Love & Sex

This Stockpile of Vintage Gay Magazine Erotic Art Is Heating Up NYC

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Coming to a museum this spring.

In the 1950s, every newsstand and magazine rack across the country was carrying a secret collection of gay, erotic illustrations passed off in the form bodybuilding magazines, health journals, and sometimes artists' anatomy guides. The shame of buying such a magazine – especially within a small town – always mixed with the exhilaration at the idea of seeing a perfectly formed male physique. As soon as they were purchased, they were often hidden way under the mattress for secret moments of "personal reading."

The distribution of these magazines, which was allowed by the US Supreme Court in the late 1960s, became a key player in the sexual revolution, but illustrations and gay spank mags in general have since been made obsolete by videos, DVDS, and all the free porn you can gobble up on XTube. 

An upcoming exhibit at the Leslie + Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art will be the first ever to explore the era's hidden gay private life provided by these magazines. Stroke: From Under the Mattress to the Museum Walls will feature 80 original illustrations by 25 artists curated by iconic gay artist Robert W. Richards. It opens March 28 and runs until May 25. Thank god they don't have to hide under the mattress anymore.  

Here's a look at some of the featured images from Stroke. (NSFW)


George Stravinos, Untitled, 1977.


Michael Breyett, Kiss Me Senator, 2005. 


Michael Breyette, Power Bottoms, 2013. 


Michael Kirwan, Car Park, 1999.


George Stravinos, Man Exercising


Robert W. Richards, Toby Boy's Life series, 1984.