It all started with the still image. Back in the good ole days, men who appreciated male beauty didn't have DVDs or online porn to excite them. They looked at pictures. And starting in the early 1950s, magazines like photographer Bob Mizer's Physique Pictorial used beefy bodybuilders, military guys and blue-collar workers clad in posing straps and bathing suits to create what are now iconic homoerotic images. Mizer had formed the Athletic Model Guild in Los Angeles in 1945, shooting mostly bodybuilding poses and wrestling moves. Artists such as Tom of Finland, George Quaintance and later David Hurles of Old Reliable followed in his footsteps. Now, Mark Kliem's Vintage Bareback Web site keeps the dream alive by preserving a large selection of these classic photos for a new generation of fans.
Its latest offering is a 1962 edition of The Young Physique Annual, a beefcake magazine that showcased muscle studs in posing straps and not much else. "The photography is almost on par with fashion magazines of the time," Kliem says, "and since the guys mostly kept their clothes on and didn't have to do much man-on-man touching, the photographers were able to recruit a wider range of beautiful men." And beautiful they were. But the photographers of the time had more to deal with than just finding talent. It was their job to take pictures that were hot enough to inspire their mostly closeted gay readers to risk ordering the illicit material, which was still illegal to ship by mail at the time.
There are 70 arty photos from this issue, and Kliem says that although the paper it was printed on was low-grade, his scans are good. So why not take a look at some of the manly men your "confirmed bachelor" uncle was jerking off to back in the day? For more information, visit vintagebareback.com.