An Amateur Photographer's Collection of Polaroid Men
He was a psychologist who worked for the city of Los Angeles with incarcerated patients. An orchid enthusiast who converted the pool house of his Beverly Hills home (formerly owned by Jim Nabors!) to a greenhouse where he’d create hybrids.
And at night, Dr. Hull was an avid amateur photographer, or should we say, pornographer.
His Polaroids from the 1960s document in personal, one-of-a-kind images, dozens of men posing at his home. Were they friends? Sex partners? Were they paid? Did they come for a few beers and, you know, things happen?
In varying states of undress, they’re all about the same age, trim and fit. They smoke. They drink. They strip. They flip through magazines: Follies and Muscleboy.
There are plenty of dicks and more than a few erections but there’s no sex. When a guy lies on the bed, the sheets may be rumpled but he’s alone.
Compared to what we commonly see today it’s all pretty darn chaste. Beyond any prurient interest, these photos serve as a diary of one man’s private encounters and offer a peek into a shared gay past. These guys aren’t living in fear or isolation even though the outside world could be a dangerous place.
Sodomy was a felony in every state until 1962, punished by a lengthy term of imprisonment and/or hard labor. Mailing images with frontal nudity was illegal until 1967-68. People who were outed routinely lost their jobs and families. Photographers were harassed and arrested.
Pictures like these could get a guy into a lot of trouble. They remained hidden for 60 years, coming to light only after Dr. Hull’s death. The fact they’ve survived is a minor miracle.
The fact they exist is a miracle of technology. Polaroids were the hot new thing in the 1960s. For the first time since the creation of photography you didn’t need to develop negatives or risk sending them out to a lab.
No need to wait more than a few minutes as the photo gradually, magically appeared. The immediacy was fun and exciting, creating an instant bond and an enduring memorial. Something entirely new was created when gays got their hands on a Polaroid camera. Stonewall and Gay Liberation were just around the corner.
See the Polaroid Collection.