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
Of all Shakespeare's plays, The Tempest gives directors perhaps the greatest opportunity to cast spells on the audience. It's not just to do with the bewitching poetry and the sorcery-infused plot -- in which Prospero, a banished duke with magical powers living in exile with his daughter, Miranda, on a mysterious island, calls forth a raging sea storm to bring about revenge on his enemies -- but also the many scenes that invite inventive staging. Lillian Groag, the director of California Shakespeare Theater's new production, is something of a Prospero herself, for this Tempest glimmers with enchantment. Playful spirits dressed in white Asian-style suits with kabukilike makeup and elaborate hair decorations dart about the simple sandy island setting; tiny lights twinkle in the trees behind the open-backed stage; smoke billows out from beneath the banqueting table to help Prospero's hardworking spirit, Ariel, scare the bejesus out of the vengeful duke's shipwrecked foes. Not that this production relies upon bells and whistles to weave its spell: The true magic lies in performances such as Mhari Sandoval's liquid-lithe Ariel and Anthony Fusco's surly Prospero, as well as in the production's ethereal design, lighting, and sound.