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
Its hard being a human, but being a common person in China is even more difficult, one tearful shopkeeper says along the soon-to-be-submerged banks of the Yangtze River in Sino-Canadian documentary filmmaker Yung Changs lucid, beautifully observed portrait of the same incipient flood zone that served as the backdrop for Jia Zhangkes Still Life and its companion documentary, Dong. Whereas Jia turned his attention to the two million zombielike former residents forced to relocate on account of the worlds largest hydroelectric-dam project, in Up the Yangtze, Chang focuses on the luxury pleasure boats that sail up and down the titular waterway, offering tourists a farewell cruise through this ghostly landscape of crumbling buildings painted with water-level markers (150m, 175m, etc.). The ships themselves are hardly less surreal, as elderly cabaret singers rub elbows with young Chinese staffers who have been given American names and instructed in the politesse of dealing with the (mostly) Western clientele. (Dont talk about monarchies, royal families, Northern Ireland, or the independence of Quebec.) By journeys end, Yung has found, in the Yangtze, a brilliant natural metaphor for upward mobility in modern China: Whether they hail from the lowlands or the urban centers, everyone here is scrambling to reach higher ground.
June 13-20, 2008