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
Although fire-art exhibits have lost some of their sparkly fascination, fire-art apocalypses remain a potent lure. The Crucibles Fire Arts Festival, set in a parking lot adjacent to the elevated tracks of the West Oakland BART station, remains one of the best. At last years show, when the sun went down and the flames got higher, even the de rigueur firefighters seemed to stand a little straighter. There were the usual threats: violently swinging fire objects, shooting flames, and, safely tucked into a corner, a stream of fireballs hurled into volunteers wearing fire suits, who were dancing (dont expect a home version of Dance Dance Immolation any time soon). But there was also much beauty: One artist nursed a flame in a block of ice, resulting in a geothermic miracle. Onstage, dancers pressed industrial sanders against their metallic underwear, showering sparks. This years festival features a handful of performance groups each night on the main stage along with dozens of installations, including some we havent seen (such as the Steampunk Tree House and the Flamethrower Shooting Gallery) and one we cant wait to see again: Nate Smiths 40-foot-plus fire vortex.
July 9-12, 8 p.m., 2008