Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Great Vintage Photos of Real Gay Interest

OK, there's absolutely no doubt. These guys are flirting with each other and they're about to kiss.

It's all very innocent as they stand in the sunshine, in the middle of a dirt road, hands behind their backs, cardigans buttoned, ties knotted. But you can feel the sexual tension.

We're certainly not looking at father and son, or a couple of affectionate brothers. These two are kissing cousins at least. Finally somebody selling photos on eBay that really merit the tag "gay interest."

The next snapshot shows 4 men making a groin-powered choo-choo train all their own. The "A" on the sweater stands for Ashville NC in case you're curious. While equally suggestive, it isn't as overtly gay. Who knows, maybe they're just a bunch of guys have fun sitting on top of each other.

To my surprise the second photo sold for $272 and the two men about to kiss sold for $48.00. I would have predicted just the opposite result. Shows you what I know....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Affectionate Men Tintype

This category of photos seems to be immune to the effects of the recession. This tintype of two men recently sold on eBay for a whopping $280.

Why so much?

There are different levels of intimacy revealed in these photos, which seems directly connected with the prices they fetch. And this one suggests a very close relationship. I'd guess, father and son.

It is, in any case, charming. The young man sits on "Dad's" lap, casually draping an arm around his shoulder. It's hard to imagine any boy over the age of 7 who would be comfortable sitting on Dad's knee like this, or any Dad willing to be this close to his son. It's just too risky now. Too bad.

On the other hand, the guys in this photo are much closer in age, which makes their display of affection more "suspect." I learned many years ago from art historian Leo Steinberg about the "slung leg motif." It was a common visual code for sexual liaison going back to the 16th c.

Now I'm not suggesting these two guys were queer, or that they were art historians. But I see in this portrait a sexual energy which makes it far more interesting as homobilia.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Portrait of a Narcotics Dealer

This wonderful photo was sold recently on eBay (for $3.99 plus shipping). I could kick myself that I didn't get it! Written on the back: "Paul Le Baron, Narcotic Seller," with a date stamp of Aug 24, 1927.

Googling Paul Le Baron didn't lead me back to 1927 but there does appear to be a cop with that name on the narcotics beat in Long Beach.

So all we know is what was written on the photo and what we see in the image: a sweet, gentle, wistful, gender-bending man sitting at a table in a bar or cafe. Did he ever see the famous portrait of Marcel Duchamp as Rose S√©lavy, (c. 1920–1921)?

Of course Paul was not as stylish as Rose (though he's certainly got style) and there's no trace of make up. Unlike Duchamp who faces the camera in a direct, almost challenging expression, Paul looks off to his right which reflects shyness or wariness, or both.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Young Athlete

Handsome young athlete in a formal studio pose, wearing his letter sweater. Let me guess, Vermont? There's something compelling about the simplicity and sense of calm. And something timeless about the guy.

Although undated, it is likely from the 1920s. Check it out at

Bodybuilders: Vintage photos

Some terrific and rare images of classic bodybuilders in classic poses (though not exactly 200 years as the video claims (photography wasn't even invented until the 1820s). Interesting comments too... all about steroids and bench-pressing as if there is no homosexual sub-text to all of this male beauty.