100 GUYS NAMED MIKE
By David-Elijah Nahmod
June was ushered in with Mike's Men: Sex, Guys and Videotape, a flashy, sassy art exhibit by underground filmmaker/artist Mike Kuchar at Magnet on 18th St. Curators Eric Smith, Mark Garrett and Margaret Tedesco have put together a show of the auteur/illustrator's work that will bring back warm (and sometimes hot) memories of the golden age of gay comic books.
Magnet was packed for the show's June 1 opening reception. As the artist beamed with pride, attendees schmoozed, partook of wine and cheese, and admired some exquisite gay art. We were all one that night: everyone's name-tag sported the name Mike. Spotted in the upbeat crowd were local luminary Marc Huestis, director John Waters and the B.A.R. 's very own John F. Karr.
New York City native Mike Kuchar first came to prominence as an underground filmmaker, often working with his late brother George. The brothers were the subject of It Came from Kuchar, Jennifer M. Kroot's well-received 2009 documentary. Kuchar's 1965 film Sins of the Fleshapoids, a campy, raunchy sci-fi/sex satire, served as a major influence on Waters' career. Kuchar has continued to produce films over the years. In 2009, his homoerotic Swan Song revealed the sexual torment of a nude young man. But the film was hardly his swan song, as he continues to film, draw, and now teaches at the San Francisco Art Institute.
"I've always been interested in drawing," Kuchar told the B.A.R. as he smiled at the crowd. "But it's only a fraction of what I've done. These are my children. Most of the time I do film and video, but here it's canvas and paper, which is nice."
One piece stood out: the cover of Gay Heartthrobs comics, Issue #3, from the early 1970s. "Hi Dwayne, how are you today?" inquires the handsome man in leather. "Horny!" replies the cute young Dwayne, whose attire is similar to Daisy Duke's from the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard .
"That was part of the big sexual revolution," said Kuchar. "It's all out of the closet now!"
There were a number of new pieces on the Magnet walls. One can't help but be impressed and amused by the graphic, homoerotic sexuality offered by Kuchar, sometimes in the most unlikely of settings. A naked caveman rides a dinosaur. Other drawings are more simple, illustrating, in that classic, early-70s gay comic-book style, the unabashed eroticism of two men enjoying each other's bodies. This is definitely an adults-only show. For us grown-ups, it's an absolute delight.
Mike's Men: Sex, Guys and Videotape shows at Magnet, 4122 18th St., through June 30. A limited amount of prints and posters are available for sale. www.magnetsf.org