Saturday, September 3, 2011

New York 2011, Day One

I'm a little behind in my blogging as I haven't been feeling well.  I've got a cold or flu or something and staying up late to blog after my adventures hasn't yet been an option. I finally bought some cold pills and took them today, it's 1:30 now and I hope to quickly type this out.
I started off my vacation well, Porter flight was great as Porter always is but the negative is you don't pre-clear customs like you do at Pearson so there was a huge line when we got to Newark which took about 45 minutes to get through.
I took the train to Penn Station and then a taxi to the hotel.  The hotel is amazing, I love it, I love having my own air conditioner, lots of space, I can walk to Grand Central Station and Times Square, love it!
I dropped off my stuff and went out to the Museum of Sex.  There were no photos allowed but the guards were all chatting to each other and not paying attention so I took a bunch, particularly on the Samuel Steward exhibit.
I took this with my Ipod as there were several people around.  The male and female real dolls.  These things cost like thousands of dollars.  Two questions came to mind, where do you put it when company comes over? and look at the guys face, it's straight out of a horror movie, who could have that around and not hide in fright?
Okay then on to the Samuel Steward exhibition.  It was fantastic, better than I could have hoped, and as it was near the back and all about gay sex, there were very few people there and no guards so I was able to snap away.  I realize I uploaded a lot of photos here but as anyone who has read the book Secret Historian by Justin Spring can attest, these are all major artifacts of gay life from the 1950's and seeing them in person was incredible, I couldn't trim these photos any further. Click any of the photos to enlarge them.
This was Steward's "Stud File" where he kept index cards with every man he slept with all indexed and cross-referenced.  First of all doing this on a type-writer would have taken forever, and secondly with the McCarthy witch hunt senate hearings going on at the time, this one item would easily have put Steward in jail for many years. It's amazing that it exists and it's amazing it survived, so often when gay men die their overtly gay or sexual items get tossed out by family.

A list of payments to hustlers over the years.  Some of these numbers are quite high given what you could get for $5 at the time.
A sample card from the stud file.  Steward wrote in code for some things, mostly in French which he had learned in Paris while visiting Gertrude Stein and other notables. "$3 mille" is three thousand and "Amoureux" is obviously love.  Perhaps this code wasn't that well thought out, I just broke it.  Listed below are all the dates they had sex.  Did he re-type this every time?  Yikes.
An ad for Steward's Tattoo shop, for which he had to adopt an alias.  The alias became less effective as he became the most notable tattoo artist of his day and lost his teaching job.  What was great in the book was when Steward tried to buy a set of tattooing needles he found it very difficult.  There was no internet, he had to go in to tattoo parlors and ask and they didn't want to tell him as it would just be more competition.
I love how overt the ad below is. The ad for the tattoo shop lists the times the trains leave back to the military base!
Steward's autograph book with a signature of Rudolph Valentino.  Mr. Steward was 17 when he met and slept with Valentino and took a lock of his hair.  Valentino died soon after.
This is fantastic, a contract between Steward and one of his students at the time exchanging sex for grades.  The fact that it was typed and signed and still exists is brilliance. It's unfortunate that there are so few places who would keep something like this.  It should be displayed in museums as part of an exhibit that travels the world, it speaks to Steward's audacity, the sexuality of the times, it's fantastic.
A letter, mentioned in the book, written to Steward by George Platt Lynes, a famous photographer in the day.
Steward's collection of Polaroids.
Look at how big this camera is!  And it's a Polaroid!  How do you casually whip this out? Who exactly are all these young men willing to be photographed in sex acts and where are they now?
Steward paid a huge sum, like $300 in the late 1950's, for an illustrated version of Querelle De Brest by Jean Genet while he was in Paris.
More Polaroids, there were boxes.  Again, who are these men? What is their number?
The sign at the entrance of the exhibit.  I took this last as it was nearest the door and I didn't want to be caught taking it first and not get any of the other shots!
Most of the exhibits at the Museum of Sex are frankly crap.  The whole third floor is dedicated to sex between animals with like stuffed penguins.  Who cares?
On the floor beneath the Steward exhibit was an exhibit on cartoons and sex which was quite good, well worth seeing. A highlight for me was the Eric Stanton piece below.  He only draws straight scenes but I love his art, his empowered dominatrixes and their pointy tits; fantastic detail and colour.
This was a giant head statue near Bryant Park. I thought this photo would look weirder than it does, I think the day was a little too overcast.
I stumbled across a statue of Andy Warhol.
And I ended up in Grand Central Station, which is the nearest subway stop to my hotel!
End of day one recap, 2:08 am, gotta go to bed!

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