"Are You Afraid to Challenge Me Like This? Man to Man?"
Before there was wrestling in my life, there was peplum. Gladiators, Hercules, Cecil B. DeMille, and Ray Harryhausen, these were the stuff of my prepubescent fantasies.* Fighting linked them all, especially "bare chested male fighting." (I'm happy to report that "bare chested male fighting," "evil queen," "shot with a bow and arrow," "buried up to one's neck," and "beefcake" are all designations included among IMDb's plot keywords for browsing the site. Now these are what I call genres!) As a child I was transfixed by these images, which struck my imagination with all the force of religious iconography. I remember seeing only three peplum movies in the theater, though I'm certain there were others too: Sons of Thunder (not even listed by that title in IMDb); Jason and the Argonauts; and Hercules, Samson, and Ulysses.
About an hour into the last of these, there's a great little fight sequence between Hercules and Samson, both good guys though they don't realize this fact immediately. It involves a lot of hurling of hydrofoam boulders and Mesopotamian statuary and the bending of iron beams around each other's neck. There's a good three minutes of this, and I am not ashamed to admit that the scene still makes me ticklish to this day. (Kirk Morris as Hercules is a hottie--half Steve Reeves, half Young Elvis, with Revlon strawberry blonde.) After busting up the ruins, the two heroes stop and wonder aloud (in the manliest dubbed voices ever) why they are fighting each other when they could team up and fight the real bad guys. After ditching Delilah, they turn their attention to bouldering Philistines, and Hercules helps Samson give the old heave-ho to the Temple of Dagon (a detail overlooked in the bible and DeMille).
Films like this contributed greatly to the refinement of my kink. To say they "turned me gay" would be an overstatement, but I feel they did channel and shape my gay sensibility--as did, even earlier, Popeye and Mighty Mouse cartoons and Tarzan, and, later, Robert Conrad in The Wild Wild West and Jack Brisco in Championship Wrestling from Florida. It's what I had, back in the day, before there was Glee and Modern Family.
*Sorry about going all oldie-goldie on you all, but circumstances are converging in my life to make nostalgia, a sentiment I despise on principle, almost inescapable for me. This is not the place to discuss those circumstances, but the nostalgia relates to the blog's theme, so I'm going with it.