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
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Filipino director Brillante Mendozas Serbis is entirely set in and around a candidate for the worlds tawdriest movie theatera dingy hall of mirrors thats hilariously but not inaccurately named the Family. This cavernous bijou is operated as well as inhabited by the Pineda clan, petty bourgeois shopkeepers who exhibit straight porn for a mainly gay male clientele. Hardly the first movie ever made about a movie house, Serbis has affinities with Tsai Ming-liangs Goodbye Dragon Inn (2002) and Jacques Nolots Porn Theater (2003), but its less wistful and more graphic than either. Also more self-reflexive. Surrounded by giant posters of smoldering, barely sarongd hotties, the Pinedas live both at the movies and in one, just as Mendozas film serves to comment on those that are screened. Serbis is just a day in the Familys life: As the boys father preps the concession stands deep-fried treats, another member of the Pineda clan freshens the paint on the gaudy posters of naked pulchritude that decorate the theater, then bandages a boil on his posterior. More outrageous than prurient, Serbis has no shortage of appalling detailsits ideal spectator might be John Waters. But for all its gross-outs, it is an essentially modernist enterprise in which figure and ground, character-driven narrative and celluloid spectacle, are in continual flux. Serbis may be a raunch-fest but its also a mind-tripa raunch-fest with ideas.
Starts: Feb. 20. Daily, 2009