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
A four-hour film that zips by in a feverish dream, Sion Sono's ninja softcore art movie satire Love Exposure enlists viewers in its cult even as you're watching it. Which is odd, as among its accomplishments it mocks religion (Japanese Catholicism, and a Moonielike cult), and mocks the insane romanticism of its protagonists, while at the same time treating the spiritual love these characters seek absolutely seriously. And that's the secret of this 2008 Japanese film's success. Yu, a deluded teenage boy, seeks to win his priestly father's love by becoming the worst sinner he can imagine, which leads him from upskirt photography to eventual fame as the father confessor to a parade of fetishists. Half a dozen other major characters jostle for our attention, their doings cleverly organized by Sono in a chaptered structure laden with flashbacks and asides that owes not a little to Quentin Tarantino. Mass murder, child abuse, castration ... lesbians, transvestites, parakeets ... Yet the jokes stop when the film stops for several minutes to allow Yu's schoolgirl obsession, Yoko, to harangue his failure to truly love by shouting 1 Corinthians 13 at him in one long take: "Love is patient. Love is kind." Did I mention the parakeets?
Sept. 2-8, 2011