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PHOTOS: ‘Bruce of Los Angeles’ Babes Could Be Your Grandpa, But Who Cares?!

Bruce of Los Angeles: Inside/Outside by Bruce Bellas, Text by Vince Aletti, published by powerHouse Books

Before Robert Mapplethorpe captured the curves and crevasses of grungy NY beauties and Bruce Weber snapped chiseled hunks for the likes of Vogue and Calvin Klein, there was another Bruce —Bruce Bellas. Or as you may know him if you’re up on your queer history, Bruce of Los Angeles.

In 1947, Bruce of Los Angeles started photographing the male physique in order to assist artists in accurately rendering the form. Or at least that’s the story everyone stuck to.

Bruce of Los Angeles: Inside/Outside by Bruce Bellas, Text by Vince Aletti, published by powerHouse BooksBy skirting around harsh censorship laws, artists like BoLA paved the way for mainstream homoerotic body worship, something we at Queerty know very little about.

113674385_-the-male-figure-magazine-volume-31-bruce-of-los-angelesSince there seemed to be so many artists in dire need of a steady stream of “inspiration,” Bruce launched Male Figure Magazine in 1956 and continued to immortalize his bronzed demigods through the ’50s and ’60s. If you can manage to get your hands on these vintage treasures, you’ll surely have the best coffee table material of any of your friends.

How do the manties of yesteryear compare next to their modern counterparts?

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34EdgarHayes1947 Bruce of Los Angeles: Inside/Outside by Bruce Bellas, Text by Vince Aletti, published by powerHouse Books H0132-L00355529

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64Horrigan

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Bruce of Los Angeles by Dolinsky, Jim (Ed.)

59Fuller

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bruce

bruce_of_los_angeles-male_bodybuilders~OM173300~10636_20111213_2265_228

By:           Dan Tracer
On:           Jan 19, 2014
Tagged: , ,

  • 10 Comments
    • robirob
      robirob

      Now, that’s some history lesson I approve of. Hubba-hubba! Makes me want to look for my DVD of the Beefcake movie directed by Thom Fitzgerald in 1999.

      Jan 19, 2014 at 6:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Taliaferro
      Taliaferro

      I love these classic photos when form took precedence over sex and one’s imagination was allowed to work and create myriad worlds of possibility. There is something to be said for not letting it all hang out. Truly suggestion is often hotter than reality.

      Jan 19, 2014 at 8:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CaptainFabulous
      CaptainFabulous

      I love this stuff. I would have been awesome to have been part of it at the time.

      Jan 19, 2014 at 2:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stache1
      Stache1

      Totally amazing. If you restyled their hair they could be very modern looking hotties. Assuming that some of them are still alive it would great to get some today pictures of them.

      Jan 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz
      Fitz

      @CaptainFabulous: mmmmm.. things were not so wonderful then. I just mean study some gay history— we have been through a lot of hell.

      Jan 19, 2014 at 11:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ringo
      Ringo

      What I like about these photos is how natural they look. The guys don’t look like they’ve been through a photoshop filter and covered in makeup.

      Jan 20, 2014 at 12:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CaptainFabulous
      CaptainFabulous

      @Fitz: True, a nice time to visit tho I’m not sure I would want to live there full time ;)

      Tho there is something to be said for living in a time like that. Most of them flew under the radar and had loving relationships that spanned a lifetime, all out of the public view and hidden away. There is some appeal in that.

      Jan 20, 2014 at 1:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bruce
      Bruce

      These photographs were often sold in magazine form as “studies for artists” and you could order original prints for a few bucks , they were stamped “Bruce of L.A.”, “Western Guild”, etc. Most gay men in the sixties and seventies found this kind of Beef Cake kind of cheap, tacky or just not Cool.
      When I first came to New York you could still buy these photographs in porno shops along 42nd St. There were even prints of a young Joe Dallesandro still for sale!
      But to put in context, this was still the period of long hair, laid back attitudes with casual sex and nudity, everywhere, the natural body was in and gyms and muscle boys were out. You could still be arrested in some cities, if you were seen coming out of a gay bar and you were charged with hustling or male prostitution or whatever the cops felt like charging you with! And Photography had not yet, reached the level of fine art, yet.
      I came across some of these prints in the late 80′s when a little porn shop was going out of business and me and another photographer/artist/friend, picked up quiet a few of these prints very inexpensively and within a year or two there were major galleries, charging pretty hefty prices for these same prints; matted, framed and under glass, of course.
      How times have changed , huh ?

      Jan 20, 2014 at 11:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Reid Condit
      Reid Condit

      My grandpa Mike Sill? No, he was only a few years older than me when I used to buy Male Figure from LA and Hollywood news stands. Covering up is still hot but doing so in an N2N thong is hotter than in what Mike wore then. . . . O pioneers! Does anybody know whether any of those guys have made oral histories — I mean the kind you access in gay archives? I’d love to know what they thought they were doing in the age of Hollywood slumber parties besides changing the world.

      Jan 20, 2014 at 11:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gaym50ish
      gaym50ish

      Notice how many of them were sucking in the gut, though. It wasn’t required in those days for male models to have six-pack abs.

      Jan 21, 2014 at 6:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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