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
Have we lost all sense of the real desert? What we most commonly associate with that landscape and ecosystem is an air-conditioned and cartoonish representation of its former self. In places such as Las Vegas with its infinite lights, California's Inland Empire with its sprawl, and greater urban areas such as Phoenix and Houston, cacti and tumbleweeds are often plasticized relics of the romantic American West. But realitys loss is folklores gain. The desert and all that it once represented is the central theme in The High Desert Revisited. Poets Andy Anderson, Philip Hackett, and Carl Wiener have a wealth of experience traveling through these bastions of nothingness and everythingness. Wiener, who has published notable works such as Fifteen Poems and Niagara, finds beauty in the details as much as the abstract ideas of place and being. In his 2007 poem Of Las Vegas, he muses I now think of her as the visible spirit of that/place, who grew in memory to signify desert:/not only the surrounding one of sand dunes/and flats, but even more so the verb form,/as when we speak of abandonment, or/leaving someone without intending to return. Anderson, having worked for the advancement of Native American education and health, has a distinct take on the desert and its ability to be a home, however unforgiving and harsh it may seem. Hackett, who has championed upstart and published poets in and around the city, lived in the California desert for five years and wrote about his experience there.
Tue., Jan. 11, 7 p.m., 2011