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
Any time is a good time for a new Mark Twain memoir, but especially now. For one thing, Twain, who died in 1910, told the world to let him be dead 100 years before we could read his life story. For another, this Autobiography of Mark Twain, put out in three volumes beginning this month, bears quite a contemporary sheen: Its fragmentary, nonchronological, metanarrative structure comes from having been orally dictated by the authors own digressive whim. Of course Twains whims tended to be discerning, and his digressions substantive. His opinions on such matters as God, American foreign policy, and first-world capitalism ― when fully revealed in all their coruscating and vitriolic glory ― might be useful to discussions on those subjects today. Twain was generous with his attention, even as it brought him to spectacularly uncharitable conclusions. And so he remains a model of literary endurance: the outspoken opponent of indifference. Litquakes Mark Twain Ball serves as the books launch party. Included are period music and cocktails, as well as professional Twain impersonators; amateurs are encouraged.
Thu., Nov. 4, 7 p.m., 2010