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
Comprised of singer Laurie Hall (Ovarian Trolley, Hallflowers) and keyboard/multi-instrumental whiz Eric Drew Feldman (who has played with or produced Sparklehorse, the Pixies, the Residents, etc.), Knife & Fork is the Bay Area's very own saturnine Sonny & Cher. Hall has an attractively distinctive, stately, and soulful voice with a plaintive vibrato -- imagine a cross betwixt the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser and PJ Harvey. Feldman contours Hall's tormented tapestries with a dense, virtually orchestral setting (almost Phil Spectorian, even) and chilly, inexorable rhythms. Setting them apart from (and above) their gloomy peers is the range and creative, restrained fervor of Hall's singing (note the gospel touches on "The Last Rites" and "Wild" and the queasy vocal overdubs decorating the martial-sounding "Fire") and the pair's use of "traditional" instrumentation (Carla Kilstedt's violin, Tim Mooney's drums, Terry Edwards' muted trumpet, the great Joe Gore's guitar). Aside from an overreliance on similarly measured tempos throughout, Misery Cord is the perfect item to keep one from getting too contented.