Physical Culture, Part Two



Physical Culture cover

In 1907, Mcfadden was arrested again for publishing a story in Physical Culture Magazine which was judged to be "obscene material." This time, Mcfadden was convicted. He attempted to have the case heard before the Supreme Court, but was denied on the grounds that the case did not involve constitutional questions. He campaigned nationally to have his conviction overturned, and finally in 1909, received a presidential pardon from President Taft. 

Mcfadden's philosophy was essentially a combination of the naturalistic and self-reliance New Thought (much of it watered down Ralph Waldo Emerson) philosophies: any type of physical weakness took on practically criminal proportions, but one could, though much self-reliance and both physical and mental discipline, overcome such weakness (like he did; he was considered a weak and sickly child and not expected to live long) and improve not only the body (including the sexual organs), but the mind as well.


The mind exerts a tremendous influence over the body. According to Macfadden, one can improve through structured exercise and nutrition programs.


In 1906, he wrote and published a book titled Muscular Power and Beauty, in which explains how to use tension and resistance exercises to develop muscles. A couple decades later the iconic muscleman Charles Atlas would successfully market a course based on these exercises. 

Bernarr Macfadden as David, 1905

One of his more revolutionary ideas was his emphasis on women being physically healthy. Mcfadden encouraged women to exercise and even show more of their bodies than was considered respectable; he campaigned against corsets and high-heeled shoes (which items later became prominent in the fetish-oriented sexuality as early as the 1920s; see description of Bizarre Magazine to appear later on this blog).


Mcfadden was a proponent of "natural movement" in both sexes, which hardly meant sexual indulgence, but rather a disciplining the body so it functioned at full capacity, not only so it could compete in, but also enjoy the benefits of, living. Living of course includes sex, which was natural and wholesome; prudery only encouraged unhealthy shame and guilt. 

Bodybuilding Competition Candidates


This publication lasted until 1941, after several lawsuits against Mcfadden Publishing Company (he used company assets to finance his own ventures). Macfadden relinquished his interests in the corporation.


After retiring, Macfadden bought the rights to publish the magazine, but he was unsuccessful. The magazine died with him in 1955. 

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Gay, "Greek" Olympics


Whenever the summer Olympics, in fact, any type of major sporting event occurs, someone always asks if I am watching.


I always say no (I'm probably one of the few people in the world who is not at all interested in competitive sports (even the Gay Games); in fact, I used to be known as the "I hate sports guy"), but the reasons one friend gave me for watching it were typically gay.


He especially enjoys synchronized diving, especially the hot guys lined up in skimpy swimming trunks. And if one looks closely, one does notice their … bulges. 


Tom Daley


Of course, the Olympics is a major turn-on for gay men, but you should also remember that the Greeks who originated the games approved of homosexuality (and they played the games naked).


And don't forget all those statues of muscular gods like Apollo and Hercules. 

Much later, after millennia of social repression, gays in the 1950s started to gingerly make their presence known through homoerotic muscle magazines like Grecian Guild Pictorial. 


The Amazing Colossal Latino


"I seek a sound mind in a sound body," was the Grecian Guild Pictorial's credo or mission statement. The word "Grecian," however, could easily be read as an underground code for "gay." Grecian became a coded word for gay during the time period of this magazine (1950's-1960's): those guys who like the male body, the "body beautiful," resembling the "Grecian ideal in its muscularity, symmetry, and grace." The association with the more openly homoerotic and bisexual culture of ancient Greece (and not just the physical aspects, but the emphasis on art and health as well as physical strength) was intentional. 

In fact, several issues of Grecian Guild in late 1960 and early 1961 devoted contained articles specifically on the history and culture of the Olympics.


 Perhaps it's time for me to explore my Grecian identity. I'll start with those athletic bulges.   







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