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October Photo of the Month

October Photo of the Month

Nothing new here, just a couple guys getting ready for a party. Today this intimate, behind the scenes peek hardly seems more radical than watching Mom apply her makeup.

But this snapshot is part of an album which documents the vibrant gay subculture that flourished in Hollywood after WWII. The photographer is unknown; the locations unspecified. Some guests are identified by first and last name in handwritten captions. Others are more cryptic: “Bill A.” and “Bob B.”

This is no random group of revelers. There’s a strong sense of community. Many of the partygoers show up year after year (in different drag, of course). As amusing and entertaining as the photos are, there’s something serious going on. These people challenged the strict gender norms of the day and in doing so, engaged in a glamorous act of defiance.

While they blurred the boundaries of gender identity in Hollywood, the Under Secretary of State John Peurifoy was testifying before a Senate committee in Washington about a "homosexual underground" in the State Department. With the help of Joe McCarthy, he ignited the "Lavender Scare" in 1950.

At the time, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. Gay men and lesbians were considered susceptible to blackmail, thus constituting a security risk. In 1953, President Eisenhower ordered the firing of every gay man and lesbian working for the government. The resulting purge ended careers, ruined lives, and impelled many to suicide.

While not directly connected to this government outrage, there is a shocking double suicide revealed within the pages of the album.

A clipping from the Los Angeles Herald & Express (Nov 17, 1955), tucked between two blank pages, reports “2 Men Take Own Lives in Different Ways.” One of the men, a Beverly Hills hairdresser, William Henry Shaw, was a frequent guest at the annual parties and shows up several times in the album.

The other man, Paul Welty, was a married electrical engineer whose wife “knew of no reason why he would commit suicide.” The article implies a connection between the two suicides. “Paul” appears in the album three times.  

 

Vintage snapshot from an album of 178 black and white photos.
Dated 1949.
Private Collection.

 

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Surprising Bruce of Los Angeles Auction Results

Surprising Bruce of Los Angeles Auction Results

The highlight of the recent sale at Palm Beach Modern Auctions is a lot  comprised of five items from the archives of Bruce Bellas: A red arched seat used as a prop in many of his studio photos, along with four images of models posing on it.

Although the estimate was $1,000 to $2,000, this lot sold for a whopping $14,000. Holy posing strap, Batman! 

 

 

 

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September Photo of the Month

September Photo of the Month

September. Back to school. Football. Four jocks from the team casually pose for a photo in the locker room. Tall, tough, confident. Tight abs, thick necks, a wisp of underarm and a dusting of chest hair. 

They exude the nascent bravado of boys on the cusp of manhood. The seated guy even sports the remnants of a black eye. 

And there, off to the side, is the nerd. Hands clasped, thin-haired, short and bespectacled, he wears a letter jacket and an expression midway between adoration and anguish. 

Surely he’s not a member of the team. Maybe he’s the towel boy. He seems content just to be in the same space, to bask in the glow of their testosterone. 

The other guys don’t register his presence but no matter. If he’s patient and discreet he may behold the outline of a dick or the contours of a butt in that magical moment when the towel falls to the floor.

Of course I’m projecting. But isn’t that what great photos inspire us to do? 


Vintage photo, stamped on verso: Carl Smith Photo, Chula Vista Calif. 
Undated c. 1960.
Private Collection.



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August Photo of the Month

August Photo of the Month

This is something you don't see on the beach everyday, unfortunately.

How did they actually get into this arrangement? Is it painful? Erotic? Both? They required only a tiny adjustment for the top man to be strictly vertical. Never a fluffer when you need one.

4" x 5" sepia photo on heavyweight textured paper c. 1960.
No studio marks.
Private collection.

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July Photo of the Month

July Photo of the Month

This transgressive, gender-bending sepia photo shows a handsome young guy wearing what I’ve come to think of as a hairkini. It’s topped with a pleated bonnet which looks like a flattened lampshade. The pencil moustache is decidedly debonair and recalls Errol Flynn c. 1940.

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This Week's Auction Highlights 5.14.19

This Week's Auction Highlights 5.14.19

A record-setting price for our eBay auction of this Jean Ferrero photo of Mr. Universe 1964, Rick Wayne flexing bicep: $665.00.  

In typical eBay fashion, after the auction ended and the photo was paid for and shipped, they cancelled the listing because their penis patrol was protecting innocent children from seeing a male body. One of the many reasons we prefer to sell on the Shopify platform (where, incidentally, other photos from this series are selling for $145).

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This Week's Auction Highlights 3.3.19

This Week's Auction Highlights 3.3.19

In addition to the items displayed here on Homobilia, we also run weekly auctions on eBay

This week, a rare Colt Studio photo of George O'Mara sold for over $200. 

Keen to stoke the theme of homoeroticism, Morrissey chose this buttock-baring photo for Hand In Glove, The Smiths' first release.   Andy Rourke's Dad wasn't pleased. The bassist said: "He said to me, 'That's a bloke's bum' and I said, 'yeah' but when he asked me why I just didn't have an answer for him."

The 5" x 7” original vintage photo, has a gloss finish and dates to the mid-1970s. 

The sale price: $204.50. See more photos by Jim French, Colt Studios.

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This Week's Auction Highlights 12.31.18

This Week's Auction Highlights 12.31.18

In addition to the items displayed here on Homobilia, we also run weekly auctions on eBay

This week, another stunning photo of handsome bodybuilder Rick Wayne sold for over $200. 

Rick "Mr. Universe" Wayne was a favorite model of French physique photographer Jean Ferrero, who created Studio Ferrero in Nice in 1954. 

The 3 1/2" x 5” original vintage photo, has a gloss finish with a studio stamp on the verso. It likely dates to the mid-1960s. 

The sale price: $213.00. See more photos by Ferrero.

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