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Joe Dallesandro, photo credit unidentified, the original version features a different crop.


Beefcake is a slang word for erotic images or realistic photos of any well-muscled, well-built man, in a word play on 'cheesecake', used since 1934 of images of sexy young women. The photographs are usually of shirtless men. Beefcake is often used to denote male sexual attractiveness stemming from physical build, but is also used by women and men interested in bodybuilding and weight training.

Unidentified issue of Demi-Gods magazine

Many professional male bodybuilders advertise their services, offering advice concerning nutrition, training, etc., often marketing their videos in which training programmes are demonstrated.

Since the late 20th century it has become more evident that buyers of such videos are attracted not just by a bodybuilder's mere bulk of muscles, but also by his toned body and sexual appeal. Browsing through a number of bodybuilders' home pages, one occasionally finds videos advertised which are said to include "frontal nudity", "sexually explicit material", etc.

A recent movie of the same name details the history of the Athletic Model Guild, an early company known for their photos of men. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beefcake [Dec 2005]

Athletic Model Guild

The Athletic Model Guild was an organization founded by gay pioneer Bob Mizer in the mid-1940s. US censorship laws at the time allowed women to appear in art in various states of undress, but not men. Parts of Asia have similar rules on the books today. Bob began his business by taking pictures of guys, both gay and straight, whom he knew ; usually not wearing anything. Many of these would appear in pictures which, while focusing on fitness tips and the like, were largely vehicles for the nice eye candy (a cousin to the "reading Playboy for the articles" argument).

As time went by and the laws were being questioned both in and out of court, AMG's pictures alternated between literally painting in "speedos" in the appropriate places for the pictures of men and having the models simply wear posing straps. After long legal battles, AMG eventually did away with clothing altogether, though by this time the newly-found freedom meant AMG suddenly had a lot of competition, some being in it for the quick and dirty buck, rather than an aim at more innocent, and possibly informative, fun.

Several muscle stars and actors, both gay and straight, of the day got their start posing for Bob and his friends. It is estimated that he took pictures of over 10,000 men throughout the course of his career. Andy Warhol's bisexual friend Joe Dallesandro, recently seen standing among the rows of people in Calvin Klein's CK One and Be ads, was among his models. He went on be an actor in Warhol's, and other's, movies, both adult and mainstream. Ed Fury and Glenn Corbett, of 77 Sunset Strip were among some of the other more well-known subjects.

Like Andy Warhol Bob actually had his mother living with him at some points ; even helping out with the business while guys, usually skinny-dipping, swam in the pool outside!

A recent movie, entitled Beefcake, combines actual footage with recreated parts and showcases the basic story of the organization, as told through the eyes of a fictitious main character (who could easily be a composite of the many men Bob met). The dvd edition of the movie includes some rare AMG films, near-impossible to find otherwise, as an added bonus. A majority of the films and photos from the company were inherently nonsexual in nature. The more innocent times simply had guys posing, sometimes more than one, not wearing anything, for whomever desired it. Actual model profiles and nutrition tips did appear in the magazines the company put out.

AMG's business did appear in court, for a combination of charges (censorship laws, drug use and prostitution - sometimes the guys would make a little extra money renting themselves out). AMG argued it was the business of the models, not theirs, to police themselves. Despite some setbacks the organization continued until the sexist laws were changed. After Bob passed away he left his large collection to Wayne Stanley, a friend and legal advisor. Wayne is retired, himself, so he just recently (2004) sold the entire collection to a photographer named Dennis Bell, who is in the process now of restoring, archiving and displaying the works. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletic_Model_Guild [Dec 2005]

Beefcake (1999) - Thom Fitzgerald

Beefcake (1999) - Thom Fitzgerald [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Genres: Drama
Plot Synopsis: This film looks at the 1950's muscle men's magazines and the representative industry that were popular supposedly as health and fitness magazines, but were in reality primarily being purchased by the still underground homosexual community. Chief among the purveyors of this literature was Bob Mizer (Daniel MacIvor), who maintained a magazine and developed sexually inexplicit men's films for over 40 years. Aided by his mother (Carroll Godsman), the two maintained a stable of not so innocent studs. At the end, the film moves into a court room drama as Mizer is tried for running a male-prostitute ring in the early 60's. Clips of Mizer's actual films starring individuals, such as Jack LaLanne and Joe Dallesandro, are included. --via Amazon.com

The Complete Reprint of Physique Pictorial: 1951-1990 (1997 - Taschen Publishing

The Complete Reprint of Physique Pictorial: 1951-1990 (1997 - Taschen Publishing [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Popular demand for these homoerotic images grew, and Mizer looked for another way to distribute them. In 1951, he began publishing Physique Pictorial, a pocket-sized magazine created especially for a gay audience. Eventually there were several dozen physique magazines, serving as many as 70,000 readers by 1958. Many also included illustrations and launched the careers of erotic artists such as Tom of Finland. Gay men signed up for subscriptions or bought the magazines at newsstands, though at that time doing either was considered extremely risky. --http://www.planetout.com/news/history/archive/09271999.html [Jan 2006]

See also: gay - homoeroticism - erotica - homosexuality - sex

Tom of Finland

Tom of Finland: The Art of Pleasure () - Micha Ramakers [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"If I don't have an erection when I'm doing a drawing, I know it's no good." —Tom of Finland

Brawny hunks boasting larger-than-life muscles and skin-tight leather pants…. Crotches engorged and nearly ripping apart seams…. Men upon men upon men cavorting and indulging nearly every possible fantasy…. Tom’s men are so hot they’re off the Richter scale. Until TASCHEN published the retrospective volume on this master illustrator’s work, his drawings had been relegated to the walls of gay bars and adult shops. Our first publication of this book helped Tom’s influence as an artist extend far beyond the gay scene. Now this masterwork is finally being made available again, in a more compact format, for any and all to enjoy. --via Amazon.com

Tom of Finland (May 8, 1920 – November 7, 1991) (born Touko Laaksonen in Kaarina, Finland) was a fetish artist notable for his stylized homoerotic art and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_of_Finland [Jan 2006]

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