Many a gay man has blown a load over the postcards of Wilhelm Von Gloeden. In 1877, the self-proclaimed aristocrat settled in the Sicilian town of Taormina, with vast wealth and camera equipment at his disposal. He spent the money to put an army of peasant boys on his payroll, and he used the camera to take pictures of the boys wearing togas or head wreaths, redolent of Greek pederasty. Its erotic art, not porn. But there are dicks, bums, and spindly, hairless legs galore.
The photo shoots (and midnight orgies at Von Gloedens pad) aroused no outrage in the town itself, where the images were sold as postcards at the local gift shop. In fact the cards reached mass production and were circulated across Europe and America for a while. Fascists destroyed much of Von Gloedens work in 1933, but what survived is on display at the World Erotic Art Museum from 11 a.m. to midnight through July 27, as part of the exhibit Gay Art: From Ancient to Modern. Admission costs $15.
June 28-July 27, 2008