I’m not one to indiscriminately name drop, but I had dinner with the Wayne-Graysons, celebrating their 75-plus years together. I flew Delta to Gotham City for the gala event, staying at the Crusader City Y.
I’m pleased to report that the original dynamic duo, retired and devoted to LGBT philanthropic work, looked – to use our favorite five-star adjective – fabulous. One would think that with all the street fights they’ve been through the two celebrities would have aged shockingly. They haven’t. Uncanny.
I’ve always thought Bruce handsome, in a stuffy kind of way, and little Dickie, well-packaged eye candy. (Gentlemen cultural heroes, they said nothing about my non-heroic facial nooks and crannies.)
They live opulently – but quietly – in their penthouse in the 100-story building they own – Commissioner Gordon Condos – at the intersection of Crusader and Mobile boulevards. As multimillionaires – thanks to rerun TV residuals – they private jet a lot, give well-attended lectures, speak openly of their once guarded life.
Their ever-faithful butler Alfred’s now 125. Bruce tried to pair us with a bed-share inducement. Unfortunately, Alf’s not a top. (I did learn that he and a leather guy calling himself Mr. Penguin once played an intense Scrabble session with a loose cannon calling herself Ladylove Joker, the latter in drag. Very kinky.)
Now a much admired couple, Bruce and his beloved Dickie admit it wasn’t always wedded bliss. They almost lost everything when they were outed in 1953 by an evil shrink, Frederick Wertham. His book “Seduction of the Innocent” claimed comic heroes like Wayne and Bruce turned kids gay.
“I have never come across any adult or adolescent who had outgrown comic-book reading who would ever dream of keeping these ten-centers for any sentimental or other reason,” Wertham snooted. (Footnote: “Action Comic #1; 1938” markets for $38M to $350M.)
I’ll admit as a kid I admired Captain Marvel. I knew that his alter ego, dot-eyed Billy Batson, was an ordinary runt like me. That was encouraging. With exercise, Wheaties – “the Breakfast of Champions,” eight hours of sleep, and bedtime non-naughty thoughts, life held possibilities for real rooftop soaring.
But Wertham’s darts weren’t directed at Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Superman, Plastic Man, Submariner, The Flash, or Mr. Tweedle Dee Dee. All heroes of mine. They were aimed at closet queers Batman and Robin and crypto-dyke Wonder Woman. (Her condo takes up all of floor 99. She’s annotating her memoirs.)
Yes, blabbed Wertham, the Caped Crusader had a “ward” (guardian, not prison) and Wonder Woman, well – as her plump sidekick Etta Candy woo-woo’d it, “Aphrodite be praised” – she hailed from an island of Amazons, and they weren’t selling books online in the forum, either.
“At home they lead an idyllic life,” leered Wertham. “They are Bruce Wayne and ‘Dick’ Grayson. They live in sumptuous quarters with beautiful flowers in large vases. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown. It is like a wish of two homosexuals living together.”
(Under 30s, please note: A dressing gown is not drag. Large vases are House & Gardens optional. But, as everybody knows, ‘Dick’ is dick.)
“For boys Wonder Woman is a frightening image,” boogey-boo’d Wertham. “For girls she is a morbid ideal. Where Batman is anti-feminine, the attractive Wonder Woman and her counterparts are definitely anti-masculine.”
Wertham still haunts Bruce and Dick. “DC Comics,” said Alfred privately, as he reluctantly kissed me goodbye, “still refuses to grant permission to use any illustrations of the crusading pair – gardening or fisticuffing – for psychological gossiping about their sexual orientation. Maybe, it’s just as well. Come see us soon, Stud Muffin. Shazam, er, shalom!”
I shan’t be around to celebrate Bruce & Dick’s 150th anniversary, but I’m sure they’ll still be raking in money hand over fist. (As the saying goes.)