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
One of the last remaining voices of the great 1960s Southern pantheon that included Otis Redding and James Carr, Solomon Burke produces a benevolently gritty blend of gospel, country, and rhythm and blues that was successful on both the pop and R&B charts, and influenced iconic singers Van Morrison and Mick Jagger. His robust baritone has aged quite well, still scaling high notes with majestic conviction, remaining resolutely dignified even while emotively imploring, "Let Somebody Love Me." It's an elite song interpreter who can remake another's song into his own, which Burke gloriously achieves here, covering the Band's "Makes No Difference" and the Rolling Stones' "I Got the Blues," slathering each with a honey-thick soul sauce made from sumptuous Hammond B-3 organ, scintillatingly spare electric guitar, mournful horns, and a sanctified female chorus. Aside from King Solomon's '60s recordings for Atlantic and Bell, it doesn't get much better than this.