Brooklyn-born Lou Maletta was that bearish guy in a leather harness whom you’d see on TV being openly gay, openly fetishy, and openly himself.
In 1982, he founded the Gay Cable Network (and hosted Men in Films), which carried on for 18 years, growing from unabashed erotica obsessing to AIDS coverage and beyond as Lou realized the importance of educating the community as well as titillating it.
In 1995, he was hired as the off-camera voice for Calvin Klein jeans commercials, but when Calvin found out Lou hosted a racy public-access show — as complaints came in about the campaign’s kiddie-porn undertones — the whole thing was pulled, creating the kind of hoopla money can’t buy.
(A photo from the print campaign is below.)
Lou just died of liver cancer, but he leaves behind a legacy of closet-door flinging that was very major, especially since he came off as an affable mix of Larry Kramer and Uncle Fester.
Bye, Uncle Lou.