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
Other than a few tasty tidbits, like the fact that he wrote Joseph McCarthy's will while still a young family attorney, theres not much fresh news about William Kunstler in this documentary. Plodding diligently through the irascible lefty lawyer's career, Disturbing the Universe travels from his radicalization during the trial of the Chicago 8, through his long roster of civil rights cases, to his defense of alleged rapists and assassins that cost him the support of many former admirers. What makes the film fascinating is the anguished dance around hagiography performed by two of his daughters, who wrote, directed, and narrated the movie. Born when he was close to 60 years old and now in their early 30s, Emily and Sarah Kunstler want to know whether their late father was a lone fighter for social justice or a narcissist so addicted to the media spotlight that he was willing to take on "some very bad people." Well, both, of course, but the film shows how tough it was to be the children of a Biblically charismatic persuader (his idol was Michelangelo's David) who found the sound of his own orating voice irresistible. He wasn't aloneup pops Alan Dershowitz, proud defender of Claus von Bülow and other notable sleazebags, to needle Kunstler for taking on unworthy cases. Kettle, meet pot.
Nov. 20-26, 2009