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
The great boundary-crosser of Iranian cinema, Bahman Ghobadi purposefully steps over the line with No One Knows About Persian Catsa quasi-documentary, highly unofficial panorama of Teheran's tenacious underground music scene and a movie which has accrued additional urgency since its first public screening at Cannes last May. Ghobadi's co-writer, journalist Roxana Saberi was freed from Evin Prison on the eve of Persian Cats's premiere; his assistant director Mehdi Pourmusa is currently confined there, arrested last month along with filmmaker Jafar Panahi. The movie's protagonists, indie rockers Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad, have since left Iran, as has Ghobadi. Negar and Ashkan play themselves as recently imprisoned performers speeding around Teheran on the back of a motorbike in a frantic attempt to secure travel documents and recruit a rhythm section for a gig in London. The movie tours what Ghobadi calls a "hidden world of rebel musicians," as well as bootleg DVD and fake passport hustlers, with visits to assorted crash pads and basement music clubs. Persian Cats is likeable but undistinguished filmmaking and the performers are a mixed bag of metal bands, traditional ensembles, rap artists and buskers. None seem nearly as political as the former Czechoslovakia's legendary Plastic People of the Universe; the closest thing here to a rock'n'roll manifesto is the acid trance assertion, offered in English, that "dreaming is my reality." Of course given that everything the movie showsincluding two women singing a folk songis illegal, bravado is a given.
April 23-29, 2010