Your cart
translation missing: en.general.icons.close_alt Icon

Blog

Censorship and Sensibility

After more than 10 years operating our website on the Shopify platform we were shocked and disappointed to be given the option of either deleting the site's male nudes or covering-up their genitals.

Shopify implicates their "banking partners" but it is, regardless, censorship. This is especially ironic given our mission to increase visibility of and for the queer community. We see gay people, and sometimes they're naked.

Practically since the invention of photography in the 19th Century, male nude photos have been exchanged and collected by men all over the world. In the 1950s and 60s, physique magazines made these images (often with posing straps) widely accessible. They played an important role in fostering a sense of community, conveying the vital message that "there are others like me."

Many photographers have been victims of police raids and intimidation, their photos destroyed, equipment and mailing lists seized, livelihoods destroyed. (Mel Roberts is just one example). All because of the absurd Puritanical notion that the male body is by definition obscene.

Censorship today is subtler but more insidious. Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and now Shopify ban "genitalia." To be fair, Shopify also bans female nipples. It is probably only a matter of time until we're required to add pasties to male nipples.

It is absurd, offensive, and without any reasonable justification. That said, we are powerless in this situation, forced to collaborate if we want to stay in business. The First Amendment protects against censorship imposed by law, but according to Wikipedia, "does not protect against corporate censorship... including loss of access to a marketplace."

We welcome your thoughts, comments and suggestions. Please contact us if you'd like to see uncensored scans which we'll happily send via email (until they start censoring email too).

Continue reading

4th Annual LGBTQ+ Auction at Swann

4th Annual LGBTQ+ Auction at Swann

It's massive! Over 400 lots in Swann Auction Galleries' upcoming LGBTQ+ Art, Material Culture & History Auction (August 18, 2022).

The sale features original artwork by Tom of Finland including the stunning Portrait of Eric, and works by artists associated with or influenced by Tom (Sadao Hasegawa, George Quaintance, Jim French, and Rex and Etienne).

Photography collectors will find images by Peter Hujar, George Platt Lynes, Robert Mapplethorpe, Duane Michals, Vincent Cianni, Tom Bianchi and Bruce of LA.

There's also historical material from the early years of the gay liberation movement, AIDS era posters and works by Oscar Wilde, Hugh Steers, Paul Cadmus, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Andrew Lamar Hopkins, Avel de Knight and many others.

Continue reading

Photo of the Month: July 2022

Photo of the Month: July 2022

Summer on the Cote d’Azur. Could be July 1946. That’s when French engineer Louis Reard introduced the bikini. Reard named his design for the Bikini Atoll, where the first post-war tests of the atomic bomb were taking place.

Wearing a bikini and lounging on a chaise is the nubile “Queen of the Cote d’Azur,” Mme. Viseuse. Her top– a pair of rigid cones. We see her face in profile as she turns to look up at two bodybuilders standing beside her.

Battendier, barely contained in his swimsuit, literally and figuratively looks down at her. If he’s getting hard it’s not because of the lovely Mme. Viseuse. If he’s not hard, well, I shudder to think.

The other muscle god, Marcel Rouet, was twice awarded le Plus Bel Athlète de France (1936 and 1943). According to Wikipedia, he wrote "seven works on sexuality, in particular by approaching this theme through the mind." Ogling his body, it's not the angle I'm considering.

Rouet gazes upon Mme. Viseuse with a bemused expression, or maybe he’s incredulous. Obviously a posed image, it captures a candid moment like a good snapshot.

Written on verso: Mme. Viseuse, Reine de la Côte d'Azur en companie de Battendier, Apollon de la Côte d'Azur et Marcel Rouet, le  Plus Bel Athlète de France.

Stamped "Photo Serge," gloss paper, 9 1/2" x 11 3/4," undated.

Continue reading

Pride and Pirates: Aargh!

Pride and Pirates: Aargh!

Photo of the Month: June 2022

A shaft of light? A tractor beam? Probably doesn’t matter to this young guy who surrenders with one hand and smokes with the other.

His back is against the brick wall. His shirt is AWOL. But his expression is coy, almost come-hither. All we know for sure is the date of the photo: June 1936. 

Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition

Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition: English Sea Rovers in the Seventeenth-Century Caribbean

A must-read for anyone interested in academic gay history and/or pirates.

The classic depiction of pirates: sword (or bottle of rum) in one hand, the other fondling a buxom wench, is a hetero-normative fantasy. So argues historian B.R. Burg’s scholarly examination of homosexuality on the high seas.  

Burg’s careful research proves that the “Golden Age of Piracy” (1650 to 1730) was an oasis of male to male sex and loving relationships. Most pirate officers had their “lads,” and the working crew had each other. In fact, it was pirate society that instituted “matelotage” where same sex partners would contract their assets to each other - a 17th century equivalent of gay marriage. 

Sidenote: Two Arrghs and a bag of doubloons to the creators of the hit HBO series “Our Flag Means Death” for not just reading this book, but having the balls to incorporate Burg’s research into the show.

Continue reading

Photo of the Month and Other News

Photo of the Month and Other News

Peter and I

Handsome, fully clothed Mr. Black Hat (is it Peter or I?) drapes an arm around his underwear-clad mate. Mr. Silly Hat nestles against his chest, rests a forearm on his leg, and grabs hold of two fingers. More than friendship, their intimate pose suggests union:  possession. They belong to each other.

Handwritten on verso: "Peter u. Ich 1957."

Stamped: Drogerie Eduard Schultz, Langendreer Denkmal. (The Headless War Memorial in Langendreer is an interesting story in itself).

4” x 3” gloss print on Agfa Brovira paper, Germany, dated 1957.

Maitland’s Vintage Gay Books Newsletter

Her prose outshines that of the gay pulp novels she reviews. But with style, a touch of cynicism, and a sly sense of humor, Maitland McDonagh reveals a surprising amount of depth in books generally prized only for their covers. 

Take this example from her post on Vampire’s Kiss.

vampire's kiss vintage gay pulp novel 

If only Damon could silence the mean-spirited subconscious that keeps telling him he hates absolutely everything about the life he was barely living before he hopped into bed with a member of the queer undead.

Think of her blog posts as the Cliff Notes of gay pulps. Yes, she actually reads them so you don’t have to! But her reviews are not to be missed. 


The Pine Walk Collection

Recently found in a house on Pine Walk, there are over 200 cassette tapes of DJ sets from Fire Island Pines and New York City (1979-1999). Digitized, remastered and offered to stream for free on Mixcloud with permission from all of the living DJs they were able to contact. 

The New York Times notes: “More than a catalog, the tapes are the soundtrack to a critical juncture in gay history as the AIDS crisis emerged and a new generation of activists fought for their rights and survival.”

Continue reading

The Gloria Gross Archive of 70's Men's Fashion Photos

The Gloria Gross Archive of 70's Men's Fashion Photos

This collection of vintage 70's fashion photos was acquired from the estate of South African-born Gloria Gross. Gloria was a fashion designer, book illustrator and graphic artist. In 1965 she arrived in London, at the time a magnet attracting talent from around the world.

Design work in the UK, Europe and Japan built her reputation. In the early 1970’s she was designing clothing for men including international celebrities Sean Connery, Sammy Davis Jr., Marcello Mastroianni, Marcel Marceau and Tiny Tim. Her most influential and memorable designs were for legendary singer Tom Jones.

Along with the other designers featured in this collection, Gloria was part of the “new school” of fashion that began in the late 60s (as distinguished from the “old” classic fashion like Dior and Chanel). The focus: “wearable” clothes. The emphasis: simplicity and minimalism.

The new school designers glorified the tall, lean figure. Turtlenecks, slim-fitting shirts and jackets, capes and tight-fitting flared pants all contributed to the silhouette. Long hair was ubiquitous.

Impacted by the Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation movements, the other hot trend of 70s men’s fashion was a more gender-neutral expression.  

To understand how revolutionary this was, consider the historical context. After WWII men returned from military service anxious to fit in, to be identified with the establishment.

In the 1950s, the age of conformity, individual style was almost exclusively the domain of women’s wear. For men, fashion consisted of a gray flannel suit, white button-down shirt, skinny tie and hat. The 60's changed all that, and the 1970's took it to new levels.

Besides Gloria, the designers in this collection are all European: Bert Zuiderveen, Haarlem; Massimo Datti, Rome; Miguel Diaz, Barcelona; Ruben Torres, Paris; and Christopher Franck, Denmark. Photographers are Jurgen Kriewald and Erik Skriver.

Most of the photos were part of a 1972 show organized by the International Institute for Cotton and include credits and descriptions taped to the verso. They’re all black and white, ranging in size from 7 1/2" x 9 1/4" to 9 1/2" x 11 ¾."

See the collection.

Continue reading

Auction Highlights: Rago, 16 February 2022

Among the listings for the upcoming auction: "Property from the Collection of Seymour Stein" we found these gems by George Tooker, Hernan Bas, René Lalique and Stephen Tennant.

George Tooker 1920–2011
Sleep, 1964
tempera on board
estimate: $60,000–80,000


gay art

Hernan Bas b.1978
Bait, 2003
watercolor, gouache, acrylic and pencil on paper
estimate: $10,000–15,000


gay art

René Lalique
Athlètes panel, model C
France, c. 1928-30
molded glass, metal frame
estimate: $40,000–60,000

and this slightly more affordable watercolor...

gay art

Stephen Tennant 1906–1987
Egyptian Sailors; Lascar (two works), 1939
ink and watercolor on paper
estimate: $1,000–1,500


Continue reading

Cain of London: Sale of Gay and Leather Fetish Photos

Cain of London: Sale of Gay and Leather Fetish Photos

On November 18, 2021 a large collection of prints, contact prints, negatives and ephemera from the estate of Anthony Clifford Burls (AKA Cain of London) was sold by Dominic Winter Auctioneers for £6,000.

Not so well known on this side of the Atlantic, Cain photographed shirtless fairground workers, footballers and guys in leather, often on motorcycles. Most of the photos were taken in the late 1960s and early 70s.

Continue reading

Ed Theriault, Vintage Physique Photo by Russ Warner

Ed Theriault, Vintage Physique Photo by Russ Warner

Dramatic vintage photo of the amazing Ed Theriault, by Russ Warner c. 1952. 

Theriault packed a huge amount of muscle onto his 5'-1," 132 lb. frame. He was known for combining bodybuilding with gymnastics and hand balancing.

In "Your Physique" magazine he was described as "the most perfectly developed man of his size in the world." He humbly responded: "I'm proud to accept such acclaim although I feel I don't deserve such a unique distinction." He died in 2003, age 84.

Sepia print with gloss finish, 7 1/2" x 7 1/4," with studio stamp on verso.

Very good condition overall but there are a number of corner bends and some white dots. Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions regarding condition.

Looking at the notes on the verso, this photo was sent to the printer along with instructions. "April MP, p. 24, duotone..." 

1947, Canada's Most Perfect Physique - IFBB, Most Muscular, 1st

1948, Mr Eastern North America - IFBB, Short, 1st

1949, Canada's Most Perfect Physique - IFBB, Winner

1950, Best Developed Athlete in America - IFBB, Short, 1st

1959, Universe - IFBB, Short, 1st 

 

Continue reading

Queer Eye for Caravaggio

Queer Eye for Caravaggio

The only known Caravaggio ceiling painting, it spans a small room (approximately 30 square feet) in Villa Aurora in Rome. The mural represents three gods, -- Jupiter with his eagle, Neptune with his seahorse, and Pluto with his three-headed dog Cerberus -- gathered around a translucent sphere.

It was commissioned by cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte in 1597, who used the room as an alchemical laboratory.

It's an astonishing work of art in many ways, but there's one detail that stands out to the queer viewer. Pluto has a healthy patch of pubic hair above his dick. Which is to say, he has a "dick," not a "penis." And seen from below it's almost as if the viewer is on his knees looking up at it.

Maybe not surprising that Caravaggio represents Pluto, god of the underworld, with genitals exposed.

caravaggio ceiling mural detail

Continue reading