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
Jim Short is a literate comic, but not one who takes pains to demonstrate what a smarty-pants he is. Unlike David Cross, Short isnt throwing out the occasional Lexis-Nexis reference. Regardless, the San Francisco comic is sharp and tart in his takedowns of pop culture, history, and politics. Wielding a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of the last 30 years of American culture and history, Short brings an outsider perspective to the absurdities of contemporary life, while also reminding a notoriously history-averse nation of some pointed facts about its own past. An Australian by birth, Short has caught some flack in his homeland for his receding accent, but in his defense, the comic has lived stateside since he was 12, giving him plenty of time to establish himself as an American. He offers up an apocalyptic vision of our times that is deeply rooted in gallows humor, yet his scabrous wit helps him win over crowds, no matter how dire the subject matter. Shorts take seems downright prescient after eight months of environmental disasters, interrupted by occasional political crises. Nine months into a year like this, with plenty of outrage and misfortune to go around, he may be the comic we need to tell us how it is, while the rest of us come to terms with living in a real-life disaster film.
Sept. 1-4, 8 & 10 p.m., 2010