Sunday, December 2, 2007

The beginning of the gay rights movement/NAMBLA and the decisions which led to where we are today

It is very hot in my apartment as I am cooking a quiche and it's raining outside.
I have been neglecting my blog lately, yes in a large part due to the fact that I'm busy, but also that I felt I was painting myself into a box lately, limiting myself to discussing what others may find interesting and not necessarily what interests me. Also, sometimes, as right now, you sit down with a grand scope of an entry you want to produce and it's difficult to reproduce to my satisfaction.
Saturday I received my copy of the Complete Reprint of Physique Pictorial, 3 volumes, about 2,500 pages from Austria. Here's some sample pictures:

Now in 1951 when this magazine was started, these pictures were the utmost in smut and challenged the landscape to become the one we have today. The best part of this magazine is that it promotes itself for "health professionals" and includes letters from priests advocating the beauty of the human form and stating explicitly that this magazine is not for "homophiles" as they were known in the day.
[It's disruptive, I had a store chicken with 700 cases of salmonella for dinner and I keep having to get up every 10 minutes to go to the washroom]
Anyway, the other great part of this magazine is that each model is literally surrounded by text about them (see example:)

This Bob Mizer included to give some history of the models and show some of their personality. It really gives a sense of the porn ("modeling") world that I had never considered before. The comments are all quite catty, "This model was late and uncooperative" "This model got out of prison recently and has a bad temper" to "This model burned down our storeroom and is in police custody" to "This model used the money we paid him to get very drunk and died choking on his own vomit in a motel room". It really succeeds in showing the other side of modeling, especially working with men, that no one before or since has discussed. These are for the most part not choir boys looking for extra money on their way to a doctorate.
Bob Mizer's words are by far the best thing about this book, the labour of love he put into this magazine that made every page his own. From the beginning where the editorials he wrote are about why this magazine should be allowed to be printed in 1951 to 1991 and the last issue where this magazine had become outdated by mainstream pornography and he only had a handful of subscribers, and he spends his time justifying the magazines existence, which ended with his death.
This, and my recent search into gay novels of the past, led me to more of these "physique" pictures and I purchased this one off eBay:

It's hard to imagine that 50 years ago when this picture was printed it was considered illegal to possess it. Our culture has become so sexualized now that this picture could be hung on a wall of a museum with no one taking notice. In European magazines this picture could be used to sell cologne in Vogue magazine. So now we know what changed and how quickly, but why, and to get to that, I want to point out some subtleties.
I was looking at my (recently banned) copy of Straight to Hell from 1982 (current issue shown:)

and noticed in the back ads for similar magazines, mostly independently produced titles shipped out of people's basements, that ended within years of the videocassette revolution. But one title was still (supposedly) printing to this day, the Nambla newsletter.
Nambla (The North-American Man-Boy Love Association) began in December 1969 as a part of the larger group The Gay Activists Alliance. It's original purpose was to ensure no one was left behind and to correct mistakes made when homosexuality was legalized, such as when England made the age of consent for gay men 21 in 1967, not lowering it until the 1980's and when Canada made the age of consent for gay men 18 (14 for straight sex) and didn't lower it to 16 until the year 2000.
Now what made me focus on this was in the early physique pictorials, while most of the men are over 20, I found one (clothed) 14 year old amateur body builder and later in the early 1980's, one nude 17 year old. None of these would have been printed today, and Bob Mizer himself acknowledges he would not use models under 18 in future shoots, but at the time these were form studies, not pornography, and so not illegal?
A similar case has occurred recently with police confiscating a photo belonging to Elton John from an art gallery, claiming it was child pornography:

And in reproducing the photo here, I do acknowledge this blog may be shut down, but it shouldn't, as I've broken no Canadian laws, and it bugs me that I have to justify it, even a little. Elton John's reaction was to close the entire show, it had run all over Europe and if one country wanted to censor it, then he was not going to show any of it.
And this is the quagmire I did not want to get bogged down in, with all the reading I've done and so many topics to cover, I am starting to lose my way.
I find it interesting that Nambla dissolved into a fringe group of Grecko/Roman pedophiles. The fact is they were the only ones that felt strongly enough about it to continue. In the early 80's the war cry from the homosexual community became "We're just like you!" even though we're not, and anyone who did not fit into that was left behind. Today, while briefly reviewing Nambla's website, it is clear that even this group has succumb to conformity, with the majority of text being written over 100 years ago and nothing offensive on the site whatsoever. Two things that stood out were a program where if you had a loved one who was incarcerated for molestation you could write to them to help make sense of it, and a prison Christmas card program where you can send festive wishes to inmates, which I support, but not enough to write one myself. Perhaps I'll ask if anyone is a card writer at my next Conservative Party meeting.
I fear I'll have to answer questions with more questions. Why is it as the world has become more accepting of sexuality has a modern witch hunt occurred to "protect" children. Should the nude 17 year old have been removed from the Physique Pictorial reprint? And why was it ok to print in 1997 but now now? One of the most striking things about this is that there is no discussion whatever on the subject as everyone with an opinion contrary to the majority is branded a pervert. I think the reason this has been an issue for the gay community is that you don't know you're gay until you're 13 or 14. Then it's only a four year wait until you can act on it.
I find it so interesting that as the world has gotten bigger, everyone is trying to be more similar.
I hope we can remember that nothing is ever black and white, and hold on to shades of gray.
Two things to close:
The first is the text with the 17 year old model from Physique Pictorial (It took me forever to find it) "Blackie Preston at age 17 (born Oct 17, 1946 in Cypress Calif (but was raised in Maryland) German/Irish/Fr. 5'7 155 lbs works at construction. Also used to work in Bruce of L.A.'s darkroom. Like to break wild horses, ride rodeo, shoot pool."
The second is to those that say there is no witch hunt or the reaction is justified, the other day I recommended a film to a co-worker about two 16 year old boys who fall in love, discover themselves, blah-blah, and when I took him to the film's website he said "Oh, you have to be careful with that stuff" and ran for his life. The second thing is QUITE a few times I have seen pictures from established Studios using models in their mid 20's and someone on a message board says "He's too young, I'm getting out of here and reporting you to the police!" It's gotten to the point of stupidity.
I accuse Goody Dunn!


Anonymous said...

Are you familiar with local T.O. playwright/author Darren O'Donnell? ( He has an interest in the participation/exclusion of children in the public realms of life that sort of overlaps with what you're driving at here. He has, for example, an art project where children give haircuts to adults.

Danny T said...

1) Congratulations, you finally understand the concept of puberty.
2) A straight guy with pictures of naked little girls are just as unacceptable.
3) For a straight guy, you sure talk a lot about "Gay" subject matters!?!?!