While they often presented themselves as bodybuilders’ publications, their chuckle-prompting titles — Torso, Adonis, Honcho, Mandate — didn’t lie. Gay men’s magazines of decades past were bought by gay men who wanted to look at the erotic illustrations of well- built male bodies therein. Because any- one known to possess such material in the homophobic 1950s and 1960s could experience serious consequences, men hid the magazines under their mat- tresses. These illustrations have now inspired a traveling exhibition, Stroke: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Wall. Curated by notable erotic artist Robert W. Richards and orig- inating at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the popular show contains 24 original illustrations that ap- peared in gay magazines from the 1950s to the 1990s. It also looks at how gay men, forced into the closet during those decades, used these pictures to explore their sexuality intimately. It additionally serves as a showcase for the artists in- volved. On view are works by two dozen top artists of the times, including Touko Laaksonen (Tom of Finland), Antonio Lopez (Antonio), and David Martin.More
The Tenderloin was set to lose another irreplaceable when the Ha-Ra Club — a low-ceilinged dive of the slummiest reputation, long fallen into neglect, but nevertheless beloved for strong pours, idiosyncratic bartenders, and a long history — was taken over by the crew who run Ace's and Dobbs Ferry.
At a record release party for the band's previous effort, Televise, New York's Calla played an entire set in total darkness save for a bright spotlight that shone at the audience from the rear of the stage. Consequently, all we glimpsed of the band members themselves were swaying shadows. This trick left the audience with little to do but zone in on the vibrant music coming from the stage. It, too, was dark and shadowy, a mix of minor-key passages with sharp guitar stabs and warbled, throaty vocals. On Collisions, the band's first for its new label, Calla hardly abandons its fervor for dark lyrical themes and music. Despite this fact, Collisions is a catchier, more maturely structured record. While much of Calla's past material consisted of long, slow, repetitive sections, the group here offers songs that not only have discernable choruses, but also even occasionally turn happy and anthemic, a strong change from the strict moping fans are used to. Whether this means the band will hire a new light-person for its stage show remains to be seen.