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
If it weren't for the between-song banter at Frog Eyes shows, you'd think singer/ guitarist Carey Mercer was a pretty fucked-up dude. It's during these conversation breaks that his awkward/ shy/Canadian/artist side is revealed, the side that is very much the Clark Kent to the Superbeast persona that climbs out while Mercer's singing. The Superbeast sounds like a vampire version of David Bowie being tortured until he projects his most personal secrets from lungs of steel. It only complicates the experience that Mercer has bandmates who play dramatic parts straight out of some dingy European cabaret. The Folded Palm, the group's first full-length for local label Absolutely Kosher, sounds similar to Frog Eyes' previous effort, The Golden River, but with more vibrant arrangements and a wider palette of melodic choices, everything from Sonic Youth-style noise-splattering to bipolar Neutral Milk Hotel grunge-pop. While stylistically all over the map, Mercer and company can always be counted on to provide energetic, dramatic entertainment that's anything but trite.