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
Tina Mascara and Guido Santis Chris & Don: A Love Story is a charming, illuminating portrait of the complex and storied queer romanceone lasting three decadesbetween literary icon Christopher Isherwood and artist Don Bachardy, who met on a Santa Monica beach in 1952, when Bachardy was a teenager and Isherwood already 30 years his senior. Quilted from black-and-white home-movie clips, animated sequences that bring to life the duos correspondence and pet names, and original footage of the now-elderly Bachardy going about his daily routine, Chris & Don uses standard documentary-film techniques to celebrate three entitiesIsherwood, Bachardy, and their relationshipthat flaunted all the rules. There was an extraordinary vulnerability in their union, matched only by an extraordinary faith in their bond. The relationship contained elements of the parent/child hierarchy (with the roles flip-flopping back and forth over time), but it was also an erotic quest that expanded to include other loversespecially as Bachardy matured into his own manthen retreated back to monogamous form again (at least emotionally). And as Bachardy grew into his own creativity, theirs became a conversation between artists, too. Gays and straights can glean some lessons from Isherwood and Bachardys example: Make your own rules, set your own terms for connection, and be willing to let them evolve, even as you and your partner (hopefully) do.
July 18-31, 2008