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
It'll soon be time to finalize those New Year's resolutions, and if (like us), one of yours is to shoehorn more art and culture into your life, we have a suggestion to get a head-start on a richer 2012. Since the San Francisco Film Society took over programming for the sleek theater in Japantown’s Harajuku-style New People shopping mall, it has featured short runs of new cinema from around the world, restored prints of classic films, cult favorites, and even a live performance or two. Now it screens something contemplative to transition us into the new year: the 2010 Russian film Silent Souls. The movie focuses on the relationship between lifelong friends Aist and Miron, as they take a somber road trip together to cremate Miron’s recently deceased wife Tanja. During their journey, director Aleksei Fedorchenko illuminates the marriage and death rites of the Merja, an ancient Finnish culture in central Russia that was absorbed by first the Slavs 1,000 years ago and later by the Russians. The Merja language is no longer spoken in the region, though some place names and rituals remain. Fedorchenko’s quiet and meditative film provides a glimpse into the last scraps of Merja culture as practiced by Aist and Miron, and offers insight into love and friendship.
Dec. 23-24; Dec. 26-31, 2011