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
Willingly seduced by the mammoth ad budgets and slobbering self-interest of big corporations, television has degraded and Disneyfied big-time professional sports to a disgusting degree. Athletic competition is secondary; the name of the game is entertainment and marketing. Ratings and sales determine the winners, not rings or trophies. (To paraphrase a bumper sticker: If you dont hate Fox Sports, youre not paying attention.) From todays vantage point, William Kleins nearly unknown 1982 documentary, The French, provides a startling and instructive glimpse of the semirecent, semipure past. The renowned photographer-cum-filmmaker made brilliant use of his backstage pass to the 1981 French Open to capture the unmediated psychological intensity of mano-a-mano tennis at a moment when the sport boasted its most colorful and talented array of characters and egos. Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Björn Borg, and Chris Evert lead the clay-court deities Kleins camera zeros in on, affording us a privileged, locker-room view of world-class athletes in pressurized circumstances. A moving marriage of art and exertion, The French screens today as part of the energizing series Beyond ESPN: An Offbeat Look at the Sports Film, which continues through Aug. 30 with such stunning sports classics as Verónica Chens doc about swimming, Agua; a multidirected film about the '72 Olympic Games, Visions of Eight; and Hellmuth Costards study of soccer player George Best, Football as Never Before.
Aug. 6-30, 2 p.m., 2009