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
Born to a wealthy Jewish family in Vienna, Lily Renée had her first work displayed in a gallery at age 6. Following up on this success, Lily’s mother submitted a photograph by the gifted child to a contest where the first prize was a showbiz contract, which her father forbade her from accepting. In 1938, at age 13, Renée’s life took a dramatic turn: Austria was annexed by Germany, and her family sent her to England to live with a pen pal to escape the persecution. It wasn’t long before London came under siege, too, and Lily found herself in New York, attempting to make a living while furthering her art — which had taken the form of comics and illustration. It’s fitting, then, that her amazing story is the subject of the new graphic novel from Trina Robbins, Anne Timmons, and Mo Oh, Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer. Whether she’s fleeing the Nazis, attempting to fit in with English culture, or fending off chauvinistic advances in low-paying positions in America, Lily Renée has embodied “escape” as well as “artist” throughout her life.
Thu., Jan. 26, 7 p.m., 2012