Beefcake magazine

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Cover for #17 of TRIM magazine, a physique publication oriented for gay men.

Beefcake magazines were magazines published in North America in the 1930s to 1960s that featured photographs of attractive, muscular young men in athletic poses. While their primary market was women and gay men, until the 1960s, they were typically presented as being magazines dedicated to encouraging fitness and health: the models were often shown demonstrating exercises.

Because of the puritan culture of the era, and because of censorship laws, gay pornography could not be sold openly. Gay men turned to beefcake magazines, which could be sold in newspaper stands, book stores and pharmacies.

History of beefcake magazines in the U.S.[edit]

In December 1945, gay pornography pioneer Bob Mizer founded Athletic Model Guild, or AMG. Mizer's AMG produced Physique Pictorial, the first all-nude and all-male magazine, and the film Beefcake documents his work and the growth of the Beefcake magazine industry. H. Lynn Womack published magazines such as Manorama, MANual, Fizeek, and Trim and was involved in the U.S. Supreme Court case MANual Enterprises v. Day (1962). From 1964 to 1967, Clark Polak published DRUM magazine.

In the 1960s, the pretense of being about exercise and fitness was dropped as controls on pornography were reduced. By the end of the decade gay pornography became legal, and the market for beefcake magazines collapsed.

Young Physique magazine was a prime example of this genre. It had a centerfold with a young model wearing a posing strap (g-string) with creative sets designed by the well-known gay photographer James Bidgood. Showing total nudity was illegal before 1962, so all models had to wear posing straps.[1] Since Young Physique was widely available in drugstores and magazine stores all over the United States, even in smaller cities and small towns, buying a copy of the magazine is the way most young homophiles in the 1960s made their first contact with the gay world.

In the 1980s and 1990s, beefcake magazines enjoyed a resurgence due to a heightened interest in gym culture as well as the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Numerous titles found success, such as Men's Workout, Exercise for Men Only, and Men's Exercise. These magazines are highly visual-oriented with extensive pictorials in contrast to fitness magazines that focus more on text such as Men's Fitness. Many of the images feature homoerotic or suggestive sexual imagery, such as male models unbuttoning their pants or almost full nudity. Some have included profiles of male strippers and some of the male models have also appeared in Playgirl.


  • Full-size magazines
    • Beach Adonis
    • Demi-Gods
    • Face and Physique
    • Mr. America
    • Muscle Boy
    • Muscles a Go-Go
    • Teen Torso
    • Tomorrow's Man Special
    • Young Physique (US, 1958 - 1968) Most popular Beefcake magazine—widely available all over the United States. Had a Playboy-like fold out centerfold of young man in a posing strap (g-string).
  • Pocket-size magazines
    • Adonis
    • Art and Physique
    • Body Beautiful
    • Fizeek Art Quarterly[2]
    • Grecian Guild Pictorial
    • Male Figure
    • Male Pix
    • Man Alive
    • Manorama
    • MANual
    • Man's World
    • Mars
    • Muscle Teens
    • 101 Boys Art
    • Physique Illustrated
    • Physique Artistry
    • Physique Pictorial
    • Scan
    • Tomorrow's Man
    • Trim
    • Vim

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The United States Supreme Court ruled that nude male photographs were not obscene in MANual Enterprises v. Day, 370 U.S. 478 in 1962. A number of softcore gay pornographic magazines featuring fully nude models, some of them tumescent, quickly appeared. See: Barron, Jerome A. and Dienes, C. Thomas, First Amendment Law, St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing Co., 1993, ISBN 0-314-02581-2 ; Streitmatter, Rodger and Watson, John C., "Herman Lynn Womack: Pornographer as First Amendment Pioneer," Journalism History, 28:56 (Summer 2002); and Waugh, Thomas, Hard to Imagine: Gay Male Eroticism in Photography and Film from Their Beginnings to Stonewall, New York: Columbia University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-231-09998-3 .
  2. ^ Fizeek Art Quarterly: Archived July 29, 2009, at the Wayback Machine