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
When the San Francisco Arts Commission wanted someone to dress up City Hall for the building's 100th anniversary last year, and become the structure's first artist-in-residence, it took a leap of faith by choosing Jeremy Fish.
The only problem with a mock beauty pageant performed in drag by men in a gay theater, with real judges in the audience, to subvert the culture's glossy dominant paradigm of female beauty, is that -- well, there are a lot of problems, but the main one is it's been done before. Right? At least this musical comedy by Bill Russell, Frank Kelley, and Albert Evans feels like old cheese. Six ladies from different parts of the United States -- Miss Bible Belt, Miss Industrial Northeast -- strut and perform in "The 2005 Glamouresse Beauty Pageant," which is one long and blatant infomercial for Glamouresse makeup and beauty products. In the spokesmodel competition, the girls try to outdo each other promoting products like "Smooth-as-Marble Facial Spackle" or solar-powered hair rollers. There's a slick, Tommy Tune-like host ("Speaking of masculine flair," the ladies gush, in chorus, "just look at what he's done with his hair!") and musical numbers that all, in varying degrees, rather suck. "I'm proud of living on the San Andreas Fault," sings Miss West Coast, blinking under the hot lights. "I'd rather live on the edge than in a vault!" (Huh?) Making fun of something that borders on self-satire in the first place needs more energy than Russell and Kelley have put into the lyrics or book; the only original part is that people bother to laugh.