Thursday, December 31, 2009

Playgirl Magazine, January 1975

 ---  H A P P Y  N E W  Y E A R  ---

The Playgirl editors really knew how to kick-off 1975...Beginning on page 18 of this SPECIAL HOLIDAY ISSUE was this naughty "Playgirl Fantasy: New Year's Eve, 1948" pictorial (below). Also included in this jam-packed magazine were these exciting stories and photos: Rex Reed The Inside/Outsider, FDA Coverup on Contraceptives, How To Be a Good Mixer,The Disillusioned Generation, Serpico of the Senate,Playgirl's Man for January Bob Prince, You Want Something Neurotic, Don't You?, An Interview with Totie Fields, and Playgirl's Discovery Man.

---- H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R ----

Joseph Christian Leyendecker, Artist and creator of the"Baby New Year"

Talented Joseph Christian Leyendecker was first commissioned to illustrate the cover of the Saturday Evening Post way back in 1899. This would begin a forty-four year long career for the gay artist.  While he worked on many accounts (including some amazingly sexy ads), for this post what's important is that Joseph was the man credited with having the idea of using a baby to illustrate the birth of a new year.  Leyendecker faithfully returned to the baby theme at each New Years holiday. Eventually, the term "Baby New Year" became a part of the holiday itself.  While there are some very rare print examples of a baby used prior to his work to signify a new year, in terms of mass-communications and cultural recognition, it was Leyendecker's chubby little darling that people took to.  Keeping up with current events of the year, Leyendecker would show the baby in all types of poses in relevant settings. Mr. Leyendecker's life is as interesting as his artwork, and both will be the subject of a story in 2010.

Tick Tock Goes the Clock...

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It may not be "vintage" yet, but in just a few more hours, VGMH will officially welcome 2009, as it becomes part of our history.  What are the stories that you think mattered the most in 2009?  Here's some suggestions (not in any specific order):

Obama, Rick Warren and The Justice Department Defends DOMA...Tension between the LGBT community and Barack Obama started when he called on homophobe Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his Inauguration in January.  Things only intensified the following months, creating a powder keg of resentment in much of  the LGBT population. Gay men were still being removed from the military.  Everything exploded in June, when the Department of Justice filed a brief defending the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).   While the Department of Justice, according to most LGBT law scholars, was legally required to defend DOMA, the brief' itself was homophobic and was viewed as a slap in the face and insult to every normal gay and lesbians in the country. In defending the DOMA, the Obama Administration's Justice Department compared "same-sex-marriage" with "incest" and "pedophilia."  White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Los Angeles Times that the Justice Department was following its normal practice of defending current law. "The President has said he wants to see a legislative repeal of DOMA," he said. "However, until Congress passes legislation repealing the law, the administration will continue to defend the statute when it is challenged in the justice system."

Richard Socarides, a former top Justice Department official in the Clinton White House, in as many words called this argument bullshit:  "I know and accept that one of the Justice Department's roles is to (generally) defend the law against constitutional attack," he wrote. "But not in all cases, certainly not in this case - and not in this way ... Where there are important political and social issues at stake, the President should make a policy decision first and then the lawyers figure out how to apply it to actual cases. If the lawyers cannot figure out how to defend a statute and stay consistent with the president's policy decision, the policy decision should always win out."

California Tries to Overturn Prop 8...YUK, what a mess! In a state that has a tradition of progressive thinking, it seems that a majority of California voters didn't think gay and lesbians deserved total equal rights. Early in 2009, hope arrived in the form of a lawsuit to overturn Prop 8, but that hope was lost in May. Later that same month, high-powered lawyers were hired to challenge Prop 8 in the Federal court system. A debate also began among California LGBT activists, as they weighed the risks of putting Prop 8 back on the ballot in 2010 or 2012.

Congress Lifts the HIV Travel Ban...After decades of lagging the world, the federal government finally dropped the ban on letting HIV-positive people into the country. Decades after most countries had dropped their own bans on travel of persons with AIDS since there was no scientific basis for the laws, America continued to enforce it while the rest of the world denounced this discriminatory behavior. President Obama promised to end the ban during his campaign and kept his promise within months of his inauguration.

Inclusive Hate Crimes Legislation Passes...President Obama signed the first pro-LGBT piece of legislation in United States history when he put his signature on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The legislation was first proposed a decade before after Shepard, a gay college student from Wyoming, was beaten and tied to a fence to die. Contributor Cathy Renna was one of the first LGBT activists to reach Matthew's hospital bedside and worked with his mother, Judy Shepard, to ensure passage of the legislation. The new law has already been instrumental in forcing an investigation into the death of Puerto Rican teenager Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado.

Houston, Texas elects first openly gay mayor...The southern city of Houston late Saturday became the largest US metropolis to elect an openly gay mayor when Annise Parker, an open lesbian, claimed a solid victory over her rival. "I know what this win means to many of us who thought we could never achieve high office," she said in her victory speech, at which she introduced her partner Kathy and their three children, according to the Houston Chronicle.  "I understand, because I feel it, too. But now, from this moment, let us join as one community," said Parker, 53.  According to local election data, Democrat Parker won about 53 percent of the vote and opponent Gene Locke, also a Democrat, took 47 percent.  The population of the Texas city is about 2.2 million.

Obama Extends Some Health Care, Other Benefits to Domestic Partners of Federal Employees...Under fire after the DOMA debacle, President Obama made this overture by extending some benefits to federal employees. Gay leaders said the move was mostly political and didn’t substantially affect federal employee rights. For that, they say to stay tuned next year on the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which just was voted out of committee in Congress.

New York Senate Rejects Gay Marriage...Both the New York state assembly and the governor said gay couples should be able to get married. But in December the state Senate said no. As New York has one of the highest gay populations in the country, gay marriage there would have been as important as marriage in California.

Washington Passes Everything-But-Marriage Law, Citizens Affirm Through Referendum 71...When the state legislature passed Bill 5688, granting domestic partners the same rights as married couples, Referendum 71 was introduced to take those rights away.  A legal war began, making national news with battles over whether the referendum could be blocked, whether signatories could be revealed, whether the signatures were even valid, and whether its wording was too confusing. But at the end of the day, voters in my home state approved the referendum, letting the domestic partnership law stand.

Wisconsin Passes Domestic Partnership Law Despite Constitutional Ban on Gay Marriage...This state’s passage of a domestic partnership law was particularly important because the state’s constitution bans same-sex marriage. It showed how a state legislature could work against a constitutional ban on gay marriage and still provide gay couples with legal rights enjoyed by married couples. This is important, because many states have such a ban in place. The legislature had to provide fewer rights to gay couples than it wanted to prevent domestic partnerships from looking too much like gay marriages, which the state constitution bans. As a result, Wisconsin gay couples don’t get everything-but-marriage, but they still have more than they did before.

Maine Passes Same Sex Marriage Law, Voters Overturn It...Back in May, it looked like Maine would be the 6th state to allow gay marriage. This would have been the first state to legalize gay marriage through the legislature instead of through the courts. But state voters said otherwise. Just like every other time gay marriage has been put up to a popular vote, they approved a referendum that overturned the law.

Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont Legalize Gay Marriage...While the same sex marriage law in New Hampshire won’t actually take effect until the new year, gay couples in Iowa and Vermont can get married today. The addition of three states to the list of those allowing gay marriage makes 2009, despite setbacks in other states, overall a very good year for legal rights of gay couples.

If you have any other ideas for top stories for 2009, please add them in the comments! Thank you.

1920's Men's Advertising







Tuesday, December 29, 2009

1920's Backlash in the 1940's: The Sad Life of Sports Legend Bill Tilden and Attitudes about Gay Athletes


After having won seven U.S. Open Championships and leading the U.S. Davis Cup team to seven victories, William "Big Bill" Tilden was considered to be one of the greatest tennis players (and indeed one of the greatest athletes) of the modern sporting world. Tilden had became the first American to win Wimbledon when he took the title (amazingly back-to-back!) in 1920 and 1921 (and he would go on to win it a third time during his life). His articles and books on tennis were so authoritative that they remain classics in tennis literature to this very day. In 1925, Tilden won 57 games in a row! It was a feat that Frank Deford wrote was "one of those rare, unbelievable athletic feats, like Johnny Unitas throwing touchdown passes in 47 straight games or Joe DiMaggio hitting safety in 56 games in a row, that simply cannot be exceeded in a reasonable universe no matter how long and loud we intone that records are made to be broken." By the close of the 1930's Mr. Tilden was considered one of the most influential American athletes of the previous twenty years, alongside Babe Ruth, Red Grange, and Jack Dempsey. come he's not widely-recognized, or his win records celebrated in sports history today?

Tilden was able to enjoy the freedom that the "Roaring Twenties" allowed for people to be themselves, and by the time of his Wimbledon wins in 1920 and 1921, the sporting world had already long suspected that he was gay, but nobody seemed to care because of the greatness he exhibited on the court. He was a gifted sportsman, and his wins demanded a level of respect that he received. A natural athlete, Tilden didn't even begin to play the game seriously until he was 19.  While he was cocky and arrogant, he was able to back it up with results in his game. He proved that he could also represent the best of sportsmanship when he wanted to;  If an official incorrectly made a call that unfairly favored Tilden, he often deliberately missed his next shot in order to restore fairness to the game. In the Davis Cup, he once allowed James Anderson to win a whole set in order to make up for a bad call that had (wrongly) given Tilden a set point.  In terms of his sporting performance, Tilden would have made the perfect example of what a gay athlete could achieve.

Yet, as his wins set new world records, another reputation (off the court) began to be noticed by those in the tennis sports world. Tilden began taking young ball boys and tennis protégé’s under his wing, and was frequently seen traveling with his underage companions to tennis matches. In 1918, he teamed up with then 14 year old Vincent Richards and they made a successful win at the U.S. Doubles Championship. Their close relationship off the court was a controversial topic, but Richards was just one of many boys around the sports star. If Tilden suffered from some horrible sickness or perversion,(pedophilia), there seemed to be no proof other than jealous gossip and those troubling sights of him with young boys. All of that would change.

At the age of 37, Tilden returned to Wimbledon and became the oldest champion ever when he took home the trophy (as mentioned, his third). After that victory, he all but retired from tennis and began to pursue his dreams of becoming a Hollywood player in the movies. Very rich, Tilden began to invest his money into unsuccessful film projects. He used his celebrity status to make friends with many Hollywood stars of the era. and coached many of them in tennis, including Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, and Tallulah Bankhead. He especially became good friends with Charlie Chaplin. Tilden played at Chaplin's tennis parties, where he coached Errol Flynn, Joseph Cotten, Montgomery Clift, Spencer Tracy, and Olivia deHavilland.

The rumors about boys followed him to Hollywood, and there were stories that he had promised the parents of handsome young males that he would groom them into becoming stars (the stardom part never actually materialized).  Eventually, he was banned from many tennis clubs because of suspected cruising of young men in the lockers and showers. On November 23, 1946, Tilden was arrested with an underage boy on Sunset Boulevard. Two police officers saw a car driving erratically. The driver appeared to be an underaged male. An older man (Tilden) had his arm around the youth. When the officers pulled the car over, the man hurriedly changed places with the boy. The officers noticed that boy's fly was open. The police arrested Bill Tilden. Initially, it's reported that Tilden was numb from shock. He signed a confession without even looking at it. When he recovered, he asked for a lawyer. He wanted Jerry Giesler, who had achieved fame by defending Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn in suits resulting from their own sexual problems with the law. Giesler wanted no part of him: it seems that he defended only rich heterosexual sexual predators. Tilden finally engaged Richard Maddox, a young former prosecutor.

Both of the males in the car said that the relations were consensual (and no doubt his fame and money helped) and the sentence was reduced to "contribution to the delinquency of a minor" and he served only 30 weeks of a one year sentence. Sadly, Tilden emerged from jail appearing unmoved to many.  He continually stated he had been set up, and at least for a brief time, enough people seemed willing to accept this excuse. While there was some press about the arrest, it was not played up nearly as much as it could have been had the final charges been worse.

Just over two and a half years after his release from jail, on January 28, 1949, Tilden was arrested again. This time it was a 16 year old hitchhiker Tilden had picked up that filed the charges, stating Tilden had emotionally and physically "harmed" him. There was much speculation about the claims (and motive) of the hitchhiker and what was (and wasn't) consensual between them.  In the end, Tilden avoided the most serious charges, which carried a potential ten year sentence. He wound up only serving ten months, as the judge ran the molestation charges concurrent with the probation violation.

1920's BACKLASH in the 1940's
During the late 1940's the United States was swept by a number of panics, of which anti-Communism and homophobia were prominent.  In 1949, the excesses and what would be considered as "moral depravity" of the 1920's would be used by right-wing and religious leaders as proof that liberal living was evil and dangerous to everything working-class families respected and cherished.  In this nervous environment, the Tilden case was sensational news and enforced the scare that all homosexual men were potential child molesters. Around the world, news spread quickly after the second conviction and changed the way that millions viewed him (and by proxy gay men in general) in a negative light.

Exposed as a gay pedophile, tennis shunned Tilden. His achievements in the sporting world continue to be ignored as much as possible (the debate also continues with regards to how much of this is due to his being gay vs. his horrible crimes against boys).  The once-great player, who at one time earned upwards of 500,000 dollars while on tour, had to pawn his old trophies and lived in a sparse rented room near Hollywood and Vine. He had in his possession $88.11 at the time of his death. Friendless and penniless, in 1953 at the age of 60, Bill Tilden died of coronary thrombosis. Although Tilden is widely considered to be the greatest tennis player of all time, his life story is also the most tragic.

To get an idea of the gay/pedophile reporting that Tilden generated, that still is communicated to the world, take at look at this Sept  2009 CNN Sports story:

Tilden's favorite place to play tennis in Hollywood was Charlie Chaplin's court in the Hollywood hills (above photo). Shown here are  Chaplin (horizontal) Douglas Fairbanks (headband) and Manuel Alonso. Circa 1923.

Books still read today:
•It’s All in the Game, and Other Tennis Tales. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1922.
•Lawn Tennis for Young Players. London: Methuen, 1922.
•The Art of Lawn Tennis. New York: G.H. Doran co., 1922
.•The Common Sense of Lawn Tennis. London: Methuen, 1924.•The Phantom Drive and Other Tennis Stories. New York: American Lawn Tennis, 1924.
•The Pinch Quitter, and Other Stories for Junior Players. New York: American Lawn Tennis, 1924
.•Me- The Handicap. London: Methuen and Co., 1929.
•Glory’s Net. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1930.
•How to Play Better Tennis. New York: Cornerstone, 1950.