Palm Beach Modern Auctions in West Palm Beach will auction off a significant archive of photos taken by Bruce Bellas, popularly known as Bruce of Los Angeles.
More than 200 lots of vintage prints, negatives, slides, real-photo greeting cards, and posing props will be auctioned off Thursday.
Some writers have gone so far as to say male physique magazines were the foundation of the gay liberation movement before Stonewall. Oftentimes these magazines were the only thing that would connect gay men together.
“Around the same time Playboy magazine was launching its controversial first issue with a nude Marilyn Monroe centerfold, Bruce Bellas was creating his own provocative art – photographs of the male anatomy,” said PBMA co-owner Rico Baca in a prepared statement. “In addition to being an accomplished studio photographer, Bellas was a well-known presence at bodybuilding and weightlifting competitions. He was one of the earliest photographers of gymnastics and acrobatics at LA’s Muscle Beach."
Jesse Monteagudo, one of SFGN’s history columnists, has written about the impact of physique magazines on himself and the gay liberation movement.
“Though most of the physique magazine readers were gay men, the mags themselves were never gay. Instead [the photographers] pretended that they published their magazines to promote physical fitness, art, or a so-called ‘Greek Revival’ movement,” Monteagudo wrote in 2011. “I was not the only gay man whose life was changed by physique magazines. In its 1945-1970 heyday, male mags influenced a generation of men who came of age in the crucial decades that followed World War II.”
The auction begins at noon.