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 you ever been in your apartment and wondered about all the debauched couplings that must have transpired there before you moved in? Perhaps playwright Moira Buffini pondered this idea before creating Loveplay, which details the love and sex acts that take place in one London location over 2,000 years. As time passes, this spot -- which begins as an empty field in A.D. 79 -- evolves into an abbey, then a stately home, a bohemian studio, a brothel, and finally a modern-day video-dating agency. In TheatreFirst's delightful production, random events link up in terms of theme and location but not necessarily in terms of style and substance. The first, Monty Python-esque interaction -- involving an ignorant prostitute who doesn't comprehend money and hilariously demands a chicken for compensation -- is shockingly followed by a bloody rape in the woods, which is in turn trailed by a bit about a man who has died while posing as a nun; such juxtapositions illustrate the beguiling randomness of time, yet underscore how every action haunts a place. Though Buffini hasn't added up these scenes into some brilliant hypothesis about, say, the evolution of carnal love and its consequences, the joyful cast (headed by the very funny and malleable Noah James Butler) still tells a titillating history of romance, lust, and their myriad meanings, depending on historical context. And that's much more fun than a dusty old textbook.