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
In his new young adult novel, Daniel Handler writes from the perspective of a precocious 16-year-old, which is not such a stretch. It’s a safe bet our proto-Snicket, growing up in San Francisco, left a lot of dazzled students and teachers in his wake. The main character in Why We Broke Up is a teenage girl — a yearning, heartbroken, furious teenage girl — who has pinned down the object of her passion, like a bug on a stick, to explain exactly why they broke up. It’s high-wire point-of-view writing over tricky adolescent terrain — a fervent, obsessive, and very long letter from a jilted young girl to her beau. There’s also a lot of stuff about films you’ve never heard of, because Handler made them all up. Handler enlisted famed artist Maira Kalman for visual aid in telling the story, and her paintings of the shared objects of the affair — ticket stubs, bottle caps, coins — require nose-to-the-page viewing to savor the intimate detail.
Fri., Feb. 3, 7 p.m., 2012