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
“He could pull this off. He was sure of it. It would have been one thing to protect Anne Frank from the Nazis; he was pretty sure he couldn't have managed that. But to protect his family from Anne Frank? How difficult could that be?” So goes the sharpest gag in the first 50 pages of Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy, a motor-mouthed stand-up routine of a novel based on the notion – nicked from Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer – that maybe Anne Frank survived, after all, and maybe that's her, right in front of our narrator. In this case, she's hiding out in his attic, old and pecking away at a manuscript, calling him a jackass for not knowing Auschwitz from Bergen-Belsen. (“Did you even read my diary?” she snaps at Kugel, the narrator. “I read Night,” he responds, “When Oprah had it.”) Auslander's work lacks the Ghost Writer's restraint and gravity, and it's hit or miss when it aspires to moral seriousness, but it is funny as hell, a rant that keeps topping itself as Kugel and family strive to make sense of the history they're burdened with. By the end, Hope: A Tragedy reads something like Lenny Bruce rewriting Bernard Malamud – which, come to think of it, is what people used to think of Roth himself. Auslander is a writer to watch.
Wed., Jan. 25, 7 p.m., 2012