Male Beauty: Postwar Masculinity in Theater, Film, and Physique Magazines
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Explores how a younger and more sensitive form of masculinity emerged in the United States after World War II.
In the decades that followed World War II, Americans searched for and often founds signs of a new masculinity that was younger, sensitive, and sexually ambivalent. Male Beauty examines the theater, film, and magazines of the time in order to illuminate how each one put forward a version of male gendering that deliberately contrasted, and often clashed with, previous constructs. This new postwar masculinity was in large part a product of the war itself. The need to include those males who fought the war as men—many of whom were far younger than what traditional male gender definitions would accept as “manly”—extended the range of what could and should be thought of as masculine. Kenneth Krauss adds to this analysis one of the first in-depth examinations of how males who were sexually attracted to other males discovered this emerging concept of manliness via physique magazines.
“The transformation of how masculinity was presented and perceived after World War II is at the forefront of analysis in Male Beauty. This definition of what constituted the look and appeal of the male gender broadened to include a younger and more sensitive side of manhood. In a scholarly and personable way, Krauss documents the prime examples of this transition through the early 1960s with over 130 photos.” — RAGE Monthly
my sister. My father worked every day but Sunday, from eight in the morning, when he would open the men’s wear shop that he managed, until six in the evening, but on Mondays and Fridays until nine o’clock. When he was home, he did very little although he and my mother often argued. By the time I comprehended that I had a memory, around the age of 3, my brother was gone, off to college and then, because of a serious illness, in the hospital for several years. So the people who raised me were
his own dislike for the boy: “You couldn’t have stood it, could you if I’d proved you wrong?” Tom asks. “You’d made up your mind long ago, and it would have killed you, if I’d proved you wrong” (75). What Tom has been referring to is that Bill had decided Tom was “queer” long before the accusations were made, a fact that is made clear early in the play, when Bill argues with Laura about the validity of the claim that Tom and Harris were having sex. “Look at the way he walks, the way he sometimes
himself from his roles. His insistence on not being confused with Stanley, for example, was often repeated in interviews. Here, however, he confesses how very much he identified with the character. Second, despite critical pans, spectators were drawn to the film and Brando’s performance in it. Perhaps the reason that The Wild One resonated DOING AND UNDOING MASCULINITY 155 so deeply with audiences was that it was one of the few movies that, as Brando ultimately put it, touched on what he
controls the rights for photos and publications originally created by Chuck Renslow. Without their cooperation, I would not have been able to illustrate Chapters 7, 8, and 9. All photos taken by Bob Mizer and/or featured in Physique Pictorial are reproduced through special arrangement with AMG and the Mizer Foundation; all photos taken by Chuck Renslow and Kris Studios and/or featured in Renslow’s and Kris’s publications are reproduced through special arrangement with Leather Archives and Museum.
which Mankiewicz took advantage of the actor’s classical profile and sculpted physique. With his hair clipped like Augustus’s and his frame in a scanty peplos, Brando made the back cover of Bob Mizer’s Physique Pictorial (Winter 1954–1955), the first and in many ways most influential of the early physique magazines that featured photos of partially unclad men for the pleasure of other men. He also appeared in Tomorrow’s Man (September 1955) and The Body Beautiful (August 1957). At least among