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's not every day that a workers' union endorses a Republican candidate, but Rinne Groff's quirky play, Jimmy Carter Was a Democrat, shows us the circumstances under which such a scenario came to pass. Set in 1986, the play follows the lives of U.S. air traffic controllers as they struggle to keep the skies safe, their hours and pay steady, and their personal lives from derailing. How do they do it? By voting for Ronald Reagan. A contemporary take on Depression-era agitprop plays like Clifford Odets' Waiting for Lefty, Jimmy Carter is packed with eccentric linguistic juxtapositions -- from air traffic control-speak ("November one zero eight niner lima, turn right heading ...") to scholarly history lecture to jingoistic union anthem. The Shee Theatre Company has produced smart work in recent years (Becca and Heidi, Riddance), but Jimmy Carter doesn't quite get off the ground with the same success: Laura Hope gives a sassy performance as the play's protagonist, lone female air traffic control employee Emily, but the complex personal, professional, and historical framework of Groff's sprawling text makes staging her piece as difficult as navigating a broken-winged biplane through a tropical storm.