions of irreverence and further reminders that there was a time when, as Boyd told an interviewer, “It was shocking to have people like Nixon and Reagan in minor offices, let alone President.”

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