CHiPS turned me gay. Of course, I'm not referring to the actual men of the California Highway Patrol, but rather their late 70's/early 80's fictionalized portrayals on television.
Erik Estrada was the designated sexy, Latino heart throb of the show. A recurring storyline involved women throwing themselves at him. I remember being dutifully in lust for the headliner hunk, and particularly thrilled to see some shirtless pinups from when he was riding high on the publicity train. Still, he wasn't my favorite man with countless horsepower between his legs.
Larry Wilcox actually floated my boat much more. Looking back, I'm a little astonished by that fact. Not that Larry wasn't a hot side of beef, but his character was an aww-shucks farmboy type to Erik's sizzling sex object. Today, I'd still pick Larry over Erik, but I'm sort of shocked to remember that was also my preference as an impressionable pre-teen.
Some of the background boys actually revved my engine even more than the co-stars. Tall drink of water Brodie Greer always made my heart skip a beat. Before I knew what I was even lusting over, I had picked him out as a quality meat.
When Bruce Penhall joined the cast late in the series, though, I was over the moon. With the prototypical bleach blond surferboy look, Bruce was hard and hot just as Ponch and Jon were looking a little bloated and soft. Trying to cash in on the typical "next generation" storyline, Bruce was a patrol trainee, and I wanted nothing more than to be in charge of his education. His tight, short, studly bod was my infatuation until the show was cancelled.
The gay lessons of CHIPS were many and wondered. I was taught the joys of lusting after a man in uniform (okay, there were other teachers, but none that wore leather riding gloves!). CHIPS taught me the eroticism of male bonding and boys with bikes. If perhaps it didn't technically turn me gay, without a doubt it offered me multiple objects of lust to teach me more about what turned me on.