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
Even with an entirely new lineup only founding member Jeff Kazor remains the Crooked Jades' latest release, World's on Fire, is embarrassingly addictive. Traditionalists may criticize the album for its accessibility, since some of the authentic nasality, droning, and bizarre old-Appalachian slang the band has been known for in the past have been softened here. But clapping, stomping, ecstatic old-timey music fans will drown out any prissy nitpicking where this recording is concerned. The addition of Jennie Benford, formerly of Jim & Jennie and the Pinetops, is the star here: A creepy lilt in her pretty voice complements the insane lyrics ("Eyes inside a wooden face/ Watch you from the fireplace") of the opening track "Can't Stare Down a Mountaineer." Overall, Fire is a mix of meticulous instrumentals, traditional songs brilliantly arranged (usually by Kazor), and eerie, beautiful originals. "Goodbye Trouble the Soul of Man" causes shivers and contemplation of divine mysteries, and "One Girl on the Turnpike Road" is a swooping, sparkling frame for Benford's crystalline voice, a strange song for a strange girl. But it is the stomp and the sweat of the closing title track that grabs you by the throat, preaches damnation, and moves your hips all at once.