Parting Glances: Tell it to the Marines, Mary!

by Charles Alexander

Twentynine Palms, Calif. is blessed with temperatures in the mid-70s year 'round - and a heapin,' helpin' handful of sharpshooter marines.

Keep that in mind if your planning a trip to that financially beleaguered part of the country. (For whatever reason.)

The sharpshooter citadel is "the premier live-fire base in the Marine Corps," says publicity. "Each year roughly one-third of the Fleet Marine Force units - some 50,000 marines in all - participate in the base's training exercise program.

"The Center occupies 932 square miles, or 596,000 acres of the southern Mojave Desert. It's three-quarters the size of Rhode Island."

Training is demanding, rigorous, relentless - preparing each recruit, if need be, to automatically respond above and beyond the call of duty. "Hup to! 250 push ups, Mr. Biceps! 200 base laps before mess call, Mr. Brawn. Fall out, dickheads. Spit polish, on or off duty."

Back in 2001, it was some off duty spit polishing before hand-held cameras that got some showoff, get-off Marines into trouble - and promptly booted out of service. It was quite a red, white and blew scandal. At the center of whirligig of wackoff patri-a-jism was pornographer Dirk Yates.

Yates, whose pudgy hand and ski-masked noggin often bob annoyingly in and out of his handiwork (including an occasional pet cat), is one Rick Ford. His company's All World's Video. Rick recently signed a "joint" contract with the Empress of Porn, Chi Chi LaRue's Channel 1 Releasing.

In 2001, the spit polish really hit the fan. Wrote the LA Times: "The Marine Corps is investigating allegations that Marines have posed naked for gay pornography being sold on the Internet. Pornographic pictures accompanied by a note asserting that Marines at the Twentynine Palms base are being recruited by other Marines and offered money for posing naked were sent anonymously to Commandant Gen. James Jones, touching off an investigation.

"Base spokesman Capt. Rob Crum said participation in pornographic activities is 'incompatible with the ideals upheld by the United States Marine Corp.'

"The Web site, registered to a San Francisco company, boasts the men pictured are active-duty Marines and specifically mentions the Twentynine Palms, where about 12,000 Marines are stationed. The site uses the Marine Corps name, logo, insignia, initials and colors but carries a disclaimer that it is neither approved nor endorsed by the Marine Corps.

"One of the men pictured has a Marine Corps tattoo and at least two have remnants of a Marine uniform. Videos are being sold with titles such as "Three Lance Corporals."

Robert Merritt, who spent 13 years in the Marines, attained Captain's rank and was honorably discharged, is author of "Secrets of a G*y Marine P*rn Star." His story, from born-again student days at ultra-fundamentalist Bob Jones University to porn-again (and again) star, was probed in depth not long ago in the New York Times Magazine.

Steven Zeeland, gay historian and buddy of Merritt, says, "These are guys who train hard, work out every chance they get. The Marine uniform's a peacock's uniform. They're aware of their good looks and love to be admired. So, it's natural for that exhibitionistic kind of thing."

Will x-rated porn of soldiers, sailors, marines impact rescinding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?" Possibly. Says Michelle Benecke, co-director of the Service-members Legal Defense Network, "That kind of fear unfortunately remains a constant fact of service members daily lives."

Out of curiosity - of course, what else? - I'll pop in All World Video's 200 Marine C*m Sh*ts. Just to see who's got the biggest peac*ck of them all. (I'll wear my dog tags for old times sake. Arf! Arf!)

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