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
The departure of guitarist Ed Mundell from New Jersey-based power trio Atomic Bitchwax back in 2003 could easily have been the death knell for the band, what with its riff-centric sound and the marquee factor of Mundell's connection to Satanic drug-rock maestro Dave Wyndorf and his Monster Magnet (the guitarist replaced original MM axman John McBain in 1993). But drummer Keith Ackerman and bassist/singer Chris Kosnik soldiered on, recruiting fellow Jersey product and onetime Core guitarist Finn Ryan, and taking a more melodic approach for 3. "The Destroyer" and "Dark Chi" balance Kosnik and Ryan's solid vocal harmonies on the hook-heavy choruses with Ackerman's propulsive skin-bashing and some crushing power-trio interplay. Longtime fans worried about not getting their prescriptions for wah-wah guitar and cowbell filled needn't worry; a faithful cover of the swaggering Deep Purple chestnut "Maybe I'm a Leo" and the blazing instrumental "Force Field" will mollify those wary of Ryan's jamming, jazz-psych tendencies with Core. Local acts Drunk Horse and Dirty Power may pull off more memorable takes on '70s retro riffology, but Atomic Bitchwax still stands out from the legions of stoner rockers pillaging Black Sabbath's back catalogue for song ideas.