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
Franz Szony has the kinds of dreams usually seen only on screen — in Hitchcock’s Spellbound perhaps, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer — with bleeding, anthropomorphic objects and monkeys in tasseled hats. Combined with a background in fashion illustration, his photos neatly pack sex, death, decay, and rebirth together in the portmanteau Hapenis. Szony sews costumes from scratch, and designs elaborate sets reminiscent of a Baroque opera in which the wires and cables are visible without dispelling the magic. For the titular Hapenis piece, (try to say that without giggling) he places a model wearing a dress painstakingly adorned with thousands of Swarovski rhinestones on a 17th-century throne in the center of a set strewn with dismembered and distressed pianos. And there’s a monkey. With that much preparation, he prefers the terms “photographic painter” or “character portraitist” to “photographer.” In a documentary about the making of Hapenis, Szony said, “The goal for this photo, really along with the goal for all of my photographs, is to seduce the viewer with something beautiful. But because my images are always twisted in some aspect, I hope it leaves the viewer questioning.” The results are beyond our wildest dreams.
Wed., July 11, 7 p.m.; Mondays-Fridays. Starts: July 11. Continues through Aug. 4, 2012