Beefcake or physique magazines feature photographs of "beefcake": muscular men – typically young and attractive – in athletic poses, usually in revealing, minimal clothing. During their heyday in North America in the 1940s to 1960s, they were commonly presented as magazines dedicated to fitness, health, and bodybuilding, with the models often shown demonstrating exercises or the results of their regimens, or as artistic reference material. However, their unstated primary purpose was erotic imagery, for gay and bisexual men and straight women, skirting mid-20th-century censorship laws which prohibited depiction of full nudity, and cultural taboos against homosexuality.

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  • Beefcake or physique magazines feature photographs of "beefcake": muscular men – typically young and attractive – in athletic poses, usually in revealing, minimal clothing. During their heyday in North America in the 1940s to 1960s, they were commonly presented as magazines dedicated to fitness, health, and bodybuilding, with the models often shown demonstrating exercises or the results of their regimens, or as artistic reference material. However, their unstated primary purpose was erotic imagery, for gay and bisexual men and straight women, skirting mid-20th-century censorship laws which prohibited depiction of full nudity, and cultural taboos against homosexuality. Unlike overt gay pornography, beefcake magazines could be sold by newspaper stands, bookstores, and pharmacies – where they could be purchased by closeted gay and bisexual men under the pretense of an interest in fitness or figurative art – and could be sent through the U.S. mail. They were available in cities and even towns across the United States and by subscription, and popular titles such as Physique Pictorial served as an early nationwide cultural nexus for bisexual and gay men. With the legalization and increased availability of gay pornographic magazines and videos in the 1960s and 1970s, most beefcake magazines either evolved to include more explicit material or went out of business. They experienced a smaller resurgence in popularity with a greater focus on fitness in the 1980s and 1990s alongside fitness magazines for a more heterosexual audience, before the decline of the magazine industry in general. (en)
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  • Beefcake or physique magazines feature photographs of "beefcake": muscular men – typically young and attractive – in athletic poses, usually in revealing, minimal clothing. During their heyday in North America in the 1940s to 1960s, they were commonly presented as magazines dedicated to fitness, health, and bodybuilding, with the models often shown demonstrating exercises or the results of their regimens, or as artistic reference material. However, their unstated primary purpose was erotic imagery, for gay and bisexual men and straight women, skirting mid-20th-century censorship laws which prohibited depiction of full nudity, and cultural taboos against homosexuality. (en)
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  • Beefcake magazine (en)
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