*Buying Gay*

…what I found as I traveled around the country researching was that the notion of a “gay market” was already enjoying wide currency nearly a decade before Stonewall.  It was most clearly visible on the nation’s newsstands.  A social scientist who examined the largest newsstand in Dayton, Ohio, in 1964 found twenty-five magazines targeting a gay audience — so many that the salesperson had established a special section for what he called his “homosexual magazines.  He mixed the magazines of the homophile political organizations, ONE and Mattachine Review, with the far larger cache of physiques.  With twenty or more “little queer magazines” on American newsstands, each selling between twenty thousand and forty thousand copies, physique magazines represented a major industry.

…Editors of tabloid and mainstream magazines realized the extent of this market whenever they published an article on homosexuality and saw their sales soar.  Homophile leaders, too, saw how putting the words “the Homosexual Magazine” on their otherwise demurely titled ONE magazine increased sales.

That is from the recent and quite interesting book by David K. Johnson, Buying Gay: How Physique Entrepreneurs sparked a Movement.  Remind me again, this earlier media landscape was a) worse than the internet, or b) better than the internet.  Which one was it again…?  In any case, this book is an excellent reminder of just how much the early gay political movement was tied to markets and consumer capitalism.

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c) Gayer than the current internet

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“All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away; all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life and his relations with his kind.“

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Roy Cohn was undoubtedly a regular reader, as long as homosexual was not in the title. Roger Stone: "Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men. Gays were weak, effeminate. He always seemed to have these young blond boys around.'

Is that a Roger Stone quote? Because it’s almost verbatim Cohan’s self-description as written by Tony Kushner in Angels in America:

“ Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in fifteen years of trying cannot get a pissant antidiscrimination bill through City Council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Who have zero clout.”

“ I have sex with men. But unlike nearly every other man of whom this is true, I bring the guy I'm screwing to the White House and President Reagan smiles at us and shakes his hand. [...] Roy Cohn is not a homosexual. Roy Cohn is heterosexual man, Henry, who f--ks around with guys.”

Full Stone quote, from Jeffrey Tobin - In a 2008 article published in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin quotes Roger Stone: "Roy was not gay. He was a man who liked having sex with men. Gays were weak, effeminate. He always seemed to have these young blond boys around. It just wasn't discussed. He was interested in power and access."

That Stone would remember Cohn's own evaluation of himself is no surprise. That Cohn was in such deep denial of being gay by the current meaning of the term may or may not be surprising.

Here's an interview with Roy Cohn and Gore Vidal: Cohn had more gay mannerisms around his mouth (what Italian grandmothers call "the gay face") than Vidal did:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaP1tkKrCWw

I've seen another video of Cohn in which he spoke with a lisp (the hissy gay lisssssssp rather than the Daffy Duck lithp) as well as the tell-tale gay mannerisms you see in this video.

People knew Cohn was gay back in the 1950s. The 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings that destroyed McCarthy were due to Cohn's gay crush on his assistant G. David Schine and Cohn's rage that the Army drafted him and wouldn't station him near Cohn. The Army's lawyer Joseph Welch maneuvered McCarthy into saying the word "fairy" on the record, which was apparently seen as a hilarious self-diss of what had turned into a Big Gay Fiasco.

Tom Wolfe said the most interesting thing about Cohn was that he was that rarest of child prodigies: a litigator prodigy. E.g., he prosecuted the Rosenbergs when he was only 23.

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Cohn had more gay mannerisms around his mouth (what Italian grandmothers call "the gay face") than Vidal did:

It's your imagination, Steve.

Cohn's voice isn't notably sibilant and you wouldn't notice anything if you did not know his was a homosexual. Vidal, like Buckley, had a mid-Atlantic boarding school accent of a sort that was rare enough in his cohort that it sounds affected. (I've known women from those cohorts with that sort of accent, never men; one of them told a story on herself of a country club waiter who picked out the precise school she'd attended based on how she'd pronounced a particular word).

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That Cohn was in such deep denial of being gay by the current meaning of the term may or may not be surprising.

Cohen was flagrant. In the words of Sidney Zion, 'he lived in a neon closet'. He simply did not wish to make an explicit public point of it because he had other priorities. It's testament to how inane is contemporary discussion of this subject that a comment as stupid as yours gets uttered.

Like Liberace, Cohn was vehement in denying he was gay, regardless of how flagrantly gay we consider them now. Though not quite as absurd as Liberace who used a 'watermelon diet' explanation when dying of AIDs, according to wikipedia, Cohn maintained he was dying of liver cancer.

Death
In 1984, Cohn was diagnosed with AIDS and attempted to keep his condition secret while receiving experimental drug treatment. He participated in clinical trials of AZT, a drug initially synthesized to treat cancer but later developed as the first anti-HIV agent for AIDS patients. He insisted to his dying day that his disease was liver cancer. He died on August 2, 1986, in Bethesda, Maryland, of complications from AIDS, at the age of 59. At death, the IRS seized almost everything he had. One of the things that the IRS didn't seize was a pair of diamond cuff links, given to him by client and friend, Donald Trump. The diamond cuff links were later declared to be fake by an appraiser. According to Roger Stone, Cohn's "absolute goal was to die completely broke and owing millions to the IRS. He succeeded in that." He was buried in Union Field Cemetery in Queens, New York.

Like Liberace, Cohn was vehement in denying he was gay, regardless of how flagrantly gay we consider them now. T

To whom and when? Cohen wasn't a man in the papers every other day and reporters did not, ca. 1979, stick a microphone in the face of public figures and ask questions like that. That he did not publish his medical records is perfectly normal. Not everyone's an exhibitionist and there was still a critical mass of people in 1986 who had neuralgic reactions to learning that someone proximate to them had AIDS because they persisted in thinking it was readily communicable.

The term 'denial' is a go to favored by condescending twits who fancy they know the inside of someone's head better than the subject himself.

Some people practice denial to such an extent they condescendingly deny that it even exists.

Another one of those silly & weak passive aggressive attacks by prior. Furthermore, a weird passive aggressive attack on somebody (Roy Cohn) not mentioned in the original post and thus from out of the blue. What is the connection between the two?

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Hence the rainbow flags flying outside corporate headquarters and the corporate sponsored gay pride floats. In a world where the consumuer is becoming ever more important and the old values and institutions are dieing out, the people who spend the most money (women, gays, urbanites, etc.) will dictate the future direction of this consumer driven culture. Just follow the money.

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Is that a Roger Stone quote? Because it’s almost verbatim Cohan’s self-description as written by Tony Kushner in Angels in America:

“ Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in fifteen years of trying cannot get a pissant antidiscrimination bill through City Council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Who have zero clout.”

“ I have sex with men. But unlike nearly every other man of whom this is true, I bring the guy I'm screwing to the White House and President Reagan smiles at us and shakes his hand. [...] Roy Cohn is not a homosexual. Roy Cohn is heterosexual man, Henry, who f--ks around with guys.”

Written by Roy Cohn, of known homosexuals invited to the White House.

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If you're White, it's alright.
If you Black, get back.
If you're Gay, it's OK.
The times they are a'changing.
If you can't get with it, get out of the way.

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I remember that news paper stands had many magazines with semi-nude musclemen, but few or none nude girls magazines. I wonder if the pulp literature had the same orientation. For example, Rex Stout's detective stories' Nero Wolf and Archie are clearly a gay pair.

Much of the detective oeuvre consists of bromances: Spenser and Hawk, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike, I could go on and on. Are they gay? Not that I can tell, but I imagine the stories appeal to gays. In what sense are Nero Wolfe and Archie a gay pair?

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... for the rest of the story about selling magazines with pictures of naked men.

Guess who was a major market for Playgirl? Not that anyone involved would ever have said that in public in its first couple of decades.

i’m sure they only read it for the articles

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"Follow the money" is widely applicable advice.

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Something very similar "Circus of Books" a Netflix documentary.

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Very interesting. I recently came across R.W. Fassbinder's Querelle (1982) on the Criterion Channel and was struck by how much less prurient queer culture has become here in the 20s. Would something like Querelle fly today? Man...I don't know.

It makes me wonder, if magazines were still a thing in this day and age, would the gay audience even be into "physique" magazines?

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Tom of Finland, like Aubrey Beardsley, likely will retain a devoted audience for generations. Beefcake magazines generally do not have much in the way of distinctive style, even less than 40s cheesecake magazines.

Or if you want something visual that's not too abysmal, we could take in an old Steve Reeves movie.

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So what's the Straussian reading of this post? To my ear, Tyler's question cries out for one. On the hand, the post is in part explicitly a paen to "free markets and consumer capitalism" (through the lens of gay magazines). But then Tyler seems to hint that the physical media of more than half a century ago was better than the online media of today despite a much more efficient market in innumerable ways today, with vastly reduced transaction costs to produce and consume media. So what is Tyler really saying about markets?

(Really fascinating post btw, knew nothing about this. I would not have guessed this. I do wonder what fraction of pre-Stonewall newsstands we're talking about though.)

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Really.

Why not?

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if we are going to talk about Cohn and Liberace, I feel like we need to mention Paul Lind

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There was a vast market for used magazines in the 1950s and the 60s, and cities, like the one I grew up in, had cavernous used magazine stores, with boxes and boxes of magazines you could go through. While searching for old car magazines as a youth, I’d note that the proportion of Used muscle-man magazines on sale was way greater than the number you saw on the news stand, or the number of muscle men you saw out on the street. In my sweet innocence, I guessed that there was this huge athletic subculture of body builders and would-be body builders out in California or someplace that was buying these things.

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